BASIC DEMOCRACIES (BD) The system of “Basic Democracies” launched by General Muhammad Ayub Khan in 1960 was meant to serve two purposes: to constitute the electoral college for the president and for the national and provincial legislatures, and to bring Khan’s government closer to the people “Basic Democracies” was a system of local councils and 8,000 Union Councils, 4,000 each in the provinces of East and West Pakistan Each Union Council had about 10 members and represented, on average, 1,000 people The members of the Union Council were elected directly by the people; once elected they chose their chairmen from among themselves All Union Council chairmen in a tehsil-the lowest administrative unit in the government’s structure-constituted the Tehsil Council The Sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM) was the chairman of the Tehsil Council The representatives of various government departments working in the tehsil were appointed ex-officio members of the council The Tehsil Councils elected the members of the District Council, and the District Councils elected the members of the Divisional councils The District Councils were chaired by deputy commissioners and the Divisional Councils by commissioners Like the Tehsil Councils, the District and Divisional Councils also drew membership from among government officials stationed in these jurisdictions

When the system was inaugurated, West Pakistan had a dozen divisions and about 50 districts East Pakistan had four divisions and about 20 districts The first batch of 80,000 “basic democrats” was elected in January 1960, 40,000 each came from East and West Pakistan, respectively In January 1965, the country held its first presidential elections under the constitution of 1962 This was the only occasion in which the “basic democrats” served as the “college” for electing the president In 1969, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan dissolved the system of Basic Democracies

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