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ISLAMABAD

ISLAMABAD Soon after placing Pakistan under martial law, General Muhammad Ayub Khan decided to move the country’s capital from Karachi to a place inland Karachi did not suit the military regime It was 1,600 kilometers from Rawalpindi, the general headquarters of the army It was dominated by the business and industrial communities with which Muhammad Ayub Khan at that point had little affinity Culturally, linguistically, and ethnically, Karachi had little in common with the Pakistan military’s homeland-the districts in Punjab’s north and in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) The decision to move the capital from Karachi, therefore, was a political one The objective was to move the country’s political center of gravity to a point located within indigenous PakistanHaving made the decision to move the capital, Muhammad Ayub Khan appointed a commission under the chairmanship of General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan to suggest a new site The commission worked diligently, examined many sites, and investigated the possibility of retaining Karachi as the seat of government, but finally, it came up with the not surprising conclusion that the area just north of Rawalpindi would be the most appropriate place From the several names suggested (including Jinnahabad), Muhammad Ayub Khan chose to call the new capital Islamabad-the city of Islam



The Constitution of 1962 confirmed Islamabad as the executive seat of the central government but located the legislative branch near Dacca (Dhaka), the capital of East Pakistan A site named Ayubnagar was to be developed in the vicinity of Dacca as the seat of the legislative branch of the government, thus carrying to an absurd extent the concept of separation of powers Construction on the new city of Islamabad began in 1961, and the city’s first residents began to be accommodated in 1963 The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 and the resultant constraint on resources slowed the city’s development The presidency and several other important departments were temporarily housed in RawalpindiWith Bangladesh becoming an independent country, Islamabad’s ambiguous status as the national capital was finally resolved There was no longer any need to physically separate the executive and legislative branches of the government When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto summoned the national legislature in the spring of 1972, it met in Islamabad in a building constructed for the State Bank of Pakistan It was from this building that the National Assembly, in 1973, produced Pakistan’s third Constitution of 1973 A new set of buildings to house the National Assembly was commissioned by the Bhutto government in 1974 Completed in 1986, it now houses the Senate and the National Assembly

In the late 1970s, a construction boom began in Islamabad and continues to this day Karachi’s ethnic problems and the breakdown of law and order in the city in the winter of 1986 induced hundreds of business and professional firms from Karachi to relocate in Islamabad In 1998, Islamabad’s population was estimated at 600,000 and was increasing at the rate of 6 to 7 percent per year

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