Dominion of Pakistan

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Federation of Pakistan[1]
  • ڈومنین پاکستان  (Urdu)
  • পাকিস্তান অধিরাজ্য  (Bengali)
Anthem: Qaumi Taranah (1954–56)
Land controlled by the Dominion of Pakistan shown in dark green; land claimed but not controlled shown in light green
Land controlled by the Dominion of Pakistan shown in dark green; land claimed but not controlled shown in light green
Official languagesEnglisha
Recognised national languagesUrdub, Bengalic
Islam (majority)
GovernmentFederal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• 1947–1952
George VI
• 1952–1956
Elizabeth II
• 1947–1948
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
• 1948–1951
Khawaja Nazimuddin
• 1951–1955
Malik Ghulam
• 1955–1956
Iskander Mirza
Prime Minister 
• 1947–1951
Liaquat Ali Khan
• 1951–1953
Khawaja Nazimuddin
• 1953–1955
Mohammad Ali Bogra
• 1955–1956
Chaudhry Mohammad Ali
LegislatureConstituent Assembly
• Formation
14 August 1947[3]
23 March 1956
CurrencyPakistani rupee
Preceded by
Succeeded by
British Raj
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Today part of
a. Official Language: 14 August 1947
b. First National Language: 23 February 1948
c. Second National Language: 29 February 1956

The Federation of Pakistan,[1] also called the Dominion of Pakistan,[4] was an independent federal dominion in South Asia established on 14 August 1947.

At its inception, the Dominion of Pakistan did not include its princely states, which gradually acceded over the next year. Its status as a federal dominion within the British Empire ended in 1956 with the completion of the Constitution of Pakistan, which officially established the country as an Islamic Republic. The constitution also administratively split the nation into West Pakistan and East Pakistan, which were until then governed as a singular entity despite being separate geographic exclaves. In 1971, East Pakistan seceded as the new nation of Bangladesh.

Partition of British India[edit]

Section 1 of the Indian Independence Act 1947 provided that from "the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan." The British monarch became head of state of the new dominion, with Pakistan sharing a king with the United Kingdom and the other Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and the monarch's constitutional roles in Pakistan were delegated to the Governor-General of Pakistan.

Before August 1947, about half of the area of present-day Pakistan was part of the Presidencies and provinces of British India, in which the agents of the sovereign as Emperor of India had full authority, while the remainder were princely states in subsidiary alliances with the British, enjoying internal self-government. The British abandoned these alliances in August 1947, leaving the states entirely independent, and between 1947 and 1948 the states all acceded to Pakistan, while retaining internal self-government for several years.


The dominion began as a federation of five provinces: East Bengal (later to become Bangladesh), West Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Each province had its own governor, who was appointed by the Governor-General of Pakistan. In addition, over the following year the princely states of Pakistan, which covered a significant area of West Pakistan, acceded to Pakistan. They included Bahawalpur, Khairpur, Swat, Dir, Hunza, Chitral, Makran, and the Khanate of Kalat.

Radcliffe Line[edit]

The controversial Radcliffe Award, not published until 17 August 1947 specified the Radcliffe Line which demarcated the border between the parts of British India allocated to the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan. The Radcliffe Boundary Commission sought to separate the Muslim-majority regions in the east and northwest from the areas with a Hindu majority. This entailed the partition of two British provinces which did not have a uniform majority — Bengal and Punjab. The western part of Punjab became the Pakistani province of Punjab and the eastern part became the Indian state of Punjab. Bengal was similarly divided into East Bengal (in Pakistan) and West Bengal (in India).

1947 to 1956[edit]

Under the Indian Independence Act 1947, British India was to be divided into the independent sovereign states of India and Pakistan. From 1947 to 1952, George VI was the sovereign of Pakistan, which shared the same person as its sovereign with the United Kingdom and the other Dominions in the British Commonwealth of Nations.[5][6]

Prime ministers of the Commonwealth with King George VI (5th fr left), London 13 October 1948; Don Stephen Senanayake, Ceylon (2nd fr left); Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan (3rd fr left); C. R. Attlee (UK, 5th fr right) and Jawaharlal Nehru of India (far right)

Following George VI's death on 6 February 1952, his daughter Princess Elizabeth, who was in Kenya at that time, became the new monarch of Pakistan. During the Queen's coronation in 1953, Elizabeth II was crowned as Queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries, including Pakistan.[7] In her Coronation Oath, the new Queen promised "to govern the Peoples of ... Pakistan ... according to their respective laws and customs".[8] The Standard of Pakistan at the Coronation was borne by Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani.[9]

Pakistan abolished the monarchy on the adoption of a republican constitution on 23 March 1956.[10] However, Pakistan became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. The Queen sent a message to Pakistanis which said, "I have followed with close interest the progress of your country since its establishment ... It is a source of great satisfaction to me to know that your country intends to remain the Commonwealth. I am confident that Pakistan and other countries of the Commonwealth will continue to thrive and to benefit from their mutual association".[11]

List of heads of state[edit]


From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a constitutional monarchy. The Pakistani monarch was the same person as the sovereign of the nations in the British Commonwealth of Nations.[12][6]

Portrait Name Birth Reign Death Consort Relationship with Predecessor(s) Royal House
King George VI LOC matpc.14736 A (cropped).jpg George VI 14 December 1895 14 August 1947

6 February 1952
6 February 1952 ElizabethBowes-Lyon.jpg

Queen Elizabeth

None (position created). Emperor of India before partition. Windsor
Queen Elizabeth II 1959.jpg Elizabeth II 21 April 1926 6 February 1952

23 March 1956
Living Young Philip (cropped).jpg

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Daughter of George VI


The Governor-General was the representative of the monarch in the Dominion of Pakistan.[13]

Picture Name


Took office Left office Appointer
Muhammad Ali Jinnah


15 August 1947 11 September 1948 King George VI LOC matpc.14736 A (cropped).jpg

George VI

Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin


14 September 1948 17 October 1951
Sir Ghulam Muhammad


17 October 1951 7 August 1955
Her Majesty The Queen (1959).jpg

Elizabeth II

Iskander Mirza


7 August 1955 23 March 1956


  1. ^ a b Nalanda Year-book & Who's who in India, University of California, 1949, The main difference between the Pakistan Order and the India Order is that the Act as adapted for Pakistan refers to the Federation of Pakistan instead of the Dominion of Pakistan and the terminology of the existing Act is preserved
  2. ^ Timothy C. Winegard (29 December 2011). Indigenous Peoples of the British Dominions and the First World War (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-1107014930. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  3. ^ Singh Vipul (1 September 2009). Longman History & Civics Icse 10. Pearson Education India. pp. 132–. ISBN 978-81-317-2042-4.
  4. ^ As to official name being just "Pakistan" and not "Dominion of Pakistan": Indian Independence Act 1947, Section1.-(i) As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan."
  5. ^ Matthew, H. C. G. (September 2004). "George VI". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33370. Retrieved 20 April 2008. India and Pakistan remained among the king's dominions but both were set on republican courses, becoming republics within the Commonwealth in 1950 and 1956 respectively. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ a b Kumarasingham, Harshan (2013), THE 'TROPICAL DOMINIONS': THE APPEAL OF DOMINION STATUS IN THE DECOLONISATION OF INDIA, PAKISTAN AND CEYLON, vol. 23, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, p. 223
  7. ^ "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II". Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  8. ^ "The Form and Order of Service that is to be performed and the Ceremonies that are to be observed in the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster, on Tuesday, the second day of June, 1953". Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  9. ^ The London Gazette, no. 40020 of 20 November 1953, pp. 6240 ff.
  10. ^ John Stewart Bowman (2000). Columbia chronologies of Asian history and culture. Columbia University Press. p. 372. ISBN 978-0-231-11004-4. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  11. ^ Page 7
  12. ^ Winegard, Timothy C. (2011), Indigenous Peoples of the British Dominions and the First World War, Cambridge University Press, p. 2, ISBN 978-1-107-01493-0
  13. ^ Chief Justice Muhammad Munir: His Life, Writings, and Judgements, Research Society of Pakistan, 1973, p. 341

Further reading[edit]