Dominion of Pakistan

The Federation of Pakistan,[1] also called the Dominion of Pakistan,[4] was an independent federal dominion in South Asia that was established in August 1947 as a result of the Pakistan Movement, which led to the Partition of British India along religious lines in order to create a separate country for British Indian Muslims. The dominion, which included much of modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, was conceived under the two-nation theory as an independent sovereign state comprising most of the Muslim-majority areas of Hindu-majority India.

Federation of Pakistan[1]

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
Official languagesEnglisha
Recognised national languagesUrdub, Bengalic
Islam (majority)
GovernmentFederal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
George VI
Elizabeth II
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Khawaja Nazimuddin
Malik Ghulam
Iskander Mirza
Prime Minister 
Liaquat Ali Khan
Khawaja Nazimuddin
Mohammad Ali Bogra
Chaudhry Mohammad Ali
LegislatureConstituent Assembly
14 August 1947[3]
23 March 1956
1956943,665 km2 (364,351 sq mi)
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

At its inception on 14 August 1947, the Dominion of Pakistan, similarly to the neighbouring Dominion of India, did not include its princely states, which gradually acceded over the next year. The nation's status as a federal dominion within the British Empire ended in 1956 with the formal drafting of the Constitution of Pakistan, which officially established the country as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The constitution also administratively split the nation into West Pakistan and East Pakistan, which were until this point governed as a singular entity despite being completely separate geographic exclaves. In 1971, following a liberation war between Pakistan Armed Forces (aided by East Pakistani loyalists) and ethnic Bengali rebels known as the Mukti Bahini, the territory of East Pakistan seceded from the union with Indian military support to form the independent People's Republic of Bangladesh.

Partition of British India

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 Dominion of India held seventy-five percent of the territory and eighty percent of the population of the former British India. As it was already a member of the United Nations, India continued to hold its seat there and did not apply for a new membership. 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, but the monarch's constitutional roles were delegated to the Governor-General of Pakistan, and most real powers resided with the new government headed by Jinnah.

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

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).

Reign of Elizabeth II

The Queen with Nazir Ahmed, chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission

During the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, she was crowned as Queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries, including Pakistan,[5] which was still a Dominion at the time, whereas India was not, as the Dominion of India had become a republic under the new Indian constitution of 1950. In her Coronation Oath, the new Queen promised "to govern the Peoples of ... Pakistan ... according to their respective laws and customs".[6] The Standard of Pakistan at the Coronation was borne by Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani.[7] The Prime minister of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Bogra also attended the Coronation on 2 June, after which he attended the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference from 3 June to 9 June 1953, in London.[8]

It was agreed at the Commonwealth Economic Conference in London in December 1952[9] that each of the Queen's realms, including Pakistan, could adopt its own royal titles for the monarch. The Queen's official title in Pakistan was "Elizabeth the Second, Queen of the United Kingdom and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth".[10] Her role as Queen of Pakistan was largely ceremonial. For instance, in 1953, Governor General Sir Ghulam Muhammad fired Prime Minister Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin for attempting to equalize the power of West and East Pakistan. The prime minister attempted to reverse this decision by pleading to the Queen, but she refused to intervene.[11]

As Sovereign of Pakistan, Queen Elizabeth II, conferred awards and honours in Pakistan in her name. Most of them were awarded on the advice of "Her Majesty's Pakistan Ministers".[12][13][14]

Pakistan ceased being a dominion on 23 March 1956 on the adoption of a republican constitution.[15] However, Pakistan became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations.

The Queen visited Pakistan as Head of the Commonwealth in 1961 and 1997, accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Pakistan left the Commonwealth in 1972 over the issue of the former East Pakistan province becoming independent as Bangladesh. It rejoined in 1989, then was suspended from the Commonwealth twice: firstly from 18 October 1999 to 22 May 2004 and secondly from 22 November 2007 to 22 May 2008.

List of heads of state


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.[16][17]

Portrait Name Birth Reign Death Consort Relationship with Predecessor(s) Royal House
George VI 14 December 1895 14 August 1947

6 February 1952
6 February 1952

Queen Elizabeth

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

23 March 1956

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Daughter of George VI


The Governor-General was the representative of the monarch in the Dominion of Pakistan.[18]

Picture Name


Took office Left office Appointer
Muhammad Ali Jinnah


15 August 1947 11 September 1948

George VI

Sir Khawaja Nazimuddin


14 September 1948 17 October 1951
Sir Ghulam Muhammad


17 October 1951 7 August 1955

Elizabeth II

Iskander Mirza


7 August 1955 23 March 1956


  1. See territorial exchanges between India and Bangladesh (India–Bangladesh enclaves).


  1. 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. "The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II". Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  6. "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.
  7. The London Gazette, no. 40020 of 20 November 1953, pp. 6240 ff.
  8. Schofield, Victoria (2000). "Special Status". Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War. I.B.Tauris. p. 85. ISBN 9781860648984. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  9. Queen & Commonwealth: 90 Glorious Years (PDF), Henley Media Group, 2016, p. 61, ISBN 9780992802066
  10. Wheare, K.C. (1953). "The Nature and Structure of the Commonwealth". American Political Science Review. 47 (4): 1022. doi:10.2307/1951122. JSTOR 1951122.
  11. "When Elizabeth II Was Queen of Pakistan". The Diplomat. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  12. "No. 39737". The London Gazette (6th supplement). 30 December 1952. p. 49.
  13. "No. 40057". The London Gazette (5th supplement). 29 December 1953. p. 49.
  14. "No. 40673". The London Gazette (5th supplement). 30 December 1955. p. 49.
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. Chief Justice Muhammad Munir: His Life, Writings, and Judgements, Research Society of Pakistan, 1973, p. 341

Further reading