Pakistan, also called the Dominion of Pakistan, 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. 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

During the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, she was crowned as Queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries, including Pakistan, 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. Pakistan ceased being a dominion on 23 March 1956 on the adoption of a republican constitution. 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 monarchs


Further reading

* Chester, Lucy P. (2009
Borders and Conflict in South Asia: The Radcliffe Boundary Commission and the Partition of Punjab.
Manchester: Manchester University Press. * Read, A. and Fisher, D. (1997). ''The Proudest Day: India's Long Road to Independence''. New York: Norton. {{DEFAULTSORT:Pakistan, Dominion of Pakistan Category:Former polities of the Cold War Category:Former countries in South Asia Category:Muhammad Ali Jinnah Category:Pakistan and the Commonwealth of Nations Monarchy Category:Partition of India Category:Politics of Pakistan Category:States and territories established in 1947 Category:1947 establishments in Pakistan Category:1956 disestablishments in Pakistan