Pakistan Modern History

By | November 7, 2021


Since the 13th century, according to pharmacylib, the territory of Pakistan was ruled by several dynasties up to that of the Mughals and Muslim identity and power spread widely during the English colonization. In 1906, the All India Muslim League was founded, which laid the foundations for the creation of a territorial identity within British India. Pakistan (stan, country; pak, pure; or PAKS, Punjab + Afghani + Kashmir + Sind, denominations created in 1933 by the visionary Rahmat ʽAlī in his pamphlet Ora o mai) was formed in August 1947 in opposition to the Indian Union (India), when the independence of India from Great Britain was proclaimed. First imagined by the poet Muḥammad Iqbāl (1873 or 1877-1938) and politically pursued by the Muslim League starting in 1940, Pakistan based its raison d’être on the deep rift existing in all fields between Hindus and Indian Muslims, a fracture that worsened after the end of the Mughal empire (1857). After long struggles the British government accepted the division of the Indian empire and in 1947 independent Pakistan was born, consisting of a western region (Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan, etc.) and an eastern region (East Bengal), divided between them by thousands of kilometres. As soon as it was created, Pakistan was faced with a series of very serious problems to be solved, including: the Constitution, ex novo formationof a political class and a state administration, the choice of the capital city (not only in Western Pakistan, but also in Eastern Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh), the difficulties of communications and solid organizational ties between Western and Eastern Pakistan, the accommodation of millions of refugees (mostly pañjābī) and the restructuring of industry, after the division of the territories with India. Furthermore, the last two issues made relations with the Indian Union particularly difficult, aggravated also by the problems of the attribution of Kashmir and the payments of the Reserve Bank of India. In 1948 Muḥammad ʽAlī Jinnah, creator of Pakistan and its first governor general, died, and in 1951 his right hand man, Liyāquat ʽAlī Khan, was assassinated, leaving the country without valid political leadership. The series of governments that succeeded one another confirmed the rather centralizing and non-democratic character of the internal political line and it was the Constituent Assembly, whose work suffered many delays and encountered many difficulties, especially at the expense. In 1956 a Constitution came into force, giving life to a confederation with a rather decentralized administration and a bicameral parliamentary system. This, however, on 7 October 1958 was repealed by Iskander Mīrzāand, after martial law was enacted, General Muḥammad Ayub Khan became president of Pakistan twenty days later. Ayub Khan, in 1962, passed a new Constitution, which introduced a presidential system of government, following a ” Gaullist ” line. Ayub Khan’s regime lasted until March 1969, when continuing discontent and unrest led again to the proclamation of martial law and the presidency of another general, Muḥammad Yaḥyā Khan. The latter called the general elections for December 1970, elections in which the Awami League (led by Mujibur Rahman) won the majority in East Pakistan and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – led by Zulfikar ʽAlì Bhutto – in the Western one. This result generated concern and discontent in the high spheres of power and on 6 March 1971 Yaḥyā Khan adjourned the meeting of the National Assembly, in which the Awami League had the majority. From this began a whole series of unrest in East Pakistan, with consequent repressions: the arrest of Mujibur Rahman, the proclamation of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in April, and finally open war between Pakistan and India, which rushed to the aid of the secessionists. In December of the same year, Bangladesh was officially recognized as an independent state.


Following the independence of Bangladesh, there was of course a general change also in the government of Pakistan, where Zulfikar ʽAlì Bhutto, former foreign minister and head of the PPP, became president. First, the new president tried to close the new and old disputes with India: he reached a compromise agreement in Simla (July 1972) both for the return of troops and prisoners to their homeland as a result of the Bangladesh war., both for the sovereignty over Kashmir (object in 1947 and 1965 of bloody wars and complex but inconclusive diplomatic negotiations), which remained fixed to the status quo. The agreement therefore laid the premise for the start of normal diplomatic relations between the two countries, which materialized in 1975. The SEATO and then reached good neighborly agreements also with the People’s Republic of China, Zulfikar ʽAlì Bhutto devoted himself above all to internal reconstruction, launching a new Constitution (1973) which expanded the powers of the prime minister. This provoked the reaction of the Awami League which resulted in riots and the killing of politicians in 1975. Zulfikar ʽAlì Bhutto responded by outlawing the Awami, arresting its leaders and suspending the Constitution in some provinces. The unrest did not calm down: on the contrary, it increased in tone after the 1977 elections, when the victory of the ruling party seemed marred by serious electoral fraud.

In September of the same year, the military, led by General Mohammed Zia Ul-Haq, carried out a coup d’état, overthrowing Zulfikar ʽAlì Bhutto, who was then executed in April 1979. Having assumed the office of President of the Republic, Zia Ul-Haq established an even more authoritarian regime than the previous one, restoring the more orthodox Muslim legislation. Meanwhile, the political situation was also influenced by the events in Afghanistan, in particular after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. There were numerous Afghan refugee camps that had sprung up in Pakistani territory and for this reason there was a rapprochement between Pakistan and the USA., which sent economic and military aid: however, this did not have significant implications for the regime, which remained particularly rigid for the first half of the 1980s. The promises of a gradual return to democracy did not materialize in fact except, to a limited extent, starting from 1986. In May 1988 the Parliament was dissolved and, following the death of Aunt Ul-Haq (August 1988) in a plane crash – probably an attack -, new elections were held in November of the same year. These took place regularly, despite attempts at restriction by the ruling regime interim by Ghulam Ishaq Khan, they saw the affirmation of the PPP led by Benazir Bhutto (daughter of the president sentenced to death), who became the first woman to rise to the office of prime minister (December 1988) in an Islamic country. The institutional conflict with the head of state, the opposition of part of the religious, the resistance opposed by the army and the racial struggles soon weakened the position of Bhutto; the accusations of corruption to the party and of inability to manage the conflicts between the ethnic groups, finally, decreed its dismissal (August 1990). The elections of the following October, won by the Islamic Democratic Alliance, already supporter of Zia Ul-Haq, marked the rise of Mian Nawaz Sharif, the architect of a liberal policy which nevertheless found some opposition in social groups with a stronger confessional identity.

Pakistan Modern History