|For the early history
of the region now known as Pakistan, see Indus Valley Civilization; India:
The British ruled the Indian subcontinent for nearly 200 years-from 1756 to 1947. After the revolt in 1857, the British initiated political reforms, allowing the formation of political parties. The Indian National Congress, representing the overwhelming majority of Hindus, was created in 1885. The Muslim League was formed in 1906 to represent the Muslim minority. When the British introduced constitutional reforms in 1909, the Muslims demanded and acquired separate electoral rolls. This guaranteed Muslims representation in the provincial as well as the national legislatures until independence was granted in 1947.
By 1940, however, the Muslim League had resolved to seek the partitioning of the subcontinent and the creation of a separate Muslim state-Pakistan. During preindependence talks in 1946, therefore, the British government found that the stand of the Muslim League on separation and that of the Congress on the territorial unity of India were irreconcilable. The British then decided on partition and on August 15, 1947, transferred power to both India and Pakistan. The latter, however, came into existence in two parts: West Pakistan, coextensive with the country's present boundries, and East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh. The two were separated by 1600 km (1000 mi) of Indian territory.
Problems of Partition
The division of the subcontinent caused tremendous dislocation of populations. Some 3.5 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan into India, and about 5 million Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan. The demographic shift caused an initial bitterness between the two countries that was further intensified by each country's accession of a portion of the princely states. Nearly all of these 562 widely scattered polities joined either India or Pakistan; the princes of Hyderabad, Junagadh, and Kashmìr, however, chose not to join either country.
On August 15, 1947, these three states became technically independent, but when the Muslim ruler of Junagadh, with its predominantly Hindu population, joined Pakistan a month later, India annexed his territory. Hyderabad's Muslim prince, ruling over a mostly Hindu population, tried to postpone any decision indefinitely, but in September 1948 that issue was also settled by Indian arms. The Hindu ruler of Kashmìr, whose subjects were 85 percent Muslim, decided to join India. Pakistan, however, questioned his right to do so, and a war broke out between India and Pakistan. Although the United Nations (UN) subsequently resolved that a plebiscite be held under UN auspices to determine the future of Kashmìr, India continued to occupy about two-thirds of the state and refused to hold a plebiscite. This deadlock, which still persists, has intensified suspicion and antagonism between the two countries.
The first government of Pakistan was headed by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, with Muhammad Ali Jinnah as governor-general, and it chose Karachi as its capital. From 1947 to 1951 the country functioned under chaotic conditions. The government endeavored to create a new national capital, organize the bureaucracy and the armed forces, resettle refugees, and contend with provincial politicians who often defied its authority. Failing to offer any program of economic and social reform, however, it did not gain popular support.
In foreign policy, Liaquat established friendly relations with the United States when he visited President Harry S. Truman in 1950, but he overlooked the geographical closeness of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) to Pakistan and the implications of that fact for the future security of the country. The visit to the United States injected bitterness into Soviet-Pakistani relations because Liaquat had previously accepted an invitation from Moscow that never materialized in a visit. The United States gave no substantial aid to Pakistan until three years later.
After Liaquat was assassinated in 1951, Khwaja Nazimuddin, an East Pakistani who had been governor-general since Jinnah's death in 1948, became prime minister. Unable to prevent the erosion of the Muslim League's popularity in East Pakistan, however, he was forced to yield to another East Pakistani, Muhammad Ali Bogra, in 1953. When the Muslim League was nevertheless routed in East Pakistani elections in 1954, the governor-general dissolved the constituent assembly as no longer representative. The new assembly that met in 1955 was not dominated by the Muslim League. Muhammad Ali Bogra was then replaced by Chaudhri Mohammad Ali, a West Pakistani. At the same time, General Iskander Mirza became governor-general.
The new constituent assembly enacted a bill, which became effective in October 1955, integrating the four West Pakistani provinces into one political and administrative unit. The assembly also produced a new constitution, which was adopted on March 2, 1956. It declared Pakistan an Islamic republic. Mirza was elected provisional president.
The new charter notwithstanding, political instability continued because no stable majority party emerged in the National Assembly. Prime Minister Ali remained in office only until September 1956, when he was succeeded by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, leader of the Awami League of East Pakistan. His tenure lasted for slightly more than a year. When President Mirza discovered that Suhrawardy was planning an alliance between East and West Pakistani political forces by supporting Firoz Khan Noon, leader of the Republican Party, for the presidency, Mirza forced Suhrawardy to resign. The succeeding coalition government, headed by Ismail Ibrahim Chundrigar, lasted only two months before it was replaced by a Republican Party cabinet under Noon. President Mirza, however, found that his influence among the Republicans was diminishing and that the new prime minister had come to an understanding with Suhrawardy. Against such a coalition Mirza had no chance of being reelected president. Dissatisfied with parliamentary democracy, he proclaimed martial law on October 7, 1958, dismissed Noon's government, and dissolved the National Assembly.
The president was supported by General Muhammad Ayub Khan, commander in chief of the armed forces, who was named chief martial-law administrator. Twenty days later Ayub forced the president to resign and assumed the presidency himself.
The Ayub Years
Ayub ruled Pakistan almost absolutely for more than ten years, and his regime made some notable achievements, although it did not eliminate the basic problems of Pakistani society. A land reforms commission appointed by Ayub distributed some 900,000 hectares (about 2.2 million acres) of land among 150,000 tenants. The reforms, however, did not erase feudal relationships in the countryside; about 6000 landlords still retained an area three times larger than that given to the 150,000 tenants. Ayub's regime also increased developmental funds to East Pakistan more than threefold. This had a noticeable effect on the economy of the eastern part, but the disparity between the two sectors of Pakistan was not eliminated.
Perhaps the most pervasive of Ayub's changes was his system of Basic Democracies. It created 80,000 basic democrats, or union councillors, who were rural influentials or leaders of urban areas around the country. They constituted the electoral college for presidential elections and for elections to the national and provincial legislatures created under the constitution promulgated by Ayub in 1962. The Basic Democratic System had four tiers of government from the national to the local level, and each tier was assigned certain responsibilities in administering the rural and urban areas, such as maintenance of elementary schools, public roads, and bridges.
Ayub also promulgated an Islamic marriage and family laws ordinance in 1961, imposing restrictions on polygamy and divorce and reinforcing the inheritance rights of women and minors.
For a long time Ayub maintained cordial relations with the United States, stimulating substantial economic and military aid to Pakistan. This relationship deteriorated, however, in 1965, when another war with India broke out over Kashmìr. The United States then suspended military and economic aid to both countries, thus denying Pakistan badly needed weapons. The USSR intervened to mediate the conflict, inviting Ayub and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India to Toshkent. By the terms of the so-called Toshkent Agreement of January 1966 the two countries withdrew their forces to prewar positions and restored diplomatic, economic, and trade relations. Exchange programs were initiated, and the flow of capital goods to Pakistan increased greatly.
The Toshkent Agreement and the Kashmìr war, however, generated frustration among the people and resentment against President Ayub. Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto resigned his position and agitated against Ayub's dictatorship and the loss of Kashmìr. Ayub tried unsuccessfully to make amends, and in March 1969 he resigned. Instead of transferring power to the speaker of the National Assembly, as the constitution dictated, he handed it over to the commander in chief of the army, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan. Yahya assumed the presidential office and declared martial law.
In an attempt to make his martial-law regime more acceptable, Yahya dismissed almost 300 senior civil servants and identified 30 families that were said to control about half of Pakistan's gross national product. To curb their power Yahya issued an ordinance against monopolies and restrictive trade practices in 1970. He also made commitments to transfer power to civilian authorities, but in the process of making this shift, his intended reforms broke down.
The greatest challenge to Pakistan's unity, however, was presented by East Pakistan, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, leader of the Awami League, who insisted on a federation under which East Pakistan would be virtually independent. He envisaged a federal government that would deal with defense and foreign affairs only; even the currencies would be different, although freely convertible. His program had great appeal for many East Pakistanis, and in the election of December 1970 called by Yahya, Mujib, as he was generally called, won by a landslide in East Pakistan, capturing a clear majority in the National Assembly. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) emerged as the largest in West Pakistan.
Suspecting Mujib of secessionist politics, Yahya in March 1971 postponed indefinitely the convening of the National Assembly. Mujib in return accused Yahya of collusion with Bhutto and established a virtually independent government in East Pakistan. Yahya opened negotiations with Mujib in Dhaka in mid-March, but the effort soon failed. Mujib was arrested and brought to West Pakistan to be tried for treason. Meanwhile Pakistan's army went into action against Mujib's civilian followers, who demanded that East Pakistan become independent as the nation of Bangladesh.
There were a great many casualties during the ensuing military operations in East Pakistan, as the Pakistani army attacked the poorly armed population. India claimed that nearly 10 million Bengali refugees crossed its borders, and stories of West Pakistani atrocities abounded. The Awami League leaders took refuge in Calcutta and established a government in exile. India finally intervened on December 3, 1971, and the Pakistani army surrendered 13 days later. On December 20, Yahya relinquished power to Bhutto, and in January 1972 Bangladesh established an independent government. When the Commonwealth of Nations admitted Bangladesh later that year, Pakistan withdrew its membership, not to return until 1989. However, the Bhutto government gave diplomatic recognition to Bangladesh in 1974.
The Bhutto Government
Under Bhutto's leadership a diminished Pakistan began to rearrange its national life. Bhutto nationalized the basic industries, insurance companies, domestically owned banks, and schools and colleges. He also instituted land reforms that benefited tenants and middle-class farmers. He removed the armed forces from the process of decision making, but to placate the generals he allocated about 6 percent of the gross national product to defense. In 1973 the National Assembly adopted the country's fifth constitution. Bhutto became prime minister, and Fazal Elahi Chaudry replaced him as president.
Although discontented, the military remained silent for some time. Bhutto's nationalization programs and land reforms further earned him the enmity of the entrepreneurial and capitalist class, and the religious elements saw in his socialism an enemy of Islam. His decisive flaw, however, was his inability to deal constructively with the opposition. His rule grew heavy-handed. In general elections in March 1977 nine opposition parties united in the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) to run against Bhutto's PPP. Losing in three of the four provinces, the PNA alleged that Bhutto had rigged the vote. The PNA boycotted the provincial elections a few days later and organized demonstrations throughout the country that lasted for six weeks.
When the situation seemed to be deadlocked, the army chief of staff, General Muhammad Zia Ul-Haq, staged a coup on July 5, 1977, and imposed another martial-law regime. Bhutto was tried for political murder and found guilty; he was hanged on April 4, 1979.
Zia formally assumed the presidency in 1978 and established the Sharia (Islamic law) as the law of the land. The constitution of 1973 was amended accordingly in 1979, and benches were constituted at the courts to exercise Islamic judicial review. Interest-free banking was initiated, and maximum penalties were provided for adultery, defamation, theft, and consumption of alcohol.
On March 24, 1981, Zia issued an order for a provisional constitution, operative until the lifting of martial law in the future. It envisaged the appointment of two vice presidents and allowed political parties approved by the election commission before September 30, 1979 to function. All other parties, including the PPP, now led by Bhutto's widow and daughter, were dissolved.
Pakistan was greatly affected by the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in December 1979; by 1984 some 3 million Afghan refugees were living along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, supported by the government and by international relief agencies. In September 1981 Zia accepted a six-year economic and military aid package (worth $3.2 billion) from the United States. After a referendum in December 1984 endorsed Zia's Islamic-law policies and the extension of his presidency until 1990, Zia permitted elections for parliament in February 1985. A civilian cabinet took office in April, and martial law ended in December. Zia was dissatisfied, however, and in May 1988 he dissolved the government and ordered new elections. Three months later he was killed in an airplane crash, and a caretaker regime took power.
A civil servant, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, was appointed president, and Benazir Bhutto became prime minister after her PPP won the general elections in November 1988. She was the first woman to head a modern Islamic state. In August 1990 President Ishaq Khan dismissed her government, charging misconduct, and declared a state of emergency. Bhutto and the PPP lost the October elections after she was arrested for corruption and abuse of power. The new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, head of the Islamic Democratic Alliance, introduced a program of privatizing state enterprises and encouraging foreign investment. He also promised to bring the country back to Islamic law and to ease continuing tensions with India over Kashmìr. The charges against Bhutto were resolved, and she returned to lead the opposition.
In April 1993 Ishaq Khan once again used his presidential power, this time to dismiss Sharif and to dissolve parliament. However, Sharif appealed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and in May the court stated that Khan's actions were unconstitutional, and the court reinstated Sharif as prime minister. Sharif and Khan subsequently became embroiled in a power struggle that paralyzed the Pakistani government. In an agreement designed to end the stalemate, Sharif and Khan resigned together in July 1993, and elections were held in October of that year. Bhutto's PPP won a plurality in the parliamentary elections, and Bhutto was again named prime minister.
During the early and mid-1990s, relations between India and Pakistan became more tense. Diplomatic talks between the two countries broke down in January 1994 over the disputed Jammu and Kashmìr territory. In February Bhutto organized a nationwide strike to show support for the militant Muslim rebels in Indian Kashmìr involved in sporadic fighting against the Indian army. She also announced that Pakistan would continue with its nuclear weapons development program, raising concerns that a nuclear arms race could start between Pakistan and India, which has had nuclear weapons since the 1970s. Although tensions continued, talks between India and Pakistan eventually resumed in 1997. In January 1996, despite some controversy, the United States lifted economic and some military sanctions imposed against Pakistan since 1990. The sanctions, originally created to protest Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, were lifted in order to allow U.S. companies to fulfill contracts with Pakistan and to help foster diplomatic relations between the two countries. Pakistan was beset by domestic unrest in the mid-1990s. Violence between rival political, religious, and ethnic groups erupted frequently within Sind Province, particularly in Karachi. More than 650 people were killed in 1994 as a result of the violence. In 1996 Bhutto's government was dismissed by President Farooq Leghari amid allegations of corruption. New elections in February brought Nawaz Sharif to power in a clear victory for the Pakistan Muslim League. One of Sharif's first actions as prime minister was to lead the National Assembly in passing a constitutional amendment stripping the president of the power to dismiss parliament.