Categories: Overview
Graphs: Growth | Income | Inflation | Unemployment | Well-being | Trade Volume | Trade (CAB) | Debt | Spending

Related: LinksView all categories for years from to | See Full Report | Print


1947: The provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan and the Muslim-majority districts of Punjab and Bengal provinces become Pakistan, a two-part nation separated by 1,000 miles of Indian territory. The Hindu ruler of Kashmir signs the Muslim-majority state over to India, triggering decades of conflict. Jinnah becomes Pakistan's ceremonial head of state; Liaquat Ali Khan is prime minister.

1948-1951: The new government struggles with social polarization, tension with Afghanistan, and provincial demands. Orthodox Muslim opposition fails to halt a liberal statement of constitutional principles. Lacking resources, the government focuses its economic role on the military and infrastructure industries. Jinnah dies, and Prime Minister Khan is assassinated by foes of his policy of entente with India.

1952-1955: Ghulam Mohammad becomes governor general with Khwaja Nazimuddin as premier. Dissatisfaction in East Pakistan with the West Pakistan-based government leads to the formation of several political parties, including the Awami League led by H.S. Suhrawardy. Pakistan accepts U.S. military and economic aid and applies the latter to a program of rapid industrialization and import substitution.

1956-1958: A new constitution makes Pakistan a republic and calls for an Islamic state. General Iskander Mirza becomes president, with opposition leader Suhrawardy as prime minister of a coalition Cabinet. Economic troubles, Cabinet crises, and conflict with India and traditional and fundamental Islamists all threaten stability. In 1958 Mirza suspends the constitution and is then ousted by the army.

1959-1961: General Muhammad Ayub Khan assumes presidential powers, abolishes the office of prime minister, and rules by decree. A 1960 referendum confirms him in office. Ayub Khan launches a program of land reform and tax incentives to stimulate industrial development and exports. He inaugurates a system of "basic democracies," tiers of local government councils that serve as electoral colleges.

1962: A new constitution sets out a federal Islamic republic with two official languages, Bengali and Urdu. The new city of Islamabad in West Pakistan becomes the capital. The title of prime minister is abolished, and a National Assembly is established. President Ayub Khan forms the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) from fragments of the old Muslim League as the official government party.

1963-1969: Strong industry-led growth fails to redress economic or social inequalities. A faction of the PML joins a united front in opposition to President Ayub Khan, whose popularity plummets. East Pakistan, benefiting little from foreign aid flowing into West Pakistan, demands greater autonomy. In 1969 Ayub Khan resigns and hands power to General Muhammad Yahya Khan, who declares martial law.

1970-1971: Parliamentary elections give the pro-autonomy Awami League a majority in East Pakistan, while the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, wins in West Pakistan. The West attacks the East to put down separatism, and civil war erupts. India intervenes, widening the war and helping the East to become independent Bangladesh. Yahya Khan resigns; Chaudhri Fazal Elahi becomes president.

1972-1973: Defeated and reduced to its Western part, Pakistan enacts a federal, parliamentary constitution in which the executive is responsible to the legislature. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto becomes prime minister of a shattered government and a demoralized population. He introduces a socialist economic program of land reform, welfare ,measures and nationalization. Private capital flees; industrial output slows.

1974-1977: Inspired by Bangladesh, separatist movements flourish in several provinces. Pakistan's belief that Afghanistan is supporting a separatist movement in the Northwest strains the two countries' relations. In 1977 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is reelected but, amid riots against election fraud, is immediately overthrown in a coup by General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq. Political and trade union activity is banned.

1978-1980: Zia ul-Haq takes office as president, declaring an "Islamization" program. He attempts to establish partyless politics and appease Islamic fundamentalists. Pakistan becomes a base for Afghan fighters against Soviet occupation. The government relies increasingly on private enterprise for economic development. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is convicted of ordering political murders and hanged.

1981-1984: Pakistan receives financial aid from the United States to help absorb three million refugees from Afghanistan. Nine banned opposition parties form an alliance, the Opposition Movement for the Restoration of Democracy. The military responds by arresting several hundred opposition politicians. Zia ul-Haq wins a referendum legitimizing him as president for another five-year term.

1985-1986: Zia ul-Haq allows direct elections, on a non-party basis, for national and provincial assemblies. A civilian Cabinet is formed and an amended constitution adopted, according to which Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo heads a PML government in which real power lies in the hands of President Zia ul-Haq.

1987-1988: Seeking greater power, President Zia ul-Haq dissolves the Cabinet, but soon dies in a mysterious plane crash. Senate leader Ghulam Ishaq Khan succeeds him. An alliance of the Mohajir National Movement (MQM) and the now-centrist PPP, led by Benazir Bhutto, daughter of the ex-premier, wins a parliamentary majority. Benazir Bhutto becomes prime minister, and Ishaq Khan is elected president.

1989-1990: Benazir Bhutto's administration faces ethnic clashes, poverty, and tension with India. The MQM withdraws from the coalition and allies itself with the opposition Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA). President Ishaq Khan dismisses Bhutto, accusing her, her husband, and the PPP of corruption. A coalition government headed by Nawaz Sharif of the IDA sweeps into power.

1991-1992: Prime Minister Sharif's attempts to introduce privatization and deregulation are upset by labor unrest and a government financial scandal. A Shari'a bill enforcing Islamic law is enacted. Massive floods hit the North. Structural reforms worsen the distribution of income. President Ishaq Khan counters Sharif's attempt to limit executive power by dismissing him. In the ensuing crisis, both resign.

1993-1996: Benazir Bhutto returns as prime minister, heading a new coalition government. A fellow PPP member, Farooq Leghari. becomes president. Violence escalates among militant political, ethnic, and religious groups. In 1996 Bhutto's government is again dismissed under corruption and mismanagement charges. Leghari dissolves national and provincial assemblies.

1997: Nawaz Sharif returns as prime minister, promising market-oriented economic reforms. He reduces taxes and tariff rates and earmarks 13 state-owned companies for privatization. His move to end the president's power to dismiss elected governments sparks a dispute with the Supreme Court, during which President Leghari resigns. Parliament elects Mohammad Rafiq Tarar to replace him.

1998-1999: Western nations suspend investments and credit in response to Pakistani and Indian nuclear tests. The Pakistani rupee plummets. Street protests add to religious and social unrest. Pakistan announces a moratorium on further nuclear tests, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agrees to a US$5.5 billion bailout. In October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf ousts Sharif and suspends the constitution.

2000-2001: General Musharraf proclaims himself president. He secures an agreement with the IMF, but economic performance remains weak. After September 11, the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan strains Pakistani politics, but cooperation is rewarded with economic aid. Tensions mount with India over Kashmir and related issues, and both sides ratchet up their military standoff.

2002-2003: After being confirmed for five years as president by a referendum and granting himself additional powers, General Musharraf holds civilian elections that result in a coalition government. The economy is largely stabilized with inflation low and improved relations with lenders. But the threat of renewed war in the Gulf casts a shadow on both political and economic prospects.

back to top

Categories: Overview
Graphs: Growth | Income | Inflation | Unemployment | Well-being | Trade Volume | Trade (CAB) | Debt | Spending

Related: LinksView all categories for years from to | See Full Report | Print