Pakistan the Land of All Reason's
and Resources | Climate
|Natural Resources, Plants,
and Animals | Population
| Population Characteristics
| Political Divisions
| Principal Cities
| Religion | Languages
| Education | Libraries
and Museums | Economy
| Forestry and Fishing
| Mining | Manufacturing
| Energy | Currency
and Banking |Foreign
Trade | Transportation
| Government |
Executive | Legislature
| Judiciary | Local
Government | Political
Parties | Health and
Welfare | Defense
| History | Problems
of Partition | Pre-republican
Era | Cabinet Shifts
| The Ayub Years | Civil
War | The Bhutto Government
| Zia Regime | Recent
Officially Islamic Republic of Pakistan, republic in southern Asia, bounded
on the north and northwest by Afghanistan, on the northeast by Jammu and
Kashmir, on the east and southeast by India, on the south by the Arabian
Sea, and on the west by Iran. The status of Jammu and Kashmir is a matter
of dispute between India and Pakistan. Until December 1971 Pakistan included
the province of East Pakistan; at that time, however, East Pakistan seceded
from Pakistan and assumed the name Bangladesh. The area of Pakistan is
796,095 km2 (307,374 mi2), not including the section
of Jammu and Kashmir under its control. The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad;
the largest city of the country is Karachi.
Land and Resources
Pakistan is mostly a dry region characterized by great extremes of altitude
and temperature. Its topography is partly divided by the Indus River, which
enters the country in the northeast and flows south into the Arabian Sea.
The Indus forms in general the line of demarcation between the two main
landforms of the country, namely, the Indus Valley, which extends principally
along the eastern side of the river, and the Baluchistan Highlands, which
lie to the west. Three lesser landforms of Pakistan are the coastal plain,
which is a narrow strip of land bordering the Arabian Sea; the Kharan Basin,
which is west of the Baluchistan Highlands; and the Thar Desert, which
straddles the border with India in the southeast.
The Indus Valley in Pakistan varies in width from about 80 to 320 km
(about 50 to 200 mi); from north to south it includes portions of two main
regions, namely, the Punjab Plain and the Sind Plain. The Punjab region
is drained by the Sutlej, Ravi, Chenab, and Jhelum rivers, which are tributaries
of the Indus; these rivers supply the irrigation system that waters the
The Baluchistan Highlands contain a series of mountain ranges; among
these are the Tobakakar Range, the Siahan Range, the Sulaiman Range, and
the Kirthar Range. The highest peak in the highlands is Tirich Mir (7690
m/25,230 ft) located in the Hindu Kush mountains in the north. The Sefid
Koh Range is pierced by the Khyber Pass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
The highest peak in Pakistan is K2 (also known as Mount Godwin Austen).
Rising 8611 m (28,250 ft) above sea level in the Karakorum Range, the peak
is located in the region of Kashmir that Pakistan controls. K2 is the second
highest mountain in the world, behind Mount Everest.
The climate of Pakistan varies widely from place to place. In the mountain
regions of the north and west, temperatures fall below freezing during
winter; in the Indus Valley area, temperatures range between about 32°
and 49° C (about 90° and 120° F) in summer, and the average
in winter is about 13° C (about 55° F). Throughout most of Pakistan
rainfall is scarce. The Punjab region receives the most precipitation,
more than 500 mm (more than 20 in) per year. The arid regions of the southeast
and southwest receive less than 125 mm (less than 5 in) annually. Most
rain falls in July and August.
Natural Resources, Plants, and
The resources of Pakistan are primarily agricultural. The country's mineral
resources include salt, chromite, coal, gypsum, limestone, manganese, sulfur,
clay, graphite, copper, petroleum, and natural gas.
Vegetation in Pakistan varies according to elevation. Alpine flora grows
on the higher slopes. Forests of spruce, evergreen oak, chir or cheer pine,
and a cedar known as the deodar are found at lower elevations.
Animal life abounds in Pakistan, including deer, boar, bear, crocodile,
and waterfowl. In the freshwater and saltwater areas, fish of many varieties
are found. Marine life includes herring, mackerel, sharks, and shellfish.
The ethnological background of the population of Pakistan is extremely
varied, largely because the country lies in an area that was invaded repeatedly
during its long history. The people come from such ethnic stocks as the
Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Greek, Scythian, Hun, Arab, Mongol, Persian, and
The population of Pakistan (1995 estimate) is about 134,974,000, yielding
an average population density of about 170 persons per sq km (about 439
per sq mi). The country's population was increasing in the mid-1990s at
a rate of approximately 2.7 percent a year. Only about 35 percent of the
people live in urban areas.
For administrative purposes, Pakistan is divided into four provinces (Baluchistan,
North-West Frontier Province, Punjab, and Sind); the Federal Capital Territory,
which consists of the capital city of Islamabad; and six federally administered
Pakistan's largest city is Karachi, with a population (1981) of 5,180,562.
Other significant urban centers are Lahore (2,952,689), an industrial center;
Faisalabad (1,104,209), a center of the cotton industry; Rawalpindi (794,843),
an industrial city; Hyderabad (751,529), a manufacturing center; Multan
(722,070); and Peshawar(566,248), a hub of trade with Afghanistan. Islamabad
(204,364) is the capital of Pakistan.
The leading religion of Pakistan is Islam, which is the faith of about
97 percent of the people. About four-fifths of the Muslims are Sunnite,
and about one-fifth are Shiite. Hinduism and Christianity form the leading
minority religions; other religious groups include the Sikhs, the Parsees,
and a small number of Buddhists. The constitution defines Pakistan as an
Islamic nation, but guarantees freedom of religion.
The official language of Pakistan is Urdu, but less than one-tenth of the
people use it as their first language. Punjabi is spoken by about one-half
of all households, and Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki, and Baluchi are also spoken
by many people. In addition, English is extensively used by people in government,
the military, and higher education.
Only about 35 percent of adult Pakistanis are literate. Although the constitution
prescribes free primary education, less than half of all children actually
receive it. Five years has been established as the period of primary school
In the early 1990s about 14.1 million pupils were enrolled in preprimary
and primary schools, and about 4.8 million students attended secondary
schools. In addition, about 812,600 students attended institutions of higher
education. Among Pakistan's leading universities are the University of
Karachi (1951), the University of the Punjab (1882), in Lahore; the University
of Peshawar(1950); the University of Sind (1947), in Dadu; and the University
of Agriculture (1909), in Faisalabad..
Libraries and Museums
Karachi is the seat of some of the most important libraries in Pakistan;
these include the Liaquat Memorial Library 1950), the Central Secretariat
Library (1950), and the University of Karachi library. Also of note are
the National Archives of Pakistan, in Islamabad, and the Punjab Public
Library (1884), in Lahore. The National Museum of Pakistan (1950), in Karachi,
contains important materials from the Indus Valley civilizations, as well
as Buddhist and Islamic artifacts. Cultural materials also are displayed
in the Lahore Museum (1864) and the PeshawarMuseum (1906). The Industrial
and Commercial Museum, in Lahore, contains exhibits on the manufactures
The economy of Pakistan grew by 5.1 percent annually during the period
from 1965 to 1980 and by about 6 percent during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Nevertheless, in the early 1990s, the majority of the nation's citizens
remained poor and heavily dependent on the agricultural sector for employment.
This was largely a result of the country's high rate of population increase,
but political factors, such as the war of secession waged successfully
by East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971 and a coup d'état in 1977
(see "History," below), also slowed economic growth and modernization.
In 1994 Pakistan's gross domestic product (GDP) was $52 billion.
The government of Pakistan is deeply involved in directing the country's
economy, and most major industries have been nationalized. A government
economic plan for 1978 to 1983, however, recommended that private capital
be given a greater role in the industrial sector; the plan for 1983 to
1988 emphasized investment in hydroelectric power and rural development.
A plan implemented in 1988 to liberalize internal and external trade and
privatize more sectors of the economy had produced increases in the GDP
growth rate, export revenues, and domestic and foreign investment by the
early 1990s. In 1993 the government moved to reduce the nation's deficit
and lessen its reliance on foreign aid and loans, by introducing, among
other measures, a national sales tax and increases in fuel taxes. The estimated
annual budget in the early 1990s included an estimated $9.4 billion in
revenues and $10.9 billion in expenditures. Pakistan receives considerable
economic assistance from foreign countries and from international organizations.
The United States, which had imposed economic sanctions against Pakistan
in 1990 in order to protest Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, lifted
the sanctions in January 1996, clearing the way for economic assistance.
About 26 percent of Pakistan's total land area is considered arable. Agriculture
and related activities engage about half of the workforce and provide nearly
one-fourth of GDP. By the late 1970s an intensive land-reform effort had
resulted in the expropriation of some 1.2 million hectares (some 3 million
acres) from landlords, the distribution of almost half of this to tenants,
and the limitation of individual holdings to 40 hectares (100 acres) of
irrigated or 81 hectares (200 acres) of nonirrigated land. Formerly an
importer of wheat, Pakistan achieved self-sufficiency in the grain by the
mid-1970s. Chief cash crops are cotton (textile yarn and fabrics produce
more than one-half of export earnings) and rice. Principal crops in the
early 1990s (with output in metric tons) included sugarcane, 38.9 million;
wheat, 15.7 million; rice, 4.6 million; cotton lint, 1.6 million; and corn,
1.3 million. The livestock population included about 36 million cattle
and water buffalo, 27 million sheep, 39 million goats, and 164 million
Forestry and Fishing
About 4 percent of Pakistan is forested. Most of the 27.2 million cu m
(961 million cu ft) of roundwood harvested annually in the early 1990s
was used as fuel.
Fishing resources, although underdeveloped, are extensive. In the early
1990s the annual catch was about 515,500 metric tons, three-quarters of
it obtained from the Indian Ocean. Types of fish caught include sardines,
sharks, and anchovies; shrimp are also an important part of the industry.
In the early 1990s the most important minerals (with annual production
in metric tons) included coal and lignite (3 million), gypsum (532,000),
rock salt (895,000), limestone (8.8 million), and silica sand (154,000).
Crude petroleum production reached about 21.9 million barrels, and production
of natural gas was about 15.6 billion cu m (about 551 billion cu ft).
The manufacturing capacity of Pakistan is still small, but production has
been steadily expanding. In the early 1990s manufacturing accounted for
about 18 percent of GDP, as compared with 14 percent in 1965. Important
products include processed foods, cotton textiles, silk and rayon cloth,
refined petroleum, cement, fertilizers, sugar, cigarettes, and chemicals.
Many handicrafts, such as pottery and carpets, also are produced.
In the early 1990s about 56 percent of Pakistan's electricity was produced
in thermal installations, and most of the rest was generated in hydroelectric
facilities, including the large Tarbela project on the Indus River. A nuclear
power plant is situated near Karachi. Pakistan's annual output of electricity
in the early 1990s was 43 billion kilowatt-hours, based on an installed
generating-capacity of 10 million kilowatts.
Currency and Banking
The basic monetary unit is the Pakistani rupee, consisting of 100
(40.12 rupees equal U.S.$1; 1997). The State Bank of Pakistan, established
in 1948, issues banknotes; manages currency and credit, the public debt,
and exchange controls; and supervises the commercial banks. Pakistani banks
were nationalized in 1974, but in the early 1990s the country transferred
two banks to private ownership and issued licenses for ten new commercial
banks. A number of major foreign banks maintain offices in the country.
In conformity with Islamic doctrine, domestic banks in Pakistan have abandoned
the payment and collection of interest. Investment partnerships between
the bank and the customer have replaced loans at interest.
The foreign trade of Pakistan consists largely of the export of raw materials
and basic products such as cotton yarn, and the import of manufactured
products. In the early 1990s annual exports earned about $6.8 billion and
imports cost about $9.1 billion. The chief exports were cotton textiles,
cotton yarn and thread, clothing, raw cotton, rice, carpets and rugs, leather,
fish, and petroleum products; the main imports were machinery, electrical
equipment, petroleum products, transportation equipment, metal and metal
products, fertilizer, and foodstuffs. Pakistan's chief trading partners
for exports are the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Hong
Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and France; chief sources
of imports are the United States, Japan, Germany, Malaysia, Great Britain,
Saudi Arabia, China, and France.
The lack of modern transportation facilities is a major hindrance to the
development of Pakistan. Its terrain, laced with rivers and mountains,
presents formidable obstacles to internal overland transportation.
The country has about 110,700 km (about 68,800 mi) of roads, of which
about 53 percent are paved. The railroad network totals about 12,625 km
(about 7845 mi). Karachi is the principal port; a second major port, Muhammad
bin Qasim, was opened in the early 1980s.
Pakistan International Airlines, in large part government owned, provides
overseas service to a number of countries. In the early 1990s the government
ended a monopoly held by Pakistan Airlines. Four private carriers have
since begun domestic operations. The country's main international airports
serve Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi.
In the early 1990s Pakistan had about 1 million telephones, 11 million
radios, and 2.2 million television sets. Television broadcasting began
in Lahore in 1964 and in Karachi in 1966. Newspapers are mainly printed
in Urdu and English. Pakistan has about 237 daily newspapers, most with
small circulations. The major dailies are concentrated in Lahore and Karachi.
Pakistan adopted a constitution in 1973, which was subsequently amended.
Following a military coup d'état in 1977, however, a system of martial
law was put into effect, and most aspects of the 1973 constitution were
suspended. In 1985 parliamentary government was reestablished, the constitution
restored, and martial law ended. Legislation enacted in 1991 made Sharia,
or Islamic law, the supreme law of the land.
According to the 1973 constitution, as amended, Pakistan's head of state
is a president, elected to a five-year term by the legislature. The chief
executive official is a prime minister, who is responsible to the legislature.
The president has the power to appoint and dismiss the prime minister and
to call new elections.
Legislative power is vested in the bicameral Federal Legislature. The National
Assembly consists of 217 members elected directly by universal suffrage
for terms of up to five years. The Senate, consisting of 87 members, is
elected indirectly by the provincial legislatures; senators serve six-year
The highest court in Pakistan is the Supreme Court. The judicial system
in each province is headed by a high court. There is also a federal Sharia
Court, which administers Islamic law.
Under the 1973 constitution the four provinces of Pakistan, headed by governors
appointed by the president, are subdivided into divisions, districts, and
agencies. Political agents responsible to the federal government administer
the tribal areas.
Severely limited in July 1977 and banned outright in October 1979, political
organizations were allowed to resume their activities in December 1985.
The dominant political party after the elections of 1993 was the Pakistan
People's Party; the Pakistan Muslim League became the main opposition group.
Health and Welfare
Health services in Pakistan are limited by a lack of facilities. In the
early 1990s the country had about 51,900 physicians and about 71,900 hospital
beds. In 1976 an old-age pension system was inaugurated, but it covers
relatively few Pakistanis.
Military service in Pakistan is voluntary. In the early 1990s the country's
armed forces had about 575,000 members, including 45,000 in the air force
and 20,000 in the navy. Another 275,000 were in paramilitary units.
For the early history of the region now known as Pakistan, see Indus
Valley Civilization.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 Kashmir, 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 Kashmir, 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 Kashmir, 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
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 Muhammad 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
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
Kashmir. 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 Kashmir 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 KashmirKashmirtried 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
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
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
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
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 Kashmir. 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 Kashmir territory. In February
Bhutto organized a nationwide strike to show support for the militant Muslim
rebels in Indian Kashmir 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. In March Pakistan closed its consulate in Bombay, India. Pakistan
ordered the Indian consulate in Karachi closed in December, and India responded
by ordering Pakistan to withdraw 15 diplomatic personnel from New Delhi,
India. In January 1995 India rejected Pakistan's preconditions for the
resumption of bilateral talks, which included a reduction in the number
of Indian troops stationed in Kashmir. 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. Killings
continued into 1995 and included the murder of two U.S. diplomats in March,
the first violent incident directed at Westerners.
Back to main Page