Government and politics
The Muslim League formed Pakistan's first government under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan. The Muslim League's leadership of Pakistani politics reduced significantly with the rise of other political parties, with the Pakistan People's Party in West Pakistan, and the Awami League in East Pakistan, which would ultimately lead to the creation of Bangladesh. The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956, but was suspended in 1958 by Ayub Khan. The Constitution of 1973, suspended in 1977 by Zia-ul-Haq, was re-instated in 1991 and is the country's most important document, laying the foundations of government. Pakistan is a federal republic with Islam as the state religion. The semi-presidential system includes a bicameral legislature consisting of a 100-member Senate and a 342-member National Assembly. The President is the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and is elected by an electoral college. The prime minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly. Each province has a similar system of government with a directly elected Provincial Assembly in which the leader of the largest party or alliance becomes Chief Minister. Provincial Governors are selected by the Provincial Assemblies on the advice of the Chief Minister.
Parliament house in IslamabadThe Pakistani military has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's history, with military presidents ruling from 1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999 onwards. The leftist Pakistan People's Party (PPP), led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, emerged as a major political player during the 1970s. Under the military rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan began a marked shift from the British-era secular politics and policies, to the adoption of Shariat and other laws based on Islam. During the 1980s, the anti-feudal, pro-Muhajir Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was started by unorthodox and educated urban dwellers of Sindh and particularly Karachi. The 1990s were characterized by coalition politics dominated by the PPP and a rejuvenated Muslim League.
In the October 2002 general elections, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) (PML-Q) won a plurality of National Assembly seats with the second-largest group being the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), a sub-party of the PPP. Zafarullah Khan Jamali of PML-Q emerged as Prime Minister but resigned on 26 June 2004 and was replaced by PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as interim Prime Minister. On 28 August 2004 the National Assembly voted 191 to 151 to elect the Finance Minister and former Citibank Vice President Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister. Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of Islamic religious parties, won elections in North-West Frontier Province, and increased their representation in the National Assembly.
Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the latter of which Pakistan has used as a forum for Enlightened Moderation, a plan to promote a renaissance and enlightenment in the muslim world. Pakistan is also a member of the major regional organisations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). In the past, Pakistan has had mixed relations with the United States especially in the early 1950s when Pakistan was the United States' "most allied ally in Asia" and a member of both the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO). During the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s Pakistan was a crucial US ally, but relations soured in the 1990s, when sanctions were applied by the US over suspicions of Pakistan's nuclear activities. The September 11 attacks and the subsequent War on Terrorism have seen an improvement in US–Pakistan ties, especially after Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul. In January 2004, founder of Pakistani nuclear program A. Q. Khan confessed of nuclear proliferation to Libya, Iran and North Korea. On 5 February 2004, the president Pervez Musharraf, announced that he had pardoned A. Q. Khan.
Pakistan has long had troubled relations with neighbouring India. The long-running dispute over Kashmir resulted in full fledged wars in 1947 and 1965. Civil war in 1971 flared into the simultaneous Bangladeshi Liberation War and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Pakistan conducted nuclear weapon tests in 1998 to counterbalance India's nuclear tests and became the only muslim nuclear weapons state. The relations with India are steadily improving following peace initiatives in 2002. Pakistan maintains close economic, military and political relationships with the People's Republic of China.
Pakistan also faces instability in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, where some tribal leaders support the Taliban. Pakistan has had to deploy its army in these regions to suppress the local unrest, although a recently declared ceasefire between the tribal leaders and the Pakistani government will bring back the significantly needed stability to the region. Additionally, the country has long faced instability in its largest province, Balochistan. The army was deployed to fight a serious insurgency within the province from 1973–76. Social stability resumed after Rahimuddin Khan was appointed martial law administrator beginning in 1977. After relative peace throughout the 1980s and 1990s, some influential Baloch tribal leaders once again started a seperatist movement after Pervez Musharraf took over in 1999. Recently, this struggle has also begun to lose support, due in large part to the central government's implementation of social and economic reform in the region.
Muslim 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi'a 20%), Christian, Hindu, and other 3%
The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947, but the region it encompasses has an extensive history that overlaps with the histories of Ancient India, Iran and Afghanistan. The region was a crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and was settled over thousands of years by many groups, including Dravidians, Indo-Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Parthians Kushans, White Huns, Afghans, Turks, Mongols and Arabs. Historian and geographer de Blij Muller characterized the historical embodiment of the land when he said, "If, as is so often said, Egypt is the gift of the Nile, then Pakistan is the gift of the Indus." The earliest evidence of humans are pebble tools from the Soan Culture in the province of Punjab, dated from 100,000 to 500,000 years ago. The Indus region was the site of several ancient cultures including Mehrgarh, one of the world's earliest known towns, and the Indus Valley Civilisation at Harrappa and Mohenjo-Daro. The Indus Valley Civilisation collapsed in the middle of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Vedic Civilisation, which extended over much of northern India and Pakistan. Successive empires and kingdoms ruled the region from the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BCE, to Alexander the Great in 326 BCE and the Mauryan empire. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BCE, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major centre of learning prior to the arrival of Islam - the ruins may still be seen within the Swat Valley, to the west of Islamabad.
In 712 CE, the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab, setting the stage for several successive Muslim empires including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid Kingdom, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. During this period Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional population to Islam. The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century provided opportunities for the Afghans, Balochis and Sikhs to exercise control over large areas until the British East India Company gained ascendancy over South Asia.
17th Century Badshahi Masjid built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in LahoreThe War of Independence in 1857 was the region's last major armed struggle against the British Raj, and it laid the foundations for the generally unarmed freedom struggle led by the Congress. However, the Muslim League rose to popularity in the late 1930's amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. On 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal's presidential address called for a separate Muslim state in northwest and eastern South Asia. Muhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, which ultimately led to the creation of Pakistan.
The two wings of Pakistan in 1970; East Pakistan obtained independence in 1971 as Bangladesh.Pakistan was formed on 14 August 1947 with two Muslim-majority wings in the eastern and northwestern regions of South Asia, separated by Hindu-majority India, and comprising the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh. The partition of British India resulted in communal riots across India and Pakistan—millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India.
Disputes arose over several princely states including Jammu and Kashmir which led to the First Kashmir War (1948) ending with Pakistan and India each occupying large parts of the state.
From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. The republic declared in 1958 was stalled by a coup d'etat by Ayub Khan (1958–69), who was president during a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, Yahya Khan (1969–71) had to deal with the cyclone which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan. Economic and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political repression and tensions escalating into civil war (Bangladesh Liberation War) and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and ultimately the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.
Civilian rule resumed from 1972 to 1977 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the third military president. Pakistan's secular policies were replaced by Zia's introduction of the Islamic Shariat legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of General Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she alternated power with Nawaz Sharif, as the country's political and economic situation worsened. Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India in 1999 was followed by a military coup in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed executive powers. In 2001, Musharraf became President after the resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 Prime-Ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz.