Jinnah became Pakistan’s first governor-general. The newly established country ended up with few natural resources, little manufacturing capability and relatively little of the Raj’s old administrative-commercial infrastructure. But its most serious problem was simply that there were two Pakistan, separated by 1600 km of hostile India.
West Pakistan consisted of Baluchistan, Sind West Punjab (including what’ s now the NWPF) and – pending a Kashmir settlement – so – called Azad (Free) Kashmir and the Northern Areas, while Bengal and part of Sylhet district made up east Pakistan. Though the west was militarily dominant, Bengalis made up slightly more than half the population, and their tea and jute supplied most of the country’s export earnings. The tone was set early and there was fierce eastern objections to Urdu as the official language. The only real connection between the two halves was that they were Muslim.
In September 1948, barely a year into independence and in the midst of the war with India, Jinnah died of tuberculosis. His death was body blow for the struggling country, which had no other politicians equal to Jinnah – known posthumously as Quaid-i-Azam (pronounced ‘kye-dee-AH-zum’) or Great Leader.
His deputy and friend Liaquat Ali Khan became Prime Minister. A Mohajir, he believed like Jinnah that Pakistan should be a secular state. Many Muslim religious leaders felt otherwise, and the argument still rages today. When Liaquat Ali was assassinated three years later in Rawalpindi, Pakistan headed towards chaos.
A muddle of squabbling governors –general and Prime Ministers and severe economic slump followed, but in March 1956-8 ½ years after its founding – Pakistan finally produced a constitution, becoming the Islamic republic of Pakistan, with a parliamentary form of government. West Pakistan’s Provinces were amalgamated into a single mega-province in symmetry with East Pakistan.
But President Iskander Mirza, a retired major general with no patience for the factionalism, bickering and opportunism that was (and still is) typical of Pakistan politics, nor with the growing autonomy movement in the east, in October 1958 abrogated the constitution, abolished political parties and declared martial law – a state Pakistan has been in, in one from or another, for most of its life since then. Mirza promised it would be brief, until he could ‘clean up the mess’ and write a new constitution.
Karachi had been the temporary capital but in 1959 it was decided to build a brand new one near the Grand Trunk Road, the foothills and the army’s headquarters at Rawalpindi. Construction began on the city of Islamabad in 1961.
China, following its invasion of Tibet in 1950, occupied parts of Ladakh, Baltistan and the upper Shimshal Valley in the mid-1950s.
Mirza’s Prime –minister was the army commander-in-chief, General Muhammad Ayub Khan, and three other ministers were lieutenant –generals . Within hours of their swearing in, they told Mirza to resign and Ayub Khan assumed the presidency too.
Martial law lasted over 3 ½ year. In March 1962 Ayub presented a new constitution proving for a powerful president, a National Assembly and east and west provincial assemblies, chosen by a bizarre system of easily manipulated village-level elections. He, of course, was confirmed as president.
Despite limited political freedoms, many Pakistanis look back fondly on the early Ayub years. Economic growth was vigorous. As part of a water – rights settlement with India, the world Bank gave enormous sums to build Mangla dam on the Jhelum River and Tarbela Dam, the world’s biggest earthen Dam, on the Indus. From the USA Came military aid. Somehow the East Pakistanis never seemed to get their share of the pie.
When China and India clashed in 1962 over their border in Ladakh (still disputed today), Pakistan saw a new ally. In a 1964 thaw, China and Pakistan sorted out their own Karakoram border and proposed a ‘Friendship Highway’ over the mountains (a story claims that Ayub declined a similar offer by Soviet Premier Bulganin to build a road through Ishkoman).
Pakistan already had a Swat-to-Gilgit jeep road underway. A 1966 pact expanded this to a two-lane highway from Havelian to the border, the so-called Karakoram Highway, with Pakistanis working north from the Indus and Chinese working south from the Khunjerab Pass, as well as on their own side. In the end the work went on in Pakistan until 1980.
Ayub was re-elected in 1965. in the same year Pakistan and India again went to war over Kashmir, a 2 ½-week exercise in which Pakistan took a beating. After that Ayub became remote and dictatorial, sacking his foreign minister (a Sind landowner named Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) and arresting Sheikh Mujibur Raman (Sheikh Mujib), leader of the Awami Party which advocated autonomy was made on Ayub’s life.
Yahya Khan & Civil War
in March 1969 a ill Ayub handed responsibility over to his own commander-in-chief, general Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, and resigned. Yahya imposed martial law again and named himself president. Among his early acts was to end the autonomy of the old princely states of the north – Chitral, Swat, Dir, Hunza, Nagar and various Baltistan fiefdoms.
Political activity was legally resumed in January 1970, the old separate western Province were resurrected and general elections for a civilian government were scheduled for December. In the meantime, a cyclone wreaked havoc in East Pakistan and West Pakistan’s shamefully indifferent response was the last straw for the Bengalis.
The elections turned Pakistan on its head. The charismatic Z A Bhutto and his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won a majority of West Pakistan seats in the National Assembly, but Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League won nearly all of East Pakistan’s seats, giving it an overall majority. Even Bhutto refused to allow the easterners to from the government. After some futile attempts at compromise, Yahya suspended the assembly and East Pakistan went on general strike. In March 1971 the army clamped down, Sheikh Mujib was arrested and civil war broke out.
Army cruelty was met by an equally cruel resistance, and hundreds of thousands died. The Bengalis declared themselves the independent state of Bangladesh. In November, India, flooded with more than nine million refugees, declared war on Pakistan; hostilities also broke out on the western border. Again Pakistan took a drubbing, and surrendered within weeks.
Bangladesh went its way in January 1972, and Z A Bhutto replaced Yahya Khan as president of a truncated Pakistan. When Bangladesh was admitted to the British Commonwealth in the same year, Pakistan withdrew from that organization.
Bhutto & Zia
Faced with demoralization and imminent economic collapse, Bhutto undertook major judicial, agrarian, health and educational reforms aimed at greater social equity. He nationalized bank and industries and restructured the military, and there was talk of land reform. A 1973 constitution revived the post of prime minister, which he assumed.
In February 1973 Bhutto sacked the Baluchistan government, whom he suspected of wanting to secede. The resulting Baluch tribal uprising, in which some 10,000 people died, was only put down with some the help of the air force. Despite his populist beginnings, Bhutto began allying himself with industrialists and zamindars (rural landowners), and set up a powerful ‘palace guard’, the Federal Security Service.
Bhutto met Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at Simla (India) in June 1972, where they agreed to ‘respect’ the so-called line of control –ie the 1971 cease-fire line, little different from the 1949 one – and to resolve future differences peacefully. (in trying to justify its continued hold on Kashmir, India has since suggested that the wording of the Simla Agreement endorses the line of control as a genuine border.) Pakistan recognized Bangladesh in 1974.
The (PPP) did very well in 1977 elections, but they were accused of fraud and people took to the streets in protest across the country. Bhutto declared martial law in Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore and had opposition leaders arrested. With anti-government violence on the rise his army chief of staff, general Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, on 5 July 1977 staged a bloodless coup and it was back to martial law. Bhutto was arrested on trumped-up murder charges, tried and convicted, and despite an international outcry he was hanged in April 1979.
Zia had promised elections within 90 days but ended up ruling by decree for 7 ½ years, banning political parties, introduction Islamic penal laws and moving the country toward strict rule. His big windfall was the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, after which the USA began funneling huge amounts of military assistance to Pakistan, and Zia went from pariah to hero of the fee world. Afghan Mujahideen set up bases in Pakistan, and almost four million refugees eventually crossed into the NWFP and Baluchistan. With them came a flood of guns and drugs.
In 1982, Zia visited China, the KKH was inaugurated, the Northern Areas were opened to tourism and the Khunjerab pass was opened to official traffic and trade (and to tourists in 1986).
Meanwhile the PPP and other parties began re-forming, under the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy. Bhutto’s widow Nusrat and his Western-educated daughter Benazir were elected to chair the PPP. A programme of civil disobedience in 1983 failed to dislodge Zia, and many activists, including Bhutto, went into exile. Thousands died in anti-government riots across Sind.
Under domestic and International pressure Zia permitted a non-party national Assembly election in February 1985. The following December he legalized political parties under strict conditions , and lifted martial law.
Bhutto returned from England April1986 and traveled round the country drawing rapturous, record-size crowds and calling for Zia’s resignation and free elections. But when she and other were briefly jailed in August, the momentum was lost. She surprised some supporters by agreeing to an arranged marriage, In December 1987, to Sindhi businessman Asif Lai Zardari.
In May 1988 Zia unexpectedly dismissed his hand –picked prime minister, Mohammad Khan Junejo, dissolved the assemblies and scheduled elections for 16 November. But on 17 August Zia, five of his generals and the US ambassador died in the crash of a military plane at Bahawalpur, the cause of which has never been determined (or at any rate never made public).
Surprisingly, things at that point moved strictly in accordance with the constitution. Acting president Ghulam ishaq Khan insisted the election would go ahead and the Supreme Court upheld a PPP petition for political parties to participate. Despite strenuous efforts by the military to discredit them, the PPP did just well enough to from a coalition government. In 1 December 1988, in an atmosphere of national euphoria, Bhutto was sworn in as prime minister, the first ever elected woman leader of a Muslim country.
The job was formidable for a 36-year-old with no political experience, particularly with the military looking over her shoulder. She declared war on the burgeoning heroin trade, and received death threats for her trouble. Provincial party politics scuttled social and economic programmes, and prices soared.
In foreign policy Bhutto seemed to be a hostage of the army. The last Soviet troops left Afghanistan in February 1989 but the war continued by proxy, the Soviets aiding Kabul and the USA arming the guerrillas with the help of Pakistan military gence. In an encouraging move. Indian Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Islamabad in July 1989, but by the end of the year India n troops had burst into Kashmir to begin a programme of repression that turned things sour. On a positive note, Pakistan in 1990 rejoined the Commonwealth.
Pakistan politics being more about power than principals, Bhutto’s opponents hammered away at her. The biggest thorn in her side was Zia Protégé Mian Nawaz Sharif, then chief Minister of Punjab. Bhutto did’t help matters with her arrogant style. PPP government coalitions in Sind and the NWFP collapsed. Her husband’s legal threats against at least 10 Pakistani newspapers antagonised the press. In October 1989, a vote of no confidence was only narrowly averted in the national Assembly.
In 1989 and 1990, hundreds died in mob violence and political terrorism among Sindhis, Pashtuns and Mohajirs in Karachi and Hyderabad. Rural banditry and kidnapping became a growth industry in Sind. Bhutto (herself a Sindhi) demanded army help for the Sind government but the army essentially wanted martial law.
President Ishaq Khan finally bowed to pressure and on 6 August 1990 dismissed the 20-month-old government, citing corruption, nepotism and abuse of power. In a series of special tribunals, Bhutto faced corruption charges (still unresolved), and her husband was arrested on charges of kidnapping and extortion.
In elections two months later, a PPP-dominated alliance was crushed, Nawaz Sharif became Prime minister and his Islamic Democratic Alliance formed ruling coalitions in every province. The Bhutto name had been exorcised from Pakistani politics, and a brilliant chance to put Pakistan on its feet had been squandered.
Fears of a return to martial law have not materialized but Nawaz Sharif is Having a rough ride, and the army is still clearly in the back ground.
In 1990, the USA suspended US$564 million in economic and military aid over Pakistan’s alleged nuclear bomb programme. The 1990-91 Kuwait War brought an end to huge remittances by Pakistani workers in Kuwait. The aid cut-off and the war generated bitter anti-American feelings, and most foreign tourists , aid workers and missionaries either left the country or moved around very carefully.
The government was rocked in 1991by a savings bank scandal in the wake of the BCCI collapse, and Sharif’s own family came out of it with dirty hands. While the zamindars and others with connections prospered, great Swaths of people at the bottom end simply gave up on finding work.
Worst of all lawlessness was spreading all over the country –violence in Karachi, routine looting and kidnappings in rural Sind and southern Punjab, guns in the NWFP, Sunni-Shea tension in the Northern Areas and a general rise in crime. Few were betting on Nawaz Sharif.
The USA and USSR agreed in 1991 to end aid to the Afghanistan government and guerrillas. With the Afghan government and guerrillas. With the collapse of the USSR (later CIS)at the end of that year, Pakistan began to lose its image as a valued strategic ally. The Afghan conflict moved into endgame. In April 1992, Afghan President Najibullah was ejected in a palace coup and, one by one, Afghanistan’s Major cities fell to the Mujahideen. Since installation of a Mujahideen central government in Afghanistan, some refugees have begun returning to their ravaged homeland.
In September 1992, two weeks of heavy monsoon rains unleashed Pakistan’s worst floods in a century. Mountain villages were buried under rock and mudslides. Nearly all the bridges in Azad Jammu & Kashmir were washed away. Flood waves surged down the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej rivers, growing as they converged, overflowing their banks and submerging thousands of villages and towns.
Thousand of People are thought to Have died (including some 400 on an island below Mangla Dam who drowned when the dam’s floodgates were opened abruptly) and more than a million made homeless. To save threatened downstream dams, barrages and towns, many embankments were blasted open, flooding further cropland in the plains. The resulting massive crop losses –especially of cotton and rice, Pakistan’s main export earners –dealt a heavy blow to the country’s economy.
Nawaz Sharif (who in the midst of the disaster went off on a pilgrimage to Mecca) took a bettering for his government’s slow and inadequate relief efforts. Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto capitalized on popular anger with a campaign of rallies and mass march aimed at his resignation. She was briefly put under house arrest and banned from the capital area when she attempted to lead a march from Rawalpindi to Islamabad.