Early and medieval age
Areas surrounding modern-day Pakistan were home to some of the oldest ancient human civilisations in South Asia. The first known people in the area were the Soaniduring the Lower Paleolithic, with stone implements discovered in Punjab’s Soan Valley. The Indus Valley Civilisation (2800–1800 BC) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro was the location of many consecutive ancient civilizations, including the Neolithic Mehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation (2800–1800 BC) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, which covered much of modern-day Pakistan.
The Indo-Aryan civilization of the Vedic Civilization (1500–500 BC) provided the roots for Hinduism, which would become firmly entrenched in the area. Multan was a major Hindu pilgrimage destination. In the ancient Gandhran city of Takail, today Taxilain Punjab, the Vedic culture thrived. The Persian Achaemenid Empire controlled the area about 519 BC, Alexander the Great’s empire in 326 BC, and the Maurya Empire, which was established by Chandragupta Maurya and expanded by Ashoka the Great until 185 BC. Gandhara and Punjab were part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom established by Demetrius of Bactria (180–165 BC), which flourished the Greco-Buddhist civilization in the area under Menander (165–150 BC). Taxila has one of the world’s first universities and centers of higher learning.
The expansion of Islam in the area defines the Medieval era (642–1219 AD). Sufi missionaries were instrumental in converting the bulk of the region’s Buddhist and Hindu populations to Islam at this time. At its peak, Sindh’s Rai Dynasty (489–632 AD) controlled this area and the neighboring regions. The Pala Dynasty was the final Buddhist kingdom in South Asia, stretching from what is now Bangladesh to Northern India and Pakistan under Dharampala and Devapala.
In 711 AD, the Arab conqueror Muhammad ibn Qasim captured the Indus valley, which stretched from Sindh to Multan in southern Punjab. According to the Pakistan government’s official chronology, here is where Pakistan’s “foundation” was laid. Following this invasion, many Muslim dynasties ruled the area, notably the Ghaznavid Empire (975–1187 AD), the Ghorid Kingdom, and the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526 AD). The Mughal Empire (1526–1857 AD) succeeded the Lodi dynasty, the last of the Delhi Sultanate. The Mughals brought Persian literature and fine culture to the area, laying the foundations for Indo-Persian civilization. The Mughal Empire, governed by Muslim monarchs, dominated the area until the early 16th century. As the boundaries between economic and political supremacy blurred in the early 18th century, growing European influence eventually dissolved the empire.
The English East India Company had built coastal outposts at this period. Control of the seas, greater resources, technology, and military force projection enabled the East India Company of the British Empire to flex its military muscle more frequently, a factor that was critical in allowing the Company to gain control of the subcontinent by 1765 and push out European competitors. By the 1820s, it had expanded its reach outside Bengal and strengthened the power and size of its army, allowing it to conquer or subjugate the majority of the area. Many historians consider this to be the beginning of the region’s colonial era. The Company started to more deliberately explore non-economic areas like as education, social change, and culture at this time, with its economic authority severely limited by the British government and itself essentially becoming an arm of British administration. The establishment of the Indian Civil Service and the implementation of the English Education Act in 1835 were two examples of such changes (ICS). The English Crown no longer funded traditional madrasahs, which were the main institutions of higher learning for Muslims in the subcontinent, and almost all of them lost their financial endowment.
The Mughal Empire’s slow collapse in the early 18th century allowed the Sikh Empire to expand its influence and govern greater regions until the British East-India Company acquired control of the Indian subcontinent. The revolt of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Mutiny) was a significant armed conflict in the area against the British Empire and Queen Victoria. Divergence between Hinduism and Islam’s connection caused a significant schism in British India, resulting in racially motivated religious bloodshed. The linguistic dispute heightened tensions between Hindus and Muslims. In British India, the Hindu renaissance saw the development of more aggressive influence in the social and political arenas, as well as the awakening of intellectualism in traditional Hinduism. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who helped establish the All-India Muslim League in 1901 and envisioned and campaigned for the two-nation doctrine, spearheaded the intellectual effort to oppose the Hindu renaissance. Unlike the anti-British activities of the Indian Congress, the Muslim League was pro-British, with a political platform that inherited British ideals that would define Pakistan’s future civil society. British Intelligence thwarted an anti-English plot between the nexus of Congress and the German Empire during World War I. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Indian Congress conducted a mainly nonviolent independence movement against the British Empire, mobilizing millions of people in major civil disobedience actions.
In the 1930s, the Muslim League gradually gained popularity as a result of concerns about under-representation and marginalization of Muslims in politics. Allama Iqbal advocated for “the merger of North-West Muslim-majority Indian states” consisting of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind, and Baluchistan in his presidential speech on December 29, 1930. The founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was a strong supporter of the two-nation idea, leading the Muslim League to approve the Lahore Resolution of 1940, now known as the Pakistan Resolution. During World War II, Jinnah and the Muslim League’s British-educated founding fathers backed the United Kingdom’s war efforts, fighting resistance while working toward Sir Syed’s goal.
The Muslim League had won 90 percent of the seats allocated for Muslims in the 1946 elections. As a result, the 1946 election was essentially a referendum in which Indian Muslims were asked to vote on the establishment of Pakistan; a plebiscite that the Muslim League won. The Muslim League received support from the rural peasants of Bengal, as well as landowners from Sindh and Punjab, which helped them win. The Congress, which had previously rejected the Muslim League’s claim to be the only representation of Indian Muslims, was now obliged to admit that the Muslim League did indeed represent Indian Muslims. Because Jinnah had emerged as the only spokesman for India’s Muslims, the British had no choice but to consider his ideas. However, the British did not want India to be partitioned, so they devised the Cabinet Mission plan as a final resort.
Following the failure of the cabinet mission in India, the United Kingdom declared its decision to terminate its raj in India in 1946–47. In June 1947, nationalists in British India – notably Congressmen Jawaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad, Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Sikh leader Master Tara Singh – agreed to the proposed conditions of power transfer and independence. The current state of Pakistan was formed on 14 August 1947 (27th of Ramadan in 1366 of the Islamic Calendar) by combining the Muslim-majority eastern and northwestern parts of British India, after the United Kingdom decided to divide India in 1947. Pakistan was formed by the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab, and Sindh.
Between 200,000 and 2,000,000 persons were murdered in the riots that preceded the partition in the Punjab Province, while 50,000 Muslim women were kidnapped and raped by Hindu and Sikh men, and 33,000 Hindu and Sikh women suffered the same fate at the hands of Muslims.
[ Around 6.5 million Muslims migrated to West Pakistan from India, whereas 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs migrated from West Pakistan to India. It was the world’s biggest mass exodus ever. The First Kashmir War broke out in 1948 as a result of a dispute over Jammu and Kashmir.
Independence and modern Pakistan
Following India’s independence and partition in 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the President of the Muslim League, was appointed as the country’s first Governor-General and President-Speaker of Parliament. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s founding fathers decided to make Liaquat Ali Khan, the party’s secretary-general, the country’s first Prime Minister. Before becoming a republic, independent Pakistan had two British kings due to its dominion status in the Commonwealth of Nations.
Mauln Shabbr Ahmad Usmn, a renowned Deoband lim (scholar) who served as Shaykh al-Islm in Pakistan in 1949, and Maulana Mawdudi of Jamat-i Islm were key figures in the need for an Islamic constitution. Mawdd requested that the Constituent Assembly issue a clear statement confirming God’s “supreme sovereignty” and the sharah’s primacy in Pakistan.
The passing of the Objectives Resolution in March 1949 was a major consequence of the Jamat-i Islam and the Ulam’s efforts. The Objectives Resolution declared that “sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone,” and that “the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust,” according to Liaquat Ali Khan. The Objectives Resolution was included as a preamble to the 1956, 1962, and 1973 constitutions.
Martial law was imposed by President Iskander Mirza, who was afterwards succeeded by General Ayub Khan, the army commander. After establishing a presidential government in 1962, the country enjoyed unprecedented development until a second conflict with India in 1965, which resulted in economic stagnation and widespread popular dissatisfaction in 1967. When President Yahya Khan took over from Ayub Khan in 1969, he had to cope with a catastrophic storm that killed 500,000 people in East Pakistan.
In 1970, Pakistan held its first democratic elections since independence, which were supposed to mark the transition from military rule to democracy, but Yahya Khan and the military establishment refused to hand over power after the East Pakistani Awami League defeated the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Operation Searchlight, a military crackdown on the Bengali nationalist movement, resulted in the proclamation of independence and the launch of a liberation war in East Pakistan by Bengali Mukti Bahini troops, with Indian backing. In West Pakistan, however, the battle was referred to be a civil war rather than a war of liberation.
Independent scholars estimate that between 300,000 and 500,000 civilians perished during this time, whereas the Bangladesh government claims that three million people died, a figure that is now widely considered as exaggerated. Some scholars, such as Rudolph Russel and Rounaq Jahan, accused both sides of genocide, but others, such as Richard Sisson and Leo E. Rose, disagree. In response to India’s backing for the rebellion in East Pakistan, Pakistan’s air force, navy, and marines launched preemptive attacks on India, sparking the conventional war in 1971, which saw India triumph and East Pakistan win independence as Bangladesh.
As a result of Pakistan’s capitulation in the war, Yahya Khan was succeeded as President by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and the nation moved to promulgate a constitution and set the country on the path to democracy. From 1972 until 1977, democratic government was restored, ushering in a period of self-awareness, intellectual leftism, nationalism, and national rebuilding. During this time, Pakistan began aggressively pursuing nuclear deterrent in 1972 in order to deter foreign invasion; the country’s first nuclear power plant was also launched that year. This crash program was accelerated in reaction to India’s first nuclear test in 1974, and it was finished in 1979. The socialist PPP was deposed by a military coup in 1977, and General Zia-ul-Haq was elected president in 1978. Pakistan became one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia because to President Zia’s corporatization and economic Islamization efforts from 1977 to 1988. Pakistan helped finance and transfer US resources to mujahideen groups fighting the USSR’s involvement in communist Afghanistan while solidifying nuclear development, expanding Islamization, and the growth of indigenous conservative ideology.
In 1988, President Zia was killed in an aircraft accident, and Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, became the country’s first female Prime Minister. In contrast to the 1980s, the Pakistan Peoples Party was followed by the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (N), and over the following decade, the country’s two leaders battled for power, rotating in office as the country’s condition deteriorated and economic indicators dropped significantly. Prolonged stagflation, instability, corruption, nationalism, geopolitical competition with India, and a conflict of left-right ideologies characterize this era. In 1997, after the PML(N) won a supermajority in elections, Sharif authorized nuclear tests in retaliation for India’s second nuclear test, which was approved by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in May 1998.
The Kargil War of 1999 resulted from military tensions between the two nations in the Kargil region, and instability in civil-military ties enabled General Pervez Musharraf to take power in a bloodless coup. From 1999 to 2001, Musharraf served as Pakistan’s top administrator and then as President from 2001 to 2008, a time marked by enlightenment, social liberalism, significant economic reforms, and active participation in the US-led war on terrorism. On November 15, 2007, the Election Commission announced fresh elections after the National Assembly finished its first full five-year mandate. Following Benazir Bhutto’s murder in 2007, the PPP won the most votes in the 2008 elections, electing party member Yousaf Raza Gillani as Prime Minister. President Musharraf resigned on August 18, 2008, after being threatened with impeachment, and was replaced by Asif Ali Zardari. Gillani was disqualified from the Parliament and as Prime Minister in June 2012 due to clashes with the judiciary. Pakistan’s participation in the war on terrorism has cost the country up to $67.93 billion, thousands of lives, and almost 3 million displaced people, according to its own financial estimates. In the general election of 2013, the PML(N) came close to achieving a supermajority, and Nawaz Sharif was re-elected as Prime Minister for the third time after fourteen years, in a democratic transition.