The short history of Pakistan as a country has faced many crises and continues to do so. The socially and ideologically diverse population of Pakistan has made it go through the perplexities of choosing the correct social. To this date, Pakistan’s socio-political framework remains pretty weak and unidentified as it is constantly going through one change or the other.
The roots of these problems of go way back to pre-partition. It all started when the All India Muslim League formally voiced out the idea of a separate state for Muslims of India. All India Muslim League and Jinnah’s demand was for the Muslims living in the majority as well as in minority at that time. But there was an apparent contradiction in Jinnah’s demands and strategies.
There was no strategy ruled out for the Muslims who were living in the provinces as minorities. But Jinnah did become successful in getting guarantees from Indian National Congress for negotiations by claiming the Muslim majority provinces. After all, these provinces had the Hindu minorities living in them on which Congress would never give up. Jinnah eventually got the cut where Muslim majority areas were incorporated into a separate state of Pakistan. It was a very obscure situation whether the country would survive or not and if not then all the Muslims would be sent back to Hindustan.
The diversity of Pakistan’s provinces made it difficult to establish a central authority in the country after partition. Furthermore, the subsequent deaths of Jinnah and then Liaquat Ali Khan left Pakistan in a complete chaos. The leaders that came afterwards experimented with the social and ideological structure of the country. No one knew with utmost surety whether Pakistan was to be operationalized on Islamic values or secular notions.
This continuous perplexity delayed the formulation and finalization of the very first constitution of Pakistan which was promulgated in 1956. But unfortunately it only lasted for two years and got abrogated with the establishment of a military government. General Ayub Khan took over power in 1958 and introduced the Basic Democracies system in 1959. This system only included the industrialists and civil bureaucrats which divided social classes completely. It was a complete failure among the general public. The sparking differences between East and West Pakistan after the war with India in 1965 could also not be controlled by Ayub Khan and he relinquished power in 1969, giving another failed socio-political situation to the country.
No one knew the seriousness of the ethnic division in Pakistan unless the general elections of 1970 happened. The people of East and West Pakistan voted differently for Mujibur Rehman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto respectively. Already fed up with the injustices by the central government, the East Wing with the help of the Indian military intervention, got itself dismembered from Pakistan on 16th December 1971. This happened to be Pakistan’s third war with India after independence which further weakened its political and social framework. Under Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s third constitution was promulgated in 1973 which is still functioning to this date.
Being popular with the public, Bhutto won the 1977 elections as well but a nine-party alliance alleged him of rigging and so Pakistan was met with another military government under General Zia-ul-Haq. Zia-ul-Haq wanted to rebuild Pakistan on the Islamic socio-political set up and so Pakistan was met with a different political approach yet again. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was sentenced to death in 1979 under Zia’s reign. And after the Soviet intervention in 1979, Zia-ul-Haq received a lot of international support for bordering a Soviet territory.
To functionalize a so-called democracy in the country, Zia-ul-Haq arranged elections in 1985 in which Muhammed Khan Junejo became Prime Minister of Pakistan. He presented both democracy and Zia-ul-haq’s blessings to Pakistan and foreign policy also flourished under his regime. But Zia-ul-Haq once again set the country on turmoil dissolving the National Assembly and removed Junejo under 58-2-b citing that the Prime Minister was conspiring against him. Opposition supported him because it was all in their favor but Zia didn’t last much longer and died in a plane crash in 1988. The details of how that plan crash happened stay vivid even today.
After his death, Pakistan was met with a democratic regime once again under the leadership of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Benazir Bhutto in 1988. This government also did not last for the normal democratic period like the previous democratic governments. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir Bhutto in 1990 under the eighth amendment of the 1973 constitution.
At this point, the Pakistani public had started losing faith in the democratic values of politics. In 1990, elections took place and now the country came under Nawaz Sharif’s control. He ruled until 1993 and then Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed him as well declaring him as incompetent. Benazir Bhutto came to power once again in 1993. She was dismissed once again by the then president Farooq Laghari in 1997 for overriding the political system and Nawaz Sharif took over again. He made very crucial decisions in his reign among which the nuclear tests of May 1998 were the most important.
Unfortunately, the dream of a stable political scenario was shattered once again when General Musharraf took over power in 1999 and overthrew Nawaz Sharif. He ruled over Pakistan until 2008 after which elections were held and Pakistan People’s Party came to power once again. The prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani lasted for four years and was disqualified by Supreme Court. Nawaz Sharif came to power in 2013 but could not complete his term as a prime minister once again and was dismissed in 2017. Elections were conducted in 2018 and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan came to power and is still in office.
It seems like that a stabilized social-political anatomy is only a dream for Pakistan for when one looks back at the history, 18 Prime Ministers have served out of which none has completed his tenure. With Imran Khan facing a strong and united Opposition now, it seems like a sustained political structure is not a possibility for Pakistan in near future. One can only pray for the stability of our social and political systems.
Author is doing BS in International Relation from Lahore College for Women University. She is a freelance writer. Previously worked with The Frontier Post, Dawn and Express Tribune.