Timeline of Pakistan's History
2500-1700 B.C.: The region known today as Pakistan inhabited by Indus Valley Civilization
1700 B.C.-A.D. 1526: Pakistan overrun and ruled by various invaders, including Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, and Turks
A.D. 711: The religion of Islam is introduced into Pakistan
1526: Pakistan becomes a part of the Mogul Empire
1857: British become the dominant ruling force in the region
1906: Mohammed Ali Jinnah forms the Muslim League to consolidate the minority Muslim population against the majority Hindu population of British India. The Hindus held social, economic, and political advantages at this time in the region.
1939-1945: The Muslim League supports Britain in the Second World War while Hindu leaders like Gandhi stay out of it.
1947: In return for the support of the Muslim League in the Second World War, Britain divides the Indian subcontinent on religious lines, forming the nation of Pakistan for Muslims. In the years that follow, 17 million refugees cross the border between India and Pakistan in both directions to escape sectarian violence.
1949: First war between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region, which both nations claim control over.
1956: Pakistan becomes a Republic under the leadership of Major General Iskander Mirza as President. To this day, the military plays a major and direct role in Pakistan’s government.
1970-1971: Although western Pakistan had most of the cultural power, eastern Pakistan’s Awami League gained a majority of seats in the national assembly, leading to civil war. The independent state of Bangladesh is formed in the east in March 1971. During the final weeks of the war, India joins on the side of the new state. In December 1971, the war ends and President Yayha Khan steps down. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto takes over as President.
1977: Pakistan’s first civilian elections take place in March, leading to the overwhelming victory of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). These results were denounced as fraudulent and led to a military takeover on July 5, with Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq in power. He declared himself President the following year.
1979: Bhutto tried and convicted of murdering a political opponent in 1974 and executed.
1985: Representative government restored after eight years of martial law.
1988: Zia is killed in a midair explosion. Elections following this event establish Zia’s political opponent Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as Prime Minister.
1988-1999: Political opponents Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif spend most of this time alternating as Prime Minister. In October 1999, a military coup led by General Pervez Musharraf deposes the civilian government. Many Pakistanis view this as a positive development due to the corruption of the government. Sharif is exiled and Bhutto enters self-imposed exile.
1998: Pakistan and India, within weeks of each other, conduct nuclear tests.
1999: Another skirmish occurs in Kashmir.
2001: Pakistan cuts ties with Afghanistan’s Taliban government after September 11th attacks. In return, sanctions are lifted and the government of Musharraf is legitimized by the United States.
Dec. 13, 2001: A suicide bombing at the Indian parliament kills 14 people, leading to both Pakistan and India mobilizing their militaries and bringing the nations to the brink of war.
2003: The first formal cease fire in 14 years is declared in Kashmir.
2001-2006: The Pakistani government fights al-Qaeda while Osama bin Laden hides in the northern region of the country. In 2006, Musharraf controversially signs a peace treaty with the Taliban allowing them autonomy in the country in exchange for not fighting with Pakistani troops.
2007: Musharraf suspends Chief Justice Iftakar Mohammed Chaudry. Supporters of Chaudry protest, leading to violence and 39 people being killed. Later that year, the Taliban rescinds it’s cease-fire, and Benazir Bhutto returns from her self-imposed exile.
Nov. 3 – Dec 16, 2007: Waiting on the Supreme Court to rule whether or not he could legally be President and head of the military, Musharraf declares a state of emergency and effectively enacts martial law.
Dec. 27, 2007: Benazir Bhutto is assassinated. Musharraf blames al-Qaeda, while Bhutto’s supporters blame the government, of which she had been critical. Musharraf uses the assassination as an excuse to postpone scheduled parliamentary elections.
February 2008: Musharraf’s party suffers a stunning defeat in the parliamentary elections to Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, now led by her widower Asif Ali Zardari.
August 18, 2008: Musharraf resigns as President after a summer of fighting in Kashmir. Zardari is elected President the next month.
2009-2010: Zardari’s government plays both sides of the conflict with the Taliban, cooperating with United States operations while supporting insurgents. This is confirmed by the WikiLeaks documents leak in 2010.
May 1, 2011: Osama bin Laden is killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, without the knowledge of the Pakistani government. The government had denied for years that bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, and the United States poured $1 billion a year into the country to fight al-Qaeda and find bin Laden.
2012: Sufi cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri amasses a large following in political opposition to Zardari’s government, and concerns about another military coup rise. The Taliban attempts to murder 14 year old Malala Yousafzai, who becomes a major advocate for women’s rights and education in the Middle East.
2013: Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League dominates parliamentary elections, marking the first time in Pakistan’s history that a civilian government served a full five year term and transferred power.