As promised here’s a timeline of major events in Pakistan’s history from Independence in 1947 to 2007 when the events surrounding the attempted sacking of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by then dictator Pervez Musharraf set off a series of events that have changed Pakistan’s history. Later I will post a timeline from 2007 to the present day as that will be the time period I will focus the most on. I am also planning to do an abridged timeline of major events in the Indian subcontinents pre-Partition era as a helpful reference for examining the role of colonialism in Pakistan’s troubled past.
March 1947: Widespread violence erupts in British India forcing the British government to agree to partition India.
June 3rd 1947: Viceroy Mountbatten announces that Pakistan and India shall be freed on August 14th and 15th respectively; also announces the respective territories of both nations and the Radcliffe commission is set up to draw the new nations boundaries.
August 14th 1947: Pakistan gains its independence and Muhammad Ali Jinnah becomes Governor General. Jinnah promises that Pakistan shall be a secular state that protects the rights of all minorities.
August 15th 1947: India gains its independence.
August 17th 1947: The Radcliffe commission announces the borders of Pakistan and India leading to the division of Punjab and Bengal provinces leading to widespread violence that kills at least one million people as fifteen million people flee their homes in the largest migration in human history.
October 27th 1947: Kashmir accedes to India, triggering a war between Pakistan and India.
February 25th 1948: Urdu is declared the sole national language of Pakistan; a decision which greatly angers the Bengali speaking majority.
September 11th 1948: Muhammad Ali Jinnah dies of Tuberculosis.
January 1st 1949: UN ceasefire takes place in Kashmir.
March 12th 1949: Constituent assembly of Pakistan passes the Objectives Resolution which declares Islam as the basis for Pakistan’s governance thereby abandoning Jinnah’s secular state.
July 26th 1949: Pakistan and India agree to a cease fire line in Kashmir that holds to this day.
September 6th 1950: Ayub Khan is appointed first native commander in chief of the Pakistan Army.
October 16th 1950: Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first Prime Minister and Jinnah’s right hand man is assassinated in Rawalpindi, a case that remains unsolved to this day.
March 6th 1953: After widespread riots in Lahore against Ahmadis, a minority Muslim sect, Martial Law is declared to restore order.
September 21st 1954: In response to years of agitation in East Pakistan (Bengal), the constituent assembly declares both Urdu and Bengali to be national languages of Pakistan.
March 23rd 1956: First constitution of Pakistan is promulgated and Iskander Mirza is sworn in as President of Pakistan.
October 7th 1958: President Iskander Mirza declares Martial Law throughout Pakistan and appoints Chief of Army Staff Ayub Khan as Chief Martial Law Administrator.
November 2nd 1958: Ayub Khan betrays Mirza and seizes power. Mirza is exiled to London where he later dies a broken man.
August 1st 1960: Ayub Khan regime moves Federal capital from Karachi to the newly built city of Islamabad (meaning City of Islam in Urdu).
March 23rd 1962: A new constitution is promulgated to entrench Khans dictatorship.
January 24th 1964: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is appointed Foreign Minister.
September 6th 1965: Pakistan launches a war against India in order to take Indian held Kashmir.
September 23rd 1965: After suffering disastrous setbacks Pakistan agrees to a ceasefire.
February 12th 1966: The main Bengali party announces their 6 point plan for autonomy for East Pakistan.
June 17th 1966: Bhutto resigns as Foreign minister after opposing Khan’s peace with India.
September 17th 1966: Yahya Khan becomes COAS of Pakistan Army.
December 1st 1967: Bhutto founds the Pakistan People’s Party and calls for the fall of the Ayub Khan regime.
November 7th 1968: Student led demonstrations erupt calling for the restoration of Democracy.
March 25th 1969: Ayub Khan resigns and hands over power to COAS Yahya Khan who promptly declares Martial Law. Ayub Khan dies in obscurity in 1974.
November 12th 1970: Cyclone Bhola makes landfall in East Pakistan killing 500 000 people, the Federal government botches the relief effort fueling widespread anger among Bengali’s.
December 7th 1970: The first free and fair elections in Pakistan’s history are held with Bengali nationalists winning enough seats to form the next government.
March 25th 1971: After the military refuses to hand over power Bengali’s declare their independence as Bangladesh as the military launches operation Searchlight in an attempt to crush Bengali nationalism, leading to the beginning of widespread atrocities.
November 22nd 1971: India intervenes in support of Bangladesh and the Pakistan army quickly begins to crumble.
December 16th 1971: Dhaka the capital of East Bengal falls to Indian forces and Bangladesh officially becomes independent .
December 20th 1971: Yahya Khan is forced to resign and placed under house arrest where he dies in 1980. Bhutto is proclaimed President and the first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator.
August 10th 1973: The 1973 Constitution is promulgated; considered a progressive document it to this day forms the basis of Pakistan’s constitution.
March 1st 1976: Zia-ul-Haq is appointed COAS.
March 7th 1977: National elections held, Bhutto and the PPP win a majority but there are allegations of widespread rigging leading to protests.
July 5th 1977: Zia-ul-Haq seizes power in a coup and declares martial law, Bhutto is placed under arrest.
April 4th 1979: Bhutto is hanged after a sham trial in which he was convicted of murdering a political opponent.
April 10th 1986: Benazir Bhutto, Z.A. Bhutto’s daughter returns to Pakistan with millions of people greeting her on her tours through the country.
August 17th 1988: Zia is assassinated when a bomb explodes on his plane. The assassination remains unsolved to this day.
December 2nd 1988: Benazir Bhutto is sworn in as Pakistan’s first female Prime minister after winning Pakistan’s first democratic elections in 11 years.
August 6th 1990: Benazir Bhutto’s government is dismissed by the President on charges of mass corruption.
November 6th 1990: Nawaz Sharif a former protege of Zia is elected PM.
April 18th 1993: Nawaz Sharif’s government is dismissed by the President on charges of mass corruption.
May 26th 1993: The Supreme Court declares the Presidents actions illegal and restores the Sharif government.
July 18th 1993: The Army forces both the President and Sharif to resign to pave the way for new elections.
October 19th 1993: Benazir Bhutto is elected PM for the second time.
November 5th 1996: Benazir Bhutto’s second government is dismissed by the President on grounds of mass corruption.
January 29th 1997: Supreme Court upholds the dismissal of Bhutto’s government.
February 17th 1997: Nawaz Sharif elected PM for second time.
May 28th 1998: Pakistan tests Nuclear weapons in response to earlier Indian tests, leading to international condemnation and economic sanctions.
October 6th 1998: Pervez Musharraf is appointed COAS.
May 3rd 1999: Musharraf launches the Kargil war, an attempt to seize Indian strategic positions in Kashmir, without informing PM Sharif.
July 26th 1999: Kargil war ends in complete defeat for Pakistan.
October 12th 1999: Musharraf launches a coup and declares Martial Law after Sharif tries to fire him.
April 6th 2000: Nawaz Sharif sentenced to death after being convicted of terrorism.
May 12th 2000: Supreme Court validates Musharraf’s coup.
December 10th 2000: Facing tremendous pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Musharraf agrees to let Nawaz Sharif go into exile in Saudi Arabia.
September 11th 2001: Terrorists attack NYC leading to the war in Afghanistan.
June 30th 2005: Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is sworn in as Chief Justice of Pakistan.
May 14th 2006: The Charter of Democracy is signed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in London. The charter lays out a visions of a democratic Pakistan and calls for the removal of Musharraf’s dictatorship.
August 26th 2006: Baloch leader Akbar Bugti is killed by the military triggering an insurgency that lasts to this day.
March 9th 2007: Musharraf attempts to dismiss CJP Chaudhry triggering mass protests.