As Indian rulers declined in power, the Timurid Dynasty entered
the region from Central Asia in the 1500s. Eventually this empire entered
India and one of its offshoots became the Islamic Mughal Empire. As they
moved east they built up numerous cities, including Lahore as they encouraged religious
tolerance, although they were Muslim.
Mughal rule in Pakistan continued until 1739 when the Afsharid
dynasty from Persia took power, creating the Durrani Empire.
However this empire didn't last long in Pakistan and soon were overthrown, although
not without wars and attempts, some successful, to regain control. By 1799 the Sikh
Empire had taken control over most of the region. Again, this rule didn't last
long as the British arrived in the 1800s and by 1849 had defeated the Sikhs, establishing
British India, which included modern day Pakistan.
Almost immediately the people of Pakistan fought
British rule and independence movements arose in the late 1800s. This led
to the creations of the Muslim League in 1906, whose initial goals were to guarantee
rights for Muslims in a territory that was overwhelmingly Hindi. Sadly this was
viewed as a threat by many Hindus and division among the people by religion began.
Soon division among the Muslims and Hindis in India was widening
as many Muslims sought immediately independence from Britain,
while many Hindus stood behind Gandhi's stance of non-violence, which required
more time and patience. This difference in methodology led to the formation of Pakistan.
However, the Muslim League was losing proponents among the Muslims as well, as the
people were divided in opinion; some people wanted independence immediately, others
supported a longer, non-violence approach, while they also argued over whether to
remain with India after independence or to become a separate nation.
By 1940 India was at war, getting involved on the side of
the Britain in World War II, and the Muslim majority
in Pakistan was slowly coming to believe that no united
nation was possible after independence. As WWII came to a close Britain let India
go as India formed one country and Pakistan (which included modern day
Bangladesh at the time) formed another country in 1947.
Unfortunately, the borders were questioned so both Punjab and Bengal were divided
among the two countries. This led to the movement of people: Hindus to
India and Muslims to Pakistan, but this came with
much violence. These areas broke out in war as trains moving from one country to
the other were at times stopped as the people were massacred on both sides. There
was also argument over the region of Kashmir, which both countries claimed, leading
to war and India eventually gaining control over the region.
In the same year, 1947 war broke out between India and
Pakistan as border disputes continued and fighting on the borders continued.
This led to great nationalism in Pakistan, which unintentionally led to excluding
the people of East Pakistan (modern day Bangladesh).
Due to all these early problems facing Pakistan in the
1950s, the military stepped in and took over the government, creating an Islamic
Republic. This chaos led to full war with India in 1965 leading
to greater military control, until 1970 when the military stepped aside to a degree
and allowed free elections. These elections showed the drastic difference between
east and west Pakistan, leading to the separation of east Pakistan, creating the
country of Bangladesh in 1971. This action was not recognized
by Pakistan at the time, but India encouraged the separation.
India's recognition of Bangladesh
also led to increased hostilities between India and Pakistan,
but also represented the return of a democracy in Pakistan. Leader, Zulfikar Bhutto
developed great changes, including a growing technology to obtain the atomic bomb,
to counteract India. The 1970s were a time of unifying the country, while also militarizing.
This culminated in 1977 when the military again took over.
Under military rule from 1977 to 1988 the military government purged numerous detractors
and restricted rights on numerous levels. This ended in 1988 when Benazir Bhutto
took power. During the 1980s and 1990s the country tried to balance between numerous
international interests, at times working with the Soviets, at other the
United States and working with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
It also was a time when relations with India again worsened
as India began undergoing nuclear bomb testing. Pakistan
responded by announcing that they had successfully create a nuclear bomb in the
In 1999 military power again took control in Pakistan as
numerous politicians were exiled. In 2001, after the al Qaeda attacks on the
United States, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf supported the United
States in their quest to oust Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
The people generally disagreed with this decision and most of the Taliban and Al
Qaeda fugitives fled from Afghanistan into Pakistan.
In 2007 numerous exiled politicians, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
and former President Benazir Bhutto returned. This led to numerous assassination
attempts, which found themselves successful when Bhutto was killed later that year.
The following year Musharraf stepped down from office and relations with many western
countries severely diminished. This was further escalated when in 2011 the
United States entered Pakistan without their permission
to kill Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda and mastermind of the September
11, 2001 attack on the United States.
Today Pakistan remains unstable at best as politics and
personal opinions are divided on nearly every issue. Additionally, the government
and people struggle to find international allies as there seems to be little cohesiveness
on what direction the country should head.