Pakistan in the Final Decades of the 20th Century


Pakistan Studies 2059

Pakistan in the Final Decades of the 20th Century

Pakistan in the Final Decades of the 20th Century

Key Question 15: How effective were Pakistan’s governments in the final decade of the 20th century?

Benazir Bhutto (1988 – 1990) & (1993 – 1996)


• Benazir Bhutto was the eldest daughter and the first child of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

• She was born at Karachi in 1953.

• In 1973, she graduated from Harvard University and enrolled at Oxford University.

• She also did her post-graduation from Oxford University.

• In 1977, she returned to Pakistan.

• Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto wanted his daughter to contest in the elections of 1977, but she was very young, so she served her father as an advisor.

• Zia-ul-Haq demonstrated Martial Law.

• She was imprisoned for over six years but allowed to leave Pakistan in 1984 on medical grounds.

• In 1986, she returned to Pakistan to contest in the election which made Zia-ul-Haq fearful, but he died in a plane crash in 1988. 

• After the death of Zia-ul-Haq, Ghulam Ishaq Khan became the acting President of Pakistan and he held the elections. 

• She became the first woman Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988-1990.

• She again chaired as Prime Minister in 1993-1996.

• She was assassinated in 2007 in Karachi.

Policies of Benazir Bhutto:

• During the first tenure of the premiership, she was immature and young.

• However, during her second tenure, her approach was different.

Foreign Policy:

• Benazir during her premiership of 1993-1996 visited various countries.

• She wanted to bring the world's attention towards the Kashmir issues and the atrocities of India in Kashmir.

• She worked her best to strengthen the relationship between Pakistan and the United States as during the rule of Nawaz Sharif the ties between the two countries were not friendly.

• The United States pressurized Benazir Bhutto to abandon Pakistan's nuclear program but despite her wish to strengthen ties with the US, she did not show any flexibility in this matter.

• Benazir’s efforts resulted in the lift of economic and military sanctions from the country by the US.

• During her second tenure, she also showed her wish to form a stable and friendly relationship with India.

• In 1988, she held the 4th SAARC Conference in Islamabad, all member countries attended the conference including India that helped in improving ties with the country. 

Economic Reforms:

• Benazir Bhutto focused on expanding the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment).

• Her government also took some restructured measures to reduce defense expenditures, increase and improve tax collection and to reduce the budget deficit.

• She also imposed a tax on agriculture.

• Despite all these, she failed to do something real to generate the revenue or to control the expenses as a result during her second tenure the tax of Pakistan was 80 percent more than its GDP.

Political Reforms:

• Restored democracy and political system in the country.

• Ended the ban that Zia-ul-Haq imposed on student unions and trade.

• She freed the prisoners that Zia-ul-Haq captured to make her rule a successful one.

• By restoring democracy, she also gave the people of Pakistan freedom of speech.

Social Reforms:

• She established the first women bank in Pakistan, created job opportunities for women and protected their rights in a male dominant society.

Military Reforms:

• She started an Integrated Research Program on missile development.

• With the cooperation of China first military satellite was developed known as “Badr-1”.

• Her efforts gave Pakistan military a satellite surveillance system.

Shortcomings of Benazir’s Rule (both tenures):

False Promises:

• Her policies failed to acknowledge the problems concerning health, inflation, unemployment and education sector even though during her election campaign she pledged to resolve these issues.

Conflict with Ghulam Ishaq Khan:

• She had serious disagreements with Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the president of Pakistan as she wanted to appoint army chiefs and judges herself to strengthen her rule.

• Her disagreements and conflicts with the president created political instability.

Confrontation with Nawaz Sharif:

• The government of the People Party under Benazir Bhutto's rule remained confrontational with the opposition throughout her second tenure.

• Nawaz Sharif also accused Benazir Bhutto of conspiracy with the president Ghulam Ishaq Khan to overthrow his government in 1993.

• During Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure as Prime Minister, PPP (Pakistan People Party) failed to develop a cordial relationship.

• Since Nawaz Sharif was the Chief Minister of Punjab, his party in opposition returned the favor using political tactics.

• In 1994 – 1995, Nawaz Sharif with the support of President Farooq Ahmed Laghari started a ‘Train March’ from Karachi to Peshawar.

• The Train March was successful and gathered attention towards the bad governance and corruption of the Pakistan People Party.

Conflicts with Judges:

• Benazir also failed to form a cordial relationship with the judges of the superior courts.

• In 1966, 4 provincial high courts and the supreme court ordered dismissal of 24 judges that were appointed by her government.

• The dismissal created instability in the country as two pillars of the country conflicted with each other.

Fall of Benazir’s Premiership in 1990:

• During her first tenure, Benazir came under fire for corruption on nepotism charges.

• Her husband Zardari was accused of blackmailing, bribery, corruption, and kickbacks. 

• She appointed her mother as senior Minister, her father in law became the chairman of the parliamentary public accounts committee.

• Her credibility and reputation became questionable.

• Ghulam Ishaq already had disagreements with Benazir and these charges gave him a stronghold to dismiss her with the support of the opposition. 

• She also gained agitation from the forces as she did the operation of Pacca Qila privately without taking the army's support.

• This made the elite officers raise their eyebrows.

Fall of Benazir from office in 1996:

• Benazir had a dispute with Nusrat Bhutto who wanted Mir Murtaza as the head of the Pakistan People Party.

• Nusrat Bhutto also wanted Murtaza to lead for the Premiership after his exile in 1993.

• Mir Murtaza also fiercely opposed Benazir and her husband.

• In 1996, he was killed near his house by Sindh Police.

• Benazir accused President Farooq Ahmed Laghari of the conspiracy against her government and for the murder of her brother Murtaza.

• President Farooq Ahmed Laghari dismissed Benazir on account of corruption, poor governance, nepotism, and extra-judicial killing.

Nawaz Sharif (1990 – 1993) & (1997 – 1999)


• He was born in Lahore in 1949.

• He acquired his early education from Saint Anthony School.

• He did his graduation in law from the Punjab University.

• In 1981, he became the Finance Minister in the Punjab Cabinet.

• In 1985, he won the elections with an overwhelming majority and became the Chief Minister of Punjab.

• In 1988, he also became the caretaker Chief Minister after Zia-ul-Haq dissolved the assemblies.

• After the 1988 election, he also has sworn as Punjab's Chief Minister.

• In 1990, he won the elections, formed the government and became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

• In 1993 he was dismissed from his position before completing his 5-year tenure.

• In 1997, his party Pakistan Muslim League won the elections and he again became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

• However, the history repeated itself and in 1999 his government was overthrown by a military coup.

Policies of Nawaz Sharif:

• He reversed the nationalization policy introduced by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and also countered its effects.

• He initiated a national reconstruction program to develop the industries.

• During his rule, PTCL, two banks, and more than fifty industrial units were privatized.

• He restored the confidence in the private sector and reduced the burden from the national treasury.

• He Initiated Ghazi Barotha Hydro Power Project that could produce 1450 MegaWatt.

• He constructed the first motorway in Asia between Lahore and Islamabad that resulted in an improved travel system.

• He acknowledged the water distribution issue among all the four provinces by the water apportionment accord that was the award of the National finance commission.

• He introduced the 13th amendment in the constitution and replaced the 8th amendment that had given extensive powers to the President as result original constitution of 1973 and political stability was restored.

Shortcomings of Nawaz Sharif’s Rule (both tenures):

• The cooperative societies were responsible for accepting deposits from members, providing loans for businesses and were state-owned.

• These cooperative societies failed to function properly because of mismanagement and the Sharif family received all the funds, as a result, the poor lost all their savings.

• In 1991, the Shariat Bill was passed to enforce the Shariat Law but no effort was made to implement it.

• This Bill also received criticism from political parties because of the influence of religion in politics as well as from the Ulemas because no real effort was made for its enforcement.

• In 1993, Nawaz Sharif failed to form a cordial relationship with the president Ishaq Khan.

• Nawaz Sharif wanted to replace the 8th amendment in the constitution to limit the powers of the president as well as he wanted to appoint Army Chief of his choice that brought him in a conflicting position with the president. 

• However, the president was apt in his decisions and before Nawaz could do anything, he appointed General Waheed Kakar as Army Chief.

• This conflict among the Premier and the President weekend the government.

• Nawaz Sharif dismissed General Jahangir Karamat that damaged civil-military relationships during his second tenure and paved the way for military intervention in the government.

Fall of Nawaz’s Premiership in 1993:

• His yellow cab scheme failed that was supposed to offer taxi drivers soft loans and easy installments.

• This scheme failed because his government failed to collect installments that created an economic crisis in the country.

• Nawaz’s family did embezzlement in the cooperative societies’ funds.

• Conflicts with president Ishaq Khan, along with his poor governance led to his dismissal from the office in 1993.

Fall of Nawaz from office in 1999:

• He did a conspiracy against General Musharraf when he was returning from Sri Lanka, his plane was not allowed to land.

• Nawaz also replaced, General Musharraf with that time ISI Chief Ziauddin Butt.

• This conspiracy made the elite officers of the army agitated and they retaliated by planning the removal of Nawaz from the office.

• In reflection on Nawaz's actions, Commanders took over PTV, Karachi airport and the Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister.

• The military started a covert operation with the support of local fighters and successfully captured the heights in Kargil.

• For Kargil operation, Nawaz Sharif blamed Musharraf and accused the military that he was not involved in the planning or the operation. 

• The Kargil operation and its aftermath created serious conflict between the military and civil government, and it led to the military coup.

General Pervez Musharraf 1999


• He was born in Delhi in 1943.

• After independence in 1947, his family decided to shift to Karachi.

• His father worked for the foreign ministry and he spent his early years in Turkey till 1956.

• He returned to Pakistan and continued his education at Saint Patrick’s High School, Karachi.

• He joined Military Academy and in 1964 he was commissioned to Artillery Regiment.

Achievements of Musharraf:

• He fought in the War of 1965 against India and received Imtiazi Sanad, Tamgha-i-Basalat and Nishan-i-Imtiaz.

• He served in the Special Services Group for seven years.

• He fought in the war of 1971.

• From 1993 to 1995, he served the military as the Director General Military Operations.

• In 1998, he became the Army Chief after the resignation of General Jehangir Karamat.

• In 1999 when the military overthrew the government of Nawaz and took over, he became the Chief Executive.

• In 2001, he assumed the role of President of Pakistan.

• To legalize his role as President, he held a referendum in 2002 and became the President for the next five years.

• In 2004, a deal was made with Muttahida-Majlis-e-Amal (MMA).

• Considering the deal made with MMA he resigned from Military but received a vote of confidence that allowed him to keep his position of President for the next five years.

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