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HISTORY FROM INDEPECE TO NOW

INDEPENDENCE
ON THE 14TH AND 15TH OF AUGUST, 1947, BRITISH INDIA WAS PARTITIONED INTO THE NEW INDEPENDENT DOMINIONS OF PAKISTAN AND INDIA RESPECTIVELY, WITH BOTH DOMINIONS JOINING THE BRITISH COMMONWEALTH. HOWEVER, THE ILL CONCEIVED AND CONTROVERSIAL DECISION TO PARTITION PUNJAB AND BENGAL, TWO OF THE BIGGEST PROVINCES, BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN HAD DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES. THIS PARTITION CREATED INTER-RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE OF SUCH MAGNITUDE THAT EXCHANGE OF POPULATION ALONG RELIGIOUS LINES BECAME A NECESSITY IN THESE PROVINCES. MORE THAN TWO MILLION PEOPLE MIGRATED ACROSS THE NEW BORDERS AND MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DIED IN THE SPATE OF COMMUNAL VIOLENCE, THAT SPREAD EVEN BEYOND THESE PROVINCES. THE PARTITION ALSO RESULTED IN TENSIONS OVER KASHMIR LEADING TO THE INDO-PAKISTANI WAR OF 1947. THE POST-INDEPENDENCE POLITICAL HISTORY OF PAKISTAN HAS BEEN CHARACTERISED BY SEVERAL PERIODS OF AUTHORITARIAN MILITARY RULE AND CONTINUING TERRITORIAL DISPUTES WITH INDIA OVER THE STATUS OF KASHMIR, AND WITH AFGHANISTAN OVER THE PASHTUNISTAN ISSUE.
IN 1948, JINNAH DECLARED IN DHAKA THAT URDU WOULD BE THE ONLY STATE LANGUAGE OF PAKISTAN. THIS SPARKED PROTESTS IN EAST BENGAL (LATER EAST PAKISTAN), WHERE BENGALI WAS SPOKEN BY MOST OF THE POPULATION. THE BENGALI LANGUAGE MOVEMENT REACHED ITS PEAK ON 21 FEBRUARY 1952, WHEN POLICE AND SOLDIERS OPENED FIRED NEAR THE DHAKA MEDICAL COLLEGE ON STUDENTS PROTESTING FOR BENGALI TO RECEIVE EQUAL STATUS WITH URDU. SEVERAL PROTESTERS WERE KILLED, AND THE MOVEMENT GAINED FURTHER SUPPORT THROUGHOUT EAST PAKISTAN. LATER, THE GOVERNMENT AGREED TO PROVIDE EQUAL STATUS TO BENGALI AS A STATE LANGUAGE OF PAKISTAN, A RIGHT LATER CODIFIED IN THE 1956 CONSTITUTION.
IN 1953 AT THE INSTIGATION OF RELIGIOUS PARTIES, ANTI-AHMADIYYA RIOTS ERUPTED, KILLING SCORES OF AHMADI MUSLIMS AND DESTROYING THEIR PROPERTIES.[57] THE RIOTS WERE INVESTIGATED BY A TWO-MEMBER COURT OF INQUIRY IN 1954,[58] WHICH WAS CRITICISED BY THE JAMAAT-E-ISLAMI, ONE OF THE PARTIES ACCUSED OF INCITING THE RIOTS.[59] THIS EVENT LED TO THE FIRST INSTANCE OF MARTIAL LAW IN THE COUNTRY AND BEGAN THE INROAD OF MILITARY INTERVENTION IN THE POLITICS AND CIVILIAN AFFAIRS OF THE COUNTRY, SOMETHING THAT REMAINS TO THIS DAY.[60]

FIRST MILITARY ERA (1958-1971)
MAIN ARTICLES: AYUB KHAN, YAHYA KHAN, AND BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR
THE DOMINION WAS DISSOLVED ON 23 MARCH, 1956 AND REPLACED BY THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN WITH THE LAST GOVERNOR-GENERAL, ISKANDAR MIRZA, AS THE FIRST PRESIDENT.[61] JUST TWO YEARS LATER THE MILITARY TOOK CONTROL OF THE NATION.[62] FIELD MARSHAL AYUB KHAN BECAME PRESIDENT AND BEGAN A NEW SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT CALLED BASIC DEMOCRACY WITH A NEW CONSTITUTION,[63] BY WHICH AN ELECTORAL COLLEGE OF 80,000 WOULD SELECT THE PRESIDENT. AYUB KHAN ALMOST LOST THE CONTROVERSIAL 1965 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO FATIMA JINNAH.[64] DURING AYUB'S RULE, RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES AND THE WEST GREW STRONGER. PAKISTAN JOINED TWO FORMAL MILITARY ALLIANCES — THE BAGHDAD PACT (LATER KNOWN AS CENTO) WHICH INCLUDED IRAN, IRAQ, AND TURKEY TO DEFEND THE MIDDLE EAST AND PERSIAN GULF AGAINST THE SOVIET UNION;[65] AND SEATO WHICH COVERED SOUTH-EAST ASIA.[66] HOWEVER, THE UNITED STATES ADOPTED A POLICY OF DENYING MILITARY AID TO BOTH INDIA AND PAKISTAN DURING THE INDO-PAKISTANI WAR OF 1965 OVER KASHMIR AND THE RANN OF KUTCH.[67]
BETWEEN 1947 AND 1971, PAKISTAN CONSISTED OF TWO GEOGRAPHICALLY SEPARATE REGIONS, WEST PAKISTAN AND EAST PAKISTAN. DURING THE 1960S, THERE WAS A RISE IN BENGALI NATIONALISM IN EAST PAKISTAN, AND OF ALLEGATIONS THAT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND HIRING FOR GOVERNMENT JOBS FAVOURED WEST PAKISTAN. AN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT IN EAST PAKISTAN BEGAN TO GATHER GROUND. AFTER A NATIONWIDE UPRISING IN 1969, GENERAL AYUB KHAN STEPPED DOWN FROM OFFICE, HANDING POWER TO GENERAL YAHYA KHAN, WHO PROMISED TO HOLD GENERAL ELECTIONS AT THE END OF 1970. ON THE EVE OF THE ELECTIONS, A CYCLONE STRUCK EAST PAKISTAN KILLING APPROXIMATELY 500,000 PEOPLE. DESPITE THE TRAGEDY AND THE ADDITIONAL DIFFICULTY EXPERIENCED BY AFFECTED CITIZENS IN REACHING THE VOTING SITES, THE ELECTIONS WERE HELD AND THE RESULTS SHOWED A CLEAR DIVISION BETWEEN EAST AND WEST PAKISTAN. THE AWAMI LEAGUE, LED BY SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN, WON A MAJORITY WITH 167 OF THE 169 EAST PAKISTANI SEATS, BUT WITH NO SEATS IN WEST PAKISTAN, WHERE THE PAKISTAN PEOPLES PARTY LED BY ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO, WON 85 SEATS. HOWEVER, YAHYA KHAN AND BHUTTO REFUSED TO HAND OVER POWER TO MUJIB.
MEANWHILE, MUJIB INITIATED A CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE MOVEMENT, WHICH WAS STRONGLY SUPPORTED BY THE GENERAL POPULATION OF EAST PAKISTAN, INCLUDING MOST GOVERNMENT WORKERS. A ROUND-TABLE CONFERENCE BETWEEN YAHYA, BHUTTO, AND MUJIB WAS CONVENED IN DHAKA, WHICH, HOWEVER, ENDED WITHOUT A SOLUTION. SOON THEREAFTER, THE WEST PAKISTANI ARMY COMMENCED OPERATION SEARCHLIGHT, AN ORGANIZED CRACKDOWN ON THE EAST PAKISTANI ARMY, POLICE, POLITICIANS, CIVILIANS, AND STUDENTS IN DHAKA. MUJIB AND MANY OTHER AWAMI LEAGUE LEADERS WERE ARRESTED, WHILE OTHERS FLED TO NEIGHBOURING INDIA. ON 27TH MARCH 27 1971, MAJOR ZIAUR RAHMAN, A BENGALI WAR-VETERAN OF THE EAST BENGAL REGIMENT OF THE PAKISTAN ARMY, DECLARED THE INDEPENDENCE OF EAST PAKISTAN AS THE NEW NATION OF BANGLADESH ON BEHALF OF MUJIB. THE CRACKDOWN WIDENED AND ESCALATED INTO A GUERRILLA WARFARE BETWEEN THE PAKISTANI ARMY AND THE MUKTI BAHINI (BENGALI "FREEDOM FIGHTERS").[8] ALTHOUGH THE KILLING OF BENGALIS WAS UNSUPPORTED BY THE PEOPLE OF WEST PAKISTAN, IT CONTINUED FOR 9 MONTHS. INDIA SUPPLIED THE BENGALI REBELS WITH ARMS AND TRAINING, AND, IN ADDITION, HOSTED MORE THAN 10 MILLION BENGALI REFUGEES WHO HAD FLED THE TURMOIL.
IN MARCH, 1971, INDIA'S PRIME MINISTER, INDIRA GANDHI EXPRESSED SYMPATHY FOR THE EAST PAKISTANI INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT, OPENING INDIA'S BORDERS TO REFUGEES AND PROVIDING OTHER ASSISTANCE. FOLLOWING A PERIOD OF COVERT AND OVERT INTERVENTION BY INDIAN FORCES, OPEN HOSTILITIES BROKE OUT BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES ON DECEMBER 3, 1971. IN EAST PAKISTAN, THE PAKISTANI ARMY LED BY GENERAL A. A. K. NIAZI, HAD ALREADY BEEN WEAKENED AND EXHAUSTED BY THE MUKTI BAHINI'S GUERRILLA WARFARE. OUTFLANKED AND OVERWHELMED, THE PAKISTANI ARMY IN THE EASTERN THEATRE SURRENDERED ON DECEMBER 16, 1971, WITH NEARLY 90,000 SOLDIERS TAKEN AS PRISONERS OF WAR. THE FIGURES OF THE BENGALI CIVILIAN DEATH TOLL FROM THE WAR VARY GREATLY, DEPENDING ON THE SOURCES. ALTHOUGH PAKISTAN'S OFFICIAL REPORT, BY ITS HAMOOD-UR-RAHMAN COMMISSION, PLACES THE FIGURE AT ONLY 26,000, OTHER SOURCES PUT THE NUMBER BETWEEN 1.25 TO 1.5 MILLION. HIGHEST FIGURE, REPORTED IN THE MEDIA, IS 3 MILLION.
THE RESULT WAS THE EMERGENCE OF THE NEW NATION OF BANGLADESH.[9] DISCREDITED BY THE DEFEAT, GENERAL YAHYA KHAN RESIGNED. BHUTTO WAS INAUGURATED AS PRESIDENT AND CHIEF MARTIAL LAW ADMINISTRATOR ON 20 DECEMBER, 1971, BUT, IN THE FOLLOWING YEARS, HE AND THE OTHER TWO KEY PLAYERS IN THIS TRAGIC WAR, MUJIBUR REHMAN AND INDIRA GANDHI SUFFERED A VIOLENT END UNDER DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES.

SECOND DEMOCRATIC ERA (1971-1977)
CIVILIAN RULE RETURNED AFTER THE WAR, WHEN GENERAL YAHYA KHAN HANDED OVER POWER TO ZULFIKAR ALI BHUTTO. IN 1972, PAKISTANI INTELLIGENCE LEARNED THAT INDIA WAS CLOSE TO DEVELOPING A NUCLEAR BOMB, AND IN RESPONSE, BHUTTO FORMED A GROUP OF ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS, HEADED BY NUCLEAR SCIENTIST ABDUS SALAM — WHO LATER WON THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR PHYSICS — TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR DEVICES. IN 1973, PARLIAMENT APPROVED A NEW CONSTITUTION. PAKISTAN WAS ALARMED BY THE INDIAN NUCLEAR TEST OF 1974, AND BHUTTO PROMISED THAT PAKISTAN WOULD ALSO HAVE A NUCLEAR DEVICE "EVEN IF WE HAVE TO EAT GRASS AND LEAVES."
DURING BHUTTO'S RULE, A SERIOUS REBELLION ALSO TOOK PLACE IN BALOCHISTAN PROVINCE AND LED TO HARSH SUPPRESSION OF BALOCH REBELS WITH PURPORTED ASSISTANCE FROM THE SHAH OF IRAN LENDING AIR SUPPORT IN ORDER TO AVOID A SPILLING OVER THE CONFLICT INTO IRANIAN BALOCHISTAN. THE CONFLICT ENDED LATER AFTER AN AMNESTY AND SUBSEQUENT STABILIZATION BY THE PROVINCIAL MILITARY RULER RAHIMUDDIN KHAN. IN 1974, BHUTTO SUCCUMBED TO INCREASING PRESSURE FROM RELIGIOUS PARTIES AND HELPED PARLIAMENT TO DECLARE THE AHMADIYYA ADHERENTS AS NON-MUSLIMS. ELECTIONS WERE HELD IN 1977, WITH THE PEOPLE'S PARTY WON BUT THIS WAS CHALLENGED BY THE OPPOSITION, WHICH ACCUSED BHUTTO OF RIGGING THE VOTE. GENERAL MUHAMMAD ZIA-UL-HAQ TOOK POWER IN A BLOODLESS COUP AND BHUTTO WAS LATER EXECUTED, AFTER BEING CONVICTED OF AUTHORIZING THE MURDER OF A POLITICAL OPPONENT, IN A CONTROVERSIAL 4-3 SPLIT DECISION BY THE SUPREME COURT.

SECOND MILITARY ERA (1977-1988)
MAIN ARTICLES: BAGHDAD PACT, ZIA-UL-HAQ'S ISLAMIZATION, AND BALOCH INSURGENCY AND RAHIMUDDIN'S STABILIZATION
PAKISTAN HAD BEEN A US ALLY FOR MUCH OF THE COLD WAR, FROM THE 1950S AND AS A MEMBER OF CENTO AND SEATO. THE SOVIET INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN RENEWED AND DEEPENED THE US-PAKISTAN ALLIANCE. THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION IN THE UNITED STATES HELPED SUPPLY AND FINANCE AN ANTI-SOVIET INSURGENCY IN AFGHANISTAN, USING PAKISTAN AS A CONDUIT. IN RETALIATION, THE AFGHAN SECRET POLICE, KHAD, CARRIED OUT A LARGE NUMBER OF TERRORIST OPERATIONS AGAINST PAKISTAN, WHICH ALSO SUFFERED FROM AN INFLUX OF ILLEGAL WEAPONS AND DRUGS FROM AFGHANISTAN. IN THE 1980S, AS THE FRONT-LINE STATE IN THE ANTI-SOVIET STRUGGLE, PAKISTAN RECEIVED SUBSTANTIAL AID FROM THE UNITED STATES AS IT TOOK IN MILLIONS OF AFGHAN (MOSTLY PASHTUN) REFUGEES FLEEING THE SOVIET OCCUPATION. THE INFLUX OF SO MANY REFUGEES - THE LARGEST REFUGEE POPULATION IN THE WORLD[68] - HAD A HEAVY IMPACT ON PAKISTAN AND ITS EFFECTS CONTINUE TO THIS DAY. GENERAL ZIA'S MARTIAL-LAW ADMINISTRATION GRADUALLY REVERSED THE SOCIALIST POLICIES OF THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT, AND ALSO INTRODUCED STRICT ISLAMIC LAW IN 1978, OFTEN CITED AS THE CONTRIBUTING FACTOR IN THE PRESENT CLIMATE OF SECTARIANISM AND RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM IN PAKISTAN. ORDINANCE XX WAS INTRODUCED TO LIMIT THE FREEDOM OF THE AHMADI'S TO CALL THEMSELVES MUSLIMS IN PAKISTAN. FURTHER, IN HIS TIME, SECESSIONIST UPRISINGS IN BALOCHISTAN WERE PUT DOWN VIOLENTLY BUT SUCCESSFULLY BY THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR, GENERAL RAHIMUDDIN KHAN.
GENERAL ZIA LIFTED MARTIAL LAW IN 1985, HOLDING NON-PARTISAN ELECTIONS AND HANDPICKING MUHAMMAD KHAN JUNEJO TO BE THE NEW PRIME MINISTER, WHO READILY EXTENDED ZIA'S TERM AS CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF UNTIL 1990. JUNEJO HOWEVER GRADUALLY FELL OUT WITH ZIA AS HIS ADMINISTRATIVE INDEPENDENCE GREW; FOR EXAMPLE, JUNEJO SIGNED THE GENEVA ACCORD, WHICH ZIA GREATLY FROWNED UPON. AFTER A LARGE-SCALE BLAST AT A MUNITIONS DUMP IN OJHRI, JUNEJO VOWED TO BRING TO JUSTICE THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE CAUSED, IMPLICATING SEVERAL SENIOR GENERALS. ZIA DISMISSED THE JUNEJO GOVERNMENT ON SEVERAL CHARGES IN MAY 1988 AND CALLED FOR ELECTIONS IN NOVEMBER 1988. HOWEVER, GENERAL ZIA DIED IN A PLANE CRASH ON AUGUST 17 1988.

THIRD DEMOCRATIC ERA (1988-1999)
MAIN ARTICLES: BENAZIR BHUTTO AND NAWAZ SHARIF
FROM 1988 TO 1999, PAKISTAN WAS RULED BY CIVILIAN GOVERNMENTS, ALTERNATELY HEADED BY BENAZIR BHUTTO AND NAWAZ SHARIF, WHO WERE EACH ELECTED TWICE AND REMOVED FROM OFFICE ON CHARGES OF CORRUPTION. DURING THE LATE 1990S, PAKISTAN WAS ONE OF THREE COUNTRIES WHICH RECOGNIZED THE TALIBAN GOVERNMENT AND MULLAH MOHAMMED OMAR AS THE LEGITIMATE RULER OF AFGHANISTAN.[69] ALLEGATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE OF PAKISTAN AND OTHER COUNTRIES PROVIDING ECONOMIC AND MILITARY AID TO THE GROUP FROM 1994 AS A PART OF SUPPORTING THE ANTI-SOVIET ALLIANCE. IT IS ALLEGED THAT SOME POST-INVASION TALIBAN FIGHTERS WERE RECRUITS DRAWN FROM PAKISTAN'S MADRASSAHS. ECONOMIC GROWTH DECLINED TOWARDS THE END OF THIS PERIOD, HURT BY THE ASIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS, AND ECONOMIC SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON PAKISTAN AFTER ITS FIRST TESTS OF NUCLEAR DEVICES IN 1998. THE PAKISTANI TESTING CAME SHORTLY AFTER INDIA TESTED NUCLEAR DEVICES AND INCREASED FEARS OF A NUCLEAR ARMS RACE IN SOUTH ASIA. THE NEXT YEAR, THE KARGIL CONFLICT IN KASHMIR THREATENED TO ESCALATE TO A FULL-SCALE WAR.[10]
IN THE ELECTION THAT RETURNED NAWAZ SHARIF AS PRIME MINISTER IN 1997, HIS PARTY RECEIVED A HEAVY MAJORITY OF THE VOTE, OBTAINING ENOUGH SEATS IN PARLIAMENT TO CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION, WHICH SHARIF AMENDED TO ELIMINATE THE FORMAL CHECKS AND BALANCES THAT RESTRAINED THE PRIME MINISTER'S POWER. INSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGES TO HIS AUTHORITY LED BY THE CIVILIAN PRESIDENT FAROOQ LEGHARI, MILITARY CHIEF JEHANGIR KARAMAT AND CHIEF JUSTICE SAJJAD ALI SHAH WERE PUT DOWN AND ALL THREE WERE FORCED TO RESIGN - SHAH DOING SO AFTER THE SUPREME COURT WAS STORMED BY SHARIF PARTISANS.[70]

THIRD MILITARY ERA (1999 - 2007)
MAIN ARTICLES: 1999 PAKISTANI COUP D'√ČTAT AND PERVEZ MUSHARRAF
ON 12 OCTOBER, 1999, SHARIF ATTEMPTED TO DISMISS ARMY CHIEF PERVEZ MUSHARRAF AND INSTALL ISI DIRECTOR KHWAJA ZIAUDDIN IN HIS PLACE, BUT SENIOR GENERALS REFUSED TO ACCEPT THE DECISION.[71] MUSHARRAF, WHO WAS OUT OF THE COUNTRY, BOARDED A COMMERCIAL AIRLINER TO RETURN TO PAKISTAN. SHARIF ORDERED THE JINNAH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO PREVENT THE LANDING OF THE AIRLINER, WHICH THEN CIRCLED THE SKIES OVER KARACHI. IN A COUP, THE GENERALS OUSTED SHARIF'S ADMINISTRATION AND TOOK OVER THE AIRPORT.[11] THE PLANE LANDED WITH ONLY A FEW MINUTES OF FUEL TO SPARE, AND GENERAL MUSHARRAF ASSUMED CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT. HE ARRESTED SHARIF AND THOSE MEMBERS OF HIS CABINET WHO TOOK PART IN THIS CONSPIRACY. AMERICAN PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON HAD FELT THAT HIS PRESSURE TO FORCE SHARIF TO WITHDRAW PAKISTANI FORCES FROM KARGIL, IN INDIAN-CONTROLLED KASHMIR, WAS ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS FOR DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN SHARIF AND THE PAKISTANI ARMY. CLINTON AND KING FAHD THEN PRESSURED MUSHARRAF TO SPARE SHARIF AND, INSTEAD, EXILE HIM TO SAUDI ARABIA, GUARANTEEING THAT HE WOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN POLITICS FOR TEN YEARS. SHARIF LIVED IN SAUDI ARABIA FOR MORE THAN SIX YEARS BEFORE MOVING TO LONDON IN 2005.
ON MAY 12, 2000 THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN ORDERED THE GOVERNMENT TO HOLD GENERAL ELECTIONS BY OCTOBER 12, 2002. IN AN ATTEMPT TO LEGITIMIZE HIS PRESIDENCY[72] AND ASSURE ITS CONTINUANCE AFTER THE IMPENDING ELECTIONS, MUSHARRAF HELD A CONTROVERSIAL NATIONAL REFERENDUM ON APRIL 30, 2002,[73] WHICH EXTENDED HIS PRESIDENTIAL TERM TO A PERIOD ENDING FIVE YEARS AFTER THE OCTOBER ELECTIONS.[74] MUSHARRAF STRENGTHENED HIS POSITION BY ISSUING A LEGAL FRAMEWORK ORDER IN AUGUST 2001 WHICH ESTABLISHED THE CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS FOR HIS CONTINUANCE IN OFFICE.[75] THE GENERAL ELECTIONS WERE HELD IN OCTOBER 2002 AND THE CENTRIST, PRO-MUSHARRAF PML-Q WON A MAJORITY OF THE SEATS IN PARLIAMENT. HOWEVER, PARTIES OPPOSED TO THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK ORDER EFFECTIVELY PARALYZED THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR OVER A YEAR. THE DEADLOCK ENDED IN DECEMBER 2003, WHEN MUSHARRAF AND SOME OF HIS PARLIAMENTARY OPPONENTS AGREED UPON A COMPROMISE, AND PRO-MUSHARRAF LEGISLATORS WERE ABLE TO MUSTER THE TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY REQUIRED TO PASS THE SEVENTEENTH AMENDMENT, WHICH RETROACTIVELY LEGITIMIZED MUSHARRAF'S 1999 COUP AND MANY OF HIS SUBSEQUENT DECREES. IN A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE ON 1ST JANUARY 2004, MUSHARRAF WON 658 OUT OF 1,170 VOTES IN THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE OF PAKISTAN, AND ACCORDING TO ARTICLE 41(8) OF THE CONSTITUTION OF PAKISTAN, WAS ELECTED TO THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT.[76]
WHILE ECONOMIC REFORMS UNDERTAKEN DURING HIS REGIME HAVE YIELDED SOME RESULTS, SOCIAL REFORM PROGRAMMES AND HIS LIBERAL VIEWS ON REFORMING THE PRACTICE OF ISLAM APPEAR TO HAVE MET WITH RESISTANCE. MUSHARRAF'S POWER IS THREATENED BY EXTREMISTS WHO HAVE GROWN IN STRENGTH SINCE THE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 ATTACKS AND WHO ARE PARTICULARLY ANGERED BY MUSHARRAF'S CLOSE POLITICAL AND MILITARY ALLIANCE WITH THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING HIS SUPPORT OF THE 2001 INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN. MUSHARRAF HAS SURVIVED SEVERAL ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS BY TERRORIST GROUPS BELIEVED TO BE PART OF AL-QAEDA, INCLUDING AT LEAST TWO INSTANCES WHERE THE TERRORISTS HAD INSIDE INFORMATION FROM A MEMBER OF HIS MILITARY SECURITY. PAKISTAN CONTINUES TO BE INVOLVED IN A DISPUTE OVER KASHMIR, WITH ALLEGATIONS OF SUPPORT OF TERRORIST GROUPS BEING LEVELED AGAINST PAKISTAN BY INDIA, WHILE PAKISTAN CHARGES THAT THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT ABUSES HUMAN RIGHTS IN ITS USE OF MILITARY FORCE IN THE DISPUTED REGION. WHAT MAKES THIS DISPUTE A SOURCE OF SPECIAL CONCERN FOR THE WORLD COMMUNITY IS, THAT BOTH INDIA AND PAKISTAN POSSESS NUCLEAR WEAPONS. IT HAD LED TO A NUCLEAR STANDOFF IN 2002, WHEN KASHMIRI-MILITANTS (SUPPOSEDLY BACKED BY THE ISI) ATTACKED THE INDIAN PARLIAMENT. IN REACTION TO THIS, SERIOUS DIPLOMATIC TENSIONS DEVELOPED AND INDIA AND PAKISTAN DEPLOYED 500,000 AND 120,000 TROOPS TO THE BORDER RESPECTIVELY.[77] WHILE THE INDO-PAKISTANI PEACE PROCESS HAS SINCE MADE PROGRESS, IT IS SOMETIMES STALLED BY INFREQUENT INSURGENT ACTIVITY IN INDIA (INCLUDING THE 11 JULY 2006 MUMBAI TRAIN BOMBINGS). PAKISTAN ALSO HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF CONTRIBUTING TO NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION; INDEED, ITS LEADING NUCLEAR SCIENTIST, ABDUL QADEER KHAN, ADMITTED TO SELLING NUCLEAR SECRETS, THOUGH HE DENIED GOVERNMENT KNOWLEDGE OF HIS ACTIVITIES.
THE PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT SENT THOUSANDS OF TROOPS INTO THE REGION OF WAZIRISTAN IN 2002 TO HUNT FOR BIN LADEN AND OTHER AL-QAEDA FUGITIVES. IN MARCH 2004, HEAVY FIGHTING BROKE OUT AT AZAM WARSAK, NEAR THE SOUTH WAZIRISTAN TOWN OF WANA, BETWEEN PAKISTANI TROOPS AND AN ESTIMATED 400 MILITANTS HOLED UP IN SEVERAL FORTIFIED SETTLEMENTS. IT WAS SPECULATED THAT BIN LADEN'S DEPUTY AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI WAS AMONG THOSE TRAPPED BY THE PAKISTANI ARMY. ON SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 A TRUCE WAS SIGNED WITH THE MILITANTS (WHO CALL THEMSELVES THE ISLAMIC EMIRATE OF WAZIRISTAN) IN WHICH THE REBELS WERE TO CEASE SUPPORTING CROSS-BORDER JIHADIST ATTACKS ON AFGHANISTAN IN RETURN FOR A GENERAL CEASEFIRE AND A HAND-OVER OF BORDER PATROL AND CHECK-POINT RESPONSIBILITIES FORMERLY HANDLED BY THE PAKISTAN ARMY.
FORMER PRIME MINISTER NAWAZ SHARIF ATTEMPTED TO RETURN FROM EXILE ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2007 BUT WAS ARRESTED ON CORRUPTION CHARGES AFTER LANDING AT ISLAMABAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. SHARIF WAS THEN PUT ON A PLANE BOUND FOR JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA, WHILST OUTSIDE THE AIRPORT THERE WERE VIOLENT CONFRONTATIONS BETWEEN SHARIF'S SUPPORTERS AND THE POLICE.[78] THIS DID NOT DETER ANOTHER FORMER PRIME MINISTER, BENAZIR BHUTTO, FROM RETURNING ON OCTOBER 18, 2007 AFTER AN EIGHT YEAR EXILE IN DUBAI AND LONDON, TO PREPARE FOR THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS TO BE HELD IN 2008.[79][80] HOWEVER, ON THE SAME DAY, TWO SUICIDE BOMBERS ATTEMPTED TO KILL BHUTTO AS SHE TRAVELLED TOWARDS A RALLY IN KARACHI. BHUTTO ESCAPED UNHARMED BUT THERE WERE 136 CASUALTIES AND AT LEAST 450 PEOPLE WERE INJURED.[81]
ON NOVEMBER 3, 2007, GENERAL MUSHARRAF PROCLAIMED A STATE OF EMERGENCY AND SACKED THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF PAKISTAN, JUSTICE IFTIKHAR MUHAMMAD CHOUDHRY ALONG WITH OTHER 14 JUDGES OF THE SUPREME COURT.[82][83] LAWYERS LAUNCHED A PROTEST AGAINST THIS ACTION BUT THEY WERE ARRESTED. ALL PRIVATE MEDIA CHANNELS WERE BANNED INCLUDING FOREIGN CHANNELS. MUSHARRAF DECLARED THAT THE STATE OF EMERGENCY WOULD END ON DECEMBER 16, 2007.[84] ON NOVEMBER 28, 2007, GENERAL MUSHARRAF RETIRED FROM THE ARMY AND THE FOLLOWING DAY WAS SWORN IN FOR A SECOND PRESIDENTIAL TERM.[85][86]
ON NOVEMBER 25, 2007, NAWAZ SHARIF MADE A SECOND ATTEMPT TO RETURN FROM EXILE, THIS TIME ACCOMPANIED BY HIS BROTHER, THE FORMER PUNJAB CHIEF MINISTER, SHAHBAZ SHARIF. HUNDREDS OF THEIR SUPPORTERS, INCLUDING A FEW LEADERS OF THE PARTY WERE DETAINED BEFORE THE PAIR ARRIVED AT LAHORE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.[87][88] THE FOLLOWING DAY, NAWAZ SHARIF FILED HIS NOMINATION PAPERS FOR TWO SEATS IN THE FORTHCOMING ELECTIONS WHILST BENAZIR BHUTTO FILED FOR THREE SEATS INCLUDING ONE OF THE RESERVED SEATS FOR WOMEN.[89]
ON DECEMBER 27, 2007, BENAZIR BUTTO WAS LEAVING AN ELECTION RALLY IN RAWALPINDI WHEN SHE WAS ASSASSINATED BY A GUNMAN WHO SHOT HER IN THE NECK AND SET OFF A BOMB,[90][91] KILLING 20 OTHER PEOPLE AND INJURING SEVERAL MORE.[92] THE EXACT CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE ATTACK REMAIN UNCLEAR BECAUSE ALTHOUGH EARLY REPORTS INDICATED THAT BHUTTO WAS HIT BY SHRAPNEL OR THE GUNSHOTS,[93] THE PAKISTANI INTERIOR MINISTRY STATED THAT SHE DIED FROM A SKULL FRACTURE SUSTAINED WHEN THE EXPLOSION THREW BHUTTO AGAINST THE SUNROOF OF HER VEHICLE.[94] BHUTTO'S AIDES REJECTED THIS CLAIM AND INSISTED THAT SHE SUFFERED TWO GUNSHOTS PRIOR TO THE BOMB DETONATION.[95] THE INTERIOR MINISTRY SUBSEQUENTLY BACKTRACKED FROM ITS PREVIOUS CLAIM.[96] THE ELECTION COMMISSION, AFTER A MEETING IN ISLAMABAD, ANNOUNCED THAT, DUE TO THE ASSASSINATION OF BENAZIR BHUTTO,[97]THE ELECTIONS, WHICH HAD BEEN SCHEDULED FOR 8 JANUARY 2008, WOULD TAKE PLACE ON 18 FEBRUARY.[98]
A GENERAL ELECTION WAS HELD IN PAKISTAN, ACCORDING TO THE REVISED SCHEDULE, ON FEBRUARY 18, 2008,).[99][100] PAKISTAN'S TWO BIG AND MAIN OPPOSITION PARTIES, THE PAKISTAN PEOPLES PARTY (PPPP) AND THE PAKISTAN MUSLIM LEAGUE (N) (PML (N)) WON THE MAJORITY OF SEATS IN THE ELECTION, ALTHOUGH THE PAKISTAN MUSLIM LEAGUE (Q) (PML (Q)) ACTUALLY WAS SECOND IN THE POPULAR VOTE. THE PPP AND PML (N) ARE EXPECTED TO FORM THE NEW GOVERNMENT.

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