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Pakistan traces its history back to 2,500 years B.C., when a highly developed civilization flourished in the Indus Valley. Excavations at Harrappa, Moenjodaro, Kot Diji and Mehr Garh have brought to light, the evidence of an advanced civilization existing even in more ancient times. Around 1,500 B.C., the Aryans overwhelmed this region and influenced the Hindu civilization, whose centre moved to Ganges valley, further east. Later, the Persians occupied the northern region in the 5th century B.C. up to the 2nd century AD. The Greeks came in 327 B.C., under Alexander of Macedonia, and passed away like a meteor. In 712 AD, the Arabs, led by Muhammad Bin Qasim, landed somewhere near modern Karachi and ruled the lower half of Pakistan for 200 years. During this time, Islam took roots in the soil and influenced the life, culture and traditions of the people.

In the 10th century AD, began the systematic conquest of South Asia by the Muslims from Central Asia, who ruled here up to the 18th century. Then the British came and ruled for nearly 100 years over what is Pakistan now. 

Independence Movement

The Muslim revival began towards the end of the last century when Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a renowned Muslim leader and educationist, launched a movement for intellectual renaissance of the Muslims of South Asia. In 1930, the well-known poet-philosopher, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, conceived the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of South Asia. In 1940, a resolution was adopted by the All-India Muslim League, demanding a separate independent home land for the Muslims. After 07 years of un-tiring struggle under the brilliant leadership of Quaid-e-Azam (the great leader) Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan emerged on the world map as a sovereign state, on 14th August, 1947.


This is the summary of important historical events of the subcontinent. 

Ancient Empires
3000-1500 B.C. Harappan culture in the Indus Valley and elsewhere 

500-500 B.C.Migrations of Aryan-speaking tribes; the Vedic Age 
550-486 B.C.Life of Gautama Buddha, founding of Buddhism 
320-180 B.C.Mauryan Empire; Asoka most famous emperor; spread of Buddhism 
180 B.C - 150 A.D.Saka dynasties in Indus Valley and northwest 
78-200 A.D. Kushan Empire; Gandharan art flourishes 
300-700 A.D Gupta Empire; Classical Age in northern India 

Coming of Islam
711Arab Muslims in Sindh 

998-1030 Mahmud of Ghazni raids into the subcontinent from Afghanistan 
1192 Muhammad of Ghor defeats Rajputs 
1206 Establishment of Delhi Sultanate 
1398 Destruction of Delhi by Timur 


Mughal Period  
1526 Babur victorious in first Battle of Paniput 

1530-1556 Wars of succession 
1556 Akbar victorious in second Battle of Paniput 
1556-1605 Reign of Akbar the Great 
1605-1627 Reign of Jahangir; in 1612 East India Company opens first trading  center 
1628-1658 Reign of Shah Jahan 
1658-1707 Reign of Aurangzeb 
1761 Third Battle of Panipat; an Afghan victory over a Maratha army 
1707-1858 Decline of the Mughal Empire 


British India

Battle of Plassey - British victory over Mughal forces in Bengal; conventional date for beginning of 

British rule in India
1784 William Pitt's India Act 
1799-1839 Sikh kingdom in the Punjab under Maharaja Ranjit Singh 
1830s Institution of British education and other reform measures 
1838-1842 First Afghan war 
1843 British annex Sindh, Hyderabad and Khairpur 
1845-49 Sikh Wars; British annex the Punjab and sell Kashmir, Gilgit, and Ladakh "Package," known as Kashmir

1857-1858 Uprising, variously known as the first war of independence, the  Mutiny,and the Sepoy Rebellion 
1858 British Raj begins 
1878-1880 Second Afghan War 
1885 Indian National Congress formed 
1893 Durand Line established as boundary between Afghanistan and British India 
1905 Partition of Bengal 
1906 All-India Muslim League founded 
1911 Partition of Bengal annulled 
1919 Montague-Chelmsford Reforms; Third Afghan War 
1935 Government of India Act of 1935 
March 23, 1940 Muslim League adopts Pakistan Resolution 


August 14, 1947
Partition and independence; Mohammad Ali Jinnah becomes Governor General;    Liaqath Ali Khan becomes Prime Minister 

September 11, 1948 Jinnah dies; Khwaja Nazimuddin becomes Governor General 
October 1951 Liaqath Ali Khan assassinated; Ghulam Mohammad becomes Governor General 
August 1955 Ghulam Mohammad dies; succeeded by Iskander Mirza 
October 1955 One Unit established, incorporating the four provinces of West Pakistan 
March 23, 1956 Constitution adopted; Mirza becomes President 
October 7, 1958 President Mirza abrogates constitution, declares martial law 
October 27, 1958 Mirza sent into exile; General Mohammad Ayub Khan begins rule 
September 1965 War with India over KASHMIR ISSUE.
March 25, 1969 Ayub resigns as result of public pressure; General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan assumes power. 
July 1, 1970 One unit abolished, four provinces reestablished in West Pakistan 
December 1970 First general elections; Awami League secures majority in East Pakistan & People’s Party in West Pakistan.
March 25, 1971 East Pakistan attempts to secede; civil war begins 
December 1971 Indo-Pakistani War; East Pakistan becomes the independent state of Bangladesh; Yahya resigns; President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto takes charge as the Civilian Martial Law Administrator.
July 2, 1972 Bhutto and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi conclude Simla Agreement 
August 14, 1973 New Constitution goes into effect with Bhutto as Prime Minister 
February 22-25, 1974 Islam Summit Conference held in Lahore 
March 1977 General elections; massive victory by Bhutto's party evokes widespread rioting and protest 
July 5, 1977 Martial law proclaimed 
September 1978 Mohammad Zia ul Haq becomes President 
April 4, 1979 Bhutto hanged 
March 4, 1981 Provisional Constitutional Order, which in effect suspended 1973 Constitution 
August 12, 1983 President Zia announces that martial law will be lifted in 1985, (Martial Law under General Zia-ul-Haq 1977-1985)
Referendum 1984
February 1985 General Elections
Islamization Under General Zia-ul-Haq
The Afghan War Settlement
[1985-88] Muhammad Khan Junejo Becomes Prime Minister
[1985] Historic 8th Amendment is passed
[1988] Death of General Zia-ul-Haq
[1988] Benazir Bhutto Becomes Prime Minister
[1988] Ghulam Ishaq Khan Becomes President
[1990] Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi Becomes Caretaker Prime Minister
[1990] Nawaz Sharif Becomes Prime Minister
[1993] Balakh Sher Mazari Becomes Caretaker Prime Minister
[1993] Moin Qureshi Becomes Caretaker Prime Minister
[1993] Benazir Bhutto Becomes Prime Minister
[1993] Sardar Farooq Legahri Becomes President
[1996] Malik Meraj Khalid Becomes Caretaker Prime Minister
[1997] Nawaz Sharif Becomes Prime Minister
[1997] Thirteenth Amendment is Passed
[1997] Fourteenth Amendment is Passed
[1998] Muhammad Rafiq Tarar Elected as President
[1998] Pakistan: A Nuclear Power
[1999] The Lahore Declaration
[1999] The Kargil Offensive
[1999] Military Comes to Power Again
[June, 2001] Pervez Musharraf becomes President
[2001] Agra Summit
[2001] Local Government System
[2001] September Eleven and Its Aftermath
Referendum 2002
Legal Framework Order 2002
General Elections 2002
[2002] Zafarullah Khan Jamali Becomes Prime Minister: Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali was elected the 20th Prime Minister of Pakistan by the newly elected Parliament on November 21, 2002. President General Pervez Musharraf administered the oath to the new Prime Minster at the Aiwan-i-Sadr on November 23. He now heads Pakistan's first civilian government after three years of military rule of General Pervez Musharraf.

In January 2004 Musharraf sought and received an unprecedented vote of confidence from a parliamentary electoral college. In August Shaukat Aziz, a former banker and minister of finance, took the premiership. Musharraf, however, clearly continued to hold the reins of power, and despite repeated promises to return the country to full civilian authority, he announced at the end of the year that the country was too fragile for him to comply with his own deadlines. This applied also to the president’s refusal to step down as head of the armed forces, despite repeated demands by political opponents that he do so. On the other side of the political spectrum, Musharraf had to contend with constant attacks from the MMA, who accused him of seeking to secularize Pakistan. The country continued to be subject to increasing incidents of sectarian violence, including suicide bombings at mosques and other public places. Adding to this human-generated calamity, Pakistan suffered a devastating earthquake in October 2005 in the Kashmir region that killed tens of thousands of people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

In early 2007 Musharraf began seeking reelection to the presidency. However, because he remained head of the military, opposition parties and then the Pakistan Supreme Court objected on constitutional grounds. In March Musharraf dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, which sparked a general strike of Pakistani lawyers and outbreaks of violent protest in various parts of the country; the Supreme Court overturned the dismissal in July, and Chaudhry was reinstated. In October an electoral college consisting of the parliament and four provincial legislatures voted to give Musharraf another five-year term, although opposition members refused to participate in the proceedings. After the Supreme Court delayed the pronouncement of this outcome (in order to review its constitutionality), Musharraf declared a state of emergency in early November. The constitution was once again suspended, members of the Supreme Court (including Chaudhry) were dismissed, and the activities of independent news media organizations were curtailed. Later in the month, the Supreme Court, reconstituted with Musharraf appointees, upheld his reelection; Musharraf subsequently resigned his military commission and was sworn into the presidency as a civilian.

In the fall of 2007 Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto—who had also been living in exile—were permitted to return to Pakistan, and each began campaigning for upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for early January 2008. At the end of December, however, Bhutto was assassinated at a political rally in Rawalpindi, an act that stunned Pakistanis and set off riots and rampages in different parts of the country. Musharraf, having only just lifted the state of emergency, had to again place the armed forces on special alert, and he was forced to postpone the election until mid-February.

The outcome of the voting was seen as a rejection of Musharraf and his rule; his PML-Q party finished a distant third behind the PPP (now led by Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower), which captured about one-third of the parliamentary seats up for election, and Sharif’s party, the PML-N, with about one-fourth of the seats. In March the PPP and PML-N formed a coalition government. Yousaf Raza Gilani, a prominent member of the PPP and a former National Assembly speaker, was elected prime minister.

Disagreements emerged within the governing coalition in the months following its formation, particularly regarding the reinstatement of the Supreme Court judges Musharraf had dismissed late the previous year, and these disputes threatened to destabilize the alliance. Nevertheless, in August 2008 the coalition moved to begin impeachment charges against Musharraf, citing grave constitutional violations; on August 18, faced with the impending proceedings, Musharraf resigned.

Pakistan under Zardari
Conflict within the coalition continued to escalate following Musharraf’s departure. In light of ongoing differences, including disputes over Musharraf’s successor, Sharif subsequently withdrew the PML-N from the governing coalition and indicated that his party would put forth its own candidate in the presidential elections announced for early September; however, neither the PML-N nor the PML-Q candidate won enough support to pose a challenge to Zardari, the PPP’s candidate, and on Sept. 6, 2008, he was elected president.

Friction between Zardari and Sharif intensified in early 2009 when the Supreme Court voted to disqualify Sharif’s brother from his position as chief minister of the Punjab and to uphold a ban prohibiting Sharif himself from holding political office (the ban stemmed from his 2000 conviction for high crimes). Sharif alleged that the court’s rulings were politically motivated and backed by Zardari. In addition, the status of the Supreme Court judges dismissed under Musharraf who had yet to be reinstated—one of the issues that had undermined the Sharif-Zardari coalition—remained a major source of conflict between the two rivals. In March 2009 Sharif broke free of an attempt to place him under house arrest and headed toward the capital, where he planned to hold a rally advocating for the reinstatement of the judges. Faced with this prospect, the government agreed to reinstate Chief Justice Chaudhry and a number of other Supreme Court judges who had not yet been returned to their posts. The move was seen as a political victory for Sharif and a significant concession on the part of Zardari, who is thought to have opposed Chaudhry’s return because of the possibility that the amnesty Zardari had received under Musharraf might be overturned. Shortly thereafter, Sharif’s brother was also returned to his position.

In October 2008 limited trade between the Pakistani- and Indian-administered portions of Kashmir resumed. It was the first such commerce in more than 60 years and signaled improved relations between the two countries.

To be continue...


Related Sites

The Islamic Civilization and Muslim Scientists
Islamic Arts and Architecture
Chronology of Muslim History
Islam: Empire of Faith
Muslim History
The Mughal Empire
More on the Mughal Empire
Historic Interest and Natural Beauty
Pakistan through the centuries
History of Taxila
Harappan Civilization
Languages of Pre-Islamic Pakistan
Languages of Pakistan (an Ethnologue)
Ancient Coins of Asia
Pakistan's background
The Story of Pakistan
Mohammad Allama Iqbal
Mohammad Ali Jinnah
Pak-Afghan War Against the Soviets
Defence Journal of Pakistan
Islamic Resources
Images of Pakistan
More Images of Pakistan
Government of Pakistan
Wildlife of Pakistan


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