Post Partition Pakistan #19 Historical Developments 1965-1970

Pakistan's Political History (1965-1970): The Transition and the First General Elections


Pakistan’s Political History (1965-1970): The Transition and the First General Elections

The period from 1965 to 1970 in Pakistan’s political history was marked by significant developments, including the Second Indo-Pakistani War (1965), the Tashkent Agreement (1966), the return to civilian rule, and the preparation for the country’s first general elections. This article explores key events, constitutional progress, political dynamics, social changes, religious issues, and economic developments during this transformative period.


  • Second Indo-Pakistani War (April 1965): The conflict between India and Pakistan erupted over territorial disputes in Kashmir. The war ended with a ceasefire brokered by the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • Tashkent Agreement (January 1966): The Tashkent Agreement, signed between India and Pakistan, marked the conclusion of the Second Indo-Pakistani War. It aimed to restore peace and diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Constitutional Developments:

The Ayub Constitution, introduced in 1960, remained in place during this period. It established a presidential system and a Basic Democracy system of governance, with indirect elections at various levels. The constitution allowed for centralized presidential rule.

Political Movements:

  • Return to Civilian Rule (1969): In the wake of protests and political unrest, President Ayub Khan announced his resignation in March 1969. General Yahya Khan assumed power and promised to hold general elections.
  • General Elections Announced (October 1969): General Yahya Khan announced that Pakistan would hold its first general elections in December 1970, marking a return to civilian rule.

Social and Religious Developments:

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  • Educational and Cultural Progress: Pakistan continued its efforts to promote education and culture. Major universities were established, and cultural institutions thrived.
  • Religious Debates: Debates about the role of Islam in the state continued, with various political groups advocating for different interpretations of Islamic governance.

Economic Progress:

  • Economic Growth: Pakistan experienced significant economic growth during this period. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased, and efforts were made to modernize various sectors of the economy.
  • Green Revolution: The Green Revolution, initiated in the mid-1960s, aimed to increase agricultural productivity. It introduced new high-yielding varieties of crops, leading to higher agricultural output.

Leadership and Key Figures:

  1. President Ayub Khan (1958-1969): Ayub Khan was in power at the beginning of this period. His presidency was marked by centralized rule and constitutional changes.
  2. General Yahya Khan (1969-1971): General Yahya Khan assumed the presidency after Ayub Khan’s resignation. He played a pivotal role in facilitating the transition to civilian rule and organizing the 1970 general elections.
  3. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a prominent political figure, emerged as a key leader during this period. He founded the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and played a crucial role in the upcoming general elections.


  • General Elections (December 1970): Pakistan held its first general elections on December 7, 1970. The elections were contested by various political parties, with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Awami League emerging as significant players.


The period from 1965 to 1970 was marked by political and constitutional changes, the end of military rule, and the preparations for Pakistan’s first general elections. The Second Indo-Pakistani War and the Tashkent Agreement brought a ceasefire and diplomatic resolution to the conflict with India. The return to civilian rule under General Yahya Khan signaled a transition toward democracy. Social and religious debates continued, while economic growth, especially through the Green Revolution, improved living standards. The upcoming general elections in 1970 would play a pivotal role in shaping Pakistan’s political landscape in the years that followed.

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