Post Partition Pakistan #21 Historical Developments 1975-1980

Pakistan's Political History (1975-1980): A Decade of Transition and Challenges


The period from 1975 to 1980 in Pakistan’s political history was marked by significant developments, including the consolidation of power by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the controversial 1977 general elections, and the subsequent military coup that brought General Zia-ul-Haq to power. This article explores key events, constitutional progress, political dynamics, social changes, religious issues, and economic developments during this transformative period.


  • Consolidation of Power: Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s leadership continued to strengthen as he implemented socialist reforms and pursued a populist agenda.

Constitutional Developments:

  • 1973 Constitution: The 1973 Constitution, which established Pakistan as a federal parliamentary republic, remained in place during this period.

Political Movements:

  • Pursuit of Populism: Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government pursued a populist agenda, including nationalization of industries, land reforms, and the pursuit of socialist policies.

Social and Religious Developments:

  • Economic Reforms: Bhutto’s government initiated land reforms to address economic disparities and improve land distribution. These reforms, known as the “Land Reforms Act,” aimed to benefit landless farmers.
  • Religious Tensions: Bhutto’s socialist policies and secular outlook led to tensions with religious groups, particularly among conservative segments of society.

Economic Progress:

  • Nationalization: Bhutto’s government implemented a policy of nationalization, taking control of key industries, including banks and large corporations. This move had a significant impact on the economy.
  • Economic Challenges: Pakistan faced economic challenges during this period, including inflation and fiscal deficits.

Leadership and Key Figures:

  1. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1975-1977): Zulfikar Ali Bhutto remained the Prime Minister of Pakistan during this period, with his leadership marked by socialist policies and political consolidation.


  • Controversial General Elections: The 1977 general elections were marred by allegations of electoral fraud and irregularities. Opposition parties, including the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA), accused Bhutto’s government of rigging the elections.

July 1977:

  • Military Coup: Amidst growing political turmoil and protests, Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq led a military coup on July 5, 1977, ousting Prime Minister Bhutto and taking control of the government.

Constitutional Developments:

  • Suspension of the Constitution: Following the military coup, the 1973 Constitution was suspended, and martial law was imposed.

Political Movements:

  • End of Bhutto’s Rule: The military coup marked the end of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s rule, and he was subsequently arrested and faced charges.

Social and Religious Developments:

  • Religious Conservatism: General Zia-ul-Haq’s rule was characterized by the promotion of conservative Islamic values and the suppression of left-wing and secular movements.

Economic Progress:

  • Economic Policies: General Zia’s government introduced economic policies aimed at liberalizing the economy and attracting foreign investment.

Leadership and Key Figures:

  1. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988): General Zia-ul-Haq assumed power after the military coup in 1977 and ruled Pakistan until his death in 1988. His rule was marked by military authoritarianism and the Islamization of Pakistan’s political and social landscape.


The period from 1975 to 1980 in Pakistan’s political history saw the consolidation of power by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, marked by socialist policies and populist measures. However, the controversial 1977 general elections and subsequent allegations of electoral fraud led to political unrest. The military coup in July 1977 brought General Zia-ul-Haq to power, resulting in the suspension of the 1973 Constitution and the imposition of martial law. Zia’s rule ushered in an era of military authoritarianism and religious conservatism, with significant implications for Pakistan’s political and social fabric. The economic challenges faced by the country remained a persistent concern during this period.

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