Post Partition Pakistan #22 Historical Developments 1980-1985

Pakistan's Political History (1980-1985): The Zia Era and Political Transformations


The period from 1980 to 1985 in Pakistan’s political history was marked by the continuation of General Zia-ul-Haq’s military rule, the Afghan War, the restoration of the Constitution, the return of civilian governance, and the emergence of new political leaders. This article explores key events, constitutional progress, political dynamics, social changes, religious issues, and economic developments during this transformative period.


  • Continuation of Martial Law: General Zia-ul-Haq’s military rule continued, with a focus on Islamization and strengthening his hold on power.

Constitutional Developments:

  • Eighteenth Amendment (December 1980): The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution was introduced, further consolidating presidential powers and giving the President the authority to dismiss the Prime Minister.

Political Movements:

  • Afghan War (1979-1989): The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 had significant implications for Pakistan. Pakistan supported Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet forces, with the conflict leading to increased military aid from the United States and Saudi Arabia.
  • Referendum (December 1984): General Zia held a controversial referendum to legitimize his rule and consolidate his power further.

Social and Religious Developments:

  • Islamization Policies: General Zia implemented a series of Islamization policies, including changes to the legal system, education, and public morality. He aimed to transform Pakistan into an Islamic state.
  • Blasphemy Laws: The controversial blasphemy laws were introduced during this period, leading to heightened religious tensions and accusations.


  • Return to Civilian Rule: General Zia announced the restoration of civilian rule and the holding of non-party elections in February 1985.

Constitutional Developments:

  • Seventh Amendment (May 1985): The Seventh Amendment to the Constitution was introduced, allowing for the dismissal of the Prime Minister by the President.

Political Movements:

  • Non-Party Elections (February 1985): Pakistan held non-party elections, with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) securing a majority of seats. Muhammad Khan Junejo became the Prime Minister.

Social and Religious Developments:

  • Continued Islamization: Despite the return to civilian rule, General Zia’s Islamization policies continued to shape the social and religious landscape.

Economic Progress:

  • Economic Challenges: Pakistan continued to face economic challenges, including inflation and fiscal deficits. Economic growth remained modest.

Leadership and Key Figures:

  1. General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988): General Zia continued to rule Pakistan during this period, with his leadership marked by military authoritarianism and Islamization policies.
  2. Muhammad Khan Junejo (1985-1988): Muhammad Khan Junejo became the Prime Minister following the 1985 non-party elections. His government attempted to balance between the military establishment and democratic forces.


The period from 1980 to 1985 in Pakistan’s political history witnessed the continuation of General Zia-ul-Haq’s military rule, marked by Islamization policies and his firm grip on power. The Afghan War and Pakistan’s support for Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet forces had significant geopolitical implications. The introduction of the Eighth and Seventh Amendments further strengthened the President’s powers. The return to civilian rule in 1985 marked a transition, with non-party elections leading to Muhammad Khan Junejo’s appointment as Prime Minister. However, General Zia’s legacy continued to shape Pakistan’s political and social landscape, with a focus on Islamization and conservative policies. Economic challenges persisted, highlighting the complexities of governance during this period.

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