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Post Partition Pakistan #23 Historical Developments 1985-1990

Pakistan's Political History (1985-1990): A Period of Transition and Turmoil


The period from 1985 to 1990 in Pakistan’s political history was marked by significant developments, including the return to civilian rule, the rise of new political forces, the 1988 general elections, the death of General Zia-ul-Haq, and the beginning of the post-Zia era. This article explores key events, constitutional progress, political dynamics, social changes, religious issues, and economic developments during this transformative period.


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

Constitutional Developments:

  • Seventh Amendment (May 1985): The Seventh Amendment to the Constitution allowed 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 faced economic challenges during this period, including inflation and fiscal deficits. Economic growth remained modest.

Leadership and Key Figures:

  1. Muhammad Khan Junejo (1985-1988): Muhammad Khan Junejo served as the Prime Minister during this period, attempting to navigate the complexities of governance.


  • Death of General Zia-ul-Haq (August 1988): General Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s military ruler, died in a plane crash on August 17, 1988, leading to a transition in leadership.
  • General Elections (November 1988): Pakistan held general elections in November 1988, following the death of General Zia.

Constitutional Developments:

  • Revival of the Constitution: With the return to civilian rule and the election of a new government, the Constitution was fully revived, and martial law came to an end.

Political Movements:

  • Emergence of New Political Forces: The 1988 general elections marked the emergence of new political forces, including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led by Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led by Nawaz Sharif.
  • Benazir Bhutto Becomes Prime Minister (December 1988): Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Social and Religious Developments:

  • Challenges of Governance: Benazir Bhutto’s government faced challenges related to governance, economic stability, and managing the legacy of General Zia’s Islamization policies.

Economic Progress:

  • Economic Reforms: Benazir Bhutto’s government introduced economic reforms, including privatization and efforts to address economic challenges.

Leadership and Key Figures:

  1. Benazir Bhutto (1988-1990): Benazir Bhutto assumed office as Prime Minister in December 1988, making her the first woman to lead Pakistan.


The period from 1985 to 1990 in Pakistan’s political history marked a transition from military rule to civilian governance. The return to civilian rule in 1985 and the subsequent 1988 general elections brought new political forces to the forefront, with Benazir Bhutto becoming Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister. The death of General Zia-ul-Haq in 1988 marked the end of an era characterized by military rule and Islamization policies. The challenges of governance, economic stability, and managing the legacy of previous policies remained prominent during this period. The revival of the Constitution and the return to democratic governance set the stage for future political developments in Pakistan.

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