Post Partition Pakistan #26 Historical Developments 2000-2008

"The Musharraf Era: A Decade of Political and Constitutional Transformation in Pakistan"


The 1999 coup in Pakistan, led by General Pervez Musharraf against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, marked a significant turning point in the country’s political history. This event had far-reaching consequences for Pakistan’s political landscape and its relationship with the military.


Nawaz Sharif, a prominent political figure in Pakistan, had been serving as the Prime Minister since 1997. His second term in office, however, was marred by political turmoil and controversy. One of the most significant issues that led to the coup was the Kargil conflict, a military conflict between India and Pakistan in the disputed region of Kashmir. Nawaz Sharif’s government was accused of not fully consulting the military before initiating the conflict, which ultimately ended in a diplomatic setback for Pakistan.

The Coup:

On October 12, 1999, General Pervez Musharraf, then the Chief of Army Staff, seized power in a bloodless coup. He cited “national interest” as the reason for the takeover, accusing Nawaz Sharif’s government of corruption, mismanagement, and jeopardizing Pakistan’s security. The coup took place while Nawaz Sharif was out of the country, and his efforts to dismiss General Musharraf and replace him with another senior military officer had backfired.

Musharraf dissolved the government, suspended the constitution, and imposed a state of emergency. He assumed the office of Chief Executive, effectively becoming the de facto ruler of Pakistan. This marked the fourth military coup in Pakistan’s history since its independence in 1947.


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The coup had several immediate and long-term consequences:

  1. Suspension of Democracy: The coup resulted in the suspension of democratic governance in Pakistan. Political parties were banned, and a military-backed regime was established.
  2. International Isolation: Pakistan faced international isolation following the coup, as most Western nations condemned the military takeover and imposed sanctions.
  3. Shift in Foreign Policy: General Musharraf’s government recalibrated Pakistan’s foreign policy, aligning more closely with the United States in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Pakistan became a key ally in the global war on terror.
  4. Economic Reforms: Musharraf’s regime implemented economic reforms that stabilized Pakistan’s economy to some extent, attracting foreign investment and improving economic indicators.
  5. Political Reconciliation: Over time, General Musharraf attempted to engineer a controlled political transition. He allowed for elections and a return to civilian rule but retained significant power as the President.
  6. Ongoing Political Instability: Despite the return to civilian rule, Pakistan continued to grapple with political instability, as successive governments faced challenges from both the military establishment and political opposition.

The 1999 coup led by General Pervez Musharraf against Nawaz Sharif’s government had profound and enduring consequences for Pakistan’s political landscape. It marked a period of political upheaval, strained civil-military relations, and a complex web of challenges that continue to influence Pakistan’s politics to this day.

Certainly, here are some key events and developments that took place within Pakistan during Mushraf Era:

  1. 2000 Local Government Elections: Pakistan held local government elections in 2000, marking a return to civilian rule at the grassroots level after years of military rule. These elections were seen as an important step toward decentralization and local governance.
  2. September 11, 2001: The 9/11 attacks in the United States had a profound impact on Pakistan. In the aftermath, Pakistan became a key ally in the U.S.-led War on Terror, aligning with the United States against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
  3. Legal Framework Order (LFO) 2002: Musharraf introduced the Legal Framework Order in 2002, which amended the Constitution of Pakistan. The LFO granted significant powers to the President and allowed him to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve the National Assembly.
  4. 2002 General Elections: Pakistan conducted general elections in 2002, which resulted in the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) winning a majority of seats in the National Assembly. This marked the return of civilian government under President Pervez Musharraf’s military regime. These elections were conducted under the framework of the Legal Framework Order (LFO), introduced by President Musharraf.
  5. Earthquake in Kashmir (2005): In October 2005, a devastating earthquake struck Pakistan-administered Kashmir and northern areas of Pakistan. The earthquake caused widespread destruction and resulted in significant loss of life.
  6. Lal Masjid Operation (2007): The Lal Masjid operation, also known as Operation Silence, took place in July 2007. Pakistani security forces launched an operation to clear the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, which had been seized by militants. The operation resulted in a significant loss of life and marked a turning point in the government’s efforts to combat militancy.
  7. Lawyers’ Movement (2007-2009): A lawyers’ movement emerged in Pakistan in response to President Pervez Musharraf’s dismissal of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The movement led to protests and calls for the restoration of the judiciary’s independence.
  8. Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination (2007): Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack in December 2007, just weeks before the scheduled general elections. Her death had significant political implications and contributed to further political instability.
  9. National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) 2007: In an attempt to reconcile with political opposition, Musharraf promulgated the NRO in 2007. It granted amnesty to several politicians and allowed them to return to Pakistan without facing legal charges.
  10. Emergency of 2007: In November 2007, Musharraf declared a state of emergency, suspended the Constitution, and dismissed the judiciary. This move was met with widespread protests and led to a crackdown on civil liberties and the media.
  11. 2008 General Elections: Pakistan held general elections in February 2008, which marked a transition to civilian rule after the end of General Musharraf’s presidency. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the most seats, and Asif Ali Zardari became President.
  12. Musharraf Resignation (2008): Amid mounting political pressure and the threat of impeachment, President Musharraf announced his resignation on August 18, 2008. This marked the end of his era and paved the way for civilian leadership.
  13. Transition to Civilian Rule: Following Musharraf’s resignation, Pakistan transitioned to civilian rule. Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto, became President, and a coalition government led by the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) took office.

These are just some of the notable events that occurred in Pakistan during the General Mushraaf era. The decade was marked by political, social, and security challenges as Pakistan navigated its way through a complex and evolving landscape.

From the year 2000 to 2008, Pakistan experienced a series of changes in leadership at the highest offices. Here is a list of individuals who held the highest offices during this period:

  1. General Pervez Musharraf (2000-2008):
    • Chief Executive of Pakistan (1999-2001)
    • President of Pakistan (2001-2008)
  2. Nawaz Sharif (2000-2001):
    • Prime Minister of Pakistan (returned to office after the coup)
  3. Zafarullah Khan Jamali (2002-2004):
    • Prime Minister of Pakistan (appointed by Musharraf)
  4. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (2004):
    • Prime Minister of Pakistan (briefly served as caretaker Prime Minister)
  5. Shaukat Aziz (2004-2007):
    • Prime Minister of Pakistan (appointed by Musharraf)
  6. Yousaf Raza Gillani (2008-2012):
    • Prime Minister of Pakistan (elected after the 2008 general elections)
  7. Pervez Musharraf (2007-2008):
    • Continued to serve as President until his resignation in August 2008
  8. Asif Ali Zardari (2008-2013):
    • Elected as the President of Pakistan after Musharraf’s resignation

These leaders held the highest offices in Pakistan during a period marked by political transitions, military rule, and the eventual return to civilian governance.

The political and constitutional developments during the Musharraf era were characterized by a mix of authoritarian measures, attempts at political reconciliation, and a complex relationship between the military and civilian authorities. The era had a profound impact on Pakistan’s political landscape and constitutional framework, shaping the country’s political dynamics in the years that followed.


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