Who is the national hero of Pakistan

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5000 years of high cultures

Pakistanis are proud of the thousands of years old civilizations that arose on their soil. In the 3rd millennium before the Christian era, the Indus Valley culture, also known as the Harappa culture, flourished on the middle Indus, i.e. within the boundaries of today's Pakistan. Its civilizational achievements, which included metropolitan centers, are in no way inferior to the simultaneous civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The 5000 year old water and sewer system of Mohenjo Daro, the largest city of this culture, surpasses that of some modern Pakistani cities, and the huge granary of the same old Harappa is evidence of exemplary economic planning. Harappa is well documented and there are many pictures of the excavation site; The location of this great testimony of the Indus culture is shown on a map.

The Gandhara Empire

In ancient Gandhara, which was settled in what is now northern Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan, another high culture emerged in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. The oldest and then only university in the world was founded in Taxila, near Islamabad, which also deserves this name in the modern sense. It was already organized in faculties that roughly correspond to the classic model of our university. In this center of learning for the humanities, a grammar for written Sanskrit was also developed. Art and architecture flourished, but medicine, law and economics also experienced an upswing. A famous military academy trained the army officers and strategists. There is a tradition of a scholarly dispute about which Alexander the Great summoned the professors of Taxila during his march through Gandhara (327 BC).

Buddha was first depicted in Gandhara in a Roman-Hellenistic-Indian style that testifies to the fruitful cultural relations between South Asia and Europe in the first centuries AD. Gandhara statues are among the outstanding artistic creations of that time. In the museums of Lahore, Peshawar and Mingora in Swat there are numerous testimonies to this great art. Take a look at an impressive example of a Gandhara Buddha from the 1st - 2nd centuries AD.

The Mughal dynasty

The splendid Mughal dynasty was based on the ruler Babur, who came from Samarkand and came to the country with his followers in 1542. In the course of the following years he ruled almost the entire subcontinent, from Afghanistan to Bengal, and created an advanced Islamic culture. Delhi was the new center of cultural life for the Muslims, from there they covered the country with their architectural monuments. Alongside Delhi, Lahore became the capital of the Mughal Empire (1526-1707) under Emperor Akbar the Great. The window on the adjacent picture can be seen in a Mughal palace in Lahore. Click on the picture to see it enlarged. In the great Badshahi Mosque, the Lahore Fort, the Perl Mosque (Moti Masjid) and the Shalimar Gardens - to name just a few - Persian, Central Asian and Indian elements have combined. The faces of many cities in today's Pakistan were shaped during the Mughal period.

The colonial era and the birth of Pakistan

The British came to India as seemingly harmless traders at the beginning of the 17th century. The East India Company, originally founded as a trading company, slowly expanded its sphere of trade and power through intrigue, bribery and violence. In the 18th century the systematic conquest of the subcontinent began and the term British Raj (Raj means law) spread. Persian, the language of the Mughals, was ousted and replaced by English. the new language served as a medium for higher education. Criticism and mistrust spread when the danger of alienation and marginalization of local cultures was recognized.

The British did everything in their power to put their stamp on South Asia, but in doing so they themselves got sucked into the great South Asian cultural tradition. Evidence of this are e.g. the "Mughal Gothic" colonial buildings. One of the most splendid examples of the British-Indian "Mughal Gothic" is the Islamia College in Peshawar, which adorns the 100 rupee note.

The Indian independence movement gained political importance in 1885 with the founding of the Indian National Congress Party, which was Hindu-dominated but also represented by Muslim politicians. In 1906, the Muslim League (ML) party was founded as a counterpart to the Hindu-dominated congress party, which was supposed to represent the interests of Muslims independently. The Muslim population of India felt threatened from two sides: on the one hand by the predominance of the British and on the other hand by the self-assertion of the Hindus, who made up the far larger part of the population. The various Muslim groups did not agree with one another as to whether adaptation or adherence to their own tradition would make more sense for their own continued existence. In 1930 the idea of ​​an independent Muslim state was first expressed by the poet, philosopher and ML politician Muhammad Iqbal. After the interests of these two parties collided more and more, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, then leader of the ML and later founding father of Pakistan, was able to mobilize political support among the influential Muslim citizens for his vision of an independent state for Indian Muslims. In 1940 at the party congress of the Muslim League in Lahore, this idea found its way into the “Lahore Resolution” in the form of the “two-nation theory” (today it is often referred to as the “Pakistan Resolution” in Pakistan).

In the course of the partition of India after 89 years more direct British colonial rule (from 1858 to 1947), Pakistan was born on August 14, 1947 as the "homeland of Indian Muslims". Today August 14th is celebrated as Independence Day in Pakistan. According to the "Lahore Resolution" 1940, in which a separate state for Muslims on the subcontinent was called for on the basis of the so-called "Two Nations Theory", British India was divided up so that the predominantly Muslim areas were assigned to Pakistan. This idea of ​​a separate state for Muslims still serves today as the raison d'être of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Some areas were controversial, including the princely state of Kashmir, which was ruled by a Hindu maharaja, but predominantly populated by Muslims, which is still the cause of the Kashmir conflict to this day. The politically far-reaching decision of the “partition of India” or the “independence of Muslims” - depending on the perspective from which it is viewed - resulted in what is probably one of the largest and bloodiest migration flows of the second half of the 20th century. After the partition of India, Pakistan consisted of two territorially (1500 km) separated areas, namely West Pakistan, within the borders of today's Pakistan, and East Pakistan, which split off 24 years later, in 1971, through a bloody uprising and a cruel war and within the borders of the today's Bangladesh became independent.

A comparison between these three countries shows the socio-economic and political changes after the partition of India.

The traumatic experiences of 1947 and 1971 and the associated suffering of the divided families has since been processed in literature, film, music and art in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Modern history

Authoritarian government structures of a post-colonial state paired with the need to make quick decisions regarding the refugee crisis and the Kashmir war after independence led to a politically very volatile time after the establishment. It is probably due to the untimely death of the founder of the state, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (one year after the founding of Pakistan), that the first years after Pakistan's independence brought with it an unstable civil reign and culminated in the first military coup.

In almost half of the young state's existence from 1947 to 2016, the Pakistani military ruled; in the other half, predominantly unstable civilian governments took turns in power. Pakistan was ruled four times by different military dictatorships: 1958-68 under General Ayub Khan and seamlessly from 1968-71 under General Yahya Khan, 1977-88 under General Zia-ul-Haq and most recently 1999-2008 under General Pervez Musharra). The alleged inability of the civilian political forces was repeatedly cited as the reason for the intervention in politics by the military, who coined and used slogans such as "controlled democracy" or "guided democracy".

The civilian government under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1971-77), the founder and leader of one of the strongest political parties in Pakistan, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), tried to shape an Islamic-socialist republic. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was overthrown by his self-appointed commander in chief of the military, General Zia-ul-Haq, and ultimately sentenced to death and hanged on charges of conspiracy. The mysterious death of Zia-ul-Haq in a plane crash in 1988 was followed by a decade of civil but unstable governments, dominated by either Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's daughter, or Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Punjabi Pakistan Muslim League (PML- N) Party for not more than three years each. In 1999, the then incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was the victim of a military coup by General Pervez Musharraf in the wake of the Kargil crisis. After Musharraf's military government (1999-2008), the last civilian government (February 2008- May 2013) under the PPP is the first in Pakistan's history to bring the entire legislative period of five years to an end. With the elections in May 2013, Pakistan also carried out a civil democratic change of government through elections for the first time in history - despite internal political power struggles.

The previous military coups and dictatorships were carried out by the judiciary, the highest court in Pakistan, the Supreme Court, legitimized on the basis of the so-called “state of necessity doctrin”. Accordingly, the constitution was continuously tailored to the needs of the respective ruler. The traditionally closely interwoven relationship between the military and the judiciary changed in part with the beginning of the judges' movement in 2007. The history since independence is presented in detail on the Internet portal South Asia Info.

The chronological table provides a detailed historical outline from the early history of Pakistan to current historical events.