Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Peak Moments in the History of Pakistan

Through my researches about the history of Pakistan, its literature and the ideas which led to its creation, I have come upon a rather curious pattern. It is the recurrence of "peak moments" precisely every twentieth year (with one slight exception).

The gathering of Muslim community represnetatives from all over India at Aligarh in 1886 was the first of its kind in Islam since the days of the early caliphs. Strangely, something similar has been happening since then – every twentieth year with a slight change in 1947:
  • 1886, Foundation of Muslim Educational Conference
  • 1906, Foundation of All-India Muslim League
  • 1926, General Elections on the basis of separate electorates
  • 1946, General Elections on the question of Pakistan
  • 1967, Birth of PPP and popularity of 6 Points
  • 1987, General discontent with General Zia
  • 2007, Lawyers' Movement
Why does it happen, and can it help us in a better understanding of our history (and of ourselves)?
For those unfamiliar with these events, here is a brief recap:
  • The representative gathering at Aligarh in 1886 founded the Muslim Educational Conference. A gathering like that – or perhaps even surpassing it – happened exactly twenty years later in Dacca in 1906 where the All-India Muslim League was founded. The demand for separate electorates was put forward, which we were able to exercise exactly twenty years later in the general elections held in 1926. Precisely two decades after that we had the winter elections of 1945-46 in which Pakistan was voted for.
  • Since the birth of Pakistan a year later, i.e. in 1947, these cycles may be counted from the year in which Pakistan was created. Twenty years later, in 1967, Pakistan People’s Party was founded in West Pakistan and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Six Points gained acceptance in the Eastern wing. It may be noted that general elections which had never been conducted since the birth of Pakistan, were conducted as a result of this popular uprising – and we find this to be the case again twenty years later.
  • In 1987, the end of the Afghan War being in sight, the bomb blast in Karachi, the re-emergence of political parties in the municipal elections through the backdoor, the political liaisons of Benazir Bhutto and the increasing discontent with the non-party democracy introduced by General Ziaul Haq made the need for fresh mandate felt most widely felt among all segments of the Pakistani society (and not only among those who were opposed to the rule of General Ziaul Haque or Islamic reforms). Elections on party basis happened the next year – whether through Divine intervention or human design is a question which doesn’t concern us here.
  • Adding twenty to 1987 brings us to 2007 – need we say anything about this last year?
And hence the question:
Why does it happen, and can it help us in a better understanding of our history (and of ourselves)?


  1. ASAK...
    Well, I am no expert...
    But I see a pattern in these Peak moments...the fact is that whenever Muslims/Pakistanis are in need of hope or in need of someone/something to hold on to they find one another...or rather when they need someone to support them in some cause they reach out to one another...Because that is the only time that our political leaders realise that we are one...a single nation with one common root ...these peaks are the only times when our political leaders put aside their differences and work for a common cause...(and the differences are put away only till such time that the demans are met after that it's all back to buisness)in all the cases that you have mentioned only the first and the last one are non political or rather semi political other than that...all cases involve political parties and political causes... so to sum it all up my opinion is that our politions cling on to one another in their time of need...we saw another example yesterday...


  2. In our discussions, we talk about change of consciousness and these markers are political events that signified some of those changes. I am trying to understand the current consciousness - what is the framework under which we are operating today? it feels like rage against the "might is right" policy but using the violence and destruction and hence the same process. like a violent revolution that despises tyrany.

  3. Strider and Shazia, thanks. My humble opinion on the issues you have raised is my next post 'The Seven Stages of Pakistan'.

  4. Hi,

    Very humbly, in my opinion, the topic or this study can give us a start to research for these patterns. But the first ambiguity in my mind is what do we mean by the PEAK MOMENTS. How confidently we can say that so far in the history of Pak there were only 7 peak moments.

    What I think is that we can observe these 20yrs pattern but than we cant say in general that any peak moments in Pak occurs only after every 20 yrs. The approach towards this pattern analysis would require to record all the PEAK MOMENT (from certain angle like Political or Economic Progress in Pak, Progress in Muslims Ummah, etc.) and than try to see what are the date patterns it gave to us.

    So from my side the answer to question "Why it happen" would require me to first understand what is meant by PEAK MOMENT.

    Secondly, the answer to the question "Can it better help us in a better understanding of our history (and of ourselves)?" is, again very humbly, NO. Until and unless we could define the criteria for being peak event, any patterns could be made. I believe that the events in history should be looked for the mistakes or mishandlings that we made in the past and which should not be repeated in future or what were the factors for our success which we achieve in past.

    Now if we restrict ourself to base our understanding on the patterns that we observe in history than we are missing the imp element of understanding ourself in the present context and opportunities as even the present events of similar nature may repeats but the causes and effects of it changes with time.

    I hope i m clear in this context that for both the questions we need to first define the PEAK MOMENT.

    Looking forward for your next publish on "Seven Stages of Pak".

    (I m student of History and Literature & so above explanation is not any expert's opinion)

  5. This is the beauty of History as it always creates links between past and present and open doors to predict future. The 20year time line seems to be logical but cannot be obvious to every body.

    With the explanation of the pattern, I understand that every peak attempt was made to clear more stages of democracy and freedom. Starting from establishing Muslim League to safeguard rights of Sub Continent’s Muslim, demanding separate electrode to owe prove identity in Hindu Majority and emergence of PPP to shout for a Pakistani’s own right.

    It feels like we always wanted to improve but ignoring mistakes simultaneously. We surely have a History to refer to; but interpretation of the events is the area, where we mainly lack in. And I firmly believe History is not just series of facts but the interpretation as well.

    Khurram sir, we can opt for a better understanding of our History through various means (one suggested pattern by you) but do we dare to Interpret for sake of improving our present and future?

  6. Akbar and Rozina, thanks. Questions raised by Akbar are going to help me clarify a lot of things in my mind and answer to Rozina's last question is: shouldn't we?

  7. Hi,
    I agree to Akbar sir as whenever we had discussed these patterns in class I always wondered that the events we discuss appearing in this pattern might not be the only major events which had occurred in the Pakistani history. There is always a context of any event and any event could be the peak event or we can say it The Peak Moment in its context. So I think it would not be a just decision if we only pick up those events which fall in after every 20 years and seems as the important event because there could be other important events which would have occurred in between the 20 years pattern.

  8. If we talk about history, in which when we talking about the past years of Zia..we can see that in his times he did much to strengthen the economy. In his time poverty declined a lot but it left us with two things..a) income disparity and b) regional disparity. And when this is the case how can a country reach its maximum of potentials because there's no equality,if we see that even in the old times most of our leaders were influenced by west. Like Allama iqbal did his bachelors of Arts degree from Europe, so somehow there was an influence of west in him. and so he could easily dominate the masses of Pakistan as he was superior, his ideas were different. Any ruler entering Pakistan has some sort of power which he uses to dominate and take over the public. For which the masses has to be educated, because any person who gets a degree, thinks of serving the west because of their opportunities, this means that Pakistan as a nation is not united..we don’t have the spirit of the nation.. Because in my opinion. .our leaders gave an idea of the ideology to which people had no clue about, at that time most of the people were concerned about living and earning, and so we all accepted what came our way…most of the nations have been eastablished way before pakistan did and hence the search for a sincere leader to raise the level of living and bring out the hidden selves,,,