Friday, April 3, 2009

Seven Stages of Pakistan

Please note: Sometime after publishing this post I simplified the dates of the "seven stages" mentioned here as respectively 1887-1906, 1907-1926, 1927-1946, 1947-1966, 1967-1986, 1987-2006 and 2007-2026. Regards, Khurram Ali Shafique, April 24, 2012.

Some time ago I introduced “The Seven Stages of Pakistan” in some of my writings on the web. Several questions were asked, of various sorts, and I would now like to resume that discussion – especially for the benefit of new readers who have joined the list.

The concept is based on the observation that every twentieth year since 1886 (with one reasonable exception), a “peak moment” occurs in Pakistan when the entire nation seems bent upon seeking a fresh mandate for the future. If each of these moments were accepted as the beginning of a new stage then our history would be divided into the following seven:
  • 1886-1905: Mohammedan Educational Conference
  • 1906-25: All-India Muslim League
  • 1926-46: Separate Electorates
  • 1947-66: The Dawn of Independence
  • 1967-86: Popular Movements
  • 1987-2006: Moderate Enlightenment
  • 2007-26: The Present Stage
These stages should have been self-evident if we had not missed the basic point about the birth of Mohammedan Educational Conference on December 27, 1886. Most histories written after 1936, including sympathetic ones, state that the Conference was founded for promoting modern education, etc. The fact is that the resolution presented on that historic day was about forming an organization which could seek and formulate consensus of the community.

Once we understand that the journey started with consensus-seeking, it becomes logical to count a new stage each time a general desire for consensus-seeking arises again in the community. This has happened seven times so far: 1886, 1906, 1926, 1946, 1967, 1987 and 2007.

Hence I am not being driven by a desire to divide history into symmetrical chunks, or anything like that. The stages which I have discovered are simply based on each new move along the purpose which was the explicitly stated aim of the journey at the very beginning.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who proposed the resolution in 1886, was a believer in “the spirit of all human beings.” To him, the collective ego was the thing to be achieved, and it could be done through recognizing and respecting the consensus. Iqbal further elaborated this concept by stating that there were three types of egos:
  1. Ultimate Ego (God)
  2. Collective ego (nation or society)
  3. Individual ego
The Seven Stages of Pakistan are basically the stages in the development of the second of these, i.e. the collective ego.

One thing which I have learnt from my extensive researches into the history is that “the collective ego” in the case of Pakistan is a real thing and seems to be passing through the same stages through which an individual would pass in the course of self-development.

It might be interesting to compare the history of Pakistan with various models of self-development – from the Seven Valleys of Shaykh Fariduddin Attar to the Seven Habits currently being preached by Mr. Stephen Covey (whether or not those habits belong to “highly effective people”).


  1. comparative analysis with mr. covey would surely be interesting.

  2. Greetings,

    Thank you for this post.

    Along with other writings you've shared, and quite a lot of thorough examination of things, it is contributing to me completing overturning how I view not only me as a seeming individual, but also people collectively, as well as the whole notion of development (personally and with humanity as a whole).

    All good wishes,