10 Unforgivable Blunders That Shaped Pakistani History

10 Unforgivable Blunders That Shaped Pakistani History
Strong nations rely on their political, judicial and military leadership to act in good faith for the greater good of the nation and the prosperity of the peopleDuring the 75 years of Pakistan’s existence, our nation’s leaders have taken innumerable decisions that have significantly altered the trajectory of the nation.

Yet, ten of these decisions stand out as monumental blunders whose far reaching implications continue to haunt successive generations of Pakistanis to this day.

1.) In 1954, Pakistan joined the fray in the Cold War by jumping onto the American bandwagon. Pakistan antagonised the USSR and the Communist bloc not only by joining SEATO and CENTO, but also by allowing the Americans to station a base on Pakistani soil and permitting the flight of U2 aircraft for aerial surveillance on the Soviet Union. India, on the other hand, decided to join the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) led by Nehru, Tito and Nasser. This blunder provided greater space to the armed forces for interfering in the governance of the country.

2.) The Constituent Assembly was dissolved by the then Governor General Ghulam Mohammed and subsequently restored by the Sind High Court in the famous Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan case in the fateful year of 1954. Ironically, Chief Justice Muhammad Munir, the head of the highest court of the land, struck down the decision of the Sindh High Court in a landmark yet controversial decision in 1955, based on the idea called the “Doctrine of Necessity.” This decision paved the way for future military dictators to impose their will on the country, clearing the path for the reigns of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf.

3.) Our nascent and fragile democracy was destabilised by the irrational decision to create One Unit by doing away with the provinces of Pakistan. All the provinces of West Pakistan were coalesced together to create the province of West Pakistan, with its capital at Lahore and East Pakistan became the other unit of the Federation. This exacerbated anti-Punjab sentiment and gave credence to charges of exploitation of other provinces by Punjabi politicians, bureaucracy and the army. This caused further alienation of East Pakistan, the first martial law and the abrogation of the 1956 Constitution.

4.) The military regime of Ayub Khan launched a covert operation named Operation Gibraltar in August 1965. This ill-planned and poorly executed military adventure in Indian occupied Kashmir was nothing short of a masterclass in poor military strategy. The fallout resulted in the 1965 war with India, which intensified tensions and significantly heightened the risk of conflict in the region.

5.) The 1970 elections were held under a military regime and were definitely the most transparent, fair and uncontroversial elections in our history. In these elections, the Awami league of Sheikh Mujib Ur Rehman won a land slide victory by getting 167 seats in the National Assembly of 330 members. The Awami League was subsequently denied the rightful mandate to form a government, and this resulted in a massive insurgency in East Pakistan. The launch of a military crackdown called “Operation Searchlight” ignited the subsequent war with India and paved the way for the birth of the independent state of Bangladesh.

6.) From the shambles of the 1971 disaster emerged the rule of the elected Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto, who was then removed from power by General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 with a solemn pledge to hold elections within ninety days. The elections never took place; General Zia began his oppressive rule as a military dictator with a pervasive program of Islamization of society, and a cruel and vindictive program to eliminate remnants of the Bhutto brand from national electoral politics. Bhutto was finally hanged in 1979 on a fabricated charge of murder, decided in a controversial judicial split decision of 4 to 3, that has often been called judicial murder by the world press and some leading jurists of the world.

7.) The military rule of General Zia played havoc with the democratic institutions of the country. In 1979, the USSR invaded Afghanistan and the military regime of Zia decided to throw their weight behind the USA in the civil war in Afghanistan, hoping to gain strategic depth by curating strategic assets in Afghanistan. This decision resulted in greater inflows of American aid, but Pakistan was left saddled with Jihadi culture, religious extremism, sectarian conflict, suicide bombings and the polarisation of society.

8.) The Musharraf regime had the audacity to launch another military adventure across the Line of Control in Kargil in the summer of 1999. This reckless and unnecessary military foray did not achieve any tangible objectives, just like the earlier Operation Gibraltar. It resulted in political embarrassment on a monumental scale, the loss of the lives of hundreds of brave Pakistani boys and ultimately brought India and Pakistan to the brink of another war that could have resulted in a nuclear Armageddon.

9.) The fateful events of 9/11 irreversibly changed the course of the 21st century. The American refrain of “you are with us or against us” forced our rulers to bow down to the dictates of the USA. America wanted Mullah Omar to hand over Osama Bin Laden to them, but the then DG ISI advised Mullah Omar to refuse the American demand. America invaded Afghanistan, and Pakistan helped in every way possible. After the fall of the Taliban, Pakistan faced the brunt of the American War on Terror, losing over 75,000 innocent civilian lives in suicide bombings and was left saddled with a shattered and bruised economy.

10.) Pervez Musharraf took another irrational and reckless decision to get rid of the Chief Justice of Pakistan who had refused to do his bidding. This was a direct and blatant attack on the independence of the Judiciary. Musharraf ignited a nationwide movement and protest against the government, The resulting debacle brought bad press for the country all over the world, and then finally led to the restoration of the dismissed judges.


One can only hope and pray that present and future leaders learn from history and such irresponsible, irrational, stupid and unnecessary tragic blunders are not repeated again.