Pakistan: Historical Overview                                

3,000 BC                  

The Indus Valley civilization—one of the oldest in the world— dating back at least 5,000 years, was spread over much of what is presently Pakistan.


2,000 BC                  

Remnants of the Indus Valley civilization’s culture joined with the migrating Indo-Aryan peoples. The area underwent successive invasions in subsequent centuries from the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs (who brought Islam), Afghans and Turks.


16th Century           

The Mughal Empire flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries.


18th Century           

The British dominated the region in the 18th century.



In 1947, British India separated into two parts: the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and the largely Hindu India (the central section).



The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved. India and Pakistan fought two wars (one in 1947-48 and one in 1965) over the disputed Kashmir territory.



A third war between India and Pakistan was fought in 1971. India capitalized on Islamabad's marginalization of Bengalis in Pakistani politics—which resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh.



In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998.



India-Pakistan relations have been rocky since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, but both countries are taking steps to put relations back on track. In February 2008, Pakistan held parliamentary elections. In September 2008, after the resignation of former President Musharraf, the Pakistanis elected Asif Ali Zardari to the presidency.



A constitutional amendment adopted in April 2010 limited many of the president's executive powers, effectively restoring the parliamentary system.



Following parliamentary elections in May 2013 in which Nawaz Sharif’s (photo) Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party won a majority of seats, Pakistan witnessed its first peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another.