Pakistan was home to some of the earliest human civilisations because of the region's excellent natural resources, most notable being water resources and arable land.


Mehrgarh, (7000-5500 BCE), on the Kachi plain of Balochistan, is an important Neolithic site discovered in 1974, with early evidence of farming and herding, and dentistry. Early residents lived in mud brick houses, stored grain in granaries, fashioned tools with copper ore, cultivated barley, wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle, while later residents (5500-2600 BCE) engaged in crafts, including flint knapping, tanning, bead production, and metalworking. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BCE, but climatic changes between 2600 and 2000 BCE caused the area to become more arid. Mehrgarh was abandoned in favour of the Indus valley, where a new civilization was in the early stages of development.

The Indus Valley civilization developed between 3300-1700 BCE on the banks of the Indus River and at its peak had as many as five million inhabitants in hundreds of settlements extending as far as the Arabian Sea, southern and eastern Afghanistan, southeastern Iran and the Himalayas. The major urban centers were at Dholavira, Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro, and Rakhigarhi, as well as an offshoot called the Kulli culture (2500-2000 BCE) in southern Balochistan, which had similar settlements, pottery and other artifacts. The Indus Valley civilisation has been tentatively identified as proto-Dravidian, but this cannot be confirmed until the Indus script is fully deciphered. The civilization collapsed abruptly around 1700 BCE, possible due to a cataclysmic earthquake or the drying up of the Ghaggar-Hakra river or due to the invasion of Aryans.

In the early part of the second millennium BCE, Indo-European tribes from Central Asia or the southern Russian steppes migrated into the region, and settled in the Sapta Sindhu area between the Kabul River and the Upper Ganges-Yamuna rivers. The resulting Vedic culture lasted until the middle of the first millennium BCE when there were marked linguistic, cultural and political changes. During the Vedic culture, the hymns of the Rigveda were composed and the foundations of Hinduism were laid. The city of Taxila, in northern Pakistan, became important in Hinduism (and later in Buddhism); according to Hindu tradition, the Mahābhārata epic was first recited at Taxila at the snake sacrifice Yagna of King Janamejaya, one of the heroes of the story.

Early History[]

The Indus plains formed the most populous and richest satrapy of the Persian Achaemenid Empire for almost two centuries, starting from the reign of Darius the Great (522-485 BCE). Its heritage influenced the region e. g. adoption of Aramaic script, which the Achaemenids used for the Persian language; but after the end of Achaemenid rule, other scripts became more popular, such as Kharoṣṭhī (derived from Aramaic) and Greek. The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism began when Alexander the Great overthrew the Achaemenid empire in 334 BCE, and marched eastwards. Eventually, after defeating King Porus in the fierce Battle of the Hydaspes (near modern Jhelum), he conquered much of the Punjab region. But, his battle weary troops refused to advance further into India to engage the formidable army of Nanda Dynasty. Therefore, Alexander proceeded southwest along the Indus valley. Along the way, he engaged in several battles with smaller kingdoms before marching his army westward across the Makran desert towards modern Iran. Alexander founded several new Macedonian/Greek settlements in Gandhara and Punjab.During the time of his campaigns on the Indus plain, Alexander had found an ally in Chandragupta Maurya, who later raised his own military force and overthrew the Nanda Dynasty in Magadha, using Macedonian tactics, and founded the Mauryan dynasty that lasted about 180 years.[25] Alexander's Diadochi (generals) divided his empire after his death in 323 BCE, with Seleucus setting up the Seleucid Kingdom, which included the Indus plain.[26] Chandragupta Maurya took advantage of this fragmentation of Greek power and captured the Punjab and Gandhara.[27] Later, the eastern part of the Seleucid Kingdom broke away to form the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (third–second century BCE). Chandragupta's grandson, Ashoka the Great, (273-232 BCE) expanded the Mauryan empire to its greatest extent covering most of South Asia. He converted to Buddhism after feeling remorse for his bloody conquest of Kalinga in eastern India. His Edicts were written on pillars in Aramaic (the lingua franca of the Achaemenid Empire) or in Kharoṣṭhī.[28]

Greco-Buddhism (or Græco-Buddhism) was the syncretism between the culture of Classical Greece and Buddhism in the area of modern Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the fourth century BCE and the fifth century CE.[29] It influenced the artistic development of Buddhism, and in particular Mahayana Buddhism, before it spread to central and eastern Asia, from the 1st century CE onward. Demetrius (son of the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus) invaded northern India in 180 BCE as far as Pataliputra and established an Indo-Greek kingdom. To the south, the Greeks captured Sindh and nearby coastal areas, completing the invasion by 175 BCE and confining the Sungas to the east. Meanwhile, in Bactria, the usurper Eucratides killed Demetrius in a battle. Although the Indo-Greeks lost part of the Gangetic plain, their kingdom lasted nearly two centuries.

The Indo-Greek Menander I (reigned 155-130 BCE) drove the Greco-Bactrians out of Gandhara and beyond the Hindu Kush, becoming a king shortly after his victory. His territories covered Panjshir and Kapisa in modern Afghanistan and extended to the Punjab region, with many tributaries to the south and east, possibly as far as Mathura. The capital Sagala (modern Sialkot) prospered greatly under Menander's rule and Menander is one of the few Bactrian kings mentioned by Greek authors.[30] The classical Buddhist text Milinda Pañha, praises Menander, saying there was "none equal to Milinda in all India".[31] His empire survived him in a fragmented manner until the last independent Greek king, Strato II, disappeared around 10 CE. Around 125 BCE, the Greco-Bactrian king Heliocles, son of Eucratides, fled from the Yuezhi invasion of Bactria and relocated to Gandhara, pushing the Indo-Greeks east of the Jhelum River. Various petty kings ruled into the early first century CE, until the conquests by the Scythians, Parthians and the Yuezhi, who founded the Kushan dynasty. The last known Indo-Greek ruler was Theodamas, from the Bajaur area of Gandhara, mentioned on a 1st century CE signet ring, bearing the Kharoṣṭhī inscription "Su Theodamasa" ("Su" was the Greek transliteration of the Kushan royal title "Shau" ("Shah" or "King")).

The Indo-Scythians were descended from the Sakas (Scythians) who migrated from southern Siberia to Kashmir and Arachosia from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century BCE. They displaced the Indo-Greeks and ruled a kingdom that stretched from Gandhara to Mathura and Scythian tribes spread further into northwest India and the Iranian plateau.

The Parni were a nomadic Central Asian tribe who overthrew the Persian Seleucids and annexed much of the Indus region. Following the decline of the central Parthian authority after clashes with the Roman Empire, a local Parthian leader, Gondophares established the Indo-Parthian Kingdom in the 1st century CE. The kingdom was ruled from Taxila and covered much of modern southeast Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India.[32]

The Kushan kingdom founded by King Heraios, and greatly expanded by his successor, Kujula Kadphises. Kadphises' son, Vima Takto conquered territory now in India, but lost much of the west of the kingdom to the Parthians. The fourth Kushan emperor, Kanishka I, (circa 127 CE) had a winter capital at Purushapura (Peshawar) and a summer capital at Kapisa (Bagram). The kingdom linked the Indian Ocean maritime trade with the commerce of the Silk Road through the Indus valley. At its height, the empire extended from the Aral Sea to northern India, encouraging long-distance trade, particularly between China and Rome. Kanishka convened a great Buddhist council in Kashmir, marking the start of the pantheistic Mahayana Buddhism and its scission with Nikaya Buddhism. The art and culture of Gandhara are the best known expressions of the interaction of Greek and Buddhist cultures, which continued over several centuries until the fifth century CE White Hun invasions. Over the next few centuries, the White Huns, Indo-Parthians, and Kushans shared control of the Indus plain while the Persian Sassanid Empire dominated the south and southwest. The mingling of Indian and Persian cultures in the region gave rise to the Indo-Sassanid culture, which flourished in Balochistan and western Punjab. The Gupta Empire arose in northern India around the second century CE and included much of the lower Indus area as a province. The Gupta era was marked by a local Hindu revival, although Buddhism continued to flourish.

Muslim Period[]

In 712 CE, a Syrian Muslim chieftain called Muhammad bin Qasim conquered most of the Indus region for the Umayyad empire, but the instability of the empire resulted in effective control only over Sind and southern Punjab. The provincial capital of "As-Sindh" was at Al-Mansurah, 72 km north of modern Hyderabad. There was gradual conversion to Islam in the south, especially amongst the native Buddhist majority, but in areas north of Multan, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Muslim groups remained numerous.

In 997 CE, Mahmud of Ghazni conquered the bulk of Khorasan, marched on Peshawar in 1005, and followed it by the conquests of Punjab (1007), Balochistan (1011), Kashmir (1015) and Qanoch (1017). By the end of his reign in 1030, Mahmud's empire extended from Kurdistan in the west to the Yamuna river in the east, and the Ghaznavid dynasty lasted until 1187. Contemporary historians such as Abolfazl Beyhaqi and Ferdowsi described extensive building work in Lahore, as well as Mahmud's support and patronage of learning, literature and the arts.

In 1160, Muhammad Ghori conquered Ghazni from the Ghaznavids and became its governor in 1173. He marched eastwards into the remaining Ghaznavid territory and Gujarat in the 1180s, but was rebuffed by Gujarat's Solanki rulers. In 1186-7, he conquered Lahore, bringing the last of Ghaznevid territory under his control and ending the Ghaznavid empire. Muhammad Ghori returned to Lahore after 1200 to deal with a revolt of the Rajput Ghakkar tribe in the Punjab. He suppressed the revolt, but was killed during a Ghakkar raid on his camp on the Jhelum River in 1206. Muhammad Ghori's successors established the first Indo-Islamic dynasty, the Delhi Sultanate. The Mamluk Dynasty, (mamluk means "slave" and referred to the Turkic slave soldiers who became rulers throughout the Islamic world), seized the throne of the Sultanate in 1211. Several Turko-Afghan dynasties ruled their empires from Delhi: the Mamluk (1211-90), the Khalji (1290-1320), the Tughlaq (1320-1413), the Sayyid (1414-51) and the Lodhi (1451-1526). Although some kingdoms remained independent of Delhi - in Gujarat, Malwa (central India), Bengal and Deccan - almost all of the Indus plain came under the rule of these large Indo-Islamic sultanates. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the sultanate was its temporary success in insulating South Asia from the Mongol invasion from Central Asia in the thirteenth century; nonetheless the sultans eventually lost Afghanistan and western Pakistan to the Mongols (see the Ilkhanate Dynasty).

The sultans (emperors) of Delhi enjoyed cordial relations with Muslim rulers in the Near East but owed them no allegiance. While the sultans ruled from urban centers, their military camps and trading posts provided the nuclei for many towns that sprang up in the countryside. Close interaction with local populations led to cultural exchange and the resulting "Indo-Islamic" fusion has left a lasting imprint and legacy in South Asian architecture, music, literature, life style and religious customs. In addition, the language of Urdu (literally meaning "horde" or "camp" in various Turkic dialects) was born during the Delhi Sultanate period, as a result of the mingling of speakers of Sanskritic prakrits, Persian, Turkish and Arabic languages.

From the 16th to the 19th century CE the formidable Mughal empire covered much of South Asia and played a major role in the economic and cultural development of the region. The empire was one of the three major Islamic states of its day and sometimes contested its northwestern holdings such as Qandahar against the Uzbeks and the Safavid Persians. The Mughals were descended from Persianized Central Asian Turks (with significant Mongol admixture). The third emperor, Akbar the Great, was both a capable ruler and an early proponent of religious and ethnic tolerance and favored an early form of multiculturalism. For a short time in the late 16th century, Lahore was the capital of the empire. The architectural legacy of the Mughals in Lahore includes the Shalimar Gardens built by the fifth emperor, Shahjahan, and the Badshahi Mosque built by the sixth emperor, Aurangzeb.

In 1739, the Persian emperor Nader Shah invaded India, defeated the Mughal Emperor Mohammed Shah, and occupied most of Balochistan and the Indus plain. After Nadir Shah's death, the kingdom of Afghanistan was established in 1747, by one of his generals, Ahmad Shah Abdali and included Kashmir, Peshawar, Daman, Multan, Sind and Punjab. In the south, a succession of autonomous dynasties (the Daudpotas, Kalhoras and Talpurs) had asserted the independence of Sind, from the end of Aurangzeb's reign. Most of Balochistan came under the influence of the Khan of Kalat, apart from some coastal areas such as Gwadar which were ruled by the Sultan of Oman. The Sikh Confederacy (1748-1799) was a group of small states in the Punjab which emerged in a political vacuum created by rivalry between the Mughals, Afghans and Persians. The Confederacy drove out the Mughals, repelled several Afghan invasions and in 1764 captured Lahore. However after the retreat of Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Confederacy suffered instability as disputes and rivalries emerged. The Sikh empire (1799-1849) was formed on the foundations of the Confederacy by Ranjit Singh who proclaimed himself "Sarkar-i-Wala", and was referred to as the Maharaja of Lahore. His empire eventually extended as far west as the Khyber Pass and as far south as Multan. Amongst his conquests were Kashmir in 1819 and Peshawar in 1834, although the Afghans made two attempts to recover Peshawar. After the Maharaja's death the empire was weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. The British annexed the Sikh empire in 1849 after two Anglo-Sikh wars.

Independence Struggle[]

The concept of an independent Muslim nation emerged gradually from the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. In 1885, the Indian National Congress was founded as a forum, which later became a party, to promote a nationalist cause. Although the Congress attempted to include the Muslim community in the independence struggle and some Muslims were very active in the Congress, the majority of Muslim leaders did not trust the party, viewing it as a "Hindu-dominated" organization. Some Muslims felt that an independent united India would inevitably be "ruled by Hindus", and that there was a need to address the issue of the Muslim identity within India. Thus in 1877, Syed Ameer Ali formed the Central National Muhammadan Association to work towards the political advancement of the Muslims, but the organisation declined towards the end of the nineteenth century. A turning point came in 1900 when the British administration in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), acceded to Hindu demands and made Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, the official language. The Muslims feared that the Hindu majority would seek to suppress Muslim culture and religion in an independent India. The All-India Muslim League was founded on December 30th, 1906, on the sidelines of the annual All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Shahbagh, Dhaka. The meeting was attended by three thousand delegates and presided over by Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk. It addressed the issue of legitimate safeguards for Muslims and finalised a programme. A resolution, moved by Nawab Salimullah and seconded by Hakim Ajmal Khan. Nawab Viqar-ul-Milk, declared:

The musalmans are only a fifth in number as compared with the total population of the country, and it is manifest that if at any remote period the British government ceases to exist in India, then the rule of India would pass into the hands of that community which is nearly four times as large as ourselves …our life, our property, our honour, and our faith will all be in great danger, when even now that a powerful British administration is protecting its subjects, we the Musalmans have to face most serious difficulties in safe-guarding our interests from the grasping hands of our neighbors.

The constitution and principles of the League were contained in the "Green Book", written by Maulana Mohammad Ali. Its goals at this stage did not include establishing an independent Muslim state, but rather concentrated on protecting Muslim liberties and rights, promoting understanding between the Muslim community and other Indians, educating the Muslim and Indian community at large on the actions of the government, and discouraging violence. However, several factors over the next thirty years, including sectarian violence, led to a re-evaluation of the League's aims. Among those Muslims in the Congress who did not initially join the League was Muhammed Ali Jinnah, a prominent Bombay lawyer and statesman. This was because the first article of the League's platform was "To promote among the Mussalmans (Muslims) of India, feelings of loyalty to the British Government". In 1907, a vocal group of Hindu hard-liners within the Indian National Congress movement separated from it and started to pursue a pro-Hindu movement openly. This group was spearheaded by the famous trio of Lal-Bal-Pal - Lala Lajpat Rai , Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal of Punjab, Bombay and Benagal provinces respectively. Their influence spread rapidly among other like minded Hindus - they called it Hindu nationalism - and it became a cause of serious concern for Muslims. However, Jinnah did not join the League until 1913, when it changed its platform to one of Indian independence as a reaction against the British decision - taken under the enormous pressure and vociferous protests of the Hindu majority - to reverse the 1905 Partition of Bengal, which the League regarded as a betrayal of the Bengali Muslims. Even at this stage, Jinnah believed in Muslim-Hindu co-operation to achieve an independent, united India, although he argued that Muslims should be guaranteed one-third of the seats in any Indian Parliament. The League gradually became the leading representative body of Indian Muslims. Jinnah became its president in 1916, and negotiated the Lucknow Pact with the Congress leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, by which Congress conceded the principle of separate electorates and weighted representation for the Muslim community. However, Jinnah broke with the Congress in 1920 when the Congress leader, Mohandas Gandhi, launched a law violating Non-Cooperation Movement against the British, which a temperamentally law abiding barrister Jinnah disapproved of. Jinnah also became convinced that the Congress would renounce its support for separate electorates for Muslims, which indeed it did in 1928. In 1927, the British proposed a constitution for India as recommended by the Simon Commission, but they failed to reconcile all parties. The British then turned the matter over to the League and the Congress, and in 1928 an All-Parties Congress was convened in Delhi. The attempt failed, but two more conferences were held, and at the Bombay conference in May, it was agreed that a small committee should work on the constitution. The prominent Congress leader Motilal Nehru headed the committee, which included two Muslims, Syed Ali Imam and Shoaib Quereshi; Motilal's son, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, was its secretary. The League, however, rejected the committee's report, the so called Nehru Report, arguing that its proposals gave too little representation (one quarter) to Muslims – the League had demanded at least one-third representation in the legislature. Jinnah announced a "parting of the ways" after reading the report, and relations between the Congress and the League began to sour.

Rise of the League[]

The election of Ramsay MacDonald's Labour government in 1929 in Britain, already weakened by the First World War, fuelled new hopes for progress towards self-government in India. Gandhi travelled to London, claiming to represent all Indians and criticising the League as sectarian and divisive. Round-table talks were held, but these achieved little, since Gandhi and the League were unable reach a compromise. The fall of the Labour government in 1931 ended this period of optimism. By 1930 Jinnah had despaired of Indian politics and particularly of getting mainstream parties like the Congress to be sensitive to minority priorities. A fresh call for a separate state was then made by the famous writer, poet and philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who in his presidential address to the 1930 convention of the Muslim League said that he felt that a separate Muslim state was essential in an otherwise Hindu-dominated South Asia.The name was coined by Cambridge student and Muslim nationalist Choudhary Rahmat Ali, and was published on January 28, 1933 in the pamphlet Now or Never.He saw it as an acronym formed from the names of the "homelands" of Muslims in northwest India — P for Punjab, A for the Afghan areas of the region, K for Kashmir, S for Sindh and tan for Balochistan, thus forming "Pakstan".[48] An i was later added to the English rendition of the name to ease pronunciation, producing "Pakistan". In Urdu and Persian the name encapsulates the concept of "pak" ("pure") and "stan" ("land") and hence a "Pure Land". In the 1935, the British administration proposed to hand over substantial power to elected Indian provincial legislatures, with elections to be held in 1937. After the elections the League took office in Bengal and Punjab, but the Congress won office in most of the other provinces, and refused to share power with the League in provinces with large Muslim minorities.

Mean while, Muslim ideologues for separatism also felt vindicated by the presidential address of V.D. Savarkar at the 19th session of the famous Hindu nationalist party Hindu Mahasabha in 1937. In it, this legendary revolutionary - popularly called Veer Savarkar and known as the iconic father of the Hindutva ideology - propounded the seminal ideas of his Two Nation Theory or Hindu-Muslim exclusivism, which influenced Jinnah profoundly.

Much of it came under the British Raj during the 18th and 19th centuries. It became the independent Dominion of Pakistan in August 1947, later becoming a republic.