c. 3300 BCE – 1300 BCE Indus Valley civilization in what is now Pakistan.
After 1500 BCE Aryan migrations into South Asia (presumed).
Sixth – fifth centuries BCE Life of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha).
Fifth – fourth centuries BCE Afghanistan and Punjab come under the dominion of the Persian empire (satrapies of Gandhara and Kamboja).
327/326 BCE Alexander the Great invades Afghanistan and Punjab, and defeats the Indian king Porus. Alexander founds Greek settlements in Afghanistan (Bactria) which survive for several hundred years.
321 – 185 BCE Mauryan empire conquers most of northern India and Afghanistan. Under this and subsequent dynasties, the Gandharan Buddhist civilization flourishes in what is now Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.
First century BCE – sixth century CE Kushan and Gupta empires.
632 CE Death of the Prophet Mohammed.
Late seventh century CE Muslim invasions of Sindh.
711 CE Mohammed bin Qasim, a general of the Muslim Ummayad dynasty, invades Sindh by sea and initiates Muslim rule in South Asia. He extends Muslim rule as far north as Multan in southern Punjab.
971 – 1030 Life of Mahmud of Ghazni (in Afghanistan), the first Muslim invader of northern India.
c. 990 – 1077 Life of Abul Hassan Ali Hajvery (Data Ganj Baksh), a Sufi Muslim saint who initiates conversion of people of northern Punjab to Islam and is buried in Lahore.
1162 – 1206 Muhammad of Ghor (in Afghanistan) leads Muslim campaigns in northern India. In 1186 he captures Lahore.
1193 Muhammad of Ghor’s general Qutb-ud-Din Aybakh captures Delhi. He founds the Delhi sultanate, and is buried in Lahore.
1206 – 1526 A succession of Muslim dynasties rule northern India from Delhi.
1398 Tamerlaine sacks Delhi.
1469 – 1538 Life of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism.
1526 Zahiruddin Babur invades India through Afghanistan, defeats the last Lodhi sultan of Delhi, and founds the Mughal empire.
1556 – 1605 Rule of the Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar ‘the Great’.
1703 – 62 Life of the great South Asian Muslim religious thinker and reformer Shah Waliullah.
1707 Death of the last great Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb.
1739 Delhi sacked by the Persian ruler Nadir Shah.
1761 Delhi sacked by Ahmed Shah Abdali, founder of the Durrani kingdom in Afghanistan.
Eighteenth century Rise of Sikh power in Punjab.
1801 – 39 Rule of the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab.
1803 The Mughal ruler Shah Alam II accepts the protection of the British East India Company, which by now rules most of India.
1817 – 98 Life of the Muslim reformist educator and politician Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.
1840 – 42 First British – Afghan war.
1843 British conquest of Sindh.
1845 – 9 British defeat the Sikhs and conquer Punjab.
1856 British annex Awadh, the last major autonomous Muslim state in northern India.
1857 Muslim and Hindu revolt against British rule, called by the British the ‘Indian Mutiny’. Delhi and Lucknow are largely destroyed. The last Mughal emperor is deposed. Savage reprisals against the Muslims of north India.
1866 Shah Waliullah’s spiritual descendants found a madrasah at Deoband in northern India and lay basis for Deoband movement in South Asian Sunni Islam.
1875 Sir Syed founds the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (later Aligarh Muslim University) at Aligarh, south-east of Delhi.
1876 – 1948 Life of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan.
1878 – 80 Second British – Afghan war.
1885 Foundation of the Indian National Congress.
1893 British draw the ‘Durand Line’ marking the frontier between British India and Afghanistan. It is never accepted by the Afghans.
1896 Jinnah joins the Congress.
1896 – 9 Major revolts in the name of Islam among the Pathan tribes against British domination.
1906 Foundation of Muslim League in Dhaka, east Bengal (now Bangladesh).
1914 – 18 First World War.
1916 Jinnah becomes president of the Muslim League and initiates ‘Lucknow Pact’ with the Congress.
1919 – 24 Khilafat movement of South Asian Muslims against British rule and in defence of the Ottoman Caliphate (formal leadership of the Muslim world community, or Ummah).
1920 Jinnah resigns from the Congress.
1930 Sir Muhammad Iqbal, president of the Muslim League, speaks for the first time of the possibility of a separate Muslim state in north-western India.
1936 – 9 The British conduct major campaigns in Waziristan against Islamist rebels led by the Faqir of Ipi.
1938 Elections under British rule. Split between Congress and the Muslim League after the Congress refuses to include the League in provincial governments.
1939 – 45 Second World War.
1940 Muslim League passes ‘Lahore Resolution’ calling for an ‘autonomous and sovereign’ state of Pakistan.
1946 British Cabinet Mission fails to negotiate an agreement with Congress and the Muslim League on a united independent India with a loose federal constitution and guaranteed power-sharing between Hindus and Muslims.
August 1947 Independence of India and Pakistan: communal massacres in Punjab and Bengal claim between 200,000 and 1 million lives. Around 12 million people become refugees in India or Pakistan.
October 1947 Beginning of conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
September 1948 Death of Jinnah.
1951 Assassination of his successor, Liaquat Ali Khan.
1952 Language riots in East Pakistan initiate movement for the separation of the region from West Pakistan.
1953 Riots in Punjab against the Ahmadi religious minority show the strength of the Islamist parties on the streets. Martial law declared. Pakistani army enters into internal politics.
1958 Military coup by the commander-in-chief, General Mohammed Ayub Khan.
1958 – 69 Administration of Ayub Khan. The economy grows successfully. Limited land reform carried out in West Pakistan. In foreign policy, Ayub aligns Pakistan closely with the United States, but also cultivates ties with China. The capital is moved from Karachi to the new city of Islamabad, near Rawalpindi in northern Punjab.
1965 War with India over Kashmir ends in stalemate, seen in Pakistan as a defeat. Opposition to Ayub Khan grows, increasingly led by his former Foreign Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
1969 Ayub Khan resigns in the face of growing public protests against his rule, and is succeeded by the army chief of staff, General Muhammad Yahya Khan.
1969 – 71 Growth of agitation for de facto independence of East Pakistan.
1970 National elections lead to the victory of Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehman’s pro-independence Awami League in East Pakistan (with a majority in Pakistan overall) and of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party in West Pakistan.
March 1971 Pakistan army begins a savage campaign against the separatist movement in East Pakistan. Civil war begins. Millions of refugees flee to India.
December 1971 ‘Bangladesh War’. India invades East Pakistan, and defeats and captures the Pakistani forces there. East Pakistan becomes independent as Bangladesh. Resignation of Yahya Khan.
1971 – 7 Government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the Pakistan People’s Party. The government carries out limited land reform and a more radical nationalization of banks and industries. The dismissal of the provincial government of Balochistan leads to a Baloch revolt which is suppressed by the army. Bhutto distances Pakistan from the United States and moves closer to China.
1977 Allegations of the rigging of elections by the government lead to a mass movement against Bhutto’s rule.
July 1977 The army chief of staff, General Zia-ul-Haq, carries out military coup.
1977 – 88 Administration of Zia-ul-Haq. His government greatly extends Bhutto’s moves to make Pakistan an Islamic state. The role of the Shariah in the legal system is strengthened. Partial reversal of Bhutto’s populist economic measures.
April 1979 Bhutto hanged after being convicted of responsibility for the murder of a political opponent (charges which are fiercely contested by Bhutto’s supporters). His daughter Benazir succeeds to leadership of PPP.
December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The United States extends massive aid to Pakistan as a bulwark against supposed Soviet expansionism. Together with Saudi Arabia and other states, the US and Pakistan build up the Afghan Mujahidin forces to fight against the Soviet troops and Afghan Communist government. First beginnings of the Taleban in southern Afghanistan. Some 3 million Afghan refugees flee to Pakistan.
1981 Violent protests in Sindh against Zia’s rule are suppressed by the military, leaving around 1,500 dead.
1984 Foundation of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement to represent Urdu-speaking migrants from India in Karachi and other cities of Sindh.
1985 Ethnic riots in Karachi begin years of ethnic violence in that city.
1988 Protests against rigged elections in Indian Kashmir are bloodily suppressed by Indian troops, leading to a long-running insurgency in which tens of thousands are killed. Pakistan supports the insurgents with arms and volunteers from Islamist militant groups.
August 1988 General Zia and leading staff killed in an air crash, generally presumed to be sabotage. The military and civil service manage a ‘transition to democracy’.
November 1988 The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) under Benazir Bhutto wins national elections and forms a coalition government. The IJI (Islami Jamhoori Ittehad) coalition, led by the Muslim League headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif, wins the provincial elections in Punjab and forms the government there.
January 1989 Soviet forces withdraw from Afghanistan. In March, a Mujahidin attempt to defeat the Communist forces there suffers a bloody setback at Jalalabad.
April 1989 Riots against the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses leave five dead in Islamabad.
1990 The US imposes economic sanctions against Pakistan after it fails to show that it is not conducting a nuclear weapons programme. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismisses the PPP government on charges of corruption and incompetence. Caretaker administration. The Muslim League wins the subsequent national elections and forms a coalition government.
1991 – 3 First government of Nawaz Sharif begins liberalization of the economy. A military campaign launched in Karachi to bring ethnic conflict there to an end.
March 1992 Fall of the Communist government of Afghanistan. Mujahidin parties seize power and soon begin bloody civil war among themselves. Pakistan backs the Pathan forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami.
December 1992 A Hindu mob encouraged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) destroys the Babri Mosque in the north Indian city of Ayodhya, on the grounds that it was originally the site of a Hindu temple. This increases Hindu – Muslim tension and violence in India.
1993 Ishaq Khan and Nawaz Sharif fall out. After prolonged political confusion, both are forced to resign by the military. The PPP wins the subsequent national elections.
1993 – 96 Second government of Benazir Bhutto. The government regains control of Karachi. Pakistan switches its support in the Afghan civil war to the newly reformed Taleban of Kandahar.
1994 Taleban capture Kabul.
1996 President Farooq Leghari dismisses PPP government on charges of corruption. Elections lead to a sweeping victory for the Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif.
1997 – 9 Second government of Nawaz Sharif. The government carries out important economic reforms, but becomes increasingly autocratic. The Chief Justice is forced from office and opposition journalists are targeted.
May 1998 India explodes nuclear devices. Pakistan follows suit, leading to intensified US sanctions.
April 1999 Benazir Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, are convicted of corruption. Ms Bhutto stays abroad. Mr Zardari spends several years in jail.
May 1999 After Pakistani forces occupy positions across the Line of Control at Kargil in Kashmir, India counter-attacks. Pakistan eventually withdraws under heavy US pressure.
October 1999 After Nawaz Sharif attempts to dismiss the Army Chief of Staff, General Pervez Musharraf, he is overthrown in a military coup. Musharraf takes power.
1999 – 2008 Musharraf administration. Musharraf institutes stern measures against corruption, and rolls back some of the Islamist laws passed by Zia and Sharif. He liberalizes media laws, allowing a vast growth in private television channels, and institutes policies intended to improve the position of women. However, like previous military rulers, Musharraf becomes increasingly dependent on the existing political elites.
September 2001 Al Qaeda launches terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Musharraf given ultimatum by the Bush administration to support US invasion of Afghanistan. Musharraf agrees to allow two US air bases in Pakistan and to allow supplies for the US forces in Afghanistan to cross Pakistan.
November – December 2001 Backed by massive US airpower and some special forces, the anti-Taleban warlords in Afghanistan overthrow Taleban rule. The leadership of the Taleban and Al Qaeda escape to Pakistan and go into hiding.
December 2001 Pakistan-based Islamist militants launch a terrorist attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi. India masses troops on its border with Pakistan.
January 2002 Under heavy US and Indian pressure, Musharraf bans the SSP and LeJ, together with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, Islamist militant groups formerly sponsored by the Pakistani military. Over the next years, violence in Kashmir diminishes greatly.
February – March 2002 Muslim activists in India attack a train containing Hindu nationalist pilgrims to Ayodhya, killing fifty-nine. In response, some 2,000 Muslims are massacred in the Indian state of Gujarat by Hindu militants linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and encouraged by the local BJP government.
May – June 2002 Terrorist attacks in Karachi against French technicians and the US Consulate.
October 2002 National elections. The pro-Musharraf Muslim League (Qaid-e-Azam) wins most seats and forms a coalition government. The MMA Islamist coalition wins the elections in the North West Frontier Province and Balochistan and forms the governments there.
November 2003 India and Pakistan announce a ceasefire in Kashmir. Pakistan and India resume air links and other ties.
March 2004 Under US pressure, the Pakistani military launches a major campaign in Waziristan, on the border of Afghanistan, against local allies of the Afghan Taleban. In this and subsequent offensives, hundreds are killed, including many civilians. Increase of support for militancy in the tribal areas. In April 2004, after the military campaign reaches stalemate, the Pakistani government makes a peace deal with the local Islamist leader Nek Mohammed. This is abrogated by the militants in June when Nek Mohammed is killed in a US airstrike. The government goes on to make a similar deal with his successor, Beitullah Mahsud.
January 2005 Start of a new insurgency in Balochistan, initially by members of the Bugti tribe.
October 2005 Massive earthquake in Pakistani Kashmir leaves tens of thousands dead. Islamist groups lead the relief effort.
January 2006 A US missile strike on suspected Al Qaeda members at Damadola in the Bajaur Tribal Agency of Pakistan kills seventeen people, including civilians. This marks the beginning of intensified US strikes from unmanned aircraft against suspected Al Qaeda and Taleban leaders in the Pakistan tribal areas which kill many senior figures but also infuriate the local population.
August 2006 Baloch rebel leader Nawab Akbar Bugti is killed in mysterious circumstances, together with Pakistani troops. Baloch insurgency intensifies, partly led by his grandson, Baramdagh Bugti.
January – July 2007 Islamist radicals turn the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) complex in Islamabad into an armed base and begin enforcing Shariah law in parts of the capital. In July, security forces storm the Red Mosque, in a battle in which (according to official figures) 154 people are killed. In protest, militants in the tribal areas abrogate their peace agreement with the government.
March 2007 Start of clash between Musharraf and the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who demands that the government account for Pakistanis who have ‘disappeared’ at the hands of the security forces in Balochistan and elsewhere. Many Pakistanis believe that suspected Islamist militants have been secretly and illegally transferred to US custody. The Chief Justice also challenges other measures by the Musharraf administration. Musharraf dismisses the Chief Justice, who then leads a protest movement of lawyers, with increasing mass support.
May 2007 Several dozen people killed in Karachi when activists of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (allied to Musharraf) block a visit by the Chief Justice to the city.
September 2007 Formation of the Pakistani Taleban (Tehriq-e-Taleban Pakistan, or TTP), a loose alliance of mainly Pathan militant groups. Militants in the Swat District of the NWFP increasingly threaten local government.
October 2007 Musharraf wins a presidential election generally thought to be rigged.
November 2007 Under increasing pressure from the Lawyers’ Movement and other public protests, Musharraf declares martial law, but is soon forced to withdraw this under US pressure. Musharraf is forced to resign as Army Chief of Staff. Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto are allowed to return from exile. The US promotes an alliance between Musharraf and Ms Bhutto.
27 December 2007 Ms Bhutto is assassinated at a public rally in Rawalpindi, apparently by the Pakistani Taleban. According to the alleged terms of her will (which is, however, not made public), her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, succeeds her as co-leader of the Pakistani People’s Party, in tandem with their underage son Bilawal, a student at Oxford.
February 2008 Parliamentary elections. The PPP wins most seats and forms a coalition government at the centre. Yusuf Raza Gilani becomes Pakistani prime minister. The Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif wins a majority in Punjab and forms the government there. The moderate Pathan nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) forms the government of the NWFP.
July 2008 The Pakistani army launches an offensive against the Pakistani Taleban in the Bajaur Tribal Agency.
August 2008 Musharraf resigns as president.
September 2008 Zardari is elected president by members of the national and provincial assemblies. He breaks his promise to re-appoint Iftikhar Chaudhry Chief Justice.
20 September 2008 The Marriott Hotel in Islamabad is badly damaged by a car bomb, in the first major terrorist attack in the capital. Over the next eighteen months, terrorist attacks by the Pakistani Taleban and their allies intensify across Pakistan, becoming increasingly indiscriminate and claiming thousands of victims among civilians as well as among Pakistani troops and police.
November 2008 Relations between India and Pakistan worsen drastically again after terrorists from the Pakistan-based (though officially banned) Lashkar-e-Taiba carry out terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, leaving 185 dead. Pakistan is forced to take intensified measures against LeT, but refuses Indian demands to extradite suspects to India.
February 2009 The national government and the government of the NWFP reach the ‘Nizam-e-Adl’ agreement with the Pakistani Taleban in Swat, providing for the extension of Shariah law in the province in return for the Taleban abandoning their campaign of violence.
March 2009 The Zardari administration ousts the Sharif government in the Punjab, after the Supreme Court (appointed by Musharraf and Zardari) declares the election of Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif illegal. The Muslim League leads a mass march on Islamabad. Zardari is forced to back down, allow Iftikhar Chaudhry back as Chief Justice, and allow the Muslim League to resume the government in Punjab.
April 2009 The Taleban in Swat take over the neighbouring district of Buner, closer to Islamabad.
May 2009 The Pakistani army launches a massive offensive to retake Swat and Buner. Hundreds of Taleban are killed or captured, but hundreds of thousands of civilians are also forced to flee their homes.
August 2009 Pakistani Taleban leader Beitullah Mahsud is killed in a US airstrike. He is succeeded by Hakimullah Mahsud. Hamid Karzai is re-elected president of Afghanistan in elections which are widely seen as deeply flawed by rigging and corruption.
September 2009 The US Senate passes the Kerry – Lugar Bill, providing for greatly increased US assistance to Pakistan. However, it causes great offence to many Pakistanis by the strict conditions it sets concerning Pakistani action against the Taleban, and Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
October 2009 The Pakistani military begins a major offensive against the Pakistani Taleban in south Waziristan.
10 October 2009 Taleban militants attack the headquarters of the Pakistani army in Rawalpindi, killing ten.
December 2009 US President Barack Obama announces a ‘surge’ in US troops in Afghanistan, and intensified operations against the Taleban there. The Supreme Court declares illegal an amnesty passed by President Musharraf giving Zardari and other leading PPP figures immunity for prosecution for corruption.
31 December 2009 National Finance Commission Award, agreed between the national government and the provinces, rebalances the allocation of revenue in favour of Sindh, the NWFP and especially Balochistan.
1 January 2010 More than ninety people killed by Taleban suicide bomb at a volleyball game in Laki Marwat district of the NWFP.
14 January 2010 Jamaat-ud-Dawa condemns the killing of Muslims by suicide bombing as unislamic and says that such attacks ‘played into the hands of the US, Israel and India’.
19 April 2010 President Zardari signs into law sweeping constitutional reforms transferring powers from the President to the Prime Minister, thereby reversing changes introduced by Presidents Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf. In accordance with a longstanding demand of the Awami National Party (ANP), the North West Frontier Province is renamed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. This move sets off violent protests in the Hindko-speaking area of the province in which several people are killed.
1 May 2010 Faisal Shehzad, a Pakistani-American, attempts to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, New York. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton subsequently warns Pakistan that there would have been ‘very severe consequences’ had the bomb exploded.
1 July 2010 Suicide bombers kill more than forty worshippers at the shrine of Data Ganj Baksh in Lahore.
29 July 2010 The heaviest monsoon rains on record cause catastrophic floods in Pakistan (starting with Swat and the northern mountains), which eventually leave 1,900 dead and more than 20 million displaced. The Zardari administration comes under strong criticism for failures in the relief effort.
September – October 2010 Pakistan temporarily blocks NATO supplies to Afghanistan via the Khyber Pass in protest against a US helicopter attack that killed Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.
November – December 2010 WikiLeaks reveals details of Pakistani co-operation with the US including the presence of limited numbers of US special forces in Pakistan. Leaked cables also record unflattering US opinions of President Zardari, and the diversion and misuse of US military aid to Pakistan.
4 January 2011 Salman Taseer, liberal Governor of Punjab (appointed by President Zardari) is assassinated by one of his own bodyguards, a Barelvi conservative Muslim outraged by Mr Taseer’s criticism of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy law and its use to persecute religious minorities.