The Seven Stages of Pakistan

Posted on December 10, 2008
Filed Under >Khurram Ali Shafique, History, Politics, Society
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Khurram Ali Shafique

Through my researches about the history of Pakistan, I have come upon a rather curious pattern. It is the recurrence of “peak moments” precisely every twentieth year (with one interesting change).

Ayub Khan and Yahya KhanZulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Zia ul Haq

The gathering of Muslim community representatives from all over India at Aligarh in 1886 was the first of its kind in Islam since the days of the early caliphs. Strangely, something similar has been happening since then – every twentieth year with a slight change in 1947:

1886, Foundation of Muslim Educational Conference
1906, Foundation of All-India Muslim League
1926, General Elections on the basis of separate electorates
1946, General Elections on the question of Pakistan
1967, Birth of PPP and popularity of 6 Points
1987, General discontent with General Zia
2007, Lawyers’ Movement

Why does it happen, and can it help us in a better understanding of our history (and of ourselves)?

That question can be answered in several ways depending on how you approach it. Yet, in whatever way these “peak moments” are interpreted, they help us divide the history of Pakistan since 1886 into seven symmetrical periods:

1886-1905, Inquiry
1906-1925, Discovery
1926-1946, Transcendence
1947-1966, Freedom
1967-1986, Action
1987-2006, Expansion
2007-26, Creation

The names of the stages (i.e. inquiry, discovery, and so on) have been taken from the “Seven Stages” which recur in Iqbal’s work as I’ve shown in my book The Republic of Rumi: A Novel of Reality (2007) and discussed briefly in my online newsletter. Needless to say, those who may like to name these periods differently can do so (“What’s there in a name…”)!

The beauty of dividing history into these seven periods is that not only this division is symmetrical but it is based on the peak moments of the entire society rather than the coming and going of individual rulers. Does this sound better than naming the periods of our history “the Ayub Khan era”, “the Yahya Khan era,” and so on? To me, it does.

There are other uses. Patterns naturally lead to the possibility of forecasting. Once we observe certain patterns in the history of Pakistan we are likely to recognize the possibility of forecasting the future of this nation. In order to test my observations since I first came upon them in the summer of 2007, I have been making forecasts: about the results of Elections 2008, for instance. Such forecasts have turned out to be correct.

Yet, quite understandably, I have faced so much hostility from some “friends and foes” on this issue that I think I should now withhold my interpretations until I get the opportunity of displaying the background reading involved in the matter (for now, it may suffice to say that Muhammad Ali Jauhar, who had a degree in history from Oxford, was also working along these lines but unfortunately there had been only two peak moments by then, and hence not enough data to proceed with the investigations).

The beauty of this twenty-year division is such that I don’t want to spoil it even for a skeptic: in my zeal for saying more, I don’t want to put off any who might be more sympathetic to it if I left it at this but whose minds may get shut off if I said more!

17 responses to “The Seven Stages of Pakistan”

  1. Wahid says:

    Very interesting. But I think it is a little contrived and the stages are forced, not real. I am sure if you chose 25 or 30 year periods you coudl still force a storyline around it.

    But I guess the value of this is that it forces us to think back. That is interesting.

  2. Rahat Ali says:

    You are right in identifying the lawyers movement as the begining of a new era. I do not think that people fully realize its significance just yet. I think with time we will realize how important it was. Not because it restored a judge but because from here on the demand for real democracy will only grow.

  3. meengla says:

    Sounds like this ’20 year’ analysis is more like the famous ‘Jantri’ book of Urdu or the Farmer’s Almanac of the States.
    Discontent against Zia in 1987?! Why bend backward to make it to 20 years? 1983-84 were the worst anti-Zia years when the MRD (especially in 1984) started its agitation where, sadly, only Sindh agitated enough to make a stir.

    There are no ‘seven stages’ of Pakistan. Borrowing from Shakespeare is not going to help here. But I will come out with my take–what Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto said decades ago is still true: “There are are only two parties in Pakistan. Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistani Army.” The rest is just details.

  4. naseer says:

    Are you saying we have to wait 19 years for next break……..

  5. sikander says:

    Very well written but you have missed a very important part which is the sucession of East Pakistan. You can read about that event and its consequences on

    it is the month of Decemeber and we must discuss this issue to learn from it.

    Many Thanks

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