Pakistan. Following India's nuclear weapons explosions in
mid-May, Pakistan conducted six own nuclear tests at the end
of the month. Test blasts were met by euphoria in the
country over the "Islamic bomb", but the outside world with
the US at the head punished Pakistan, like India, with harsh
economic sanctions, which were estimated to cost Pakistan at
least $ 1.5 billion.
The sanctions were a blow to Pakistan's weak economy.
government froze private accounts in foreign currencies to
prevent capital flight, raised gasoline prices by 25% and
reduced public spending. At the same time, however, the
defense allocation was increased by 8.4%. In the fall,
Pakistan was extremely close to being forced to suspend its
$ 32 billion foreign debt repayments, when the foreign
exchange reserves only lasted four weeks of imports. In
November, Pakistan was rescued from bankruptcy through a
loan of $ 5.5 billion from the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and the World Bank.
Sectarian violence shook Pakistan throughout the year. A
series of blast attacks were aimed at civilian targets. The
worst was in the port city of Karachi, where close to 1,000
people were murdered through October, when the province of
Sind was placed under federal direct rule. Military courts
were set up to convict terrorists.
Critics felt that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's proposal
to base the judiciary entirely on Islamic law, sharia, was
an attempt to turn attention away from the country's
problems. The law was passed by a large majority in the
National Assembly, Parliament's second chamber. In the
Senate, the first chamber, however, Sharif did not have the
required two-thirds majority, and it was therefore uncertain
whether he would get the law passed there.
Several corruption charges were brought during the year
against former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband
in courts in Pakistan and Switzerland.
The opposition accused Musharraf of extending his
dictatorship after he gave himself new powers of power, such
as the right to dissolve a democratically elected
parliament. Up until the October elections, the government
issued restrictions on the participation of a number of key
candidates such as Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto's
party, the PPP got a small minority, but the most notable
was the growth of the religious parties. Growth was
particularly strong in border areas with Afghanistan. This
strength gives them decisive influence over any government
In November 2002, the National Assembly appointed
Zafarullah Jamali - who is closely linked to Musharraf - as
prime minister. In the election to the Senate in February
2003 - according to. the dictator the last stage in the
transition to democracy - it was PPP again that got the most
In June 2003, Sharia law was introduced in the
northeastern border province. In November, Pakistan declared
a ceasefire in Kashmir and it was immediately accepted by
India. The month after, Musharraf miraculously survived when
a bomb burst under a bridge, seconds after his car had
In February 2004, the country's most important nuclear
physicist, Doctor Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted that he had
transferred nuclear weapons manufacturing knowledge to
Libya, North Korea and Iran. It did not affect his status as
a people hero in Pakistan.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell declared in March 2004
that Pakistan was the most important country outside NATO in
the fight against terrorism. This happened after extensive
Pakistani military action against the al-Qaeda network along
the Afghanistan border.
In June 2004, Zafarullah Khan Jamali resigned from the
post of Prime Minister, to be temporarily replaced by
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. Due. his ill health was replaced
by Hussain in the post 2 months later by Finance Minister
Shaukat Aziz. Observers believe there will be no change in
the country's politics, as the real power lies with
In the western province of Baluchistan, in 2004,
partisans intensified their struggle for greater autonomy, a
greater share of oil and gas extraction revenues, and the
government halted the military's assault on the population.
By March 2005, the conflict had already killed dozens of
partisans and military people. It continued with daily
attacks and clashes.
A train collision at the city of Ghotki in southern Sindh
province cost 200 lives and was the worst in 15 years. The
provincial government sharply criticized the staff at the
local train station. Musharraf sent his condolences to the
victims' families, promising that those responsible would be
In July 2005, over 300 militant Islamists were arrested
at Quran schools and offices of Islamic organizations in
Pakistan. The authorities chose to crack down on Islamists
just a few days after the suicide bombings in London's
underground. Three of the four suicide bombers behind the
London attack had visited Pakistan shortly before.
In October 2005, the north-eastern part of Pakistan was
hit by a violent earthquake that cost about 65,000 lives and
made almost 3 million. homeless people. The Pakistani
government and international relief organizations sent
thousands of tents, blankets, food and medicine to the area.
It was a race against time because most roads and bridges in
the area were destroyed and the Himalayas winter would soon
make transportation in the area completely impossible.
Pakistan and India, which have otherwise been in conflict
over Kashmir, agreed to open the borders between the two
countries in the area to facilitate the work of relief