Civilian Rule in Pakistan (1988-1999)

After the truancy of Zia’s past rule, civilian rule was widely accepted and Ghulam Ishaq Khan came to power as interim President. In the 1988 elections, Ishaq Khan was reelected as president and, after returning from exile after marital law, Benazir Bhutto (daughter of earlier Prime Minister Zulifikar Bhutto) was choose as Prime Minister. As a ruler, Bhutto looked to modernize Pakistan into an economic and industrial safe haven for investors and entrepreneurs. Later in 1990, President Ishaq Khan was forced to dismiss Bhutto’s corrupt, incompetent government using the eighth amendment, while also dissolving the National Assembly and declaring a state of emergency. After the 1990 elections geared to rid the country of corruption, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister. Sharif, like many before him, looked to industrialization as the cure to the nation’s problems, such as unemployment, and returned Pakistan to a conservative Islamic style.

Again, in 1993, President Ishaq Khan dismissed the government under Sharif for corruption and dissolved the National Assembly. But later that year, while Ishaq Khan was making plans for the next elections, the Supreme Court did not accept the ousting of the government and Nawaz Sharif was reinstated as Prime Minister. With the Prime Minister and President opposing each other, both men resigned their position and the elected bodies of the National and Provincial assemblies were dissolved. Moeenuddin Ahmad Qureshi was named interim Prime Minister and during his short rule, he was able to make some necessary reforms, although unpopular. In the 1993 elections Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister and Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari was elected president and planned to revoke the eighth amendment that was used to dissolve the government countless times since its implication. Despite his public goal to revoke the eighth amendment, Leghari used it to dissolve the government of Benazir Bhutto in 1996.

In the 1997 elections Nawaz Sharif was chosen to be Prime Minister. In his rule, Sharif put in place the thirteenth amendment, which allowed the Prime Minister to repeal the President’s act of dissolving the government. Sharif also introduced the Anti-Defection Bill, which would hopefully end the political acts of switching parties and alliances which had led to corruption and stalled progress in years past. President Leghari and Sharif were at odds and without the power to dissolve his government, he resigned in late 1997. Muhammad Rafiq Tartar was elected President to replace Leghari and came to power January 1, 1998.

Sharif was at odds with the military and, at this point, they were the only body that Sharif had not brought under his control, leaving him in a susceptible situation. Sharif also was worried that General Musharraf would stage a coup against his government, and he conducted what is now known as the 1999 “Plane Conspiracy” case. On a journey back to Karachi via commercial airplane, General Musharraf was one of 198 passengers on the flight. At this point in time, Sharif ordered the Civil Aviation Authority to deny all landing permission to Musharraf’s plane, but the military took over Karachi airport and allowed the plane to land with just one minute left of fuel. Once on the ground, enraged Musharraf ordered the military to take over the government. Pakistan, although not under martial law, was once again under military rule.

Musharraf in Karachi Air Port at 18:30 (6:30 pm) after the “Plane Conspiracy”

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