Digital Gateway to Pakistan
History of Pakistan in Chronological Order
Pakistan emerged on the world map on August 14,1947. It has its roots into the remote past. Its establishment was the culmination of the struggle by Muslims of the South-Asian subcontinent for a separate homeland of their own and its foundation was laid when Muhammad bin Qasim subdued Sindh in 711 A.D. as a reprisal against sea pirates that had taken refuge in Raja Dahir's kingdom.
The advent of Islam further strengthened the historical individuality in the areas now constituting Pakistan and further beyond its boundaries.
Some of the earliest relics of Stone Age man in the subcontinent are found in the Soan Valley of the Potohar region near Rawalpindi, with a probable antiquity of about 500,000 years. No human skeleton of such antiquity has yet been discovered in the area, but the crude stone implements recovered from the terraces of the Soan carry the saga of human toil and labor in this part of the world to the inter-glacial period. These Stone Age men fashioned their implements in a sufficiently homogenous way to justify their grouping in terms of a culture called the Soan Culture. About 3000 B.C, amidst the rugged wind-swept valleys and foothills of Balochistan, small village communities developed and began to take the first hesitant steps towards civilization. Here, one finds a more continuous story of human activity, though still in the Stone Age.
These pre-historic men established their settlements, both as herdsmen and as farmers, in the valleys or on the outskirts of the plains with their cattle and cultivated barley and other crops.
Red and buffer Cultures
Careful excavations of the pre-historic mounds in these areas and the classification of their contents, layer by layer, have grouped them into two main categories of Red Ware Culture and Buff Ware Culture. The former is popularly known as the Zhob Culture of North Balochistan, while the latter comprises the Quetta, Amri Nal and Kulli Cultures of Sindh and South Balochistan. Some Amri Nal villages or towns had stone walls and bastions for defence purposes and their houses had stone foundations. At Nal, an extensive cemetery of this culture consists of about 100 graves. An important feature of this composite culture is that at Amri and certain other sites, it has been found below the very distinctive Indus Valley Culture. On the other hand, the steatite seals of Nal and the copper implements and certain types of pot decoration suggest a partial overlap between the two. It probably represents one of the local societies which constituted the environment for the growth of the Indus Valley Civilization.
The pre-historic site of Kot Diji in the Sindh province has provided information of high significance for the reconstruction of a connected story which pushes back the origin of this civilization by 300 to 500 years, from about 2500 B.C.. to at least 2800 B.C. Evidence of a new cultural elements of pre-Harappan era has been traced here.
When the primitive village communities in the Balochistan area were still struggling against a difficult highland environment, a highly cultured people were trying to assert themselves at Kot Diji, one of the most developed urban civilizations of the ancient world which flourished between the years 2500 and 1500 B.C. in the Indus Valley sites of Moenjodaro and Harappa. These Indus Valley people possessed a high standard of art and craftsmanship and a well developed system of quasi pictographic writing, which despite continuing efforts still remains undeciphered. The imposing ruins of the beautifully planned Moenjodaro and Harappa towns present clear evidence of the unity of a people having the same mode of life and using the same kind of tools. Indeed, the brick buildings of the common people, the public baths, the roads and covered drainage system suggest the picture of a happy and contented people.
In or about 1500 B.C., the Aryans descended upon the Punjab and settled in the Sapta Sindhu, which signifies the Indus plain. They developed a pastoral society that grew into the Rigvedic Civilization. The Rigveda is replete with hymns of praise for this region, which they describe as "God fashioned". It is also clear that so long as the Sapta Sindhu remained the core of the Aryan Civilization, it remained free from the caste system. The caste institution and the ritual of complex sacrifices took shape in the Gangetic Valley. There can be no doubt that the Indus Civilization contributed much to the development of the Aryan civilization.
The discovery of the Gandhara grave culture in Dir and Swat will go a long way in throwing light on the period of Pakistan's cultural history between the end of the Indus Culture in 1500 B.C. and the beginning of the historic period under the Achaemenians in the sixth century B.C. Hindu mythology and Sanskrit literary traditions seem to attribute the destruction of the Indus civilization to the Aryans, but what really happened, remains a mystery. The Gandhara grave culture has opened up two periods in the cultural heritage of Pakistan: one of the Bronze Age and the other of the Iron Age. It is so named because it presents a peculiar pattern of living in hilly zones of the Gandhara region as evidenced in the graves. This culture is different from the Indus Culture and has little relations with the village culture of Balochistan. Stratigraphy as well as the artifacts discovered from this area suggest that the Aryans moved into this part of the world between 1,500 and 600 B.C. In the sixth century B.C., Buddha began his teachings, which later on spread throughout the northern part of the South-Asian subcontinent. It was towards the end of this century, too, that Darius I of Iran organized Sindh and Punjab as the twentieth satrapy of his empire.
There are remarkable similarities between the organizations of that great empire and the Mauryan empire of the third century B.C., while Kautilya's Arthshastra also shows a strong Persian influence, Alexander of Macedonia after defeating Darius III in 330 B.C. had also marched through the South-Asian subcontinent up to the river Beas, but Greek influence on the region appears to have been limited to contributing a little to the establishment of the Mauryan empire. The great empire that Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, built in the subcontinent included only that part of the Indus basin which is now known as the northern Punjab. The rest of the areas astride the Indus were not subjugated by him. These areas, which now form a substantial part of Pakistan, were virtually independent from the time of the Guptas in the fourth century A.D. until the rise of the Delhi Sultanate in the thirteenth century. Gandhara Art Gandhara Art, one of the most prized possessions of Pakistan, flourished for a period of 500 years (from the first to the fifth century A.D.) in the present valley of Peshawar and the adjacent hilly regions of Swat, Buner and Bajaur. This art represents a separate phase of the cultural renaissance of the region. It was the product of a blending of Indian, Buddhist and Greco-Roman sculpture.