This Week in History: November 16 – November 22

Key events that shaped our social, political and cultural history

By Arfa Shahid

November 16, 1988: Benazir Bhutto Becomes First Female Muslim Head of State
In the first free general elections held on November 16, 1988, Benazir Bhutto became the first female prime minister of Pakistan and the Muslim world’s first female head of state. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), led by Bhutto, ousted the military government of then Chief of Staff General Zia Ul Haq. PPP had gained two-thirds majority in the previous elections, held in 1977. However, amid violence and civil disorder, Haq ousted then premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir’s father, in a military coup. After martial law was lifted in 1985, Mohammad Junejo was appointed prime minister. However, as with the previous democratic movements, General Haq soon dismissed him too. The National Assembly, which was elected in 1985 was dissolved prematurely by General Haq, who asserted that the “administration was corrupt and inefficient.” After his death, the democratic socialists and secular parties reunited and campaigned under PPP, which pledged to tackle extremism in the country and restore trade unions. The liberal MQM party boycotted the elections. The result was a victory for PPP, which won 94 of the 207 seats.




November 18, 1956: King Mohammad V Returns from Exile, Liberates Morocco First Phase Digital
On this day in history, Morocco gained its independence from France in what became known as the Revolution of the King and the People. France had claimed Morocco as a French protectorate since 1912. In 1944, Moroccan nationalists formed an independence party seeking an end to colonialism, and became known as the Istiqlals. In response, the French government arrested all the leaders of the group. Following riots in Casablanca in 1952, Istiqlal was banned. King Mohammad V was exiled to Madagascar, and Ben Aarafa took over, but he was not well-liked by Moroccans. Nationalists and supporters of King Mohammad V, angered by the French decision, began revolting on the streets in the form of an armed movement. This forced the French government to bring back King Mohammad V. The return of the king culminated into Morocco’s independence. On November 18, 1955, King Mohammad V returned to Morocco and negotiated for his country’s freedom through reforms that would transform it into a constitutional monarchy. In 1956, France officially relinquished its protectorate and Morocco gained its independence.

November 22, 1974: U.N. General Assembly Recognizes Palestine’s Right to Sovereignty
Under Resolution 3236, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recognized Palestine’s right to sovereignty and invited the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), to participate in UNGA sessions as an observer entity. The resolution also invited the PLO to participate in the work of all international conferences convened under the auspices of the UNGA and other organizations of the U.N. In doing so, the U.N. decided “to include the item entitled ‘Question of Palestine’ in the provisional agenda” and expressed “its grave concern that the Palestinian people has been prevented from enjoying its inalienable rights, in particular its right to self-determination.” While not binding, the resolution was an important step in bringing Palestine to the international political arena regarding negotiations in the Middle East peace process with Israel.

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