This Week in History: November 2-8

Key events that shaped our social, political and cultural history

By Arfa Shahid

November 5, 1996: PM Benazir Bhutto’s government dissolved by the president
First Phase DigitalRelations between Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and then-Pakistani president Farooq Leghari were complicated, to say the least. Leghari was brought to power first by Bhutto, who had appointed him as the foreign minister in 1993. He won the nomination for presidency soon after given his credentials and “clean reputation.” However, Bhutto and Leghari drifted apart over policy issues concerning internal politics and nominations for the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1996. The situation further escalated when Leghari raised the issue of senior ministers’ involvement in corruption and Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari’s appointment as an investment minister. Both Leghari and Bhutto traded accusations over who was involved in the controversial murder of Bhutto’s brother in 1996. Leghari and Bhutto tried to bury the hatchet in a series of meeting between October and November, to no avail. The economic recession further escalated the situation and Leghari dismissed Benazir’s administration in a surprise move, accusing her of corruption, economic recession, lawlessness and extra judicial killings.

November 6, 1978: Shah of Iran places Iran under military rule
On this day in history, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, placed Iran under military rule amid growing civil unrest. The Shah was a secular Muslim who took a number of important measures to modernize Iran after his White Revolution, since early 1960s, including empowering farmers and limiting the role of certain elite factions, extending suffrage to women and enabling the participation of workers in factories through shares and other measures. He implemented a free-of-charge government program aimed at providing nourishment for children at school.

Despite all that, the Shah became more autocratic during the last years of his rule. By 1975, he had abolished the multi-party system in favor of a one-party state. In addition, the Shah decreed that all Iranian citizens and the few remaining political parties become part of the ruling Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party. The general Iranian public supported traditional Muslim values. Led by powerful Shia clergymen, they opposed the Shah’s modernization and reforms.

The friction between the public and Shah’s supporters ultimately induced him to put Iran under military rule, and Gholam Reza Azhari was appointed prime minister. However, violent protests by conservative Muslims eventually caused the Shah to lift the military junta in January 1979, and ultimately forced him to go into exile.

November 7, 2004: Operation Phantom Fury
The Second Battle of Fallujah, code-named Operation Al Fajr and Operation Phantom Fury, was a joint Iraqi-American-British offensive and the highest point of conflict in the Iraqi city of Fallujah against the Iraqi insurgency. By September 2004, insurgent strength and control had grown to such an extent that by September 24, 2004, a senior U.S. official told ABC News that catching Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, believed to be in Fallujah, was now “the highest priority.” Al Zarqawi was responsible for a series of bombings, beheadings, and attacks during the Iraq War, and for reportedly “turning an insurgency against U.S. troops” in Iraq “into a Shia-Sunni civil war.” Operation Phantom Fury is said to be one of the heaviest urban combats the U.S. Marines have been involved in since Vietnam in 1968.

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