— Photo/File

70 years on: Looking back at key economic events in Pakistan's history

Political, social and religious turmoil in the country has taken a toll on Pakistan's economy.
Published August 16, 2017

Since its independence in 1947, Pakistan has been plagued with political, social and religious turmoil and that has taken a toll on its economy too.

Despite the internal and external challenges Pakistan has faced since its birth, the country's economy has somehow managed to survive.

Here's a compilation of some of the major economic milestones in Pakistan's history, compiled by Dawn's Business and Finance, Weekly team.

A chronology of key economic events in Pakistan since independence

September 26, 1947

Quaid-i-Azam lays the foundation of Pakistan’s first textile mill, Valika.

February 28, 1948

First budget presented by then finance minister, Malik Ghulam Muhammad.

July 1, 1948

Inauguration of State Bank of Pakistan.

Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah inaugurates the State Bank of Pakistan in Karachi on July 1, 1948. He is accompanied by Zahid Hussain, the first Governor of the State Bank. — Courtesy National Archives Islamabad
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah inaugurates the State Bank of Pakistan in Karachi on July 1, 1948. He is accompanied by Zahid Hussain, the first Governor of the State Bank. — Courtesy National Archives Islamabad

October 1, 1948

First currency notes are issued.

Source: pakistanhotline.com
Source: pakistanhotline.com


Government decides to develop five-year economic plans to steer economy.


National Bank of Pakistan is launched.

July 11, 1950

Pakistan becomes a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.


Pakistan imports 10,500 tonnes of wheat under PL-480, a controversial US food assistance programme. ‘Thank You, America’ signs dangle from the necks of camels carrying American wheat from the harbour.


Pakistan launches its first economic five-year plan.

January 10, 1955

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) formed after the nationalisation of Orient Airways.

An early fleet of planes of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) lined up at the Karachi Airport.
An early fleet of planes of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) lined up at the Karachi Airport.

April, 1955

Sui gas supply reaches Karachi.

June 27, 1956

Pakistan signs its first trade agreement with Russia.


Export Bonus Vouchers Scheme and tax incentives are introduced.

July 24, 1959

The foundation of United Bank Limited (UBL) is laid.

January, 1959

Gen Ayub Khan introduces first land reforms in the country.

September 19, 1960

Pakistan and India sign Indus Water Treaty, brokered by the World Bank.

October, 1960

Prize bonds are introduced.


Warsak Dam in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is inaugurated.

Warsak Dam.
Warsak Dam.

January 1, 1961

Decimal coinage is introduced.

April 1963

Ghandhara Industries are founded in Karachi.

January 1, 1963

National Investment Trust is set up.

January 5, 1963

Pakistan signs its first trade agreement with China.

November 12, 1966

Foundation of Habib Bank Plaza is laid.

Habib Bank Plaza under construction.
Habib Bank Plaza under construction.

August 24, 1967

Pakistan’s first steel mill is inaugurated in Chittagong, East Pakistan (Bangladesh).


Industrial base shrinks after Dhaka fall.

January 2, 1972

Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto launches nationalisation programme.

January 30, 1972

Pakistan snaps ties with Commonwealth for recognising Bangladesh as an independent nation.

November, 1972

State Life Insurance Corporation is established.

May 1,1972

Labour Day is observed for first time in Pakistan.

December 30, 1973

Foundation of Pakistan Steel Mills is laid.

December, 1973

Inflation reaches an all-time high of 37.8 per cent.

April, 1974

First dry port inaugurated.

July 27, 1975

Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) recommends to abolish Riba and introduce Zakat.


Tarbela Dam is completed.

Tarbela Dam.
Tarbela Dam.

January 5, 1977

Third land reforms are introduced.


Karakorum Highway is opened.

February, 1979

Zakat and Ushr Ordinance is passed.

September 30, 1980

First ship unloads at Port Qasim.

January 1, 1981

Islamic banking is introduced.


Government launches money-whitening scheme.

January 15, 1985

Pakistan Steel Mills is inaugurated.

July 18, 1987

Rs1,000 currency note is issued.


First structural adjustment agreement with IMF.

December 1, 1989

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto launched First Women Bank Ltd to meet special needs of women.


Pakistan rejoins Commonwealth.

January, 1991

Mobile phone comes to Pakistan.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif begins economic liberalisation programme.


Benchmark KSE-100 index launched with a base of 1,000 points.


Yellow cab scheme is launched. ‘Give 15 per cent amount and car is yours; remaining payment in easy instalments’ is the lure.

August 26, 1992

Karachi airport’s Jinnah Terminal is inaugurated. Its construction costs Rs5bn.


Fibre-optic technology arrives in Pakistan.


Mehran Bank scandal (or Mehrangate) surfaces.

September, 1996

Internet services are launched in Pakistan.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif launches debt retirement campaign.

November 26, 1997

Country’s first motorway is inaugurated.

May, 1998

Government freezes foreign currency accounts after nuclear tests. US, Japan and other nations impose economic sanctions on Pakistan.


Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are launched at United Nations Millennium Summit (Sept 6-8).

March 29, 2001

Chashma Nuclear Power Plant is inaugurated.


US starts pouring billions of dollars into Pakistan after 9/11.


Musharraf administration sells off Pakistan Steel in March. Later in June, the Supreme Court blocks the sale.

May 26, 2006

Rs5,000 note is issued.

Rs5,000 note.
Rs5,000 note.


Government enters IMF stabilisation programme to ward off balance of payments crisis.


Stocks hit record 15,760 points on April 20. But then KSE-100 index plunges 55pc in next four months, wiping $36.9bn off market value.


Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) sets a floor for stock prices at 9,144 points below which the index is not allowed to fall. Investors seeking exit get trapped.

July 28, 2010

Country's worst floods begin. Resultant property damage estimated at over $40bn.

May, 2013

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) formalised during the Chinese premier’s visit to Pakistan.


IMF approves $6.7bn loan package to help Pakistan revive its ailing economy.

August 23, 2014

3G and 4G internet services launched on April 23. Auction fetches $1.1bn.


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched with start of new year.