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Islamic Republic of Pakistan
اسلامی جمہوریہ پاکِستان
Islāmī Jumhūrī-ye Pākistān
Flag State Emblem
Motto: اتحاد، تنظيم، يقين مُحکم
Ittehad, Tanzeem, Yaqeen-e-Muhkam (Urdu)
"Unity, Discipline and Faith"
Anthem: "Qaumi Tarana"
Capital Islamabad
33°40′N 73°10′E / 33.667°N 73.167°E / 33.667; 73.167
Largest city Karachi
Official language(s) Urdu (National)
English (Government)
Regional languages Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Seraiki and Balochi
Demonym Pakistani
Government Federal Parliamentary republic
- President Asif Zardari (PPP)
- Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani (PPP)
- Chair of Senate Farooq Naek (PPP)
- House Speaker Fahmida Mirza (PPP)
- Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry
Legislature Majlis-e-Shoora
- Upper House Senate
- Lower House National Assembly
Formation
- Independence from the United Kingdom
- Declared 14 August 1947
- Islamic republic 23 March 1956
Area
- Total 803,940 km2 (36th)
340,403 sq mi
- Water (%) 3.1
Population
- 2010 estimate 169,393,000[1] (6th)
- 1998 census 132,352,279[2]
- Density 210.7/km2 (55th)
497.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
- Total $435.807 billion[3]
- Per capita $2,661[3]
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
- Total $166.515 billion[3]
- Per capita $1,016[3]
Gini (2002) 30.6 (medium)
HDI (2007) 0.572[4] (medium) (141st)
Currency Pakistani Rupee (Rs.) (PKR)
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
- Summer (DST) PDT (UTC+6)
Drives on the left[5]
Internet TLD .pk
Calling code 92

Pakistan (Urdu: پاکِستان), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It has a 1,046-kilometre (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast.[6] Tajikistan also lies very close to Pakistan but is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. Thus, it occupies a crossroads position between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.[7] The region forming modern Pakistan was at the heart of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and then later was the recipient of Vedic, Persian, Indo-Greek, Turco-Mongol, Islamic and Sikh cultures. The area has witnessed invasions and/or settlements by the Indo-Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Mongols and the British.[8]

Contents

[hide]
  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
  • 3 Government and politics
    • 3.1 Administrative units
  • 4 Demographics
    • 4.1 Languages
    • 4.2 Religions
  • 5 Military
  • 6 Geography and climate
  • 7 Flora and fauna
  • 8 Economy
  • 9 Education
  • 10 Culture
  • 11 Tourism
  • 12 Sports
  • 13 Transportation
  • 14 Outline of Pakistan
  • 15 See also
  • 16 References
  • 17 Bibliography
  • 18 External links

While the Indian independence movement demanded an independent India, the Pakistan Movement (led by Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League) sought independent states for the majority Muslim populations of the eastern and western regions of British India as well. The British granted independence and also the creation of one Muslim majority state of Pakistan that comprised the provinces of Sindh, North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab, Balochistan and East Bengal. With the adoption of its constitution in 1956, Pakistan became an Islamic republic. In 1971, a civil war in East Pakistan resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.

Pakistan's history has been characterized by periods of military rule, political instability and conflicts with neighboring India. It is the sixth most populous country in the world and has the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia.[9] Pakistan also has the second largest Shia Muslim population.[10] It is the only Muslim-majority nuclear state and is classified as major non-NATO ally of the United States. Pakistan is one of the founders of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, Next Eleven economies and G20 developing nations.

Etymology

The name Pakistan (Urdu pronunciation: [paːkɪsˈtaːn] ( listen)) means Land of (the) Pure in Urdu and Persian (Farsi). It was coined in 1934 as Pakstan by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan movement activist, who published it in his pamphlet Now or Never.[11] The name is a portmanteau representing the "thirty million Muslims of PAKISTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of British Raj — Punjab, Afghania (now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Kashmir, Sindh and BalochisTAN."[12]

History

A carved stone statue of a bearded man with a  prominent nose wearing a garment with a pattern
"The Priest King" wearing Sindhi Ajruk, ca. 2500 BC. National Museum of Pakistan, Karachi
Image of Menander I, one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom  which existed in the territory of modern Pakistan
Menander I was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom which existed in the territory of modern Pakistan

The Indus region, which covers a considerable amount of Pakistan, was the site of several ancient cultures including the Neolithic era's Mehrgarh and the bronze era Indus Valley Civilisation (2500 BCE – 1500 BCE) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.[13]

Waves of conquerors and migrants from the west — including Harappan, Indo-Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Sakas, Parthians, Kushans, Hephthalites, Afghans, Arabs, Turks and Mughals — settled in the region throughout the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them.[14] Ancient empires of the east — such as the Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas, Guptas and the Palas — ruled these territories at different times from Patliputra.[15]

However, in the medieval period, while the eastern provinces of Punjab and Sindh grew aligned with Indo-Islamic civilisation, the western areas became culturally allied with the Iranian civilisation of Afghanistan and Iran.[16] The region served as a crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and as a maritime entreport for the coastal trade between Mesopotamia and beyond up to Rome in the west and Malabar and beyond up to China in the east.[17]

Modern day Pakistan was at the heart of the Indus Valley Civilisation; that collapsed in the middle of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Vedic Civilisation, which also extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BCE,[18] the Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great in 326 BCE and the Mauryan empire thereafter.[19]

The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BCE, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major centre of learning in ancient times — the remains of the city, located to the west of Islamabad, are one of the country's major archaeological sites.[20] The Rai Dynasty (c.489–632) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories.[21]

In 712 CE, the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab.[22] The Pakistan government's official chronology states that "its foundation was laid" as a result of this conquest.[23] This Arab and Islamic victory would set the stage for several successive Muslim empires in South Asia, including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid Kingdom, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. During this period, Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam.

Image of the seventeenth-century Badshahi  Masjid
17th Century Badshahi Masjid built during Mughal rule

The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century provided opportunities for the Afghans, Balochis and Sikhs to exercise control over large areas until the British East India Company gained ascendancy over South Asia.[24] The Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, was the region's last major armed struggle against the British Raj, and it laid the foundations for the generally unarmed freedom struggle led by the Indian National Congress in the twentieth century. In the 1920s and 1930s, a movement led by the Hindu politician Mahatma Gandhi, and displaying commitment to long enshrined Hindu tenet of ahimsa, or non-violence, engaged millions of protesters in mass campaigns of civil disobedience.[25]

The All India Muslim League rose to popularity in the late 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. On 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal's presidential address called for an autonomous "state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims, within the body politic of India."[26] Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution. In early 1947, Britain announced the decision to end its rule in India. In June 1947, the nationalist leaders of British India — including Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad on behalf of the Congress, Jinnah representing the Muslim League, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs — agreed to the proposed terms of transfer of power and independence.

Image of the founder and first Governor General of Pakistan,  Muhammad Ali Jinnah
The first Governor General Muhammad Ali Jinnah delivering the opening address on 11 August 1947 to the new state of Pakistan

The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947 (27 Ramadan 1366 in the Islamic Calendar), carved out of the two Muslim-majority wings in the eastern and northwestern regions of British India and comprising the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh.[27] The controversial, and ill-timed, division of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal caused communal riots across India and Pakistan — millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India.[28] Disputes arose over several princely states including Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, whose Hindu ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by Pashtun tribal militias, leading to the First Kashmir War in 1948.[29]

From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion of Pakistan in the Commonwealth of Nations. It became a Republic in 1956, but the civilian rule was stalled by a coup d’état by General Ayub Khan, who was president during 1958–69, a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, Yahya Khan (1969–71) had to deal with a devastating cyclone — which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan — and also face a civil war in 1971. Economic grievances and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political tension and military repression that escalated into a civil war.[30] After nine months of guerrilla warfare between the Pakistan Army and the Indian backed Bengali Mukti Bahini militia, Indian intervention escalated into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and ultimately to the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.[31]

The two wings of Pakistan in 1970; East Pakistan gained  independence in 1971 as Bangladesh
The two wings of Pakistan in 1970; the eastern wing gained independence in 1971 as Bangladesh.

Civilian rule resumed in Pakistan from 1972 to 1977 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed and later sentenced to death in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country's third military president. Zia introduced the Islamic Sharia legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of President Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she fought for power with Nawaz Sharif as the country's political and economic situation worsened. Pakistan got involved in the 1991 Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia.[32]

Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India were followed by a Pakistani military coup d'état in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed vast executive powers.[33][34] In 2001, Musharraf became President after the controversial resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to the newly-elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 prime-ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz. On 15 November 2007, the National Assembly, for the first time in Pakistan's history, completed its tenure and new elections were called. The exiled political leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were permitted to return to Pakistan. However, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto during the election campaign in December led to postponement of elections and nationwide riots. Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the largest number of seats in the elections held in February 2008 and its member Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister.[35] On 18 August 2008, Pervez Musharraf resigned from the presidency when threatened to faced with impeachment,[36] and was succeeded by current president Asif Ali Zardari. By the end of 2009, more than 3 million Pakistani civilians have been displaced by the on going conflict in North-West Pakistan between the government and Taliban militants.[37]

Government and politics

Prime Minister's Secretariat, Islamabad
Prime Minister's Secretariat, Islamabad

Pakistan is a parliamentary federal democratic republic with Islam as the state religion.[38] The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956, but was suspended in 1958 by General Ayub Khan. The Constitution of 1973 — suspended in 1977, by Zia-ul-Haq, but re-instated in 1985 — is the country's most important document, laying the foundations of the current government.[14]

The bicameral legislature comprises a 100-member Senate and a 342-member National Assembly. The President is the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and is elected by an electoral college. The prime minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly. Each province has a similar system of government with a directly elected Provincial Assembly in which the leader of the largest party or alliance becomes Chief Minister. Provincial Governors are appointed by the President.[38]

The Pakistani military has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's history, with military presidents ruling from 1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999–2008.[39] The leftist Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, won support after the loss of East Pakistan but was overthrown amidst riots in 1977.[40] Under the military rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, during the 1980s, the anti-feudal, pro-Muhajir Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was started by unorthodox and educated urban dwellers of Sindh and particularly Karachi. A politically nationalist insurgency in Balochistan was also bloodlessly quelled by military governor Rahimuddin.[41] The 1990s were characterized by coalition politics dominated by the Pakistan Peoples Party and a rejuvenated Muslim League.[38]

Pakistan National Symbols of Pakistan[42]
Flag Flag of Pakistan
Emblem Faith, Unity, Discipline
Anthem Qaumi Tarana
Animal Markhor
Bird Chukar
Flower Jasmine
Tree Cedrus deodara
Juice Sugarcane juice
Sport Field hockey
Dress Shalwar Kameez

Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the latter of which Pakistan has used as a forum for Enlightened Moderation, a plan to promote a renaissance and enlightenment in the Muslim world.[38] Pakistan is also a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO).[38] In the past, Pakistan has had mixed relations with the United States; in the early 1950s, Pakistan was the United States' "most allied ally in Asia"[43] and a member of both the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO).

During the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, Pakistan was a major U.S. ally.[44] But relations soured in the 1990s, when sanctions were imposed by the U.S. over Pakistan's refusal to abandon its nuclear activities.[45] However, the American War on Terrorism, as an aftermath of 11 September 2001 attacks in U.S.A., led to an improvement in U.S.–Pakistan ties, especially after Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul. Its positive side was evidenced by a major increase in American military aid, providing Pakistan $4 billion more in three years after the 9/11 attacks than before.[46] On the other hand, Pakistan is presently burdened with nearly 3 million displaced civilians due to the ongoing Afghan war. As of 2004, in contexts of the War on Terrorism Pakistan was been referred to as part of the Greater Middle East by the U.S. under the Bush administration[47]

On 18 February 2008, Pakistan held its general elections after Benazir Bhutto's assassination postponed the original date of 8 January 2008.[48] The Pakistan Peoples Party won the majority of the votes and formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (N). They nominated and elected Yousaf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister of Pakistan.[49] On 18 August 2008, Pervez Musharraf resigned as President of Pakistan amidst increasing calls for his impeachment.[50] In the presidential election that followed, Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan People's Party won by a landslide majority and became President of Pakistan.[51]

Administrative units

Pakistan is a federation of four provinces, a capital territory and a group of federally administered tribal areas. The government of Pakistan exercises de facto jurisdiction over the western parts of the disputed Kashmir region,[6] organized as two separate political entities (Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan). The third tier of government was composed of 26 divisions with two further tiers (districts and tehsils) administered directly from the provincial level. The divisions were abolished in 2001[52] and a new three-tiered system of local government came into effect comprising districts, tehsils and union councils with an elected body at each tier. There are currently 107 districts in Pakistan proper, each with several tehsils and union councils. The tribal areas comprise seven tribal agencies and six small frontier regions detached from neighbouring districts whilst Azad Kashmir comprises seven districts and Northern Areas comprises six districts.[53]

Provinces
  1. Balochistan
  2. North-West Frontier Province
  3. Punjab
  4. Sindh

Territories
  1. Islamabad Capital Territory
  2. Federally Administered Tribal Areas
  3. Azad Jammu and Kashmir
  4. Gilgit-Baltistan
Sub Pakistan.png

Demographics

Population density in Pakistan
Population density in Pakistan

The estimated population of Pakistan in 2010 was over 169,393,000[1] making it the world's sixth most-populous country, behind Brazil and ahead of Russia. The population growth rate now stands at 1.6% [54].

About 20% of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.[55] Population projections for Pakistan are relatively difficult because of the differences in the accuracy of each census and the inconsistencies between various surveys related to the fertility rate, but it is likely that the rate of growth peaked in the 1980s and has since declined significantly.[56] Life expectancy at birth was 63 for females and 62 for males in 2006.[57] Healthy life expectancy at birth was at 54 for males and 52 for females in 2003.[57] Expenditure on health was at 2% of the GDP in 2006.[57] The mortality below 5 was at 97 per 1,000 live births in 2006.[57]

The majority of southern Pakistan's population lives along the Indus River. By population size, Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan.[58] In the northern half, most of the population lives about an arc formed by the cities of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum, Sargodha and Sheikhupura. In the past, the country's population had a relatively high growth rate that has, however, been moderated by declining fertility and birth rates. Dramatic social changes have led to rapid urbanization and the emergence of megacities. During 1990–2003, Pakistan sustained its historical lead as the most urbanized nation in South Asia, with city dwellers making up 36% of its population.[59] Furthermore, 50% of Pakistanis now reside in towns of 5,000 people or more.[60]

Pakistan has a multicultural and multi-ethnic society and hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world as well as a young population. About 8 million Muhajirs—then roughly one-fourth of the country’s population—arrived from India after independence in 1947.[61] The Urdu-speaking Muhajirs make up nearly half of Karachi's 17 million residents,[62] with Punjabis and Pashtuns also having sizable communities in the city.[63] Approximately 1.7 million Afghan refugees remain in the country, about half of them were born and grew up in Pakistan during the last 30 years.[64] They are not counted in the national census, even the ones born in Pakistan, because they are still considered citizens of Afghanistan.

Cities by population (2010 estimate)[65]
Rank City Location Population Rank City Location Population

Kar1.jpg
Karachi, Sindh
Badshahi Mosque July 1 2005 pic32 by Ali  Imran.jpg
Lahore, Punjab

1 Karachi Sindh 13,205,339 11 Sargodha Punjab 600,501
2 Lahore Punjab 7,129,609 12 Bahawalpur Punjab 543,929
3 Faisalabad Punjab 2,880,675 13 Sialkot Punjab 510,863
4 Rawalpindi Punjab 1,991,656 14 Sukkur Sindh 493,438
5 Multan Punjab 1,606,481 15 Larkana Sindh 456,544
6 Hyderabad Sindh 1,578,367 16 Sheikhupura Punjab 426,980
7 Gujranwala Punjab 1,569,090 17 Jhang Punjab 372,645
8 Peshawar NWFP 1,439,205 18 Rahim Yar Khan Punjab 353,112
9 Quetta Balochistan 896,090 19 Mardan NWFP 352,135
10 Islamabad Capital Territory 689,249 20 Gujrat Punjab 336,727

Languages

Pakistan is a multilingual country with more than sixty languages being spoken. English is the official language of Pakistan and used in official business, government, and legal contracts,[14] while Urdu is the national language.

Major ethnic groups in Pakistan
Major ethnic groups in Pakistan

Following are the major languages spoken in Pakistan. The percentage of Pakistanis who are native speakers of that language is also given.

Punjabi is the provincial language of Punjab.Saraiki is also spoken in larger area of punjab province. Pashto is the provincial language of North-West Frontier Province. Sindhi is the provincial language of Sindh and Balochi is the provincial language of Balochistan.[66]

Other languages include Aer, Badeshi, Bagri, Balti, Bateri, Bhaya, Brahui, Burushaski, Chilisso, Dameli, Dehwari, Dhatki, Domaaki, Farsi (Dari), Gawar-Bati, Ghera, Goaria, Gowro, Gujarati, Gujari, Gurgula, Hazaragi, Hindko (two varieties), Jadgali, Jandavra, Kabutra, Kachchi (Kutchi), Kalami, Kalasha, Kalkoti, Kamviri, Kashmiri, Kati, Khetrani, Khowar, Indus Kohistani, Koli (three varieties), Lasi, Loarki, Marwari, Memoni, Od, Ormuri, Pahari-Potwari, Pakistan Sign Language, Palula (Phalura), Sansi, Savi, Shina (two varieties), Torwali, Ushojo, Vaghri, Wakhi, Waneci, and Yidgha.[67] Some of these are endangered languages with a relatively small number of speakers and others have hundreds of thousands of speakers. Most of the languages belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. The exceptions are Burushaski, which is a language isolate; Balti, which is Sino-TIbetan; and Brahui, which is Dravidian.

Numbers of speakers of larger languages
Language
1998 census
2008 estimate
Main areas spoken
1 Punjabi 58,433,431 44.15% 76,367,360 44.17% Punjab
2 Pashto 20,408,621 15.42% 26,692,890 15.44% NWFP
3 Sindhi 18,661,571 14.10% 24,410,910 14.12% Sindh
4 Saraiki 13,936,594 10.53% 18,019,610 10.42% South Punjab
5 Urdu 10,019,576 7.57% 13,120,540 7.59% Karachi
6 Balochi 4,724,871 3.57% 6,204,540 3.59% Balochistan
7 Others 6,167,515 4.66% 8,089,150 3.59%
Total 132,352,279 100% 172,900,000 100% Pakistan

Religions

Religion in Pakistan
Religion

Percent
Islam
96%
Hinduism
1.85%
Christianity
1.6%
Other
0.549%
Sikhism
0.001%

Pakistan is the second-most populous Muslim-majority country[9][68] and also has the second-largest Shi'a population in the world.[10] About 95% of the Pakistanis are Muslim, of which nearly 75% are Sunni, 20% are Shi'a[14] and 2.3% are Ahmadis, as well as several Sufi communities.[69][70] Although the two groups of Muslims usually coexist peacefully, sectarian violence occurs sporadically.[71]

The religious breakdown of the country is as follows:[14]

  • Islam 173,000,000 (96%) (nearly 70% are Sunni Muslims,20% are Shi'a Muslims and 2.3% are Ahmadi Muslims).
  • Hinduism 3,200,000 (1.85%)
  • Christianity 2,800,000 (1.6%)
  • Sikhs Around 20,000 (0.001%)
  • The remaining are Parsis, Buddhists, Jews, Bahá'ís, and Animists (mainly the Kalasha of Chitral).[72]

Military

Pakistan Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft
Pakistan Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft
Pakistan's nuclear-capable Babur cruise missile
Pakistan's nuclear-capable Babur cruise missile

The armed forces of Pakistan are an all-volunteer force and the sixth-largest in the world. The three main services are the Army, Navy and the Air Force, supported by a number of paramilitary forces which carry out internal security roles and border patrols. The National Command Authority is responsible for exercising employment and development control of all strategic nuclear forces and organizations.

The Pakistan military first saw combat in the First Kashmir War, gaining control of what is now Azad Kashmir. In 1961, the army repelled a major Afghan incursion on Pakistan's western border.[73] Pakistan and India would be at war again in 1965 and in 1971. In 1973, the military quelled a Baloch nationalist uprising. During the Soviet-Afghan war, Pakistan shot down several intruding pro-Soviet Afghan aircraft and provided covert support to the Afghan mujahideen through the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. In 1999, Pakistan was involved in the Kargil conflict with India. Currently, the military is engaged in an armed conflict with extremist Islamic militants in the north-west of the country.

The Pakistani armed forces contributed to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, with more than 10,700 personnel deployed in 2009,[74] and are presently the largest contributor. In the past, Pakistani personnel have volunteered to serve alongside Arab forces in conflicts with Israel. Pakistan provided a military contingent to the U.N.-backed coalition in the first Gulf War.[75]

Pakistan's military employs armaments that include atomic weapons, mobile vehicle ballistic missile systems, laser communication systems, armored cars and tanks, and multi-role fighter/bomber jets.

Since 2004, Pakistani armed forces are engaged in fighting against Pakistani Taliban groups. Ever since the militant groups have been retaliating by suicide bombings in Pakistani cities, killing more than 3,000 civilians and armed personnels only in 2009.[76]

Geography and climate

The 62 kilometer long Baltoro Glacier, in  northern Pakistan, is one of the longest glaciers outside the polar  regions
The 62 kilometer long Baltoro Glacier, in northern Pakistan, is one of the longest glaciers outside the polar regions

Pakistan covers 803,940 km2 (310,400 sq mi),[77] approximately equalling the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. Its eastern regions are located on the Indian tectonic plate and the western and northern regions on the Iranian plateau and Eurasian landplate. Apart from the 1,046 km (650 mi) Arabian Sea coastline, Pakistan's land borders total 6,774 km (4,209 mi) — 2,430 km (1,510 mi) with Afghanistan to the northwest, 523 km (325 mi) with China to the northeast, 2,912 km (1,809 mi) with India to the east and 909 km (565 mi) with Iran to the southwest.[14] The northern and western highlands of Pakistan contain the towering Karakoram and Pamir mountain ranges, which incorporate some of the world's highest peaks, including K2 (8,611 m/28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat (8,126 m/26,660 ft). The Balochistan Plateau lies to the West, and the Thar Desert in the East. An expanse of alluvial plains lies in Punjab and Sindh along the Indus river. The 1,609 km (1,000 mi) Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea.[78]

Pakistan has four seasons: a cool, dry winter from December through February; a hot, dry spring from March through May; the summer rainy season, or southwest monsoon period, from June through September; and the retreating monsoon period of October and November. The onset and duration of these seasons vary somewhat according to location.[79] Rainfall can vary radically from year to year, and successive patterns of flooding and drought are also not uncommon.[80]

Flora and fauna

Markhor, Pakistan's national animal
Markhor, Pakistan's national animal

The national animal of Pakistan is the Markhor and the national bird is the Chukar, also known as Chakhoor in Urdu.[81] The wide variety of landscapes and climates in Pakistan allows for a wide variety of wild animals and birds. The forests range from coniferous alpine and subalpine trees such as spruce, pine, and deodar cedar in the northern mountains to deciduous trees such as the mulberry-type Shisham in the Sulaiman range in the south. The western hills have juniper and tamarisk as well as coarse grasses and scrub plants. Along the southern coast are mangrove forests which form much of the coastal wetlands.[82]

In the south, there are crocodiles in the murky waters at the mouth of the Indus River whilst on the banks of the river, there are boars, deer, porcupines, and small rodents. In the sandy scrublands of central Pakistan are found jackals, hyenas, wild cats, panthers, and leopards while the clear blue skies abound with hawks, falcons, and eagles. In the southwestern deserts are rare Asiatic cheetahs. In the northern mountains are a variety of endangered animals including Marco Polo sheep, Urial sheep, Markhor and Ibex goats, black and brown Himalayan bears, and the rare Snow Leopard. During August 2006, Pakistan donated an orphaned snow leopard cub called Leo to the United States.[83] Another rare species is the blind Indus River Dolphin of which there are believed to be about 1,100 remaining, protected at the Indus River Dolphin Reserve in Sindh.[84] In recent years, the number of wild animals being killed for fur and leather trading led to a new law banning the hunting of wild animals and birds as well as the establishment of several wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves. The number of hunters have greatly dwindled since then.[85]

Economy

A view of I. I. Chundrigar Road in Karachi, the financial centre of  Pakistan
A view of I. I. Chundrigar Road in Karachi, the financial centre of Pakistan

Pakistan has a semi-industrialized economy.[86][87] The growth poles of the Pakistani economy are situated along the Indus River,[87][88] diversified economies of Karachi and Punjab's urban centers, coexist with lesser developed areas in other parts of the country.[87] Despite being a very poor country in 1947, Pakistan's economic growth rate has been better than the global average during the subsequent four decades, but imprudent policies led to a slowdown in the late 1990s.[89] Recently, wide-ranging economic reforms have resulted in a stronger economic outlook and accelerated growth especially in the manufacturing and financial services sectors.[89] Since the 1990s, there has been great improvement in the foreign exchange position and rapid growth in hard currency reserves.[89]

The 2005 estimate of foreign debt was close to US$40 billion. However, this has decreased in recent years with assistance from the International Monetary Fund and significant debt-relief from the United States. Pakistan's gross domestic product, as measured by purchasing power parity, is estimated to be US$475.4 billion[90] while its per capita income stands at $2,942.[90] The poverty rate in Pakistan is estimated to be between 23%[91] and 28%.[92] GDP growth was steady during the mid 2000s at a rate of 7%;[93][94] however, slowed down during the Economic crisis of 2008 to 4.7%.[14] A large inflation rate of 24.4% and a low savings rate, and other economic factors, continue to make it difficult to sustain a high growth rate.[95][96] Pakistan's GDP is US$167 billions, which makes it the 48th-largest economy in the world or 27th largest by purchasing power adjusted exchange rates. Today, Pakistan is regarded as to having the second largest economy in South Asia.[97]

GDP by province
GDP by province

The structure of the Pakistani economy has changed from a mainly agricultural base to a strong service base. Agriculture now only accounts for roughly 20% of the GDP, while the service sector accounts for 53% of the GDP.[98] Significant foreign investments have been made in several areas including telecommunications, real estate and energy.[99][100] Other important industries include apparel and textiles (accounting for nearly 60% of exports), food processing, chemicals manufacture, and the iron and steel industries.[101] Pakistan's exports in 2008 amounted to $20.62 billion (USD).[14] Pakistan is a rapidly developing country.[102][103][104]

However, the Economic crisis of 2008 led Pakistan to seek more than $100 billion in aid in order to avoid possible bankruptcy.[105][106] This was never given to Pakistan and therefore it had to depend on a more aggressive fiscal policy, backed by the IMF. A year later Asian Development Bank Reports Pakistan economic crisis easing in 2009.[107] Furthermore it is projected that in 2010 Pakistan economy would grow at least 4 percent and could grow more with strong international economic recovery.[108]

Education

The Old Campus of the University of the Punjab,  also known as Allama Iqbal Campus
The Old Campus of the University of the Punjab Old Campus

Education in Pakistan is divided into five levels: primary (grades one through five); middle (grades six through eight); high (grades nine and ten, leading to the Secondary School Certificate); intermediate (grades eleven and twelve, leading to a Higher Secondary School Certificate); and university programmes leading to graduate and advanced degrees.[109]

Pakistan also has a parallel secondary school education system in private schools, which is based upon the curriculum set and administered by the Cambridge International Examinations, in place of government exams. Some students choose to take the O level and A level[110] exams through the British Council.

There are currently 730 technical & vocational institutions in Pakistan.[111] The minimum qualifications to enter male vocational institutions, is the completion of grade 8.

A graph of the literacy rate in Pakistan
The literacy rate in Pakistan[112][113]

The programmes are generally two to three years in length. The minimum qualifications to enter female vocational institutions, is the completion of grade 5.[114] All academic education institutions are the responsibility of the provincial governments. The federal government mostly assists in curriculum development, accreditation and some financing of research.

English medium education is to be extended, on a phased basis, to all schools across the country.[115] Through various educational reforms, by the year 2015, the ministry of education expects to attain 100% enrolment levels amongst primary school aged children, and a literacy rate of 86% amongst people aged over 10.[116]

Pakistan also has madrassahs that provide free education and also offer free boarding and lodging to students who come mainly from the poorer strata of society.[117] After criticism over terrorists using them for recruiting purposes, efforts have been made to regulate them.[118]

Culture

Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a key leader in the Pakistan Movement and is a popular poet in Pakistan
A sitar workshop in Islamabad
View of Food Street in Lahore

Pakistani society is largely hierarchical, with high regard for traditional Islamic values, although urban families have grown into a nuclear family system because of the socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system.[119] Recent decades have seen the emergence of a middle class in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan and Peshawar (now numbering at 30 million, with an average annual income of US$10,000, with another 17 million belonging to the upper and upper-middle classes[120]) that wish to move in a more centrist direction, as opposed to the northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan that remain highly conservative and dominated by centuries-old regional tribal customs. Increasing globalization has resulted in ranking 46th on the A.T. Kearney/FP Globalization Index.[121]

The variety of Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and western music, such as the synchronisation of Qawwali and western music by the world renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In addition Pakistan is home to many famous folk singers such as the late Alam Lohar, who is also well known in Indian Punjab. However, majority of Pakistanis listen to Indian music produced by Bollywood and other Indian film industries. The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has rekindled Pashto and Persian music and established Peshawar as a hub for Afghan musicians and a distribution centre for Afghan music abroad.[122]

State-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation were the dominant media outlets, but there are now numerous private television channels. Various American, European, and Asian television channels and films are available to the majority of the Pakistani population via private television networks, cable, and satellite television (43 million Pakistanis have satellite television)[123]. There are also small indigenous film industries based in Lahore and Peshawar (often referred to as Lollywood). And while Bollywood films have been banned from being played in public cinemas since 1965 they have remained popular in popular culture.[124]

The architecture of the areas now constituting Pakistan can be designated to four distinct periods—pre-Islamic, Islamic, colonial and post-colonial. With the beginning of the Indus civilization around the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C.,[125] an advanced urban culture developed for the first time in the region, with large structural facilities, some of which survive to this day.[126] Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kot Diji belong to the pre-Islamic era settlements. The rise of Buddhism and the Persian and Greek influence led to the development of the Greco-Buddhist style, starting from the 1st century CE. The high point of this era was reached with the culmination of the Gandhara style. An example of Buddhist architecture is the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in the northwest province.

The arrival of Islam in today's Pakistan meant a sudden end of Buddhist architecture.[127] However, a smooth transition to predominantly pictureless Islamic architecture occurred. The most important of the few completely discovered buildings of Persian style is the tomb of the Shah Rukn-i-Alam in Multan. During the Mughal era design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were fused with and often produced playful forms of the Hindustani art. Lahore, occasional residence of Mughal rulers, exhibits a multiplicity of important buildings from the empire, among them the Badshahi mosque, the fortress of Lahore with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the colourful, still strongly Persian seeming Wazir Khan Mosque as well as numerous other mosques and mausoleums. Also the Shahjahan Mosque of Thatta in Sindh originates from the epoch of the Mughals. In the British colonial period, predominantly functional buildings of the Indo-European representative style developed from a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic components. Post-colonial national identity is expressed in modern structures like the Faisal Mosque, the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Mazar-e-Quaid.

A Kalash man dances during the Uchau Festival
A Kalash man dances during the Uchau Festival

The literature of Pakistan covers the literatures of languages spread throughout the country, namely Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Baluchi as well as English[128] and Persian as well. Prior to the 19th century, the literature mainly consisted of lyric poetry and religious, mystical and popular materials. During the colonial age the native literary figures, under the influence of the western literature of realism, took up increasingly different topics and telling forms. Today, short stories enjoy a special popularity.[129]

The national poet of Pakistan, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, suggested the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. However, Iqbal had also wrote the Tarana-e-Hind which stated the belief of a strong united India. His book The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam is a major work of modern Islamic philosophy. The most well-known representative of the contemporary Urdu literature of Pakistan is Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Sufi poets Shah Abdul Latif, Bulleh Shah and Khawaja Farid are also very popular in Pakistan.[130] Mirza Kalich Beg has been termed the father of modern Sindhi prose.[131]

Tourism

PTDC Motel at Malam Jabba Ski Resort
PTDC Motel at Malam Jabba Ski Resort

Despite having an image problem, hyped particularly in the West, and once alleged as one of the most dangerous countries in the world by the British magazine "The Economist",[132] tourism is still a growing industry in Pakistan because of its diverse cultures, peoples and landscapes.[133] The variety of attractions ranges from the ruins of ancient civilizations such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill-stations, that attract those interested in field and winter sports. Pakistan also has several mountain peaks of height over 8,000 metres (26,250 ft), that attract adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially to K2.[134] Starting in April to September, domestic and international tourists visit these areas helping tourism become a source of income for the local people.

In Balochistan there are many caves for cavers and tourists to visit especially the Juniper Shaft Cave, the Murghagull Gharra cave, Mughall saa cave, and naturally decorated cave. Pakistan is a member country through Hayatullah Khan Durrani to the Union International de Spéléologie (UIS).[135]

The 1872-built Noor Mahal (Diamond Palace), is one of several palaces in the city of Bahawalpur

The northern parts of Pakistan are home to several historical fortresses, towers and other architecture including the Hunza and Chitral valleys, the latter being home to the Kalash, a small pre-Islamic Animist community.[136] Punjab is also the site of Alexander's battle on the Jhelum River. The historic city of Lahore is considered Pakistan's cultural centre and has many examples of Mughal architecture such as the Badshahi Masjid, Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Jahangir and the Lahore Fort.[137] The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) also helps promote tourism in the country.[138] However, tourism is still limited because of the lack of proper infrastructure and the worsening security situation in the country. The recent militancy in Pakistan's scenic sites, including Swat in NWFP province, have dealt a massive blow to the tourism industry. Many of the troubles in these tourist destinations are also blamed on the frail travel network, tourism regulatory framework, low prioritization of the tourism industry by the government, low effectiveness of marketing and a constricted tourism perception.[139][140] After these areas were being cleared off the militant groups in late 2009, the government of Pakistan with the financial support from the USAID have started a campaign to reintroduce tourism in Swat valley. Pakistan receives 500,000 tourists annually, and almost half of them head to northern Pakistan.[141]

Sports

Cricket is the most popular sport in Pakistan
Cricket is the most popular sport in Pakistan

The national sport of Pakistan is field hockey, although cricket is the most popular game across the country. The national cricket team has won the Cricket World Cup once (in 1992), were runners-up once (in 1999), and co-hosted the games twice (in 1987 and 1996). Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural 2007 ICC World Twenty20 held in South Africa and are the champions of 2009 ICC World Twenty20 held in England. However, cricket here has suffered heavily due to teams refusing to tour Pakistan fearing terrorism; no team having toured Pakistan since March 2009, when militants attacked the touring Sri Lankan cricket players.[142] Squash is another sport that Pakistanis have excelled in. Successful world-class squash players such as Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan won the World Open several times during their careers.

Polo is regarded as a traditional sport and  played widely in the northern areas
Polo is regarded as a traditional sport and played widely in the northern areas

At an international level, Pakistan has competed many times at the Summer Olympics in field hockey, boxing, athletics, swimming, and shooting. Pakistan's medal tally remains at 10 medals (3 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze) while at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games it stands at 61 medals and 182 medals respectively. Hockey is the sport in which Pakistan has been most successful at the Olympics, with three gold medals in (1960, 1968, and 1984). Pakistan has also won the Hockey World Cup a record four times (1971, 1978, 1982, 1994). The Motorsport Association of Pakistan is a member of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.[143] In caving and adventure sports, Pakistan is member country to UIS (Union of International Speleology)[135] The Freedom Rally is a yearly off-road race which takes place during the Independence celebrations. Pakistan also qualified for the Golf World Cup for the first time in 2009.[144]

Transportation

The Makran Coastal Highway links Karachi and Gwadar

Rail services in Pakistan are provided by the state-run Pakistan Railways, under the supervision of the Ministry of Railways. Pakistan Railways provides an important mode of transportation in Pakistan, catering to the large-scale movement of people and freight. The railway network comprises 8,163 km[145] of which 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) (broad gauge) forms 7,718 km including 293 km of electrified track. Pakistan Railways carry 65 million passengers annually and daily operates 228 mail, express and passenger trains. Pakistan Railways also operate special trains for various occasions. The Freight Business Unit with 12000 personnel operates over 200 freight stations on the railway network. Pakistan has also planned or had many Mass Transit Systems. The Karachi Circular Railway, which opened in the early 1940s, is the only functioning Mass Transit System in Pakistan as of date. In 1976, Karachi was slated to begin work on an underground metro system, but plans have been put on hold since. The Lahore Metro is another proposal still in planning and is scheduled to be completed by 2020. Pakistan has been successful in foreign trade using Railway. Pakistan has successfully traded with countries such as Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Turkmenistan and China[146] During the 1990s, Pakistan began an ongoing project to rebuild all national highways throughout the country specifically to important financial, cargo and textile centers. The National Highway Authority or NHA is responsible for the maintenance of all national highways in Pakistan. The construction of motorways began in the early 1990s with the idea building a world class road network and to reduce the load off the heavily used national highways throughout the country. The first motorway to be completed was File-M-1logo.png M1 in 1997 from Peshawar to Islamabad.

Lahore Railway Station

Later on, Highways such as File-File-M-2logo.png M2 from Islamabad to Lahore, M3motorwaypakistanlogo.jpg M3 from Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad, M9motorwaypakistanlogo.jpg M9 from Hyderabad to Karachi, M10motorwaypakistanlogo.jpg Karachi Northern Bypass from Hyderabad to Karachi, Pakistan motorway symbol.svg Lahore ring road project[147]. The waterway network in Pakistan is in its infancy with Karachi being the only major city situated next to the Arabian Sea. Still plans are being proposed for the development of the waterways in the country along the Indus River and through the Punjab as it would boost employment opportunities and the economic and social development of Pakistan.[148]. Pakistan has About 139 Airports in all together. Out of 139, only 10 of them are International[149].

Outline of Pakistan


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