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  • 8/30/2003


Pakistan flag

The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with two sections west and east) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved. A third war between these countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan seceding and becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. A dispute over the state of Kashmir is ongoing. In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998.



Location:Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east and Iran and Afghanistan on the west and China in the north

Geographic coordinates: 30 00 N, 70 00 E
Area: total: 803,940 sq km; land: 778,720 sq km ;water: 25,220 sq km

Climate: mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north

Coastline: 1,046 km


Population: 150,694,740 (July 2003 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.01% (2003 est.)

Sex ratio: total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
noun: Pakistani(s)
adjective: Pakistani

Ethnic groups: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun (Pathan), Baloch, Muhajir (immigrants from India at the time of partition and their descendants)
Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official and lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government ministries), Burushaski, and other 8%


Pakistan, an impoverished and underdeveloped country, suffers from internal political disputes, low levels of foreign investment, and a costly, ongoing confrontation with neighboring India. Pakistan's economic prospects, although still marred by poor human development indicators, continued to improve in 2002 following unprecedented inflows of foreign assistance beginning in 2001. Foreign exchange reserves have grown to record levels, supported largely by fast growth in recorded worker remittances. Trade levels rebounded after a sharp decline in late 2001. The government has made significant inroads in macroeconomic reform since 2000, but progress is beginning to slow. Although it is in the second year of its $1.3 billion IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, Islamabad continues to require waivers for politically difficult reforms. Long-term prospects remain uncertain as development spending remains low, regional tensions remain high, and political tensions weaken Pakistan's commitment to lender-recommended economic reforms. GDP growth will continue to hinge on crop performance; dependence on foreign oil leaves the import bill vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices; and efforts to open and modernize the economy remain uneven.

Industries: textiles, and apparel, food processing, beverages, construction materials, paper products, fertilizer, shrimp

Agriculture products: cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, milk, beef, mutton, eggs



Telephones main lines in use: 2.861 million (March 1999)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 158,000 (1998)

Telephone System: general assessment: the domestic system is mediocre, but improving; service is adequate for government and business use, in part because major businesses have established their own private systems; since 1988, the government has promoted investment in the national telecommunications system on a priority basis, significantly increasing network capacity; despite major improvements in trunk and urban systems, telecommunication services are still not readily available to the majority of the rural population
domestic: microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, fiber-optic cable, cellular, and satellite networks
international: satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean); 3 operational international gateway exchanges (1 at Karachi and 2 at Islamabad); microwave radio relay to neighboring countries (1999)

Television broadcast stations: 22 (plus seven low-power repeaters) (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 30 (2000)

Internet users: 1.2 million (2000)


 Erosional features on the snow-covered Ghulkin Glacier with winter storm overhead, above theKarakoram Highway, Gojal, Pakistan(Picture taken From Corbis.com)

Railways: total: 8,163 km ;broad gauge: 7,718 km 1.676-m gauge (293 km electrified) ;
narrow gauge: 445 km 1.000-m gauge (2002)
total: 247,811 km ;paved: 141,252 km (including 339 km of expressways);
unpaved: 106,559 km (1998)
Waterways: none
124 (2002)



Country name:

Conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Pakistan

conventional short form: Pakistan
former: West Pakistan

Government type: federal republic

Capital: Islamabad

Administrative divisions:37 provinces and 2 wilayas*; Agadir, Al Hoceima, Azilal,Beni 4 provinces, 1 territory*, and 1 capital territory**; Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas*,Islamabad Capital Territory**, North-West Frontier Province, Punjab, Sindh
note: the Pakistani-administered portion of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region includes Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas

Independence: 14 August 1947 (from UK)
Constitution: 10 April 1973, suspended 5 July 1977, restored with amendments 30 December 1985; suspended 15 October 1999, restored on 31 December 2002
note: selected provisions of the Constitution pertaining to changes President MUSHARRAF made while the Constitution was suspended, remain contested by political opponents

Legal system:based on English common law with provisions to accommodate Pakistan's status as an Islamic state; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Executive branch:

note: following a military takeover on 12 October 1999, Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Pervez MUSHARRAF, suspended Pakistan"s constitution and assumed the additional title of Chief Executive; exercising the powers of the head of the government, he appointed an eight-member National Security Council to function as Pakistan's supreme governing body; on 12 May 2000, Pakistan"s Supreme Court unanimously validated the October 1999 coup and granted MUSHARRAF executive and legislative authority for three years from the coup date; on 20 June 2001, MUSHARRAF named himself as president and was sworn in, replacing Mohammad Rafiq TARAR; in a referendum held on 30 April 2002, MUSHARRAF's presidency was extended by five more years

chief of state: President Pervez MUSHARRAF (since 20 June 2001)
head of government: Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan JAMALI (since 23 November 2002)
elections: the president is elected by Parliament for a five-year term; note - in a referendum held on 30 April 2002, MUSHARRAF's presidency was extended by five more years (next to be held NA 2007); the prime minister is selected by the National Assembly for a four-year term (next to be held NA 2006)
election results: results are for the 10 October 2002 election for prime minister - Mir Zafarullah Khan JAMALI elected prime minister
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the Prime Minister

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (justices appointed by the president); Federal Islamic or Shari"a Court

Political parties and leaders: Awami National Party or ANP [Wali KHAN]; Balochistan National Movement/Hayee Group or BNM/H [Dr. Hayee BALUCH]; Baluch National Party or BNP [Sardar Akhtar MENGAL]; Baluch National Party/Awami or BNP/Awami [Moheem Kahn BALOCH]; Jamhoori Watan Party or JWP [Akbar Khan BUGTI]; Jamiat-al-Hadith or JAH [Sajid MIR]; Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Fazlur Rehman faction or JUI/F [Fazlur REHMAN]; Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Sami-ul-HAQ faction or JUI/S [Sami ul-HAQ]; Jamiat-i-Islami or JI [Qazi Hussain AHMED]; Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Noorani faction or JUP/NO [Shah Ahmad NOORANI]; Millat Party or MP [Farooq LEGHARI]; Mutahida Qaumi Movement, Altaf faction or MQM/A [Altaf HUSSAIN]; Muhajir Quami Movement, Haqiqi faction or MQM/H [Afaq AHMAD]; Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan or MMA [leader NA]; National Alliance or NA [Farooq Ahmad Khan LEGHARI]; National People"s Party or NPP [Ghulam Mustapha JATOI]; Pakhtun Khwa Milli Awami Party or PkMAP [Mahmood Khan ACHAKZAI]; Pakhtun Quami Party or PQP [Mohammed Afzal KHAN]; Pakistan Awami Tehrik or PAT [Tahir ul QADRI]; Pakistan Democratic Party or PDP [Nawabadzada KHAN]; Pakistan Muslim League, Functional Group or PML/F [Pir PAGARO]; Pakistan Muslim League, Junejo faction or PML/J [Hamid Nasir CHATTHA]; Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz Sharif faction or PML/N [Nawaz SHARIF]; Pakistan Muslim League, Quaid-l-Azam faction or PML/Q [Chaudhry Shujjat HUSSEIN]; Pakistan Muslim League, Zia-ul-HAQ or PML/Z [Ejaz ul-Haq]; Pakistan National Party or PNP [Hasil BIZENJO]; Pakistan People's Party or PPP [Benazir BHUTTO]; Pakistan People's Party/Sherpao or PPP/S [Aftab Ahmed Khan SHERPAO]; Pakistan People's Party/Shaheed Bhutto or PPP/SB [Ghinva BHUTTO]; Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians or PPPP [Amin FAHIM]; Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf or PTI [Imran KHAN]; Tehrik-i-Islami [Allama Sajid NAQVI]; Tehrik-i-Insaaf or PTI [Imran KHAN]
note: political alliances in Pakistan can shift frequently


Muslim 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi"a 20%), Christian, Hindu, and other 3%


 The first inhabitants of Pakistan were Stone Age peoples in the Potwar Plateau (northwest Punjab). They were followed by the sophisticatedIndus Valley (or Harappan) civilization which flourished between the 23rd to 18th centuries BC. Semi-nomadic peoples then arrived, and by the 9th century BC they had spread across northern Pakistan-India. Their Vedic religion was the precursor of Hinduism, and their rigid division of labour an early caste system.

In 327 BC Alexander the Great came over the Hindu Kush to finish off the remnants of the defeated Persian Empire. Although his visit was short, some tribes tell picturesque legends in which they claim to be descended from Alexander and his troops. Later came the heyday of the Silk Route, a period of lucrative trade between China, India and the Roman Empire.

The Kushan Empire had unravelled by the 4th century and was subsequently absorbed by the Persian Sassanians, the Gupta dynasty, Hephthalites from Central Asia, and Turkic and Hindu Shahi dynasties. The next strong central power was the Moghuls who reigned during the 16th and 17th centuries. A succession of rulers introduced sweeping reforms, ending Islam's supremacy as a state religion, encouraging the arts, building fanciful houses and, in a complete volte-face, returning the state to Islam once again.

In 1799 a young and crafty Sikh named Ranjit Singh was granted governorship of Lahore. Over the next few decades he proceeded to parlay this entity into a small empire, fashioning a religious brotherhood of "holy brothers" into the most formidable army on the subcontinent. In the course of his rule, Ranjit had agreed to stay out of British territory - roughly southeast of the Sutlej River - if they in turn left him alone. But his death in 1839 and his successor's violation of the treaty plunged the Sikhs into war. The British duly triumphed, annexing Kashmir, Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit and renaming them the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Thus they created a buffer state to Russian expansionism in the northwest and, unwittingly, introduced what would transpire to be the subcontinent's most unmanageable curse. A second war against the British in 1849 brought the empire to an end, and the annexation of the Punjab and the Sind in the 1850s; these were ceded to the British Raj in 1857.

National self-awareness began growing inBritish India in the latter stages of the 19th century. In 1906 the Muslim League was founded to demand an independent Muslim state, but it wasn't until 24 years later that a totally separate Muslim homeland was proposed. Around the same time, a group of England-based Muslim exiles coined the name Pakistan, meaning "Land of the Pure". After violence between Hindus and Muslims escalated in the mid-1940s, the British were forced to admit that a separate Muslim state was unavoidable. The new viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, announced that independence would come by June 1948.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a prime mover of Muslim independence, became Pakistan's first governor general but died barely a year into his new country's independence. His deputy and friend Liaqat Ali Khan replaced him but was assassinated three years later. What followed was a muddle of quarrelling governors general and prime ministers and a severe economic slump. In 1956Pakistan finally produced a constitution and became an Islamic republic. West Pakistan's provinces were amalgamated into a single entity similar to that inEast Pakistan. Two years later President Iskander Mirza - fed up with the bickering and opportunism that pervaded Pakistani politics - abrogated the constitution, banned political parties and declared martial law .Pakistan has remained in this prolonged state of emergency, in one form or another, ever since.

Benazir Bhutto travelled widely, trumpeting Pakistan's investment potential and casting herself, and her country, as role models for the modern Muslim state. Her place in the hearts of her own people though was endangered by a culture of official corruption. She was dismissed as prime minister in November 1996 by the president Farooq Leghari. Elections held in early 1997 returned her opponent Nawaz Sharif. After India conducted nuclear tests in May 1998,Pakistan responded in kind two weeks later, detonating five nuclear devices in southwestern Baluchistan. International condemnation was widespread, and sanctions placed intense strain on the country's economy.

It was the "ruined economy" that General Pervez Musharraf cited as the main reason for his bloodless coup that took place in October 1999. The military stepped in, deposed Nawaz Sharif and then took control of most of Pakistan's institutions. Musharraf issued a thinly veiled warning to India not to meddle in their internal affairs, with the result that tension over nuclear capabilities between the two countries (and the continuing dispute over Kashmir) was screwed up a notch.

Taken From:  http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/indian_subcontinent/pakistan/
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