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Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a sovereign country located in South Asia and the Greater Middle East. It has a 1,046 kilometer coastline along the Arabian Sea in the south, and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. The Kashmir region is claimed by India and Pakistan. Both countries and China separately administer parts of the region with the Indian and Pakistani held areas defined by the Line of Control. The Pakistani-Chinese border is not recognized by India.
Pakistan has a long history of settlement and civilisation including the Indus Valley Civilisation. Most of it was conquered in the by Persians and Greeks. Later arrivals include the Arabs, Afghans, Turks, Baloch and Mongols. The territory was incorporated into the British India in the nineteenth century. Since its independence, the country has experienced both periods of significant military and economic growth, and periods of instability, with the secession of East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh).
The name "Pakistan" means "CLand of the Pure" in Urdu, Sindhi, and Persian. It was coined in 1934 as "Pakstan" by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, who published it in the pamphlet Now or Never. The name represented, according to Ali, the "thirty million Muslims of PAKSTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of India Punjab, N.W.F.P. (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan The nation was founded officially as the Dominion of Pakistan in 1947, and was renamed the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956.
Modern day Pakistan consists of four major parts called provinces Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and North-West Frontier Province. It also governs part of Kashmir which is currently split between Pakistan and India. The Indus region was the site of several ancient cultures including Mehrgarh, one of the world's earliest known towns, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.Waves of conquerors and migrants including Harappans, Indo-Aryans, Persians, Grecians, Sakas, Parthians, Kushans, Huns, Afghans, Arabs, Turkics, and Mughal settled in the Indo-Gangetic plains throughout the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them. The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947, but the region has an extensive history that overlaps with the histories of India, Afghanistan and Iran. The region is a crossroad of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road.
The Indus Valley civilization collapsed and was followed by the Vedic Civilisation, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains. Successive empires and kingdoms ruled the region from the Achaemenid Persian empire, to Alexander the Great and the Mauryan empire. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab 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.
The Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab. Some state that the foundation of Pakistan was laid as a result of this invasion. This would set the stage for several successive Muslim empires in the subcontinent, 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. 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 Companygained ascendancy over South Asia.
Pakistan was formed on 14 August 1947. Disputes arose over several princely states including Jammu and Kashmir whose ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by Pashtun warriors, leading to the First Kashmir War (1948) ending with Pakistan occupying roughly one-third of the state. From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. The republic declared in 1956 was stalled by a coup d'etat by Ayub Khan, who was president during a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, Yahya Khan had to deal with the cyclone which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan.
Economic and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political repression and tensions escalating into civil war and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and ultimately the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.
Civilian rule resumed from 1972 to 1977 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed and later sentenced to death in what amounted to a judicial murder in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country's third military president. Pakistan's secular policies were replaced by Zia's introduction of the Islamic Shariah legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of General 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 alternated power with Nawaz Sharif, as the country's political and economic situation worsened. Musharraf named himself President after the forced resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 Prime-Ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz, followed by a temporary period in the seat by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
Administrative divisions Edit
Pakistan is a federation of four provinces, a capital territory and federally administered tribal areas. Pakistan exercises de facto jurisdiction over the western parts of the Kashmir region, organised as two separate political entities, which are also claimed by India. Pakistan also claims Jammu and Kashmir, which is a portion of Kashmir that is administered by India.
In 2001 the federal government abolished the administrative entities called "Divisions", which used to be the third tier of government. The entities called "Districts", which used to be the fourth tier, became the new third tier. The provinces and the capital territory are subdivided into a total of 107 districts which contain numerous tehsils and local governments. 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.
Geography and climateEdit
Pakistan covers 803,940 square kilometres, with its eastern regions located on the Indian tectonic plate and the western and northern regions on the Iranian plateau and Eurasian landplate. Apart from the 1,046 kilometre Arabian Sea coastline, Pakistan's land borders total 6,774 kilometres—2,430 kilometres with Afghanistan to the northwest, 523 kilometres with China to the northeast, 2,912 kilometres with India to the east and 909 kilometres with Iran to the southwest.
The different types of natural features range from the sandy beaches, lagoons, and mangrove swamps of the southern coast to preserved beautiful moist temperate forests and the icy peaks of the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains in the north. There are an estimated 108 peaks above 7,000 metres high that are covered in snow and glaciers. Five of the mountains in Pakistan (including K2 and Nanga Parbat) are over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft). The Indus River with its many tributaries flows from north to south to the country. Areas to the west of the Indus are the dry, hilly deserts of Balochistan; to the east are the rolling sand dunes of the Thar Desert. The Tharparkar desert in the southern province of Sindh, is the only fertile desert in the world. Most areas of Punjab and parts of Sindh are fertile plains where agriculture is of great importance.
The climate varies as much as the scenery, with cold winters and hot summers in the north and a mild climate in the south, moderated by the influence of the ocean. The central parts have extremely hot summers with temperatures rising to 45 °C, followed by very cold winters, often falling below freezing. Officially the highest temperature recorded in Pakistan is 52.8 °C at Jacobabad. There is very little rainfall ranging from less than 250 millimetres to more than 1,250 millimetres, mostly brought by the unreliable south-westerly monsoon winds during the late summer. The construction of dams on the rivers and the drilling of water wells in many drier areas have eased water shortages.
Flora and Fauna Edit
The wide variety of landscapes and climates in Pakistan allows for a wide variety of wild animals and birds. The forests range from coniferous to 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 coast are mangrove forests which form much of the coastal wetlands.
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, Asiatic black bear and brown Himalayan bears, and the rare Snow Leopard. Another rare species is the blind Indus River Dolphin of which there are believed to be about 1,000 remaining, protected in two major sanctuaries. 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 and the establishment of several wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves.
Pakistan is a rapidly developing country which has faced a number of challenges on both political and economic fronts. Despite being a very poor country in 1947, Pakistan's economic growth rate was better than the global average during the subsequent four decades, but imprudent policies led to a slow down in the late 1990s. Recently, wide-ranging economic reforms have resulted in a stronger economic outlook and accelerated growth especially in the manufacturing and financial services sectors. There has been great improvement in the foreign exchange position and rapid growth in hard currency reserves in recent years. 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 (IMF) and significant debt-relief from the United States. Pakistan's gross domestic product, as measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), is estimated to be US$439.7 billion while its per capita income (PCI) stands at $2,803. Pakistan's GDP growth rates have seen a steady increase over the last 5 years. However, inflationary pressures and a low savings rate, among other economic factors, could make it difficult to sustain a high growth rate, according to some analysts.
The growth of non-agricultural sectors has changed the CUNTstructure of the economy, and agriculture now only accounts for roughly 20% of the GDP. The service sector accounts for 53% of the country's GDP with wholesale and retail trade forming 30% of this sector. In recent times, the Karachi Stock Exchange has soared, along with most of the world's emerging markets. Large amounts of foreign investments have been made into several industries. The top industries in Pakistan are telecom, software, automotives, textiles, cement, steel, ship building, and more recently, aerospace.Pakistan has accomplished many engineering feats such as construction of the world’s largest earth filled dam Tarbela, the world's twelfth largest dam Mangla, as well as, with collaboration with China, the world’s highest international road: the Karakoram Highway. There are also half a dozen additional dams planned such as Kalabagh Dam, Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Munda, Akhori and Skardu Katzara.
In November 2006 China and Pakistan signed a Free Trade Agreement hoping to triple bilateral trade from $4.2 billion to $15 billion within the next five years. Pakistan's annual exports in 2005 amounted to $15 billion, and is poised to cross $18 billion in 2006 and $20 billion in 2007. Pakistan is also home to a thriving arms industry which exports $200 million annually, mostly defence equipment and arms to countries in the Middle East and South Asia, and its defence officials are hopeful that these exports will surpass $500 million a year within the next five years.
In keeping with its rapid economic development in recent years, Pakistan registered an economic growth rate of 7 percent in the financial year 2006-07, the fourth consecutive year of seven percent growth. In its June 2006 Economic Survey global finance giant Morgan Stanley listed Pakistan on its list of major emerging markets in the world economy, placing it on a list of 25 countries displaying continued moderate to strong growth over a sustained period of time. The report noted "its economy has been growing quickly in recent periods and corporate direct investors have taken notice". Concurrently, highlighting the strides made on the economic front in recent times, Moody's Investors Service in December 2006 upgraded Pakistan's credit rating from B2 to B1, noting a "positive outlook".
In late March 2007, the Asian Development Bank "Outlook 2007" report predicted that strong growth would continue in 2007 and 2008 with growth rates of 6.5 to 7 percent, with manufacturing, exports and consumer expenditure leading the way. Further progress was highlighted by news that the FDI for FY 2006/7 would touch $7 billion, eclipsing the targeted $4 billion. Telecoms, real estate and energy are major industries for FDI.
Society and culture Edit
The national dress of Shalwar Qamiz is originally of Central Asian origin derived from Turko-Iranian nomadic invaders and is today worn in all parts of Pakistan. The sari is a regional dress that is worn by some women in Sindh and other parts of Pakistan. Women wear brightly coloured shalwar qamiz, while men often wear solid-coloured ones. In cities western dress is also popular among the youth and the business sector. Recent decades have seen the emergence of a middle class in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, and Peshawar that wish to move in a more liberal direction, as opposed to the northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan that remain highly conservative and dominated by centuries-old regional tribal customs.
Tourism is a growing industry in Pakistan, based on its diverse cultures, peoples and landscapes. The variety of attractions range from the ruins of ancient civilizations such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill stations, which attract those interested in field and winter sports. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7000m, which attracts adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially K2. The northern parts of Pakistan have many old fortresses, towers and other architecture as well as the Hunza and Chitral valleys, the latter being home to the small pre-Islamic Animist Kalasha community who claim descent from the army of Alexander the Great. In the Punjab is the site of Alexander's battle on the Jhelum River and the historic city Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital with many examples of Mughal architecture such as the Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Jahangir and the Lahore Fort. To promote Pakistan's unique and various cultural heritage, the prime minister launched "Visit Pakistan 2007".
- Government of Pakistan
- President of Pakistan
- Official Information Website of Pakistan
- Pakistan Mission to the United Nations
- Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation
- Election Commission of Pakistan
- Higher Education Commission of Pakistan
- Pakistan Post
- Karachi Stock Exchange
- Pakistan International Airlines
- History of Pakistan and present
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