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Pakistan ( or ; ) (), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan () is a sovereign country in South Asia. Bounded by a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south, it is bordered by India in the east, Afghanistan in the west and north, Iran in the southwest and China in the far northeast, while Tajikistan is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor in the north. In addition, Oman shares a marine border with Pakistan. Strategically, Pakistan is situated at the crossroads of the important regions of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.

The region forming modern Pakistan was the site of several ancient cultures including the neolithic Mehrgarh and the bronze era Indus Valley Civilisation. Subsequently it has seen invasions or settlements by Hindu, Persian, Indo-Greek, Islamic, Turco-Mongol, Afghan and Sikh cultures. As a result, the area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties including the Indian empires, Persian empires, Arab caliphates, Mongol, Mughal, Durrani Empire, Sikh and British Empire. In 1947, as a result of the Pakistan Movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and India's struggle for independence, Pakistan was created as an independent nation for Muslims from the Muslim majority regions of India in the east and west. Initially a dominion, with the adoption of a new constitution in 1956 Pakistan became an Islamic republic. In 1971, a civil war in East Pakistan resulted in the secession of East Pakistan as the new country of Bangladesh.

Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of four provinces and four federal territories. With a population exceeding 170 million people, it is the sixth most populous country in the world and has the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia. It is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country, with a similar variation in its geography and wildlife. Its semi-industrialized economy is the 27th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power. Since gaining independence, Pakistan's history has been characterised by periods of military rule, political instability and conflicts with neighbouring India. The country continues to face challenging problems including terrorism, poverty, illiteracy and corruption.

A regional and middle power,[1][2] Pakistan has the seventh largest standing armed forces in the world and is a declared nuclear weapons state, being the first and only nation to have that status in the Muslim world, and the second in South Asia. It is designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States and a strategic ally of China. Pakistan is a founding member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) and is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations and the G20 developing nations.



The name Pakistan literally means Land of (the) Pure in Urdu and Persian. It was coined in 1933 as Pakstan by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan Movement activist, who published it in his pamphlet Now or Never.[3] Figuratively, the name is an acronym representing the "thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKSTAN" referring to the names of the five northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, viz.: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan".[4][5][6] The letter 'i' became the defacto addition to ease pronunciation and form the linguistically correct name.[7]


Early and medieval age

1st century AD Standing Buddha from Gandhara, Pakistan Some of the earliest ancient human civilisations in South Asia originated from areas encompassing present-day Pakistan. The earliest known inhabitants in the region were the Soanians who settled in the Soan Valley of Punjab.[8] The Indus region, which covers most of Pakistan, was the site of several successive ancient cultures including the Neolithic era's Mehrgarh[9] and the bronze era Indus Valley Civilisation (2800 1800 BCE) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.[10][11]

The Vedic Civilization (1500 500 BCE) characterized by Indo-Aryan culture laid the foundations of Hinduism, which would become well established in the region.[12][13] Multan was considered an important Hindu pilgrimage centre.[14] The Vedic civilization flourished in the ancient Gandh ran city of Tak a il , now Taxila in Punjab.[9] Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Achaemenid Persian empire around 519 BCE, the Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great in 327 BCE and the Mauryan empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great, until 185 BCE.[9] The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria in 184 BCE included Gandhara and Punjab and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila 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.[15] Taxila is considered to be amongst the earliest universities and centers of higher education in the world.[16][17][18][19]


The Medieval period (642 1219 CE) is defined by the spread of Islam in the region. During this period, Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam.[20] The Rai Dynasty (489 632 CE) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories.[21]

In 711 CE, the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab.[22] This Arab and Islamic victory would set the stage for the rule of several successive Muslim empires in the region, including the Ghaznavid Empire (975 -1187 CE), the Ghorid Kingdom and the Delhi Sultanate (1206 1526 CE). The last of Delhi Sultanate, Lodi dynasty was replaced by the Mughal Empire (1526 1857 CE). The Mughals transferred Persian literature and high culture, establishing the roots of Indo-Persian culture in the region.[23]

The Pakistan government's official chronology has stated Muhammad bin Qasim's conquest of the region as the point where the "foundation" of Pakistan was laid.[22]

Colonial period

Muslim League]] in Lahore The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century provided opportunities for the Sikhs to exercise most of the 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 major armed struggle against the British.[25] The largely non-violent freedom struggle led by the Indian National Congress engaged millions of protesters in mass campaigns of civil disobedience in the 1920s and 1930s .[26][27]

Constitutional Assembly]], explaining the foundations for the new state of Pakistan. 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, Muhammad Iqbal's presidential address called for an autonomous "state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims, within the body politic of India."[28] Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution.[24] In early 1947, Britain announced the decision to end its rule in India. In June 1947, the nationalist leaders of British India including Jawaharlal 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.[29][30]

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.[24][29] Partition of the Punjab and Bengal provinces caused communal riots across India and Pakistan millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India.[31] Dispute over the princely state, Jammu and Kashmir, lead to the First Kashmir War in 1948.[32]


The Minar-e-Pakistan, a symbol of Pakistan's independence From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations.[33] Pakistan has had two monarchs. In 1947, King George VI relinquished the title of Emperor of India, and became King of Pakistan. He remained King of Pakistan until his death on 6 February 1952. Upon his death, Queen Elizabeth II became Queen of Pakistan.[33] Pakistan became an Islamic and Parliamentary republic in 1956,[34] but the civilian rule was stalled by a military coup led by the Army Commander-in-Chief General Ayub Khan. The country experienced exceptional growth until a second war with India in 1965 led to economic downfall and internal instability.[35][36] Ayub Khan's successor, General Yahya Khan (1969 71) had to deal with a devastating cyclone which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan.[37]

In 1970, Pakistan held its first ever democratic elections since independence. The elections were meant to mark a transition from military rule to democracy, however, after the East Pakistan Awami League won the elections, Yahya Khan and the ruling elite in West Pakistan refused to hand over power.[38][39] Following civil unrest in the East, Pakistan launched a military operation on 25 March 1971 aimed at restoring control over the province.[38][39] The targeting of civilians and other atrocities during this operation led to a declaration of independence and to the waging of a war of liberation by East Pakistan Bengali Mukti Bahini forces with support from India.[39][40] Independent estimates of civilian deaths during this period range from 1 million to 3 million.[41] Attacks on Indian military bases by the Pakistani air forces in December 1971 led to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 which ended with the formal secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.[39]

With Pakistan's defeat in the war, General Yahya Khan was replaced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Civilian rule resumed in Pakistan from 1972 to 1977.[42] During this period Pakistan began the process of building nuclear weapons. In 1972, the country's first atomic power plant was inaugurated.[43][44] In 1977, civilian rule ended with a military coup and, in 1979, General Zia-ul-Haq became the third military president. Military government lasted until 1988, during which Pakistan's economy became one of the fastest growing economies in South Asia.[45] Zia further consolidated nuclear development and was responsible for increasing Islamization of the state.[46] During this period, Pakistan helped the subsidizing and distribution of US resources to factions of the Mujahideen movement against the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.[47][48]

With the death of Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. She was followed by Nawaz Sharif and over the next decade the two leaders fought for power and alternated as the country's situation worsened; the economic indicators fell sharply in contrast to the 80s. This period is marked with political instability, misgovernance and corruption.[49][50] During Sharif's government in May 1998, India tested five nuclear weapons and tension with India heightened to an extreme, resulting in Pakistan's detonation of six nuclear weapons of its own (see Chagai-I and Chagai-II) half a month later. Military tension in the Kargil with India was followed by the Kargil War, after which General Pervez Musharraf took over through a bloodless coup d' tat and assumed vast executive powers.[51][52]

General Musharraf ruled Pakistan as head of state from 1999 2001 and as President from 2001 08, a period marked by extensive economic reforms[53] and Pakistan's involvement in the US led war on terrorism. On 15 November 2007, Pakistan's National Assembly completed tenure for the first time in its history and new elections were called.[54] In the 2008 elections, Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the largest number of seats and its member Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister.[55] Musharraf resigned from the presidency when threatened with impeachment on 18 August 2008, and was succeeded by current president; Asif Ali Zardari.[56][57][58] Pakistan's involvement in the war against terrorism has, according to its own estimates, cost up to $67.93 billion,[59][60] thousands of casualties and nearly 3 million displaced civilians.[61]


Yousaf Raza Gillani, Prime Minister of PakistanPakistan is a democratic parliamentary federal republic with Islam as the state religion. 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.[62]

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.[62] The Pakistani military establishment has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's political history, with military presidents ruling from 1958 1971, 1977 1988 and 1999 2008.[63]

Benazir Bhutto was the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan, serving two terms.

The focus of Pakistan foreign policy is security against threats to national identity, territorial integrity and cultivation of close relations with Muslim countries. Pakistan highlights sovereign equality of states, mutuality of interest and non interference in each others domestic affairs as main features of its foreign policy.[64] The country is an active member of the United Nations. It is one of the founder of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and has used it as a forum for Enlightened Moderation.[65][66][67] Pakistan is also a member of Commonwealth of Nations,[68] South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO),[69][70] and G20 developing nations.[71] The need for strategic balance in interest of security lead to Pakistan establishing itself as a nuclear power in the wake of India's nuclear tests;[72] and Pakistan maintains a Minimum Credible Deterrence policy.[73]

Pakistan maintains good relations with all the Arab and most other Muslim countries. After Sino-Indian War in 1962, Pakistan's closest strategic, military and economic ally has been China. The relationship has sustained through changes of governments and the ups and downs in the regional and global situation.[74][75][76] Pakistan and India continue to share a rivalry. The Kashmir conflict remains the major point of rift; three of the four wars the two nations fought were over this territory.[77] Pakistan has had mixed relations with the United States. As an anti-Soviet power in the 1950s and during the 1980s Soviet-Afghan War, Pakistan was one of the U.S.'s closest allies,[64][78] although relations soured in the 1990s, when sanctions were imposed by the U.S. over Pakistan's refusal to abandon its nuclear activities.[79] The U.S. war on terrorism initially led to an improvement in ties between the two countries; however, the relationship was strained by a divergence of interests and resulting mistrust in the war in Afghanistan and on terrorism related issues.[80][81][82][83]

Administrative divisions

Pakistan is a federation of four provinces; Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, as well as a capital territory and a group of federally administered tribal areas in the northwest including the Frontier Regions. The government of Pakistan exercises de facto jurisdiction over the western parts of the disputed Kashmir region, organised as separate political entities; Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly Northern Areas). The latter has been given a province-like status for self government by the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009.[84]

The local government has a three-tier system of districts, tehsils and union councils with an elected body at each tier.[85] There are 113 districts in Pakistan-proper, each with several tehsils and union councils. The tribal areas comprise seven tribal agencies and six small frontier regions[86] detached from neighbouring districts while Azad Kashmir comprises ten[87] and Gilgit-Baltistan seven districts respectively.[88]

Law enforcement in Pakistan is carried out by federal and provincial police agencies. The four provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory each have a civilian police force with jurisdiction limited to the relevant province or territory. At the federal level, there are a number of civilian agencies with nationwide jurisdictions; including the Federal Investigation Agency, the National Highways and Motorway Police, and several paramilitary forces including the Pakistan Rangers and the Frontier Corps.[89]

The court system of Pakistan is distributed per hierarchy; Supreme Court is the apex court followed by, High Court, Federal Shariat Court (one in each province and in federal capital), District Courts (one in each district), Judicial Magistrate Courts (in every town and city), Executive Magistrate Courts and Courts of Civil Judge. Pakistan's penal code has limited jurisdiction in tribal areas, where law is largely derived from tribal customs.[89][90]


The armed forces of Pakistan are the seventh-largest in the world in terms of active forces.[91] The three main branches are the Army, Navy and the Air Force, supported by a number of paramilitary forces.[92] The National Command Authority is responsible for exercising employment, development control of all strategic nuclear organisations and for Pakistan's nuclear doctrine. Pakistan's defence forces maintain close military relations with China and the United States and predominantly import military equipments from these two countries.[93] The defence forces of China and Pakistan also organise joint military exercises.[92][94][95]

The Pakistan Army came into existence after independence in 1947 and is headed by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.[96] The Pakistani military establishment has frequently been involved in the politics of Pakistan since its inception.[63] It has an active force of about 612,000 personnel and 513,000 men in reserve.[92] Conscription may be introduced in times of emergency, but it has never been imposed.[97]

A team of Pakistani Special Service Wing soldiers during training

Since independence, the Army has been involved in four wars with neighbouring India. The Pakistan military engaged in combat operations for the first time in the First Kashmir War, gaining control of what is now Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan and India were at war again in 1965 and in 1971.[98] In 1999, Pakistan was involved in the Kargil War.[51] The army has also been engaged in several skirmishes with Afghanistan on the western border; in 1961, it repelled a major Afghan incursion.[99] During the Soviet Afghan war, Pakistan shot down several intruding pro-Soviet Afghan communist aircrafts and provided covert support to factions of the Afghan mujahideen through the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.[100] In 1970s, the military quelled a Baloch nationalist uprising.[101] Apart from conflicts, the Army has been an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping missions and played a major role in rescuing trapped American soldiers from Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 in Operation Gothic Serpent.[102][103][104] Pakistani armed forces are the second largest contributors to UN peacekeeping missions.[105]

PNS Tippu Sultan]] during a Pakistan Navy drill

Pakistan maintained divisions and brigade strength presences in some of the Arab countries particularly during the Arab Israeli Wars. During the Six-Day War in 1967 and Yom Kippur War in October 1973 PAF pilots volunteered to go to the Middle East to support Egypt and Syria in a state of war against Israel; Air Force pilots shot down ten Israeli planes in the Six-Day War.[102] In 1979, Pakistani SSG commandos were rushed to help assist Saudi forces in Makkah on the Saudi government's request to lead the operation of the Grand Mosque Seizure. In 1991 Pakistan got involved with the Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition, specifically for the defense of Saudi Arabia.[106]

From 2001, the Pakistan Armed Forces have been engaged in a war in North-West Pakistan mainly against the TTP.[107][108] The major operations undertaken by the Army include Operation Black Thunderstorm and Operation Rah-e-Nijat.[109][110]

Kashmir conflict

The Kashmir conflict is a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region, the northwestern most region of South Asia. The two countries have fought at least three wars over Kashmir, including the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947, 1965 and 1999, as well as several skirmishes over the Siachen Glacier.[77] India claims the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir and administers approximately 45.1% of the region, including most of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, and the Siachen Glacier. India's claim is contested by Pakistan, which controls approximately 38.2% of Kashmir, namely Azad Kashmir and the northern areas of Gilgit and Baltistan.[77][111]

The conflict of Kashmir has its origin in 1947 when British India was separated into the two states of Pakistan and India. As a part of the partition process, both countries had agreed that the rulers of princely states would be given the right to opt for either Pakistan or India or in special cases to remain independent.[112] India claims Kashmir on the foundation of the Instrument of Accession, a legal agreement with Kashmir's leaders executed by then ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, agreeing to accede the area to India.[113] Pakistan claims Kashmir on the basis of a Muslim majority and geography, the same principles that were applied for the creation of the two independent states.[114][115] India referred the dispute to the United Nations on 1 January 1948.[116] In a resolution from 1948, the UN asked Pakistan to remove most of its troops. Once this happened, a plebiscite was to be held. However, Pakistan failed to vacate the region. A ceasefire was reached in 1949 and a Line of Control was established, dividing Kashmir between the two countries.[112]

Considering Kashmir an unfinished agenda of partition and obligation towards Muslims in Kashmir, Pakistan's position is that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have the right to determine their future through impartial elections under the supervision of the United Nations.[117] India has stated that it believes that Kashmir is an integral part of India referring to the 1972 Simla Agreement and elections taking place regularly.[118] Certain Kashmiri independence groups believe that Kashmir should be independent of both India and Pakistan.[77]

Geography and climate

Pakistan covers an area of , approximately equaling the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. It is the 36th largest nation by total area, although this ranking varies depending on how the disputed territory of Kashmir is counted. Apart from the coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south,[119] Pakistan's land borders a total of with Afghanistan, with China, with India and with Iran.[62] Pakistan shares a marine border with Oman,[120] and is separated from Tajikistan by the frigid, narrow Wakhan Corridor.[121] Located at the crossroads of South Asia, Middle East and Central Asia, Pakistan has an important geopolitical position in the world.[122]

Geologically, Pakistan overlaps with the Indian tectonic plate in its Sindh and Punjab provinces, while Balochistan and most of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lie within the Eurasian plate which mainly comprises the Iranian plateau. Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir lie mainly in Central Asia along the edge of the Indian plate and are hence prone to violent earthquakes. Pakistan's geography is a mix of landscape varying from plains to deserts, forests, hills and plateaus ranging from the coastal areas of the south to the glaciated mountains of the north.[123]

Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands; the Indus River plain; and the Balochistan Plateau.[124] The northern highlands of Pakistan contain the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges, which incorporate some of the world's highest peaks including five out of fourteen mountain peaks of height over , that attract adventurers and mountaineers from all over the world. These notably include K2 () and Nanga Parbat ().[125] 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 Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea.[126]

Pakistan's climate varies from tropical to temperate with arid conditions existing in the coastal south, characterised by a monsoon season with frequent flooding rainfall and a dry season with significantly lesser to no rainfall. There are four distinct 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.[24] Rainfall can vary greatly from year to year, and successive patterns of flooding and drought are common.[127]

Flora and fauna

The diversity of landscapes and climates in Pakistan allows a wide variety of trees and plants to flourish. The forests range from coniferous alpine and subalpine trees such as spruce, pine, and deodar cedar in the extreme northern mountains, to deciduous trees such as the mulberry-type Shisham in the Sulaiman range in the majority of the country, to palms such as coconut and date in South Punjab and Balochistan and all of Sindh. The western hills are home to juniper and tamarisk as well as coarse grasses and scrub plants. Mangrove forests form much of the coastal wetlands along the coast in the south.[128]

Coniferous forests in most of the northern and north-western highlands are found at altitudes ranging from 1,000m to 4,000m. In the xeric regions of Balochistan, date palms and ephedra are common floral varieties. In most of Punjab and Sindh, the Indus plains support tropical and subtropical dry and moist broadleaf forestry as well as tropical and xeric shrublands. These forests are mostly mulberry, acacia, and Eucalyptus.[129] According to statistics, 2.5% or about of Pakistan was forested in 2000.[130]

As with the vegetation, the fauna of Pakistan reflects the varied climatic regions of the land. Around 668 bird species are present in Pakistan.[131][132] The most common birds include the crows, sparrows and myna, hawks, falcons, and eagles. The Kohistan region of Pakistan, Palas Velley, also has a significant population of Western Tragopan.[133] A lot of birds sighted within Pakistan are migratory as they make their way from Europe, Central Asia and India.[134]

Markhor, Pakistan's national animal[135]

The southern plains are home to Jackal, mongoose, jungle cat, civet cat, scaly anteater, desert cat, the wild hare and crocodiles in the Indus while boars, deer, porcupines, and small rodents are common in the surrounding areas. The sandy scrublands of central Pakistan are home to a jackals, hyenas, wild cats, panthers, and leopards.[136][137] The lack of vegetative cover, severity of climatic conditions, and the impact of grazing animals on the deserts have left wild animals in a precarious position. Chinkara is the only animal that can still be found in significant numbers in Cholistan. A small number of blue bulls and are found along the Pakistan-Indian border, and in some parts of Cholistan.[136][138] In the north, a wide variety of animals live in the mountainous regions including the Marco Polo sheep, Urial sheep, Markhor and Ibex goats, black and brown Himalayan bears.[136][139][140] The rare animals found in the area includes Snow Leopard,[139] Asiatic cheetahs,[141] and 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.[139][142] In total 174 mammals, 177 reptiles, 22 amphibians, 198 freshwater fish species and 5,000 species of invertebrates including insects have been record in Pakistan.[131][132]

The flora and fauna of Pakistan suffers from a number of problems. Pakistan is ranked as the second highest country of the world in terms of deforestation. This clearing of forests along with animal hunting and pollution is having adverse effects on the ecosystem. The government has established a large number of protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries, and game reserves to deal with these issues.[131][132]



Pakistan is a rapidly developing country.[143][144][145] Pakistan has been listed among Next Eleven, the eleven countries that along with the BRICS have a high potential of becoming the world's largest economies in the 21st century.[146] The economy is semi-industrialized, with the growth poles situated along the Indus River.[147][148][149] Diversified economies of Karachi and Punjab's urban centres coexist with lesser developed areas in other parts of the country.[148] Pakistan's estimated gross domestic product (nominal) as of 2011 is US$ 202 billion. The estimated nominal per capita GDP is US$ 1,197, per capita GDP PPP US$ 2,851 (international dollars) and debt-to-GDP ratio is 55.5%.[150][151] Pakistan is the 27th largest in the world in terms of PPP and the 45th largest in nominal terms.[149] The economy of Pakistan is South Asia's second largest economy; representing about 15 percent of regional GDP.[152][153]

Pakistan economic growth since its inception has been varied. Growth has been slow during the civilian rules. While the three long periods of military rule have seen remarkable recovery; the foundation for sustainable and equitable growth wasn't formed.[36] The early to middle 2000s was a period of rapid reform; the government raised development spending which reduced the poverty levels by 10% and increased GDP by 3%.[62][154] The economy has slowed down again since 2007.[62] In 2008, inflation reached as high as 25%[155] and Pakistan had to depend on a aggressive fiscal policy backed by the International Monetary Fund to avoid possible bankruptcy.[156][157] A year later, Asian Development Bank reported that the Pakistan economic crisis was easing.[158] The inflation rate for the fiscal year 2010-11 was 14.1%.[159]

A mango orchard in Multan, southern Punjab: agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan's economy

Pakistan boasts as one of the largest producers of natural commodities and has the 10th largest labour market in the world. In 2009 the flow of workers to abroad was 600,000. The large number of overseas Pakistanis also send remittances totaling close to US$8 billion annually. These remittances are the second largest source of foreign exchange after exports.[160] According to the World Trade Organization Pakistan's share in overall world exports is declining; with the country only contributing 0.128% in 2007.[161] The trade deficit in the fiscal year 2010/11 was US$11.217 billion.[162]

The structure of the Pakistani economy has changed from a mainly agricultural base to a strong service base. Agriculture now only accounts for 21.2% of the GDP. Still, in 2005, Pakistan produced 21,591,400 metric tons of wheat, more than all of Africa (20,304,585 metric tons) and nearly as much as all of South America (24,557,784 metric tons), according to the FAO.[163] The service and Industry accounts for 52.4% and 26.4% of the GDP respectively.[164] In the last few years, significant foreign investment has been made in several areas including banking and energy.[165] Other important industries include apparel and textiles (accounting for nearly 60% of exports), food processing, chemicals manufacture, and the iron and steel industries.[166] Tourism is also noted for its potential but severely affected by the political instability of the country.[167]


The transport sector accounts for 10.5% of Pakistan's GDP.[168] The road infrastructure is better than the ones of India and China, but the rail and air systems lag behind those of the main countries of the region.[169] The inland water transportation system is in its infancy and coastal shipping only serves for minor internal transports.[170]

The road system is the backbone of Pakistan's transport system; a total road length of 259,618 km accounts for 91% of passenger and 96% of freight traffic. The transport services are largely in the hands of the private sector, which handles around 95% of freight traffic. The National Highway Authority is responsible for the maintenance of national highways and motorways. Pakistan's highway and motorway system mainly depends on north-south links, connecting the southern ports to the populous provinces of Punjab and NWFP. Although this network only accounts for 4.2% of total road length, it carries 85 percent of the country's traffic.[169][171]

Nagan Interchange is one of the busiest intersections in Karachi. Pakistan Railways, under the Ministry of Railways, operates the railroad system. Railway was the primary means of transport till 1970. Over the past two decades, there has been a marked shift in traffic from rail to highways, a trend that the government hopes to stabilize and reverse. Now the railway's share of inland traffic is only 10% for passengers and 4% for freight traffic. The total rail track has decreased from 8,775 km to 7,791 km.[169][172] Pakistan expects to use the rail service to boost foreign trade with China, Iran and Turkey.[173][174]

Pakistan has an estimated 35 airports. The state-run, Pakistan International Airlines is the major airline and carries about 73% of domestic passengers and all domestic freight. Jinnah International Airport of Karachi is the principal international gateway to Pakistan, although Islamabad and Lahore also handle significant amount of traffic. Pakistan's major ports are Karachi, Muhammad bin Qasim and Gwader which is still under construction.[169][172]

Science and technology

Brain virus]]; the world's first computer virus, made in Pakistan.[175] Research and development forms an integral part in Pakistan's economy.[176] Pakistan is the home of Professor Abdus Salam Pakistan's only Nobel laureate in Physics, and pioneer of the electroweak theory for which he received such honor.[177] The work of Riazuddin[178] and Raziuddin Siddiqui[179] is renowned. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui was the first Pakistani scientist to bring the therapeutic constituents of the Neem tree to the attention of natural products chemists.[180] He was preceded by Atta ur Rahman, UNESCO laureate,[181] and Naveed Zaidi, who developed the first workable plastic magnet at room temperature.[182] Each and every year, scientists from around the world are invited by the Pakistan Academy of Sciences and the Pakistan Government to participate in International Nathiagali Summer College on Physics.[183]

Medical scientists from Pakistan also pioneered in neuroscience. Ayub Ommaya, the inventor of the Ommaya reservoir, was one of the leading scientist in the field of Neurosciences.[184] Another medical scientist, Naweed Syed became the first scientist who managed to "connect brain cells to a silicon chip".[185][186] Pakistan has produced prolific technologist such as Umar Saif, a pioneer in ICTD technology and Munir A. Khan, a leading figure in nuclear power technology.[187] Pakistan has an active space program, headed by its premier space research agency SUPARCO. Polish-Pakistani Aerospace engineer W. J. M. Turowicz developed and supervised the launch of the Rehbar-I rocket from Pakistani soil, making Pakistan the first South Asian country to launch a rocket in space.[188] In 1990, Pakistan launched its first and ingenious satellite, Badr-I from China, becoming first Muslim country and second South Asian country to have put the satellite in space.[189] In 1998, Pakistan became the seventh country in the world to successfully develop and test nuclear weapons.[190] Pakistan's scientists have played an influential role in advancing the economical sciences such as Akhtar Hameed Khan, pioneer of microcredit and microfinance initiatives in developing world; Mahbub-ul-Haq, creator of the Human development theory and the founder of the Human Development Report; and Agha Hasan Abedi, founder of the BCCI.[191] Pakistan is also of a handful of countries which has an active research presence in Antarctica, as part of the Pakistan Antarctic Programme established in 1991; Pakistan currently has two summer research stations in the continent and plans to open another base which will be permanent all year round.[192]

Electricity in Pakistan is generated, and distributed by two vertically integrated public sector utilities: Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) for all of Pakistan except Karachi, which is supplied by Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC).[193] Nuclear power in Pakistan is provided by 3 licensed-commercial nuclear power plants under Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).[194] Pakistan is the first Muslim country in the world to embrak on a nuclear power program.[195] The electricity generated by commercial nuclear power plants constitutes roughly 3% of electricity generated in Pakistan, compared to about 64% from thermal and 33% from hydroelectric power.[193]


According to the constitution of Pakistan, it is the state s responsibility to provide free primary education.[196] At the time of independence Pakistan had only one university, the University of the Punjab.[197] Pakistan now has 135 universities, of which 74 are public universities and 61 are private universities.[198] There are an estimated 3193 technical and vocational institutions in Pakistan.[199] Pakistan also has madrassahs that provide free Islamic education and also offer free boarding and lodging to students who come mainly from the poorer strata of society.[200] After criticism over terrorists using them for recruiting purposes, efforts have been made to regulate them.[201]

Education in Pakistan is divided into six main levels: pre-primary (prep classes); 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.[199] 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. Some students choose to take the O level and A level exams through the British Council.[202]

Government is in development stage of extending English medium education to all schools across the country.[203] In addition, by 2013 all educational institutions in Sindh province will have to provide Chinese language courses. This initiative reflects China's growing role as a superpower and Pakistan's close ties with China.[204]

Around 57.7% of adult Pakistanis are literate. Male literacy is 69.3%, while female literacy is 45.2%.[159] Literacy rates also vary regionally, and particularly by sex; for instance, in tribal areas female literacy is 3%.[205] The government launched a nationwide initiative in 1998 with the aim of eradicating illiteracy and providing a basic education to all children.[206] 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.[207]


Population density

With 177.1 million residents reported in 2011, Pakistan is the sixth most populated country in the world, behind Brazil and ahead of Bangladesh. At 2.03% it has the highest population growth rate among the SAARC countries, resulting in an annual addition of 3.6 million people. The population is projected to reach 210.13 million by the year 2020 and is estimated to double in the next 34 years. In 1947, Pakistan had a population of 32.5 million.[160][208] From 1990 to 2009 it increased at a rate of 57.2%.[209] By 2030 the country is expected to overtake Indonesia as the largest Muslim country in the world.[210][211][212] Pakistan is a 'young' nation with a median age of about 20 and 104 million people under 30 years of age in 2010.[160]

The majority of southern Pakistan's population live along the Indus River. By population size, Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan.[213] In the northern half, most of the population lives in an arc formed by the cities of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum, Sargodha, Sheikhupura, Nowshera, Mardan and Peshawar. During 1990 2008, Pakistan sustained its historical lead as the most urbanised nation in South Asia, with city dwellers making up 36% of its population.[62][160] Furthermore, 50% of Pakistanis reside in towns of 5,000 people or more.[214]

Expenditure on health was 2.6% of the GDP in 2009.[215] The 2010 statistics show life expectancy at birth at 65.4 years for females and 63.6 years for males. Private sector accounts for about 80% of all outpatient visits. Approximately 19% of the population and 30% of children under age of five are malnourished.[149] The mortality below 5 was at 87 per 1,000 live births in 2009.[215] About 20% of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.[216]

Pakistan is a multilingual country with more than sixty languages being spoken, including a number of provincial languages. Urdu, being the lingua franca, a symbol of Muslim identity and national unity, is the national language of Pakistan and understood by over seventy five percent of Pakistanis.[122][217] English is the official language of Pakistan and used in official business, government, and legal contracts;[62] the local dialect is known as Pakistani English. Punjabi is the provincial language of Punjab and has a plurality of native speakers. Saraiki is mainly spoken in the southern area of Punjab province. Pashto is the provincial language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Sindhi is the provincial language of Sindh and Balochi is the provincial language of Balochistan.[24]

The Kalash people of northern Pakistan are unique in their customs and religion. The population comprises several main ethnic groups. As of 2009, Punjabi population dominates with 78.7 million (44.15%), followed by 27.2 million (15.42%) Pashtuns, 24.8 million (14.1%) Sindhis, 14.8 million (10.53%) Seraikis, 13.3 million (7.57%) Muhajirs and 6.3 million (3.57%) Balochs. The remaining 11.1 million (4.66%) are various ethnic minorities.[218] There is also a large worldwide overseas Pakistani diaspora, numbering over seven million.[219]

Pakistan's census does not include immigrant groups such as the registered 1.7 million Afghan refugees from neighbouring Afghanistan, who are mainly found in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) areas, with small numbers in the cities of Karachi and Quetta.[220][221] As of 1995, there were more than 1.6 million Bengalis, 650,000 Afghans, 200,000 Burmese, 2,320 Iranians and Filipinos and hundreds of Nepalese, Sri Lankans and Indians living in Karachi.[222][223] Pakistan hosts more refugees than any other country in the world.[224]

Pakistan is the second-most populous Muslim-majority country[225] and also has the second-largest Shi'a population in the world.[226] About 97% of the Pakistanis are Muslim. The majority are Sunni, with an estimated 5 20% Shi'a.[24][227][228] 2.3% are Ahmadis,[229] who are officially considered non-Muslims since a 1974 constitutional amendment.[230] There are also several Quraniyoon communities.[231][232] Although the groups of Muslims usually coexist peacefully, sectarian violence occurs sporadically.[233]

After Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are the largest religions in Pakistan, each with 2,800,000 (1.6%) adherents in 2005.[24] They are followed by adherents of the Bah ' Faith, which has a following of 30,000 and Sikhism, Buddhism and Parsi's claiming 20,000 adherents each,[227] as well as a negligible community of Jains.

Culture and society

Pakistani society is largely hierarchical, with high regard for local cultural etiquettes and traditional Islamic values which govern the personal and political lives of people. The basic family unit is an extended family, although there has been a growing trend towards nuclear families because of socio-economic constraints.[234] The traditional dress is Shalwar Kameez for both men and women, while trouser and shirt is also popular among male population.[14] Recent decades have seen the emergence of a strong and rapidly growing middle class in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan and Peshawar numbering over 30 million. This middle class along with the 17 million belonging to the elite upper and upper-middle classes wish to move in a more centrist and urbanised direction, as opposed to the rural hinterlands.[235] Pakistani festivals are mostly religious in origin and include Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Ramadan.[234] Increasing globalisation has resulted in Pakistan ranking 56th on the A.T. Kearney/FP Globalization Index.[236]

Media and entertainment

Rubab]], a traditional musical instrument from northwest Pakistan State-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation for radio were the dominant media outlets until the start of the twenty first century. The end of PTV's monopoly was marked by a boom in electronic media and paved the way to it gaining political clout. Now there are numerous private television channels that enjoy a large degree of freedom of speech.[237] In addition to the national entertainment and news channels, foreign television channels and films are also available to the majority of the Pakistani population via cable and satellite television.[237][238] There is a small indigenous film industry based in Lahore and Peshawar referred as Lollywood. While Bollywood films were banned from being played in public cinemas from 1965 until 2008, they have remained important in popular culture.[239][240]

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.[241] In addition Pakistan is home to many famous folk singers such as the late Alam Lohar, who is also well known in Indian Punjab. 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 center for Afghan music abroad.[242]


Inceptor of Pakistan]] and national poet is credited with aspiring for the separate nation for Muslims. The literature of Pakistan covers the literatures of languages spread throughout the country, namely Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Baluchi, Persian, English and many other languages.[243] 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, prose fiction enjoy a special popularity.[244][245]

The national poet of Pakistan, Allama Muhammad Iqbal wrote poetry in Urdu and Persian and is considered to be one of the greatest literary icons of modern era. His literature work is highly regarded in Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, India and the Arab world. Politically, Iqbal was a strong proponent of the political and spiritual revival of Islamic civilization and encouraged Muslims binding all over the world to bring about successful revolution.[246][247][248]

The well-known representatives of the contemporary Urdu literature of Pakistan includes Faiz Ahmed Faiz.Sadequain is known for his calligraphy and paintings.[245] Sufi poets Shah Abdul Latif, Bulleh Shah, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Khawaja Farid are also very popular in Pakistan.[249] Mirza Kalich Beg has been termed the father of modern Sindhi prose.[250]


The Lahore Fort, a landmark built during the Mughal era, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Pakistani architecture can be traced back to four distinct time periods pre-Islamic, Islamic, colonial and post-colonial. With the beginning of the Indus civilisation around the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C.,[251] an advanced urban culture developed for the first time in the region; with large structural facilities, some of it survive to this day.[252] Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kot Diji belong to the pre-Islamic era settlements which are now tourist attractions.[125] 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.[253]

The arrival of Islam in today's Pakistan meant a sudden end of Buddhist architecture. 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, Persian style Wazir Khan Mosque, Shalimar Gardens,[254] and Shahjahan Mosque of Thatta which originated from the epoch of the Mughals are most prominent. 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.[255]


A variety of Pakistani dishes cooked using the Tandoori method Known for its richness and flavour, Pakistani cuisine is a blend of cooking traditions from different regions of the subcontinent; the widespread style of cooking originated from the royal kitchens of sixteenth century Mughal emperors. Although the variety of meat dishes in Pakistan is greater, the food has similarities to North Indian cuisine. Pakistani cooking utilities spices, herbs and seasoning in heavy amount. Garlic, ginger, turmeric, red chilli and garam masala is used in most dishes and household cuisine includes curry on regular basis. Chapati, a thin flat bread made from wheat, is used as staple food and is served with curry, meat, vegetables and lentils. Rice is another common food served plain, fried with spices and is also used in sweet dishes.[122][256][257] Among beverages lassi is a traditional drink in the Punjab region. Black tea with milk and sugar is popular throughout Pakistan and is taken daily by most of the population.[14][258]


Hockey]] is the National sport[135] The national sport of Pakistan is hockey which has earned it 8 of its 10 Olympic medals,[259] although cricket is the most popular game across the country.[260] 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 were the champions at the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 held in England. Lately however, Pakistani cricket has suffered heavily due to teams refusing to tour Pakistan because of terrorism fears. No teams have toured Pakistan since March 2009, when militants attacked the touring Sri Lankan cricket players.[261]

At the international level, Squash is another sport that Pakistanis have excelled in. Successful world-class squash players such as Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan have won the World Open several times during their careers.[262] Jahangir Khan also won the British Open a record ten times.[263] Other popular international players are Kiran Khan in Swimming and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in Tennis.[264][265] Pakistan has competed many times at the Olympics in field hockey, boxing, athletics, swimming, and shooting.[264] Pakistan's Olympic medal tally stands at 10 (3 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze). The Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medal tally stands at 61 and 182 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).[262]

At national level, football and Polo are prominent sports with regular national events held in different parts of the country. Boxing, Billiards, Snooker, Rowing, Kayaking, Caving, Tennis, Contract Bridge, Golf and Volley Ball are also actively participated in and Pakistan has produced notable champions in these sports at regional and international levels.[12][262][264]

See also


Further reading


External links

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