The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (پاکستان in Urdu), or Pakistan, is a country located in South Asia. Pakistan borders India, Iran, Afghanistan, China and the Arabian Sea. With over 150 million people it is the sixth most populous country in the world. It is the second largest Muslim country in the world and a very important member of the OIC. It is also one of the few declared nuclear weapons states.
'''اسلامی جمہوریت پاکستان Islami Jamahuria Pakistan
Pakistan is an Urdu term meaning land of the pure. The suffix -stan, common to many countries in the region, means "land of" in Persian (e.g. Afghanistan = Land of Afghans).
The American Heritage Dictionary's entry on Pakistan — which says that "the name was coined in 1933 using the suffix –istan from Baluchistan preceded by the initial letters of Punjab, Afghanistan, and Kashmir" — has been criticized as being inaccurate. The name is widely believed to have been coined by Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, then a student at Cambridge.
The land that is now Pakistan was originally part of Afghanistan and India. The history of modern Pakistan begins during the times of British colonial India, when some Muslims began agitating for a country of their own. Among the first proponents of this idea was the writer/philosopher Allama Iqbal, who felt that a separate nation for Muslims was essential in an otherwise Hindu-dominated subcontinent. The cause found a leader in Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who became its champion and eventually led the British to partition both Afghanistan and India into Muslim-majority Pakistan, and Hindu-majority India.
From August 14th1947 until 1971 the nation consisted of West Pakistan and East Pakistan, separated from one another by India. In 1971 East Pakistan rebelled, and with the aid of Indian troops became the independent state of Bangladesh. Since independence Pakistan has also been in constant dispute with India over the territory of Kashmir and Afghanistan over the Durand Line. Almost immediately after independence, India and Pakistan went to war over the state, and later wars were fought in 1965 and 1971 over the territory. Despite the numerous battles which Pakistan fought, the status of the state remained in limbo. The Kashmir dispute has complicated relations between Pakistan and its larger neighbor to the east and since the US invasion of Afghanistan the viability of the Durand Line is of much greater concern to global security.
Pakistani political history is divided into alternating periods of military dictatorship and democratic civilian/parliamentary rule. Although dominion status was ended in 1956 with the formation of a Constitution and a declaration of Pakistan as an Islamic Republic, the military took control in 1958 and held it for more than 10 years. Civilian rule returned after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, but was interrupted in the late 70s, with the execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was convicted of murdering a political opponent in a controversial split decision by Pakistan's Supreme Court.
During the 1980s, Pakistan received substantial aid from the United States and took in millions of Afghan, mostly Pashtun, refugees fleeing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The influx of so many refugees - the largest refugee population in the world - has had a heavy impact on Pakistan. The dictatorship of General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq also saw an expansion of Islamic law, as well as an influx of weaponry and drugs from Afghanistan. The general died in 1988, and Pakistan returned to an elected government, ushered in with the election of Benazir Bhutto.
From 1988 to 1998, Pakistan was ruled by a civilian government, alternately headed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, who were each elected twice and removed from office on charges of corruption. Economic growth declined towards the end of this period, hurt by erratic economic policies associated with political corruption, cronyism, and patronage. Other adverse factors were the Asian financial crisis, and sanctions imposed on Pakistan after its first tests of nuclear devices in 1998. The Pakistani testing came shortly after India tested nuclear devices and increased fears of a nuclear arms race in South Asia. The next year, the Kargil Conflict in Kashmir threatened to lead to full-scale war.
In the election that returned Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister in 1997, his party received a heavy majority of the vote, obtaining enough seats in Parliament to change the constitution, which Sharif amended to eliminate the formal checks and balances that restrained the Prime Minister's power. Institutional challenges to Sharif's authority, by the Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and military chief Jehangir Karamat were put down, in the former case by storming the Supreme Court by party goons. The increasing authoritarianism and corruption of the Sharif government led to severe public dissatisfaction and culminated in a miltary coup by General Pervez Musharraf.
Musharraf has begun steps to return the nation to a democracy of sorts, having pledged to step down as military chief by the end of 2004, but is expected to remain in effective control of Pakistan as its president until 2007, given the support of the Pakistani Army and the United States. While his economic reforms have yielded some benefits, the social reform programs appear to have run into resistance. Musharraf's power is threatened by Islamic fundamentalists who have grown in strength since the September 11, 2001 attacks and who are particularly angered by Musharraf's close political and military alliance with the United States.
Although officially a federal republic, in October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf overthrew the civilian government after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif allegedly hijacked the commercial airliner on which Musharraf was travelling, and attempted to thwart its landing at Karachi. Musharraf assumed executive authority. Local government elections were held in 2000. Musharraf declared himself president in 2001. A national referendum was held in April 2002 to approve Musharraf's role as president. Nation-wide parliamentary elections were held in 2002 with Zafarullah Khan Jamali of the Pakistan Muslim League party emerging as Prime Minister. After over a year of political wrangling in the bicameral legislature, Musharraf struck a compromise with some of his Parliamentary opponents, giving his supporters the two-thirds majority vote required to amend the constitution in December 2003. A parliamentary electoral college - consisting of the National Assembly and Senate and the provincial assemblies - gave Musharraf a vote of confidence on January 1, 2004, thereby legitimizing his presidency until 2007. Jamali resigned on June 26, 2004. Finance minister and former Citibank VP Shaukat Aziz, credited with Pakistan's economic turnaround, has been named to the post by interim prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
Intermittently democratic, Pakistan has had a long history of military dictatorships including General Ayub Khan in the 1960s, General Zia ul Haq in the 1980s, and General Pervez Musharraf from 1999. On May 22, 2004, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group re-admitted Pakistan into the Commonwealth.
A country slightly less than twice the size of California, Pakistan is located in Southern Asia. It borders the Arabian Sea to the south, and is positioned between India to the east and Iran and Afghanistan to the West. Its Northern border is shared with China.
The main waterway of Pakistan is the Indus River that begins in China, and runs nearly the entire length of Pakistan, flowing through all of Pakistan's provinces except Baluchistan. Several major rivers, interconnected by the world's largest system of agricultural canals, join the Indus before it discharges into the Arabian Sea. The northern and western areas of Pakistan are mountainous, and Pakistani held areas of Kashmir contain some of the highest mountains in the world, including the second tallest, K-2. Northern Pakistan tends to receive more rainfall than the southern parts of the country. In the southeast, Pakistan's border with India passes through a flat desert, called the Cholistan or Thal Desert. West-central Baluchistan has a high desert plateau, bordered by low mountain ranges. Most of the Punjab, and parts of Sindh, are fertile plains where agriculture is of great importance.
Pakistan is a heavily populated country, suffering from internal political and religious disputes, lack of foreign investment, and a costly confrontation with neighboring India. Pakistan's economic outlook has brightened in recent years in conjunction with a great improvement in its foreign exchange position, notably its current-account surplus and rapid growth in hard currency reserves.
Pakistan's economy, thought to be highly vulnerable to external and internal shocks, was unexpectedly resilient in the face of adverse events such as the Asian financial crisis, global recession, drought, the post-9/11 military action in Afghanistan, and tensions with India. In the two-and-a half year period since the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan's KSE-100 stock exchange index has been the best-performing in the world.
Pakistan has the world's sixth largest population. This, coupled with a high growth rate, means that Pakistan is expected to overtake other nations in population in the near future, and may become the third-most populous nation by 2050 if population-control measures fail. The majority of the people of Pakistan are Muslim, with a sizeable minority of Shiite Muslims. A small minority of non-Muslims exist, mostly Christians, Hindus, and smaller groups of Buddhists and animists in the remote Northern Areas.
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and English is the official language. English is used in government and corporate business, and by the educated urban elite. Public universities use English as the medium of instruction. Urdu is the lingua franca of the people. Besides these, nearly all Pakistanis speak mutually related Indo-European languages, of which the most widely spoken is Punjabi, followed by Sindhi, Pashto and Balochi. Punjabis compose the largest ethnic group in the nation. Other important ethnic groups include: Sindhis, Pashtun, Balochis, and Muhajirs. There are also sizeable numbers of other immigrant groups such as Bengalis that are concentrated in Karachi.
Despite tense relations with India, Indian movies are popular in Pakistan. Ironically, Indian films are officially illegal, but they can easily be found across Pakistan. An indigenous movie industry exists in Pakistan, and is known as Lollywood, producing over forty feature-length films a year. Music is also very popular in Pakistan, and ranges from traditional styles (such as Qawwali ) to more modern groups that try to fuse traditional Pakistani music with western music.
Increasing globalization has increased the influence of Western culture in Pakistan, especially among the affluent, who have easy access to Western products, television, media, and food. Many Western food chains have established themselves in Pakistan, and are found in the major cities. At the same time, there is also a reactionary movement within Pakistan that wants to turn away from Western influences, and this has manifested itself in a return to more traditional roots, often conflated with Islam.