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Pakistan

اسلامی جمہوریہ پاکستان‎

2855

Country codes:PK
Calling codes:+92
Area:880,940.00 km²
Population:161,488,000
Time Zone:UTC+05:00
Currency:Pakistani Rupee PKR
Voltage:220V
Power plugs:
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Introduction

Pakistan (/ˈpækɨstæn/ or /pɑːkiˈstɑːn/; Urdu: پاکِستان) (Urdu pronunciation: [paːkɪˈst̪aːn] ( listen)), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Urdu: اسلامی جمہوریۂ پاکِستان) is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a 1,046-kilometre (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan lies adjacent to Pakistan but is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. In addition, Oman is also located in maritime vicinity and shares a marine border with Pakistan. Strategically, Pakistan is located in a position between the important regions of South Asia, Central Asia and the greater 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 was the recipient of Hindu, Persian, Indo-Greek, Islamic, Turco-Mongol, Afghan and Sikh cultures through several invasions and/or settlements. As a result the area has remained a part of numerous empires and dynasties including the Indian empires, Persian empires, Arab caliphates, Mongol, Mughal, Durrani Empire (Afghan Empire), Sikh and British Empire. Pakistan gained independence from the British Empire in 1947, after a struggle for independence led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah that sought the partition of British India and a new independent state for the Muslim majority populations of the eastern and western regions of India. Initially a dominion, with the adoption of its constitution in 1956 Pakistan became an Islamic republic. In 1971, an armed conflict in East Pakistan resulted in the creation 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 faces challenging problems including terrorism, poverty, illiteracy and corruption.

Pakistan has the eighth largest standing armed force and is the only Muslim-majority nation to possess nuclear weapons. Pakistan is the first nuclear power country in the Muslim world, and the second in the South Asia, the first being India. It is designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States and a strategic ally of China. It is a founding member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) and a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, Next Eleven economies and the G20 developing nations.

History

Early period

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

The Vedic Civilization, dating from around 1700-1400 BCE flourished in the ancient Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā, now Taxila in Punjab. The extent of the Swat and Cemetery H culture of the Rig Vedic people was in the Hindu Kush to Punjab region and the upper gangetic plains. The territory of the present-day Pakistan was once the seat of the ancient Hindu civilization, and the place of origin of the Rig Veda. Much of the area in which Hinduism originated is now in Pakistan, and the religion was well established in the region before the arrival of Islam in the 8th century AD. The city of Multan, which was once considered an important Hindu pilgrimage centre, was known to have had Hindu shrines.

Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BCE, the Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great in 326 BCE and the Mauryan empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great, until 185 BCE.

The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BCE, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major centre of learning in ancient times—the remains of the city, located to the west of Islamabad, are one of the country's major archaeological sites. Taxila is considered to be amongst the earliest universities and centers of higher education in the world.

Medieval age

The Rai Dynasty (c.489–632) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories. In 712 CE, the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab. The Pakistan government's official chronology states that "its foundation was laid" as a result of this conquest. This Arab and Islamic victory would set the stage for several successive Muslim empires in South Asia, including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid Kingdom, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. During this period, Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam.

British colony

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

The All India Muslim League rose to popularity in the late 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. On 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal's presidential address called for an autonomous "state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims, within the body politic of India." Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution. In early 1947, Britain announced the decision to end its rule in India. In June 1947, the nationalist leaders of British India—including 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.

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. The controversial, and ill-timed, division of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal caused communal riots across India and Pakistan—millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India.

Disputes arose over several princely states including in the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, whose Hindu ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by Pashtun tribal militias, leading to the First Kashmir War in 1948.

Modern

From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion of Pakistan in the Commonwealth of Nations, as West-Pakistan claimed an exclusive mandate for all of Pakistan, considering itself to be the reorganized continuation of the country in the United Nations. It became a Parliamentary Republic in 1956, but the civilian rule was stalled by a coup d’état by then-Army Commander-in-Chief General Ayub Khan, who was the first Chief Martial Law Administrator and also the President during 1958–69, a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, General Yahya Khan (1969–71), also an Army Commander, had to deal with a devastating cyclone—which caused 500,000 deaths in East-Pakistan—and also face a bitter civil war in 1971. Economic grievances and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political tension and military repression that escalated into a civil war. After nine months of guerrilla warfare between the Pakistan Armed Forces and the Indian backed Bengali Mukti Bahini militia, Indian intervention escalated into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and ultimately to the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.

Isolated and devastated, General Yahya Khan immediately surrendered his executive powers to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who became the first and to-date only civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator. Civilian rule resumed in Pakistan from 1972 to 1977 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed and later sentenced to death in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country's third military president and fourth Chief Martial Law Administrator. From the period of 1971 to 1977, Bhutto worked on uniting the remaining part of the country and taking initiatives to stabilizing the economy. As part of this policy, Bhutto inaugurated the country's first atomic power plant in Karachi, Sindh Province in 1972. Under Bhutto, Pakistan became first nuclear power country in the Muslim world, and also authorized the integrated nuclear weapons development the same year. As awake of Smiling Buddha, an Indian nuclear test in 1974, Bhutto intensified and accelerated the scientific research on nuclear weapons. By the 1978, this crash program had fully became mature, and Pakistan conducted a cold-test of a nuclear device (see Kirana-I) in Kirana Hills in 1983, followed by another cold test (see Kahuta Test) in 1984.

However, another serious liberation movement took place in Balochistan Province in 1974. In response, Bhutto launched an armed operation in the province and the rebellion was successfully quelled by the Pakistan Armed Forces in 1978. Bhutto was removed in a coup d'état led by General Zia-ul-Haq, Chief of Army Staff, in 1977. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the execution of Bhutto after he allegedly approved the murder of political opponent. In 1979, Bhutto was executed and General Zia-ul-Haq became the Chief Martial Law Administrator and President after Bhutto's execution. General Zia's martial law and military government lasted until 1988 when he died in a plane crash in 1988.

As military president, General Zia introduced the Islamic Sharia legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of President Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she fought for power with conservative leader Nawaz Sharif as the country's political and economic situation worsened. Pakistan got involved in the 1991 Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia.

Recent elections

Navaz Sharif secured an overwhelming victory over Benazir Bhutto in the 1997 parliamentary elections and sworned as Prime minister of Pakistan. Navaz Sharif became the second politically strongest Prime minister, only after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to have claimed and have achieved the exclusive mandate of all over the Pakistan, defeating Benazir Bhutto on a large scale margin. In 1998, tensions with India heightened, as Navaz Sharif ordered the nuclear tests in Balochistan in May of 1998 (see Chagai-I and Chagai-II) as a reaction to that of Indian nuclear tests (Pokhran-II). Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India were followed by a Pakistani military coup d'état in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed vast executive powers. In 2001, Musharraf became President after the controversial resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to the newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 prime-ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz. On 15 November 2007, the National Assembly, for the first time in Pakistan's history, completed its tenure and new elections were called. The exiled political leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were permitted to return to Pakistan. However, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto during the election campaign in December led to postponement of elections and nationwide riots. Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the largest number of seats in the elections held in February 2008 and its member Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister. On 18 August 2008, Pervez Musharraf resigned from the presidency when threatened with impeachment, and was succeeded by current president Asif Ali Zardari. By the end of 2009, more than 3 million Pakistani civilians have been displaced by the on going conflict in North-West Pakistan between the government and Taliban militants.

Culture

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

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

State-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation were the dominant media outlets, but there are now numerous private television channels. Various American, European, and Asian television channels and films are available to the majority of the Pakistani population via private television networks, cable, and satellite television (43 million Pakistanis have satellite television). There are also small indigenous film industries based in Lahore and Peshawar (often referred to as Lollywood). While Bollywood films were banned from being played in public cinemas from 1965 until 2008 they have remained in popular culture.

Literature

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

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

Architecture

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

An example of Buddhist architecture is the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in the northwest province.

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

Cuisine

Known for its richness and flavour, Pakistani cuisine is a blend of cooking traditions from regions of the subcontinent. Although there are great variations from one area to another, dishes from Sindh province, and the Punjab region are identical to north Indian cuisine due to the strong similarity of culture and ethnicity. These can be highly seasoned and very spicy. Chinese migrants living in Pakistan have adopted a distinct style of Pakistani taste blend of both Chinese and Pakistani cuisine. Some of the popular Pakistani-Chinese dishes include, chicken Manchurian, Chinese basmati rice, Chinese soup and chicken chowmein noodles.

Sports

The national sport of Pakistan is hockey, although cricket is the most popular game across the country. The national cricket team has won the Cricket World Cup once (in 1992), were runners-up once (in 1999), and co-hosted the games twice (in 1987 and 1996). Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural 2007 ICC World Twenty20 held in South Africa and 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.

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. Other international players are Kiran Khan in Swimming and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in Tennis.

At international level, Pakistan has competed many times at the Olympics in field hockey, boxing, athletics, swimming, and shooting. Pakistan's Olympic medal tally stands at 10 (3 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze) while 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).

Among others, Association football and Polo are the more 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 and Pakistan has produced notable champions in these sports at regional and international levels. In Tennis doubles, Pakistan's Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi and India's Rohan Bopanna play together in many International tournaments portraying Indo-Pak friendship.

Geography

Pakistan covers an area of 796,095 km (307,374 sq mi), approximately equalling 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 1,046 km (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea, Pakistan's land borders a total of 6,774 km (4,209 mi)—2,430 km (1,510 mi) with Afghanistan, 523 km (325 mi) with China, 2,912 km (1,809 mi) with India and 909 km (565 mi) with Iran. The territory it controls mostly lies between latitudes 23° and 37° N (a small area is north of 37°), and longitudes 61° and 78° E (a small area is west of 61°).

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.

The geography of Pakistan is a blend of landscapes varying from plains to deserts, forests, hills, and plateaus ranging from the coastal areas of the Arabian Sea in the south to the mountains of the Karakoram range in the north. Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands; the Indus River plain; and the Balochistan Plateau. The northern highlands of Pakistan contain the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges, which incorporate some of the world's highest peaks, including K2 (8,611 m or 28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat (8,126 m or 26,660 ft). The Balochistan Plateau lies to the West, and the Thar Desert in the East. An expanse of alluvial plains lies in Punjab and Sindh along the Indus river. The 1,609 km (1,000 mi) Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea.

Climate

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. Rainfall can vary radically from year to year, and successive patterns of flooding and drought are common.

Flora and fauna

The diversity of landscapes and climates in Pakistan allows for a wide variety of trees and plants to flourish in this region. 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 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.

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.

According to statistics, 2.5% or about 1,902,000 hectares (19,020 km) of Pakistan was forested in 2000.

Similar to the vegetation, the animal life in Pakistan reflects the varied climatic regions of the land. The southern plains are home to crocodiles in the Indus while boars, deer, porcupines, and small rodents are found more commonly in the surrounding areas. The sandy scrublands of central Pakistan are home to a jackals, hyenas, wild cats, panthers, and leopards.

In the north, a wide variety of animals have found home in the mountainous regions including the Marco Polo sheep, Urial sheep, Markhor and Ibex goats, black 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 1,100 remaining, protected at the Indus River Dolphin Reserve in Sindh. There have been sightings of the rare Asiatic cheetahs in the southwestern deserts of Sindh and Balochistan.

Apart from crows, sparrows and myna, hawks, falcons, and eagles are the more commonly found birds in Pakistan. A lot of birds sighted within Pakistan are migratory as they make their way from Europe, Central Asia and India.

In recent years, the number of wild animals being killed for fur and leather trading led to a new law banning the hunting of wild animals and birds as well as the establishment of several wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves. The number of hunters have greatly dwindled since then.

Vast sections of the Indus flood plains have been cleared of natural vegetation to grow crops. Only animals like the jackal, mongoose, jungle cat, civet cat, scaly anteater, desert cat and the wild hare occur in these areas. Hog deer are found in riveine tracts. The crop residues and wild growth support reasonable populations of black and grey partridges.

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. The blackbuck, once plentiful in Cholistan, has now been eliminated; efforts are being made to reintroduce them into the country. A small number of blue bulls are found along the Pakistan-Indian border, and in some parts of Cholistan. Grey partridge, species of sand grouse and the Indian courser are the main birds of the area. Peafowl occur in some areas in Cholistan. The Kohistan region of Pakistan, Palas Velley, also has a significant population of Western Tragopan.

Inforamtion above from the Wikipedia article Pakistan, licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.

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