Pakistan

Date:  2013-05-28  Author: admin    Source:Wikipedia

Islamic Republic of Pakistan
 
Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a sovereign country in South Asia. With a population exceeding 180 million people, it is the sixth most populous country in the world. Located at the crossroads of the strategically important regions of South Asia, Central Asia and Western Asia, Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Indiato the east, Afghanistan to the west and north, Iran to the southwest and China in the far northeast. It is separated from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's narrow Wakhan Corridor in the north, and also shares a marine border with Oman.
The territory of modern Pakistan was home to several ancient cultures, including the NeolithicMehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation, and has undergone invasions or settlements by HinduPersianIndo-GreekIslamicTurco-  MongolAfghan and Sikh cultures. The area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties, including the Indian Mauryan Empire, the PersianAchaemenid Empire, the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, the Mongol Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Durrani Empire, the Sikh Empire and the British Empire. As a result of the Pakistan Movement led byMuhammad Ali Jinnah and India's struggle for independence, Pakistan was created in 1947 as an independent nation for Muslims from the regions in the east and west of India where there was a Muslim majority. Initially a dominion, Pakistan adopted a new constitution in 1956, becoming anIslamic republic. A civil war in 1971 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. It is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country, with a similar variation in its geography and wildlife. A regional and middle power,[10][11] Pakistan has the seventh largest standing armed forces in the world and is also a nuclear power as well as a declared nuclear weapons state, being the only nation in the Muslim world, and the second in South Asia, to have that status. It has a semi-industrialised economy which is the 27th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and 47th largest in terms of nominal GDP.
Pakistan's post-independence history has been characterised by periods of military rule, political instability and conflicts with neighbouring India. The country continues to face challenging problems, including terrorismpovertyilliteracy and corruption. It 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, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Next Eleven EconomiesSAARCECO,D8 and the G20 developing nations.
Pakistan covers an area of 796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi), approximately equal to 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. Pakistan has a 1,046 km (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and land borders of 6,774 km (4,209 mi) in total: 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. It shares a marine border with Oman, and is separated from Tajikistan by the cold, narrow Wakhan Corridor. Pakistan occupies a geopolitically important location at the crossroads of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Geologically, Pakistan overlaps the Indian tectonic plate in its Sindh and Punjab provinces; Balochistan and most of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are within the Eurasian plate, mainly on the Iranian plateau. Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir lie along the edge of the Indian plate and hence are prone to violent earthquakes. Ranging from the coastal areas of the south to the glaciated mountains of the north, Pakistan's landscapes vary from plains to deserts, forests, hills and plateaus .
Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands, the Indus River plain and the Balochistan Plateau. The northern highlands contain the KarakoramHindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges (see mountains of Pakistan), which contain some of the world's highest peaks, including five of the fourteen eight-thousanders (mountain peaks over 8,000 metres or 26,250 feet), which attract adventurers and mountaineers from all over the world, notably K2 (8,611 m or 28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat (8,126 m or 26,660 ft). The Balochistan Plateau lies in the west and the Thar Desert in the east. The 1,609 km (1,000 mi) Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea. There is an expanse of alluvial plains along it in Punjab and Sindh.
The climate varies from tropical to temperate, with arid conditions in the coastal south. There is a monsoon season with frequent flooding due to heavy rainfall, and a dry season with significantly less rainfall or none at all. 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 varies greatly from year to year, and patterns of alternate flooding and drought are common.
 
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 Soanian during the Lower Paleolithic, of whom stone tools have been found in the Soan Valley of Punjab. The Indus region, which covers most of Pakistan, was the site of several successive ancient cultures including the Neolithic Mehrgarh and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation (2800–1800 BCE) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
The Vedic Civilization (1500–500 BCE), characterised by Indo-Aryan culture, laid the foundations of Hinduism, which would become well established in the region. Multan was an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. The Vedic civilisation flourished in the ancient Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā, now Taxila in Punjab. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Persian Achaemenid Empire around 519 BCE, Alexander the Great's empire in 326 BCE and theMaurya Empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great until 185 BCE. The Indo-Greek Kingdomfounded by Demetrius of Bactria (180–165 BCE) included Gandhara and Punjab and reached its greatest extent under Menander(165–150 BCE), prospering the Greco-Buddhist culture in the region. Taxila had one of the earliest universities and centres of higher education in the world.
The Medieval period (642–1219 CE) is defined by the spread of Islam in the region. During this period, Sufimissionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam. The Rai Dynasty (489–632 CE) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories. The Pala Dynasty was the last Buddhist empire that under Dharampala and Devapala stretched across Indian subcontinent from what is now Bangladesh through Northern India to Pakistan and later to Kamboj region in Afghanistan.
The Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab in 711CE. The Pakistan government's official chronology identifies this as the point where the "foundation" of Pakistan was laid. This conquest 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 Lodi dynasty, the last of the Delhi Sultanate, was replaced by the Mughal Empire (1526–1857 CE). The Mughals introduced Persian literature and high culture, establishing the roots of Indo-Persian culture in the region.
The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century enabled Sikh rulers to control 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 major armed struggle against the British. 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.
The All-India Muslim League rose to popularity in the late 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. In his presidential address of 29 December 1930, Muhammad Iqbal called for "the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State" consisting of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan. 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. In early 1947, Britain announced the decision to end its rule in India. In June 1947, the nationalist leaders of British India—includingJawaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad representing the Congress, Jinnah representing the Muslim League, and Master Tara Singhrepresenting 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) in the eastern and northwestern regions of British India, where there was a Muslim majority. It comprised the provinces of BalochistanEast Bengal, the North-West Frontier ProvinceWest Punjab and Sindh. The partition of the Punjab and Bengal provinces led to communal riots across India and Pakistan; millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. Dispute overJammu and Kashmir led to the First Kashmir War.
After independence, the President of the Muslim LeagueMohammed Ali Jinnah, became the new nation's first Governor-General, and the Secretary General of the Muslim League, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan became the first Prime Minister. From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations under two monarchs. In 1947, King George VI relinquished the title of Emperor of India and became King of Pakistan. He retained that title until his death on 6 February 1952, after which Queen Elizabeth II became Queen of Pakistan. She retained that title until Pakistan became an Islamic and Parliamentary republic in 1956, but civilian rule was stalled by amilitary coup led by the Army Commander-in-Chief, General Ayub Khan. The country experienced exceptional growth until a second war with India took place in 1965 and led to economic downfall and internal instability. Ayub Khan's successor, General Yahya Khan (President from 1969 to 1971), had to deal with a devastating cyclone which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan.
In 1970, Pakistan held its first democratic elections since independence, that were meant to mark a transition from military rule to democracy, but after the East Pakistani Awami League won, Yahya Khan and the ruling elite in West Pakistan refused to hand over power. There was civil unrest in the East, and the Pakistan Armylaunched a military operation on 25 March 1971, aiming to regain control of the province. 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 the Bengali Mukti Bahini forces in East Pakistan, with support from India. However, in West Pakistan the conflict was described as a Civil War as opposed to War of Liberation.
Independent estimates of civilian deaths during this period range from 300,000 to 3 million. Attacks on Indian military bases by the Pakistan Air Force in December 1971 sparked the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which ended with the formal secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.
With Pakistan's defeat in the war, Yahya Khan was replaced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as Chief Martial Law Administrator. Civilian rule resumed from 1972 to 1977. During this period Pakistan began to build nuclear weapons; the country's first atomic power plant was inaugurated in 1972. Civilian rule ended with a military coup in 1977, and in 1979 General Zia-ul-Haq became the third military president. Military government lasted until 1988, during which Pakistan became one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia. Zia consolidated nuclear development and increased Islamization of the state. During this period, Pakistan helped to subsidise and distribute US resources to factions of the Mujahideen movement against the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Zia died in a plane crash in 1988, and 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, alternating in office while the country's situation worsened; economic indicators fell sharply, in contrast to the 1980s. This period is marked by political instability, misgovernance and corruption. In May 1998, while Sharif was Prime Minister, India tested five nuclear weapons and tension with India heightened to an extreme: Pakistan detonated six nuclear weapons of its own in the Chagai-I and Chagai-II tests later in the same month. Military tension between the two countries in the Kargil district led to the Kargil War of 1999, after which General Pervez Musharraf took over through a bloodless coup d'état and assumed vast executive powers.
Musharraf ruled Pakistan as head of state from 1999 to 2001 and as President from 2001 to 2008, a period of extensive economic reform and Pakistan's involvement in the US-led war on terrorism. On 15 November 2007, Pakistan's National Assembly became the first to completed its full five-year term, and new elections were called. After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, her Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the largest number of seats in the 2008 elections, and party member Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister. Musharraf resigned from the presidency on 18 August 2008 when threatened with impeachment, and was succeeded by Asif Ali Zardari, the current President. Gillani was disqualified from membership of parliament and as prime minister by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in June 2012. By its own estimates, Pakistan's involvement in the war on terrorism has cost up to $67.93 billion, thousands of casualties and nearly 3 million displaced civilians.
 
Pakistan is a democratic parliamentary federal republic with Islam as the state religion. The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956 but suspended by Ayub Khan in 1958. The Constitution of 1973—suspended by Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 but reinstated in 1985—is the country's most important document, laying the foundations of the current government.
The bicameral legislature comprises a 100-member Senate and a 342-member National Assembly. The President is the head of state and 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. ThePakistani military establishment has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's political history. Presidents brought in by military coups ruled in 1958–1971, 1977–1988 and 1999–2008.
Pakistan's foreign policy focuses on security against threats to national identity and territorial integrity, and on the cultivation of close relations with Muslim countries. A 2004 briefing on foreign policy for Pakistani Parliamentarians says, "Pakistan highlights sovereign equality of states, bilateralism, mutuality of interests, and non-interference in each other's domestic affairs as the cardinal features of its foreign policy." The country is an active member of the United Nations. It is a founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in which it has promoted Musharraf's concept of "Enlightened Moderation". Pakistan is also a member of Commonwealth of Nations, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and the G20 developing nations. India's nuclear tests were seen as a threat to Pakistan and led it to establish itself as a nuclear power. Pakistan now maintains a policy of "credible minimum deterrence".
Pakistan maintains good relations with all Arab and most other Muslim countries. Since the Sino-Indian War of 1962, Pakistan's closest strategic, military and economic ally has been China. The relationship has survived changes of governments and variations in the regional and global situation. Pakistan and India continue to be rivals. The Kashmir conflict remains the major point of rift; three of their four wars were over this territory. Pakistan has had mixed relations with the United States. As an anti-Soviet power in the 1950s and during Soviet-Afghan Warin the 1980s, Pakistan was one of the closest allies of the US, but relations soured in the 1990s when the US imposed sanctions because of Pakistan's possession and testing of nuclear weapons. The US war on terrorism led initially to an improvement in the relationship, but it was strained by a divergence of interests and resulting mistrust during the war in Afghanistan and by issues related to terrorism. Since 1948, there has been an ongoing, and at times fluctuating, violent conflict in the southwestern province of Balochistan between various Baloch separatist groups, who seek greater political autonomy, and the central government of Pakistan.
Pakistan is the second largest Muslim country in terms of percentage of population (after Iran), and its status as a declared nuclear power, being the only Islamic nation to have that status, plays a part in its international role. Pakistan has a fierce independent foreign policy, especially when it comes to issues such as development of nuclear weapons, construction of nuclear reactors, foreign military purchases and other issues that are vital to its national interests. Pakistan has a strategic geo-political location at the corridor of world major maritime oil supply lines, and has close proximity to the resource and oil rich central Asian countries. Pakistan is an important member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation(OIC), is ranked by the US as a major non-NATO ally in the war against terrorism, and has a highly disciplined military, which is the world's eighth-largest standing military force.

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