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1 Pakistan: An Introduction
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was founded on the 14th of August 1947. The seat of the federal government is based in the city of Islamabad, which is the Republic’s capital. Pakistan is the land of the Indus river, which flows through the country for 2500 kilometers (1600 miles) from the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges to the Arabian Sea. It is a land of snow-covered peaks and burning deserts, of fertile mountain valleys and irrigated plains. It has an estimated population of 151.548 million (January 1, 2005) representing an array of ethnic groups but united by the Islamic faith. Pakistan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, where the road from China to the Mediterranean meets the route from India to Central Asia. For thousands of years, this junction has been a melting pot of diverse cultures, attracting traders and adventurers, pilgrims and holy men. Now the old Chinese trade route is reopened; the spectacular Karakoram Highway threads its way through the Himalayas, Karakorams and Pamirs, following the ancient Silk Route and entering China over the 4733 metre (15,528 feet) Khunjerab Pass, the highest metalled border crossing in the world. Pakistan’s 4000-year history is richly illustrated by archaeological sites and imposing monuments scattered over the length and breadth of the country. Brick cities from the Indus civilization, which flourished around 2000 BC, stand beside Buddhist ruins contemporaneous with the birth of Christianity. Magnificent muslim tombs from the 12th century vie with the palaces, mosques and forts of the Moghul emperors of the 16th and 17th centuries. Location: Geographically, Pakistan comprises of three main regions, the mountainous North, where three of the world’s great
mountain ranges (the Hindukush, the Karakorams and the Himalayas) meet, the enormous but sparsely populated plateau of Balochistan in the south-west and the Punjab and Sindh plains of the Indus River and its main tributaries. Located in South Asia, between 230 - 42/ and 360 - 55/ latitude north and between the longitudes of 600 - 45/ and 750 - 20/ east, Pakistan is bordered by India on the east, China on the north east, Afghanistan on the north west while Iran shares its border in the south west and Arabian Sea in the south. Area: The borders of Pakistan encompass a total area of 796,096 square kilometers. The provincial break up is given below:Area Distribution Province/Region Pakistan Islamabad Punjab Sindh North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Balochistan Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) Area (Sq. Km) 796,096 906 205,345 140,914 74,521 347,190 27,220
Climatically, Pakistan enjoys a considerable measure of variety. North and northwestern high mountain ranges are extremely cold in winter while the summer months from April to September are very pleasant. The vast plains of the Indus Valley are extremely hot in summer and have cold weather in winter. The coastal strip in the south has a temperate climate. There is general deficiency in the rainfall. In the plains the annual average rainfall ranges from 13 cm in the northern parts of the lower Indus plains to 89 cm in the Himalayan region. Rains are monsoonal in origin and fall late in summer. Average rainfall is 76 cm per annum. Pakistan has continental panorama with magnificent mountain ranges, plateaus (Potohar), deserts (Thar and Thal), plains (Punjab), rivers, lakes and the Arabian Sea. The Himalayan,
Karakoram, Hindukush, Suleman and Salt ranges are some of the most renowned mountain ranges in the world with K-2 (second to Mount Everest), Nanga Parbat and Tirich Meer as some of the highest peaks in the world. Out of 14 highest peaks (more than 8000 m), in the world, 5 are situated in Pakistan. Pakistan boasts the densest concentration of high mountains in the world, with 82 peaks over 7000 meters (23,000 feet) within a radius of 180 Km (112 miles). The Himalayas and Karakorams rose to the heights when the northward drifting Indian geological plate collided with the Asia plate, its northern edge nosing under the Asian plate and pushing up the mountains still, causing the mountains to rise 7 millimeters (¼ inches) in a year. Mountain Peaks of Pakistan Height World Name of the Peak Range M (F) Rank K2 8611 (28,253) Karakoram 2 Nanga Parbat 8125 (26,660) Himalaya 9 Gasherbrum I 8068 (26,470) Karakoram 11 Broad Peak 8047 (26,400) Karakoram 12 Gasherbrum II 8035 (26,360) Karakoram 14 The lofty mountains of Pakistan are interpenetrated with a range of mountain passes to relent for movements across the valleys and frontiers. The most important among them are listed as under: Historical Mountain Passes Pass Location Khyber Pass NWFP Kurram Pass NWFP Tochi Pass NWFP Gomal Pass NWFP Lowari Pass NWFP Bolan Pass Balochistan Khunjerab Pass Northern Areas Pakistan is repository of ancient civilizations, such as those of Mehr Garh, Moenjodaro, Harappa, Gandhara, and Taxila and a vast collection of relics relating to art and sculptures has been unearthed and rehabilitated. Pakistan’s archaeological sites are located at a
number of places such as Mehr Garh (Quetta), Chakwal, Kot Diji, Moenjodaro, Harappa, Taxila, Takht-i-Bahi, Dir and Swat. The Mehr Garh site, at the foot of Bolan Pass in Balochistan, discovered in 1984 is the first Neolithic site in the world. The evidence suggests that the site remained occupied for 5000 years (from 8th to 3rd millenniums BC) before the Indus Valley Civilization of Moenjodaro and Harappa. Population and Density: Pakistan has an estimated population of 151.548 million (January 1, 2005) with a density of more than 190 persons per square kilometer. Languages: Though united in Islam, the people represent many ethnic groups and speak a variety of languages. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. Both Urdu and English are used in official matters and correspondence. The major regional languages spoken are Punjabi in Punjab, Sindhi in Sindh, Pushto, Hindko, Khawer, Kohistani and Kafiri in North West Frontier Province, Balochi, Pushto and Brahuvi in Balochistan and Balti, Shina, Brushuski and Wakhi in Northern areas. Some other regional languages are Saraiki, Chitrali, Kalashi, Pothohari, Kashmiri, Gojri, Dari, Gujrati, Persian, etc. Most of people in Pakistan are bi-lingual, speaking their regional language and Urdu with almost equal facility. The educated classes are at least tri-lingual, speaking quite easily a regional language, Urdu and English. Political System: Pakistan has a democratic system of government with a bicameral Parliament consisting of a Senate and National Assembly. This structure is supported with four provincial assemblies and a system of district government. Religion: Islam is the state religion. There are many other minorities’ religions such as Christianity, Hinduism (Hindumat), Zoroastrian (Parsi) etc., that flourish in Pakistan, as the government strongly believes in the freedom of worship.
Transport and Communication: Pakistan has a number of sea, dry and air ports. It also has a wide network of roads and railways. Television, radio and satellite links provide a good and reliable communication system. Karachi and Mohammad Bin Qasim are international Seaports handling both passengers and cargo whereas Minora and Pasni are mainly fish ports. Gawadar Port is being developed as an international seaport with the assistance of Chinese government. Estimated cost of Phase I and II is US $ 248 million and US $ 524 million respectively. Work on Phase I will be completed by March 2005. Phase II is planned to be developed through private sector on BOT basis. Hyderabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Peshawar, Quetta and Faisalabad are the dry ports for handling imports/exports of the country. Pakistan has 38 airports situated all over the country. The cities of Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gawadar, Pasni and Quetta have international airports that link Pakistan to the world. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the country's national carrier with a vast domestic and international network. Besides, private airlines also operate. Irrigation and Canal System: The Indus river forms the axis of Pakistan, and its tributaries drain whole of the country, except sparsely populated province of Balochistan. The Indus river and its tributaries provides the largest irrigation system in the world. This is the largest network of canal system in the world, serving 34.5 million acres of contiguous cultivated land and a novel underground water system (karez) in Balochistan. The break up is given below. Irrigation Network Main Rivers 5 Inter-river Link Canals 12 Major Dams (Tarbela, Mangla, Warsak) 3 Barrages 19 Independent Canals 43 Length of Main Canals 58,500 Km Tubewells 680,477 (P)
Rivers Name Indus Jehlum Chenab Ravi Sutlej Beas (Tributary of Sutlej) Length (km) 2896 825 1242 901 1551 398
Agriculture is the hub of Pakistan’s economy which consists of crops and livestock products. It directly contributes 25 percent to GDP and provides employment to 44 percent of the total labour force of the country. Major crops include wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane, maize, tobacco, barely, rape-seed etc. The important fruits are mango, citrus, banana, guava, dates, apple, pear, plum, apricot and peach. Pakistan has two main crop seasons i.e. Kharif and Rabi. Kharif crops are sown during April to June and harvested during October to December. Rabi crops are sown during October to December and harvested during April to June. Currency: Basic unit of currency is Rupee which divides into 100 paisa. Currency notes of 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Rupee are in use. Coins of 1, 2 and 5 rupee are in circulation. Economy: Pakistan has mixed economy, though public sector’s role has been receding. Industry: Chemical, Electrical, Machinery, Fertilizer, Sports, Steel, Sugar, Textiles and Tobacco are the main industries of Pakistan. Minerals: Nature has blessed Pakistan with variety of minerals. Some minerals of economic importance are coal, copper, rock salt, lime stone, marble, china clay, dolomite, fire clay, gypsum, silica sand, emerald, ruby, gas and crude oil. Copper ore reserves of 412 million tonnes containing on the average 0.50 gram gold and 1.50 gram silver per tonne have been found at Saindak, district Chagai, Balochistan. The annual production capacity of the project is
15,800 tonnes of blister copper containing 1.5 tonnes of gold and 2.8 tonnes of silver. The production has started from July 2003. Sports: Hockey is the national game of Pakistan. However, cricket, squash and snooker are the popular sports of the country in which the national teams participate in all international events. Pakistan has been a world champion in hockey, squash and cricket. Football, tennis, polo, swimming, and wrestling and a host of other games are also played. Islamic Calendar: Muslim festivals are celebrated according to Muslim (Lunar) Calendar. Months of the Islamic calendar are Moharrum, Safar, Rabi-ul-Awal, Rabi-us-Sani, Jamadi-ul-Awal, Jamadi-us-Sani, Rajab, Shaban, Ramzan, Shawal, Zee Qaad, Zil Haj Social life: Pakistan enjoys a rich repertoire of festive, religious and folk events. Many festivals are celebrated in the country through out the year. Following are some of them: Eid-ul-Fitr: (1st of Islamic month Shawwal) Celebrated at the end of fasting month (Ramzan). After sun rise collective prayer is offered. The gifts, sweets and visits are exchanged. Eid-ul-Azha: (10th of Islamic month Zilhaj) Celebrated commemorating the great sacrifice offered by Prophet Abraham. After sun rise collective prayer is offered. The goats, sheep, cows or camels are sacrificed and meat is distributed among relatives, friends and poor. Sibi Festival: (Last week of February) Celebrated at Sibi in Balochistan province. A show of high bread horses, camels, cattle, traditional sports, handicrafts exhibition, folk dances and music are the main features. Indigenous Baloch traditions.
Basant: (Kite Flying Festival in Mid February) Basant is celebrated in Lahore, Punjab province. Kite flying competitions, music and delicious foods are the main features of the festival. Mela Chiraghan: (festival of terracotta lamps, last week of March) Held outside Shalimar Gardens, Lahore in Punjab province for one week. Nauroze: (March 21 – 23) Celebrated in Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Chitral. Polo, football, volley-ball, hockey matches, folk dances and music are the main events of the festival. A number of local and foreign tourists especially Japanese visit Northern areas during spring season. Pakistan Day: (March 23) Pakistan day, on which Pakistan Resolution was passed in 1940, is celebrated with traditional zeal and enthusiasms. Illumination of important buildings and military parade at Islamabad are the main events of the festival Baisakhi: (April 13) Baisakhi is a harvest festival celebrated on April 13 particularly in Punjab when Rabi crop is ready for harvesting. On this occasion, harvesting is started with merry festivities such as folk music and dances specially the bhangra dance by farmers. Chanan Pir Mela: (April) Largest collection of camels of Cholistan and desert people. Joshi or Chilimjusht: (May 14 – 15) Held in Kalash Valleys, Chitral to welcome the spring season. Folk dances, music and exchange of dishes are main events of the festival. Shandur Polo Festival: (July 7 - 9) Polo has been a traditional sport of Chitral valley from centuries. It is played on the highest polo ground of the world at Shandur Pass. Other activities of the festival are folk music and dances.
Independence Day: (August 14) It is the day on which Pakistan came into being. It is celebrated all over the country by flag hosting ceremony at Islamabad, holding meetings, processions, rallies and illumination of important buildings. There is a lot of gaiety at night. Lok Mela: (1st week of October) This festival is held at Islamabad for one week. The folk music, folk dances, craftsmen at work, exhibition and sale of handicrafts are the main events. It is a unique opportunity to watch the actual crafts being manufactured in the folk heritage festival. Shahbaz Qalander: (18-20 Shaban) Biggest display of dhamal dance, unique feature of swirling dance by women, “naubat dance” in Sewan Sharif, Sindh. Largest collection of “qalandars” & “jogis” in close vicinity of Manchar lake, abode of last surviving Indus blind dolphins. Shah Latif Bhitai, Bhit Shah, Halla Sindh: (12-14 Safar) Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai was an eminent saint and sufi poet of Sindhi language. Main features are that it is one of the most exotic musical festivals with recitation of Shah’s mystic poetry (vai) where largest collection of minstrels, mendicants, “faqirs”, eunuchs community pays homage to the saint through ecstatic dance and music. Baba Farid Festival: (5 Muharram) A festival is held in Pakpattan, Punjab to pay tribute to great sufi saint and poet of Saraki language. Folk music and passing of people through famous gate known as Bahishti Darwaza (door to heaven) are the main features of this festival.
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