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Pakistan is the 6th highest population ranking
 Country on the Planet Earth in our World.


Coordinates: 30°N 70°E / 30°N 70°E / 30; 70

Islamic Republic of Pakistan
اسلامی جمہوریہ پاكستان (Urdu)
Islāmī Jumhūriyah Pākistān[1]
Flag Emblem
Motto: Īmān, Ittiḥād, Naẓm
ایمان، اتحاد، نظم (Urdu)
"Faith, Unity, Discipline" [2]
Anthem: Qaumī Tarānah
قومی ترانہ
"The National Anthem"[3]
Area controlled by Pakistan shown in dark green; claimed but uncontrolled region shown in light green.
Area controlled by Pakistan shown in dark green; claimed but uncontrolled region shown in light green.
Capital Islamabad
33°40′N 73°10′E / 33.667°N 73.167°E / 33.667; 73.167
Largest city Karachi
24°51′36″N 67°00′36″E / 24.86000°N 67.01000°E / 24.86000; 67.01000
Official languages English, Urdu[4][5][6][7][8]
Recognised national languages Urdu
Regional languages Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi, Kashmiri, Brahui, Shina, Balti, Khowar, Burushaski Yidgha, Dameli, Kalasha, Gawar-Bati, Domaaki[9][10]
Ethnic groups (2016) 44.68% Punjabis
15.42% Pashtuns
14.1% Sindhis
8.38% Sariakis
7.57% Muhajirs
3.57% Balochis
6.28% Others[11]
Religion 96.4% Islam
3.6% Others[11]
Demonym Pakistani
Government Federal parliamentary republic
 •  President Mamnoon Hussain
 •  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
 •  Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali
Legislature Majlis-e-Shoora
 •  Upper house Senate
 •  Lower house National Assembly
Independence from the United Kingdom
 •  Conception[12] 29 December 1930 
 •  Declaration 28 January 1933 
 •  Resolution 23 March 1940 
 •  Dominion 14 August 1947 
 •  Islamic Republic 23 March 1956 
 •  Total 881,913 km2[a] (36th)
340,509 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 3.1
 •  2015 estimate 199,085,847[11] (6th)
 •  Density 260.8/km2 (55th)
675.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2016 estimate
 •  Total $984.205 billion[14] (26th)
 •  Per capita $5,084[14] (136th)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $270.961 billion[14] (42nd)
 •  Per capita $1,427.08[14] (153rd)
Gini (2008) 30.0[15]
HDI (2014) Steady 0.538[16]
low ·
Currency Pakistani rupee (₨) (PKR)
Time zone PST (UTC+5b)
Drives on the left[17]
Calling code +92[18]
ISO 3166 code PK
Internet TLD .pk
a. See also Pakistani English.:
b. See also Daylight saving time in Pakistan.

Pakistan (Listeni/ˈpækstæn/ or Listeni/pɑːkˈstɑːn/) (Urdu: پاکستان), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a federal parliamentary republic in South Asia. It is the sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 200 million people.[11] It is the 36th largest country in the world in terms of area with an area covering 881,913 km2 (340,509 sq mi). 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 India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest and China in the far northeast respectively. It is separated from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's narrow Wakhan Corridor in the north, and also shares a maritime border with Oman.

The territory that now constitutes Pakistan is considered a cradle of civilization[19][20][21][22][23][24][25] which was previously home to several ancient cultures, including the Mehrgarh of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation, and was later home to kingdoms ruled by people of different faiths and cultures, including Hindus, Indo-Greeks, Muslims, Turco-Mongols, Afghans and Sikhs. The area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties, including the Indian Mauryan Empire, the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Alexander of Macedonia, the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mongol Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Durrani Empire, the Sikh Empire and the British Empire.

Pakistan is unique among Muslim countries as it is the only country to have been created in the name of Islam.[26] As a result of the Pakistan Movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the subcontinent's struggle for independence, Pakistan was created in 1947 as an independent nation for Muslims from the regions in the east and west of the Subcontinent where there was a Muslim majority. Initially a dominion, Pakistan adopted a new constitution in 1956, becoming an Islamic 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,[27][28] 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 with a well-integrated agriculture sector, its economy is the 26th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and 45th largest in terms of nominal GDP and is also characterized among the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world.[29][30]

The post-independence history of Pakistan has been characterised by periods of military rule, political instability and conflicts with neighbouring India. The country continues to face challenging problems, including overpopulation, terrorism, poverty, illiteracy, and corruption. Despite these factors it maintains strategic endowments and development potential while it has made substantial progress in reducing poverty giving it the second lowest headcount poverty rate in South Asia.[31] The nation has recently witnessed a rapid expansion of its prosperous middle class, the 18th largest worldwide.[32] Pakistan's stock exchange is Asia's highest performing stock market and, as of 2016, is part of the MSCI's emerging markets index.[33][34] It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Next Eleven Economies, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ECO, UfC, D8, Cairns Group, Kyoto Protocol, ICCPR, RCD, UNCHR, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Group of Eleven, CPFTA, Group of 24, the G20 developing nations, ECOSOC, founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, SAARC and CERN.[35]






The name Pakistan literally means "land of the pure" in Urdu and Persian. It is a play on the word pāk meaning pure in Persian and Pashto[36] while the suffix -stān is a Persian word meaning place of, cognate with the Sanskrit word sthāna (Devanagari: स्थान [st̪ʰaːnə]).[37]

It was coined in 1933 as Pakstan by Choudhry Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan Movement activist, who published it in his pamphlet Now or Never,[38] using it as an acronym ("thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKSTAN") referring to the names of the five northern regions of the British Raj: Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan.[39][40][41] The letter i was incorporated to ease pronunciation and form the linguistically correct and meaningful name.[42]


Main article: History of Pakistan

Early and medieval age

Some of the earliest ancient human civilisations in South Asia originated from areas encompassing present-day Pakistan.[43] 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.[44] The Indus region, which covers most of present day Pakistan, was the site of several successive ancient cultures including the Neolithic Mehrgarh[45] and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation (2800–1800 BC) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.[46][47]

The Vedic Civilization (1500–500 BC), characterised by Indo-Aryan culture, laid the foundations of Hinduism, which would become well established in the region.[48][49] Multan was an important Hindu pilgrimage centre.[50] The Vedic civilisation flourished in the ancient Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā, now Taxila in Punjab.[45] Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Persian Achaemenid Empire around 519 BC), Alexander the Great's empire in 326 BC[51] and the Maurya Empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great until 185 BC.[45] The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria (180–165 BC) included Gandhara and Punjab and reached its greatest extent under Menander (165–150 BC), prospering the Greco-Buddhist culture in the region.[45][52] Taxila had one of the earliest universities and centres of higher education in the world.[53][54][55][56]

The Medieval period (642–1219 AD) 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.[57] The Rai Dynasty (489–632 AD) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories.[58] The Pala Dynasty was the last Buddhist empire that under Dharampala and Devapala stretched across South Asia from what is now Bangladesh through Northern India to Pakistan.

The Arab conqueror Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Indus valley from Sindh to Multan in southern Punjab in 711 AD.[59][60][61][62][63] The Pakistan government's official chronology identifies this as the point where the "foundation" of Pakistan was laid.[59][64][65] This conquest set the stage for the rule of several successive Muslim empires in the region, including the Ghaznavid Empire (975–1187 AD), the Ghorid Kingdom and the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526 AD). The Lodi dynasty, the last of the Delhi Sultanate, was replaced by the Mughal Empire (1526–1857 AD). The Mughals introduced Persian literature and high culture, establishing the roots of Indo-Persian culture in the region.[66] In the early 16th century, the region remained under the Mughal Empire ruled by Muslim emperors.[67] By the early 18th century, the increasing European influence slowly disintegrated the empire as the lines between commercial and political dominance were increasingly blurred.[67]

Edwin Lord Weeks illustration of an open-air restaurant near Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore.

During this time, the English East India Company had established coastal outposts.[67] Control over the seas, greater resources, technology, and military force projection by East India Company of British Empire led it to increasingly flex its military muscle; a factor that was crucial in allowing the Company to gain control over the subcontinent by 1765 and sidelining the European competitors.[68] Expanding access beyond Bengal and the subsequent increased strength and size of its army enabled it to annex or subdue most of region by the 1820s.[67] To many historians, this marked the starting of region's colonial period.[67] By this time, with its economic power severely curtailed by the British parliament and itself effectively made an arm of British administration, the Company began to more consciously enter non-economic arenas such as education, social reform, and culture.[67] Such reforms included the enforcement of English Education Act in 1835 and the introduction of the Indian Civil Service (ICS).[69] Traditional madrasahs – primary institutions of higher learning for Muslims in the subcontinent – were no longer supported by the English Crown, and nearly all of the madrasahs lost their financial endowment.[70]

Colonial period

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817–98), whose vision formed the basis of Pakistan
Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1948) served as Pakistan's first Governor-General and the leader of the Pakistan Movement

The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early 18th century enabled the Sikh Empire's influence to control larger areas until the British East-India Company gained ascendancy over the Indian subcontinent.[71] The rebellion in 1857 (or Sepoy mutiny) was the region's major armed struggle against the British Empire and Queen Victoria.[72] Divergence in the relationship between Hinduism and Islam created a major rift in British India; thus instigating racially motivated religious violence in India.[73] The language controversy further escalated the tensions between Hindus and Muslims.[74] The Hindu renaissance witnessed the awakening of intellectualism in traditional Hinduism and saw the emergence of more assertive influence in the social and political spheres in British India.[75][76] Intellectual movement to counter the Hindu renaissance was led by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who helped founding the All-India Muslim League in 1901 and envisioned as well as advocated for the two-nation theory.[71] In contrast to the Indian Congress's anti-British efforts, the Muslim League was a pro-British whose political program inherited the British values that would shape Pakistan's future civil society.[77][78] In events during World War I, British Intelligence foiled an anti-English conspiracy involving the nexus of Congress and the German Empire.[79] The largely non-violent independence struggle led by the Indian Congress engaged millions of protesters in mass campaigns of civil disobedience in the 1920s and 1930s against the British Empire.[80][81][82]

Over 10 million people were uprooted from their homeland and travelled on foot, bullock carts and trains to their promised new home during the Partition of India. During the partition between 200,000 to 500,000 people were killed in the retributive genocide.[83]

The Muslim League slowly rose to mass popularity in the 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. In his presidential address of 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal called for "the amalgamation of North-West Muslim-majority Indian states" consisting of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan.[84] Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, greatly espoused the two-nation theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution.[71] In World War II, Jinnah and British educated founding fathers in the Muslim League supported the United Kingdom's war efforts, countering opposition against it whilst working towards Sir Syed's vision.[85]

The 1946 elections had resulted in the Muslim League winning 90 percent of the seats reserved for Muslims. Thus the 1946 election was effectively a plebiscite where the Indian Muslims were to vote on the creation of Pakistan; a plebiscite which the Muslim League won.[86] This victory was assisted by the support given to the Muslim League by the rural peasantry of Bengal as well as the support of the landowners of Sindh and Punjab. The Congress, which initially denied the Muslim League's claim of being the sole representative of Indian Muslims, was now forced to recognise that the Muslim League represented Indian Muslims.[86] The British had no alternative except to take Jinnah's views into account as he had emerged as the sole spokesperson of India's Muslims. However the British did not desire India to be partitioned and in one last effort to avoid it they arranged the Cabinet Mission plan.[87]

As the cabinet mission failed in India, the Great Britain announced the intentions to end its raj in India in 1946–47.[88] Nationalists in British India – including Jawaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad of Congress, Jinnah of Muslim League, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs—agreed to the proposed terms of transfer of power and independence in June 1947.[89] As the United Kingdom agreed upon partitioning of India in 1947, the modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947 (27th of Ramadan in 1366 of the Islamic Calendar) in amalgamating the Muslim-majority eastern and northwestern regions of British India.[82] It comprised the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh; thus forming Pakistan.[71][89] The partitioning of Punjab and Bengal led to the series of violent communal riots across India and Pakistan; millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India.[90] Dispute over Jammu and Kashmir led to the First Kashmir War in 1948.[91][92]

Independence and modern Pakistan

The American CIA film on Pakistan made in 1950 examines the history and geography of Pakistan.

After independence and the partition of India in 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the President of Muslim League, became nation's first Governor-General as well as first President-Speaker of the Parliament.[94] Meanwhile, Pakistan's founding fathers agreed upon appointing Liaquat Ali Khan, the secretary-general of the party, the nation's first Prime Minister. With dominion status in the Commonwealth of Nations, independent Pakistan had two British monarchs before it became a republic.[94]

Maulānā Shabbīr Ahmad Usmānī, a respected Deobandī ʿālim (scholar) who occupied the position of Shaykh al-Islām in Pakistan in 1949, and Maulana Mawdudi of Jamāʿat-i Islāmī played a pivotal role in the demand for an Islamic constitution. Mawdūdī demanded that the Constituent Assembly make an explicit declaration affirming the "supreme sovereignty of God" and the supremacy of the sharīʿah in Pakistan.[26]

A significant result of the efforts of the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī and the ʿulamāʿ was the passage of the Objectives Resolution in March 1949. The Objectives Resolution, which Liaquat Ali Khan called the second most important step in Pakistan's history, declared that "sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust". The Objectives Resolution has been incorporated as a preamble to the constitutions of 1956, 1962, and 1973.[26]

Democracy was stalled by the martial law enforced by President Iskander Mirza who was replaced by army chief, General Ayub Khan. Forming presidential system in 1962, the country experienced exceptional growth until a second war with India in 1965 which led to economic downfall and wide-scale public disapproval in 1967.[95][96] Consolidating the control from Ayub Khan in 1969, President Yahya Khan had to deal with a devastating cyclone which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan.[97]

Signing of Tashkent Declaration to end hostilities with India in 1965 in Tashkent, USSR, by President Ayub alongside Bhutto (center) and Aziz Ahmed (left).

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 against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP); Yahya Khan and military establishment refused to hand over power.[98][99] Operation Searchlight, a military crackdown on the Bengali nationalist movement, led to a declaration of independence and the waging of a war of liberation by the Bengali Mukti Bahini forces in East Pakistan, with support from India.[99][100] However, in West Pakistan the conflict was described as a civil war as opposed to War of Liberation.[101]

Independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 civilians died during this period while the Bangladesh government puts the figure of dead at three million,[102] a number which is now universally regarded as excessively inflated.[103] Some academics such as Rudolph Russel and Rounaq Jahan accused both sides[104] of genocide whereas others such as Richard Sisson and Leo E. Rose believe there was no genocide.[105] Preemptive strikes on India by the Pakistan's air force, navy, and marines, in response to India's support for the insurgency in East Pakistan, sparked the conventional war in 1971 which witnessed the Indian victory and East Pakistan gaining independence as Bangladesh.[99]

With Pakistan surrendering in the war, Yahya Khan was replaced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as President; the country worked towards promulgating constitution and putting the country on roads of democracy. Democratic rule resumed from 1972 to 1977– an era of self-consciousness, intellectual leftism, nationalism, and nationwide reconstruction.[106] During this period, Pakistan embarked on ambitiously developing the nuclear deterrence in 1972 in a view to prevent any foreign invasion; the country's first nuclear power plant was inaugurated, also the same year.[107][108] Accelerated in response to first nuclear test by India in 1974, this crash program completed in 1979.[108] Democracy ended with a military coup in 1977 against the leftist PPP, which saw General Zia-ul-Haq become the president in 1978. From 1977 to 1988, President Zia's corporatisation and economic Islamisation initiatives led to Pakistan becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia.[109] While consolidating the nuclear development, increasing Islamization,[110] and the rise of homegrown conservative philosophy, Pakistan helped subsidize and distribute U.S. resources to factions of the mujahideen against the USSR's intervention in communist Afghanistan.[111][112]

President Zia died in a plane crash in 1988, and Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the country's first female Prime Minister. The Pakistan Peoples Party followed by conservative Pakistan Muslim League (N), and over the next decade whose 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 prolonged stagflation, instability, corruption, nationalism, geopolitical rivalry with India, and the clash of left wing-right wing ideologies.[113][114] As PML(N) secured a supermajority in elections in 1997, Sharif authorised the nuclear testings (See:Chagai-I and Chagai-II), as a retaliation to second nuclear tests ordered by India, led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in May 1998.[115]

President Bush meets with President Musharraf in Islamabad during his 2006 visit to Pakistan.

Military tension between the two countries in the Kargil district led to the Kargil War of 1999, and a turbulence in civic-military relations allowed General Pervez Musharraf took over through a bloodless coup d'état.[116][117] Musharraf governed Pakistan as chief executive from 1999 to 2001 and as President from 2001 to 2008— a period of enlightenment, social liberalism, extensive economic reforms,[118] and direct involvement in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. When the National Assembly historically completed its first full five-year term on 15 November 2007, the new elections were called by the Election Commission.[119] After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, the PPP secured largest votes in the elections of 2008, appointing party member Yousaf Raza Gillani as Prime Minister.[120] Threatened with facing impeachment, President Musharraf resigned on 18 August 2008, and was succeeded by Asif Ali Zardari.[121][122][123] Clashes with the judicature prompted Gillani's disqualification from the Parliament and as the Prime Minister in June 2012.[124] By its own financial calculations, Pakistan's involvement in the war on terrorism has cost up to ~$67.93 billion,[125][126] thousands of casualties and nearly 3 million displaced civilians.[127] The general election held in 2013 saw the PML(N) almost achieve a supermajority, following which Nawaz Sharif became elected as the Prime Minister, returning to the post for the third time after fourteen years, in a democratic transition.[128]

Government and politics

Pakistan is a democratic parliamentary federal republic with Islam as the state religion.[129] The first set was adopted in 1956 but suspended by Ayub Khan in 1958 who replaced it with the second set in 1962.[82] Complete and comprehensive Constitution was adopted in 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.[130] The Pakistani military establishment has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's political history.[82] There were military coups which resulted in imposition of martial law and military commanders continued governing as de-facto presidents from 1958–1971, 1977–1988, and 1999–2008.[131] As of now, Pakistan has a multi-party parliamentary system with clear division of powers and responsibilities between branches of government. The first successful demonstrative transaction was held in May 2013. Politics in Pakistan is centered and dominated by the homegrown conceive social philosophy, consisting the ideas of socialism, conservatism, and the third way. As of the general elections held in 2013, the three main dominated political parties in the country: the centre-right conservative Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N); the centre-left socialist Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP); and the centrist and third-way Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI) led by cricketer Imran Khan.

  • Judicature: The judiciary of Pakistan is a hierarchical system with two classes of courts: the superior (or higher) judiciary and the subordinate (or lower) judiciary. The Chief Justice of Pakistan is the chief judge who oversees the judicature's court system at all levels of command. The superior judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Federal Shariat Court and five High Courts, with the Supreme Court at the apex. The Constitution of Pakistan entrusts the superior judiciary with the obligation to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. Neither the Supreme Court nor a High Court may exercise jurisdiction in relation to Tribal Areas, except otherwise provided for. The disputed regions of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan have separate court systems.

Foreign relations of Pakistan

As the Muslim world's second most populous nation-state (after Indonesia) and its only nuclear power state, Pakistan has an important role in the international community.[132][133] With a semi-agricultural and semi-industrialized economy, its foreign policy determines its standard of interactions for its organizations, corporations and individual citizens.[134][135] Its geostrategic intentions were explained by Jinnah in a broadcast message in 1947, which is featured in a prominent quotation on the homepage of Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: "The foundation of our foreign policy is friendship with all nations across the globe."[136]

Since then, Pakistan has attempted to balance its relations with foreign nations.[137][138][139] A non-signatory party of the Treaty on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Pakistan is an influential member of the IAEA.[140] In recent events, Pakistan has blocked an international treaty to limit fissile material, arguing that the "treaty would target Pakistan specifically."[141] In the 20th century, Pakistan's nuclear deterrence program focused on countering India's nuclear ambitions in the region, and nuclear tests by India eventually led Pakistan to reciprocate the event to maintain geopolitical balance as becoming a nuclear power.[142] Currently, Pakistan maintains a policy of credible minimum deterrence, calling its program vital nuclear deterrence against foreign aggression.[143][144]

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani in conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in January 2016.

Located in strategic and geopolitical corridor of the world's major maritime oil supply lines, communication fiber optics, Pakistan has proximity to the natural resources of Central Asian countries.[145] Pakistan is an influential and founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and is a major non-NATO ally of the United States in the war against terrorism— a status achieved in 2004.[146] Pakistan's foreign policy and geostrategy mainly focus on economy and security against threats to its national identity and territorial integrity, and on the cultivation of close relations with other Muslim countries.[147] Briefing on country's foreign policy in 2004, the Pakistani senator reportedly explains: "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."[148] Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations and has a Permanent Representative to represent Pakistan's policy in international politics.[149] Pakistan has lobbied for the concept of "Enlightened Moderation" in the Muslim world.[150][151] Pakistan is also a member of Commonwealth of Nations,[152] the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO)[153][154] and the G20 developing nations.[155] Pakistan does not have diplomatic relations with Israel;[156] nonetheless some Israeli citizens have visited the country on a tourist visas.[157] Based on mutual cooperation, the security exchange have taken place between two countries using Turkey as a communication conduit.[158] Despite Pakistan being the only country in the world that has not established a diplomatic relations with Armenia, the Armenian community still resides in Pakistan.[159]

Pakistan PM Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signing the Treaty of Friendship Between China and Pakistan. Pakistan, today, hosts China's largest embassy.[160]

Maintaining cultural, political, social, and economic relations with the Arab world and other countries in the Muslim World is a vital factor in Pakistan's foreign policy.[161] Pakistan was the first country to have established diplomatic relations with China and relations continues to be warm since China's war with India in 1962.[162] In the 1960s–1980s, Pakistan greatly helped China in reaching out to the world's major countries and helped facilitate U.S. President Nixon's state visit to China.[162] Despite the change of governments in Pakistan, variations in the regional and global situation, China policy in Pakistan continues to be dominant factor at all time.[162] In return, China is Pakistan's largest trading partner and economic cooperation have reached high points, with substantial Chinese investment in Pakistan's infrastructural expansion including the Pakistani deep-water port at Gwadar. Sino-Pak friendly relations touched new heights as both the countries signed 51 agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in 2015 for cooperation in different fields.[163] [164][165][166] Both countries have signed the Free Trade Agreement in the 2000s, and Pakistan continues to serve as China's communication bridge in the Muslim World.[167]

Because of difficulties in relations with its geopolitical rival India, Pakistan maintains close political relations with Turkey and Iran.[168] Saudi Arabia also maintains a respected position in Pakistan's foreign policy, and both countries has been a focal point in Pakistan's foreign policy.[168] The Kashmir conflict remains the major point of rift; three of their four wars were over this territory.[169] Due to ideological differences, Pakistan opposed the Soviet Union in the 1950s and during Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, Pakistan was one of the closest allies of the United States.[148][170] Relations with Russia have greatly improved since 1999 and cooperation with various sectors have increased between Russia and Pakistan.[171] Pakistan has had "on-and-off" relations with the United States. A close ally of the United States in the Cold war, Pakistan's relation with the United States relations soured in the 1990s when the U.S. imposed sanctions because of Pakistan's secretive nuclear development.[172] Since 9/11, Pakistan has been a close ally with the United States on the issue of counter-terrorism in the regions of the Middle East and South Asia, with the US supporting the latter with aid money and weapons.[173][174]

The United States-led 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.[175][176][177][178] 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.[179]

Administrative divisions

Administrative Division Capital Population
 Balochistan Quetta 7,914,000
 Punjab Lahore 101,000,000
 Sindh Karachi 42,400,000
 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Peshawar 28,000,000
Flag of Gilgit Baltistan.svg Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit 1,800,000
 FATA 3,176,331
 Azad Kashmir Muzaffarabad 4,567,982
Proposed Flag of Islamabad Capital Territory.svg Islamabad Capital Territory Islamabad 1,151,868

A federal parliamentary republic state, Pakistan is a federation that comprises four provinces: Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan.[180] and four territories: the Tribal belt, Gilgit–Baltistan, Islamabad Capital Territory, and Kashmir. The Government of Pakistan exercises the de facto jurisdiction over the Frontier Regions and the western parts of the Kashmir Regions, which are organised into the separate political entities Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan (formerly Northern Areas). In 2009, the constitutional assignment (the Gilgit–Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order) awarded the Gilgit–Baltistan a semi-provincial status, giving it self-government.[181]

The local government system consists of a three-tier system of districts, tehsils and union councils, with an elected body at each tier.[182] There are about 130 districts altogether, of which Azad Kashmir has ten[183] and Gilgit–Baltistan seven.[184] The Tribal Areas comprise seven tribal agencies and six small frontier regions detached from neighbouring districts.[185]

Clickable map of the four provinces and four federal territories of Pakistan.

Balochistan (Pakistan) Punjab (Pakistan) Sindh Islamabad Capital Territory Federally Administered Tribal Areas Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Azad Kashmir Gilgit-Baltistan A clickable map of Pakistan exhibiting its administrative units.
About this image

Law enforcement is carried out by a joint network of the intelligence community with jurisdiction limited to the relevant province or territory. The National Intelligence Directorate coordinates the information intelligence at both federal and provincial level; including the FIA, IB, Motorway Police, and paramilitary forces such as the Pakistan Rangers and the Frontier Corps.[186]

Pakistan's "premier" intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligene (ISI), was formed just within a year after the Independence of Pakistan in 1947.[187] Inter Service Intelligence Agency of Pakistan was ranked as the top intelligence agency in the world in 2011, 2014 and 2015.[188][189]

The court system is organised as a hierarchy, with the Supreme Court at the apex, below which are High Courts, Federal Shariat Courts (one in each province and one in the federal capital), District Courts (one in each district), Judicial Magistrate Courts (in every town and city), Executive Magistrate Courts and civil courts. The Penal code has limited jurisdiction in the Tribal Areas, where law is largely derived from tribal customs.[186][190]


Main article: Pakistan Armed Forces

The armed forces of Pakistan are the eighth largest in the world in terms of numbers in full-time service, with about 617,000 personnel on active duty and 513,000 reservists, as of tentative estimates in 2010.[191] They came into existence after independence in 1947, and the military establishment has frequently influenced in the national politics ever since.[131] Chain of command of the military is kept under the control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; all of the branches joint works, coordination, military logistics, and joint missions are under the Joint Staff HQ.[192] The Joint Staff HQ is composed of the Air HQ, Navy HQ, and Army GHQ in the vicinity of the Rawalpindi Military District.[193]

The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is the highest principle staff officer in the armed forces, and the chief military adviser to the civilian government though the chairman has no authority over the three branches of armed forces.[192] The Chairman joint chiefs controls the military from the JS HQ and maintains strategic communications between the military and the civilian government.[192] As of current, the Chairman joint chiefs is General Rashid Mahmood alongside chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif,[194] chief of naval staff Admiral Muhammad Zaka,[195] and chief of air staff Air Chief Marshal Suhail Aman.[196] The main branches are the ArmyAir ForceNavyMarines, which are supported by the number of paramilitary forces in the country.[197] Control over the strategic arsenals, deployment, employment, development, military computers and command and control is a responsibility vested under the National Command Authority which oversaw the work on the nuclear policy as part of the credible minimum deterrence.[115]

The United States, Turkey, and China maintain close military relations and regularly export military equipment and technology transfer to Pakistan.[198] Joint logistics and major war games are occasionally carried out by the militaries of China and Turkey.[197][199][200] Philosophical basis for the military draft is introduced by the Constitution in times of emergency, but it has never been imposed.[201] Since 1947, Pakistan has been involved in four conventional wars, the first war occurred in Kashmir with Pakistan gaining control of Western Kashmir, (Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan), and India capturing Eastern Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir). Territorial problems eventually led to another conventional war in 1965; over the issue of Bengali refugees that led to another war in 1971 which resulted in Pakistan's unconditional surrender of East Pakistan.[202] Tensions in Kargil brought the two countries at the brink of war.[116] Since 1947, the unresolved territorial problems with Afghanistan saw border skirmishes which was kept mostly at the mountainous border. In 1961, the military and intelligence community repelled the Afghan incursion in the Bajaur Agency near the Durand Line border.[203][204] Rising tensions with neighboring USSR in their involvement in Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence community, mostly the ISI, systematically coordinated the U.S. resources to the Afghan mujahideen and foreign fighters against the Soviet Union's presence in the region. Military reports indicated that the PAF was in engagement with the Soviet Air Force, supported by the Afghan Air Force during the course of the conflict;[205] one of which belonged to Alexander Rutskoy.[205]

Apart from its own conflicts, Pakistan has been an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping missions. It played a major role in rescuing trapped American soldiers from Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 in Operation Gothic Serpent.[206][207][208] According to UN reports, the Pakistani military are the third largest troop contributors to UN peacekeeping missions after Ethiopia and India.

Pakistan sent UN Peacekeeping forces to the former Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav wars. During the war, Pakistan supported Bosnia while providing technical and military support. Approximately 90,000 Pakistani people went to Bosnia during the Yugoslav wars, accounting for 20% of the volunteer military force. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) allegedly ran an active military intelligence program during the Bosnian War which started in 1992 lasting until 1995. Allegedly executed and supervised by General Javed Nasir, the program distributed and coordinated the systematic supply of arms to various groups of Bosnian mujahideen during the war. The ISI Bosnian contingent was organized with financial assistance provided by Saudi Arabia, according to the British historian Mark Curtis.[209] Despite the UN arms embargo in Bosnia, Nasir later confessed that the ISI airlifted anti-tank weapons and missiles to Bosnian mujahideen which turned the tide in favor of Bosnian Muslims and forced the Serbs to lift the siege.[210][211]

Pakistan has deployed its military in some Arab countries, providing defence, training, and playing advisory roles.[212][213] The PAF and Navy's fighter pilots have voluntarily served in Arab nations' militaries against Israel in the Six-Day War (1967) and in the Yom Kippur War (1973). Pakistan's fighter pilots shot down ten Israeli planes in the Six-Day War.[206] In the 1973 war one of the PAF pilots, Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi flying a MiG-21 shot down an Israeli Air Force Mirage and was honoured by the Syrian government.[214][215][216] Requested by the Saudi monarchy in 1979, the special forces units, operatives, and commandos were rushed to assist Saudi forces in Mecca to lead the operation of the Grand Mosque.[217] In 1991 Pakistan got involved with the Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a US-led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia.[218]

Since 2004, the military has been engaged in a war in North-West Pakistan, mainly against the homegrown Taliban factions.[219][220] Major operations undertaken by the Army include Operation Black Thunderstorm and Operation Rah-e-Nijat.[221][222]

Kashmir conflict

Main article: Kashmir conflict

The Kashmir– the most northwesterly region of South Asia– is a primary territorial dispute that hindered the relations between India and Pakistan. Two nations have fought at least three large-scale conventional wars in successive years of 1947, 1965, and 1971. The conflict in 1971 witnessed Pakistan's unconditional surrender and a treaty that subsequently led to the independence of Bangladesh.[223] Other serious military engagements and skirmishes included the armed contacts in Siachen Glacier (1984) and Kargil (1999).[169] Approximately 45.1% of the Kashmir region is controlled by India while claiming the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including most of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, and the Siachen.[169] The claim is contested by Pakistan, which approximately controls the 38.2% of the Kashmir region, known as the Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan.[169][224]

Shangrila Resort, Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan

India claims the Kashmir on the basis of the Instrument of Accession— a legal agreement with Kashmir's leaders executed by Maharaja Hari Singh who agreed to accede the area to India.[225] Pakistan claims Kashmir on the basis of a Muslim majority and of geography, the same principles that were applied for the creation of the two independent states.[226][227] India referred the dispute to the United Nations on 1 January 1948.[228] A resolution passed in 1948, the UN's General Assembly asked Pakistan to remove most of its troops as a plebiscite would then be held. However, Pakistan failed to vacate the region and a ceasefire was reached in 1949 with the Line of Control (LoC) was established, dividing Kashmir between the two nations.[229] India, fearful that the Muslim majority populace of Kashmir would secede from India, did not allow a plebiscite to take place in the region. This was confirmed in a statement by India's Defense Minister, Kirshnan Menon, who said: "Kashmir would vote to join Pakistan and no Indian Government responsible for agreeing to plebiscite would survive.''[230]

Pakistan claims that its position is for the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine their future through impartial elections as mandated by the United Nations,[231] while India has stated that Kashmir is an integral part of India, referring to the Simla Agreement(1972) and to the fact that elections take place regularly.[232] In recent developments, certain Kashmiri independence groups believe that Kashmir should be independent of both India and Pakistan.[169]

Law enforcement

The law enforcement in Pakistan is carried out by joint network of several federal and provincial police agencies. The four provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory each have a civilian police force with jurisdiction extending only to the relevant province or territory.[130] At the federal level, there are a number of civilian intelligence agencies with nationwide jurisdictions including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB), and the Motoway Patrol, as well as several paramilitary forces such as the National Guards (Northern Areas), the Rangers (Punjab and Sindh), and the Frontier Corps (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan).

The most senior officers of all the civilian police forces also form part of the Police Service, which is a component of the civil service of Pakistan. Namely, there are four provincial police service including the Punjab Police, Sindh Police, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police, and the Balochistan Police; all headed by the appointed senior Inspector-Generals. The Islamabad has its own police component, the Capital Police, to maintain law and order in the capital. The CID bureaus are the crime investigation unit and forms a vital part in each provincial police service.

The law enforcement in Pakistan also has a Motorway Patrol which is responsible for enforcement of traffic and safety laws, security and recovery on Pakistan's inter-provincial motorway network. In each of provincial Police Service, it also maintains a respective Elite Police units led by the NACTA– a counter-terrorism police unit as well as providing VIP escorts. In Punjab and Sindh, the Pakistan Rangers are an internal security force with the prime objective to provide and maintain security in war zones and areas of conflict as well as maintaining law and order which includes providing assistance to the police.[233] The Frontier Corps serves the similar purpose in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and the Balochistan.[233]

Geography, environment and climate

Pakistan map of Köppen climate classification.

The geography and climate of Pakistan are extremely diverse, and the country is home to a wide variety of wildlife.[234] 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[235] 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.[130] It shares a marine border with Oman,[236] and is separated from Tajikistan by the cold, narrow Wakhan Corridor.[237] Pakistan occupies a geopolitically important location at the crossroads of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia.[238]

Geologically, Pakistan is located in the Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone and 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. This region has the highest rates of seismicity and largest earthquakes in the Himalaya region.[239] 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 .[240]

Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands, the Indus River plain and the Balochistan Plateau.[241] The northern highlands contain the Karakoram, Hindu 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).[242] 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.[243]

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.[71] Rainfall varies greatly from year to year, and patterns of alternate flooding and drought are common.[244]

Flora and fauna

Deodar,[b] Pakistan's national tree.

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, through deciduous trees in most of the country (for example the mulberry-like shisham found in the Sulaiman Mountains), to palms such as coconut and date in southern Punjab, southern Balochistan and all of Sindh. The western hills are home to juniper, tamarisk, coarse grasses and scrub plants. Mangrove forests form much of the coastal wetlands along the coast in the south.[245]

Coniferous forests are found at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 metres in most of the northern and northwestern highlands. In the xeric regions of Balochistan, date palm and Ephedra are common. 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 of mulberry, acacia, and eucalyptus.[246] About 2.2% or 1,687,000 hectares (16,870 km2) of Pakistan was forested in 2010.[247]

The fauna of Pakistan reflects its varied climates too. Around 668 bird species are found there:[248][249] crows, sparrows, mynas, hawks, falcons and eagles commonly occur. Palas, Kohistan, has a significant population of western tragopan.[250] Many birds sighted in Pakistan are migratory, coming from Europe, Central Asia and India.[251]

The southern plains are home to mongooses, civets, hares, the Asiatic jackal, the Indian pangolin, the jungle cat and the desert cat. There are mugger crocodiles in the Indus, and wild boar, deer, porcupines and small rodents are common in the surrounding areas. The sandy scrublands of central Pakistan are home to Asiatic jackals, striped hyenas, wildcats and leopards.[252][253] The lack of vegetative cover, the severe climate and the impact of grazing on the deserts have left wild animals in a precarious position. The chinkara is the only animal that can still be found in significant numbers in Cholistan. A small number of nilgai are found along the Pakistan-India border and in some parts of Cholistan.[252][254] A wide variety of animals live in the mountainous north, including the Marco Polo sheep, the urial (a subspecies of wild sheep), markhor and ibex goats, the Asian black bear and the Himalayan brown bear.[252][255][256] Among the rare animals found in the area are the snow leopard,[255] the Asiatic cheetah[257] 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.[255][258] In total, 174 mammals, 177 reptiles, 22 amphibians, 198 freshwater fish species and 5,000 species of invertebrates (including insects) have been recorded in Pakistan.[248][249]

The flora and fauna of Pakistan suffer from a number of problems. Pakistan has the second-highest rate of deforestation in the world. This, along with hunting and pollution, is causing 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.[248][249]

National parks and wildlife sanctuaries

As of present, there are around 157 protected areas in Pakistan that are recognized by IUCN. According to the 'Modern Protected Areas' legislation, a national park is a protected area set aside by the government for the protection and conservation of its outstanding scenery and wildlife in a natural state. The oldest national park is Lal Suhanra in Bahawalpur District, established in 1972.[259] It is also the only biosphere reserve of Pakistan. Lal Suhanra is the only national park established before the independence of the nation in August 1947. Central Karakoram in Gilgit Baltistan is currently the largest national park in the country, spanning over a total approximate area of 1,390,100 hectares (3,435,011.9 acres). The smallest national park is the Ayub, covering a total approximate area of 931 hectares (2,300.6 acres).



Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan is the financial centre of the country.[260]


Economists estimate that Pakistan has been part of the wealthiest region of the world throughout the first millennium CE having the largest economy by GDP. This advantage was lost in the 18th century as other regions edged forward such as China and Western Europe.[261] Pakistan is considered as a developing country[262][263][264] and is one of the Next Eleven, the eleven countries that, along with the BRICs, have a high potential to become the world's largest economies in the 21st century.[265] However, after decades of social instability, as of 2013, serious deficiencies in macromangament and unbalanced macroeconomics in basic services such as train transportation and electrical energy generation had developed.[266] The economy is considered to be semi-industrialized, with centres of growth along the Indus River.[267][268][269] The diversified economies of Karachi and Punjab's urban centres coexist with less developed areas in other parts of the country particularly in Balochistan.[268] Pakistan is the 70th largest export economy in the world and the 89th most complex economy according to the Economic complexity index (ECI). In 2013, Pakistan exported $28.2B and imported $44.8B, resulting in a negative trade balance of $16.6B.[270]

Pakistan Stock Exchange is one of the best performing market in the world. According to Forbes, PSX delivered a return of 400% between 2010 and 2015.[271]

Pakistan's estimated nominal GDP as of 2016 is US$271 billion making it the 41st largest in the world and second largest in South Asia representing about 15.0% of regional GDP.[269][272][273] The GDP by PPP is US$838,164 million.[274] The estimated nominal per capita GDP is US$1,197, GDP (PPP)/capita is US$4,602 (international dollars), and debt-to-GDP ratio is 55.5%.[275][276] According to the World Bank, Pakistan has important strategic endowments and development potential. The increasing proportion of Pakistan's youth provides the country with a potential demographic dividend and a challenge to provide adequate services and employment.[31] 21.04% of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. Unemployment rate among aged 15 and over population is 5.5%.[277] Pakistan has an estimated of 40 million middle class citizens which are projected to increase to 100 million people by 2050.[278] A 2013 report published by the World Bank positioned Pakistan's economy at 24th largest in the world by purchasing power and 45th largest in absolute dollars.[269] It is South Asia's second largest economy, representing about 15.0% of regional GDP.[272][273]

Fiscal Year GDP growth Inflation rate
2013–14[279] Increase4.14%[280] 108.5% |[281]
2014–15 Increase4.24% 104.8%[282]
2015–16 Increase4.5%[283] 105.1%[282]
2016–17 Increase4.8%Projected[284] 104.5%[284]

Pakistan's economic growth since its inception has been varied. It has been slow during periods of democratic transition, but excellent during the three periods of martial law, although the foundation for sustainable and equitable growth was not formed.[96] The early to middle 2000s was a period of rapid economic reforms; the government raised development spending, which reduced poverty levels by 10% and increased GDP by 3%.[130][285] The economy cooled again from 2007.[130] Inflation reached 25.0% in 2008[286] and Pakistan had to depend on a fiscal policy backed by the International Monetary Fund to avoid possible bankruptcy.[287][288] A year later, the Asian Development Bank reported that Pakistan's economic crisis was easing.[289] The inflation rate for the fiscal year 2010–11 was 14.1%.[290] Since 2013, as part of an International Monetary Fund program Pakistan's economic growth has picked up. Goldman Sachs predicted, in 2014, that Pakistan's economy would grow 15 times in the next 35 years to become 18th largest economy in the world by 2050.[291] On January 2014, a survey conducted by the Japan External Trade Organization placed Pakistan just behind Taiwan in terms of business generated by Japanese companies. Pakistan's data was generated from 27 Japanese firms doing business here. The results found that 74.1% of the Japanese companies estimated operating profit in 2013.[292]

Pakistan is one of the largest producers of natural commodities, and its labour market is the 10th largest in the world. The 7-million–strong Pakistani diaspora contributed an estimated US$15 billion to the economy in 2014–15.[293][294] The major source countries of remittances to Pakistan are: the UAE; United States; Saudi Arabia; the Gulf states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman); Australia; Canada; Japan; United Kingdom; Norway; and Switzerland.[295][296] According to the World Trade Organization, Pakistan's share of overall world exports is declining; it contributed only 0.128% in 2007.[297] The trade deficit in the fiscal year 2010–11 was US$11.217 billion.[298]

Agriculture and Primary Sector

Surface mining in Sindh. Pakistan has been termed as the 'Saudi Arabia of Coal' by Forbes.[299]

The structure of the Pakistani economy has changed from a mainly agricultural to a strong service base. Agriculture as of 2010 accounts for only 21.2% of the GDP. Even so, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Pakistan produced 21,591,400 metric tons of wheat in 2005, more than all of Africa (20,304,585 metric tons) and nearly as much as all of South America (24,557,784 metric tons).[300] Majority of the population, directly or indirectly, is dependent on this sector. It accounts for half of employed labour force and is the largest source of foreign exchange earnings.[301]

A large portion of the country's manufactured exports are dependent on raw materials such as cotton and hides that are part of the agriculture sector, while supply shortages and market disruptions in farm products do push up inflationary pressures. The country is also the fifth largest producer of cotton, with cotton production of 14 million bales from a modest beginning of 1.7 million bales in the early 1950s; is self sufficient in sugarcane; and is the fourth largest producer in the world of milk. Land and water resources have not risen proportionately, but the increases have taken place mainly due to gains in labor and agriculture productivity. The major breakthrough in crop production took place in the late 1960s and 1970s due to the Green Revolution that made a significant contribution to land and yield increases of wheat and rice. Private tube wells led to a 50 percent increase in the cropping intensity which was augmented by tractor cultivation. While the tube wells raised crop yields by 50 percent, the High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) of wheat and rice led to a 50–60 percent higher yield.[302] Meat industry accounts for 1.4 percent of overall GDP.[303]


A LCD television manufacturing factory in Lahore.

Manufacturing is the third largest sector of the economy, accounting for 18.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 13 percent of total employment. Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM), at 12.2 percent of GDP, dominates the overall sector, accounting for 66% of the sectoral share, followed by Small Scale Manufacturing, which accounts for 4.9 percent of total GDP. Pakistan's cement industry is also fast growing mainly because of demand from Afghanistan and from the domestic real estate sector. In 2013 Pakistan exported 7,708,557 metric tons of cement.[304] Pakistan has an installed capacity of 44,768,250 metric tons of cement and 42,636,428 metric tons of clinker. In 2012 and 2013, the cement industry in Pakistan became the most profitable sector of the economy.[305]

The textile industry enjoys a pivotal position in the manufacturing sector of Pakistan. Pakistan is the 8th largest exporter of textile products in Asia. This sector contributes 9.5% to the GDP and provides employment to about 15 million people or roughly 30% of the 49 million workforce of the country. Pakistan is the 4th largest producer of cotton with the third largest spinning capacity in Asia after China and India, and contributes 5% to the global spinning capacity. China is the second largest buyer of Pakistani textiles, importing US$1.527 billion of textiles last fiscal. Unlike U.S. where mostly value added textiles are imported, China buys only cotton yarn and cotton fabric from Pakistan. In 2012, Pakistani textile products accounted for 3.3% or US$1.07bn of total United Kingdom's textile imports, 12.4% or US$4.61bn of total Chinese textile imports, 2.98% or $2.98b of total United States' textile imports, 1.6% or US$0.88bn of total German textile imports and 0.7% or US$0.888bn of total Indian textile imports.[306]


Clifton Beach in Karachi, with under-construction skyscraper's in the background.

Services Sector has 57.7 percent share in GDP and has emerged as the main driver of economic growth.[307] Pakistani society like other developing countries is a consumption oriented society, having a high marginal propensity to consume. The growth rate of services sector is higher than the growth rate of agriculture and industrial sector. Services sector accounts for 54 percent of GDP in 2014 and little over one-third of total employment. Services sector has strong linkages with other sectors of economy; it provides essential inputs to agriculture sector and manufacturing sector.[308] Pakistan's I.T sector is regarded as among the fastest growing sector's in Pakistan. The World Economic Forum, assessing the development of Information and Communication Technology in the country ranked Pakistan 111th among 144 countries in the Global Information Technology report of 2014.[309] As of 2011, Pakistan has over 20 million internet users and is ranked as one of the top countries that have registered a high growth rate in internet penetration.[310] Overall, it has the 27th largest population of internet users in the world. In the fiscal year 2012–2013. The current growth rate and employment trend indicate that Pakistan's Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry will exceed the $10-billion mark by 2020.[311] The sector employees 12,000 and count's among top 5 freelancing nations.[312][313] The country has also improved its export performance in telecom, computer and information services, as the share of their exports surged from 8.2pc in 2005–06 to 12.6pc in 2012–13. This growth is much better than that of China, whose share in services exports was 3pc and 7.7pc for the same period respectively.[314]

Pakistan key economic statistics
Pakistan GDP composition by sector [315]
Agriculture 25.3%
Industry 21.6%
Services 53.1%
Employment [316]
Labour force 59.7 million
People employed 56.0 million
Natural Resources [317][318]
Copper 12.3 million tonnes
Gold 20.9 million ounces
Coal 175 billion tonnes
Shale Gas 105 trillion cubic feet
Shale Oil 9 billion barrels
Gas production 4.2 billion cubic feet/day
Oil production 70,000 barrels/day
Iron ore 500 million[319]

Nuclear power and energy

Tarbela Dam, the largest earth filled dam in the world, was constructed in 1968.

Energy from the nuclear power source is provided by three licensed-commercial nuclear power plants, as of 2012 data.[321] Pakistan is the first Muslim country in the world to construct and operate civil nuclear power plants.[322] The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), the scientific and nuclear governmental authority, is solely responsible for operating these power plants, while the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority regulates safe usage of the nuclear energy.[323] The electricity generated by commercial nuclear power plants constitutes roughly ~5.8% of electricity generated in Pakistan, compared to ~62% from fossil fuel (petroleum), ~29.9% from hydroelectric power and ~0.3% from coal.[324][325][326] Pakistan is one of the four nuclear armed states (along with India, Israel, and North Korea) that is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but is a member in good standing of the International Atomic Energy Agency.[327][328][329]

For the commercial usage of the nuclear power, China has provided an avid support for commercializing the nuclear power sources in Pakistan from early on, first providing the Chashma-I reactor. The Karachi-I, a Candu-type, was provided by Canada in 1971– the country's first commercial nuclear power plant. In subsequent years, People's Republic of China sold the nuclear power plant for energy and industrial growth of the country. In 2005, both countries reached out towards working on joint energy security plan, calling for a huge increase in generating capacity to more than 160,000 MWe by 2030. Original admissions by Pakistan, the government plans for lifting nuclear capacity to 8800 MWe, 900 MWe of it by 2015 and a further 1500 MWe by 2020.[330]

In June 2008, the nuclear commercial complex was expanded with the ground work of installing and operationalizing the Chashma-III and Chashma–IV nuclear power plants at Chashma, Punjab Province, each with 320–340 MWe and costing ₨. 129 billion,; from which the ₨. 80 billion of this from international sources, principally China.

A further agreement for China's help with the project was signed in October 2008, and given prominence as a counter to the U.S.–India agreement shortly preceding it. Cost quoted then was US$1.7 billion, with a foreign loan component of $1.07 billion. In 2013, the second nuclear commercial complex in Karachi was marginalized and expanded to additional reactors, based on the Chashma complex.[331]

Jhimpir Wind Power Projects are currently producing around 250 mega-watt, are expected produce 3200 mega-watt in near future

The electrical energy is generated by various energy corporations and evenly distributed by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) among the four provinces. However, the Karachi-based K-Electric and the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) generates much of the electrical energy as well as gathering revenue nationwide.[332] Capacity to generate ~22,797MWt electricity has been installed in 2014, with the initiation of several energy projects in 2014.[324] Energy from the nuclear sources is provided by three licensed commercial nuclear power plants operated Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) under licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority.[333] Pakistan is the first Muslim country in the world to embark on a nuclear power program.[334] Commercial nuclear power plants generate roughly 5.8% of Pakistan's electricity, compared with about 64.0% from thermal, 29.9% from hydroelectric power, and ~0.3% from the Coal source.[332]


Main article: Tourism in Pakistan

Badshahi Mosque was commissioned by the Mughals in 1671. It is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Pakistan, with its diverse cultures, people and landscapes attracted 1.1 million foreign tourists annually in 2011 and 2012 contributing $351 million and $369 million to Pakistan's economy respectively.[335] A significant decline since the 1970s when the country received unprecedented amounts of foreign tourists due to the popular Hippie trail. The trail attracted thousands of Europeans and American's in 1960s and 1970s who travelled via land through Turkey, Iran into India through Pakistan.[336] The main destinations of choice for these tourists were the Khyber Pass, Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore, Swat and Rawalpindi.[337] However, the trail declined after the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet–Afghan War.[338]

The country however continues to attract an estimated of half a million foreign tourists.[339] Pakistan's attraction range from the ruin of civilisation such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill stations. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7000 m.[340][unreliable source?] The north part of Pakistan has many old fortresses, ancient architecture and the Hunza and Chitral valley, home to small pre-Islamic Animist Kalasha community claiming descent from Alexander the Great. Pakistan's cultural capital, Lahore, contains many examples of Mughal architecture such as Badshahi Masjid, Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Jahangir and the Lahore Fort.[341]

In October 2006, just one year after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, The Guardian released what it described as "The top five tourist sites in Pakistan" in order to help the country's tourism industry.[342] The five sites included Taxila, Lahore, The Karakoram Highway, Karimabad and Lake Saiful Muluk. To promote Pakistan's unique and various cultural heritage.[343][344] In 2009, The World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked Pakistan as one of the top 25% tourist destinations for its World Heritage sites. Tourist destinations range from mangroves in the south, to the 5,000-year-old cities of the Indus Valley Civilization which included Mohenjo-daro and Harappa.[345]


Main article: Transport in Pakistan

The transport industry accounts for ~10.5% of the nation's GDP.[346] Pakistan's motorway infrastructure is better than those of India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, but the train system lags behind those of India and China, and aviation infrastructure also needs improvement.[347] There is scarcely any inland water transportation system, and coastal shipping only meets minor local requirements.[348]

Boeing 737 owned and operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). PIA operates scheduled services to 70 domestic destinations and 34 international destinations in 27 countries.

Highways form 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. Road 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. The highway and motorway system depends mainly on north–south links, connecting the southern ports to the populous provinces of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Although this network only accounts for 4.2% of total road length, it carries 85% of the country's traffic.[349][350]

The Pakistan Railways, under the Ministry of Railways (MoR), operates the railroad system. From 1947 until the 1970s, the train system was the primary means of transport until the nationwide constructions of the national highways and the economic boom of the automotive industry. Since the 1990s, there was a marked shift in traffic from rail to highways; dependence grew on roads after the introduction of vehicles in the country. Now the railway's share of inland traffic is only 10% for passengers and 4% for freight traffic. Personal transportation dominated by the automobiles, the total rail track decreased from 8,775 km in 1990–91 to 7,791 km in 2011.[349][351] Pakistan expects to use the rail service to boost foreign trade with China, Iran and Turkey.[352][353]

Rough estimates accounts for 139 airports in Pakistan–both military and civilian airports which are mostly publicly owned. Though the Jinnah International Airport is the principal international gateway to Pakistan, the international airports in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Multan also handle significant amounts of traffic. The civil aviation industry is mixed with public and private sectors, which has been deregulated in 1993. While the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the major and dominated air carrier that carries about 73% of domestic passengers and all domestic freight, the private airlines such as airBlue, Shaheen Air International, and Air Indus, also provide the similar services with low cost expenses. Major seaports are in Karachi, Sindh (the Karachi port and Port Qasim).[349][351] Since the 1990s, some seaport operations have been moved to Balochistan with the construction of Gwadar Port and Gadani Port.[349][351] According to Mundi Index, quality ratings of Pakistan's seaports increased from 3.6 to 4 between 2006 and 2009.[354]

Science and technology

Abdus Salam won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contribution to electroweak interaction. He was the first Muslim to win a Nobel prize in science.
Atta-ur-Rahman won the UNESCO Science Prize for pioneering contributions in chemistry in 1999, the first Muslim to win it.
Salimuzzaman Siddiqui was a Pakistani organic chemist who pioneered research on pharmacology use of various domestic plants. He was a member of the Royal Society.
Mahbub ul Haq was a Pakistani game theorist who's work led to the Human Development Index. He had a profound effect on the field of international development.

Development on science and technology plays an influential role in Pakistan's infrastructure and helped the country to reach out to the world.[355] Every year, scientists from around the world are invited by the Pakistan Academy of Sciences and the Pakistan Government to participate in the International Nathiagali Summer College on Physics.[356] Pakistan hosted an international seminar on Physics in Developing Countries for International Year of Physics 2005.[357] Pakistani theoretical physicist Abdus Salam won a Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the electroweak interaction.[358] Influential publications and the critical scientific works in the advancement of mathematics, biology, economics, computer science, and genetics have been produced by the Pakistani scientists at the domestic and international standings.[359]

In chemistry, Salimuzzaman Siddiqui was the first Pakistani scientist to bring the therapeutic constituents of the neem tree to the attention of natural products chemists.[360][361][362] Pakistani neurosurgeon Ayub Ommaya invented the Ommaya reservoir, a system for treatment of brain tumours and other brain conditions.[363] Scientific research and development plays a pivotal role in Pakistani universities, collaboration with the government sponsored national laboratories, science parks, and co-operation with the industry.[364] Abdul Qadeer Khan regarded as the founder of HEU-based Gas-centrifuge uranium enrichment program for Pakistan's integrated atomic bomb project.[365] He founded and established the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) in 1976, being both its senior scientist and the Director-General until his retirement in 2001, and he was an early and vital figure in other science projects. Apart from participating in Pakistan's atomic bomb project, he made major contributions in molecular morphology, physical martensite, and its integrated applications in condensed and material physics.[366][367]

In 2010, Pakistan was ranked 43rd in the world in terms of published scientific papers.[368] The Pakistan Academy of Sciences, a strong scientific community, plays an influential and vital role in formulating the science policies recommendation to the government.[369]

The 1960s era saw the emergence of the active space program led by the SUPARCO that produced advances in domestic rocketry, electronics, and aeronomy.[370] The space program recorded a few notable feats and achievements. The successful launch of its first rocket into space made Pakistan the first South Asian country to have achieved such a task.[370] Successfully producing and launching the nation's first space satellite in 1990, Pakistan became the first Muslim country and second South Asian country to put a satellite into space.[371][372]

Pakistan witnessed a fourfold increase in its scientific productivity in the past decade surging from approximately 2,000 articles per year in 2006 to more than 9,000 articles in 2015. Making Pakistan's cited article's higher than than the BRIC countries put together.

Thomson Reuters's Another BRIC in the Wall 2016 report[373]

As an aftermath of the 1971 war with India, the clandestine crash program developed atomic weapons in a fear and to prevent any foreign intervention, while ushering in the atomic age in the post cold war era.[143] Competition with India and tensions eventually led Pakistan's decision of conducting underground nuclear tests in 1998; thus becoming the seventh country in the world to successfully develop nuclear weapons.[374]

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is the only Muslim country that maintains a research station in Antarctica and it has maintained a presence there since 1991.[375] After establishing an Antarctic program, Pakistan is one of the small number of countries that have an active research presence in Antarctica. The Antarctic program oversees two summer research stations on the continent and plans to open another base, which will operate all year round.[376] Energy consumption by computers and usage has grown since the 1990s when the PCs were introduced; Pakistan has over 20 million internet users and is ranked as one of the top countries that have registered a high growth rate in internet penetration, as of 2011.[377] Key publications has been produced by Pakistan, and domestic software development has gained a lot international praise.[378]

Overall, it has the 27th largest population of internet users in the world. Since the 2000s, Pakistan has made significant amount of progress in supercomputing, and various institutions offers research in parallel computing. Pakistan government reportedly spends ₨. 4.6 billion on information technology projects, with emphasis on e-government, human resource and infrastructure development.[379]

Prominent Pakistani Inventions Detail
Ommaya reservoir System for the delivery of drugs into the cerebrospinal fluid for treatment of patients with brain tumours.
(c)Brain One of the first computer viruses in history
Electroweak interaction Discovery led Muslim world's first Nobel Prize in Physics.
Plastic magnet World's first workable plastic magnet at room temperature.
Non-lethal fertilizer A formula to make fertilizers that cannot be converted into bomb-making materials.
Non-Kink Catheter Mount A crucial instrument used in anesthesiology.
Human Development Index Devised by Pakistan's former finance minister, Mahbub ul Haq.[380]
Standard Model Particle physics theory devised part by Pakistan scientist Abdus Salam


Government College University is one of the oldest universities in Pakistan as well as one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the Muslim world.

The constitution of Pakistan requires the state to provide free primary and secondary education.[381][382]

At the time of establishment of Pakistan as state, the country had only one university, the Punjab University in Lahore.[383] On immediate basis, the Pakistan government established public universities in each four provinices including the Sindh University (1949), Peshawar University (1950), Karachi University (1953), and Balochistan University (1970). Pakistan has a large network of both public and private universities; a collaboration of public-private universities to provide research and higher education in the country, although there is concern about the low quality of teaching in many of the newer schools.[384] It is estimated that there are 3193 technical and vocational institutions in Pakistan,[385] and there are also madrassahs that provide free Islamic education and offer free board and lodging to students, who come mainly from the poorer strata of society.[386] Strongly instigated public pressure and popular criticism over the extremists usage of madrassahs for recruitment, the Pakistan government has made repeated efforts to regulate and monitor the quality of education in the madrassahs.[387][388]

Education in Pakistan is divided into six main levels: nursery (preparatory classes); primary (grades one through five); middle (grades six through eight); matriculation (grades nine and ten, leading to the secondary certificate); intermediate (grades eleven and twelve, leading to a higher secondary certificate); and university programmes leading to graduate and postgraduate programs.[385] Network of Pakistani private schools also operate a parallel secondary education system based on the curriculum set and administered by the Cambridge International Examinations of the United Kingdom. Some students choose to take the O-level and A level exams conducted by the British Council.[389] According to the International Schools Consultancy, Pakistan has 439 international schools.[390]

Girls in a public school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Initiatives taken in 2007, the English medium education has been made compulsory to all schools across the country.[391][392] Additional reforms taken in 2013, all educational institutions in Sindh began instructions in Chinese language courses, reflecting China's growing role as a superpower and increasing influence in Pakistan.[393] The literacy rate of the population is ~58 %. Male literacy is ~70.2% while female literacy rate is 46.3%.[290] Literacy rates vary by region and particularly by sex; for instance, female literacy in tribal areas is 3.0%.[394] With the launch of the computer literacy in 1995, the government launched a nationwide initiative in 1998 with the aim of eradicating illiteracy and providing a basic education to all children.[395] Through various educational reforms, by 2015 the MoEd expects to attain 100.00% enrollment levels among children of primary school age and a literacy rate of ~86% among people aged over 10.[396] Pakistan is currently spending 2.2 percent of its GDP on education;[397] which according to Institute of Social and Policy Sciences is one of the lowest in South Asia.[398]

After earning their HSC, students may study in a professional college or the university for bachelorate program courses such as science and engineering (BEng, BS/BSc, BTech) surgery and medicine (MBBS, MD), dentistry (BDS), veterinary medicine (DVM), criminal justice and law (LLB, LLM, JD), architecture (BArch), pharmacy (Pharm D.) and nursing (BNurs). Students can also attend a university for a bachelorate degree for business administration, literature, and management including the BA, BCom, BBA, and MBA programs. The higher education mainly supervises by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) that sets out the policies and issues rankings of the nationwide universities. In October 2014, education activist Malala Yousafzai became by far the youngest ever person in the world to receive the Nobel peace prize.[399]

Water supply and sanitation

Despite high population growth the country has increased the share of the population with access to an improved water source from 85% in 1990 to 92% in 2010, although this does not necessarily mean that the water from these sources is safe to drink. The share with access to improved sanitation increased from 27% to 48% during the same period, according to the Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation.[400] There has also been considerable innovation at the grass-root level, in particular concerning sanitation. The Orangi Pilot Project in Karachi[401] and community-led total sanitation in rural areas are two examples of such innovation.

However, the sector still faces major challenges. The quality of the services is poor, as evidenced by intermittent water supply in urban areas and limited wastewater treatment. Poor drinking water quality and sanitation lead to major outbreaks of waterborne diseases.[402] major outbreaks of waterborne diseases swept the cities of Faisalabad, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar in 2006.[402] Estimates indicate that each year, more than three million Pakistanis become infected with waterborne diseases.[403] In addition, many service providers do not even cover the costs of and maintenance due to low tariffs and poor efficiency.[404] Consequently, the service providers strongly depend on government subsidies and external funding.[405] A National Sanitation Policy and a National Drinking Water Policy have been approved in 2006 and 2009 respectively with the objective to improve water and sanitation coverage and quality.[406][407] However, the level of annual investment (US$4/capita) still remains much below what would be necessary to achieve a significant increase in access and service quality.


Kalash people maintain a unique identity and religion within Pakistan.

As per United States Census Bureau estimates the country's population is at 199,085,847 (199.1 million) as of 2015,[408] which is equivalent to 2.57% of the world population.[409] Noted as the sixth most populated country in the world, its growth rate is reported at ~2.03%, which is the highest of the SAARC nations and gives an annual increase of 3.6 million. The population is projected to reach 210.13 million by 2020 and to double by 2045.

At the time of the partition in 1947, Pakistan had a population of 32.5 million,[296][410] but the population increased by ~57.2% between the years 1990 and 2009.[411] By 2030, it is expected to surpass Indonesia as the largest Muslim-majority country in the world.[412][413] Pakistan is classified as a "young nation" with a median age of about 22, and 104 million people under the age of 30 in 2010. Pakistan's fertility rate stands at 3.07, higher than its neighbor India (2.57). Around 35% of the people are under 15.[296] Vast majority residing in Southern Pakistan lives along the Indus River, with Karachi being its most populous commercial city.[414] In the eastern, western, and Northern Pakistan, most of the population lives in an arc formed by the cities of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum, Sheikhupura, Nowshera, Mardan and Peshawar.[130] During 1990–2008, the city dwellers made up 36% of Pakistan's population, making it the most urbanised nation in South Asia which further increased to 38% by 2013.[130][296][415] Furthermore, 50% of Pakistanis live in towns of 5,000 people or more.[416]

Expenditure spend on healthcare was ~2.8% of GDP in 2013. Life expectancy at birth was 67 years for females and 65 years for males in 2013.[415] The private sector accounts for about 80% of outpatient visits. Approximately 19% of the population and 30% of children under five are malnourished.[269] Mortality of the under-fives was 86 per 1,000 live births in 2012.[415]


First languages of Pakistan[417]
Punjabi (Saraiki)

Main article: Languages of Pakistan

More than sixty languages are spoken in Pakistan, including a number of provincial languages. Urdu— the lingua franca, a symbol of Muslim identity, and national unity— is the national language which is understood by over 75% of Pakistanis and the main source of nationwide communication but is only the primary language of 8% of Pakistan's population.[238][418][419] Urdu and English are the official languages of Pakistan, however English is primarily used in official business, government, and legal contracts;[130] the local dialect is known as Pakistani English. The Punjabi language is the most common in Pakistan and is mother-tongue of 66% of Pakistan's population mostly of people in Punjab.[420] This includes 48% of Standard Punjabi speakers[419] as well as regional Punjabi dialects such as Saraiki and Hindko. Saraiki dialect is mainly spoken in South Punjab and counts up to 10% of Pakistan's population, while the Hindko dialect is spoken in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the Pashto language is the provincial language and is well understood in Sindh and Balochistan.[10] The Sindhi language is the common language spoken in Sindh while the Balochi language is dominant in Balochistan.[10][71][421]


The Pakistan Census excludes the immigrants such as the 1.7 million registered Afghans from Afghanistan, who are found mainly in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and tribal belt with small numbers residing in Karachi and Quetta.[422][423] 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.[424][425] Pakistan hosts more refugees than any other country in the world.[426]

Social groups

The population is dominated by four main ethnic groups: Punjabis, Pashtuns (Pathans), Sindhis, and Balochs.[427] Rough accounts from 2009 indicate that the Punjabis dominate with 78.7 million (~45%) while the Pashtuns are the second dominating group with ~29.3 million (15.42%).[427] The Sindhis are estimated at 24.8 million (14.1%) with Seraikis a sub-group of Punjabis is approximated at 14.8 million (8.4%).[427] The Urdu-speaking Muhajirs (the Indian emigrants) stands at ~13.3 million (7.57%) while Balochs are accounted at 6.3 million (3.57%)– the smallest group in population terms.[427][428] The remaining 11.1 million (4.66%) belong to various ethnic minorities such as Hazaras and Kalashs.[427] There is also a large Pakistani diaspora, numbering over seven million residing worldwide.[428]



Main article: Religion in Pakistan

Religions in Pakistan[430][431][432][433]
Religions Percent

Faisal Mosque, built in 1986 by Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay on behalf of King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan is the second most populous Muslim-majority country[434] and has the third largest Shia population in the world after Iran and India with a Shia population of about 42.5 million.[435][436][437][438] About 97.0% of Pakistanis are Muslims. The majority are Sunni, with an estimated 10–25% Shia.[71][435][437][439] The Ahmadis, are another minority sect in Pakistan, albeit in much smaller numbers and are officially considered non-Muslims by virtue of the constitutional amendment.[440] There are also several Quraniyoon communities.[441][442] After the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the sectarian violence among Muslim denominations has increased with systematic targeted killings of both sects, Sunnis and Shias.[443][444] In 2013, there were country-wide protests by both Shias and Sunnis calling an end to sectarian violence in the country, toughen up the law and order, and urging for Shia-Sunni unity in the country.[445] The Ahmadis are particularly persecuted, especially since 1974 when they were banned from calling themselves Muslims. In 1984, Ahmadiyya places of worship were banned from being called "mosques".[446] As of 2012, 12% of Pakistani Muslims self-identify as non-denominational Muslims.[447]

Islam to some extent syncretized with pre-Islamic influences, resulting in a religion with some traditions distinct from those of the Arab world.[448] Two Sufis whose shrines receive much national attention are Ali Hajweri in Lahore (c. 12th century)[449] and Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan, Sindh (c. 12th century).[450] Sufism, a mystical Islamic tradition, has a long history and a large popular following in Pakistan. Popular Sufi culture is centered on Thursday night gatherings at shrines and annual festivals which feature Sufi music and dance. Contemporary Islamic fundamentalists criticize its popular character, which in their view, does not accurately reflect the teachings and practice of the Prophet and his companions.[451][452]

After Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are the largest religions in Pakistan, with 2,800,000 (1.6%) adherents each in 2005.[71] In 1998 following a census, they were followed by the Bahá'í Faith, which had a following of 30,000, then Sikhism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism, each back then claiming 20,000 adherents,[453] and a very small community of Jains. There is a Roman Catholic community in Karachi which was established by Goan and Tamil migrants when Karachi's infrastructure was being developed by the British during colonial administration between World War I and World War II. Influence of atheism is very little with 1.0% of the population aligned as atheist in 2005.[454] However, the figure rose to 2.0% in 2012 according to Gallup.[454]

Culture and society

Truck art in Pakistan is a unique feature of Pakistani culture.

Civil society in Pakistan is largely hierarchical, emphasising local cultural etiquettes and traditional Islamic values that govern personal and political life. The basic family unit is the extended family,[455] although there has been a growing trend towards nuclear families for socio-economic reasons.[456] The traditional dress for both men and women is the Shalwar Kameez; trousers, Jeans, and shirts are also popular among men.[50] The middle class has increased to around 35 million and the upper and upper-middle classes to around 17 million in recent decades, and power is shifting from rural landowners to the urbanised elites.[457] Pakistani festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Ramazan, Christmas, Easter, Holi, and Diwali are mostly religious in origin.[455] Increasing globalisation has resulted in Pakistan ranking 56th on the A.T. Kearney/FP Globalization Index.[458]

Clothing, arts, and fashion

The Shalwar Kameez is the national dress of Pakistan and is worn by both men and women in all four provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well as in FATA and Azad Kashmir. Each province has its own style of wearing the Shalwar Kameez. Pakistanis wear clothes range from exquisite colors and designs to the type of fabric (silk, chiffon, cotton, etc).[459] Besides the national dress, the domestically tailored suits and neckties are often and usually worn by men in the country, and it is customary in offices, schools, and other necessary places and popular gatherings.[459]

The fashion industry has flourished well in the changing environment of the fashion world. Since Pakistan came into being, its fashion has historically evolved from different phases and made its unique identity apart from Indian fashion and culture. At this time, Pakistani fashion is a combination of traditional and modern dresses and it has become the cultural identification of Pakistan. Despite all modern trends, the regional and traditional dresses have developed their own significance as a symbol of native tradition. This regional fashion is not static but evolving into more modern and pure forms. The Pakistan Fashion Design Council based in Lahore organizes Fashion Week and Fashion Pakistan based in Karachi organizes fashion shows in that city. Pakistan's first fashion week was held in November 2009.[460]

Role of women in Pakistani society