Pakistan

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Posted by motoman 02/27/2009 @ 11:00

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Long war against Pakistan Taleban - BBC News
By Syed Shoaib Hasan Pakistan's security forces appear to have achieved their main objective in Swat with the capture of its administrative seat of Mingora. That region and the rest of the Malakand division now seem to be under the control of the...
Pakistan court releases Hafiz Saeed - United Press International
(UPI Photo/Mohammad Kheirkhah) | Enlarge LAHORE, Pakistan, June 2 (UPI) -- The release of the leader of a group tied to the Mumbai attacks Tuesday drew outrage from India, which said it doubts Pakistan's sincerity in fighting terror....
Top US Envoy Visits Pakistan to Show Support for Swat Valley ... - Voice of America
By Catherine Maddux Senior US envoy Richard Holbrooke is in Pakistan to assess relief operations for more than two million people displaced by the Pakistani army's offensive against the Taliban in the northwest. The visit is also designed to show...
Pakistan vows to curb Jundullah terror group - PRESS TV
Pakistan vows to wipe out a shadowy rebel group which has used the country's territories as a pad to launch attacks inside the Iranian border areas. Pakistan's Dawn News revealed on Tuesday that Islamabad's interior ministry presented all its...
Georgia Tech student's terror trial begins - United Press International
ATLANTA, June 2 (UPI) -- A Georgia Tech student on trial on terror conspiracy charges led a group of young men planning to go to a camp in Pakistan, an FBI agent testified Tuesday. Syed Haris Ahmed, 24, faces as much as 15 years in federal prison if he...
Time for Peace in Kashmir - Washington Post
Some would argue that the landslide election results mean India doesn't need to make peace with Pakistan over Kashmir. I argue the opposite. India's political maturity and growing economic power give it maneuvering room not available to Pakistan,...
Pakistan's 2009/10 budget - what to watch for - Forbes
KARACHI, June 3 (Reuters) - Pakistan will announce its budget for the 2009/10 (July-June) fiscal year on June 13. Following are details of the budget that have been announced and media reports on its likely contents. -- The International Monetary Fund...
Deadly bomb blast in northwestern Pakistan - The Associated Press
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — One person is dead and at least eight others are hurt after a bomb exploded at a bus terminal in northwestern Pakistan. The blast in Kohat is the latest in a string of deadly attacks since the military launched an offensive...
India says keen to normalise relations with Pakistan - Reuters India
By Bappa Majumdar NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Wednesday it was looking to normalise relations with Islamabad through diplomatic channels and was closely monitoring developments in Pakistan, a day after angrily reacting to the release of a...
Pakistan to attack the fountainhead of extremism: Rugged Waziristan - MiamiHerald.com
By SAEED SHAH ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Waziristan, the remote area that's the epicenter of Taliban and al-Qaida militants in Pakistan, is set to become the next war zone in the nation's fight against Islamic extremists, where clashes between insurgents...

Pakistan

Flag of Pakistan

Pakistan (Urdu: پاکستان Pākistān listen (help·info)), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country located in South Asia and borders Central Asia and the Middle East. It has a 1,046 kilometre (650 mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south, and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. Tajikistan also lies adjacent to Pakistan but is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. In recent times, Pakistan has been called part of the Greater Middle East.

The region forming modern Pakistan was home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and then, successively, recipient of ancient Vedic, Persian, Indo-Greek and Islamic cultures. The area has witnessed invasions and/or settlement by the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Mongols and the British. It was a part of British India during the British Raj from 1858 to 1947, when the Pakistan Movement for a state for Muslims, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League resulted in the independence and creation of the state of Pakistan, that comprised the provinces of Sindh, North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab, Balochistan and East Bengal. With the adoption of its constitution in 1956, Pakistan became an Islamic republic. In 1971, a civil war in East Pakistan resulted in the independence of Bangladesh. Pakistan's history has been characterized by periods of economic growth, military rule and political instability.

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world and has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. The country is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies. Pakistan is a founding member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Developing 8 Countries, G20 developing nations and the Economic Cooperation Organisation. It is also a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, World Trade Organisation, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, G33 developing countries, Group of 77 developing nations, major non-NATO ally of the United States and is a nuclear state.

From the earliest period of pre-history and recorded history of the region, modern Pakistan formed the heart-land of a larger territory, extending beyond its present eastern and western borders and receiving momentous and mighty impacts from both the directions.

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

Waves of conquerors and migrants from the west—including Harappan, Indo-Aryan, Persian, Greek, Saka, Parthian, Kushan, Hephthalite, Afghan, Arab, Turkics and Mughal—settled in the region through out the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them. Great ancient empires of the east—such as the Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas, Guptas, and the Palas—ruled these territories at different times from Patliputra. Also Emperor Harsha of Thanesar ruled present-day Pakistan for over half a century. However, in the medieval period, while the eastern provinces of Punjab and Sindh grew aligned with Indo-Islamic civilisation, the western areas became culturally allied with the Iranian civilisation of Afghanistan and Iran. The region served as crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and as a maritime entreport for the coastal trade between Mesopotamia and beyond up to Rome in the west and Malabar and beyond up to China in the east.

The Indus Valley Civilisation collapsed in the middle of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Vedic Civilisation, which also extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains. Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BCE, Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great in 326 BCE and the Mauryan empire there after. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BCE, and reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture. The city of Taxila (Takshashila) became a major centre of learning in ancient times—the remains of the city, located to the west of Islamabad, are one of the country's major archaeological sites. The Rai Dynasty (c.489–632) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories.

In 712 CE, the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab. The Pakistan government's official chronology states that "its foundation was laid" as a result of this conquest. This Arab and Islamic victory would set the stage for several successive Muslim empires in South Asia, including the Ghaznavid Empire, the Ghorid Kingdom, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. During this period, Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam. The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early eighteenth century provided opportunities for the Afghans, Balochis and Sikhs to exercise control over large areas until the British East India Company gained ascendancy over South Asia.

The 1857 War of Independence, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, was the region's last major armed struggle against British Raj and it laid the foundations for the generally unarmed freedom struggle, led by the Hindu-majority Indian National Congress in the twentieth century. The All India Muslim League rose to popularity in the late 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. On 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal's presidential address called for an autonomous "state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims, within the body politic of India." Muhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution. In June 1947, the nationalist leaders of British India—including Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad on behalf of the Congress, Jinnah representing the Muslim League and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs—agreed to the proposed terms of transfer of power and independence. The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947 (27 Ramadan 1366 in the Islamic Calendar), carved out of the two Muslim-majority wings in the eastern and northwestern regions of British India and comprising the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh. The controversial division of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal caused communal riots across India and Pakistan—millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. Disputes arose over several princely states including Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, whose Hindu ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by Pashtun tribal militias, leading to the First Kashmir War in 1948.

From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion in the Commonwealth of Nations. It became a Republic in 1956, but the civilian rule was stalled by a coup d’état by General Ayub Khan, who was president during 1958–69, a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, Yahya Khan (1969–71) had to deal with a devastating cyclone—which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan—and also face a civil war in 1971. Economic grievances and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political tension and military repression that escalated into a civil war. After 9 months of guerrilla warfare between Pakistan Army and the Bengali Mukti Bahini militia backed by India, later Indian intervention escalated into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and ultimately to the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh. Estimates of the number of people killed during this episode vary greatly, from ~30,000 to over 2 million, depending on the source.

Civilian rule resumed in Pakistan from 1972 to 1977 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed and later sentenced to death (in what his followers claimed was a judicial murder) in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country's third military president. Zia introduced the Islamic Sharia legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of President Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she fought for power with Nawaz Sharif as the country's political and economic situation worsened. Pakistan got involved in the 1991 Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia. Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India was followed by a Pakistani military coup d'état in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed executive powers. In 2001, Musharraf became President after the controversial resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to newly-elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 prime-ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz. On 15 November 2007 the National Assembly completed its tenure and new elections were called. The exiled political leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were permitted to return to Pakistan. However, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December during election campaign led to postponement of elections and nationwide riots. Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won most number of seats in the elections held in February, 2008 and its member Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister. On 18 August, 2008 Pervez Musharaff resigned from the presidency when faced with impeachment.

The government of Pakistan was based on the Government of India Act (1935) for the first nine years after independence. The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956, but was suspended in 1958 by General Ayub Khan. The Constitution of 1973—suspended in 1977, by Zia-ul-Haq, but re-instated in 1991—is the country's most important document, laying the foundations of government. Pakistan is a semi-presidential federal democratic republic with Islam as the state religion. The bicameral legislature comprises a 100-member Senate and a 342-member National Assembly. The President is the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and is elected by an electoral college. The prime minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly. Each province has a similar system of government with a directly elected Provincial Assembly in which the leader of the largest party or alliance becomes Chief Minister. Provincial Governors are appointed by the President.

The Pakistani military has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's history, with military presidents ruling from 1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999–2008. The leftist Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, emerged as a major political player during the 1970s. Under the military rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan began a marked shift from the British-era secular politics and policies, to the adoption of Shariat and other laws based on Islam. During the 1980s, the anti-feudal, pro-Muhajir Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was started by unorthodox and educated urban dwellers of Sindh and particularly Karachi. The 1990s were characterized by coalition politics dominated by the Pakistan Peoples Party and a rejuvenated Muslim League.

In the October 2002 general elections, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) (PML-Q) won a plurality of National Assembly seats with the second-largest group being the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), a sub-party of the PPP. Zafarullah Khan Jamali of PML-Q emerged as Prime Minister but resigned on 26 June 2004 and was replaced by PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as interim Prime Minister. On 28 August 2004 the National Assembly voted 191 to 151 to elect the Finance Minister and former Citibank Vice President Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of Islamic religious parties, won elections in North-West Frontier Province, and increased their representation in the National Assembly - until their defeat in the 2008 elections.

Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the latter of which Pakistan has used as a forum for Enlightened Moderation, a plan to promote a renaissance and enlightenment in the Muslim world. Pakistan is also a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). In the past, Pakistan has had mixed relations with the United States; in the early 1950s, Pakistan was the United States' "most allied ally in Asia" and a member of both the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO). During the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s Pakistan was a major U.S. ally. But relations soured in the 1990s, when sanctions were applied by the U.S. over suspicions of Pakistan's nuclear activities. However, the 11 September 2001 attacks and the subsequent War on Terrorism led to an improvement in U.S.–Pakistan ties, especially after Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul. This was evidenced by a major increase in American military aid, providing Pakistan $4 billion more in three years after the 9/11 attacks than before.

On 18 February 2008, Pakistan held its general elections after Benazir Bhutto's assassination postponed the original date of 8 January 2008. The Pakistan Peoples Party won the majority of the votes and formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (N). They nominated and elected Yousaf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister of Pakistan. On 18 August 2008, Pervez Musharraf resigned as President of Pakistan amidst increasing calls for his impeachment. In the presidential election that followed, Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan People's Party won by a landslide majority and became President of Pakistan.

Pakistan is a federation of four provinces, a capital territory and federally administered tribal areas. The government of Pakistan exercises de facto jurisdiction over the western parts of the disputed Kashmir region, organised as two separate political entities (Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas). Pakistan also claims the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The third tier of government was composed of 26 divisions with two further tiers (districts and tehsils) administered directly from the provincial level. The divisions were abolished in 2001 and a new three-tiered system of local government came into effect comprising districts, tehsils and union councils with an elected body at each tier. There are currently 107 districts in Pakistan proper, each with several tehsils and union councils. The tribal areas comprise seven tribal agencies and six small frontier regions detached from neighbouring districts whilst Azad Kashmir comprises seven districts and Northern Areas comprises six districts.

Pakistan had an estimated population of 172,800,000 as of July 2008, making it the world's sixth most-populous country, behind Brazil and ahead of Russia. By the year 2020, the country's population is expected to reach 208 million, owing to a relatively high growth rate. Population projections for Pakistan are relatively difficult, however, because of the apparent differences in the accuracy of each census and the inconsistencies between various surveys related to the fertility rate, but it is likely that the rate of growth peaked in the 1980s and has since declined significantly. The population was estimated at 162,400,000 on 1 July 2005, with a fertility rate of 34 per thousand, a death rate of 10 per thousand, and the rate of natural increase at 2.4%. Pakistan also has a high infant mortality rate of 70 per thousand births.

English is the official language of Pakistan and used in official business, government, and legal contacts. The constitution of Pakistan is written in English. Urdu is the national language, usually spoken to communicate with different ethnic groups. Punjabi is the most commonly spoken ethnic language.. Other major languages spoken in Pakistan include (in order of number of speakers): Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki and Balochi; English is mostly spoken by educated people.

Following are the major languages spoken in Pakistan. The percentage of Pakistanis who are native speakers of that language is also given.

Other languages include Brahui, Potwari, Kashmiri, Persian, Dari, Hindko, Gujrati, Memoni, Makrani, Marwari, Bengali, Gojri, and Dogri.

About 97% of the Pakistanis are Muslim. The Muslims belong to different schools which are called Madhahib (singular: Madhhab) i.e. schools of jurisprudence (also 'Maktab-e-Fikr' (School of Thought) in Urdu). Almost 80% of Pakistani Muslims are Sunni Muslims and there is sizeable minority 20% Shi'a Muslims. Nearly all Pakistani Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi school with a small Hanbali school represented by Wahabis and Ahle Hadith. The Hanafi school includes the Barelvis and Deobandis schools. Although the majority of Pakistani Shi'a Muslims are Twelver, there is a significant Ismaili minority, composed of both Nizari and Mustaali.

The armed forces of Pakistan are an all-volunteer force and are the seventh-largest in the world. The three main services are the Army, Navy and the Air Force, supported by a number of paramilitary forces which carry out internal security roles and border patrols. The National Command Authority is responsible for exercising employment and development control of all strategic nuclear forces and organisations.

The Pakistan military first saw combat in the First Kashmir War, gaining control of what is now Pakistan-administered Kashmir. In 1961, the army repelled a major Afghan incursion on Pakistan's western border. Pakistan and India would be at war again in 1965 and in 1971. In 1973, the military quelled a Baloch nationalist uprising. During the Soviet-Afghan war, Pakistan shot down several intruding pro-Soviet Afghan aircraft and provided covert support to the Afghan mujahideen through the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. In 1999, Pakistan was involved in the Kargil conflict with India. Currently, the military is engaged in an armed conflict with extremist Islamic militants in the north-west of the country.

The Pakistani armed forces are the largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, with more than 10,000 personnel deployed in 2007. In the past, Pakistani personnel have volunteered to serve alongside Arab forces in conflicts with Israel. Pakistan provided a military contingent to the U.N.-backed coalition in the first Gulf War.

Pakistan covers 340,403 square miles (881,640 km2), approximately equalling the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. Its eastern regions are located on the Indian tectonic plate and the western and northern regions on the Iranian plateau and Eurasian landplate. Apart from the 1,046 kilometre (650 mi) Arabian Sea coastline, Pakistan's land borders total 6,774 kilometres—2,430 kilometres (1,509 mi) with Afghanistan to the northwest, 523 kilometres (325 mi) with China to the northeast, 2,912 kilometres (1,809 mi) with India to the east and 909 kilometres (565 mi) with Iran to the southwest.

The different types of natural features range from the sandy beaches, lagoons, and mangrove swamps of the southern coast to preserved beautiful moist temperate forests and the icy peaks of the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains in the north. There are an estimated 108 peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft) high that are covered in snow and glaciers. Five of the mountains in Pakistan (including Nanga Parbat) are over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft). Indian-controlled Kashmir to the Northern Areas of Pakistan and running the length of the country is the Indus River with its many tributaries. The northern parts of Pakistan attract a large number of foreign tourists. To the west of the Indus are the dry, hilly deserts of Balochistan; to the east are the rolling sand dunes of the Thar Desert. The Tharparkar desert in the southern province of Sindh, is the only fertile desert in the world. Most areas of Punjab and parts of Sindh are fertile plains where agriculture is of great importance.

The climate varies as much as the scenery, with cold winters and hot summers in the north and a mild climate in the south, moderated by the influence of the ocean. The central parts have extremely hot summers with temperatures rising to 45 °C (113 °F), followed by very cold winters, often falling below freezing. Officially the highest temperature recorded in Pakistan is 50.55 °C (122.99 °F) at Pad Idan. Rainfall ranges from 250 millimetres to more than 1700 millimetres (9.8–49.2 in), mostly brought by the unreliable south-westerly monsoon winds during the late summer. Wettest areas include Muree, Galyat, Dir and Hazara where it rains nearly 1400 mm to 1700 mm mostly during monsoon and western depression rains. However nearly 65% of the country receives less than 500 mm of rainfall. The construction of dams on the rivers and the drilling of water wells in many drier areas have eased water shortages.

The national animal of Pakistan is Markhor and the national bird is Chukar, also known as Chakhoor in Urdu. The wide variety of landscapes and climates in Pakistan allows for a wide variety of wild animals and birds. The forests range from coniferous alpine and subalpine trees such as spruce, pine, and deodar cedar in the northern mountains to deciduous trees such as the mulberry-type Shisham in the Sulaiman range in the south. The western hills have juniper and tamarisk as well as coarse grasses and scrub plants. Along the coast are mangrove forests which form much of the coastal wetlands.

In the south, there are crocodiles in the murky waters at the mouth of the Indus River whilst on the banks of the river, there are boars, deer, porcupines, and small rodents. In the sandy scrublands of central Pakistan are found jackals, hyenas, wild cats, panthers, and leopards while the clear blue skies abound with hawks, falcons, and eagles. In the southwestern deserts are rare Asiatic cheetahs. In the northern mountains are a variety of endangered animals including Marco Polo sheep, Urial sheep, Markhor and Ibex goats, black and brown Himalayan bears, and the rare Snow Leopard. During August 2006, Pakistan donated an orphaned snow leopard cub called Leo to USA. Another rare species is the blind Indus River Dolphin of which there are believed to be about 1,000 remaining, protected in two major sanctuaries. In recent years the number of wild animals being killed for fur and leather trading led to a new law banning the hunting of wild animals and birds and the establishment of several wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves.

Pakistan is a rapidly developing country and a major emerging market, with an economic growth rate of 7 percent per annum for four consecutive years up to 2007. Despite being a very poor country in 1947, Pakistan's economic growth rate was better than the global average during the subsequent four decades, but imprudent policies led to a slowdown in the late 1990s. Recently, wide-ranging economic reforms have resulted in a stronger economic outlook and accelerated growth especially in the manufacturing and financial services sectors. There has been great improvement in the foreign exchange position and rapid growth in hard currency reserves in recent years. The 2005 estimate of foreign debt was close to US$40 billion. However, this has decreased in recent years with assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and significant debt-relief from the United States. Pakistan's gross domestic product, as measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), is estimated to be US$475.4 billion while its per capita income (PCI) stands at $2,942. The poverty rate in Pakistan is estimated to be between 23% and 28%. Pakistan's GDP growth rates have seen a steady increase over the last 5 years. However, inflationary pressures and a low savings rate, among other economic factors, could make it difficult to sustain a high growth rate.

The structure of the Pakistani economy has changed from a mainly agricultural base to a strong service base. Agriculture now only accounts for roughly 20% of the GDP, while the service sector accounts for 53% of the GDP with wholesale and retail trade forming 30% of this sector. In the past few years, the Karachi Stock Exchange has increased in value along with most of the world's emerging markets. Significant foreign investments have been made in several areas including telecommunications, real estate and energy. Other major industries include software, automotives, textiles, cement, fertilizer, steel, ship building, aerospace and arms manufacturing.

In November, 2006, China and Pakistan signed a free trade agreement to achieve the tripling of bilateral trade from $4.2 billion (USD) to $15 billion (USD) within the next five years. Pakistan's exports in 2007 amounted to $20.58 billion (USD). The Economic crisis of 2008 led Pakistan to seek more than $100 billion in aid in order to stave off possible bankruptcy, which could result in a severe blow on the global fight against terrorism.

In Pakistan's economy, tourism has the potential to play a vital role, due to the majestic landscape of Pakistan and the variation of cultures within the nation. However, due to a lack of proper infrastructure in certain areas, and a worsening security situation in others, Pakistan still faces major setbacks. Otherwise, according to some international companies, Pakistan's tourism industry has the potential to reach some $10 billion annually.

Education in Pakistan is divided into five levels: primary (grades one through five); middle (grades six through eight); high (grades nine and ten, leading to the Secondary School Certificate); intermediate (grades eleven and twelve, leading to a Higher Secondary School Certificate); and university programmes leading to graduate and advanced degrees.

Pakistan also has a parallel secondary school education system in private schools, which is based upon the curriculum set by the University of Cambridge. Some students choose to take the O level and A level exams, which are administered by the British Council, in place of government exams.

There are currently 730 technical & vocational institutions in Pakistan. The minimum qualifications to enter male vocational institutions, is the completion of grade 8. The programmes are generally two to three years in length. The minimum qualifications to enter female vocational institutions, is the completion of grade 5.

All academic education institutions are the responsibility of the provincial governments. The federal government mostly assists in curriculum development, accreditation and some financing of research.

English medium education is to be extended, on a phased basis, to all schools across the country. Through various educational reforms, by the year 2015, the ministry of education expects to attain 100% enrolment levels amongst primary school aged children, and a literacy rate of 86% amongst people aged over 10.

Pakistan also has madrassahs that provide free education and also offer free boarding and lodging to students who come mainly from the poorer strata of society and not necessarily. After recent criticism, efforts have been made to regulate them by including modern disciplines such as English, science, mathematics, economics, and computer science.

Pakistan has a rich and unique culture that has preserved established traditions throughout history. Many cultural practices, foods, monuments, and shrines were inherited from the rule of Muslim Mughal and Afghan emperors. The national dress of shalwar qamiz is originally of Central Asian origin derived from Turko-Iranian nomadic invaders and is today worn in all parts of Pakistan. Women wear brightly coloured shalwar qamiz, while men often wear solid-coloured ones. In cities western dress is also popular among the youth and the business sector.

Pakistani society is largely multilingual and 96% Muslim, with high regard for traditional family values, although urban families have grown into a nuclear family system due to the socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system. Recent decades have seen the emergence of a middle class in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, and Peshawar that wish to move in a more liberal direction, as opposed to the northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan that remain highly conservative and dominated by centuries-old regional tribal customs. Increasing globalization has increased the influence of "Western culture" with Pakistan ranking 46th on the A.T. Kearney/FP Globalization Index. There are an approximated four million people of Pakistani descent living abroad, with close to a half-million expatriates living in the United States, around a million living in Saudi Arabia and nearly one million in the United Kingdom, all providing burgeoning cultural connections.

The variety of Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and western music, such as the synchronisation of Qawwali and western music by the world renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In addition Pakistan is home to many famous folk singers such as the late Alam Lohar, who is also well known in Indian Punjab. The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has rekindled Pashto and Persian music and established Peshawar as a hub for Afghan musicians and a distribution centre for Afghan music abroad. State-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation were the dominant media outlets, but there are now numerous private television channels. Various American, European, and Asian television channels and films are available to the majority of the Pakistani population via private Television Networks, cable, and satellite television. There are also small indigenous film industries based in Lahore and Peshawar (often referred to as Lollywood). Although Bollywood films have been banned from being played in public cinemas since 1965, Indian film stars are still generally popular in Pakistan due to the fact that Pakistanis are easily able to buy Bollywood films from local shops for private home viewing. But recently Pakistan allowed selected Bollywood films to be shown in Pakistani cinemas.

The architecture of the areas now constituting Pakistan can be designated to four distinct periods — pre-Islamic, Islamic, colonial and post-colonial. With the beginning of the Indus civilization around the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C., an advanced urban culture developed for the first time in the region, with large structural facilities, some of which survive to this day. Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kot Diji belong to the pre-Islamic era settlements. The rise of Buddhism and the Persian and Greek influence led to the development of the Greco-Buddhist style, starting from the 1st century CE. The high point of this era was reached with the culmination of the Gandhara style. An example of Buddhist architecture is the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in the northwest province. The arrival of Islam in today's Pakistan meant a sudden end of Buddhist architecture. However, a smooth transition to predominantly pictureless Islamic architecture occurred. The most important of the few completely discovered buildings of Persian style is the tomb of the Shah Rukn-i-Alam in Multan. During the Mughal era design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were fused with and often produced playful forms of the Hindustani art. Lahore, occasional residence of Mughal rulers, exhibits a multiplicity of important buildings from the empire, among them the Badshahi mosque, the fortress of Lahore with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the colourful, still strongly Persian seeming Wazir Khan Mosque as well as numerous other mosques and mausoleums. Also the Shahjahan Mosque of Thatta in Sindh originates from the epoch of the Mughals. In the British colonial period, predominantly functional buildings of the Indo-European representative style developed from a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic components. Post-colonial national identity is expressed in modern structures like the Faisal Mosque, the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Mazar-e-Quaid.

The literature of Pakistan covers the literatures of languages spread throughout the country, namely Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Baluchi as well as English in recent times and in the past often Persian as well. Prior to the 19th century, the literature mainly consisted of lyric poetry and religious, mystical and popular materials. During the colonial age the native literary figures, under the influence of the western literature of realism, took up increasingly different topics and telling forms. Today, short stories enjoy a special popularity. The national poet of Pakistan, Muhammad Iqbal, suggested the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. His book The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam is a major work of modern Islamic philosophy. The most well-known representative of the contemporary Urdu literature of Pakistan is Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Sufi Shah Abdul Latif is considered one of the most outstanding mystical poets. Mirza Kalich Beg has been termed the father of modern Sindhi prose. In Punjabi, naats and qawaalis are delivered. The Pushto literature tradition is a cultural link between Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan. Extensive lyric poetry and epic poems have been published in Pushto. In Baluchi language songs and ballads are popular.

The official and national sport of Pakistan is field hockey, although cricket is more popular. The national cricket team has won the Cricket World Cup once (in 1992), were runners-up once (in 1999), and co-hosted the games twice with India (in 1987 and 1996). Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural 2007 ICC World Twenty20 held in South Africa, beaten by India. Pakistan was chosen to host the 2008 ICC Champions Trophy cricket tournament and co-host the 2011 Cricket World Cup, with India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Other popular sports in Pakistan include football, and squash. Squash is another sport that Pakistanis have excelled in, with successful world-class squash players such as Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan winning the World Open several times during their careers.

At an international level, Pakistan has competed many times at the Summer Olympics in field hockey, boxing, athletics, swimming, and shooting. Pakistan's medal tally remains at 10 medals (3 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze) while at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games it stands at 61 medals and 182 medals respectively. Hockey is the sport in which Pakistan has been most successful at the Olympics, with three gold medals in (1960, 1968, and 1984). Pakistan has also won the Hockey World Cup a record four times (1971, 1978, 1982, 1994). Pakistan has also hosted several international competitions, including the SAF Games in 1989 and 2004.

The Motorsport Association of Pakistan is a member of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. The Freedom Rally is a yearly off-road race which takes place during the Independence celebrations.

Tourism is a growing industry in Pakistan, based on its diverse cultures, peoples and landscapes. The variety of attractions range from the ruins of ancient civilisations such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill stations, which attract those interested in field and winter sports. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7,000 metres (22,970 ft), which attracts adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially K2. The people of northern areas depend on tourism also. From April to September tourist of domestic and international type visited these areas which became the earn of living for local people. The northern parts of Pakistan have many old fortresses, towers and other architecture as well as the Hunza and Chitral valleys, the latter being home to the Kalash, a small pre-Islamic Animist community, who claim descent from the army of Alexander the Great. In the Punjab is the site of Alexander's battle on the Jhelum River and the historic city Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital with many examples of Mughal architecture such as the Badshahi Masjid, Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Jahangir and the Lahore Fort. To promote Pakistan's unique and various cultural heritage, the prime minister launched "Visit Pakistan 2007".

In Pakistan's economy tourism can pay a vital role due to its majestic landscape and diversity of cultures within Pakistan, but due to lack of proper infrastructure in certain areas and worsening security situation are the major reason it still faces a set back. Other wise according to some international companies if Pakistan gets better tourist infrastructure it is estimated to be a over a $10 billion industry.

For dependent and other territories, see Dependent territory.

1 Partly or significantly in Europe.  2 The Republic of China (Taiwan) is not officially recognized by the United Nations; see Political status of Taiwan. 3 Partly or significantly in Africa.  4 Partly or wholly reckoned in Oceania.

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Foreign relations of Pakistan

President of the United States George W. Bush with President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf at the Aiwan-e-Sadar, Islamabad during March 2006

Pakistan is the second largest Muslim country in terms of population (behind Indonesia), and its status as a declared nuclear power, being the only Islamic nation to have that status, plays a part in its international role. Pakistan is also an important member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations. Historically, its foreign policy has encompassed difficult relations with the Republic of India; especially on the core-issue of Kashmir,over which it has fought two wars. It has also had difficult relations with Afghanistan and Iran, however it has had long-standing close relations with China, extensive security and economic interests in the Persian Gulf and wide-ranging bilateral relations with the United States and other Western countries.

Wary of Soviet expansion, Pakistan had strong relations with both the United States of America and the People's Republic of China during much of the Cold War.

It was a member of the CENTO and SEATO military alliances. Its alliance with the United States was especially close after the Soviets invaded the neighboring country of Afghanistan. In 1964, Pakistan signed the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) Pact with Turkey and Iran, when all three countries were closely allied with the U.S., and as neighbors of the Soviet Union, wary of perceived Soviet expansionism. To this day, Pakistan has a close relationship with Turkey. RCD became defunct after the Iranian Revolution, and a Pakistani-Turkish initiative led to the founding of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in 1985. For several years prior to the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, Pakistan's relations with India had been gradually improving, which opened up Pakistan's foreign policy to issues beyond security.

Pakistan recognized independence of Azerbaijan 1991 (the second country after Turkey) and the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992. Pakistan was one of the first countries to open its Embassy in Baku.

Islamabad and Manama enjoy close co-operations between the two in many fields of brotherhood. Joint initiatives between Bahraini and Pakistani governments have started to further bilateral trades that reached to $250 million in 2007.

In 1950, Pakistan was among the first countries to break relations with the Republic of China or Taiwan and recognize the People's Republic of China. Following the Sino-Indian hostilities of 1962, Pakistan's relations with the PRC became stronger; since then, the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in a variety of agreements. China has provided economic military and technical assistance to Pakistan. The alliance remains strong.

Favorable relations with China have been a pillar of Pakistan's foreign policy. China strongly supported Pakistan's opposition to Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and was perceived by Pakistan as a regional counterweight to India and the USSR. The PRC and Pakistan also share a close military relation, with China supplying a range of modern armaments to the Pakistani defence forces. Lately, military cooperation has deepened with joint projects producing armaments ranging from fighter jets to guided missile frigates. Chinese cooperation with Pakistan has reached high economic points with substantial investment from China in Pakistani infrastructural expansion.

However in recent years, the improved relations and co-operation between the Indian government and China has, to a small degree, intimidated the Sino-Pakistani relationship.

Since independence, relations between Pakistan and India have been characterized by rivalry and suspicion. Although many issues divide the two countries, the most sensitive one since independence has been the status of Kashmir. At the time of independence and the departure of the British from South Asia, the princely state of Kashmir, though ruled by a Hindu Maharajah , had a majority Muslim population. At first the Maharajah hesitated in acceding to either Pakistan or India in 1947, but when Armed Tribesmen with the support of Pakistan began invading Kashmir, the Hindu Maharajah called Secular India to repel the invasion. As India had sent their Army, therefore, Pakistani tribesmen were later backed by the Pakistani regular Army. Following the invasion, the Maharajah offered his allegiance to secular India. Indian troops occupied the central & eastern portion of Kashmir, including its capital, Srinagar, while the west-north western parts were occupied by Pakistan. (See First Kashmir War) India addressed this dispute in the United Nations on January 1, 1948. One year later, the UN arranged a cease-fire along a line dividing Kashmir, but leaving the northern end of the line undemarcated and the valley of Kashmir (with the majority of the population) under Indian rule. India and Pakistan agreed with UN resolutions which called for a UN-supervised plebiscite to determine the state's future. But India and Pakistan have since refused to carry out the plebiscite and refused to remove their estimated 700,000 troops, one of the highest density of troops to civilian population in the world, from the region due to some issues. Full-scale hostilities erupted in September 1965. (See 1965 War) Hostilities ceased three weeks later, following mediation efforts by the UN and interested countries. In January 1966, Indian and Pakistani representatives met in Tashkent, U.S.S.R., and agreed to attempt a peaceful settlement of Kashmir and their other differences. (See Indo-Pakistani War of 1965) Following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 when India intervened on Humanitarian grounds to liberate East Pakistan, Bangladesh was created. Pakistan President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi met in the mountain town of Shimla, India, in July 1972 for the Shimla Accords. They agreed to a line of control in Kashmir resulting from the December 17, 1971 cease-fire, and endorsed the principle of settlement of bilateral disputes through peaceful means. In 1974, Pakistan and India agreed to resume postal and telecommunications linkages, and to enact measures to facilitate travel. Trade and diplomatic relations were restored in 1976 after a hiatus of five years. India's nuclear test in 1974 generated great uncertainty in Pakistan and is generally acknowledged to have been the impetus for Pakistan's nuclear weapons development program. In 1983, the Pakistani and Indian governments accused each other of aiding separatists in their respective countries, i.e., Sikhs in India's Punjab state and Sindhis in Pakistan's Sindh province. Tensions diminished after Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in November 1984 and after a group of Sikh hijackers were brought to trial by Pakistan in March 1985. In December 1985, President Zia and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi pledged not to attack each other's nuclear facilities. (A formal "no attack" agreement was signed in January 1991.) In early 1986, the Indian and Pakistani governments began high-level talks to resolve the Siachen Glacier border dispute and to improve trade. . Bilateral tensions increased in early 1990, when Kashmiri militants began a campaign of violence against Indian occupation of Kashmir. Subsequent high-level bilateral meetings relieved the tensions between the Republic of India and Pakistan, but relations worsened again after terrorist bombings in Bombay,now Mumbai, in March 1993. Talks between the Foreign Secretaries of both countries in January 1994 resulted in deadlock. In the late 1990s, the Indo-Pakistani relationship veered sharply between rapprochement and conflict. After taking office in February 1997, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif moved to resume an official dialogue with India. A number of meetings at the foreign secretary and Prime Ministerial level took place, with positive atmospherics but little concrete progress. The relationship improved markedly when Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee traveled to Lahore for a summit with Sharif in February 1999. There was considerable hope that the meeting could lead to a breakthrough. However Pakistan's Army Chief attacked India without the knowledge of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. By early summer, serious fighting flared in the Kargil sector. The fighting lasted about a month. Due to stiff Indian resistance, the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under pressure from the US president Bill Clinton withdrew Pakistan's army from posts. Relations between India and Pakistan continued to be strained when Pervez Musharraf came to power on October 12, 1999 Pakistani coup d'état. India alleged that Pakistan provided monetary and material support to Kashmiri militants, a charge which Pakistan has always denied. In 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, the United States formed an alliance with Pakistan in its War on Terror refusing an Indian offer to use its air bases for operations against Afghanistan and preferring to confer on Pakistan the title of Major Non-Nato Ally. Pakistanis themselves started to grow disillusioned with jihadi militants, regardless of the causes they claimed to follow. Musharraf dropped his insistence that no issues could be discussed until the Kashmir issue was fully solved. Bilateral meetings between the two sides resulted in new people-to-people contacts. Air services and cricket matches were restored. Trains started plying between Sindh and Rajasthan. Bans on Indian movies and TV channels were eased in Pakistan. Transport links across the Line of Control in Kashmir were re-opened. More importantly the intelligence services and armies of the two countries started to cooperate in identifying terrorists who threatened attacks. On June 20, 2004, both countries agreed to extend a nuclear testing ban and to set up a hotline between their foreign secretaries aimed at preventing misunderstandings that might lead to a nuclear war. In 2007 the two countries agreed to start flights between their capitals. Legal trade between the countries reached 2 billion dollars per year. After the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, the already fragile relations have once again worsened and led to a possibility of another War between these nations.

Afghanistan and Pakistan share a long history and share many cultural, linguistic and ethnic commonalities. The two countries were united under the Afghan Empire founded by a Pashtun tribal chief, born in Multan (modern day Pakistan) who managed to unite the various ethnic groups of both countries under a single political entity. Pakistan shares a long and porous border with Afghanistan (also called the Durand Line). The border is poorly marked. The problem is exacerbated by cultural, historical, linguistic, ethnic and political ties crossing close relations between peoples who live on both sides of the border. This is further complicated by the fact that many of the Pashtun tribes on both sides of the border are often married and refuse to recognize it much to the frustration of both the Afghan government and the Pakistani government. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Pakistani Government played a vital role in supporting the Taliban and assisting Afghan refugees. Social and health indicators dropped considerably during this period as Polio and Tuberculosis, previously eradicated from the country, were re-introduced and the country became awash with drugs, weapons, prostitution rings and increased incidences of crime, poverty and violence. After the Soviet withdrawal in February 1989, Pakistan, with cooperation from the world community, continued to provide extensive support for displaced Afghans. In 1999, the United States provided approximately $70 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in Pakistan, mainly through multilateral organizations and NGOs. Pakistani strategists view Afghanistan in a fraternal matter, despite the support of anti-Pakistani elements in recent history; this has led Pakistani analysts to hope that Afghanistan could provide "strategic depth" in the event of a war with neighboring India. Due to this mater Pakistan always tried its best to make friendly relations with Afghanistan. Furthermore, many Pakistani saw in Afghanistan and Afghans a common bond based on religion, history, culture, language and ethnic ties. At various times, Pakistan has backed the mujahideen against the Soviets, mujahideen against each other and the Taliban against the Northern Alliance which was supported by India and USA as it was the hard opponents of Pakistan. In the 1950s, there were suggestions of a possible formation of a confederation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a move supported by Zahir Shah, the Afghan king along the lines of the original Afghan Empire founded by Ahmed Shah Abdali. Many Afghans and Pakistani's want to see improved relations which they feel are a necessity for both countries to fulfill their destiny, often what one country lacks, the other has an excess of. Scholars point out that it is not an issue of if the two countries unite, but rather of when they unite as both countries have historically always worked together and been a single political entity. The overthrow of the Taliban Regime in November 2001 has seen strained relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The present Karzai administration in Kabul feels that the remnants of the former Taliban government are being supported by factions within Pakistan for the same reasons as above, but he was always reluctant to provide evidence to the world communities. On June 15 2008, in the after-math of successful major Taliban operations, due to growing internal instability within Afghanistan , the Afghan government issued a statement threatening to send its army across the Durand Line in pursuit of rebels stationed along the mountainous border inside Pakistan; the statement caused considerable damage to bilateral relations and was rebuked by Pakistani officials as inappropriate. The United States, however, has stated it does support a temporary Afghan invasion of rogue tribal areas in Pakistan if the Pakistani army is incapable of doing so. The fall of the Taliban regime has made Afghan - Indian relations considerably stronger. India has invested millions of dollars in many infrastructure projects like roads,schools and Hospitals in Afghanistan.India is building the Afghan Parliament building for Afghanistan.The growing Indian influence in Afghanistan has fuelled fears in Pakistan that they are being sandwitched on both sides by India. Many, including the Afghan Government have blamed Pakistan's ISI for the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. Pakistan has alledged that the Baloch freedom movement is covertly supported by India's RAW. Pakistan is a vital link for US forces in Afghanistan as a majority of US supply lines pass through Pakistan.

The two nations at the moment have struggling relations with most of the international community backing Afghanistan in its spats with Pakistan.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, established diplomatic relationship with the Republic of Tajikistan in 1992, but cooperation between these two countries started from 1991. Geographically Tajikistan is the nearest Central Asian State to Pakistan - fourteen kilometeres between two countries. Many Tajik's have immigrated to Pakistan, notably in the city of Ishkoman where they have integrated into the local population.

The Maldives and Pakistan are the only two nations that are sunni majority apart from Bangladesh in South Asia. Islamabad also supports the Maldivian poistion over the territorial dispute over the southern Indian colony islands of the Minicoy Island of Lakshadweep whom the population are Muslim by faith.

Sri Lanka's ties with Pakistan is warming gradually. Pakistan has been recently supplying military equipment to the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The Bangladesh-Pakistan relationship is yet to be at a level that may be called warm. However since full diplomatic relations were implemented in January 1976, it has shown improvement in bilateral relations concerning commerce, culture and trade and making reconciliatory agreements.

Iraq and Pakistan have had close, friendly, and cooperative relations since the latter's independence in 1947. Issues such as Iraqi support for Pakistan in its 1971 war with India (which Iraq also has excellent relations with), and Pakistani support for Iraq against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War have forged relations between the two. Islamabad-Baghdad relations soured during the Gulf War when Pakistan contributed troops for the UN Coalition, seeing it as a betrayal due to Iraq's constant support for Pakistan in their previous wars with India. In 2002, Saddam Hussein visited India and said he gave his unwavering support to India over the Kashmir dispute. In 2003, Pakistan rejected US's request to send troops for the invasion which have helped soothed relations between the two.

Pakistan has stated it will not recognize the State of Israel until a Palestine nation-state is created and Palestinian refugees return to their lands. Afterwards, Pakistan would consider the relations between Tel Aviv-Yafo (the U.N. Recognized capital city) and Islamabad.

Pakistan extended diplomatic recognition to the Kyrgyz Republic on December 20, 1991. A Protocol for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan was signed on May 10, 1992. Pakistan's diplomatic resident Mission at Ambassadorial level was established at Bishkek in August 1995.

There have been high level visits from both sides in last ten years. In December 2000, the Chief Executive of Pakistan extended an invitation to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev to pay a State visit to Pakistan. The invitation was accepted by the President of Kyrgyzstan.

Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan co-operate with each other in various fields for the promotion of trade and economic relations between the two countries. A few Pakistan nationals have established their business concerns in the fields of hoteling, pharmacy and tourism in Kyrgyz Republic.

During the visit of Minister of State for Economic Affairs in December 1991, an export credit of US$ 10 million was offered to Kyrgyzstan for the establishment of pharmaceutical factory at Bishkek. An agreement was signed in May 1993. On the request of Kyrgyzstan, keeping in view of friendly and brotherly relations with Kyrgyzstan, the Government of Pakistan rescheduled the loan repayment and prolonged its payment for the next six years. An agreement on rescheduling was signed accordingly.

One of the achievements in the economic co-operation between the two countries is the opening of the branch of the National Bank of Pakistan at Bishkek. The main aim of the bank is to boost the trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. The National Bank of Kyrgyzstan took a decision to issue the license for the branch of the National Bank of Pakistan to open the accounts for local individuals from January 1, 2002. Before, the National Bank of Pakistan was authorized to open the accounts for the companies and organizations only. Within one year after the opening, this branch has become the profit-earning unit. After some time, the bank would be able to extend small credit facility to the local population. The National Bank of Pakistan has also offered a regular training programme for the Kyrgyz Bankers.

Pakistan is extending all possible help for Kyrgyz nationals under the Technical Assistance programme in the field of education, diplomacy, banking, English language and postal services, etc.

More than 200 Pakistani students are enrolled at various educational institutions in Kyrgyzstan on self-finance basis. Some of the medical students have already completed their studies and returned to Pakistan.

The leadership of the Kyrgyz Republic has demonstrated keen interest to have more bilateral cultural cooperation and people to people contact by establishing sister city relationship with the cities of Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. Establishment of sister city relationships between Quetta- Bishkek and Osh-Sialkot are under consideration by the two sides.

Both the countries have expressed their desire to conclude a Cultural Agreement with the aim of developing relations and mutual understanding between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. A draft Cultural Agreement is under consideration.

A draft Agreement between APP and "Kabar" news agency of Kyrgyzstan is also under consideration.

The Government of Pakistan has agreed to present a printing press to be used for production of literawre solely for Islamic purposes to the Muftiat of Kyrgyzstan.

Being the members of OIC and ECO, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan support each other on various global and regional issues as well as during the elections to the key posts in the international organizations.

Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize Turkmenistan as an independent country in December 1991. Pakistan established formal diplomatic relations with Turkmenistan on 10 May 1992.

Exchange of high-level visits during the last 10 years give credence to the fact that Pakistan and Turkmenistan have laid foundation of mutually beneficial relations, friendship and understanding. The hallmark of the friendship was demonstrated during the official visit of the Chief Executive of Pakistan to Ashgabat in May - 2000, and again during his brief stop-over in November 2000. In the short span of 10 years, there have been six visits of Head of State/Head of Government from Pakistan to Turkmenistan. President of Turkmenistan Saparmurate Niyazov had visited Pakistan thrice in August 1994, March 1995 and March 1997.

The two countries have signed 21 Agreements and Memoranda of understanding in the fields of oil and gas, transport, energy, trade, science and culture. The issuance of commemorative stamps by Pakistan will be an important milestone in the gamut of bilateral relations.

In Pakistan, the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Ataturk, is regarded as a hero. Kemal Atatürk's triumph in forging a strong and progressive Turkey was seen by many of the Muslims of the South Asia as an embodiment of their national aspirations and served as an inspiration during their struggle for independence, which culminated in the emergence of Pakistan as an independent nation in 1947. Most conservative Muslims continue to view Atatürk as the destroyer of the Caliphate; this resulted in the Khalifat movement in the South Asia in the 1920s and in the pan-Islamic rhetoric of present-day Sunni jihadi groups.

There is a remarkable coalescence of views between Turkey and Pakistan on major issues of regional and global significance, particularly since both have been allied to the United States. The two countries have always extended full support to each other on several issues. Pakistan fully supports the cause of the Turkish Cypriot people and Turkey has backed the cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Their tensions over supporting rival factions during the Afghan civil war were reduced by the US-backed overthrow of the Taliban regime.

The two countries have also cooperated over the issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina and have adopted joint positions on this issue at the international fora. The prime ministers of the two countries took a joint trip to Sarajevo in 1993 to express solidarity with Bosnian Muslims. Both countries also sent peace-keeping forces to Bosnia.

In the field of economy and trade relations between the two countries have been somewhat limited. However over the last few years, both countries have made conscious and sustained efforts to improve their economic relations. The Turco-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission which meets at the ministerial level to strengthen economic relations, held its 10th session in Ankara in September 1995 and adopted a comprehensive protocol to promote economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries.

Similarly, the 4th session of Turco-Pakistan Business Council was held in September 1995. There was also an exchange trade delegations between the two countries during 1995. As a result, bilateral trade between the two countries reached a level of more than $20 million in 1995.

Cultural relations between Turkey and Pakistan are governed by a Cultural Cooperation Agreement. Specific cultural exchange programs are prepared under the agreement. The last protocol was signed in November 1992, for the years 1993-96. There have been a number of cultural exchange between the two countries which include visits of cultural troupes, participation in photographic, arts & crafts exhibitions and children's festivals. The Embassy of Pakistan in Ankara has also organized a number of cultural activities and Single Country Exhibitions to highlight the similarities and the diversity between the two cultures.

Radio and Television organizations of the two countries are working to establish closer relations.

Turkey and Pakistan are cooperating in the field of education. This includes cooperation between the universities of the two countries; exchange of professors and scholars, holding of seminars, exhibitions and symposia and award of scholarships to the students of the two countries. The government of Pakistan has established Chairs of Urdu and Pakistan Studies at the Ankara and Istanbul Universities. Selcuk University is also operating a Department of Urdu with the help of a Pakistani teacher.

The determination of the two countries and their peoples to forge even closer links remains undiminished. While official rhetoric stresses "brotherly ties" between Pakistan and Turkey, there are some complications due to dfferences between secular Turkey and Pakistan's continuing slide to extremism.

Lebanon and Pakistan have good relations. Pakistan has also been a steadfast supporter of Lebanon particularly when it was invaded by its southern neighbor. Additionally, Pakistan has extended moral, diplomatic and material support to Lebanon and refuses to recognize Israel officially, as a legitimate country in solidarity with the Palestinian, Lebanese and other Middle Eastern countries.

Pakistan was the first country to accord formal recognition to UAE on its achieving independence. Bilateral relations and mutually beneficial cooperation have progressed steadily ever since. These relations date back to the UAE's formation in 1971, and have since evolved into wide-ranging co-operation in various fields. UAE has been a major donor of economic assistance to Pakistan. UAE has been appreciative of Pakistan's contribution to the evolution of key institutions in the Emirates such as armed forces, police, health and education, and has reciprocated in the same friendly manner to the full satisfaction of Pakistan.

The two countries have common perceptions on all international and regional issues of mutual concern. Frequent exchanges of high level visits and regular bilateral consultations between the two countries are reflective of the fact that Pakistan and UAE have laid strong foundations of mutually beneficial relations, friendship and peaceful cooperation over the years, UAE has emerged as one of Pakistan's major economic and trading partners. A large number of Pakistani expatriates, numbering nearly 400,000 are gainfully employed in UAE. The Pakistani expatriates in UAE have contributed in a significant manner to promotion of bilateral understanding and to the economy of Pakistan through their home remittances.

Historically, Iran was the first nation to recognize Pakistan. Since then, Pakistan has had close geopolitical and cultural-religious linkages with Iran. Relations between the two countries have existed since ancient times when the Pakistani region was part of the large Persian Empire. Persian is still considered the cultural language of Pakistan and most of Pakistan's national anthem is written in that language. Persian was the lingua franca of Pakistan up to 1843 when the British annexed parts of Pakistan and abolished its use in favour of Urdu and English. Relations between Iran and Pakistan peaked in the 60's and 70's under the Shah with considerable joint ventures and assistance provided by Iran to Pakistan. Iran is also a popular tourist spot for Pakistan's Muslims, notably its Shia population which represents about 20% of Pakistan population of 170 million people. Low period have occurred, however, strains in the relationship appeared in the 1980s, when Pakistan and Iran supported opposing factions in the Afghan conflict. Also, some Pakistanis suspect Iranian support for the sectarian violence which has plagued Pakistan. Furthermore, many Pakistani's were disappointed when much of Iran's nuclear research was stated as having originated from Pakistan, this despite the fact that Iran's nuclear program was started some 20 years before that of Pakistan's. Nevertheless, Pakistan pursues an active diplomatic relationship with Iran, including recent overtures to seek a negotiated settlement between Afghanistan's warring factions. Pakistan also supports Iran's use of Nuclear Technology for peaceful purposes. Both countries are endeavering to improve and strengthen bilateral trade and commerce between them. On January 27 2006, Pakistan, Iran, and India agreed to start work on IPI gasline which Pakistan needs to shrink the gap of Demand and supply of energy in Pakistan to maintain economic growth. India has consistently stalled the talks asking for more time under the duress of the United States, but Pakistan and Iran have agreed to go ahead with the project even if India doesn't participate thus highlighting the two countries commitment to the project. Relations, however, once again have become strained over the ongoing Afghan conflict. The Afghan Republic has consistently accused Pakistan's intelligence of supporting insurgents and contributing to an unstable Afghanistan. President Ahmadinejad vowed on an official visit to Kabul to stand by its cultural traditional neighbor at "all times, even when facing confusion from neighbors", referring to his support for Afghanistan over Pakistan in the many border skirmishes and diplomatic upheaval.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has helped Pakistan in many fields since Pakistan gained independence in 1947. Since the inception of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has provided Pakistan with assistance in the form of fuel credit, fuel donation, loans, aid, donations, and gifts. Most famous example of Saudi Arabia's relationship with Pakistan is the Faisal Mosque, the National Mosque of the country in Islamabad, Pakistan. More recently, Saudi Arabia has given Pakistan hundreds of millions of dollars as a donation for the 2005 Earthquake in Pakistan. In fact, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was the number 1 donor, having contributed $600 million.

Other forms of assistance given by Saudi Arabia include providing employment to millions of Pakistanis over the past 60 years. This has been a blessing for Pakistan in disguise as the workers who worked in Saudi Arabia not only accumulated wealth, when they came back to Pakistan, they led Pakistan's construction boom and introduction of modern goods and items. Saudi Arabia has also actively promoted Pakistan's social life by funding many social projects like building of Islamic community centres, relief foundations, and mosques throughout Pakistan.

Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan. Due to the Kingdom's continuing generosity, many places in Pakistan are named after Saudi Kings and Saudi Arabia in general. For example, the city previously named Lyallpur was renamed Faisalabad in honor of the late Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Also, in Karachi, Pakistan, there are neighbourhoods named Saud Colony, Saudabad, Faisal Colony. Also in Karachi, there is an airforce base name Faisal Airbase named after King Faisal and also, in the honor of King Faisal, the main business street of Pakistan is called Sharah-e-Faisal in Karachi.

In 2005, due to passing of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan declared a three-day mourning period.

Saudi Arabia also hosted former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for 8 years while he was in exile. During his stay there, Kingdom held talks with Sharif and even provided him with license to operate business in the Kingdom. It is believed that it was Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which held talks with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to foster their relationship and to allow Sharif back in Pakistan.

In March 2008, Saudi Arabia donated Pakistan $300 million to help with the economic problems there.

The relationship between Muscat and Islamabad is warm, because it is the nearest Arab country to Pakistan and the fact that some 30% of Omani's are of Balochi origin from Pakistan's Balochistan province having settled Oman over a hundred years ago. In 1958 Gwadar was part of Oman but was transferred to Pakistan in that year.

It is still not exactly clear when Pakistan opened diplomatic ties to North Korea. It is said to be somewhere in the 1970s. Recent developments indicate that their relations were kept secretive to avoid suspicion from the west and the risk of economic sanctions.

Despite having been through various phases and having witnessed some vicissitudes, Japan-Pakistan relations have kept growing to the mutual benefit of the two countries. Until the late 1950s, the relationship was essentially that of two developing countries. Pakistan, being the main source of raw cotton for Japan's textile industry, was one of its major trading partners. Japanese spindles on the other hand helped build Pakistan's textile industry. In the 1960s, Japan, however, re-emerged as a modern industrialized nation and started extending Yen loan assistance to Pakistan. The Japanese assistance was doubled to Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Japan, since then, has been Pakistan's major source of economic assistance, a leading trading partner and an important source of foreign investment.

Tokyo and Islamabad have long enjoyed cordial relations throughout chronology. Japan's economic assistance has played a very important role in the development of Pakistan's economic and social infrastructure. The major projects, which have been funded by the Government of Japan, include the Indus Highway Project, a number of power projects in various provinces of Pakistan, Rural Roads Construction Project and the Children Hospital PIMS lslamabad Project. Presently the Kohat Tunnel Project and the Ghazi Brotha Dam Project are being completed with the help of the Japanese assistance.

There has been a regular exchange of high level visits between the two countries. Pakistan and Japan had established formal diplomatic relations on 28 April 1952. The 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, jointly celebrated by the two countries in 2002, was a significant landmark in the history of this friendship.

There are very close relations between Jordan and Pakistan. Princess Sarwat wife of Prince Hassan is originally a Pakistani. At the international level Pakistan and Jordan have similar views such as the Israel/Palestine issue.

Vietnam and Pakistan officially established diplomatic relations on 8 November 1972. Pakistan opened its Embassy in Hanoi in 1973. However, due to economic reasons, Pakistan closed the embassy in 1980. Vietnam also opened its embassy in Islamabad in 1978 and had to close it down in 1984 due to its own economic difficulty. Bilateral relations between Vietnam and Pakistan in recent years have considerably improved. Both countries leaders expressed their willingness to strengthen their existing relations, not only in the political sphere but also in other areas such as trade and economics, and exchange more visits from one to another’s country, including both high-ranking and working visits. Pakistan reopened its embassy in Hanoi in October 2000. Vietnam also reopened its embassy in Islamabad in December 2005 and trade office in Karachi in November 2005.

Malaysia-Pakistan relations (Malay Hubungan Malaysia-Pakistan ; Urdu --) refers to bilateral foreign relations between the two countries, Malaysia and Pakistan. Pakistan has its High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has its High Commission in Islamabad. Pakistan has brotherly relations with Malaysia. Both are members of Organization of Islamic Conference (O.I.C) and Commonwealth of Nations. There is a trade and cultural pact between the two countries, under which the import and export of various goods is done on fairly large scale. The President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan along with other high officials visited Malaysia many times and Malaysian officials also paid a good will visit to Pakistan. Both the countries enjoy close relations and links of mutual friendship and the cooperation has further strengthened.

Pakistan and Egypt (Misr), both being Muslim countries, share cordial relations. Both are also members of the OIC (Oraganization of Islamic Conference), as well as "the next eleven" and "D8". After the foundation of Pakistan, it has established diplomatic and trade relations with Egypt. Relations between Pakistan and Egypt were not very cardinal, but when the president of Pakistan, General Muhammad Ayub Khan visited Egypt in 1959, most of the misunderstandings were removed and relations improved. These relations further strengthened with the visit of Jamal Abdul Nassir to Pakistan in 1960. Relations between Egypt and Pakistan were further strengthened because of the latters support in te Arab-Israel war. The proof of this stability in relations is that during the second Islamic Summit Conference in 1974, the President of Egypt Mr. Anwar Sadat recognized and praised the services which Pakistan had rendered to the Arab cause.

Due to both states sharing the same religion, being former British colonies, and refusing to recognize Israel as a legitimate nation, Pakistan and Sudan have shared generally close and warm relations for decades. Both countries are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Like Minded Group, and the Group of 77; these relations strengthened when Sudan declared its' support for Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani Wars. But because of certain issues however, such as Pakistan's strong relations with the United States, and friendly Sudanese relations with India, Iran, and Bangladesh, things between the two countries have reached a boiling point. Also, another very important topic which somewhat strains ties between Islamabad and Khartoum is the December 2001 transferral of Al-Jazeera photographer Sami Mohy El Din Muhammed Al Hajj at the hands of the Pakistani government to Guantanamo Bay. Despite this tension, Pakistan and Sudan still engage in collaborative dialogue in improving political stability in the Middle East and the Islamic World; in other words contact between the two nations still remains friendly.

Pakistan supported Tunisia on the issue of her complete control on Bazerta and declared it an integral part of Tunisia.

There exists friendly foreign relations between Algeria and Pakistan. Pakistan supported the cause of Algeria's independence from France. Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the “Provisional Government of Republic of Algeria” in exile on 19 September 1958 under the Prime Minister ship of Farhat Abbas and had permitted it to open its Mission in Karachi. The Government of Pakistan provided diplomatic passports to the members of the Algerian government in exile for their foreign travel.

Pakistan and France have high levels of diplomatic meetings and are in good terms with one another. However, these good relations haven't been around very long due to France's relations with Pakistans rival; India. Things are improving much between Pakistan and France and France donates large funds to help Pakistan with its economic problems.

Both Pakistan and Russia established diplomatic relations on 1 May 1948. However, relations between these two countries have been strained in the past, because of the Soviet Union's and Russia's closeness to India, and because of Pakistan's close ties to America and its support for the Afghan rebels during the invasion by the USSR.

Germany and Pakistan enjoy closely cordial relations. Germany has taken extreme measures to aid the South Asian country in its' economic and governmental hardship. Commercial trade between Berlin and Islamabad has also been very essential in recent years seeing as Germany is Pakistan's fourth largest trade partner. Also, Germany is home to 35,081 Pakistani immigrants. Overall, the two nations have most always had a friendly bond, notwithstanding the Teutonic Republic's relationship with Pakistan's historical nemesis, India.

Both nations share close relations on the grounds of religion and politics. Pakistan was a staunch supporter of Bosnia during the civil war. Pakistan sent in UN Peacekeeping forces to the former Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav wars. Pakistan and Bosnia have a free trade agreement.

Pakistan has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since independence in 1947. It was not a member of the British Commonwealth from 1972 until 1989, because of the Commonwealth's recognition of Bangladesh. It was readmitted to full membership of the Commonwealth in October 1989. It was suspended with the overthrow of the democratically elected government in 1999. Its full membership has been reinstated with the backing of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for Pakistan's support in the War on Terrorism. Pakistan maintains diplomatic relations with all Commonwealth countries even though it does not have its own High Commission in each capital.

Historically, no ally of the United States has faced as many sanctions from the US as Pakistan. The United States established diplomatic relations with Pakistan in 1949; reluctantly, at first. Since the Eisenhower administration, however, Pakistan and the US began developing more cozy relations. The American agreement to provide economic and military assistance to Pakistan and the latter's partnership in the Baghdad Pact, CENTO and SEATO strengthened relations between the two nations. At the time, its relationship with the U.S. was so close and friendly that it was called the United States' "most-allied ally" in Asia . Pakistanis felt betrayed and ill-compensated for the risks incurred in supporting the U.S. - after the U-2 Crisis of 1960, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had threatened the nuclear annihilation of Pakistani cities. The U.S. suspension of military assistance during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war generated a widespread feeling in Pakistan that the United States was not a reliable ally. Even though the United States suspended military assistance to both countries involved in the conflict, the suspension of aid affected Pakistan much more severely. Gradually, relations improved and arms sales were renewed in 1975. Then, in April 1979, the United States cut off economic assistance to Pakistan, except food assistance, as required under the Symington Amendment to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, due to concerns about Pakistan's nuclear program.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 highlighted the common interest of Pakistan and the United States in peace and stability in South Asia. In 1981, the United States and Pakistan agreed on a $3.2-billion military and economic assistance program aimed at helping Pakistan deal with the heightened threat to security in the region and its economic development needs. With U.S. assistance - in the largest covert operation in history - Pakistan armed and supplied anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan, eventually defeating the Soviets, who withdrew in 1988.

India's decision to conduct nuclear tests in May 1998 and Pakistan's matching response set back U.S. relations in the region, which had seen renewed U.S. Government interest during the second Clinton Administration. A presidential visit scheduled for the first quarter of 1998 was postponed and, under the Glenn Amendment, sanctions restricted the provision of credits, military sales, economic assistance, and loans to the government. An intensive dialogue on nuclear nonproliferation and security issues between Deputy Secretary Talbott and Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad was initiated, with discussions focusing on CTBT signature and ratification, FMCT negotiations, export controls, and a nuclear restraint regime. The October 1999 overthrow of the democratically elected Sharif government triggered an additional layer of sanctions under Section 508 of the Foreign Appropriations Act which include restrictions on foreign military financing and economic assistance. U.S. Government assistance to Pakistan was limited mainly to refugee and counter-narcotics assistance.

Pakistan moved decisively to ally itself with the United States in its war against Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. It provided the U.S. a number of military airports and bases, for its attack on Afghanistan. It has arrested over five hundred Al-Qaeda members and handed them over to the United States; senior U.S. officers have been lavish in their praise of Pakistani efforts. Since this strategic re-alignment towards U.S. policy, economic and military assistance has been flowing from the U.S. to Pakistan and sanctions have been lifted. In the three years before the attacks of September 11, Pakistan received approximately $9 million in American military aid. In the three years after, the number increased to $4.2 billion. In June 2004, President Bush designated Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally, making it eligible, among other things, to purchase advanced American military technology. In May, 2006, The Bush administration announced a major sale of missiles to Pakistan, valued at $370 Million USD.

Canada and Pakistan are on compatible terms with each other. Canada is represented through its' embassy in Islamabad, and Pakistan is represented through its' embassy in Ottawa. The North American nation has served as a key player in attempting to curtail Pakistan's recent economic and political imbalances; there are roughly 80,000 Canadians of Pakistani heritage.

Pakistan and Argentina enjoy very good relations.A memorandum of Understanding with the National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Argentina and the Pakistan Academy of Sciences was signed. In pursuit of its policy of establishing scientific cooperation with Argentina, the Pakistan has been actively engaged in signing Memorandum of understanding (MoUs) with various organizations.

Cuban-Pakistani relations are the bilateral relations between the Republic of Cuba and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The relations between the two countries strengthened after Cuba provided humanitarian assistance to the victims of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Both the nations continue to strengthen the bilateral relations especially in the fields of higher education, agriculture, industry and science and technology and have also held talks for military cooperation.

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History of Pakistan

A relief map of Pakistan showing historic sites.

The history of Pakistan as a state began with independence from British India on 14 August 1947, although the region has been inhabited continuously for at least two million years; its ancient history includes some of the oldest settlements of South Asia and some of its major civilizations. The political history of eventual birth of the country began in the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which culminated in 90 years of direct rule by the British Crown, and, subsequently, spawned a successful freedom struggle led by the Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League. The latter was founded in 1906 to protect Muslim interests and rose to popularity in the late 1930s amid fears of neglect and under-representation of Muslims in politics. On 29 December 1930, the poet Muhammad Iqbal called for an autonomous "state in northwestern India for Indian Muslims". Muhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, demanding the formation of an independent Pakistan.

Pakistan became independent from British India as a Muslim-majority state with two wings to the east and northwest of India respectively. Independence resulted in communal riots across India and Pakistan — as millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. Disputes arose over several princely states including Kashmir and Jammu whose ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by tribesmen from Pakistan. This led to the First Kashmir War (1948) which ended with India administrating roughly two-thirds of the state and Pakistan occupying the remainder. A republic was declared in 1956 but was stalled by a coup d'etat by Ayub Khan (1958–69), who ruled during a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. Economic grievances and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political tensions and army repression, escalating into civil war followed by the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and ultimately the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.

Civilian rule resumed from 1972 to 1977 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country's third military president. Pakistan's secular policies were replaced by the Islamic Shariah legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of General Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she alternated power with Nawaz Sharif, as the country's political and economic situation worsened. Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India were followed by a Pakistani military coup d'état in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed executive powers. In 2001, Musharraf named himself President after the forced resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 Prime-Ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz, followed by a temporary period in office by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. On 15 November 2007 the National Assembly completed its term and a caretaker government was appointed with the former Chairman of the Senate, Muhammad Mian Soomro as Prime Minister. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto resulted in a series of important political developments: The general elections were postponed until 18 February 2008; a coalition government came to power after the elections; President Musharraf stepped down and a civilian, Asif Ali Zardari, was elected as the new President.

Mehrgarh, (7000-5500 BCE), on the Kachi plain of Balochistan, is an important Neolithic site discovered in 1974, with early evidence of farming and herding, and dentistry. Early residents lived in mud brick houses, stored grain in granaries, fashioned tools with copper ore, cultivated barley, wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle, while later residents (5500-2600 BCE) engaged in crafts, including flint knapping, tanning, bead production, and metalworking. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BCE, but climatic changes between 2600 and 2000 BCE caused the area to become more arid. Mehrgarh was abandoned in favour of the Indus valley, where a new civilization was in the early stages of development.

The Indus Valley civilization developed between 3300-1700 BCE on the banks of the Indus River and at its peak had as many as five million inhabitants in hundreds of settlements extending as far as the Arabian Sea, southern and eastern Afghanistan, southeastern Iran and the Himalayas. The major urban centers were at Dholavira, Kalibangan, Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro, and Rakhigarhi, as well as an offshoot called the Kulli culture (2500-2000 BCE) in southern Balochistan, which had similar settlements, pottery and other artifacts. The Indus Valley civilisation has been tentatively identified as proto-Dravidian, but this cannot be confirmed until the Indus script is fully deciphered. The civilization collapsed abruptly around 1700 BCE, possible due to a cataclysmic earthquake or the drying up of the Ghaggar-Hakra river or due to the invasion of Aryans.

In the early part of the second millennium BCE, Indo-European tribes from Central Asia or the southern Russian steppes migrated into the region, and settled in the Sapta Sindhu area between the Kabul River and the Upper Ganges-Yamuna rivers. The invasion theory however has been hotly debated and several arguments have been made regarding Aryans being natives of Indus valley. The resulting Vedic culture lasted until the middle of the first millennium BCE when there were marked linguistic, cultural and political changes. During the Vedic culture, the hymns of the Rigveda were composed and the foundations of Hinduism were laid. The city of Taxila, in northern Pakistan, became important in Hinduism (and later in Buddhism); according to Hindu tradition, the Mahābhārata epic was first recited at Taxila at the snake sacrifice Yagna of King Janamejaya, one of the heroes of the story.

The Indus plains formed the most populous and richest satrapy of the Persian Achaemenid Empire for almost two centuries, starting from the reign of Darius the Great (522-485 BCE). Its heritage influenced the region e. g. adoption of Aramaic script, which the Achaemenids used for the Persian language; but after the end of Achaemenid rule, other scripts became more popular, such as Kharoṣṭhī (derived from Aramaic) and Greek. The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism began when Alexander the Great overthrew the Achaemenid empire in 334 BCE, and marched eastwards. Eventually, after defeating King Porus in the fierce Battle of the Hydaspes (near modern Jhelum), he conquered much of the Punjab region. But, his battle weary troops refused to advance further into India to engage the formidable army of Nanda Dynasty and its vanguard of trampling elephants, new monstorities to the invaders. Therefore, Alexander proceeded southwest along the Indus valley. Along the way, he engaged in several battles with smaller kingdoms before marching his army westward across the Makran desert towards modern Iran. Alexander founded several new Macedonian/Greek settlements in Gandhara and Punjab.

Chandragupta Maurya, a fugitive general from Magadha empire of the Nandas, who later raised his own military force and ultimately overthrew the Nanda Dynasty - using Macedonian tactics - and founded the Mauryan dynasty in Magadha, that lasted about 180 years. After Alexander's death in 323BCE, his Diadochi (generals) divided the empire, with Seleucus setting up the Seleucid Kingdom, which included the Indus plain. Chandragupta Maurya took advantage of this fragmentation of Greek power and captured the Punjab and Gandhara. Later, the eastern part of the Seleucid Kingdom broke away to form the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (third–second century BCE). Chandragupta's grandson, Ashoka the Great, (273-232 BCE) expanded the Mauryan empire to its greatest extent covering most of South Asia. He converted to Buddhism after feeling remorse for his bloody conquest of Kalinga in eastern India. His Edicts were written on pillars in Aramaic (the lingua franca of the Achaemenid Empire) or in Kharoṣṭhī.

Greco-Buddhism (or Græco-Buddhism) was the syncretism between the culture of Classical Greece and Buddhism in the area of modern Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the fourth century BCE and the fifth century CE. It influenced the artistic development of Buddhism, and in particular Mahayana Buddhism, before it spread to central and eastern Asia, from the 1st century CE onward. Demetrius (son of the Greco-Bactrian king Euthydemus) invaded northern India in 180 BCE as far as Pataliputra and established an Indo-Greek kingdom. To the south, the Greeks captured Sindh and nearby coastal areas, completing the invasion by 175 BCE and confining the Sungas to the east. Meanwhile, in Bactria, the usurper Eucratides killed Demetrius in a battle. Although the Indo-Greeks lost part of the Gangetic plain, their kingdom lasted nearly two centuries.

The Indo-Greek Menander I (reigned 155-130 BCE) drove the Greco-Bactrians out of Gandhara and beyond the Hindu Kush, becoming a king shortly after his victory. His territories covered Panjshir and Kapisa in modern Afghanistan and extended to the Punjab region, with many tributaries to the south and east, possibly as far as Mathura. The capital Sagala (modern Sialkot) prospered greatly under Menander's rule and Menander is one of the few Bactrian kings mentioned by Greek authors. The classical Buddhist text Milinda Pañha, praises Menander, saying there was "none equal to Milinda in all India". His empire survived him in a fragmented manner until the last independent Greek king, Strato II, disappeared around 10 CE. Around 125 BCE, the Greco-Bactrian king Heliocles, son of Eucratides, fled from the Yuezhi invasion of Bactria and relocated to Gandhara, pushing the Indo-Greeks east of the Jhelum River. Various petty kings ruled into the early first century CE, until the conquests by the Scythians, Parthians and the Yuezhi, who founded the Kushan dynasty. The last known Indo-Greek ruler was Theodamas, from the Bajaur area of Gandhara, mentioned on a 1st century CE signet ring, bearing the Kharoṣṭhī inscription "Su Theodamasa" ("Su" was the Greek transliteration of the Kushan royal title "Shau" ("Shah" or "King")).

The Indo-Scythians were descended from the Sakas (Scythians) who migrated from southern Siberia to Kashmir and Arachosia from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century BCE. They displaced the Indo-Greeks and ruled a kingdom that stretched from Gandhara to Mathura and Scythian tribes spread further into northwest India and the Iranian plateau.

The Parni were a nomadic Central Asian tribe who overthrew the Persian Seleucids and annexed much of the Indus region. Following the decline of the central Parthian authority after clashes with the Roman Empire, a local Parthian leader, Gondophares established the Indo-Parthian Kingdom in the 1st century CE. The kingdom was ruled from Taxila and covered much of modern southeast Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India.

The Kushan kingdom founded by King Heraios, and greatly expanded by his successor, Kujula Kadphises. Kadphises' son, Vima Takto conquered territory now in India, but lost much of the west of the kingdom to the Parthians. The fourth Kushan emperor, Kanishka I, (circa 127 CE) had a winter capital at Purushapura (Peshawar) and a summer capital at Kapisa (Bagram). The kingdom linked the Indian Ocean maritime trade with the commerce of the Silk Road through the Indus valley. At its height, the empire extended from the Aral Sea to northern India, encouraging long-distance trade, particularly between China and Rome. Kanishka convened a great Buddhist council in Kashmir, marking the start of the pantheistic Mahayana Buddhism and its scission with Nikaya Buddhism. The art and culture of Gandhara are the best known expressions of the interaction of Greek and Buddhist cultures, which continued over several centuries until the fifth century CE White Hun invasions. Over the next few centuries, the White Huns, Indo-Parthians, and Kushans shared control of the Indus plain while the Persian Sassanid Empire dominated the south and southwest. The mingling of Indian and Persian cultures in the region gave rise to the Indo-Sassanid culture, which flourished in Balochistan and western Punjab. The Gupta Empire arose in northern India around the second century CE and included much of the lower Indus area as a province. The Gupta era was marked by a local Hindu revival, whose impact was felt in distant Punjab/Sindh region, although Buddhism continued to flourish. According to Arab chroniclers, the Rai Dynasty of Sindh (c.489-632), established a great kingdom with Ror (modern Sukkur) as its capital and, at its zenith, under Rai Diwaji (Devaditya), ruled over the Sindh region and beyond. Devadittya was a great patron of Buddhism, which flourished. This kingdom was taken over by Brahman dynasties, whose unpopularity among Buddhist subjects contributed towards the consolidation of Arab conquerors' base in Sindh.

In 712 CE, a Syrian Muslim chieftain called Muhammad bin Qasim conquered most of the Indus region for the Umayyad empire, but the instability of the empire resulted in effective control only over Sind and southern Punjab. The provincial capital of "As-Sindh" was at Al-Mansurah, 72 km north of modern Hyderabad. There was gradual conversion to Islam in the south, especially amongst the native Buddhist majority, but in areas north of Multan, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Muslim groups remained numerous.

In 997 CE, Mahmud of Ghazni conquered the bulk of Khorasan, marched on Peshawar in 1005, and followed it by the conquests of Punjab (1007), Balochistan (1011), Kashmir (1015) and Qanoch (1017). By the end of his reign in 1030, Mahmud's empire extended from Kurdistan in the west to the Yamuna river in the east, and the Ghaznavid dynasty lasted until 1187. Contemporary historians such as Abolfazl Beyhaqi and Ferdowsi described extensive building work in Lahore, as well as Mahmud's support and patronage of learning, literature and the arts.

In 1160, Muhammad Ghori conquered Ghazni from the Ghaznavids and became its governor in 1173. He marched eastwards into the remaining Ghaznavid territory and Gujarat in the 1180s, but was rebuffed by Gujarat's Solanki rulers. In 1186-7, he conquered Lahore, bringing the last of Ghaznevid territory under his control and ending the Ghaznavid empire. Muhammad Ghori returned to Lahore after 1200 to deal with a revolt of the Rajput Ghakkar tribe in the Punjab. He suppressed the revolt, but was killed during a Ghakkar raid on his camp on the Jhelum River in 1206. Muhammad Ghori's successors established the first Indo-Islamic dynasty, the Delhi Sultanate. The Mamluk Dynasty, (mamluk means "slave" and referred to the Turkic slave soldiers who became rulers throughout the Islamic world), seized the throne of the Sultanate in 1211. Several Turko-Afghan dynasties ruled their empires from Delhi: the Mamluk (1211-90), the Khalji (1290-1320), the Tughlaq (1320-1413), the Sayyid (1414-51) and the Lodhi (1451-1526). Although some kingdoms remained independent of Delhi - in Gujarat, Malwa (central India), Bengal and Deccan - almost all of the Indus plain came under the rule of these large Indo-Islamic sultanates. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the sultanate was its temporary success in insulating South Asia from the Mongol invasion from Central Asia in the thirteenth century; nonetheless the sultans eventually lost Afghanistan and western Pakistan to the Mongols (see the Ilkhanate Dynasty).

The sultans (emperors) of Delhi enjoyed cordial relations with Muslim rulers in the Near East but owed them no allegiance. While the sultans ruled from urban centers, their military camps and trading posts provided the nuclei for many towns that sprang up in the countryside. Close interaction with local populations led to cultural exchange and the resulting "Indo-Islamic" fusion has left a lasting imprint and legacy in South Asian architecture, music, literature, life style and religious customs. In addition, the language of Urdu (literally meaning "horde" or "camp" in various Turkic dialects) was born during the Delhi Sultanate period, as a result of the mingling of speakers of Sanskritic prakrits, Persian, Turkish and Arabic languages.

From the 16th to the 19th century CE the formidable Mughal empire covered much of South Asia and played a major role in the economic and cultural development of the region. The empire was one of the three major Islamic states of its day and sometimes contested its northwestern holdings such as Qandahar against the Uzbeks and the Safavid Persians. The Mughals were descended from Persianized Central Asian Turks (with significant Mongol admixture). The third emperor, Akbar the Great, was both a capable ruler and an early proponent of religious and ethnic tolerance and favored an early form of multiculturalism. For a short time in the late 16th century, Lahore was the capital of the empire. The architectural legacy of the Mughals in Lahore includes the Shalimar Gardens built by the fifth emperor, Shahjahan, and the Badshahi Mosque built by the sixth emperor, Aurangzeb.

In 1739, the Persian emperor Nader Shah invaded India, defeated the Mughal Emperor Mohammed Shah, and occupied most of Balochistan and the Indus plain. After Nadir Shah's death, the kingdom of Afghanistan was established in 1747, by one of his generals, Ahmad Shah Abdali and included Kashmir, Peshawar, Daman, Multan, Sind and Punjab. In the south, a succession of autonomous dynasties (the Daudpotas, Kalhoras and Talpurs) had asserted the independence of Sind, from the end of Aurangzeb's reign. Most of Balochistan came under the influence of the Khan of Kalat, apart from some coastal areas such as Gwadar which were ruled by the Sultan of Oman. The Sikh Confederacy (1748-1799) was a group of small states in the Punjab which emerged in a political vacuum created by rivalry between the Mughals, Afghans and Persians. The Confederacy drove out the Mughals, repelled several Afghan invasions and in 1764 captured Lahore. However after the retreat of Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Confederacy suffered instability as disputes and rivalries emerged. The Sikh empire (1799-1849) was formed on the foundations of the Confederacy by Ranjit Singh who proclaimed himself "Sarkar-i-Wala", and was referred to as the Maharaja of Lahore. His empire eventually extended as far west as the Khyber Pass and as far south as Multan. Amongst his conquests were Kashmir in 1819 and Peshawar in 1834, although the Afghans made two attempts to recover Peshawar. After the Maharaja's death the empire was weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. The British annexed the Sikh empire in 1849 after two Anglo-Sikh wars.

The musalmans are only a fifth in number as compared with the total population of the country, and it is manifest that if at any remote period the British government ceases to exist in India, then the rule of India would pass into the hands of that community which is nearly four times as large as ourselves …our life, our property, our honour, and our faith will all be in great danger, when even now that a powerful British administration is protecting its subjects, we the Musalmans have to face most serious difficulties in safe-guarding our interests from the grasping hands of our neighbors.

The constitution and principles of the League were contained in the "Green Book", written by Maulana Mohammad Ali. Its goals at this stage did not include establishing an independent Muslim state, but rather concentrated on protecting Muslim liberties and rights, promoting understanding between the Muslim community and other Indians, educating the Muslim and Indian community at large on the actions of the government, and discouraging violence. However, several factors over the next thirty years, including sectarian violence, led to a re-evaluation of the League's aims. Among those Muslims in the Congress who did not initially join the League was Muhammed Ali Jinnah, a prominent Bombay lawyer and statesman. This was because the first article of the League's platform was "To promote among the Mussalmans (Muslims) of India, feelings of loyalty to the British Government". In 1907, a vocal group of Hindu hard-liners within the Indian National Congress movement separated from it and started to pursue a pro-Hindu movement openly. This group was spearheaded by the famous trio of Lal-Bal-Pal - Lala Lajpat Rai , Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal of Punjab, Bombay and Bengal provinces respectively. Their influence spread rapidly among other like minded Hindus - they called it Hindu nationalism - and it became a cause of serious concern for Muslims. However, Jinnah did not join the League until 1913, when it changed its platform to one of Indian independence as a reaction against the British decision - taken under the enormous pressure and vociferous protests of the Hindu majority - to reverse the 1905 Partition of Bengal, which the League regarded as a betrayal of the Bengali Muslims. Even at this stage, Jinnah believed in Muslim-Hindu co-operation to achieve an independent, united India, although he argued that Muslims should be guaranteed one-third of the seats in any Indian Parliament.

The League gradually became the leading representative body of Indian Muslims. Jinnah became its president in 1916, and negotiated the Lucknow Pact with the Congress leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, by which Congress conceded the principle of separate electorates and weighted representation for the Muslim community. However, Jinnah broke with the Congress in 1920 when the Congress leader, Mohandas Gandhi, launched a law violating Non-Cooperation Movement against the British, which a temperamentally law abiding barrister Jinnah disapproved of. Jinnah also became convinced that the Congress would renounce its support for separate electorates for Muslims, which indeed it did in 1928. In 1927, the British proposed a constitution for India as recommended by the Simon Commission, but they failed to reconcile all parties. The British then turned the matter over to the League and the Congress, and in 1928 an All-Parties Congress was convened in Delhi. The attempt failed, but two more conferences were held, and at the Bombay conference in May, it was agreed that a small committee should work on the constitution. The prominent Congress leader Motilal Nehru headed the committee, which included two Muslims, Syed Ali Imam and Shoaib Quereshi; Motilal's son, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, was its secretary. The League, however, rejected the committee's report, the so called Nehru Report, arguing that its proposals gave too little representation (one quarter) to Muslims – the League had demanded at least one-third representation in the legislature. Jinnah announced a "parting of the ways" after reading the report, and relations between the Congress and the League began to sour.

The election of Ramsay MacDonald's Labour government in 1929 in Britain, already weakened by World War I, fuelled new hopes for progress towards self-government in India. Gandhi travelled to London, claiming to represent all Indians and criticising the League as sectarian and divisive. Round-table talks were held, but these achieved little, since Gandhi and the League were unable reach a compromise. The fall of the Labour government in 1931 ended this period of optimism. By 1930 Jinnah had despaired of Indian politics and particularly of getting mainstream parties like the Congress to be sensitive to minority priorities. A fresh call for a separate state was then made by the famous writer, poet and philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who in his presidential address to the 1930 convention of the Muslim League said that he felt that a separate Muslim state was essential in an otherwise Hindu-dominated South Asia. The name was coined by Cambridge student and Muslim nationalist Choudhary Rahmat Ali, and was published on January 28, 1933 in the pamphlet Now or Never. He saw it as an acronym formed from the names of the "homelands" of Muslims in northwest India — P for Punjab, A for the Afghan areas of the region, K for Kashmir, S for Sindh and tan for Balochistan, thus forming "Pakstan". An i was later added to the English rendition of the name to ease pronunciation, producing "Pakistan". In Urdu and Persian the name encapsulates the concept of "pak" ("pure") and "stan" ("land") and hence a "Pure Land". In the 1935, the British administration proposed to hand over substantial power to elected Indian provincial legislatures, with elections to be held in 1937. After the elections the League took office in Bengal and Punjab, but the Congress won office in most of the other provinces, and refused to share power with the League in provinces with large Muslim minorities.

Mean while, Muslim ideologues for separatism also felt vindicated by the presidential address of V.D. Savarkar at the 19th session of the famous Hindu nationalist party Hindu Mahasabha in 1937. In it, this legendary revolutionary - popularly called Veer Savarkar and known as the iconic father of the Hindutva ideology - propounded the seminal ideas of his Two Nation Theory or Hindu-Muslim exclusivism, which influenced Jinnah profoundly.

No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign ... That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in the units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights of the minorities, with their consultation. Arrangements thus should be made for the security of Muslims where they were in a minority.

In 1941 it became part of the Muslim League's constitution. However, in early 1941, Sikandar explained to the Punjab Assembly that he did not support the final version of the resolution. The sudden death of Sikandar in 1942 paved the way over the next few years for Jinnah to emerge as the recognised leader of the Indian Muslims. In 1943, the Sind Assembly passed a resolution demanding the establishment of a Muslim homeland. Talks between Jinnah and Gandhi in 1944 in Bombay failed to achieve agreement and there were no more attempts to reach a single-state solution.

World War II had broken the back of both Britain and France and disintigration of their colonial empires was expected soon. With the election of another sympathetic Labour government in Britain in 1945, Indians were seeing independence within reach. But, Gandhi and Nehru were not receptive to Jinnah's proposals and were also adamantly opposed to dividing India, since they knew that the Hindus, who saw India as one indivisible entity, would never agree to such a thing. In the Constituent Assembly elections of 1946, the League won 425 out of 496 seats reserved for Muslims (and about 89.2% of Muslim votes) on a policy of creating an independent state of Pakistan, and with an implied threat of secession if this was not granted. By 1946 the British had neither the will, nor the financial resources or military power, to hold India any longer. Political deadlock ensued in the Constituent Assembly, and the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, sent a Cabinet Mission to India to mediate the situation. When the talks broke down, Attlee appointed Louis Mountbatten as India's last Viceroy, to negotiate the independence of Pakistan and India and immediate British withdrawal. Mountbatten, of imperial blood and a world war admiral, handled the problem as a campaign. Ignorant of the complex ground realities in British India, he rashly preponed the date of transfer of power and told Gandhi and Nehru that if they did not accept divivsion there would be civil war in his opinion and he would rather consider handing over power to individual provinces and the rulers of princely states. This forced the hands of Congress leaders and the "Independence of India Act 1947" provided for the two dominions of Pakistan and India to become independent on the 14th and 15th of August 1947 respectively. This result was despite the calls for a third Osmanistan in the early 1940s.

On the 14th and 15th of August, 1947, British India gave way to two new independent states, the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India, both dominions which joined the British Commonwealth. However, the ill conceived and controversial decision to division of Punjab and Bengal, two of the biggest provinces, between India and Pakistan had disastrous consequences. This division created inter-religious violence of such magnitude that exchange of population along religious lines became a necessity in these provinces. More than two million people migrated across the new borders and more than one hundred thousand died in the spate of communal violence, that spread even beyond these provinces. The independence also resulted in tensions over Kashmir leading to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. The post-independence political history of Pakistan has been characterised by several periods of authoritarian military rule and continuing territorial disputes with India over the status of Kashmir, and with Afghanistan over the Pashtunistan issue.

In 1948, Jinnah declared in Dhaka that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan. This sparked protests in East Bengal (later East Pakistan), where Bengali was spoken by most of the population. The Bengali Language Movement reached its peak on 21 February 1952, when police and soldiers opened fired near the Dhaka Medical College on students protesting for Bengali to receive equal status with Urdu. Several protesters were killed, and the movement gained further support throughout East Pakistan. Later, the Government agreed to provide equal status to Bengali as a state language of Pakistan, a right later codified in the 1956 constitution.

In 1953 at the instigation of religious parties, anti-Ahmadiyya riots erupted, killing scores of Ahmadi Muslims and destroying their properties. The riots were investigated by a two-member court of inquiry in 1954, which was criticised by the Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the parties accused of inciting the riots. This event led to the first instance of martial law in the country and began the inroad of military intervention in the politics and civilian affairs of the country, something that remains to this day.

The Dominion was dissolved on 23 March, 1956 and replaced by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with the last Governor-General, Iskandar Mirza, as the first president. Just two years later the military took control of the nation. Field Marshal Ayub Khan became president and began a new system of government called Basic Democracy with a new constitution, by which an electoral college of 80,000 would select the President. Ayub Khan almost lost the controversial 1965 presidential elections to Fatima Jinnah. During Ayub's rule, relations with the United States and the West grew stronger. Pakistan joined two formal military alliances — the Baghdad Pact (later known as CENTO) which included Iran, Iraq, and Turkey to defend the Middle East and Persian Gulf against the Soviet Union; and SEATO which covered South-East Asia. However, the United States adopted a policy of denying military aid to both India and Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 over Kashmir and the Rann of Kutch.

Between 1947 and 1971, Pakistan consisted of two geographically separate regions, West Pakistan and East Pakistan. During the 1960s, there was a rise in Bengali nationalism in East Pakistan, and of allegations that economic development and hiring for government jobs favoured West Pakistan. An independence movement in East Pakistan began to gather ground. After a nationwide uprising in 1969, General Ayub Khan stepped down from office, handing power to General Yahya Khan, who promised to hold general elections at the end of 1970. On the eve of the elections, a cyclone struck East Pakistan killing approximately 500,000 people. Despite the tragedy and the additional difficulty experienced by affected citizens in reaching the voting sites, the elections were held and the results showed a clear division between East and West Pakistan. The Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a majority with 167 of the 169 East Pakistani seats, but with no seats in West Pakistan, where the Pakistan Peoples Party led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, won 85 seats. However, Yahya Khan and Bhutto refused to hand over power to Mujib.

Meanwhile, Mujib initiated a civil disobedience movement, which was strongly supported by the general population of East Pakistan, including most government workers. A round-table conference between Yahya, Bhutto, and Mujib was convened in Dhaka, which, however, ended without a solution. Soon thereafter, the West Pakistani Army commenced Operation Searchlight, an organized crackdown on the East Pakistani army, police, politicians, civilians, and students in Dhaka. Mujib and many other Awami League leaders were arrested, while others fled to neighbouring India. On 27th March 27 1971, Major Ziaur Rahman, a Bengali war-veteran of the East Bengal Regiment of the Pakistan Army, declared the independence of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh on behalf of Mujib. The crackdown widened and escalated into a guerrilla warfare between the Pakistani Army and the Mukti Bahini (Bengali "freedom fighters"). Although the killing of Bengalis was unsupported by the people of West Pakistan, it continued for 9 months. India supplied the Bengali rebels with arms and training, and, in addition, hosted more than 10 million Bengali refugees who had fled the turmoil.

In March, 1971, India's Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi expressed sympathy for the East Pakistani independence movement, opening India's borders to refugees and providing other assistance. Following a period of covert and overt intervention by Indian forces, open hostilities broke out between the two countries on December 3, 1971. In East Pakistan, the Pakistani Army led by General A. A. K. Niazi, had already been weakened and exhausted by the Mukti Bahini's guerrilla warfare. Outflanked and overwhelmed, the Pakistani army in the eastern theatre surrendered on December 16, 1971, with nearly 90,000 soldiers taken as prisoners of war. The figures of the Bengali civilian death toll from the war vary greatly, depending on the sources. Although Pakistan's official report, by its Hamood-ur-Rahman Commission, places the figure at only 26,000, other sources put the number between 1.25 to 1.5 million. Highest figure, reported in the media, is 3 million.

The result was the emergence of the new nation of Bangladesh. Discredited by the defeat, General Yahya Khan resigned. Bhutto was inaugurated as president and chief martial law administrator on 20 December, 1971.

During Bhutto's rule, a serious rebellion also took place in Balochistan province and led to harsh suppression of Baloch rebels with the Shah of Iran purportedly assisting with air support in order to prevent the conflict from spilling over into Iranian Balochistan. The conflict ended later after an amnesty and subsequent stabilization by the provincial military ruler Rahimuddin Khan. In 1974, Bhutto succumbed to increasing pressure from religious parties and helped Parliament to declare the Ahmadiyya adherents as non-Muslims. Elections were held in 1977, with the People's Party won but this was challenged by the opposition, which accused Bhutto of rigging the vote. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq took power in a bloodless coup and Bhutto was later executed, after being convicted of authorizing the murder of a political opponent, in a controversial 4-3 split decision by the Supreme Court.

Pakistan had been a US ally for much of the Cold War, from the 1950s and as a member of CENTO and SEATO. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan renewed and deepened the US-Pakistan alliance. The Reagan administration in the United States helped supply and finance an anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan, using Pakistan as a conduit. In retaliation, the Afghan secret police, KHAD, carried out a large number of terrorist operations against Pakistan, which also suffered from an influx of illegal weapons and drugs from Afghanistan. In the 1980s, as the front-line state in the anti-Soviet struggle, Pakistan received substantial aid from the United States as it took in millions of Afghan (mostly Pashtun) refugees fleeing the Soviet occupation. The influx of so many refugees - the largest refugee population in the world - had a heavy impact on Pakistan and its effects continue to this day. General Zia's martial-law administration gradually reversed the socialist policies of the previous government, and also introduced strict Islamic law in 1978, often cited as the contributing factor in the present climate of sectarianism and religious fundamentalism in Pakistan. Ordinance XX was introduced to limit the freedom of the Ahmadi's to call themselves Muslims in Pakistan. Further, in his time, secessionist uprisings in Balochistan were put down violently but successfully by the provincial governor, General Rahimuddin Khan.

General Zia lifted martial law in 1985, holding non-partisan elections and handpicking Muhammad Khan Junejo to be the new Prime Minister, who readily extended Zia's term as Chief of Army Staff until 1990. Junejo however gradually fell out with Zia as his administrative independence grew; for example, Junejo signed the Geneva Accord, which Zia greatly frowned upon. After a large-scale blast at a munitions dump in Ojhri, Junejo vowed to bring to justice those responsible for the significant damage caused, implicating several senior generals. Zia dismissed the Junejo government on several charges in May 1988 and called for elections in November 1988. However, General Zia died in a plane crash on August 17 1988.

From 1988 to 1999, Pakistan was ruled by civilian governments, alternately headed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, who were each elected twice and removed from office on charges of corruption. During the late 1990s, Pakistan was one of three countries which recognized the Taliban government and Mullah Mohammed Omar as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan. Allegations have been made of Pakistan and other countries providing economic and military aid to the group from 1994 as a part of supporting the anti-Soviet alliance. It is alleged that some post-invasion Taliban fighters were recruits drawn from Pakistan's madrassahs. Economic growth declined towards the end of this period, hurt by the Asian financial crisis, and economic sanctions imposed on Pakistan after its first tests of nuclear devices in 1998. The Pakistani testing came shortly after India tested nuclear devices and increased fears of a nuclear arms race in South Asia. The next year, the Kargil Conflict in Kashmir threatened to escalate to a full-scale war.

In the 1997 election that returned Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister, his party received a heavy majority of the vote, obtaining enough seats in parliament to change the constitution, which Sharif amended to eliminate the formal checks and balances that restrained the Prime Minister's power. Institutional challenges to his authority led by the civilian President Farooq Leghari, military chief Jehangir Karamat and Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah were put down and all three were forced to resign - Shah doing so after the Supreme Court was stormed by Sharif partisans.

On 12 October, 1999, Sharif attempted to dismiss army chief Pervez Musharraf and install ISI director Ziauddin Butt in his place, but senior generals refused to accept the decision. Musharraf, who was out of the country, boarded a commercial airliner to return to Pakistan. Sharif ordered the Jinnah International Airport to prevent the landing of the airliner, which then circled the skies over Karachi. In a coup, the generals ousted Sharif's administration and took over the airport. The plane landed with only a few minutes of fuel to spare, and General Musharraf assumed control of the government. He arrested Sharif and those members of his cabinet who took part in this conspiracy. American President Bill Clinton had felt that his pressure to force Sharif to withdraw Pakistani forces from Kargil, in Indian-controlled Kashmir, was one of the main reasons for disagreements between Sharif and the Pakistani army. Clinton and King Fahd then pressured Musharraf to spare Sharif and, instead, exile him to Saudi Arabia, guaranteeing that he would not be involved in politics for ten years. Sharif lived in Saudi Arabia for more than six years before moving to London in 2005.

On May 12, 2000 the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Government to hold general elections by October 12, 2002. In an attempt to legitimize his presidency and assure its continuance after the impending elections, Musharraf held a controversial national referendum on April 30, 2002, which extended his presidential term to a period ending five years after the October elections. Musharraf strengthened his position by issuing a Legal Framework Order in August 2001 which established the constitutional basis for his continuance in office. The general elections were held in October 2002 and the centrist, pro-Musharraf PML-Q won a majority of the seats in Parliament. However, parties opposed to the Legal Framework Order effectively paralysed the National Assembly for over a year. The deadlock ended in December 2003, when Musharraf and some of his parliamentary opponents agreed upon a compromise, and pro-Musharraf legislators were able to muster the two-thirds majority required to pass the Seventeenth Amendment, which retroactively legitimized Musharraf's 1999 coup and many of his subsequent decrees. In a vote of confidence on 1st January 2004, Musharraf won 658 out of 1,170 votes in the Electoral College of Pakistan, and according to Article 41(8) of the Constitution of Pakistan, was elected to the office of President.

While economic reforms undertaken during his regime have yielded some results, social reform programmes and his liberal views, e.g. on reforming extremist versions of the practices prevalent in Islam, appear to have met with resistance. Musharraf's power is threatened by extremists who have grown in strength since the September 11, 2001 attacks and who are particularly angered by Musharraf's close political and military alliance with the United States, including his support of the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Musharraf has survived several assassination attempts by terrorist groups believed to be part of Al-Qaeda, including at least two instances where the terrorists had inside information from a member of his military security. Pakistan continues to be involved in a dispute over Kashmir, with allegations of support of terrorist groups being levelled against Pakistan by India, while Pakistan charges that the Indian government abuses human rights in its use of military force in the disputed region. What makes this dispute a source of special concern for the world community is, that both India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons. It had led to a nuclear standoff in 2002, when Kashmiri-militants (supposedly backed by the ISI) attacked the Indian parliament. In reaction to this, serious diplomatic tensions developed and India and Pakistan deployed 500,000 and 120,000 troops to the border respectively. While the Indo-Pakistani peace process has since made progress, it is sometimes stalled by infrequent insurgent activity in India (including the 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings). Pakistan also has been accused of contributing to nuclear proliferation; indeed, its leading nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted to selling nuclear secrets, though he denied government knowledge of his activities.

After the U.S. led invasion of Afghanistan, the Pakistani government, as an ally, sent thousands of troops into the mountainous region of Waziristan in 2002, in search of bin-Laden (whom the U.S. blames for master-minding the so called 9/11-events) and other heavily armed al-Qaeda members, who had allegedly taken refuge there. In March 2004, heavy fighting broke out at Azam Warsak (near the South Waziristan town of Wana), between Pakistani troops and these militants (estimated to be 400 in number), who were entrenched in several fortified settlements. It was speculated that bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri was among those trapped by the Pakistani Army. On September 5, 2006 a truce was signed with the militants and their local rebel supporters, (who called themselves the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan), in which the rebels were to cease supporting the militants in cross-border attacks on Afghanistan in return for a ceasefire and general amnesty and a hand-over of border-patrolling and check-point responsibilities, till then handled by the Pakistan Army.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif attempted to return from exile on September 10, 2007 but was arrested on corruption charges after landing at Islamabad International Airport. Sharif was then put on a plane bound for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, whilst outside the airport there were violent confrontations between Sharif's supporters and the police. This did not deter another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, from returning on October 18, 2007 after an eight year exile in Dubai and London, to prepare for the parliamentary elections to be held in 2008. However, on the same day, two suicide bombers attempted to kill Bhutto as she travelled towards a rally in Karachi. Bhutto escaped unharmed but there were 136 casualties and at least 450 people were injured.

On November 3, 2007, General Musharraf proclaimed a state of emergency and sacked the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry along with other 14 judges of the Supreme Court. Lawyers launched a protest against this action but they were arrested. All private media channels were banned including foreign channels. Musharraf declared that the state of emergency would end on December 16, 2007. On November 28, 2007, General Musharraf retired from the Army and the following day was sworn in for a second presidential term.

On November 25, 2007, Nawaz Sharif made a second attempt to return from exile, this time accompanied by his brother, the former Punjab chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif. Hundreds of their supporters, including a few leaders of the party were detained before the pair arrived at Lahore International Airport. The following day, Nawaz Sharif filed his nomination papers for two seats in the forthcoming elections whilst Benazir Bhutto filed for three seats including one of the reserved seats for women.

On December 27, 2007, Benazir Bhutto was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi when she was assassinated by a gunman who shot her in the neck and set off a bomb, killing 20 other people and injuring several more. The exact sequence of the events and cause of death became points of political debate and controversy, because, although early reports indicated that Bhutto was hit by shrapnel or the gunshots, the Pakistani Interior Ministry stated that she died from a skull fracture sustained when the explosion threw Bhutto against the sunroof of her vehicle. Bhutto's aides rejected this claim and insisted that she suffered two gunshots prior to the bomb detonation. The Interior Ministry subsequently backtracked from its previous claim. However, a subsequent investigation, aided by the Scotland Yard of U.K., supported the "hitting the sun-roof"" as the cause of her death. The Election Commission, after a meeting in Islamabad, announced that, due to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the elections, which had been scheduled for 8 January 2008, would take place on 18 February.

A general election was held in Pakistan, according to the revised schedule, on February 18, 2008,). Pakistan's two big and main opposition parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML (N)), won majority of seats in the election and formed a government. Although, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) (PML (Q)) actually was second in the popular vote, the PPP and PML (N) have formed the new coalition-government.

On August 7, the deadlock between ruling parties ended when the coalition government of Pakistan decided to move for the impeachment of the President before heading for the restoration of the deposed judiciary. Moreover, they decided that Parvez Musharraf should face charges of weakening Pakistan's federal structure, violating its constitution and creating economic impasse.

After that, President Parvez Musharraf began consultations with his allies, and with his legal team, on the implications of the impeachment; he said that he was ready to reply to the charges levied upon him and seek the vote of confidence from the senate and the parliament, as required by the coalition parties.

However, on August 18, 2008, President Parvez Musharraf announced in a televised address to the nation that he had decided to resign after nine years in power.

In the presidential election that followed Musharraf's resignation, Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan People's Party was victorious, defeating the rival candidate of Muslim League (Nawaz) party by a landslide majority.

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