About Pakistan

PAKISTAN emerged as an independent country on 14 August 1947, but it has a history of over five thousand years. The land of Pakistan has been a cradle of ancient civilizations. With well-developed cities, Indus Valley Civilization was contemporary of the Nile, Mesopotamian and Yellow River civilizations.

Over two thousand years ago, Gandhara Buddhist Civilization flourished in northern Pakistan, with Taxila as a seat of Buddhist learning.

Famous Chinese scholars, including Xuan Zang, had traveled to Taxila to study the Buddhist scriptures. These travels are celebrated in the famous Chinese novel Xi You Ji (Journey to the West). Today, the Karakoram Highway that links Pakistan and China runs parallel to the fabled silk route of the past.

Pakistan’ s Islamic heritage goes back to over a thousand years, and combines traditions of Central Asia and West Asia in its architecture, poetry and literature. The richness of Pakistan’s history, cultural traditions and heritage is matched by the diversity and beauty of Pakistan’s landscape.

Geography

Pakistan lies along River Indus stretching over 2000 kilometers from the freezing heights of Pamirs in the north to the balmy beaches of Arabian Sea in the south. Pakistan neighbours include China in the north, Afghanistan in the northwest, Iran in the west and India in the east.

Pakistan is the seventh most populous country in the world with nearly 145 million people and land area of over 800,000 square kilometers. The Northern Areas of Pakistan are the meeting point of three major mountainous ranges: the Karakorams, the Himalayas, and the Hindu Kush, with some of the highest mountain peaks in the world. Every year thousands of trekkers and mountaineers from around the world visit this fascinating region.

The Federal Capital of Pakistan is Islamabad, a new, modern and scenic city. Lahore is the cultural center famous for its historic monuments and is the capital of the largest province, Punjab. Karachi, the largest city with 12 million population is a cosmopolitan port city and the capital of the Sindh Province. Peshawar is located at the southern end of the historic Khyber Pass and is the capital of the North Western Frontier Province. Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan, which is Pakistan’ s largest province in area and rich in natural resources.

Politics and neighbouring environment

Pakistan is a Federation of four provinces and a Parliamentary democracy with multi-party system. The mainstream politics of the country as evident from the manifestoes and agenda of its major political parties, is moderate and focused on economic and social development. The principles imbibed in the State Constitution emphasize social justice, welfare, equality and equal opportunity, democracy, freedom and progress.

In foreign relations, Pakistan pursues a policy of seeking friendly and cooperative relations with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. Pakistan has been affected by the political developments of the past twenty years in the region. However, the regional environment has now greatly improved.South Asian countries have agreed to a Preferential Trade Agreement and are aiming at free trade arrangement in the future within the framework of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

There are plans to link up South Asia with roads and oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia and Iran. Pakistan is a member of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which is an economic entity with ten member countries including Central Asian states, Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey. Pakistan has also close relations with South East Asian countries and is a member of the Asian Regional Forum [ARF].

Pakistan is located at the cross roads of Central Asia, South Asia and South West Asia. This is a strategic location with great potential for Pakistan to become a hub of economic activity. In addition to the available extensive rail and road network, the government is developing highways and the Gwadar Port that would serve to link up adjoining regions of Central Asia.

Pakistan’s Economy

Pakistan is a developing country. The government attaches the highest priority to economic and social development. Agriculture sector is responsible for 25% of it economy with cotton, rice, wheat, sugarcane and maize as the major crops. Pakistan is an exporter of fruits, especially citrus, and fish and fish preparations. Industrial sector accounts for 24% of the economy. Textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, building materials, cement, fertilizers, sports goods, surgical goods, and leather goods are the mainstay of the industrial sector and the country’s exports. IT, engineering, textiles and small and medium sized industries are amongst the fastest growing sectors in the country.

Pakistan’s total GDP for year 2009-10 stood at US$ 165 billion (documented economy). The per capita income was US$ 1046, real GDP grew by 4.1% percent in 2009-10 as against 1.2 percent in 2008-09. It is expected that the growth rate during the current financial year will be 4.2%.

Pakistan’s exports in 2010-11 (July-April) grew by 15% and crossed US$ 20 billion. In comparison, the imports grew by 19% and were over US$ 13 billion. Remittances from overseas Pakistanis exceeded US$ 9 billion in the year 2010-11. The current account balance, excluding official transfers, stood in surplus at US$ 375 million. Foreign direct investment (FDI) crossed US$ 1 billion in 2009-10 with large investment in tele-com sector. Foreign exchange reserves have been more than US$ 17.0 billion. For further information, the Economic Survey of Pakistan can be perused at www.finance.gov.pk