Pakistan is located in South Asia bordered by India China, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Arabian Sea. The area of Pakistan is 307,374 square miles with a population of about 134,974,000 (estimated 1995) which is an average population density of about 439 persons per square mile. Within Pakistan’s massive area, there is a beautiful topographical layout. The Indus River almost divides the country in half, spanning from the northeast to the Arabian Sea. On the eastern side of the Indus Rivers lies the Indus Plain and on the western side extends the Balochistan Highlands. Located to the north, there are excellent opportunities for winter sports, mountaineering, hiking, and beautiful scenery because of the Himalayan hill stations (Kaleidoscope, 3). Next to the Himalayas, is the Karakorum Range that contains Pakistan’s highest point and the worlds second highest point, K2, reaching an elevation of 28,250 feet above sea level (Encarta).
The climate in Pakistan varies from place to place. In the mountain regions, the temperature falls way below freezing during the winter months. The temperature in the Indus plains reaches 55°F in the winter and between 90° and 120°F in the summer. Most of Pakistan is arid because rainfall is scarce and mostly occurs in July and August. There are four seasons in Pakistan which are the following: Cold season, December to March; Summer, April to June; Monsoon season, July to September; Post-monsoon season, October to November. Since the country is mostly arid, it does not lend itself to contain fertile soil for growing food products except in the Indus Plain, where its natural resources are primarily agricultural. From the Sutlej, Ravi, Chenab, and Jhelum Rivers come irrigation systems which help supply water to various parts of the Indus Plain. The main crops are wheat, rice, maize, cotton, sugar cane, and pulses. Pakistan’s natural resources also consist of salt, ch!
romite, coal, gypsum, limestone, manganese, sulfur, clay, graphite, copper, petroleum, and natural gas.
“The Indus Valley, along with some adjoining areas in what is now Pakistan, is one of the oldest cradles of civilization, comparable to ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China. In 1700 B.C., many Aryans migrated from the north bringing Sanskrit, the ancestor language of the modern Pakistan language, along with customs and religious traditions (Lands and People).” That was the start of present-day Pakistan. Alexander the Great invaded Pakistan in 327 B.C. and took rule during the Persian Achaemenid dynasty.
In 711 Arab Muslims crossed the Arabian Sea and invaded Sind, introducing Islam to Pakistan. From then on Islam has been the primary culture in Pakistan. Then in 1526 Pakistan became part of the Mughal Empire. The Mughals introduced Sikhism and the Urdu language to Pakistan. The British government assumed direct control of India and much of Pakistan in 1858. By 1900 the territory had been expanded to include all of modern Pakistan. Finally in 1947, Pakistan gained its independence and in 1956 became a republic.
Pakistan adopted a constitution in 1973. In 1991 legislation made Islamic Law the supreme law of the land. The Pakistan government is divided into four major sections or branches. The Executive branch which consists of the President and Prime Minister; the Legislative branch which is composed of a 217 member National Assembly and a 87 member Senate; the Judiciary branch which is the final authority; and the Local Government branch which is divided into four provinces (Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab, and the Northwest Frontier). These local governments can make their own laws within limits of the federal laws (Kaleidoscope, 6). The president has the power to appoint and dismiss the prime minister and to call new elections whenever deemed necessary. The current President of Pakistan is Farooq Leghari who was elected in 1993 and the prime minister is Benazir Bhutto who was re-elected in 1993.
In December 1988 Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan became the first woman to be elected prime minister in a Muslim country. This is significant because the role of women is not great in the Muslim culture. A graduate of the University of Oxford, Bhutto stepped in as head of the Pakistan People’s party (PPP) after the imprisonment of her father, the party’s founder. She won the 1988 national election as the candidate for the PPP, but President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed her two years later, claiming her administration was corrupt and incompetent. However, Bhutto’s successor, the conservative Nawaz Sharif, earned similar criticism, and Bhutto was reelected in 1993. She is helping Pakistan’s economic growth. The “bold economics of the present government of Benazir Bhutto is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious in the world (Time Magazine, 1).” Benazir Bhutto is a leader for the people giving a privatization program, speaking out against human rights abuses, protecting the enviro!
nment, and even appearing on MTV’s House of Style program on fashion. “She is determined to take a principled stance, irrespective of the consequences (Time Magazine).”
The type of government Pakistan has is a republic. This form of government has a head of state which is not a monarchy and is usually a president who is elected by representatives of the people. The capital is Islamabad which has about 350,000 inhabitants. In 1967, Islamabad replaced the old capital of Pakistan, Karachi, which is currently the largest city containing 5,180,562 or about 4% of Pakistan’s total population.
In Pakistan there are several ethnic groups. These groups include Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushtun, Mohajir, and Baloch. The religious make-up of these groups are 77 percent Sunni Muslim, 20 percent Shiite Muslim, and 3 percent other, which is mainly Christian and Hindu. Urdu and English are the official languages spoken in Pakistan, however Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtu, Urdu, and Balochi are also spoken. Pakistan has many Islamic holidays. Some of these holidays are the following: February 1, Ramadan begins; March 3, end of Ramadan; May 10, Id al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice); May 31, Islamic New Year; and August 14, Independence Day.
Islam is the main religion in Pakistan. Islam has flourished in diverse climatic, cultural, and ethnic regions. The two fundamental sources of Islamic doctrine and practice are the Koran and the Sunna, or the exemplary conduct of the Prophet Muhammad. There are five duties, known as the “pillars of Islam,” and are regarded as cardinal in Islam and as central to the life of the Islamic community. The first duty is the profession of faith (the Shahadah): “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.” The second duty is that of five daily prayers. The first prayer is offered before sunrise, the second in the very early afternoon, the third in the late afternoon, the fourth immediately after sunset, and the fifth before retiring and before midnight. In prayers, Muslims must face the Kaaba. The third cardinal duty of a Muslim is to pay zakat. This was originally the tax levied by Muhammad (and later by Muslim states) on the wealthy members of the community, primaril!
y to help the poor. The fourth duty is the fast of the month of Ramadan. During the fasting month, one must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset. The fifth duty is the pilgrimage to the Kaaba at Mecca. Every adult Muslim who is physically and economically able to do so must make this pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime.
I chose to write this report on Pakistan partly because when we had to decide which country to do, there was a question asked about Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan on Jeopardy. The other reason that helped me choose Pakistan is that the main religion in Pakistan is Islam. I recently saw the movie Malcolm X and near the end of Malcolm’s life, he turned to the religion of Islam. These two things sparked my interest and made me decide that I wanted to know more about Pakistan. I learned that Benazir Bhutto was the first female Muslim leader, and that she is a leader for the people. Also, I learned that K2 is the highest point in Pakistan and the second highest mountain in the world. This assignment showed me how other beliefs, traditions, cultures, and types of government function within a country. Here in America, we have a very culturally diverse population. However in a country where there is one prominent culture, that country’s day to day activities are more in touch wi!
th its religion, traditions, and culture. Pakistan is a great country, with the largest Islamic population in the world and I think a great political leader who will help make Pakistan a better place.