|General background: The separation in 1947
of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with
two sections West and East) and largely Hindu India
was never satisfactorily resolved. A third war between
these countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan seceding
and becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. A dispute
over the state of Kashmir is ongoing. In response to
Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its
own tests in 1998.
Slightly less than twice the size of California.
Climate: Mostly hot, dry desert; temperate
in northwest; arctic in north.
Flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest;
Balochistan plateau in west
Population: 147,663,429 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun (Pathan),
Baloch, Muhajir (immigrants from India at the time
of partition and their descendants)
Religions: Muslim 97% (Sunni 77%, Shi'a 20%),
Christian, Hindu, and other 3%
Language: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki
(a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official)
8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official
and lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government
ministries), Burushaski, and other 8%
Government type: Federal republic
Legal system: Based on English common law
with provisions to accommodate Pakistan's status as
an Islamic state; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction,
Economic overview: Pakistan, an impoverished
and underdeveloped country, suffers from internal
political disputes, lack of foreign investment, and
a costly confrontation with neighbouring India. Pakistan's
economic prospects, marred by poor human development
indicators, low levels of foreign investment, and
reliance on international creditors for hard currency
inflows, were nonetheless on an upswing through most
of 2001. The MUSHARRAF government made significant
inroads in macroeconomic reform - it completed an
IMF short-term loan program for the first time and
improved its standing with international creditors
by increasing revenue collection and restraining the
fiscal deficit in the 2001/02 budget. While Pakistan
has capitalized on its international standing after
the 11 September terrorist attacks on the US by garnering
substantial assistance from abroad - including $1.3
billion in IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
aid and $12.5 billion in Paris Club debt rescheduling
- long-term prospects remain uncertain. GDP growth
will continue to hinge on crop performance; dependence
on foreign oil leaves the import bill vulnerable to
fluctuating oil prices; and foreign and domestic investors
remain wary of committing to projects in Pakistan.
Pakistani trade levels - already in decline due to
the global economic downturn - worsened in the aftermath
of the September 11 attacks.
Communication/Telephone system: The system
is mediocre, but improving.
Places of interest: Pakistan has some of Asia's
most mind-blowing landscapes, extraordinary trekking,
a multitude of cultures and a long tradition of hospitality.
Travel tips: In light of the escalating dispute
over Kashmir and the possibility of war between India
and Pakistan, many governments are urging against
travel to both countries and advising their citizens
who are already there to leave as soon as possible.