Pakistan (Urdu: ??????? P?kist?n 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. Etymology The name Pakistan (IPA: [pa?k?st?a?n]) means Land of (the) Pure in Urdu and Persian (Farsi). It was coined in 1934 as Pakstan by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, who published it in his pamphlet Now or Never. The name represented the "thirty million Muslims of PAKISTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of British Raj ? Punjab, Afghania (also known as North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Sindh, and Balochistan." History Main articles: History of Pakistan and History of South Asia "The Priest King" Wearing Sindhi Ajruk, ca. 2500 BC. National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan 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. An engraving titled "Sepoy Indian troops dividing the spoils after their mutiny against British rule" gives a contemporary view of events from the British perspective. 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. Governor General Jinnah delivering the opening address on 11 August 1947 to the new state of Pakistan. 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 nine 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 more than 2 million, depending on the source. The two wings of Pakistan in 1970; East Pakistan separated from the West wing in 1971 as an independent Bangladesh. 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 the 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. Government and politics Main articles: Government of Pakistan and Politics of Pakistan Parliament house in Islamabad 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. Prime Minister's Secretariat, Islamabad 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. Subdivisions Provinces and territories of Pakistan Main articles: Subdivisions of Pakistan, Districts of Pakistan, and List of most populated metropolitan areas in 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. Provinces: Balochistan North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) Punjab Sindh Balochistan and NWFP also have Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) which are being developed into regular districts. Territories: Islamabad Capital Territory (IST) Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Azad Jammu and Kashmir (or simply Azad Kashmir) (AJK) Northern Areas (FANA) Demographics Main articles: Demographics of Pakistan, Ethnic groups in Pakistan, Religion in Pakistan, and Languages of Pakistan 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. Cities by population Languages Major Ethnic Groups in Pakistan 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. Punjabi 44.68% Pashto 15.42% Sindhi 14.1% Seraiki 8.38% Urdu 7.57% Balochi 3.57% Others 6.08% Other languages include Brahui, Potwari, Kashmiri, Persian, Dari, Hindko, Gujrati, Memoni, Makrani, Marwari, Bengali, Gojri, and Dogri. Religions Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi 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 Religious breakup of the country is as follows: Islam 173,000,000 (97%) (nearly 80% are Sunni Muslims and 20% are Shi'a Muslims). Hinduism 3,200,000 (1.85%) Christianity 2,800,000 (1.6%) Sikhs Around 20,000 (0.04%) as well as much smaller numbers of Parsis, Ahmadis, Buddhists, Jews, Bahá'ís, and Animists (mainly the Kalasha of Chitral). Pakistan is the second-most populous Muslim-majority country and also has the second-largest Shi'a population in the world. Military Main article: Military of Pakistan 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. Pakistan Air Force personnel during an competition course. 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. Geography and climate Main article: Geography of Pakistan K2, at 8,611 metres (28,251 ft), is the second highest peak in the world 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. Flora and fauna Main articles: Flora of Pakistan and Fauna of Pakistan A Mango Orchard in Multan, Pakistan 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. Economy Main article: Economy of Pakistan PTDC Motel at Malam Jabba Ski Resort, Swat, NWFP, Pakistan 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. A wheat field in Pakistan 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. Education Main article: Education in Pakistan University of the Punjab 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.  Society and culture Main article: Culture of Pakistan 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. Cloth market in Karachi 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. A sitar workshop in Islamabad 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. An example of modern day Pakistani architecture in Karachi Muhammad Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan 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. Holidays Sports Main article: Sport in Pakistan Cricket is the most popular sport in Pakistan 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 The Lahore Fort, was rebuilt by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1566. Main article: Tourism in Pakistan Tomb of Allama Iqbal at night 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. Contents [hide] 1 Etymology 2 History 3 Government and politics 3.1 Subdivisions 4 Demographics 4.1 Languages 4.2 Religions 5 Military 6 Geography and climate 7 Flora and fauna 8 Economy 9 Education 10 Society and culture 10.1 Holidays 11 Sports 12 Tourism 13 See also 14 References 15 Further reading 16 External links Rank City Province Population Rank City Province Population view ? talk ? edit ?Karachi, Sindh??Lahore, Punjab 1 Karachi Sindh 12,461,423 11 Sargodha Punjab 573,541 2 Lahore Punjab 6 936 563 12 Bahawalpur Punjab 516,882 3 Faisalabad Punjab 2,708,944 13 Shekhupura Punjab 397,186 4 Rawalpindi Punjab 1,877,580 14 Sialkot Punjab 702,591 5 Multan Punjab 1 566 932 15 Sukkur Sindh 460,899 6 Hyderabad Sindh 1 536 398 16 Larkana Sindh 416,261 7 Gujranwala Punjab 1,484,172 17 Jhang Punjab 357,826 8 Peshawar North-West Frontier 1,344,967 18 Mardan North-West Frontier 330,234 9 Quetta Balochistan 825,889 19 Rahim Yar Khan Punjab 328,903 10 Islamabad Islamabad Capital Territory 657,788 20 Gujrat Punjab 320,440 2008 estimation Gregorian Date English Arabic/Urdu Islamic Date variable The Tenth Day Ashura ??????? 10 Muharram variable Day of the Sacrifice Eid ul-Adha ??? ?????? 10 Dhu al-Hijjah variable Birth of the Prophet Muhammad Eid Milad an Nabi ???????? ????????? 12 Rabi' al-awwal variable End of month of Ramadan Eid ul-Fitr ??? ????? 01 Shawwal January 1 New Year's Day Ra's as-Sana al-meladiah ??? ????? ????????? variable March 23 Pakistan Day Yom-e-Pakistan ??? ??????? variable May 1 Labor Day Yom-e-Karigar ??? ?????? variable August 14 National Day Yum-e-Istiqlal ??? ??????? variable November 9 Birthday of Muhammad Iqbal Yum-e-Iqbal ??? ????? variable December 25 Birthday of Muhammad Ali Jinnah Yom-e-Viladat-e-Quaid-e-Azam ?? ????? ???????? variable
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