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Home » Resources » Country Profile »Pakistan


The Muslim-majority state of Pakistan occupies an area which was home to some of the earliest human settlements and where two of the world's major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, were practised.
The modern state was born out of the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 and has faced both domestic political upheavals and regional confrontations.


Created to meet the demands of Indian Muslims for their own homeland, Pakistan was originally in two parts.
The east wing - present-day Bangladesh - is on the Bay of Bengal bordering India and Burma and the west wing - present-day Pakistan - stretches from the Himalayas down to the Arabian Sea.
War with India over the disputed northern territory of Kashmir came shortly after independence - the two countries fought again in 1965.
The break-up of the two wings came in 1971 when the predominantly Bengali-speaking east wing seceded with help from India.
Civilian politics in Pakistan in the last few decades has been tarnished by corruption, inefficiency and confrontations between various institutions. Alternating periods of civilian and military rule have not helped to establish stability.
Pakistan came under military rule again in October 1999 after the ousting of a civilian government which had lost a great deal of public support. The coup leader, General Musharraf, pledged to revive the country's fortunes, but faced economic challenges and law and order problems.
The latter are a major concern in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab, where thousands have been killed since the early 1980s in violence between Sunni and Shia factions.
Pakistan's place on the world stage shifted after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US. It dropped its support for the Taleban regime in Afghanistan and was propelled into the frontline in the fight against terrorism, becoming a key ally of Washington.
Pakistani forces say they have arrested hundreds of suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban-linked militants in the restive tribal regions along the Pakistani-Afghan border.
Tensions with India over Kashmir remain and have fuelled fears of a regional arms race. However, an ongoing peace process has brought the two nuclear-armed powers back from the brink of renewed conflict.

Population: 161.1 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Islamabad
Area: 796,095 sq km (307,374 sq miles), excluding Pakistani-held parts of Kashmir (83,716 sq km/32,323 sq miles)
Major languages: Urdu (official), Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Balochi and English
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 61 years (men), 61 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Pakistani Rupee = 100 paisa
Main exports: Textile products, rice, cotton, leather goods
GNI per capita: US $470 (World Bank, 2003)
Internet domain: .pk
International dialling code: +92

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