August 14 is an auspicious day for Pakistan, the day when our country gained its independence from British rule. But how many Pakistanis know how Independence Day came about?
The new generation has just perfunctory knowledge of the sacrifices that were made to gain the country. With the exception of students of history and political science and those who would be considered senior citizens, the majority know little of the efforts that went into making Pakistan.
The reasons for the creation of Pakistan are crystal clear.
As the 19th century ended, Muslims of India found themselves in a depressive state. Events of several preceding decades, and the marginalization of the community by the new rulers of India had put them in a very disadvantageous situation. The marginalized Muslims began to notice Hindus occupying positions of strength over them. They sought a forum whereby they could voice their grievances and seek rights.
In response to this desire the All India Muslim League was formed in 1906. This was to be the voice of the Muslims and its primary objective was to gain the rights of the Indian Muslims.
On August 14, 1947, the dream finally became a reality. It took over a million Muslim lives to create the homeland for the Muslims. Both the Hindus and the Sikhs went on a killing spree indulging in wanton destruction and looting of property of the Muslims. Their behaviour vindicated the demand for a Muslim nation.
The matter, of course, did not end here.
The Indian government of the day, which was drawn from the Congress Party, was using other methods to nullify the creation of Pakistan. It held back the military stores due to the new nation. More than that, it held back the finances which were rightly Pakistan’s share.
Shaharyar, student, 14 years — “I do not have any knowledge about the Pakistan Movement and neither the reasons leading to the creation of Pakistan. But I do know that Pakistan is in a bad situation and needs good leadership to get out of it”
The Indian government felt that without finances the Pakistan government would not be able to function and would seek reunion with India. In that case, Pakistan’s return would be accepted on India’s terms. However, this Indian hope was dashed by the generous intervention of the Nizam of Hyderabad who loaned Rs. 2 billion to the government of Pakistan. In addition, Habib Bank, which had shifted its headquarters from Mumbai to Karachi, also loaned Rs. 48 crores. This was a handsome amount in 1947.
With the help of the infusion of these finances, the government functioned and grew, enabling Pakistan to survive those crucial early days. It has come a long way since then. Nevertheless, the Indian machinations against Pakistan continued unabated which resulted in the breakaway of the Eastern wing in 1971. The country survived that trauma and continues to function.
Senior citizens have some knowledge of the Pakistan Movement which is not surprising. Some lived in the time when the matter was still fresh and were also able to get first hand information. However, with the passage of time, the new generation has only scant knowledge about the subject. This reflects inadequate educational curriculum as well as sub-standard level of teaching in schools.
In any case, all the people who were interviewed, irrespective of age, were unanimous in their view that Pakistan was experiencing major difficulties which have to be addressed and if remedial action was not taken very soon it could harm the integrity of the country.
Sixty-eight years later where does the country stand? It is interesting to know the views of some Pakistanis belonging to different age groups.
Syed Nadeem Ahmad - 51 years. “The creation of Pakistan was necessary. Initially, the country showed much cohesiveness. People, irrespective of ethnicity, were drawn to each other. There was a feeling of nationhood and everybody took pride in being a Pakistani. That, however, changed over the years. In the early days life was simple and there was much happiness. Peopled looked after each other. The government functioned well and the bureaucracy showed fair responsibility. There was corruption, but it was not rife. Things began to change in the ‘70s and became worse in the ‘80s. The country, instead of making progress went into a downward spiral, economically and politically. Despite these drawbacks, there was faith in the people that the country would return to the right path.
“The return of the democratic government in 1988 did not help at all. At best, it was a farce. Neither party would not let the other function and complete its term. As a result democracy suffered and eventually paved the way for the army to take over. Gen. Musharraf succeeded in stabilizing the economy and seemed to give good direction to the country. Nevertheless, democracy must rule, but for that good leaders are needed and they are nowhere to be found.”
Siraj Ali — 71 years. “I was about four years old when my parents left India. I don’t remember the journey from India’s Lucknow in U.P., and know only what my father and uncles have related. They talked of fear of Hindu mob attacks in Lucknow. Then on the way, the Sikhs were playing the role of butchers. I recall early difficult days in Karachi. Then things began to improve as time went on. From a jhuggi (hut) we moved to a proper house located in what was then called ‘Lalu Khet’. I attended a government school and did my matriculation. After that I joined my father’s business selling crockery in a shop. The business was reasonably good. People were generally happy. Trouble started in the late ‘60s, as a movement developed to oust Ayub Khan. His successor didn’t stay long enough, but his rule did cause a massive upheaval in the country’s politics. There was a war and a big part of Pakistan broke away.
“I blame the government in the ‘70s which started the country’s decline including its unity. It introduced corruption and lawlessness on a large scale. It was from then on that things began to turn for the worse and have continued their downward spiral. I am happy that Pakistan was created. I fear that unless the rising trend in corruption and lawlessness is not arrested it will endanger Pakistan’s existence.”
Mohammad Hassan Abid, student - 21 years. “I was never a serious student so I have little knowledge about the Pakistan Movement and whatever I know about it was through school lessons, the print media and radio and talk shows on TV. But I do believe that Quaid-e-Azam was an able leader. He had the ability to take on the British and the Indian Congress and fight for Pakistan and he won in the end.
“I also feel that Liaquat Ali Khan should have visited the USSR instead of going to the USA as the latter is responsible for Pakistan’s current deplorable situation. Ayub Khan’s tenure gave the country not only economic stability but also resulted in the development of industries, agriculture and trade. I blame West Pakistan for the secession of East Pakistan. Mr Bhutto’s foreign policies were good but his domestic and economic policies weren’t. I blame the Afghan War for the current security problems the country is facing. I also condemn the politics that Nawaz Sharif and Benazir indulged in during the 1990s. Musharraf’s rule brought Pakistan some stability and it seemed that Pakistan would finally make some progress. The government of Mr Zardari introduced corruption on a large scale. His tenure was dismal. Hopes were tied with Nawaz Sharif. So far he has proven to be a disappointment. I feel that Pakistan holds many promises. If ably led, it can make tremendous progress.”
Ali bin Mushtaq, student - 16 years. “The reasons that led to Pakistan’s creation was due to Hindu-Muslim conflict. Beyond that I have no knowledge of Pakistan’s history nor have any desire to study about the Pakistan Movement. I accept that Pakistan has a bright future but corrupt leaders are stopping that progress. I am not very optimistic about Pakistan’s future if the current situation persists.
Shaharyar, student - 14 years. “I do not have any knowledge about the Pakistan Movement and neither the reasons leading to the creation of Pakistan. But I do know that Pakistan is in a bad situation and needs good leadership to get out of it, as I hear grown ups talking about it, but I am optimistic. I feel that things will turn out all right for Pakistan.”
Atiya Fatima, housewise - 65 years. “I consider myself a proud Pakistani and am very happy that I was born in this country. I have lived all my life in Karachi and have had a happy childhood. Life was simple yet full of happiness. Karachi did not have many of the facilities that exist today, yet people were happy. Everyone ate well and looked after one another. Relations, neighbours and friends - they were all caring.
“All that changed when the Bhutto government took over. His rule saw the rise in corruption, a malady that has become worse overtime. Lawlessness, too, has become worse over time. As a result, the country and the city of Karachi are not making any progress. The intellectuals and professionals are being compelled to leave the country. This country was built in the name of Islam. In reality, the country has gone off course and is doing everything prohibited by Islam. The feelings of disunity abound and this can lead to the disintegration of the country. Only a leader of great stature can save the country and he is nowhere to be seen. Pakistan was a beautiful idea, but now I fear for its existence.”
Mohammad Hyder Khan - 75 years. “My family migrated in 1948. My father was a civilian working for the Indian army and had opted for Pakistan. We lived in a small flat in Lea Market. It was a different place then, not a squalor locality that it has now become. I got my education at Sindh Madrassahtul Islam school. While the essentials of today may have been missing then, one very important element existed in those days which was love and affection and caring of neighbours, friends and relatives, irrespective of religious or ethnic background. People met with sincere feelings and came to each other’s help when needed. Ethnicity was introduced by Ayub Khan in the 1964 elections. Ayub was displeased with Karachi as the city voted for Fatima Jinnah. But Ayub’s first five years were probably the best and Pakistan did well. In his last five years he was surrounded by sycophants and they destroyed him.
“Bhutto’s nationalization policies destroyed whatever the country had built up. His educational policies did much harm to the country as well. The quality of education has not recovered since then. His foreign policy was brilliant. Equally brilliant was the way he got Pakistan the nuclear technology. Zia ul Haq helped defeat the USSR and thus freed the Muslim Central Asian Republics, but he was so engrossed with the Afghan war that he could not launch economic development plans.
“The politics of the ‘90s during Benazir and Nawaz Sharif’s rule was disastrous for Pakistan. Musharraf’s tenure did give some stability to the country. The economy improved and the country seemed to be going in the right direction. Zardari introduced corruption on a mega scale. Lawlessness in the country and especially Karachi, increased tremendously. Zardari’s term of five years has nothing to show. Politically, economically and socially, Paksitan is in a mess. The country expected much from Nawaz Sharif. So far he has been a big disappointment. We need a leader of very high stature in order to get out of this dangerous situation. So far it is Divine intervention that has kept the country intact. But, for how long.”
The writer is a freelance journalist.
|Islamic Republic of Pakistan|
اسلامی جمہوریۂ پاکستان
Motto: Unity, Discipline, Faith
Anthem: Qaumī Tarāna
Area controlled by Pakistan in dark red; claimed and disputed but uncontrolled territory marked in light red
|Official languages||Urdu (National)|
|Recognised regional languages||Balochi, Pashto, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi|
|Mamnoon Hussain (PML N)|
• Prime Minister
|Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (PML N)|
• Chief Justice
|Nasir ul Mulk|
• Chair of Senate
|Raza Rabani (PPP)|
• House Speaker
|Ayaz Sadiq (PML-N)|
• Upper house
• Lower house
• Pakistan Declaration
|28 January 1933|
• Pakistan Resolution
|23 March 1940|
|from the United Kingdom|
|14 August 1947|
• Islamic Republic
|23 March 1956|
|796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi) (36th)|
• Water (%)
• 2014 estimate
• 1998 census
|214.3/km2 (555.0/sq mi) (55th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2011 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2011 estimate|
• Per capita
|HDI (2011)|| 0.504|
low · 145th
|Currency||Pakistani Rupee (Rs.) (PKR)|
• Summer (DST)
|Drives on the||left|
|ISO 3166 code||PK|
Pakistan is a country in southern Asia. It is next to India, Iran, Afghanistan, and China. It is officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It has a long coastline along the Arabian Sea in the south. Pakistan has the fifth largest population (207.77 million) in the world. Pakistan has a total land area of 880,940 km2 (340,130 sq mi) (including the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan). This makes Pakistan the 34th largest country in the world. Pakistan has the seventh largest army in the world. The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad. Before 1960, it was Karachi, which is now the country's largest city.
The name Pākistān means Land of the Pure in Persian and Urdu.
Name of Pakistan[change | change source]
The name Pakistan (English pronunciation: ( listen) or ( listen); Urdu: پاکستان [paːkɪˈst̪aːn]) means Land of (the) Spiritually Pure in both Urdu and Persian languages. Many South-central Asian states and regions end with the element -stan, such as Afghanistan,PAKISTAN,Baluchistan,Kurdistan, and Turkistan. This -stan is formed from the Iranian root *STA "to stand, stay," and means "place (where one stays), home, country". Iranian peoples have been the principal inhabitants of the various geographical region of the Ancient Persian Empires now occupied by the states for over a thousand years. The names are compounds of -stan and the name of the peoples living there. Pakistan is a bit of an exception; its name was coined on the 28th January 1933 as Pakstan by Choudhary Rahmat Ali, a Pakistan Movement activist, who published it in his paper Now or Never. by using the suffix -istan from Baluchistan preceded by the initial letters of Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir and Sindh. The name is actually an acronym that stands for the "thirty million Muslim brethren who lived in PAKSTAN—by which we mean the Five Northern units of India viz: Punjab, (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan". The letter i was incorporated to ease pronunciation and forms the linguistically correct and meaningful name. Most notably interestingly, a word almost identical in form, etymology, and meaning to the Iranian suffix -stan is found in Polish, which has a word stan meaning "state" (in the senses of both polity and condition). It can be found in the example of a Polish name for the "United States of America," Stany Zjednoczone Ameryki (literally "States United of America").
Government and politics[change | change source]
Main articles: Government of Pakistan and Politics of Pakistan
Pakistan has a federal parliamentary system. The head of state is an indirectly-elected President. The president is also the Commander in Chief of the Joint Armed Forces. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is also indirectly elected.
The President's appointment and term are constitutionally independent of the Prime Minister’s term. The Electoral college of the country, (composed of the Senate, the National Assembly, and the four Provincial Assemblies) chooses a leadership representing the President of Pakistan for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly and is assisted by a cabinet of ministers drawn from both chambers of the federal legislature.
Politics[change | change source]
Pakistan is officially a federal republic, but during a long period in its history it changed to a democratic state and a military dictatorship. Military dictators include Ayub Khan in the 1960s, General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.
Pakistan's two largest political parties are the Pakistan People's Party and the government party Muslim League (Pakistan), which have military support. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has also gained prominence in the past years.
On 27 December 2007, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated. The reason is yet to be determined.
Administrative divisions[change | change source]
Main articles: Administrative units of Pakistan and Districts of Pakistan
Pakistan is made up of four provinces, two territories and two special areas. Both special areas are in Kashmir. The provinces and territories were divided into 26 divisions with now 147 districts directly divided from the provinces. Each district is divided into several tehsils and each tehsil is divided into several union councils. There are around 596 tehsils and over 6,000 union councils in Pakistan.
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly NWFP)
Among the four provinces, Punjab has the most people but Balochistan is the largest province by area. (Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also have Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) which are going to be regular districts.)
- Islamabad Capital Territory
- Federally Administered Tribal Areas
Administrative Areas (Pakistan-administered Kashmir)
- Azad Kashmir
- Gilgit Baltistan
India, Pakistan and China separately control parts of the Kashmir region. India and Pakistan's parts are divided by a Line of Control. The Pakistan–China border is internationally recognised. Trade is common between the 2 countries.
National symbols[change | change source]
Main article: National symbols of Pakistan
Economy[change | change source]
Main article: Economy of Pakistan
Pakistan has a semi-industrialized economy. The growth poles of the Pakistani economy are situated along the Indus River. Diversified economies of Karachi and Punjab's urban centres, coexist with less developed areas in other parts of the country. Despite being a very poor country in 1947, Pakistan's economic growth rate has been 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. Since the 1990s, there has been great improvement in the foreign exchange market position and rapid growth in hard currency reserves.
The 2005 estimate of foreign debt was close to US$40 billion. However, this decreased with help from the International Monetary Fund and significant debt-relief from the United States. Pakistan's gross domestic product, as measured by purchasing power parity, is estimated to be $475.4 billion while its per capita income stands at $2,942. The poverty rate in Pakistan is estimated to be between 23% and 28%.
History[change | change source]
Pakistan became Independent in 1946 from the Indian empire of British Raj. The first people in Ancient Pakistan lived 9000 years ago. These people were the ones who made up the Indus Valley Civilization, which is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. After that, the Vedic period came. This also included parts of north-western Republic of India. Until 1971, Pakistan also included an area in the North-east India region. This is now called Bangladesh. It lost that area after a war with the Indian Army and the joint militant group of Indo-Bangladeshi alliance of Mitro Bahini of West Bengal. During recent times Pakistan has been in the centre of world politics. This is first because of its support to guerillas in Afghanistan, following Sovietinvasion 1979, and later during the 1990s because of its cooperation with and support for the Talibanregime in Afghanistan. However, since 2000 Pakistan has basically supported the West in their war against fundamentalist terrorism, including the removal of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is a member of the Commonwealth. However, after the war in East Pakistan the country was excluded (between 1972-1989). It was also a member between 1999 and 2007, it was excluded in 2007 for a time but again became a member in 2008.
Geography and climate[change | change source]
Main article: Geography of Pakistan
There are many earthquakes in the area. The earthquake in 2005 with its earthquake center in Kashmir is the strongest so far. Over 100,000 people were killed or wounded on October 8, 2005.
Pakistan covers 880,940 km2 (340,130 sq mi), approximately equalling the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. Its eastern regions are located on the Indian plate and the western and northern regions on the Iranian plateau and Eurasian landplate. Apart from the 1,046 km (650 mi) Arabian Sea coastline, Pakistan's land borders total 6,774 km (4,209 mi) — 2,430 km (1,510 mi) with Afghanistan to the northwest, 523 km (325 mi) with China to the northeast, 2,912 km (1,809 mi) with India to the south and east, and 909 km (565 mi) with Iran to the southwest.
The northern and western highlands of Pakistan contain the towering Karakoram and Pamir mountain ranges, which incorporate some of the world's highest peaks, including K2 8,611 m (28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat 8,126 m (26,660 ft). The Balochistan Plateau lies to the west, and the Thar Desert and an expanse of alluvial plains, the Punjab and Sindh, lie to the east. The 1,609 km (1,000 mi) Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the disputed territory of Occupied Kashmir to the Arabian Sea.
Pakistan has four seasons: a cool, dry winter from December through February; a hot, dry spring from March through May; the summer rainy season, or southwest monsoon period, from June through September; and the retreating monsoon period of October and November. The beginning and length of these seasons vary somewhat according to location. Rainfall can vary radically from year to year, and successive patterns of flooding and drought are also not uncommon.
People[change | change source]
Languages[change | change source]
Main article: Languages of Pakistan
Urdu is replacing English as the national language of the country. English is still spoken among the Pakistani elite and in most government ministries. Many people also speak Saraiki, Punjabi, Hindko, Pashto, Sindhi , Balochi, Brahui and Khowar.
Shina is also one of the regional languages of Pakistan. It is spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Religion[change | change source]
Main article: Islam in Pakistan
Pakistan is a muslim country which means the religion is Islam
Most (97%) of the people are Muslim. Most of the Muslims in Pakistan are Sunni Muslims (>75%) and some are Shia Muslims (20%). However a few minority groups exist. Pakistan also has some Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrians and animist minority groups in the northern parts of the country.
After the separation from British India, Hinduism had much less importance in the newly created state of Pakistan, but has played an important role in its culture and politics as well as the history of its regions. In fact, Pakistan has the 5th largest population of Hindus, after Sri Lanka.
The word Hindu comes from the Sindhu (Indus River) of Pakistan. The Sindhu is one of the holy rivers of Hinduism. Thus, in many ways, the land which is today's heavily Muslim Pakistan has played an important part in the origin of Hinduism. There are about 3 million Hindus living in Pakistan.
Poverty[change | change source]
Poverty in Pakistan is a growing concern. Although the middle-class has grown in Pakistan, nearly one-quarter of the population is classified poor as of October 2006.
Sports[change | change source]
For more details, see Pakistan at the Olympics, Pakistan national field hockey team, and Pakistan national football team
The national sport of Pakistan is field hockey, although cricket is the most popular game across the country. 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 (in 1987 and 1996). Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural 2007 ICC World Twenty20 held in South Africa and were the champions at the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 held in England. The team also won two Asia Cups in 2000 and 2012. Lately however, Pakistani cricket has suffered heavily due to teams refusing to tour Pakistan after militants attacked the touring Sri Lankan team in March 2009, after which no international cricket was played until May 2015, when the Zimbabwean team agreed to tour.
In addition to sports like field hockey, cricket, squash rackets, football and others, Pakistanis are also very keen on equestrianism of various types,and equestrian sports such as Polo and the traditional Tent pegging are played by many. Other traditional rural sports include two types of Wrestling, Kabbadi and a martial art called Gatka. Pakistan won ICC Champions trophy against India in 2017.