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The majority of Pakistan`s population lives along the Indus River valley and along an arc formed by the cities of Faisalabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad, and Peshawar.  Although the official language of Pakistan is Urdu, it is spoken as a first language by only 9% of the population; 65% speak Punjabi, 11% Sindhi, and 24% speak other languages (Pushtu, Saraiki, Baloch, Brahui). Urdu, Punjabi, Pushtu, and Baloch are Indo-European languages; Brahui is believed to have Dravidian (pre-Indo-European) origins. English is widely used within the government, the officer ranks of the military, and in many institutions of higher learning.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Pakistan(i).
Population (1998 estimate): 135 million.
Annual growth rate (1998): 2.6%.
Ethnic groups: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan (Pushtun), Baloch, Muhajir (i.e., Urdu-speaking immigrants from India and their descendants), Saraiki, Hazara.
Religions: Muslim 97%; small minorities of Christians, Hindus, and others.
Languages: Urdu (national and official), English, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushtu, Baloch.
Education: Literacy (1999) 45%. Unofficial estimates are as low as 35%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1997)--85/1,000. Life expectancy (1999)--men 63 yrs., women 63 yrs.
Work force (1999): Agriculture--44%. Services--30%. Industry--26%.

Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India and Iran
Map references: Asia
total area: 803,940 sq km
land area: 778,720 sq km
comparative area: slightly less than twice the size of California
Land boundaries: total 6,774 km, Afghanistan 2,430 km, China 523 km, India 2,912 km, Iran 909 km
Coastline: 1,046 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: status of Kashmir with India; border question with Afghanistan (Durand Line); water-sharing problems (Wular Barrage) over the Indus with upstream riparian India

Climate: mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north
Terrain: flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west
Natural resources: land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, poor quality coal, iron ore, copper, salt, limestone
Land use:
arable land: 23%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 6%
forest and woodland: 4%
other: 67% (1993)
Irrigated land: 170,000 sq km (1992)

current issues: water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural fresh water resources; a majority of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification
natural hazards: frequent earthquakes, occasionally severe especially in north and west; flooding along the Indus after heavy rains (July and August)
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation

Note: controls Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, traditional invasion routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent

Archaeological explorations have revealed impressive ruins of a 4,500-year old urban civilization in Pakistan`s Indus River valley. The reason for the collapse of this highly developed culture is unknown. A major theory is that it was crushed by successive invasions (circa 2000 B.C. and 1400 B.C.) of Aryans, Indo-European warrior tribes from the Caucasus region in what is now Russia. The Aryans were followed in 500 B.C. by Persians and, in 326 B.C., by Alexander the Great. The "Gandhara culture" flourished in much of present-day Pakistan.

The Indo-Greek descendants of Alexander the Great saw the most creative period of the Gandhara (Buddhist) culture. For 200 years after the Kushan Dynasty was established in A.D. 50, Taxila (near Islamabad) became a renowned centre of learning, philosophy, and art. Pakistan`s Islamic history began with the arrival of Muslim traders in the 8th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Mogul Empire dominated most of South Asia, including much of present-day Pakistan.

British traders arrived in South Asia in 1601, but the British Empire did not consolidate control of the region until the latter half of the 18th century. After 1850, the British or those influenced by them governed virtually the entire subcontinent.

In the early 20th century, South Asian leaders began to agitate for a greater degree of autonomy. Growing concern about Hindu domination of the Indian National Congress Party, the movement`s foremost organization, led Muslim leaders to form the all-India Muslim League in 1906. In 1913, the League formally adopted the same objective as the Congress -- self-government for India within the British Empire -- but Congress and the League were unable to agree on a formula that would ensure the protection of Muslim religious, economic, and political rights.

Pakistan and Partition:

The idea of a separate Muslim state emerged in the 1930s. On March 23, 1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, formally endorsed the "Lahore Resolution," calling for the creation of an independent state in regions where Muslims constituted a majority. At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom moved with increasing urgency to grant India independence. However, the Congress Party and the Muslim League could not agree on the terms for a constitution or establishing an interim government. In June 1947, the British Government declared that it would bestow full dominion status upon two successor states -- India and Pakistan. Under this arrangement, the various princely states could freely join either India or Pakistan. Consequently, a bifurcated Muslim nation separated by more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi.) of Indian territory emerged when Pakistan became a self-governing dominion within the Commonwealth on August 14, 1947. West Pakistan comprised the contiguous Muslim-majority districts of present-day Pakistan; East Pakistan consisted of a single province, which is now Bangladesh.

The Maharaja of Kashmir was reluctant to make a decision on accession to either Pakistan or India. However, armed incursions into the state by tribesman from the NWFP led him to seek military assistance from India. The Maharaja signed accession papers in October 1947 and allowed Indian troops into much of the state. The Government of Pakistan, however, refused to recognize the accession and campaigned to reverse the decision. The status of Kashmir has remained in dispute.

After Independence

With the death in 1948 of its first head of state, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and the assassination in 1951 of its first Prime Minister, Liaqat Ali Khan, political instability and economic difficulty became prominent features of post-independence Pakistan. On October 7, 1958, President Iskander Mirza, with the support of the army, suspended the 1956 constitution, imposed martial law, and cancelled the elections scheduled for January 1959. Twenty days later the military sent Mirza into exile in Britain and Gen. Mohammad Ayub Khan assumed control of a military dictatorship. After Pakistan`s loss in the 1965 war against India, Ayub Khan`s power declined. Subsequent political and economic grievances inspired agitation movements that compelled his resignation in March 1969. He handed over responsibility for governing to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan, who became President and Chief Martial Law Administrator.

General elections held in December 1970 polarized relations between the eastern and western sections of Pakistan. The Awami League, which advocated autonomy for the more populous East Pakistan, swept the East Pakistan seats to gain a majority in Pakistan as a whole. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), founded and led by Ayub Khan`s former Foreign Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, won a majority of the seats in West Pakistan, but the country was completely split with neither major party having any support in the other area. Negotiations to form a coalition government broke down and a civil war ensued. India attacked East Pakistan and captured Dhaka in December 1971, when the eastern section declared itself the independent nation of Bangladesh. Yahya Khan then resigned the presidency and handed over leadership of the western part of Pakistan to Bhutto, who became President and the first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator.

Bhutto moved decisively to restore national confidence and pursued an active foreign policy, taking a leading role in Islamic and Third World forums. Although Pakistan did not formally join the non-aligned movement until 1979, the position of the Bhutto government coincided largely with that of the non-aligned nations. Domestically, Bhutto pursued a populist agenda and nationalized major industries and the banking system. In 1973, he promulgated a new constitution accepted by most political elements and relinquished the presidency to become Prime Minister. Although Bhutto continued his populist and socialist rhetoric, he increasingly relied on Pakistan`s urban industrialists and rural landlords. Over time the economy stagnated, largely as a result of the dislocation and uncertainty produced by Bhutto`s frequently changing economic policies. When Bhutto proclaimed his own victory in the March 1977 national elections, the opposition Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) denounced the results as fraudulent and demanded new elections. Bhutto resisted and later arrested the PNA leadership.

1977-1985 Martial Law

With increasing anti-government unrest, the army grew restive. On July 5, 1977, the military removed Bhutto from power and arrested him, declared martial law, and suspended portions of the 1973 constitution. Chief of Army Staff Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq became Chief Martial Law Administrator and promised to hold new elections within three months.

Zia released Bhutto and asserted that he could contest new elections scheduled for October 1977. However, after it became clear that Bhutto`s popularity had survived his government, Zia postponed the elections and began criminal investigations of the senior PPP leadership. Subsequently, Bhutto was convicted and sentenced to death for alleged conspiracy to murder a political opponent. Despite international appeals on his behalf, Bhutto was hanged on April 6, 1979.

Zia assumed the Presidency and called for elections in November. However, fearful of a PPP victory, Zia banned political activity in October 1979 and postponed national elections.

In 1980, most centre and left parties, led by the PPP, formed the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD). The MRD demanded Zia`s resignation, an end to martial law, new elections, and restoration of the constitution as it existed before Zia`s takeover. In early December 1984, President Zia proclaimed a national referendum for December 19 on his "Islamization" program. He implicitly linked approval of "Islamization" with a mandate for his continued presidency. Zia`s opponents, led by the MRD, boycotted the elections. When the government claimed a 63% turnout, with more than 90% approving the referendum, many observers questioned these figures.

On March 3, 1985, President Zia proclaimed constitutional changes designed to increase the power of the President VS the Prime Minister (under the 1973 constitution the President had been mainly a figurehead). Subsequently, Zia nominated Muhammad Khan Junejo, a Muslim League member, as Prime Minister. The new National Assembly unanimously endorsed Junejo as Prime Minister and, in October 1985, passed Zia`s proposed eighth amendment to the constitution, legitimizing the actions of the martial law government, exempting them from judicial review (including decisions of the military courts), and enhancing the powers of the President.

The Democratic Interregnum

On December 30, 1985, President Zia removed martial law and restored the fundamental rights safeguarded under the constitution. He also lifted the Bhutto government`s declaration of emergency powers. The first months of 1986 witnessed a rebirth of political activity throughout Pakistan. All parties -- including those continuing to deny the legitimacy of the Zia/Junejo government -- were permitted to organize and hold rallies. In April 1986, PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, returned to Pakistan from exile in Europe.

Following the lifting of martial law, the increasing political independence of Prime Minister Junejo and his differences with Zia over Afghan policy resulted in tensions between them. On May 29, 1988, President Zia dismissed the Junejo government and called for November elections. In June, Zia proclaimed the supremacy in Pakistan of Shari`a (Islamic law), by which all civil law had to conform to traditional Muslim edicts.

On August 17, a plane carrying President Zia, American Ambassador Arnold Raphel, U.S. Brig. General Herbert Wassom, and 28 Pakistani military officers crashed on a return flight from a military equipment trial near Bahawalpur, killing all of its occupants. In accordance with the constitution, Chairman of the Senate Ghulam Ishaq Khan became Acting President and announced that elections scheduled for November 1988 would take place.

After winning 93 of the 205 National Assembly seats contested, the PPP, under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto, formed a coalition government with several smaller parties, including the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM). The Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI), a multi-party coalition led by the PML and including religious right parties such as the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), won 55 National Assembly seats.

Differing interpretations of constitutional authority, debates over the powers of the central government relative to those of the provinces, and the antagonistic relationship between the Bhutto Administration and opposition governments in Punjab and Balochistan seriously impeded social and economic reform programs. Ethnic conflict, primarily in Sindh province, exacerbated these problems. A fragmentation in the governing coalition and the military`s reluctance to support an apparently ineffectual and corrupt government were accompanied by a significant deterioration in law and order.

In August 1990, President Khan, citing his powers under the eighth amendment to the constitution, dismissed the Bhutto government and dissolved the national and provincial assemblies. New elections, held in October of 1990, confirmed the political ascendancy of the IJI. In addition to a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, the alliance acquired control of all four provincial parliaments and enjoyed the support of the military and of President Khan. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, as leader of the PML, the most prominent Party in the IJI, was elected Prime Minister by the National Assembly.

Sharif emerged as the most secure and powerful Pakistani Prime Minister since the mid-1970s. Under his rule, the IJI achieved several important political victories. The implementation of Sharif`s economic reform program, involving privatization, deregulation, and encouragement of private sector economic growth, greatly improved Pakistan`s economic performance and business climate. The passage into law in May 1991 of a Shari`a bill, providing for widespread Islamization, legitimized the IJI government among much of Pakistani society.

After PML President Junejo`s death in March 1993, Sharif loyalists unilaterally nominated him as the next party leader. Consequently, the PML divided into the PML Nawaz (PML/N) group, loyal to the Prime Minister, and the PML Junejo group (PML/J), supportive of Hamid Nasir Chatta, the President of the PML/J group.

However, Nawaz Sharif was not able to reconcile the different objectives of the IJI`s constituent parties. The largest religious party, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), abandoned the alliance because of its perception of PML hegemony. The regime was weakened further by the military`s suppression of the MQM, which had entered into a coalition with the IJI to contain PPP influence, and allegations of corruption directed at Nawaz Sharif. In April 1993, President Khan, citing "maladministration, corruption, and nepotism" and espousal of political violence, dismissed the Sharif government, but the following month the Pakistan Supreme Court reinstated the National Assembly and the Nawaz Sharif government. Continued tensions between Sharif and Khan resulted in governmental gridlock and the Chief of Army Staff brokered an arrangement under which both the President and the Prime Minister resigned their offices in July 1993.

An interim government, headed by Moeen Qureshi, a former World Bank Vice President, took office with a mandate to hold national and provincial parliamentary elections in October. Despite its brief term, the Qureshi government adopted political, economic, and social reforms that generated considerable domestic support and foreign admiration.

In the October 1993 elections, the PPP won a plurality of seats in the National Assembly and Benazir Bhutto was asked to form a government. However, because it did not acquire a majority in the National Assembly, the PPP`s control of the government depended upon the continued support of numerous independent parties, particularly the PML/J. The unfavorable circumstances surrounding PPP rule -- the imperative of preserving a coalition government, the formidable opposition of Nawaz Sharif`s PML/N movement, and the insecure provincial administrations -- presented significant difficulties for the government of Prime Minister Bhutto. However, the election of Prime Minister Bhutto`s close associate, Farooq Leghari, as President in November 1993 gave her a stronger power base.

In November 1996, President Leghari dismissed the Bhutto government, charging it with corruption, mismanagement of the economy, and implication in extra-judicial killings in Karachi. Elections in February 1997 resulted in an overwhelming victory for the PML/Nawaz, and President Leghari called upon Nawaz Sharif to form a government. In March 1997, with the unanimous support of the National Assembly, Sharif amended the constitution, stripping the President of the power to dismiss the government and making his power to appoint military service chiefs and provincial governors contingent on the "advice" of the Prime Minister. Another amendment prohibited elected members from "floor crossing" or voting against party lines. The Sharif government engaged in a protracted dispute with the judiciary, culminating in the storming of the Supreme Court by ruling party loyalists and the engineered dismissal of the Chief Justice and the resignation of President Leghari in December 1997. The  new President elected by Parliament, Rafiq Tarar, was a close associate of the Prime Minister. A one-sided accountability campaign was used to target opposition politicians and critics of the regime. Similarly, the government moved to restrict press criticism and ordered the arrest and beating of prominent journalists. As domestic criticism of Sharif`s administration intensified, Sharif attempted to replace Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999, with a family loyalist, Director General ISI Lt. Gen. Ziauddin. Although General Musharraf was out of the country at the time, the Army moved quickly to depose Sharif.

On October 14, 1999, General Musharraf declared a state of emergency and issued the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), which suspended the federal and provincial parliaments, held the constitution in abeyance, and designated Musharraf as Chief Executive. While delivering an ambitious seven-point reform agenda, Musharraf has not yet provided a timeline for a return to civilian, democratic rule, although local elections are anticipated at the end of calendar year 2000. Musharraf has appointed a National Security Council, with mixed military/civilian appointees, a civilian Cabinet, and a National Reconstruction Bureau (think tank) to formulate structural reforms. A National Accountability Bureau (NAB), headed by an active duty military officer, is prosecuting those accused of willful default on bank loans and corrupt practices, whose conviction can result in disqualification from political office for twenty-one years. The NAB Ordinance has attracted criticism for holding the accused without charge and, in some instances, access to legal counsel. While military trial courts were not established, on January 26, 2000, the government stipulated that Supreme, High, and Shari`a Court justices should swear allegiance to the Provisional Constitutional Order and the Chief Executive. Approximately 85 percent of justices acquiesced, but a handful of justices were not invited to take the oath and were forcibly retired. Political parties have not been banned, but a couple of dozen ruling party members remain detained, with Sharif and five colleagues facing charges of attempted hijacking.

Extreme poverty and underdevelopment in Pakistan, as well as fiscal mismanagement that has produced a large foreign debt, obscure the potential of a country which has the resources and entrepreneurial skill to support rapid economic growth. In fact, the economy averaged an impressive growth rate of 6 percent per year during the 1980s and early 1990s. However, the economy is extremely vulnerable to Pakistan`s external and internal shocks, such as in 1992-93, when devastating floods and political uncertainty combined to depress economic growth sharply and the financial crisis in Asia which hit major markets for Pakistani textile exports. Average real GDP growth from 1992 to 1998 dipped to 4.1 percent annually.

Since the early 1980s, the government has pursued market-based economic reform policies. Market-based reforms began to take hold in 1988, when the government launched an ambitious IMF-assisted structural adjustment program in response to chronic and unsustainable fiscal and external account deficits. Since that time the government has removed barriers to foreign trade and investment, begun to reform the financial system, eased foreign exchange controls, and privatized dozens of state-owned enterprises. Pakistan continues to struggle with these reforms, having mixed success, especially in reducing its budget and current account deficits. The budget deficit in FY 1996-97 was 6.4% of GDP. Initial data implied a reduction in 1997-98 to 5.4% and in 1998-99 to 4.3%, but revised data indicates that the deficit is probably still over 5.0%. In that same 2-year period, the rupee was devalued against the dollar 12% and 10.5% respectively.

Economic reform was further set back by Pakistan`s nuclear tests in May 1998 and the subsequent economic sanctions imposed by the G-7. International default was narrowly averted by the partial waiver of sanctions and the subsequent reinstatement of Pakistan`s IMF ESAF/EFF in early 1999, followed by Paris Club and London Club rescheduling. The Sharif government had difficulty meeting the conditionality of the IMF program, which was suspended in July 1999. The current government has announced a program of reforms and is in discussion with the IMF regarding a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility to begin in July 2000.

With a per capita GDP of about USD 441, the World Bank considers Pakistan a low-income country. No more than 39 percent of adults are literate, and life expectancy is about 62 years or less. The population, currently about 130 million, is growing at about 2.6%, very close to the GDP growth rate. Relatively few resources have been devoted to socio-economic development on infrastructure projects. Inadequate provision of social services and high population growth have contributed to a persistence of poverty and unequal income distribution.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Pakistan`s principal natural resources are arable land and water. About 25% of Pakistan`s total land area is under cultivation and is watered by one of the largest irrigation systems in the world. Agriculture accounts for about 24% of GDP and employs about 50% of the labour force. The most important crops are wheat, sugarcane, cotton, and rice, which together account for more than 75% of the value of total crop output. Despite intensive farming practices, Pakistan remains a net food importer. Pakistan exports rice, cotton, fish, fruits, and vegetables and imports vegetable oil, wheat, cotton, pulses and consumer foods.

The economic importance of agriculture has declined since independence, when its share of GDP was around 53%. Following the poor harvest of 1993, the government introduced agriculture assistance policies, including increased support prices for many agricultural commodities and expanded availability of agricultural credit. From 1993 to 1997, real growth in the agricultural sector averaged 5.7% but has since declined to less than 4%. Agricultural reforms, including increased wheat and oilseed production, play a central role in the new government`s economic reform package.

Pakistan has extensive energy resources, including fairly sizable natural gas reserves, some proven oil reserves, coal, and large hydropower potential. However, the exploitation of energy resources has been slow due to a shortage of capital and domestic political constraints. For instance, domestic petroleum production totals only about half the country`s oil needs. The need to import oil also contributes to Pakistan`s persistent trade deficits and the shortage of foreign exchange. The current government has announced that privatization in the oil and gas sector is a priority, as is the substitution of indigenous gas for imported oil, especially in the production of power.


Pakistan`s manufacturing sector accounts for about 26% of GDP. Cotton textile production and apparel manufacturing are Pakistan`s largest industries, accounting for about 64% of total exports. Other major industries include cement, fertilizer, edible oil, sugar, steel, tobacco, chemicals, machinery, and food processing. Despite ongoing government efforts to privatize large-scale parastatal units, the public sector continues to account for a significant proportion of industry. In FY 1998-99, gross fixed capital formation in the public sector accounted for about 38% of the total. In the face of an increasing trade deficit, the government hopes to diversify the country`s industrial base and bolster export industries.

Foreign Trade and Aid

Weak world demand for its exports and domestic political uncertainty have contributed to Pakistan`s high trade deficit. In FY 1998-99, Pakistan recorded a current account deficit of $1.7 billion, only a slight improvement over the FY 1997-98 current account deficit of $1.9 billion. Pakistan`s exports continue to be dominated by cotton textiles and apparel, despite government diversification efforts. Major imports include petroleum and petroleum products, edible oil, wheat, chemicals, fertilizer, capital goods, industrial raw materials, and consumer products. External imbalance has left Pakistan with a growing foreign debt burden. Principal and interest payments in FY 1998-99 totalled $2.6 billion, more than double the amount paid in FY 1989-90. Annual debt service now exceeds 34% of export earnings.

Pakistan receives about $2.5 billion per year in loan/grant assistance from international financial institutions (e.g., the IMF, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank) and bilateral donors. Increasingly, the composition of assistance to Pakistan has shifted away from grants toward loans repayable in foreign exchange. All new U.S. economic assistance to Pakistan was suspended after October 1990, when then-President Bush could no longer certify under the Pressler Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act (Section 620e[e]) "that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed assistance package reduces significantly the risk that Pakistan will acquire a nuclear explosive device."

GDP (1998-99): $59 billion.
Real annual growth rate 1998-99: 3.1%.
Per capita GDP (1998-99): $441.
Natural resources: Arable land, natural gas, limited petroleum, substantial hydropower potential, coal, iron ore.
Agriculture: Products--wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, tobacco.
Industry: Types--textiles, fertilizer, steel products, chemicals, food processing, oil and gas products, cement.
Trade (FY 1998-99): Exports--$7.8 billion: raw cotton, rice, cotton yarn, textiles, fruits, vegetables. Major partners--U.S., Japan, U.K., Saudi Arabia, Germany. Imports--$9.4 billion: wheat, crude oil, cooking oil, fertilizers, machinery. Major partners--U.S., Japan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, U.K., Sri Lanka.


The Pakistan constitution of August 1973, amended substantially in 1985 under Zia, provides for a president (chief of state) elected for a five- year term by an electoral college, consisting of the Senate, National Assembly, and the members of the four provincial assemblies; and a prime minister (head of government) elected by the National Assembly in a special session. After the election, the president invites the prime minister to create a government. The constitution permits a vote of "no confidence" against the prime minister by a majority of the entire National Assembly, provided that it is not in the annual budget session.
Country name:
conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
conventional short form: Pakistan
former: West Pakistan

Data code: PK

Government type: federal republic
National capital: Islamabad
Administrative divisions: 4 provinces, 1 territory*, and 1 capital territory**; Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas*, Islamabad Capital Territory**, North-West Frontier, Punjab, Sindh
note: the Pakistani-administered portion of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region includes Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas

Independence: 14 August 1947 (from UK)
National holiday: Pakistan Day, 23 March (1956) (proclamation of the republic)
Constitution: 10 April 1973, suspended 5 July 1977, restored with amendments 30 December 1985
Legal system: based on English common law with provisions to accommodate Pakistan`s status as an Islamic state; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal; separate electorates and reserved parliamentary seats for non-Muslims and tribal areas

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mohammad Rafiq TARAR (since 31 December 1997)
head of government: Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz SHARIF (since 17 February 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
elections: president elected by Parliament for a five-year term; election last held 31 December 1997 (next to be held no later than 1 January 2002); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by the National Assembly; election last held 3 February 1997 (next to be held NA February 2002)
election results: Mohammad Rafiq TARAR elected president; percent of Parliament and provincial vote—NA; Mohammad Nawaz SHARIF elected prime minister; percent of National Assembly vote—NA

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Majlis-e-Shoora consists of the Senate (87 seats; members indirectly elected by provincial assemblies to serve six-year terms; one-third of the members up for election every two years) and the National Assembly (217 seats; 207 represent Muslims and 10 represent non-Muslims; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

elections: Senate—last held 12 March 1997 (next to be held NA March 1999); National Assembly—last held 3 February 1997 (next to be held NA February 2002)  election results: Senate—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PML/N 30, PPP 17, ANP 7, MQM/A 6, JWP 5, BNP 4, JUI/F 2, PML/J 2, BNM/M 1, PKMAP 1, TJP 1, independents 6, vacant 5; National Assembly—percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party—PML/N 137, PPP 18, MQM/A 12, ANP 10, BNP 3, JWP 2, JUI/F 2, PPP/SB 1, NPP 1, independents 21, minorities 10

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judicial chiefs are appointed by the president; Federal Islamic (Shari`at) Court

Political parties and leaders:
government: Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz Sharif faction (PML/N), Nawaz SHARIF; Balochistan National Movement/Mengal Group (BNM/M), Sardar Akhtar MENGAL; Mutahida Qaumi Movement, Altaf faction (MQM/A), Altaf HUSSAIN; Jamiat-al-Hadith (JAH); Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), Akbar Khan BUGTI; Pakistan People`s Party/Shaheed Bhutto (PPP/SB), Ghinva BHUTTO; Baluch National Party (BNP), leader NA
opposition: Pakistan People`s Party (PPP), Benazir BHUTTO; Pakistan Muslim League, Junejo faction (PML/J), Hamid Nasir CHATTHA; National People`s Party (NPP), Ghulam Mustapha JATOI; Pakhtun Khwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), Mahmood Khan ACHAKZAI; Balochistan National Movement/Hayee Group (BNM/H), Dr. HAYEE Baluch; Pakhtun Quami Party (PKQP), Mohammed AFZAL Khan; Awami National Party (ANP), Wali KHAN
frequently shifting: Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Niazi faction (JUP/NI); Pakistan Muslim League, Functional Group (PML/F), Pir P AGARO; Pakistan National Party (PNP); Milli Yakjheti Council (MYC) is an umbrella organization which includes Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Qazi Hussain AHMED, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Sami-ul-Haq faction (JUI/S), Tehrik-I-Jafria Pakistan (TJP), Allama Sajid NAQVI, and Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Noorani faction (JUP/NO)
note: political alliances in Pakistan can shift frequently; subsequent to the election Jamiat Ulema-i-Islami, Fazlur Rehman group (JUI/F) was disbanded

Political pressure groups and leaders: military remains important political force; ulema (clergy), landowners, industrialists, and small merchants also influential


Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Riaz KHOKAR
chancery: 2315 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6200
FAX: [1] (202) 387-0484
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas W. SIMONS, Jr.
embassy: Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5, Islamabad
mailing address: P. O. Box 1048, Unit 62200, APO AE 09812-2200
telephone: [92] (51) 826161 through 826179
FAX: [92] (51) 214222
consulate(s) general: Karachi, Lahore
consulate(s): Peshawar

Flag description: green with a vertical white band (symbolizing the role of religious minorities) on the hoist side; a large white crescent and star are centered in the green field; the crescent, star, and colour green are traditional symbols of Islam

The National Assembly--217 members (10 of whom represent minorities) elected directly by universal adult suffrage--has a 5-year term subject to dissolution by the president. In 1990, a constitutional provision which established 20 reserved seats for women expired and has not been renewed. The Senate, not subject to dissolution, consists of 87 members elected indirectly for 6 years (19 from each of the provincial assemblies; 8 from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas; and 3 from the Federal Capital Area). One-third of the Senate members stand for re-election every 2 years.

Two lists--federal and concurrent--designate jurisdiction on legislative subjects; all residual powers belong to the provinces. According to the 1973 constitution, the president, after consulting with the prime minister, appoints provincial governors, who act on the advice of the cabinet or chief minister of the province.

The Supreme Court is Pakistan`s highest court. The president appoints the Chief Justice, and they together determine the other judicial appointments. Each province has a high court, the justices of which are appointed by the president after conferring with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the provincial governor, and the provincial Chief Justice. During the martial law period, the powers and autonomy of the civilian judiciary were curtailed. Several martial law decrees extended the jurisdiction of military tribunals and prohibited the civilian judiciary from reviewing the procedures and decisions of military courts.

Pakistan`s 800,000-member armed forces, the world`s 8th largest, are well trained and disciplined. Pakistan operates military equipment from several foreign sources, among which the United States, China, France, and the United Kingdom are the most significant. Much of this equipment is obsolete. The government`s extensive efforts to modernize Pakistan`s defence capability are frustrated by the country`s limited industrial base and fiscal resources.

Until 1990, a portion of U.S. aid to Pakistan was used to help modernize Pakistan`s conventional defensive capability. The United States allocated about 40% of its assistance package to Pakistan to no reimbursable credits for military purchases; the remainder of the program was devoted to economic assistance. U.S. Government military and economic transfers to Pakistan, excepting counter-narcotics assistance and disaster relief, were suspended in October 1990 due to the administration`s inability to certify under the Presser Amendment that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear weapons program.

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