|Official Name||Islamic Republic Of Pakistan.|
|Form of Government||Democratic.|
|Area||796,095 square kilometres|
|Population ( 2000 A.D. )||141,553,775.|
|Gender Distribution||Male: 51.95% ; Female:48.05%.|
|Religious Affiliation (2000 A.D. )||Muslims:95% ;Christian:2% ; Hindu:1.8% ; Others:1.2%.|
Pakistan, officially Islamic Republic of Pakistan Urdu Islam-i Jamhuriya-e Pakistan country in South Asia. It is bounded to the west by Iran, to the north by Afghanistan, to the northeast by China, to the east and southeast by India, and to the south by the Arabian Sea. It has an area (excluding the Pakistani-held part of Jammu and Kashmir) of 307,374 square miles (796,095 square kilometres). The capital is Islamabad.
Pakistan was brought into being at the time of the Partition of British India in 1947 in order to create a separate homeland for India's Muslims in response to the demands of Islamic nationalists, demands that were articulated by the All India Muslim League under the leadership of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. From independence in 1947 until 1971, Pakistan (both de facto and in law) consisted of two regions—West Pakistan, in the Indus River basin, and East Pakistan, located more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometres) away in the Ganges River delta. In response to grave internal political problems, however, an independent state of Bangladesh was proclaimed in East Pakistan in 1971.
Since 1947 the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, along the western Himalayas, has been disputed between Pakistan and India, with each holding sectors. The two countries have gone to war over the territory three times, in 1948–49, 1965, and 1971
By the early 1990s Pakistan's population was divided into five ethnic groups, defined broadly. The Punjabis constitute the majority, with more than 55 percent of the population; the Sindhis account for another 20 percent, the Pathans and the muhajirs for about 10 percent each, and the Balochs for about 5 percent. There are subgroups within each of these five categories. The Arains, Rajputs, and Jats—all Punjabis—regard themselves as ethnically distinct. Some groups overlap the five categories: for instance, there are Punjabi Pathans as well as Hazarvi Pathans. Some smaller groups, such as the Brohis in Sindh and the Seraikis in Punjab, are also ethnically distinct.
Urdu is the youngest of the nation's languages and is not indigenous to Pakistan; it is very similar to Hindi, an official language of India. Although the two languages have a common base, in its literary form Urdu emphasizes words of Persian and Arabic origin, whereas Hindi emphasizes words of Sanskrit origin. Urdu is written in a modified version of the Persian script (written from right to left), whereas Hindi is written in Devanagari script from left to right. Because it is preeminently the language of the educated Muslims of northern India, including the Punjab, Urdu has strong associations with Muslim nationalism; hence the ideological significance of Urdu in Pakistani politics.
The 1956 constitution prescribed the use of English for official purposes for 20 years, and the 1962 constitution made the period indefinite. The 1973 constitution, however, designated a 15-year transition period to Urdu, after which English would no longer be used for official purposes. English is spoken by only a small percentage of the people. Urdu is the mother tongue of only a small percentage of the population of Pakistan; it is taught in the schools along with the regional languages.
Punjabi has its own script, Gurmukhi, but it is mainly used in India. In Pakistan, Punjabi is mainly spoken rather than written; it is also a predominantly rural rather than an urban language. Urdu, rather than Punjabi, is the first language taught in schools in Punjab, so that every educated Punjabi reads and writes Urdu. There was a movement for the promotion of the Punjabi language in the 1980s and '90s, and some Punjabi literature is being published using the Urdu script; among the works published are Punjabi classics that have hitherto been available in Gurmukhi script or preserved in oral tradition.
Sindhi is derived from the Virachada dialect of Prakrit; it has fewer dialects than Punjabi. It is written in a special variant of the Arabic script. Most of the educated middle class in Sindh were Hindu, and their departure to India in 1947 had a traumatic effect on Sindhi culture. Vigorous efforts were therefore directed toward a recovery and preservation of the rich Sindhi literary and cultural heritage. Large numbers of Urdu-speaking refugees settled in Sindh, and they now constitute the majority of the population of its larger towns. As a consequence, the movement for the promotion of Sindhi language and culture was sometimes expressed as opposition toward Urdu. The Sindhi population feared that their language and culture would be overrun by the language and culture of the muhajir community; this fear led to the language riots of 1972 and to the government's decision to grant special status to the Sindhi language. The rise of militant ethnic politics in the 1980s can be traced to this decision.
Pashto, the language of the Pathans (Pashtuns, or Pakhtuns) of the North-West Frontier Province, has no written literary traditions although it has a rich oral tradition. There are two major dialect patterns within which the various individual dialects may be classified; these are Pakhto, which is the northern (Peshawar) variety, and the softer Pashto spoken in southern areas. As in the Punjab, Urdu is the language taught in schools, and educated Pathans read and write Urdu. Again, as in the case of Punjabi, there was a movement for developing the written language in Persian script and increasing the usage of Pashto. From 1979 onward, as many as 3.5 million largely Pashto-speaking refugees arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan. While most were accommodated in refugee camps in and around Peshawar, a number of them settled in Karachi, further complicating the city's ethnic and linguistic picture.
The two main spoken languages of Balochistan are Balochi and Brahui. Makrani is an important dialect of Balochi; it is spoken in Makran, the southern region of Balochistan, bordering on Iran.
Family organization is strongly patriarchal, as in most agrarian societies, and most people live in large extended families. A woman's place in society is low, and she is restricted to the performance of domestic chores and to fulfilling the role of a dutiful wife and mother. In wealthy peasant and landowner households and in urban middle-class families, women are kept in seclusion (pardah); on the rare occasions on which they set foot outside their houses, they must be veiled. Among poor peasants, women have duties on the farm as well as in the house and do not observe pardah. In the Punjab, cotton picking is exclusively a woman's job, and women keep the money thus earned for their own purposes. Houses of those who practice pardah have a men's section (mardanah) at the front of the house, so that visitors do not disturb the women, who are secluded in the women's section (zananah).
Among the very rich, Western education and modes of living have eliminated pardah, but, in general, even among this group, attitudes toward women in society and the family are akin to those of Victorian England. Change is coming most rapidly among the urban middle-income group, inspired by increasing access to the West as well as by the entry of women into the work force. An increasing number of women do not observe pardah, and the education of women has been encouraged. Some women have gained distinction in the professions; some of Pakistan's leading politicians, journalists, and teachers are women.
Social organization revolves around kinship rather than caste. Beradari (patrilineage) is the most important social institution. A preferable marriage for a man is with his father's brother's daughter, and among many groups marriages are invariably within the beradari. The lineage elders constitute a council that adjudicates disputes within the lineage and acts on behalf of the lineage with the outside world—for example, in determining electoral allegiances.
Pakistan's cultural heritage dates back more than 5,000 years, to the epoch of the Indus civilization. But the emphasis on Islamic ideology has brought about a strong romantic identification with Islamic culture—not only that of the Indian subcontinent but of the whole of the Islamic world. Qawwali, a form of devotional singing, is very popular. Poetry is also a popular rather than an esoteric art, and public poetry recitations called musha'irahs are organized like musical concerts. Urdu, Sindhi, and Pashto poets are regional and national heroes. Literature is the richest of all Pakistani art forms; music and, especially, dancing are less-developed arts. The visual arts, too, play little part in popular folk culture. Painting and sculpture, however, have made considerable progress as expressions of an increasingly sophisticated urban culture.
The cinema is the most popular form of entertainment. Many feature films are produced each year, mostly in Punjabi and Urdu. The songs and music used in the films have a distinctive character and are often reproduced on phonograph records and broadcast on the radio.
Government-owned radio and television have been used in an attempt to harness folk cultural traditions (especially in song, music, and drama) for political and nonpolitical propaganda purposes. Newspapers, in particular those published in Urdu, Sindhi, and English, have a wide readership.