The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is bordered in the north-west by Afghanistan, north by the former USSR and China, east by India and south by the Arabian Sea.
The Muslim state that emerged from partition of British India on 14 August 1947 included an eastern wing comprising mainly the eastern half of Bengal province and parts of Assam. (The name Pakistan is coinage representing ‘Punjab, the Afghan border states, Kashmir, Sing and Baluchistan’)
For nine years Pakistan remained a dominion. It was proclaimed an Islamic republic on 23 March 1956. A federal parliamentary system functioned until-Field -Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan seized power in a coup in October 1958. Ayub proclaimed a presidential system in the constitution of 1962 and ruled until March 1969, when he was deposed by Gen. Yahya Khan.
In the first free elections in December 1970, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Part dominated the west, while Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League swept the board in the east, winning 160 of the 162 seats.
East Pakistan proclaimed sovereignty and formed the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 26 Narcg 1971. Civil war followed after Yahya, supported by Bhutto, ordered troops to arrest Mujib and put down the Bengali uprising. The east-west war ended in December 1971. Yahya handed over power to Bhutto, who ruled until July 1977, before being over-thrown after an opposition campaign against alleged rigging in general elections. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq took over-initially to hold elections and transfer power to a civilian regime. But elections were twice postponed and Bhutto was tried for the murder of a political opponent and executed.
Gen. Zia was killed in a plane crash on August 17, 1988 and Senate Chairman Ghulam Ishaq Khan took over as Action President. The country was placed under emergency rule.
In the general election held on November 16,1998 the Pakistan People’s Part (PPP) led by Benazir Bhutto won the largest number of seats (92). Benazir assumed office as the PM on December 9. Ghulam Ishaq Khan was elected President on December 12.
Benazir was dismissed in Aug. ’90 and Nawaz Sharif of Islami Jamhoori Ittehed took over as Pakistan’s 11th Prime Minister on November 5. Sharief was dismissed in 1993. The Supreme Court annulled the dismissal leading to constitutional impasse. Moeen Qureshi took over as caretaker Prime Minister in July. PPP returned to power in Oct. ’93 and Ms. Bhotto took over as PM once again. In Apr. ;96, Imran Khan launched a new part ‘Movement for Social Justice’. In Nov., Ms. Bhutto was dismissed as PM, the National Assembly dissolved, and M.M. Khalid appointed caretaker PM. On Feb. 17, 1997, Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as Pakistan’s 13th PM.
Tensions between the military and PM Sharif ended in a coup by army chief. Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Oct. 12, 1999. Nawaz Sharif was later exiled to Saudi Arabia. he was convinced and sentenced to 25-year-long life sentence on charges of hijacking and terrorism. Pakistan was suspended (Oct. 18, 19999) from the Commonwealth.
A milestone in Indo-Pak relations was the Lahore bus ride by Indian PM Vajpayee in Feb. 1999.
Ethnic and communal conflict that had been raging in Karachi intensified in 1995. The Urdu-speaking Muhajirs are demanding equal rights and autonomy. in Jan-Aug, ’97, over 150 persons were killed in Shia-Sunni violence, and at least 250 were shot dead in Karachi. In Aug., government enacted a new law to combat the growing sectarianism and terrorism.
Elections are to be held in Oct. 2002, as per Supreme Court order and judgment.
Kashmir: Pakistan controls the northern and western portions of Kashmir, an area of about 84,160 sq km with a population of about 2.8m. in 1985. The pak-occupied Kashmir has its own Assembly, its own Council, High Court and Supreme Court. There is a Parliamentary form of Government with a Prime Minister as the executive head and the President as the constitutional head. The seat of government is Muzaffarabad.
The Pakistan Government is directly responsible for Gilgit and Baltistan (the north). On May 28, 1998, Pakistan tested five nuclear devices and this was followed by a sixth one on May 3.
Agriculture )including forestry and fishing) is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy, employing about 50% o the working population and providing about 25% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The entire area in north and west is covered by great mountain ranges. The rest of the country consist soft a fertile plain wintered by five big rivers and their tributaries. Agriculture is dependent almost entirely on the irrigation system based on these rivers. The main crops are wheat, cotton, maize, sugar-cane and rice, while the Quetta and Kalat divisions (Baluchistan) are known for their fruits and dates. Pakistan is self-sufficient in wheat, rice and sugar.
Industry employs about 10% of the population. Manufacturing contributes about 20% to GNP. Refined sugar, vegetable products, jute textiles, soda ash, sulphur acid, caustic soda, chip board and paper board, bicycles, cotton cloth, cotton yarn, cement and steel. Main exports are cotton cloth, cotton yarns, rice, leather, carpets and tapestries. There are international airports at Karachi, Islamabad, lahore, Peshwar and Quetta.