Pakistan Facts

Population: 194,898,690 For more visit Worldmeters

Official Languages: 

Pakistan’s national language is Urdu, which, along with English, is also the official language. In 2015, the government of Pakistan announced plans to make Urdu the sole official language and abolish English as the second official language. The country is also home to several regional languages, including Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, Kashmiri, Hindko, Brahui, Shina, Balti, Khowar, Seraiki, Dhatki, Marwari, Wakhi and Burushaski. From among these, four (Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, and Balochi) are provincial languages. Almost all of Pakistan’s languages belong to the Indo-Iranian group of the Indo-European language family.


Area: 796,095 km²

Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a federal parliamentary republic in South Asia. It is the sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 200 million people. It is the 36th largest country in the world in terms of area with an area covering 881,913 square kilometres (340,509 square miles). Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometer-long (650-mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest and China in the far northeast respectively. It is separated from Tajikistan by Afghanistan’s narrow Wakhan Corridor in the north, and also shares a maritime border with Oman. Pakistan is strategically placed as it straddles the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. The territory that now constitutes Pakistan is considered a cradle of civilisation which was previously home to several ancient cultures, including the Mehrgarh of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation, and was later home to kingdoms ruled by people of different faiths and cultures, including Hindus, Indo-Greeks, Muslims, Turco-Mongols, Afghans and Sikhs. The area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties, including the Indian Mauryan Empire, the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Alexander of Macedonia, the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mongol Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Durrani Empire, the Sikh Empire and the British Empire. Pakistan is unique among Muslim countries as it is the only country to have been created in the name of Islam. As a result of the Pakistan Movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the subcontinent’s struggle for independence, Pakistan was created in 1947 as an independent nation for Muslims from the regions in the east and west of the Subcontinent where there was a Muslim majority. It is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country, with a similar variation in its geography and wildlife. Initially a dominion, Pakistan adopted a new constitution in 1956, becoming an Islamic republic. An ethnic civil war in 1971 resulted in the secession of East Pakistan as the new country of Bangladesh. In 1973 Pakistan adopted a new constitution which established a Federal Government based in Islamabad alongside its pre-existing parliamentary republic status – which consists of four provinces and four federal territories. The Constitution also states that all laws are to conform with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah. A regional and middle power, Pakistan has the sixth largest standing armed forces in the world and is also a nuclear power as well as a declared nuclear-weapons state, being the second in South Asia and the only nation in the Muslim world, to have that status. Pakistan has a semi-industrialised economy with a well-integrated agriculture sector, and a growing services sector. The Pakistani economy is the 26th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and 45th largest in terms of nominal GDP and is also characterised among the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world. Pakistan has recently witnessed a rapid expansion of its prosperous middle class, the 18th largest worldwide. In terms of development potential Pakistan has made substantial progress in reducing poverty giving it the second lowest headcount poverty rate in South Asia. Pakistan’s stock exchange is Asia’s highest performing stock market and as of 2016, is part of the MSCI’s emerging markets index. The post-independence history of Pakistan has been characterised by periods of military rule and since 2008, transition to democracy, amid conflicts with neighbouring India. The country continues to face challenging problems, including illiteracy, healthcare and corruption, although it has significantly reduced poverty and substantially reduced terrorism. Pakistan maintains strategic endowments such as a border with China, India, Iran and direct connection to the Arabian Sea. Pakistan is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Next Eleven Economies, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ECO, UfC, D8, Cairns Group, Kyoto Protocol, ICCPR, RCD, UNCHR, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Group of Eleven, CPFTA, Group of 24, the G20 developing nations, ECOSOC, founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, SAARC and CERN.


The Pakistani rupee (Urdu: روپیہ‎ / ALA-LC: Rūpiyah; sign: ; code: PKR) is the currency of Pakistan. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the State Bank of Pakistan, the central bank of the country. The most commonly used symbol for the rupee is Rs, used on receipts when purchasing goods and services. In Pakistan, the rupee is also spelled as “rupees”, “rupaya” or “rupaye”. As standard in Pakistani English, large values of rupees are counted in terms of thousands, lakh (100 thousand) and crore (10 million), 1 Arab (1 billion), 1 Kharab (100 billion).

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Christianity and other religions

Christians formed the next largest religious minority, after Hindus, with a population of 2,092,902, as per the 1998 Census. They were followed by the Bahá’í Faith, which had a following of 30,000, then Sikhism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism, each back then claiming 20,000 adherents, and a very small community of Jains. There is a Roman Catholic community in Karachi which was established by Goan and Tamil migrants when Karachi’s infrastructure was being developed by the British during colonial administration between World War I and World War II. Influence of atheism is very little with 1.0% of the population aligned as atheist in 2005. However, the figure rose to 2.0% in 2012 according to Gallup.



Kalash people maintain a unique identity and religion within Pakistan. As per United States Census Bureau estimates the country’s population is at 199,085,847 (199.1 million) as of 2015, which is equivalent to 2.57% of the world population. Noted as the sixth most populated country in the world, its growth rate is reported at ~2.03%, which is the highest of the SAARC nations and gives an annual increase of 3.6 million. The population is projected to reach 210.13 million by 2020 and to double by 2045. At the time of the partition in 1947, Pakistan had a population of 32.5 million, but the population increased by ~57.2% between the years 1990 and 2009. By 2030, it is expected to surpass Indonesia as the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Pakistan is classified as a “young nation” with a median age of about 22, and 104 million people under the age of 30 in 2010. Pakistan’s fertility rate stands at 3.07, higher than its neighbor India (2.57). Around 35% of the people are under 15. Vast majority residing in Southern Pakistan lives along the Indus River, with Karachi being its most populous commercial city. In the eastern, western, and Northern Pakistan, most of the population lives in an arc formed by the cities of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum, Sheikhupura, Nowshera, Mardan and Peshawar. During 1990–2008, the city dwellers made up 36% of Pakistan’s population, making it the most urbanised nation in South Asia which further increased to 38% by 2013. Furthermore, 50% of Pakistanis live in towns of 5,000 people or more. Expenditure spend on healthcare was ~2.8% of GDP in 2013. Life expectancy at birth was 67 years for females and 65 years for males in 2013. The private sector accounts for about 80% of outpatient visits. Approximately 19% of the population and 30% of children under five are malnourished. Mortality of the under-fives was 86 per 1,000 live births in 2012.



Economists estimate that Pakistan has been part of the wealthiest region of the world throughout the first millennium CE having the largest economy by GDP. This advantage was lost in the 18th century as other regions edged forward such as China and Western Europe. Pakistan is considered as a developing country and is one of the Next Eleven, the eleven countries that, along with the BRICs, have a high potential to become the world’s largest economies in the 21st century. However, after decades of social instability, as of 2013, serious deficiencies in macromanagement and unbalanced macroeconomics in basic services such as train transportation and electrical energy generation had developed. The economy is considered to be semi-industrialized, with centres of growth along the Indus River. The diversified economies of Karachi and Punjab’s urban centres coexist with less developed areas in other parts of the country particularly in Balochistan. Pakistan is the 70th largest export economy in the world and the 89th most complex economy according to the Economic complexity index (ECI). In 2013, Pakistan exported $28.2B and imported $44.8B, resulting in a negative trade balance of $16.6B. Pakistan Stock Exchange is one of the best performing market in the world. According to Forbes, PSX delivered a return of 400% between 2010 and 2015. Pakistan’s estimated nominal GDP as of 2016 is US$271 billion making it the 41st largest in the world and second largest in South Asia representing about 15.0% of regional GDP. The GDP by PPP is US$838,164 million. The estimated nominal per capital GDP is US$1,197, GDP (PPP)/capita is US$4,602 (international dollars), and debt-to-GDP ratio is 55.5%. According to the World Bank, Pakistan has important strategic endowments and development potential. The increasing proportion of Pakistan’s youth provides the country with a potential demographic dividend and a challenge to provide adequate services and employment. 21.04% of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. Unemployment rate among aged 15 and over population is 5.5%.Pakistan has an estimated of 40 million middle class citizens which are projected to increase to 100 million people by 2050. A 2013 report published by the World Bank positioned Pakistan’s economy at 24th largest in the world by purchasing power and 45th largest in absolute dollars. It is South Asia’s second largest economy, representing about 15.0% of regional GDP. Pakistan’s economic growth since its inception has been varied. It has been slow during periods of democratic transition, but excellent during the three periods of martial law, although the foundation for sustainable and equitable growth was not formed. The early to middle 2000s was a period of rapid economic reforms; the government raised development spending, which reduced poverty levels by 10% and increased GDP by 3%. The economy cooled again from 2007. Inflation reached 25.0% in 2008 and Pakistan had to depend on a fiscal policy backed by the International Monetary Fund to avoid possible bankruptcy. A year later, the Asian Development Bank reported that Pakistan’s economic crisis was easing. The inflation rate for the fiscal year 2010–11 was 14.1%. Since 2013, as part of an International Monetary Fund program Pakistan’s economic growth has picked up. Goldman Sachs predicted, in 2014, that Pakistan’s economy would grow 15 times in the next 35 years to become 18th largest economy in the world by 2050.In his 2016 book, The Rise and Fall of Nations, Ruchir Sharma termed Pakistan’s economy as on a ‘take-off’ stage and the future outlook till 2020 has been termed ‘Very Good’. Sharma termed it possible to transform Pakistan from a “low-income to a middle-income country during the next five years.” Pakistan is one of the largest producers of natural commodities, and its labour market is the 10th largest in the world. The 7-million–strong Pakistani diaspora contributed an estimated US$15 billion to the economy in 2014–15. The major source countries of remittances to Pakistan are: the UAE; United States; Saudi Arabia; the Gulf states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman); Australia; Canada; Japan; United Kingdom; Norway; and Switzerland.  According to the World Trade Organization, Pakistan’s share of overall world exports is declining; it contributed only 0.128% in 2007. The trade deficit in the fiscal year 2010–11 was US$11.217 billion.


Foreign relations of Pakistan

Ayub Khan (President of Pakistan) with US President John F. Kennedy in 1961. U.S-Pak relations during the cold war. As the Muslim world’s second most populous nation-state (after Indonesia) and its only nuclear power state, Pakistan has an important role in the international community. With a semi-agricultural and semi-industrialized economy, its foreign policy determines its standard of interactions for its organisations, corporations and individual citizens. Its geostrategic intentions were explained by Jinnah in a broadcast message in 1947, which is featured in a prominent quotation on the homepage of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: “The foundation of our foreign policy is friendship with all nations across the globe.” After Independence, Pakistan vigorously pursued bilateral relations with other Muslim countries and made a wholehearted bid for leadership of the Muslim world, or at least for leadership in achieving its unity. The Ali brothers had sought to project Pakistan as the natural leader of the Islamic world, in large part due to its large manpower and military strength.A top ranking Muslim League leader, Khaliquzzaman, declared that Pakistan would bring together all Muslim countries into Islamistan-a pan-Islamic entity. Such developments (alongside Pakistan’s creation) did not get American approval and British Prime Minister Clement Atlee voiced international opinion at the time by stating that he wished that India and Pakistan would re-unite. Since most of the Arab world was undergoing a nationalist awakening at the time, there was little attraction to Pakistan’s Pan-Islamic aspirations. Some of the Arab countries saw the ‘Islamistan’ project as a Pakistani attempt to dominate other Muslim states. Pakistan vigorously championed the right of self-determination for Muslims around the world. Pakistan’s efforts for the independence movements of Indonesia, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Eritrea were significant and initially led to close ties between these countries and Pakistan.  However, Pakistan also masterminded an attack on the Afghan city of Jalalabad during the Afghan Civil War to establish an Islamic government there. Pakistan had wished to forment an ‘Islamic Revolution’ which would transcend national borders covering Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. On the other hand, Pakistan’s relations with Iran have been strained at times due to sectarian tensions. Iran and Saudi Arabia used Pakistan as a battleground for their proxy sectarian war and by the 1990s, Pakistan’s support for the Sunni Taliban organisation in Afghanistan became a problem for Shia Iran which opposed a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Tensions between Iran and Pakistan intensified in 1988, when Iran accused Pakistan of war crimes as Pakistani warplanes had bombarded Afghanistan’s last Shia stronghold in support of the Taliban. Since Independence, Pakistan has attempted to balance its relations with foreign nations. A non-signatory party of the Treaty on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Pakistan is an influential member of the IAEA. In recent events, Pakistan has blocked an international treaty to limit fissile material, arguing that the “treaty would target Pakistan specifically.” In the 20th century, Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence program focused on countering India’s nuclear ambitions in the region, and nuclear tests by India eventually led Pakistan to reciprocate the event to maintain geopolitical balance as becoming a nuclear power. Currently, Pakistan maintains a policy of credible minimum deterrence, calling its program vital nuclear deterrence against foreign aggression. Located in strategic and geopolitical corridor of the world’s major maritime oil supply lines, communication fibre optics, Pakistan has proximity to the natural resources of Central Asian countries. Pakistan is an influential and founding member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and is a major non-NATO ally of the United States in the war against terrorism— a status achieved in 2004. Pakistan’s foreign policy and geostrategy mainly focus on economy and security against threats to its national identity and territorial integrity, and on the cultivation of close relations with other Muslim countries. Briefing on country’s foreign policy in 2004, the Pakistani senator reportedly explains: “Pakistan highlights sovereign equality of states, bilateralism, mutuality of interests, and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs as the cardinal features of its foreign policy.” Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations and has a Permanent Representative to represent Pakistan’s policy in international politics. Pakistan has lobbied for the concept of “Enlightened Moderation” in the Muslim world. Pakistan is also a member of Commonwealth of Nations, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and the G20 developing nations. Pakistan does not have diplomatic relations with Israel; nonetheless some Israeli citizens have visited the country on a tourist visas. Based on mutual co-operation, the security exchange have taken place between two countries using Turkey as a communication conduit. Despite Pakistan being the only country in the world that has not established a diplomatic relations with Armenia, the Armenian community still resides in Pakistan. Maintaining cultural, political, social, and economic relations with the Arab world and other countries in the Muslim World is a vital factor in Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan was the first country to have established diplomatic relations with China and relations continues to be warm since China’s war with India in 1962. In the 1960s–1980s, Pakistan greatly helped China in reaching out to the world’s major countries and helped facilitate US President Nixon’s state visit to China. Despite the change of governments in Pakistan, variations in the regional and global situation, China policy in Pakistan continues to be dominant factor at all time. In return, China is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and economic co-operation have reached high points, with substantial Chinese investment in Pakistan’s infrastructural expansion including the Pakistani deep-water port at Gwadar. Sino-Pak friendly relations touched new heights as both the countries signed 51 agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in 2015 for co-operation in different fields. Both countries have signed the Free Trade Agreement in the 2000s, and Pakistan continues to serve as China’s communication bridge in the Muslim World. Because of difficulties in relations with its geopolitical rival India, Pakistan maintains close political relations with Turkey and Iran. Saudi Arabia also maintains a respected position in Pakistan’s foreign policy, and both countries has been a focal point in Pakistan’s foreign policy. The Kashmir conflict remains the major point of rift; three of their four wars were over this territory.Due to ideological differences, Pakistan opposed the Soviet Union in the 1950s and during Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, Pakistan was one of the closest allies of the United States. Relations with Russia have greatly improved since 1999 and co-operation with various sectors have increased between Russia and Pakistan. Pakistan has had “on-and-off” relations with the United States. A close ally of the United States in the Cold war, Pakistan’s relation with the United States relations soured in the 1990s when the US imposed sanctions because of Pakistan’s secretive nuclear development. Since 9/11, Pakistan has been a close ally with the United States on the issue of counter-terrorism in the regions of the Middle East and South Asia, with the US supporting the latter with aid money and weapons. The United States-led war on terrorism led initially to an improvement in the relationship, but it was strained by a divergence of interests and resulting mistrust during the war in Afghanistan and by issues related to terrorism. Since 1948, there has been an ongoing, and at times fluctuating, violent conflict in the southwestern province of Balochistan between various Baloch separatist groups, who seek greater political autonomy, and the central government of Pakistan. In 2016 the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China announced that the state will set up an anti-terrorism alliance with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.


Government and politics

Pakistan’s political experience is essentially related to the struggle of Indian Muslims to regain power which they lost to British colonisation. Pakistan is a democratic parliamentary federal republic with Islam as the state religion.  The first set was adopted in 1956 but suspended by Ayub Khan in 1958 who replaced it with the second set in 1962. Complete and comprehensive Constitution was adopted in 1973—suspended by Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 but reinstated in 1985—is the country’s most important document, laying the foundations of the current government.  The Pakistani military establishment has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan’s political history. There were military coups which resulted in imposition of martial law and military commanders continued governing as de-facto presidents from 1958–1971, 1977–1988, and 1999–2008.  As of now, Pakistan has a multi-partyparliamentary system with clear division of powers and responsibilities between branches of government. The first successful demonstrative transaction was held in May 2013. Politics in Pakistan is centred and dominated by the homegrown conceive social philosophy, consisting the ideas of socialism, conservatism, and the third way. As of the general elections held in 2013, the three main dominated political parties in the country: the centre-right conservative Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N); the centre-left socialist Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP); and the centrist and third-way Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI) led by cricketer Imran Khan.


Geography, environment and climate

Pakistan map of Köppen climate classification. The geography and climate of Pakistan are extremely diverse, and the country is home to a wide variety of wildlife.Pakistan covers an area of 796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi), approximately equal to the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. It is the 36th largest nation by total area, although this ranking varies depending on how the disputed territory of Kashmir is counted. Pakistan has a 1,046 km (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and land borders of 6,774 km (4,209 mi) in total: 2,430 km (1,510 mi) with Afghanistan, 523 km (325 mi) with China, 2,912 km (1,809 mi) with India and 909 km (565 mi) with Iran. It shares a marine border with Oman, and is separated from Tajikistan by the cold, narrow Wakhan Corridor. Pakistan occupies a geopolitically important location at the crossroads of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia. Geologically, Pakistan is located in the Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone and overlaps the Indian tectonic plate in its Sindh and Punjab provinces; Balochistan and most of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are within the Eurasian plate, mainly on the Iranian plateau. Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir lie along the edge of the Indian plate and hence are prone to violent earthquakes. This region has the highest rates of seismicity and largest earthquakes in the Himalaya region. Ranging from the coastal areas of the south to the glaciated mountains of the north, Pakistan’s landscapes vary from plains to deserts, forests, hills and plateaus . Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands, the Indus River plain and the Balochistan Plateau. The northern highlands contain the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges (see mountains of Pakistan), which contain some of the world’s highest peaks, including five of the fourteen eight-thousanders (mountain peaks over 8,000 metres or 26,250 feet), which attract adventurers and mountaineers from all over the world, notably K2 (8,611 m or 28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat (8,126 m or 26,660 ft). The Balochistan Plateau lies in the west and the Thar Desert in the east. The 1,609 km (1,000 mi) Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea. There is an expanse of alluvial plains along it in Punjab and Sindh. The climate varies from tropical to temperate, with arid conditions in the coastal south. There is a monsoon season with frequent flooding due to heavy rainfall, and a dry season with significantly less rainfall or none at all. There are four distinct 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. Rainfall varies greatly from year to year, and patterns of alternate flooding and drought are common.



Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan after Islam, according to the 1998 Census.  As of 2010, Pakistan had the fifth largest Hindu population in the world and PEW predicts that by 2050 Pakistan will have the fourth largest Hindu population in the world. In the 1998 Census the Hindu (jati) population was found to be 2,111,271 while the Hindu (scheduled castes) numbered an additional 332,343.  Hindus are found in all provinces of Pakistan but are mostly concentrated in Sindh. They speak a variety of languages such as Sindhi, Seraiki, Aer, Dhatki, Gera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jandavra, Kabutra, Koli, Loarki, Marwari, Sansi, Vaghri  and Gujarati. At the time of Pakistan’s creation the ‘hostage theory’ had been espoused. According to this theory the Hindu minority in Pakistan was to be given a fair deal in Pakistan in order to ensure the protection of the Muslim minority in India. Some Hindus in Pakistan feel that they are treated as second-class citizens and many have continued to migrate to India. Pakistani Hindus faced riots after the Babri Masjid demolition, have faced a massacre (in 2005) by security forces in Balochistan,  and have also faced several attacks, forced conversions and abductions.



Pakistan hosts the second largest refugee population globally after Turkey. Seen here, an Afghan refugee girl near Tarbela Dam. The Pakistan Census excludes the immigrants such as the 1.7 million registered Afghans from Afghanistan, who are found mainly in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and tribal belt with small numbers residing in Karachi and Quetta. Pakistan hosts more refugees than any other country in the world. As of 2012 there are 5 million illegal immigrants in Pakistan. Around 2 million are Bangladeshis, 2.5 million are Afghans and the other 0.5 million are from various other areas such as Myanmar, Iraq and Africa. Shaikh Muhammad Feroze, the chairman of the Pakistani Bengali Action Committee, claimed that there were 200 settlements of Bengali-speaking people in Pakistan, of which 132 are in Karachi. They are found in various areas of Pakistan such as Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Lahore. Experts say that the migration of both Bengalis and Burmese (Rohingya) to Pakistan started in the 1980s and continued till 1998. Large scale Rohingya migration to Karachi made Karachi one of the largest population centres of Rohingyas in the world after Myanmar. The Burmese community of Karachi is spread out over 60 slums in Karachi such as the Burmi Colony in Korangi, Arakanabad, Machchar colony, Bilal colony, Ziaul Haq Colony and Godhra Camp. Thousands of Uyghur Muslims have also migrated to the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, fleeing religious and cultural persecution in Xinjiang, China. Since 1989, thousands of Kashmiri Muslim refugees have sought refuge in Pakistan, complaining that many of the refugee women had been raped by Indian soldiers and that they were forced out of their homes by the soldiers.



About 97.0% of Pakistanis are Muslims. Pakistan has the second largest number of Muslims in the world after Indonesia. The majority of them are Sunni (estimated between 75–95%) while 5–20% are Shias. Pakistan, like India, is said to have at least 16 million Shias. A PEW survey in 2012 found that only 6% of Pakistani Muslims were Shia. Pakistan’s founder, Jinnah, had been born in a Shia family but other sources maintain that Jinnah became a firm Sunni Muslim later on in life. Shias allege discrimination by the Pakistani government since 1948, claiming that Sunnis are given preference in business, official positions and administration of justice. Attacks on Shias increased under the presidency of Zia-ul-Haq,  with the first major sectarian riots in Pakistan breaking out in 1983 in Karachi and later spreading to Lahore and Balochistan. Sectarian violence became a recurring feature of the Muharram month every year, with sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias taking place in 1986 in Parachinar. In one notorious incident, the 1988 Gilgit Massacre, Osama bin Laden-led Sunni tribals assaulted, massacred and raped Shia civilians in Gilgit after being inducted by the Pakistan Army to quell a Shia uprising in Gilgit. After the 9/11 attacks in the United States, sectarian violence among Muslim denominations had increased with systematic targeted killings of both sects, Sunnis and Shias. In 2013, there were country-wide protests by both Shias and Sunnis calling for an end to sectarian violence in the country. The Ahmadis, are another minority sect in Pakistan, albeit in much smaller numbers (estimated between 0.22-2.2%) and are officially considered non-Muslims by virtue of the constitutional amendment. There are also several Quraniyoon communities. As of 2012, 12% of Pakistani Muslims self-identify as non-denominational Muslims. The Ahmadis are particularly persecuted, especially since 1974 when they were banned from calling themselves Muslims. In 1984, Ahmadiyya places of worship were banned from being called “mosques”. Islam has to some extent syncretised with pre-Islamic influences, resulting in a religion with some traditions distinct from those of the Arab world. Sufism, a mystical Islamic tradition, has a long history and a large popular following in Pakistan. Popular Sufi culture is centred on Thursday night gatherings at shrines and annual festivals which feature Sufi music and dance. Two Sufis whose shrines receive much national attention are Ali Hajweri in Lahore (c. 12th century) and Shahbaz Qalander in Sehwan, Sindh (c. 12th century). There are two levels of Sufism in Pakistan. The first is the ‘populist’ Sufism of the rural population. This level of Sufism involves belief in intercession through saints, veneration of their shrines and forming bonds with a pir (saint). Many rural Pakistani Muslims associate with pirs and seek their intercession. The second level of Sufism in Pakistan is ‘intellectual Sufism’ which is growing among the urban and educated population.They are influenced by the writings of Sufis such as the medieval theologian al-Ghazali, the Sufi reformer Shaykh Aḥmad Sirhindi and Shah Wali Allah.Contemporary Islamic fundamentalists criticize Sufism’s popular character, which in their view, does not accurately reflect the teachings and practice of the Prophet and his companions.



Punjabi: 48%
Sindhi: 12%
Saraiki: 10%
Pashto: 8%
Urdu: 8%
Balochi: 3%

More than sixty languages are spoken in Pakistan, including a number of provincial languages. Urdu—the lingua franca, a symbol of Muslim identity, and national unity—is the national language which is understood by over 75% of Pakistanis and the main source of nationwide communication but is only the primary language of 8% of Pakistan’s population. Urdu and English are the official languages of Pakistan, however English is primarily used in official business, government, and legal contracts;the local dialect is known as Pakistani English. The Punjabi language is the most common in Pakistan and is the mother tongue of 66% of Pakistan’s population, mostly in Punjab. This includes the 48% who are Standard Punjabi speakers as well as speakers of regional Punjabi dialects such as Saraiki and Hindko. Saraiki dialect is spoken by 10% of Pakistan’s population, mainly in South Punjab, while the Hindko dialect is spoken in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the Pashto language is the provincial language and is well understood in Sindh and Balochistan. The Sindhi language is the common language spoken in Sindh while the Balochi language is dominant in Balochistan. Brahui, a Dravidian language, is spoken by the Brahui people who live in Balochistan. Gujarati community leaders in Pakistan also claim that there are 3 million Gujarati speakers in Karachi. Marwari, a Rajasthani language, is also spoken in parts of Sindh. Various languages such as Shina, Balti and Burushaski are spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan, whilst languages such as Pahari, Gojri and Kashmiri are frequently spoken in Azad Kashmir.



Pakistan Air Force’s JF-17 Thunder flying in front of the 26,660-foot-high (8,130-metre) Nanga Parbat. The armed forces of Pakistan are the eighth largest in the world in terms of numbers in full-time service, with about 617,000 personnel on active duty and 513,000 reservists, as of tentative estimates in 2010. They came into existence after independence in 1947, and the military establishment has frequently influenced in the national politics ever since. Chain of command of the military is kept under the control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; all of the branches joint works, co-ordination, military logistics, and joint missions are under the Joint Staff HQ. The Joint Staff HQ is composed of the Air HQ, Navy HQ, and Army GHQ in the vicinity of the Rawalpindi Military District. The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is the highest principle staff officer in the armed forces, and the chief military adviser to the civilian government though the chairman has no authority over the three branches of armed forces. The Chairman joint chiefs controls the military from the JS HQ and maintains strategic communications between the military and the civilian government. As of current, the Chairman joint chiefs is General Rashid Mahmood alongside chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif, chief of naval staff AdmiralMuhammad Zaka, and chief of air staff Air Chief Marshal Suhail Aman. The main branches are the Army–Air Force–Navy–Marines, which are supported by the number of paramilitary forces in the country. Control over the strategic arsenals, deployment, employment, development, military computers and command and control is a responsibility vested under the National Command Authority which oversaw the work on the nuclear policy as part of the credible minimum deterrence. The United States, Turkey, and China maintain close military relations and regularly export military equipment and technology transfer to Pakistan. Joint logistics and major war games are occasionally carried out by the militaries of China and Turkey. Philosophical basis for the military draft is introduced by the Constitution in times of emergency, but it has never been imposed.Since 1947, Pakistan has been involved in four conventional wars, the first war occurred in Kashmir with Pakistan gaining control of Western Kashmir, (Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan), and India capturing Eastern Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir). Territorial problems eventually led to another conventional war in 1965; over the issue of Bengali refugees that led to another war in 1971 which resulted in Pakistan’s unconditional surrender of East Pakistan. Tensions in Kargil brought the two countries at the brink of war. Since 1947, the unresolved territorial problems with Afghanistan saw border skirmishes which was kept mostly at the mountainous border. In 1961, the military and intelligence community repelled the Afghan incursion in the Bajaur Agency near the Durand Line border. Rising tensions with neighbouring USSR in their involvement in Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence community, mostly the ISI, systematically coordinated the US resources to the Afghan mujahideen and foreign fighters against the Soviet Union’s presence in the region. Military reports indicated that the PAF was in engagement with the Soviet Air Force, supported by the Afghan Air Force during the course of the conflict; one of which belonged to Alexander Rutskoy. Apart from its own conflicts, Pakistan has been an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping missions. It played a major role in rescuing trapped American soldiers from Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 in Operation Gothic Serpent. According to UN reports, the Pakistani military are the third largest troop contributors to UN peacekeeping missions after Ethiopia and India. Pakistan sent UN Peacekeeping forces to the former Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav wars. During the war, Pakistan supported Bosnia while providing technical and military support. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) allegedly ran an active military intelligence program during the Bosnian War which started in 1992 lasting until 1995. Allegedly executed and supervised by General Javed Nasir, the program distributed and coordinated the systematic supply of arms to various groups of Bosnian mujahideen during the war. The ISI Bosnian contingent was organised with financial assistance provided by Saudi Arabia, according to the British historian Mark Curtis. Despite the UN arms embargo in Bosnia, Nasir later confessed that the ISI airlifted anti-tank weapons and missiles to Bosnian mujahideen which turned the tide in favour of Bosnian Muslims and forced the Serbs to lift the siege. Under Nasir’s leadership the ISI was also involved in supporting Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang Province, rebel Muslim groups in the Phillipines, and some religious groups in Central Asia. Pakistan has deployed its military in some Arab countries, providing defence, training, and playing advisory roles. The PAF and Navy’s fighter pilots have voluntarily served in Arab nations’ militaries against Israel in the Six-Day War (1967) and in the Yom Kippur War (1973). Pakistan’s fighter pilots shot down ten Israeli planes in the Six-Day War.In the 1973 war one of the PAF pilots, Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi (flying a MiG-21), shot down an Israeli Air Force Mirage and was honoured by the Syrian government. Requested by the Saudi monarchy in 1979, Pakistan’s special forces units, operatives, and commandos were rushed to assist Saudi forces in Mecca to lead the operation of the Grand Mosque. For almost two weeks Saudi Special Forces and Pakistani commandos fought the insurgents who had occupied the Grand Mosque’s compound. In 1991 Pakistan got involved with the Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a US-led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia. Since 2004, the military has been engaged in a war in North-West Pakistan, mainly against the homegrown Taliban factions. Major operations undertaken by the Army include Operation Black Thunderstorm and Operation Rah-e-Nijat.


Nuclear power and energy

Tarbela Dam, the largest earth filled dam in the world, was constructed in 1968. Energy from the nuclear power source is provided by three licensed-commercial nuclear power plants, as of 2012 data. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), the scientific and nuclear governmental authority, is solely responsible for operating these power plants, while the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority regulates safe usage of the nuclear energy. The electricity generated by commercial nuclear power plants constitutes roughly ~5.8% of electricity generated in Pakistan, compared to ~62% from fossil fuel (petroleum), ~29.9% from hydroelectric power and ~0.3% from coal.  Pakistan is one of the four nuclear armed states (along with India, Israel, and North Korea) that is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but is a member in good standing of the International Atomic Energy Agency. For the commercial usage of the nuclear power, China has provided an avid support for commercializing the nuclear power sources in Pakistan from early on, first providing the Chashma-I reactor. The Karachi-I, a Candu-type, was provided by Canada in 1971—the country’s first commercial nuclear power plant. In subsequent years, People’s Republic of China sold the nuclear power plant for energy and industrial growth of the country. In 2005, both countries reached out towards working on joint energy security plan, calling for a huge increase in generating capacity to more than 160,000 MWe by 2030. Original admissions by Pakistan, the government plans for lifting nuclear capacity to 8800 MWe, 900 MWe of it by 2015 and a further 1500 MWe by 2020. Pakistan produced 1,135MW of renewable energy for the month of October 2016. Pakistan expect’s to produce 3,000MW of renewable energy by the beginning of 2019. In June 2008, the nuclear commercial complex was expanded with the ground work of installing and operationalising the Chashma-III and Chashma–IV reactors at Chashma, Punjab Province, each with 325–340 MWe and costing ₨. 129 billion,; from which the ₨. 80 billion of this from international sources, principally China. A further agreement for China’s help with the project was signed in October 2008, and given prominence as a counter to the US–India agreement shortly preceding it. Cost quoted then was US$1.7 billion, with a foreign loan component of $1.07 billion. In 2013, the second nuclear commercial complex in Karachi was marginalised and expanded to additional reactors, based on the Chashma complex.The electrical energy is generated by various energy corporations and evenly distributed by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) among the four provinces. However, the Karachi-based K-Electric and the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) generates much of the electrical energy as well as gathering revenue nationwide. Capacity to generate ~22,797MWt electricity has been installed in 2014, with the initiation of several energy projects in 2014.


Social groups


The population is dominated by four main ethnic groups: Punjabis, Pashtuns (Pathans), Sindhis, and Balochs. Rough accounts from 2009 indicate that the Punjabis dominate with 78.7 million (~45%) while the Pashtuns are the second dominating group with ~29.3 million (15.42%). The Sindhis are estimated at 24.8 million (14.1%) with Seraikis (a sub-group of Punjabis) being approximated at a further 14.8 million (8.4%). The Urdu-speaking Muhajirs (the Indian emigrants) stand at ~13.3 million (7.57%) while Balochs are accounted at 6.3 million (3.57%)—the smallest group in population terms. The remaining 11.1 million (4.66%) belong to various ethnic minorities such as Brahuis, Hindkowans, the various peoples of Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmiris, Sheedis (who are of African descent) and Hazaras. There is also a large Pakistani diaspora worldwide, numbering over seven million, which has been recorded as the sixth largest diaspora in the world.

Religions in Pakistan 

 Islam:  96.4%,

 Others:  3.6%.



The majority of the sports played in Pakistan originated and were substantially developed by the United Kingdom who introduced them during the British India. Field Hockey is the national sport of Pakistan; it has won three Gold medallions in the Olympic Games held in 1960, 1968, and 1984. Pakistan has also won the Hockey World Cup a record four times held in 1971, 1978, 1982, and in 1994. Cricket, however, is the most popular game across the country. The cricket team (popular as Shaheen) has won the Cricket World Cup held in 1992; it had been runners-up once, in 1999, and co-hosted the tournament in 1987 and 1996. Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural World Twenty20 (2007) in South Africa and won the World Twenty20 in England in 2009. In March 2009, militants attacked the touring Sri Lanka’s cricket team, after which no international cricket was played in Pakistan until May 2015, when the Zimbabwean team agreed to a tour. In athletics, Abdul Khaliq participated in 1954 Asian Games and the 1958 Asian Games. He won 34 international gold, 15 international silver and 12 bronze medals for Pakistan. In squash, world-class players such as Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan won the World Open Squash Championship several times during their careers. Jahangir Khan also won the British Open a record ten times. In Mountaineering Nazir Sabir is Pakistan’s first Mountaineer who Climbed Mount Everest. In Cave exploration Adventure Sports Hayatullah Khan Durrani is Pakistan’s first Eminent Cave Explorer / Speleologist and Founder of Caving adventure sports in Pakistan. Pakistan has competed many times at the Olympics in field hockey, boxing, athletics, swimming, and shooting. Pakistan’s Olympic medal tally stands at 10 of which 8 were earned in hockey.  The Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medal tallies stand at 65 and 160 respectively.  At national level, polo is popular, with regular national events in different parts of the country. Boxing, billiards, snooker, rowing, Canoeing, kayaking, caving, tennis, contract bridge, golf and volleyball are also actively pursued, and Pakistan has produced regional and international champions in these sports. Basketball enjoys regional popularity especially in Lahore and Karachi.



The transport industry accounts for ~10.5% of the nation’s GDP. Pakistan’s motorway infrastructure is better than those of India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, but the train system lags behind those of India and China, and aviation infrastructure also needs improvement. There is scarcely any inland water transportation system, and coastal shipping only meets minor local requirements. Boeing 737 owned and operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). PIA operates scheduled services to 70 domestic destinations and 34 international destinations in 27 countries. Highways form the backbone of Pakistan’s transport system; a total road length of 259,618 kilometres (161,319 miles) accounts for 91% of passenger and 96% of freight traffic. Road transport services are largely in the hands of the private sector, which handles around 95% of freight traffic. The National Highway Authority is responsible for the maintenance of national highways and motorways. The highway and motorway system depends mainly on north–south links, connecting the southern ports to the populous provinces of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Although this network only accounts for 4.2% of total road length, it carries 85% of the country’s traffic. The Pakistan Railways, under the Ministry of Railways (MoR), operates the railroad system. From 1947 until the 1970s, the train system was the primary means of transport until the nationwide constructions of the national highways and the economic boom of the automotive industry. Since the 1990s, there was a marked shift in traffic from rail to highways; dependence grew on roads after the introduction of vehicles in the country. Now the railway’s share of inland traffic is only 10% for passengers and 4% for freight traffic. Personal transportation dominated by the automobiles, the total rail track decreased from 8,775 kilometres (5,453 miles) in 1990–91 to 7,791 kilometres (4,841 miles) in 2011. Pakistan expects to use the rail service to boost foreign trade with China, Iran and Turkey. Rough estimates accounts for 139 airports in Pakistan–both military and civilian airports which are mostly publicly owned. Though the Jinnah International Airport is the principal international gateway to Pakistan, the international airports in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Multan also handle significant amounts of traffic. The civil aviation industry is mixed with public and private sectors, which has been deregulated in 1993. While the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the major and dominated air carrier that carries about 73% of domestic passengers and all domestic freight, the private airlines such as airBlue, Shaheen Air International, and Air Indus, also provide the similar services with low cost expenses. Major seaports are in Karachi, Sindh (the Karachi port and Port Qasim). Since the 1990s, some seaport operations have been moved to Balochistan with the construction of Gwadar Port and Gadani Port. According to Mundi Index, quality ratings of Pakistan’s seaports increased from 3.6 to 4 between 2006 and 2009.



Badshahi Mosque was commissioned by the Mughals in 1671. It is listed as a World Heritage Site. Pakistan, with its diverse cultures, people and landscapes attracted 1.1 million foreign tourists annually in 2011 and 2012 contributing $351 million and $369 million to Pakistan’s economy respectively. A significant decline since the 1970s when the country received unprecedented amounts of foreign tourists due to the popular Hippie trail. The trail attracted thousands of Europeans and American’s in 1960s and 1970s who travelled via land through Turkey, Iran into India through Pakistan. The main destinations of choice for these tourists were the Khyber Pass, Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore, Swat and Rawalpindi. However, the trail declined after the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet–Afghan War. The country however continues to attract an estimated of half a million foreign tourists. Pakistan’s attraction range from the ruin of civilisation such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill stations. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7,000 metres (23,000 feet). The north part of Pakistan has many old fortresses, ancient architecture and the Hunza and Chitral valley, home to small pre-Islamic Animist Kalasha community claiming descent from Alexander the Great. Pakistan’s cultural capital, Lahore, contains many examples of Mughal architecture such as Badshahi Masjid, Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Jahangir and the Lahore Fort.

Attabad Lake in Hunza Valley. In October 2006, just one year after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, The Guardian released what it described as “The top five tourist sites in Pakistan” in order to help the country’s tourism industry.  The five sites included Taxila, Lahore, The Karakoram Highway, Karimabad and Lake Saiful Muluk. To promote Pakistan’s unique and various cultural heritage. In 2009, The World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked Pakistan as one of the top 25% tourist destinations for its World Heritage sites. Tourist destinations range from mangroves in the south, to the 5,000-year-old cities of the Indus Valley Civilization which included Mohenjo-daro and Harappa.




Since achieving independence as a result of the partition of India, the urbanisation has exponentially increased and has several different causes for it. Majority of southern side population resides along the Indus River, with Karachi being its most populous commercial city. On the east, west, and northern skirts, the most of the population lives in an arc formed by the cities of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Jhelum, Sheikhupura, Nowshera, Mardan and Peshawar. During 1990–2008, the city dwellers made up 36.0% of Pakistan’s population, making it the most urbanized nation in South Asia. Furthermore, more than 50% of Pakistanis live in towns of 5,000 people or more. Immigration, both from within and outside the country, is regarded as one of the main factors that has contributed to urbanisation in Pakistan. One analysis of the national census held in 1998 highlighted the significance of the Partition of India in the 1940s in the context of understanding urban change in Pakistan.

Karachi has an estimated population of over 25 million people, making it among the world’s largest cities.  During the independence period, Muslim Muhajirs from India migrated in large numbers and shifted their domicile to Pakistan, especially to the port city of Karachi, which is today the largest metropolis in Pakistan. Migration from other countries, mainly those in the neighbourhood, has further catalysed the process of urbanisation in Pakistani cities. Of particular interest is migration that occurred in the aftermath of the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, in the form of stranded Biharis who were relocated to Pakistan. Smaller numbers of Bengalis and Burmese immigrants followed suit much later. The conflict in Afghanistan also forced millions of Afghan refugees into Pakistan, particularly in the northwestern regions. Inevitably, the rapid urbanisation caused by these large population movements has also brought new political and socio-economic complexities. In addition to immigration, economic events such as the green revolution and political developments, among a host of other factors, are also important causes of urbanization.

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