Wednesday, December 14, 2016


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.[11] It is the 36th largest country in the world in terms of area with an area covering 881,913 km2 (340,509 sq mi). Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650 mi) 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[19][20][21][22][23][24][25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

A regional[28][29] and middle power,[30][31] 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[32][33] 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.[34][35] Pakistan has recently witnessed a rapid expansion of its prosperous middle class, the 18th largest worldwide.[36] In terms of development potential Pakistan has made substantial progress in reducing poverty giving it the second lowest headcount poverty rate in South Asia.[37] 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 Pakistan has significantly reduced poverty[40] and substantially reduced terrorism.[41] 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.

Early and medieval age
Main articles: Indo-Greek Kingdom, Indus Valley Civilization, Vedic Civilization, Sikh Empire, and Mughal Empire

Standing Buddha from Gandhara
Some of the earliest ancient human civilisations in South Asia originated from areas encompassing present-day Pakistan.[50] The earliest known inhabitants in the region were Soanian during the Lower Paleolithic, of whom stone tools have been found in the Soan Valley of Punjab.[51] The Indus region, which covers most of present day Pakistan, was the site of several successive ancient cultures including the Neolithic Mehrgarh[52] and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation (2800–1800 BC) at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.[53][54]

The Vedic Civilization (1500–500 BC), characterised by Indo-Aryan culture, laid the foundations of Hinduism, which would become well established in the region.[55][56] Multan was an important Hindu pilgrimage centre.[57] The Vedic civilisation flourished in the ancient Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā, now Taxila in Punjab.[52] Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Persian Achaemenid Empire around 519 BC), Alexander the Great's empire in 326 BC[58] and the Maurya Empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great until 185 BC.[52] The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria (180–165 BC) included Gandhara and Punjab and reached its greatest extent under Menander (165–150 BC), prospering the Greco-Buddhist culture in the region.[52][59] Taxila had one of the earliest universities and centres of higher education in the world.[60][61][62][63]

The Rai Dynasty (489–632 AD) of Sindh, at its zenith, ruled this region and the surrounding territories.[64] The Pala Dynasty was the last Buddhist empire that under Dharampala and Devapala stretched across South Asia from what is now Bangladesh through Northern India to Pakistan.

The Arab conqueror Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Indus valley from Sindh to Multan in southern Punjab in 711 AD.[65][66][67][68][69] The Pakistan government's official chronology identifies this as the point where the "foundation" of Pakistan was laid.[65][70][71] The Early Medieval period (642–1219 AD) witnessed the spread of Islam in the region. During this period, Sufi missionaries played a pivotal role in converting a majority of the regional Buddhist and Hindu population to Islam.[72] These developments set the stage for the rule of several successive Muslim empires in the region, including the Ghaznavid Empire (975–1187 AD), the Ghorid Kingdom and the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526 AD). The Lodi dynasty, the last of the Delhi Sultanate, was replaced by the Mughal Empire (1526–1857 AD). The Mughals introduced Persian literature and high culture, establishing the roots of Indo-Persian culture in the region.[73] From the region of modern day Pakistan, key cities during the Mughal rule were Lahore and Thatta,[74] both of which were chosen to house immensely beautiful Mughal buildings.[75] In the early 16th century, the region remained under the Mughal Empire ruled by Muslim emperors.[76] By the early 18th century, the increasing European influence slowly disintegrated the empire as the lines between commercial and political dominance were increasingly blurred.[76]

Edwin Lord Weeks illustration of an open-air restaurant near Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore.
During this time, the English East India Company had established coastal outposts.[76] Control over the seas, greater resources, technology, and military force projection by East India Company of British Empire led it to increasingly flex its military muscle; a factor that was crucial in allowing the Company to gain control over the subcontinent by 1765 and sidelining the European competitors.[77] Expanding access beyond Bengal and the subsequent increased strength and size of its army enabled it to annexe or subdue most of region by the 1820s.[76] To many historians, this marked the starting of region's colonial period.[76] By this time, with its economic power severely curtailed by the British parliament and itself effectively made an arm of British administration, the Company began to more consciously enter non-economic arenas such as education, social reform, and culture.[76] Such reforms included the enforcement of English Education Act in 1835 and the introduction of the Indian Civil Service (ICS).[78] Traditional madrasahs – primary institutions of higher learning for Muslims in the subcontinent – were no longer supported by the English Crown, and nearly all of the madrasahs lost their financial endowment.[79]

Colonial period
Main articles: Pakistan Movement, Aligarh Movement, and British Raj

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817–98), whose vision formed the basis of Pakistan

Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1948) served as Pakistan's first Governor-General and the leader of the Pakistan Movement
The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire in the early 18th century enabled the Sikh Empire's influence to control larger areas until the British East-India Company gained ascendancy over the Indian subcontinent.[80] The rebellion in 1857 (or Sepoy mutiny) was the region's major armed struggle against the British Empire and Queen Victoria.[81] Divergence in the relationship between Hinduism and Islam created a major rift in British India; thus instigating racially motivated religious violence in India.[82] The language controversy further escalated the tensions between Hindus and Muslims.[83] The Hindu renaissance witnessed an awakening of intellectualism in traditional Hinduism and saw the emergence of more assertive influence in the social and political spheres in British India.[84][85] An intellectual movement to counter the Hindu renaissance was led by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who helped to found the All-India Muslim League in 1901 and envisioned as well as advocated for the two-nation theory.[80] In contrast to the Indian Congress's anti-British efforts, the Muslim League was a pro-British whose political program inherited the British values that would shape Pakistan's future civil society.[86][87] In events during World War I, British Intelligence foiled an anti-English conspiracy involving the nexus of Congress and the German Empire.[88] The largely non-violent independence struggle led by the Indian Congress engaged millions of protesters in mass campaigns of civil disobedience in the 1920s and 1930s against the British Empire.[89][90][91]

Over 10 million people were uprooted from their homeland and travelled on foot, bullock carts and trains to their promised new home during the Partition of India. During the partition between 200,000 to 2,000,000 people were killed in the retributive genocide.[92]
The Muslim League slowly rose to mass popularity in the 1930s amid fears of under-representation and neglect of Muslims in politics. In his presidential address of 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal called for "the amalgamation of North-West Muslim-majority Indian states" consisting of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan.[93] Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, greatly espoused the two-nation theory and led the Muslim League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, popularly known as the Pakistan Resolution.[80] In World War II, Jinnah and British educated founding fathers in the Muslim League supported the United Kingdom's war efforts, countering opposition against it whilst working towards Sir Syed's vision.[94]

The 1946 elections had resulted in the Muslim League winning 90 percent of the seats reserved for Muslims. Thus the 1946 election was effectively a plebiscite where the Indian Muslims were to vote on the creation of Pakistan; a plebiscite which the Muslim League won.[95] This victory was assisted by the support given to the Muslim League by the rural peasantry of Bengal as well as the support of the landowners of Sindh and Punjab. The Congress, which initially denied the Muslim League's claim of being the sole representative of Indian Muslims, was now forced to recognise that the Muslim League represented Indian Muslims.[95] The British had no alternative except to take Jinnah's views into account as he had emerged as the sole spokesperson of India's Muslims. However the British did not desire India to be partitioned and in one last effort to avoid it they arranged the Cabinet Mission plan.[96]

As the cabinet mission failed, the British government announced its intention to end the British Raj in India in 1946–47.[97] Nationalists in British India – including Jawaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad of Congress, Jinnah of Muslim League, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs—agreed to the proposed terms of transfer of power and independence in June 1947.[98] As the United Kingdom agreed upon partitioning of India in 1947, the modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947 (27th of Ramadan in 1366 of the Islamic Calendar) in amalgamating the Muslim-majority eastern and northwestern regions of British India.[91] It comprised the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh; thus forming Pakistan.[80][98]

In the riots which preceded the partition in the Punjab Province, it is believed that between 200,000 and 2,000,000[99][100][101] people were killed in the retributive genocide between the religions [102][103] while 50,000 Musllim women were abducted and raped by Hindu and Sikh men and 33,000 Hindu and Sikh women also experienced the same fate at the hands of Muslims.[104] Around 6.5 million Muslims moved from India to West Pakistan and 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from West Pakistan to India. It was the largest mass migration in human history.[105][106][107] Dispute over Jammu and Kashmir led to the First Kashmir War in 1948.[108][109]

Independence and modern Pakistan
Main articles: Dominion of Pakistan and History of Pakistan
The American CIA film on Pakistan made in 1950 examines the history and geography of Pakistan.
"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State."

—Muhammad Ali Jinnah's first speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan[110]
After independence and the partition of India in 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the President of Muslim League, became the nation's first Governor-General as well as the first President-Speaker of the Parliament.[111] Meanwhile, Pakistan's founding fathers agreed upon appointing Liaquat Ali Khan, the secretary-general of the party, the nation's first Prime Minister. With dominion status in the Commonwealth of Nations, independent Pakistan had two British monarchs before it became a republic.[111]

Maulānā Shabbīr Ahmad Usmānī, a respected Deobandī ʿālim (scholar) who occupied the position of Shaykh al-Islām in Pakistan in 1949, and Maulana Mawdudi of Jamāʿat-i Islāmī played a pivotal role in the demand for an Islamic constitution. Mawdūdī demanded that the Constituent Assembly make an explicit declaration affirming the "supreme sovereignty of God" and the supremacy of the sharīʿah in Pakistan.[112]

A significant result of the efforts of the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī and the ʿulamāʿ was the passage of the Objectives Resolution in March 1949. The Objectives Resolution, which Liaquat Ali Khan called the second most important step in Pakistan's history, declared that "sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust". The Objectives Resolution has been incorporated as a preamble to the constitutions of 1956, 1962, and 1973.[112]

Democracy was stalled by the martial law enforced by President Iskander Mirza who was replaced by army chief, General Ayub Khan. Adopting a presidential system in 1962, the country experienced exceptional growth until a second war with India in 1965 which led to economic downfall and wide-scale public disapproval in 1967.[113][114] Consolidating the control from Ayub Khan in 1969, President Yahya Khan had to deal with a devastating cyclone which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan.[115]

Signing of Tashkent Declaration to end hostilities with India in 1965 in Tashkent, USSR, by President Ayub alongside Bhutto (centre) and Aziz Ahmed (left).
In 1970, Pakistan held its first democratic elections since independence, that were meant to mark a transition from military rule to democracy, but after the East Pakistani Awami League won against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP); Yahya Khan and military establishment refused to hand over power.[116][117] Operation Searchlight, a military crackdown on the Bengali nationalist movement, led to a declaration of independence and the waging of a war of liberation by the Bengali Mukti Bahini forces in East Pakistan, with support from India.[117][118] However, in West Pakistan the conflict was described as a civil war as opposed to War of Liberation.[119]

Independent researchers think that between 300,000 and 500,000 civilians died during this period while the Bangladesh government puts the figure of dead at three million,[120] a number which is now universally regarded as excessively inflated.[121] Some academics such as Rudolph Russel and Rounaq Jahan accused both sides[122] of genocide whereas others such as Richard Sisson and Leo E. Rose believe there was no genocide.[123] Preemptive strikes on India by the Pakistan's air force, navy, and marines, in response to India's support for the insurgency in East Pakistan, sparked the conventional war in 1971 which witnessed the Indian victory and East Pakistan gaining independence as Bangladesh.[117]

With Pakistan surrendering in the war, Yahya Khan was replaced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as President; the country worked towards promulgating constitution and putting the country on roads of democracy. Democratic rule resumed from 1972 to 1977– an era of self-consciousness, intellectual leftism, nationalism, and nationwide reconstruction.[124] During this period, Pakistan embarked on ambitiously developing the nuclear deterrence in 1972 in a view to prevent any foreign invasion; the country's first nuclear power plant was inaugurated, also the same year.[125][126] Accelerated in response to first nuclear test by India in 1974, this crash program was completed in 1979.[126] Democracy ended with a military coup in 1977 against the leftist PPP, which saw General Zia-ul-Haq become the president in 1978. From 1977 to 1988, President Zia's corporatisation and economic Islamisation initiatives led to Pakistan becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia.[127] While consolidating the nuclear development, increasing Islamization,[128] and the rise of homegrown conservative philosophy, Pakistan helped subsidise and distribute US resources to factions of the mujahideen against the USSR's intervention in communist Afghanistan.[129][130]

President Zia died in a plane crash in 1988, and Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the country's first female Prime Minister. The Pakistan Peoples Party followed by conservative Pakistan Muslim League (N), and over the next decade whose two leaders fought for power, alternating in office while the country's situation worsened; economic indicators fell sharply, in contrast to the 1980s. This period is marked by prolonged stagflation, instability, corruption, nationalism, geopolitical rivalry with India, and the clash of left wing-right wing ideologies.[131][132] As PML(N) secured a supermajority in elections in 1997, Sharif authorised the nuclear testings (See:Chagai-I and Chagai-II), as a retaliation to second nuclear tests ordered by India, led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in May 1998.[133]

President Bush meets with President Musharraf in Islamabad during his 2006 visit to Pakistan.
Military tension between the two countries in the Kargil district led to the Kargil War of 1999, and a turbulence in civic-military relations allowed General Pervez Musharraf took over through a bloodless coup d'état.[134][135] Musharraf governed Pakistan as chief executive from 1999 to 2001 and as President from 2001 to 2008— a period of enlightenment, social liberalism, extensive economic reforms,[136] and direct involvement in the US-led war on terrorism. When the National Assembly historically completed its first full five-year term on 15 November 2007, the new elections were called by the Election Commission.[137] After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, the PPP secured largest votes in the elections of 2008, appointing party member Yousaf Raza Gillani as Prime Minister.[138] Threatened with facing impeachment, President Musharraf resigned on 18 August 2008, and was succeeded by Asif Ali Zardari.[139][140][141] Clashes with the judicature prompted Gillani's disqualification from the Parliament and as the Prime Minister in June 2012.[142] By its own financial calculations, Pakistan's involvement in the war on terrorism has cost up to ~$67.93 billion,[143][144] thousands of casualties and nearly 3 million displaced civilians.[145] The general election held in 2013 saw the PML(N) almost achieve a supermajority, following which Nawaz Sharif became elected as the Prime Minister, returning to the post for the third time after fourteen years, in a democratic transition.[146]

Government and politics
Main articles: Government of Pakistan, Politics of Pakistan, Political history of Pakistan, and Human rights in Pakistan

Parliament House
Pakistan is a democratic parliamentary federal republic with Islam as the state religion.[147] The first set was adopted in 1956 but suspended by Ayub Khan in 1958 who replaced it with the second set in 1962.[91] 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.[148] The Pakistani military establishment has played an influential role in mainstream politics throughout Pakistan's political history.[91] 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.[149] As of now, Pakistan has a multi-party parliamentary 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.

Head of State: The President who is elected by an Electoral College is the ceremonial head of the state and is the civilian commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Armed Forces (with Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee as its principal military adviser), but military appointments and key confirmations in the armed forces are made by the Prime Minister after reviewing the reports on their merit and performances. Almost all appointed officers in the judicature, military, chairman joint chiefs and joint staff, and legislatures require the executive confirmation from the Prime Minister, whom the President must consult, by law. However, the powers to pardon and grant clemency vest with the President of Pakistan.
Legislative: The bicameral legislature comprises a 100-member Senate (upper house) and a 342-member National Assembly (lower house). Members of the National Assembly are elected through the first-past-the-post system under universal adult suffrage, representing electoral districts known as National Assembly constituencies. According to the constitution, the 70 seats reserved for women and religious minorities are allocated to the political parties according to their proportional representation. Senate members are elected by provincial legislators, with all of provinces have equal representation.

Prime Minister's Secretariat
Executive: The Prime Minister is usually the leader of the majority rule party or a coalition in the National Assembly— the lower house. The Prime Minister serves as the head of government and is designated to exercise as the country's chief executive. The Prime Minister is responsible for appointing a cabinet consisting of ministers and advisers as well as running the government operations, taking and authorising executive decisions, appointments and recommendations that require executive confirmation of the Prime Minister.
Provincial governments: Each of the four province has a similar system of government, with a directly elected Provincial Assembly in which the leader of the largest party or coalition is elected Chief Minister. Chief Ministers oversees the provincial governments and head the provincial cabinet, it is common in Pakistan to have different ruling parties or coalitions in each provinces. The provincial assemblies have power to make laws and approve provincial budget which is commonly presented by the provincial finance minister every fiscal year. Provincial governors who play role as the ceremonial head of province are appointed by the President.[148]

Supreme Court of Pakistan
Judicature: The judiciary of Pakistan is a hierarchical system with two classes of courts: the superior (or higher) judiciary and the subordinate (or lower) judiciary. The Chief Justice of Pakistan is the chief judge who oversees the judicature's court system at all levels of command. The superior judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Federal Shariat Court and five High Courts, with the Supreme Court at the apex. The Constitution of Pakistan entrusts the superior judiciary with the obligation to preserve, protect and defend the constitution. Neither the Supreme Court nor a High Court may exercise jurisdiction in relation to Tribal Areas, except otherwise provided for. The disputed regions of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan have separate court systems.
Foreign relations of Pakistan
Main article: Foreign relations of Pakistan
(L-R) English: Motorcade for President Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan. In open car (Lincoln-Mercury Continental with bubble top): Secret Service agent William Greer (driving); Military Aide to the President General Chester V. Clifton (front seat, centre); Secret Service Agent Gerald "Jerry" Behn (front seat, right; partially hidden); President Mohammad Ayub Khan (standing); President John F. Kennedy (standing). Crowd watching. 14th Street, Washington, D.C.
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.[150][151] With a semi-agricultural and semi-industrialized economy, its foreign policy determines its standard of interactions for its organisations, corporations and individual citizens.[152][153] 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."[154]

Since then, Pakistan has attempted to balance its relations with foreign nations.[155][156][157] A non-signatory party of the Treaty on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Pakistan is an influential member of the IAEA.[158] In recent events, Pakistan has blocked an international treaty to limit fissile material, arguing that the "treaty would target Pakistan specifically."[159] 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.[160] Currently, Pakistan maintains a policy of credible minimum deterrence, calling its program vital nuclear deterrence against foreign aggression.[161][162]

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.[163] 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.[164] 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.[165] 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."[166] Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations and has a Permanent Representative to represent Pakistan's policy in international politics.[167] Pakistan has lobbied for the concept of "Enlightened Moderation" in the Muslim world.[168][169] Pakistan is also a member of Commonwealth of Nations,[170] the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO)[171][172] and the G20 developing nations.[173] Pakistan does not have diplomatic relations with Israel;[174] nonetheless some Israeli citizens have visited the country on a tourist visas.[175] Based on mutual co-operation, the security exchange have taken place between two countries using Turkey as a communication conduit.[176] 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.[177]

Pakistan's incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
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.[178] 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.[179] 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.[179] 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.[179] 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.[180] [181][182][183] 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.[184]

Pakistan PM Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signing the Treaty of Friendship Between China and Pakistan. Pakistan, today, hosts China's largest embassy.[185]
Because of difficulties in relations with its geopolitical rival India, Pakistan maintains close political relations with Turkey and Iran.[186] 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.[186] The Kashmir conflict remains the major point of rift; three of their four wars were over this territory.[187] 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.[166][188] Relations with Russia have greatly improved since 1999 and co-operation with various sectors have increased between Russia and Pakistan.[189] 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.[190] 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.[191][192]

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.[193][194][195][196] 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.[197]

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.[198]

Administrative divisions
Main articles: Administrative units of Pakistan and Districts of Pakistan
Administrative Division Capital Population
 Balochistan Quetta 7,914,000
 Punjab Lahore 101,000,000
 Sindh Karachi 42,400,000
 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Peshawar 28,000,000
Flag of Gilgit Baltistan.svg Gilgit–Baltistan Gilgit 1,800,000
 FATA 3,176,331
 Azad Kashmir Muzaffarabad 4,567,982
Proposed Flag of Islamabad Capital Territory.svg Islamabad Capital Territory Islamabad 1,151,868
A federal parliamentary republic state, Pakistan is a federation that comprises four provinces: Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan.[199] and four territories: the Tribal belt, Gilgit–Baltistan, Islamabad Capital Territory, and Kashmir. The Government of Pakistan exercises the de facto jurisdiction over the Frontier Regions and the western parts of the Kashmir Regions, which are organised into the separate political entities Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan (formerly Northern Areas). In 2009, the constitutional assignment (the Gilgit–Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order) awarded the Gilgit–Baltistan a semi-provincial status, giving it self-government.[200]

The local government system consists of a three-tier system of districts, tehsils and union councils, with an elected body at each tier.[201] There are about 130 districts altogether, of which Azad Kashmir has ten[202] and Gilgit–Baltistan seven.[203] The Tribal Areas comprise seven tribal agencies and six small frontier regions detached from neighbouring districts.[204]

Clickable map of the four provinces and four federal territories of Pakistan.
 A clickable map of Pakistan exhibiting its administrative units.
About this image

Law enforcement is carried out by a joint network of the intelligence community with jurisdiction limited to the relevant province or territory. The National Intelligence Directorate coordinates the information intelligence at both federal and provincial level; including the FIA, IB, Motorway Police, and paramilitary forces such as the Pakistan Rangers and the Frontier Corps.[205]

Pakistan's "premier" intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligene (ISI), was formed just within a year after the Independence of Pakistan in 1947.[206] Inter Service Intelligence Agency of Pakistan was ranked as the top intelligence agency in the world in 2011, 2014 and 2015.[207][208]

The court system is organised as a hierarchy, with the Supreme Court at the apex, below which are High Courts, Federal Shariat Courts (one in each province and one in the federal capital), District Courts (one in each district), Judicial Magistrate Courts (in every town and city), Executive Magistrate Courts and civil courts. The Penal code has limited jurisdiction in the Tribal Areas, where law is largely derived from tribal customs.[205][209]

Main article: Pakistan Armed Forces

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.[210] They came into existence after independence in 1947, and the military establishment has frequently influenced in the national politics ever since.[149] 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.[211] The Joint Staff HQ is composed of the Air HQ, Navy HQ, and Army GHQ in the vicinity of the Rawalpindi Military District.[212]

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.[211] The Chairman joint chiefs controls the military from the JS HQ and maintains strategic communications between the military and the civilian government.[211] As of current, the Chairman joint chiefs is General Rashid Mahmood alongside chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif,[213] chief of naval staff Admiral Muhammad Zaka,[214] and chief of air staff Air Chief Marshal Suhail Aman.[215] The main branches are the Army–Air Force–Navy–Marines, which are supported by the number of paramilitary forces in the country.[216] 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.[133]

The United States, Turkey, and China maintain close military relations and regularly export military equipment and technology transfer to Pakistan.[217] Joint logistics and major war games are occasionally carried out by the militaries of China and Turkey.[216][218][219] Philosophical basis for the military draft is introduced by the Constitution in times of emergency, but it has never been imposed.[220] 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.[221] Tensions in Kargil brought the two countries at the brink of war.[134] 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.[222][223] 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;[224] one of which belonged to Alexander Rutskoy.[224] 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.[225][226][227] 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. Approximately 90,000 Pakistani people went to Bosnia during the Yugoslav wars, accounting for 20% of the volunteer military force. 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.[citation needed] The ISI Bosnian contingent was organised with financial assistance provided by Saudi Arabia, according to the British historian Mark Curtis.[228] 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.[229][230]

Pakistan has deployed its military in some Arab countries, providing defence, training, and playing advisory roles.[231][232] 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.[225] 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.[233][234][235] Requested by the Saudi monarchy in 1979, the special forces units, operatives, and commandos were rushed to assist Saudi forces in Mecca to lead the operation of the Grand Mosque.[236] 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.[237]

Since 2004, the military has been engaged in a war in North-West Pakistan, mainly against the homegrown Taliban factions.[238][239] Major operations undertaken by the Army include Operation Black Thunderstorm and Operation Rah-e-Nijat.[240][241]

Kashmir conflict
Main article: Kashmir conflict
The Kashmir– the most northwesterly region of South Asia– is a primary territorial dispute that hindered the relations between India and Pakistan. Two nations have fought at least three large-scale conventional wars in successive years of 1947, 1965, and 1971. The conflict in 1971 witnessed Pakistan's unconditional surrender and a treaty that subsequently led to the independence of Bangladesh.[242] Other serious military engagements and skirmishes included the armed contacts in Siachen Glacier (1984) and Kargil (1999).[187] Approximately 45.1% of the Kashmir region is controlled by India while claiming the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including most of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, and the Siachen.[187] The claim is contested by Pakistan, which approximately controls the 38.2% of the Kashmir region, known as the Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan.[187][243]

Azad Kashmir is part of Pakistan controlled Kashmir.
India claims the Kashmir on the basis of the Instrument of Accession— a legal agreement with Kashmir's leaders executed by Maharaja Hari Singh who agreed to accede the area to India.[244] Pakistan claims Kashmir on the basis of a Muslim majority and of geography, the same principles that were applied for the creation of the two independent states.[245][246] India referred the dispute to the United Nations on 1 January 1948.[247] A resolution passed in 1948, the UN's General Assembly asked Pakistan to remove most of its troops as a plebiscite would then be held. However, Pakistan failed to vacate the region and a ceasefire was reached in 1949 with the Line of Control (LoC) was established, dividing Kashmir between the two nations.[248] India, fearful that the Muslim majority populace of Kashmir would secede from India, did not allow a plebiscite to take place in the region. This was confirmed in a statement by India's Defense Minister, Kirshnan Menon, who said: "Kashmir would vote to join Pakistan and no Indian Government responsible for agreeing to plebiscite would survive.''[249]

Pakistan claims that its position is for the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine their future through impartial elections as mandated by the United Nations,[250] while India has stated that Kashmir is an integral part of India, referring to the Simla Agreement (1972) and to the fact that elections take place regularly.[251] In recent developments, certain Kashmiri independence groups believe that Kashmir should be independent of both India and Pakistan.[187]

Law enforcement
Main articles: Law enforcement in Pakistan, Pakistan Intelligence Community, and National Intelligence Directorate
The law enforcement in Pakistan is carried out by joint network of several federal and provincial police agencies. The four provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory each have a civilian police force with jurisdiction extending only to the relevant province or territory.[148] At the federal level, there are a number of civilian intelligence agencies with nationwide jurisdictions including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB), and the Motoway Patrol, as well as several paramilitary forces such as the National Guards (Northern Areas), the Rangers (Punjab and Sindh), and the Frontier Corps (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan).

The most senior officers of all the civilian police forces also form part of the Police Service, which is a component of the civil service of Pakistan. Namely, there are four provincial police service including the Punjab Police, Sindh Police, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police, and the Balochistan Police; all headed by the appointed senior Inspector-Generals. The Islamabad has its own police component, the Capital Police, to maintain law and order in the capital. The CID bureaus are the crime investigation unit and forms a vital part in each provincial police service.

The law enforcement in Pakistan also has a Motorway Patrol which is responsible for enforcement of traffic and safety laws, security and recovery on Pakistan's inter-provincial motorway network. In each of provincial Police Service, it also maintains a respective Elite Police units led by the NACTA– a counter-terrorism police unit as well as providing VIP escorts. In Punjab and Sindh, the Pakistan Rangers are an internal security force with the prime objective to provide and maintain security in war zones and areas of conflict as well as maintaining law and order which includes providing assistance to the police.[252] The Frontier Corps serves the similar purpose in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and the Balochistan.[252]

Role of Islam in Pakistan
Main articles: Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization and Objectives Resolution
iPakistan had been created in the name of Islam.[26] Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah had developed a close association with the ulema (Islamic clergy).[253] When Jinnah died, Islamic scholar Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani described Jinnah as the greatest Muslim after the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and also compared Jinnah's death to the Prophet's passing.[253] Usmani asked Pakistanis to remember Jinnah's message of Unity, Faith and Discipline and work to fulfil his dream:

to create a solid bloc of all Muslim states from Karachi to Ankara, from Pakistan to Morocco. He [Jinnah] wanted to see the Muslims of the world united under the banner of Islam as an effective check against the aggressive designs of their enemies.[253]

The first formal step taken to transform Pakistan into an ideological Islamic state was in March 1949 when the country's first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, introduced the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly.[254] The president of the Muslim League, Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, announced that Pakistan would bring together all Muslim countries into Islamistan-a pan-Islamic entity.[255] Khaliq believed that Pakistan was only a Muslim state and was not yet an Islamic state, but that it could certainly become an Islamic state after bringing all believers of Islam into a single political unit.[256] Keith Callard, one of the earliest scholars on Pakistani politics, observed that Pakistanis believed in the essential unity of purpose and outlook in the Muslim world:

Pakistan was founded to advance the cause of Muslims. Other Muslims might have been expected to be sympathetic, even enthusiastic. But this assumed that other Muslim states would take the same view of the relation between religion and nationality.[255]

However, Pakistan's pan-Islamist sentiments were not shared by other Muslim governments at the time. Nationalism in other parts of the Muslim world was based on ethnicity, language and culture.[255] Although Muslim governments were unsympathetic with Pakistan's pan-Islamic aspirations, Islamists from all over the world were drawn to Pakistan. Figures such as the Grand Mufti of Palestine, Al-Haj Amin al-Husseini and leaders of Islamist political movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood became frequent visitors to the country.[257] After General Zia-ul-Haq took power in a military coup, Hizb ut-Tahrir (an Islamist group calling for the establishment of a Caliphate) expanded its organisational network and activities in Pakistan. Its founder, Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani, would maintain regular correspondence with Abul A’la Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and he also urged Dr Israr Ahmed to continue his work in Pakistan for the establishment of a global caliphate.[258]

After Pakistan's first ever general elections the 1973 Constitution was created by an elected Parliament.[259] The Constitution declared Pakistan an Islamic Republic and Islam as the state religion. It also stated that all laws would have to be brought into accordance with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah and that no law repugnant to such injunctions could be enacted.[27] The 1973 Constitution also created certain institutions such as the Shariat Court and the Council of Islamic Ideology to channel the interpretation and application of Islam.[260]

On July 5 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq led a coup d'etat.[261] In the year or two before Zia-ul-Haq's coup, his predecessor, leftist Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had faced vigorous opposition which was united under the revivalist banner of Nizam-e-Mustafa[262] ("Rule of the prophet"). According to supporters of the movement, establishing an Islamic state based on sharia law would mean a return to the justice and success of the early days of Islam when the Islamic prophet Muhammad ruled the Muslims.[263] In an effort to stem the tide of street Islamisation, Bhutto also called for it and banned the drinking and selling of wine by Muslims, nightclubs and horse racing.[263][264]

Zia-ul-Haq committed himself to establishing an Islamic state and enforcing sharia law.[263] Zia established separate Shariat judicial courts[260] and court benches[265][266] to judge legal cases using Islamic doctrine.[267] New criminal offences (of adultery, fornication, and types of blasphemy), and new punishments (of whipping, amputation, and stoning to death), were added to Pakistani law. Interest payments for bank accounts were replaced by "profit and loss" payments. Zakat charitable donations became a 2.5% annual tax. School textbooks and libraries were overhauled to remove un-Islamic material.[268] Offices, schools, and factories were required to offer praying space.[269] Zia bolstered the influence of the ulama (Islamic clergy) and the Islamic parties,[267] conservative scholars became fixtures on television.[269] 10,000s of activists from the Jamaat-e-Islami party were appointed to government posts to ensure the continuation of his agenda after his passing.[263][267][270][271] Conservative ulama (Islamic scholars) were added to the Council of Islamic Ideology.[265] Separate electorates for Hindus and Christians were established in 1985 even though Christian and Hindu leaders complained that they felt excluded from the county's political process.[272]

Possible motivations for the Islamisation programme included Zia's personal piety (most accounts agree that he came from a religious family),[273] desire to gain political allies, to "fulfill Pakistan's raison d'être" as a Muslim state, and/or the political need to legitimise what was seen by some Pakistanis as his "repressive, un-representative martial law regime".[274]

According to Shajeel Zaidi a million people attended Zia ul Haq's funeral because he had given them what they wanted: more religion.[275] A PEW opinion poll found that 84% of Pakistanis favoured making Sharia the official law of the land.[276] According to the 2013 Pew Research Center report, the majority of Pakistani Muslims also support the death penalty for those who leave Islam (62%). In contrast, support for the death penalty for those who leave Islam was only 36% in fellow South Asian Muslim country Bangladesh (which shared heritage with Pakistan).[277] A 2010 opinion poll by PEW Research Centre also found that 87% of Pakistanis considered themselves 'Muslims first' rather than a member of their nationality. This was the highest figure amongst all Muslim populations surveyed. In contrast only 67% in Jordan, 59% in Egypt, 51% in Turkey, 36% in Indonesia and 71% in Nigeria considered themselves as 'Muslim first' rather than a member of their own nationality.[278]

Geography, environment and climate
Main articles: Extreme weather records in Pakistan, Geography of Pakistan, Environment of Pakistan, Climate of Pakistan, Tropical cyclones and tornadoes in Pakistan, and List of beaches in Pakistan

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.[279] 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[280] 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.[148] It shares a marine border with Oman,[281] and is separated from Tajikistan by the cold, narrow Wakhan Corridor.[282] Pakistan occupies a geopolitically important location at the crossroads of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia.[283]

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.[284] 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 .[285]

Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands, the Indus River plain and the Balochistan Plateau.[286] 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).[287] 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.[288]

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.[80] Rainfall varies greatly from year to year, and patterns of alternate flooding and drought are common.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

United States

Officially, its name is the United States of America. But people often call it the United States, the USA, or America.
The United States is a vast and beautiful land. It’s home to rich farmland, towering mountains, huge stands of timber, mighty rivers, and valuable mineral deposits.
Colonists from Europe founded the United States more than 200 years ago. They created a new kind of society based on the ideals of freedom and opportunity. The American people, through their ambitiousness and hard work, built one of the world’s richest and most powerful nations.
Facts About the United States
Official name United States of America
Capital Washington, D.C.
Population 304,000,000 people
Rank among countries in population 3rd
Major cities New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia
Area 3,790,000 square miles
9,830,000 square kilometers
Rank among countries in area 3rd
Highest point Mt. McKinley
20,320 feet/6,194 meters
Currency United States dollar
The United States is the third largest country in area in the world, after Russia and Canada. It covers the width of North America between Canada and Mexico. That gives the United States long coastlines facing both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
A broad coastal plain lines the East Coast of the United States. To the west, the land climbs to the rugged Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachians are a chain of thickly wooded mountains that stretch from Maine to Alabama. They contain rich veins of coal.
West of the Appalachians, the land drops to the greatest river in America, the mighty Mississippi. West of the Mississippi is a vast open area called the Great Plains. The Mississippi rolls along the eastern edge of the Plains.
West of the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains rise to peaks of more than 14,000 feet (4,260 meters). They span the country from north to south. Farther west, along the coast, stands another great system of mountains, the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges.
In the northwestern corner of North America lies Alaska, still mostly a rugged wilderness. About 2,400 miles (3,680 kilometers) across the Pacific Ocean is Hawaii, a group of tropical islands. Alaska and Hawaii were the last two states to join the Union. They were admitted in 1959.
The United States is a democracy. This means that American citizens choose their government, rather than having one forced on them. Americans choose their government by voting.
The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C. That’s where the federal (national) government is based. The United States is made up of 50 individual states. Each state has its own separate, democratically elected government.
The foundation of American democracy is the U.S. Constitution. This document, written in 1787, created the American system of government. It opens with these three words: “We, the people ….”
The Constitution defines the powers of the U.S. Congress, president, and federal courts. Just as important, the Constitution lays out the rights and freedoms of all American citizens in the Bill of Rights.
Today, the United States is home to about 304 million people. That makes it the world’s third most populated country, after China and India. The motto of the United States is E Pluribus Unum. You can read it on all the nation’s coins and paper money. But what does it mean?
E Pluribus Unum is a Latin phrase that means “from many, one.” It was first used to unify the 13 English colonies in North America during the American Revolution (1775-1783). But the phrase took on new meaning when wave after wave of immigrants came to settle in the United States.
Over the last 200 years, tens of millions of people from other lands have come to live in America. Why so many? There are many answers. The United States had open space for people to build homes and towns. It had plenty of jobs. It was a place where people could practice a religion of their own choosing.
For most immigrants, the United States was a land of opportunity. It was a place for people looking to make a new life. Today, most Americans are descended from immigrants.
The United States is often called the melting pot. Most immigrants adapt to the American way of life. They “melt” together in one big pot. But they also bring their own cultures and traditions with them. These different traditions often blend together to form something new and uniquely American.
The blending of different traditions is at the heart of American culture. You can see it in food, music, clothing, architecture, and many other things.
American pizza, for instance, is adapted from a dish made by Italian immigrants. Hot dogs are based on a sausage dish made by German immigrants. The American musical styles of jazz and blues have roots in Africa. African immigrants brought their musical traditions with them. Country music has roots in the folk music carried to America by immigrants from the British Isles.
The history of the United States has not always been simple or easy. America was founded on the ideals of freedom and opportunity for all. But many people have had to struggle to gain the basic freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
America long tolerated the enslavement of millions of people from Africa. In the 1860s, the United States split apart over the issue of slavery. The Civil War was fought to hold the country together.
Meanwhile, American pioneers pushed westward from the Atlantic Coast, building settlements in the wilderness. As they did, new states were added to the original 13, greatly expanding the size of the country. But American expansion caused conflict with Native Americans, who were gradually forced off their land.
Despite these difficulties, the United States prospered. Today, it is the world’s richest, most powerful nation. Its fertile land, diverse people, troubled past, and great successes are all a part of the American experience.

United Kingdom

Some people call it Britain. Others say Great Britain. Many people mistakenly call the whole country England. But its real name is a mouthful: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That’s why it’s usually just called the United Kingdom, or UK for short.
Facts About the United Kingdom
Official name United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Capital London
Official language English
Population 60,900,000 people
Rank among countries in population 22nd
Major cities London, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow
Area 94,300 square miles
244,000 square kilometers
Rank among countries in area 77th
Highest point Ben Nevis
4,406 feet/1,343 meters
Currency Pound sterling
The United Kingdom is a country made up of four parts: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. For centuries, it was ruled by kings and queens. The United Kingdom still has a monarchy, although today its power is mostly symbolic.
England is the biggest part, but don’t forget the others. Each part was once ruled separately. Each has its own culture and its own native language, which some people still speak. Each even has its own national soccer team!
The United Kingdom lies off the northwest coast of Europe. There are two main islands—Great Britain and Ireland. There are hundreds of smaller ones, too, especially off the coast of Scotland in the north. Northern Ireland is on the same island with the country of Ireland, but it’s part of the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom has lots of coastline and coastal towns. Rolling plains cover much of the interior. There are mountains, too. Ben Nevis, in Scotland, is the highest at 4,406 feet (1,343 meters). England has an area of mountains and lakes called the Lake District. Wales is almost entirely covered by craggy mountains and deep, green valleys.
The weather in the United Kingdom is mild and damp. It’s rainy or overcast up to 300 days each year. That’s why so much of the countryside is lush and green!
London is the capital of the United Kingdom. It’s located in England, and it’s the biggest city in Europe. More than 8 million people live there.
London has great churches like Saint Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. It has a castle called the Tower of London and a large public square called Trafalgar Square. There’s Big Ben, the famous clock tower at the Houses of Parliament. There’s also a famous shopping and entertainment center called Piccadilly Circus.
The United Kingdom has other big cities such as Edinburgh in Scotland, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and Cardiff in Wales. But none is as big and important as London.
When you’re in London, don’t forget to visit Buckingham Palace. This famous palace is the London home of Queen Elizabeth II. Guards carefully watch over the palace grounds. Tourists enjoy watching the changing of the guards.
The queen has very little power when compared with earlier English kings and queens. Today, an elected prime minister and Parliament hold most government power. But Elizabeth II is popular with her people. You’ll find her image on every British stamp, banknote, and coin!
The United Kingdom is the birthplace of the English language. Today, English is spoken in more parts of the world than any other language.
English is considered one of the world’s richest languages. It has well over half a million words! Why so many? Because many different people settled in Britain over the centuries, and each group added their own words.
The United Kingdom has produced some of the greatest writers of the English language. You’ve heard of William Shakespeare, right? He was a great playwright and poet from England. Shakespeare wrote many famous plays, including Romeo and Juliet.
In the 1800s, the United Kingdom was the center of what’s called the Industrial Revolution. It built the world’s first railroads and large factories. It improved machinery to manufacture goods more efficiently. Later, the Industrial Revolution spread to the rest of Europe and to the United States.
The United Kingdom began to build an overseas empire in the late 1500s. It built a large navy to serve its growing empire. By the early 1900s, the United Kingdom controlled the world’s greatest empire.
“The sun never sets on the British Empire,” people liked to say. They were right. The empire reached around the world, so there was always daylight somewhere in the empire. British possessions included India, Australia, and parts of Africa and the Caribbean. Even the United States began as a British colony!
In the 20th century, the United Kingdom lost most of its world empire. But the country continues to work with many of its old colonies in an organization called the Commonwealth of Nations. Commonwealth members share many customs and traditions with Britain.
Many people from Commonwealth countries have moved to Britain. These immigrants have made the United Kingdom very diverse. Today, the United Kingdom is a multicultural country of more than 61 million people.