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Pakistan

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Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a 1,046-kilometre (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast.[7] In the north, Tajikistan lies adjacent to Pakistan but is separated by the narrow Wakhan Corridor. In addition, Oman is also located in maritime vicinity and shares a marine border with Pakistan.[8] Strategically, Pakistan is located in a position between the important regions of South Asia, Central Asia and the greater Middle East.[9]

Pakistan has the eighth largest standing armed force and is the only Muslim-majority nation to possess nuclear weapons. It is designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States and a strategic ally of China.[14][15] It is a founding member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation)[16] and a member of the United Nations,[17] Commonwealth of Nations,[18] Next Eleven economies and the G20 developing nations.

The modern state of Pakistan was established on 14 August 1947 (27 Ramadan 1366 in the Islamic Calendar), carved out of the two Muslim-majority wings in the eastern and northwestern regions of British India and comprising the provinces of Balochistan, East Bengal, the North-West Frontier Province, West Punjab and Sindh.[31] The controversial, and ill-timed, division of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal caused communal riots across India and Pakistan—millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India.[32]

Disputes arose over several princely states including in the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, whose Hindu ruler had acceded to India following an invasion by Pashtun tribal militias, leading to the First Kashmir War in 1948.[33]

From 1947 to 1956, Pakistan was a Dominion of Pakistan in the Commonwealth of Nations. It became a Republic in 1956, but the civilian rule was stalled by a coup d'état by General Ayub Khan, who was president during 1958–69, a period of internal instability and a second war with India in 1965. His successor, Yahya Khan (1969–71) had to deal with a devastating cyclone—which caused 500,000 deaths in East Pakistan—and also face a civil war in 1971. Economic grievances and political dissent in East Pakistan led to violent political tension and military repression that escalated into a civil war.[34] After nine months of guerrilla warfare between the Pakistan Army and the Indian backed Bengali Mukti Bahini militia, Indian intervention escalated into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and ultimately to the secession of East Pakistan as the independent state of Bangladesh.

Civilian rule resumed in Pakistan from 1972 to 1977 under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, until he was deposed and later sentenced to death in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, who became the country's third military president. Zia introduced the Islamic Sharia legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. With the death of President Zia in a plane crash in 1988, Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Over the next decade, she fought for power with Nawaz Sharif as the country's political and economic situation worsened. Pakistan got involved in the 1991 Gulf War and sent 5,000 troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition, specifically for the defence of Saudi Arabia.[36]

Military tensions in the Kargil conflict with India were followed by a Pakistani military coup d'état in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf assumed vast executive powers.[37][38] In 2001, Musharraf became President after the controversial resignation of Rafiq Tarar. After the 2002 parliamentary elections, Musharraf transferred executive powers to the newly elected Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, who was succeeded in the 2004 prime-ministerial election by Shaukat Aziz. On 15 November 2007, the National Assembly, for the first time in Pakistan's history, completed its tenure and new elections were called. The exiled political leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were permitted to return to Pakistan. However, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto during the election campaign in December led to postponement of elections and nationwide riots. Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the largest number of seats in the elections held in February 2008 and its member Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn in as Prime Minister.[39] On 18 August 2008, Pervez Musharraf resigned from the presidency when threatened with impeachment,[40] and was succeeded by current president Asif Ali Zardari. By the end of 2009, more than 3 million Pakistani civilians have been displaced by the on going conflict in North-West Pakistan between the government and Taliban militants.

Pakistan is a democratic parliamentary federal republic with Islam as the state religion.[42] The first Constitution of Pakistan was adopted in 1956, but was suspended in 1958 by General Ayub Khan. The Constitution of 1973 – suspended in 1977, by Zia-ul-Haq, but re-instated in 1985 – is the country's most important document, laying the foundations of the current government.[43]

The bicameral legislature comprises a 100-member Senate and a 342-member National Assembly. The President is the Head of state and the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and is elected by an electoral college. The prime minister is usually the leader of the largest party in the National Assembly. Each province has a similar system of government with a directly elected Provincial Assembly in which the leader of the largest party or alliance becomes Chief Minister. Provincial Governors are appointed by the President.

During the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, Pakistan was a major U.S. ally.[51] But relations soured in the 1990s, when sanctions were imposed by the U.S. over Pakistan's refusal to abandon its nuclear activities.[52] However, the American War on Terrorism, as an aftermath of 11 September 2001 attacks in New York, led to an improvement in US–Pakistan ties, especially after Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul. Its positive side was evidenced by a major increase in American military aid, providing Pakistan $4 billion more in three years after the 9/11 attacks than before.[53] On the other hand, Pakistan is presently burdened with nearly 3 million displaced civilians due to the ongoing Afghan war. As of 2004[update], in contexts of the War on Terror, Pakistan was being referred to as part of the Greater Middle East by the US under the Bush administration.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 19:53