Brig (R) Muhammad Zareef Malik, High Commissioner of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
TODAY Pakistanis everywhere and from all walks of life celebrate the 76th Anniversary of National day of Pakistan. On this auspicious day, I extend warm greetings to all Pakistanis and friends of Pakistan and also share our rejoicings with the friendly people of Brunei Darussalam.
Pakistan Resolution Day is a national holiday in Pakistan to commemorate the Lahore Resolution of 1940 and the adoption of the first constitution of Pakistan during the transition of the Dominion of Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on 23 March 1940, making Pakistan the world’s first Islamic republic.
The Making of Pakistan
Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent sovereign state in August 1947, as a result of the division of the British Indian Empire.
With a land area of 881,888 sq km. including Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Federal Administered Tribal Areas, Islamabad Capital Territory, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, its population stands at nearly 177 million (2011 estimates).
From 10th Century AD onwards, a systematic conquest of Indo-Pakistan by the Muslims from Central Asia began and lasted up to 18th Century AD, when the British colonised the Sub-continent and ruled for nearly 200 years (for 100 years over what is now Pakistan).
The Muslim revival began towards the end of the last century when Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a renowned leader and educationist, launched a movement for intellectual renaissance of the Indian Muslims. In 1930, the well-known poet/philosopher, Dr. Mohammed Iqbal conceived the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of the Sub-continent, and in 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted the famous Pakistan Resolution.
After seven years of untiring struggle, under the brilliant leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan emerged on the world map as a sovereign state on August 14, 1947, when the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two independent states – India and Pakistan.
Ethnicity of Pakistan
Predominantly Muslims, the people of Pakistan are culturally homogeneous. Other religious groups include the Christians, Buddhist, Hindus and Parsees. All belong to a composite racial stock although the majority belongs to an Aryan extraction. While Urdu, the national language, is spoken throughout Pakistan, English is extensively used in official and commercial circles, and in the cities. The regional languages are Sindhi in Sindh, Balochi in Balochistan, Punjabi in Punjab and Pushto in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan’s Border Regions
Pakistan has a total area of 803,940 square kilometers, slightly greater than France and the United Kingdom put together. Pakistan is located in South Asia. To the south is the Arabian Sea, with 1,046 km of Pakistani coastline.
To Pakistan’s east is India, which has a 2,912 km border with Pakistan. To its west is Iran, which has a 909km border with Pakistan. To Pakistan’s northwest lies Afghanistan, with a shared border of 2,430km. China is towards the northeast and has a 523km border with Pakistan.
Landscape of Pakistan
The main waterway of Pakistan is the Indus River that begins in China, and runs nearly the entire length of Pakistan, flowing through all of Pakistan’s provinces except Balochistan. is fed by the combined waters of three of the five rivers of Punjab the Chenab, Jhelum, and Ravi. The waters of the other two rivers, the Beas and the Sutlej, are largely withdrawn for irrigation in India. Along the Indus and its tributaries are found most of Pakistan’s population, its chief agricultural areas, and its major hydroelectric power stations, interconnected by the world’s largest system of agricultural canals, join the Indus before it discharges into the Arabian Sea.
The northern and western areas of Pakistan are mountainous. Pakistani administered areas of Kashmir contain some of the highest mountains in the world, including the second tallest, K-2.
Northern Pakistan tends to receive more rainfall than the southern parts of the country, and has some areas of preserved moist temperate forest.
In the southeast, Pakistan’s border with India passes through a flat desert, called the Cholistan or Thal Desert. West-central Balochistan has a high desert plateau, bordered by low mountain ranges. Most of the Punjab, and parts of Sindh, are fertile plains where agriculture is of great importance.
Punjab-The Land of Five Rivers
The land of five rivers, population-wise the largest, and once known as the granary of east, the Punjab is the lifeline of Pakistan. Punjab is the second largest and most populous province of Pakistan. It contains several major cities of the country including Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Multan and Gujranwala.
The province is playing a leading role in agricultural production. It contributes about 68 per cent to annual food grain production in the country.
Fifty-one million acres is cultivated and another 9.05 million acres are lying as cultivable waste in different parts of the province.
Punjab’s economy is mainly agricultural, although industry makes a substantial contribution. Punjab has many large industrial concentrations. Notable examples are Textiles, Leather and Light Engineering Goods. Punjab has more than 48 thousand industrial units. The small and cottage industries are in abundance. There are 39,033 small and cottage size industrial units.
Sindh-The Gateway of Islam
Sindh is known as the ‘Mehran’ and has been given the title of Bab-ul-Islam (The gateway of Islam. The capital of the province is Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub. Most of the population in the province is Muslim, with sizeable Christian, Zoroastrian and Hindu minorities. The main language spoken is Sindhi by about 40 million people, while there exists a significant Urdu-speaking minority.
Cotton, rice, wheat and sugarcane are the main crops produced in Sindh. Rice is by far the most important crop cultivated here. It is the only crop that can be grown in the annually inundated lands within the delta of the Indus and a larger quantity and much finer quality is produced in the Larkana district.
Sindh is also home to a wide variety of Mangoes, known worldwide for ovalish long shape, fine texture, pleasantly aromatic flavour and sweet taste.
The waters around Karachi are rich with seafood and are considered to be some of the best fishing spots in the world. Surmai, pomphret, lobsters, shrimps, sharks, dolphins, crocodiles and other aquatic life especially Pallas exists in plenty in the sea as well as in the sweet waters of the Indus, Manchar, Keenjhar, Haleji and other lakes. Though chiefly an agricultural and pastoral province, Sindh has a reputation for textiles, pottery, leatherwork, carpets etc.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-The Land of Guardians of Frontier
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the northwestern region of the country. It was formerly known as North-West Frontier Province, commonly called Sarhad in Urdu, which means “frontier.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is populated by a large variety of tribes, sub-tribes and clans, each with its own network of ties but unified by the collective of being called Pathan or Pukhtun, imbued with the characteristic force of character, bravery and shrewdness.
Never having called any man master and preserving an obdurate independence from the rulers of the Punjab and of Afghanistan alike”, the tribes of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were not willing to submit to another foreign invader hence the province is known as the Land of Guardian of Frontier.
It covers an area of 74,521 km2. Its climate varies from very cold (Chitral in the north) to very hot in places like DI Khan.
The major rivers that cross the province are Kabul River, Swat River, Chitral River, Panjgora River, Bara River, Karam River, Gomal River and Zob River. The capital and largest city of the province is Peshawar and other main cities include Nowshera, Mardan, Mansehra, Charsadda, Ayubia, Nathia Gali and Abbottabad. The province’s main districts include Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Bannu, Peshawar, and Hazara Division.
The chai-khanas (small Tea shops) of Peshawar’s Old City allow visitors to witness the multicultural inhabitants in a relaxed setting. Qissa Kahani Bazaar and other parts of Peshawar can remind visitors of an Arabian Nights tale.
The Takht-i-Bahi is perhaps the most impressive Buddhist ruin in the province and dates back to the 1st Century BCE.
Polo in its traditional form draws large crowds when it is played annually at the Shandoor festival in mid-summer. This widely attended festival takes place at the highest polo ground in the world. Nine hours by winding road from Chitral, in the Shandoor Pass at about 11,000ft, the six best teams, three from Chitral and three from Gilgit continue the tradition which was formalised in the 1920’s.
Balochistan – The Land of the Baloch
Balochistan, is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the southwestern region of the country. Its provincial capital and largest city is Quetta. It is geographically the largest of the four provinces at 347,190km2 and composes 42 per cent of the total land area of Pakistan. The population density is very low due to the mountainous terrain and scarcity of water. The southern region is known as Makran. A region in the centre of the province is known as Kalat. The climate of the upper highlands is characterised by very cold winters and warm summers. Winters of the lower highlands vary from extremely cold in the northern districts to mild conditions closer to the Makran coast.
The economy of the province is largely based upon the production of natural gas, coal and minerals. The province is blessed with rich natural resources, which significantly help to meet the energy needs of Pakistan as a whole. Gwadar Port is a warm-water, deep-sea port situated on the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Balochistan province of Pakistan. It is the third deep-sea port of Pakistan and is believed to change the fortunes of the province owing to its geo-strategic location.
Gilgit-Baltistan – Heaven on Earth
Gilgit Baltistan is, perhaps, the most spectacular region of Pakistan in terms of its geography and scenic beauty. Here world’s three mightiest mountain ranges: the Karakoram, the Handukuch and the Himalayas – meet.
The whole of Gilgit Baltistan is like a paradise for mountaineers, trekkers and anglers. The region has a rich cultural heritage and variety of rare fauna and flora.
Acknowledging the vast potential of tourism and its effects on downstream industries, the Government of Pakistan as well as the Gilgit Baltistan Administration are focusing on tourism for creation of employment opportunities, achieving higher economic growth and to introduce to the outside world, “the hidden treasures” of Gilgit Baltistan. Beautiful landscape, unique cultural heritage and rich biological diversity given the Gilgit-Baltistan a competitive advantage in attracting tourists from all over the world.
The economy of Gilgit-Baltistan can be broadly categorised into four spheres, tourism, agriculture, minerals and hydro power. Tourism is the main source of income for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Often called the paradise for mountaineers and trekkers, it contains some of the tallest mountains in the world.
Numerous archeological sites, historical forts, rock carving from the days of the Silk Route, high altitude forests etc.
Gilgit-Baltistan has a cool, dry climate and is rich in water resources. Fruits such as apricots, apples, grapes, pears and pomegranate are widely produced in this region. Dried fruits and nuts are another source of income.
This region is ideal for growth of temperate fruits and vegetable and has a low insect, disease, and pest population. Gilgit-Baltistan is ideally situated to become a hub of energy sector.
The presence of a large catchment area makes it suitable for harnessing hydropower. The Indus River and its six main tributaries pass through this region and it is estimated that together they have the capacity to produce 40,000MW of electricity.
Reasons to Invest in Pakistan
Pakistan is strategically located to become Asia’s premier trade, energy and transport corridor. It is also the gateway to the energy rich Central Asian States, the financially liquid Gulf States and the economically advanced Far Eastern tigers. This strategic advantage alone makes Pakistan a marketplace teeming with possibilities.
Fifty five percent of Pakistan population is below the age of 19, which bodes well for long- term sustainable economic growth. Pakistan has a strong middle class, which is presently around 63 million. A large part of the workforce is proficient in English, hardworking and intelligent. Pakistan possesses a large pool of trained and experienced engineers, bankers, lawyers and other professionals with many having substantial international experience. The consumer market in Pakistan is growing at a very fast pace as reflected by tele-density which has now reached 125 million.
In the global financial crisis, Pakistan’s economy has shown resilience to the shocks and has maintained global and regional patterns and has performed better than some of the neighbouring countries.
The World Bank Report of 2013 confirms that Pakistan ranks ahead of Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, India and Philippines. Furthermore in the report of “ease of doing business” Pakistan has ranked at 107 out of 185 countries ahead of both India and Bangladesh in the region. Pakistan is poised to grow at 6 per cent plus in the next two-three years based on strong structural reforms program.
The Policy has been designed to provide a comprehensive framework for creating a conducive business environment for the attraction of FDI. Pakistan’s policy trends have been consistent, with liberalisation, de-regulation, privatisation, and facilitation being its foremost cornerstones.
The Law of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) has been made to meet the global challenges of competitiveness to attract FDI. The law allows to create industrial cluster with liberal incentives, infrastructure, investor facilitation services to enhance productivity and reduce cost of doing business for economic development and poverty reduction. The Law further envisages to reduce processes through SEZ in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a country which is on the move and needs to be watched with interest.
Last modified: November 23, 2019
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