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اسلامی جمہوریۂ پاکستان (Urdu)
Islamic Republic of Pakistan (English)

Islāmī Ǧumhūriya-i Pākistān (Urdu)
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Flag of Pakistan
Coat of arms of pakistan
flag emblem
Slogan :
( Urdu ) اتحاد, تنظيم, يقين محکم
(Ittehad, Tanzeem, Yaqeen-e-muhkam)
"unity, discipline and firm belief"
Official language Urdu and English
Capital Islamabad
State and form of government parliamentary (de jure) or semi-presidential (de facto) republic ( Islamic Republic )
Head of state President
Arif Alvi
Head of government Prime Minister Imran Khan
surface 796,095 ( 35th , excluding cashmere) km²
population 216.6 million ( 5th ) (2019; estimate)
Population density 275 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 2.0% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 262.8 billion ( 45th )
  • $ 1.1 trillion ( 24. )
  • 1,260 USD ( 158. )
  • 5,150 USD ( 144. )
Human Development Index 0.557 ( 154th ) (2019)
currency Pakistani Rupee (PKR)
independence August 14, 1947
(from the United Kingdom )
National anthem Qaumi Tarana
Time zone UTC + 5
License Plate PK
ISO 3166 PK , PAK, 586
Internet TLD .pk
Phone code +92
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Pakistan ( Urdu پاکستان Please click to listen!Play [ paːkɪst̪aːn̪ ] , officially: Islamic Republic of Pakistan ) is a country in South Asia . It is bordered by Iran in the southwest , Afghanistan in the west, China in the north and India in the east . In the south, Pakistan is part of the coast of the Arabian Sea , a tributary of the Indian Ocean .

The state of Pakistan emerged in 1947 from the predominantly Muslim parts of British India , while the areas with a Hindu or other population majority and most of the predominantly Muslim Kashmir in what is now India were dissolved. In 1956 Pakistan proclaimed itself the first Islamic Republic in the world. The former part of East Pakistan has been independent as Bangladesh since the Bangladesh War of 1971 . Pakistan's recent history is mainly shaped by its conflict with India over the Kashmir region (see Kashmir conflict ).

Today Pakistan is plagued by chronic instability. Ethnic-religious conflicts, corruption, terrorism and political dysfunction are problems for the country, even if slight progress has been made in recent years. The country is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Asia. At the same time, it has nuclear weapons and the sixth largest army in the world. Pakistan had the twenty-fifth largest economic output in 2016 and has a growing middle class .


The origins of the name "Pakistan" are disputed. In Persian and Urdu it means "land of the pure" ( pāk "pure in spirit"; stān "land"). However, there Choudhary Rahmat Ali , the one of the main advocates of the creation was an independent Muslim state in the subcontinent and is considered the creator of the country name, the name "Pak (i) stan" on 28 January 1933, his essay Now or Never ( "Now or never ”) another interpretation. He was the home of the North Indian Muslims call - as acronym for P unjab , A fghania (today's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ), K aschmir , S INDH and Baluchi tan . According to some sources, the i stands for Indus, Iran, or was inserted for easier pronunciation.


Pakistan stretches between the 24th and 37th parallel north and between the 61st and 77th longitude east over an area of ​​796,095 square kilometers, making it the ninth largest country in Asia. Including Asad Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly northern areas), Pakistan covers 880,254 square kilometers, about twice as much as Germany and Austria combined. The north-south extension of the country is about 1500 kilometers. It borders four independent states: Iran (978 kilometers) in the southwest, Afghanistan (2643 kilometers) in the west and north, China (523 kilometers) in the northeast, and India (2912 kilometers) in the east. In the south, Pakistan has a coastline of 1046 kilometers on the Arabian Sea .

Pakistan has a land border of 7056 kilometers in total.

Natural space

In the far north of Pakistan, the Hindu Kush , the Karakoram and the Himalayas meet the three highest mountain ranges on earth and shield the country from Central Asia . The Hindu Kush stretches from the Afghan border in the west to the upper reaches of the Indus in the east and with the Tirich Mir reaches an altitude of almost 7,700 meters. In the heavily glaciated Karakoram, north of the Indus, lies the K2 , at 8,611 meters the highest point in Pakistan and the second highest peak on earth. South of the narrow high valley of the upper Indus, the country has a small portion of the Himalayas with the Nanga Parbat (8125 meters) as the north-western “cornerstone” of the mountains. Five of the world's 14 eight-thousanders are on Pakistani-controlled territory.

The plain of the Indus, which connects to the high mountain region to the south, takes up more than a third of the country's area. After the Indus has left the high mountain region of the extreme north and turned south, it first crosses the Potwar plateau between the cities of Peshawar and Faisalabad , which towers again in the south to form the 1,100-meter-high salt chain and then into the lowlands of the Punjab falls off. Only the western part of the "five rivers " Punjab with the rivers Satluj , Chanab , Jhelam and Ravi belongs to the catchment area of ​​the Indus in Pakistan. The fifth great river, the Beas , already flows into the Satluj on Indian territory. Satluj and Chenab unite west of Bahawalpur to Panjnad , which flows into the Indus shortly afterwards. Low elevations, called doab , separate the flat alluvial valleys of the Punjab rivers from one another. South of the Panjnad River estuary crossing the heavily meandering Indus a broad alluvial plain in southern Punjab and in the region of Sindh . Finally, it flows into the Arabian Sea in a delta of around 8,000 square kilometers.

In western Pakistan, the Suleiman and Brahui Mountains, each up to 3500 meters high, and the Kirthar Mountains , which reach a maximum height of around 2200 meters, shield the industrial lowlands from the 600-meter-high, drainless highlands of Balochistan on the border with Iran. Balochistan also traverse several mountain ranges, some of which rise up to 3000 meters. The southern end of Balochistan is formed by the Makran Mountains , which drop off steeply to the Makran coast on the Arabian Sea.

In the east the Thar desert , south of the Punjab, borders the Indus river plain. In the extreme southeast, Pakistan has a share in the salt marsh of the Rann von Kachchh .


Climate diagrams
Climate karachi.png
Climate lahore.png
Climate peshawar.png

In Pakistan there is a predominantly arid subtropical continental climate with considerable local and seasonal differences.

In the lowlands, the mean temperatures in the coldest month of January fluctuate between 12 degrees Celsius in the north and 17 ° C in the south, only on the coast is the monthly mean around 20 ° C in winter. In the summer months from May to September, with the exception of the higher altitudes, it gets unbearably hot all over the country. The average temperatures are then usually above 30 ° C. In isolated cases, maximum values ​​of up to 50 ° C can occur. The distribution of the amount of precipitation is also extremely uneven. Generally they decrease from north to south. Only the foothills of the Himalayas in the far north of the Punjab receive heavy rainfall, where more than 1000 mm are measured in some cases. Lahore only gets around 500 mm, southern Punjab and Sindh less than 200 mm. The precipitation falls almost exclusively during the short southwest monsoons in July and August, the rest of the year is dry.

Extreme drought also prevails in Balochistan. In the western highlands, the annual rainfall is less than 100 mm. In winter there are often night frosts, the average temperatures in January are only around 10 ° C. In summer, however, similarly high values ​​are achieved as in the Indus plain. Only in the higher elevations is it correspondingly cooler, in the peripheral mountains between the Balochistan plateau and the industrial lowlands it is also a bit wetter with 200 to 300 mm of rain per year. Balochistan receives most of its sparse rainfall in winter. The summer monsoon brings only minimal rain to East Balochistan and no rain at all to the west of the region.

The high valleys in the far north of Pakistan are climatically different from other parts of the country. Sub-zero temperatures are not uncommon in winter, even during the day. Although summers are warm, the extreme heat of lowland climates is absent. The annual rainfall is highest in the Himalayas, sometimes over 1500 mm, and decreases to the north and west.


In large parts of Pakistan, the desert climate allows only extremely sparse vegetation. Forests originally existed in the form of gallery forests along the Indus and its tributaries that permanently carry water, as well as in the form of coniferous forests in the high mountains of the north. While the latter have at least partially been preserved, the river forests are almost completely destroyed today. In the lowlands, high population density and intensive agricultural use have led to the development of a man-made cultural landscape: only just under 4% of Pakistan's land area is still covered with forest.

Large, contiguous forest stands can still be found in the high mountain zone in northern Pakistan. Dense coniferous forests with various types of pine (Pinus), Himalayan cedars (Cedrus deodara) and Himalayan spruces (Picea smithiana) , and occasionally mixed forests with oaks (Quercus), stretch between 1000 and 3000 meters above sea level . In the mountainous regions of the Hindu Kush with less precipitation in the extreme northwest and the Karakoram in the extreme north and northeast, dry mountain forests with dry pines ( Pinus gerardiana ) and holm oaks (Quercus ilex) predominate. Rhododendrons and other dwarf shrubs thrive immediately above the tree line , above which there are only alpine meadows. The snow line is over 4500 meters, in the Karakoram even at 5400 to 5800 meters.

Dry deciduous forests with olive trees (Olea) and acacia (Acacia) grow in the peripheral mountains adjoining the Hindu Kush to the south and in the Sulaiman and Brahuigebirge . In the lower elevations, these are often severely degraded due to overgrazing .

Open thorn forests used to be the typical form of vegetation in the Indus lowlands. Today, however, this form of forest has largely been pushed back due to the extensive use of the plains as arable land and is limited to small, scattered forest islands. Character plants are low tree species that are well adapted to the drought, such as the khejri tree ( Prosopis cineraria ). The undergrowth consists mainly of thorn bushes. In the delta of the Indus estuary, saltwater-resistant Avicennia marine trees form mangrove forests .

In Balochistan, in the non-irrigated parts of the Sindh and in the south-east and west of the Punjab , tree-free semi-deserts and deserts are expanding . The plant cover there consists of particularly perennial hard grasses and thorn bushes. Low tree species only occur in oases.


The screw goat lives in the mountains of Pakistan
Snow leopards are critically endangered in Pakistan

Around 190 different species of mammals live in Pakistan. However, many large mammals were exterminated through hunting and habitat destruction in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, and cheetah. There are only a few hundred leopards and snow leopards left in the mountains of northern Pakistan , whose survival is severely threatened, as well as ibex , screw goats , steppe sheep , giant wild sheep and lynxes . The majestic Marco Polo giant wild sheep, along with Siberian ibex and snow leopards, are protected in Khunjerab National Park, while screw goats are found in Chitral Gol National Park . The most common type of cat is the pipe cat native to the river plains . The caracal or desert lynx, on the other hand, prefers open steppe and semi-desert landscapes. Two species of bear are found in Pakistan: the collar bear in the Himalayas, Hindu Kush and the mountains of Balochistan and the brown bear in the Karakoram. Both types are rare. The pig deer is also threatened . On the other hand, wild boars are still very numerous, as are rodents. Indian gazelles still live in the semi-desert areas, and deer goat antelopes are sometimes reintroduced in national parks such as the Kirthar National Park . The Indian rhinoceros originally lived in the Indus Valley. In the meantime, these animals have been relocated to a large enclosure in the Lal Suhanra National Park together with red deer goat and Nilgau antelopes as well as pig deer . A subspecies of the endangered ganges dolphin lives in the Indus .

The bird world of Pakistan is very diverse with almost 670 native and migratory bird species. Many large birds of prey such as eagles , buzzards , falcons and vultures have become rare, but the blue peacock , which was once typical for the country , only occurs in small remnants. Wide dissemination have passerines , swallows , chicken birds (including Pakistan's national bird, the chukar ), parrots , plovers , woodpeckers , pigeons and crows . There are also large numbers of water birds such as ducks , herons and flamingos , and pelicans are less common .

Among the more than 200 native reptile species are more than 110 lizard , almost 80 snake and 15 turtle species . In addition, the swamp crocodile and the gharial live in Pakistan . There are 16 species of amphibians in Pakistan.

The largest national park in the country is the Hingol National Park , which still has stable populations of wild goats and wild sheep as well as some marsh crocodiles. The number of fish species is estimated at 500 marine and 125 freshwater fish, and that of insects and invertebrates at 20,000.



Population development in millions of inhabitants
The median age of Pakistan in 2016 was 23 years.
Population density in Pakistan
Population development since 1951 (in thousands)
Province /
Census year
1951 1961 1971 1981 1998 2017
Punjab 20,541 25,464 37,607 47,292 73,621 110.112
Are 6,048 8,367 14,156 19,029 30,440 47,886
NWFP / KP 4,557 5,731 8,389 11,061 17,744 30,523
Balochistan 1,167 1,353 2,429 4,332 6,566 12,344
Tribal areas 1,332 1,847 2,491 2,199 3.176 5,001
Islamabad 96 118 238 340 805 2.006
Pakistan as a whole 33,740 42,880 65,309 84,254 132,352 207,774
In 1998 there were 0.9 million inhabitants in the
northern regions and 3 million inhabitants in Asad Kashmir .

The 1998 census showed a population of 132 million Pakistanis (excluding the parts of Kashmir , which had about four million inhabitants at the time), in July 2006 the number of Pakistanis was estimated at around 166 million including the controlled areas of Kashmir. The 2017 census found a population of 207.8 million Pakistanis (excluding parts of Kashmir ). The United Nations estimates the population at 200.8 million. This makes Pakistan the fifth most populous country in the world after China , India , the United States and Indonesia .

The average population density is 261 people per square kilometer - slightly less than the UK . The population is very unevenly distributed across the country: a good three quarters of the population live in the fertile river plains of the Punjab and Sindh ; on the other hand, the high mountain regions in the north and west and the arid regions are relatively sparsely populated. The Thar Desert and the Balochistan Desert are largely deserted. Punjab is a good fifth the size of Pakistan and is home to more than half of the population; in Balochistan, on the other hand, less than five percent of its inhabitants live on 40 percent of the area of ​​Pakistan. In 2016, only 38 percent of all Pakistanis lived in cities (relatively low degree of urbanization ).

With an annual population increase of more than two percent, Pakistan has one of the highest growth rates in Asia. From 1950 (around 34 million) to 2005 (around 160 million) the number of residents more than quadrupled. The birth rate in 2016 was 22.3 live births per 1,000 population (there were 43 live births in 1970), a relatively high number. Another reason for the high population growth for decades is improved health care . As a result, life expectancy rose from 51 years (1970) to 67.7 years (2016) and with it the decrease in the death rate (over the same period) from 16 to 8.23 ​​deaths per 1000 inhabitants. The fertility rate in 2016 was 2.7 children per woman, the average age of the population was 23.4 years and the proportion of those under the age of 15 was 32 percent. In 2017, 1.7% of the population were born abroad. There are around 1.3 million refugees in Pakistan, most of them from neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan has one of the world's largest diasporas . The number of Pakistani abroad is estimated at around 6 million. Most of the emigrants live in the Arabian Gulf States, Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. Remittances from migrants are a pillar of the local economy, but at the same time the country is losing a lot of qualified skilled workers.


Ethnic groups and languages ​​of Pakistan
Languages ​​in Pakistan
language  percent
1 %
Distribution of languages ​​(1998 census) - The 1998 census only listed the first six languages ​​mentioned above and Brahui was not listed as a separate language. Saraiki and Hindko are mostly classified linguistically as variants of Punjabi. The number for Brahui speakers is an estimate.

More than 50 different languages ​​are spoken in Pakistan. The Indo-Aryan Urdu is a constitutionally established national language . Even before the founding of Pakistan in 1947, Urdu was regarded as a kind of lingua franca for Muslims on the Indian subcontinent and was consciously propagated by the representatives of the Pakistan idea as the state language of the new state, because it was believed that a state without a uniform national language was affected by separatism is threatened. Supporters of a multilingualism were partly defamed as separatists and enemies of Pakistan. In the early years after the founding of the state, the “Urdu only” policy led to the emergence of the Bengali language movement in what was then East Pakistan and to a state crisis. Urdu and Bengali were the official state languages from 1956 until East Pakistan split off under the name Bangladesh in 1971, and since then only Urdu has been used again. In addition to Urdu, English also serves as the official language and higher educational language . While the latter is mainly used by the government and as a business and educational language, Urdu is the lingua franca of most of the population. Urdu essentially only differs from Hindi , which is widespread in northern India, in its higher proportion of loan words of Persian and Arabic origin and in the use of the Persian alphabet written in the Nastaʿlīq style . As a mother tongue, however, it is only spoken by seven to eight percent of the population, the Muhajir . They are the descendants of North Indian Muslims who fled to Pakistan when British India was partitioned in 1947 and live all over the country, but in contrast to all other ethnic groups they live almost exclusively in the cities. In Sindh they make up 40 percent and in Punjab 10 percent of the total urban population, but each has only a small proportion of the rural population. However, the number of Urdu native speakers is constantly increasing due to the social function of the language, above all due to the fact that standard Urdu is used as the language of instruction in the vast majority of schools (at primary and secondary level). The targeted promotion of Urdu as a supraregional national language by the Pakistani government meets with resistance from many speakers of the larger regional languages, as they perceive their regional identity in the multi-ethnic state of Pakistan to be insufficiently represented.

Six languages ​​were statistically recorded in the 1998 census: Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi, Saraiki, Baluch and Urdu. According to the 1998 census, the most widely spoken language is by far the Indo-Aryan Punjabi (44 percent), but it is hardly of any importance as a written language because, in contrast to its eastern variant, which is recognized as the official language in the Indian state of Punjab, it has no official status. In contrast, Sindhi , which is spoken by 14 percent of the population, can also be used for official purposes in Sindh Province . In the region, especially in the 1970s, there were loud, sometimes violent protests against the discrimination against the language in relation to Urdu ( Sindhudesh movement). Saraiki (10 percent share of speakers) has its main distribution area in southern Punjab with the center of Multan . It is mostly regarded as the dialect of Punjabi at the transition to Sindhi. The same applies to Hindko , another Indo-Aryan language, which is the mother tongue for a fifth of the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (former Northwestern Frontier Province) and which has an estimated speaker share of around 2 percent nationwide. Pashtun (8 percent) and Balochish (3 percent) belong to the Iranian languages , while Brahui (1 percent) spoken in Balochistan is a Dravidian language . In Karachi, live from the room Mumbai (Bombay) native populations that still Gujarati speak.

The far north has a multitude of languages, none of which have more than a million speakers. The most important are the Dardic languages Shina , Kohistani and Khowar , the Indo-Aryan Gujari (a Rajasthani dialect) and the Sino-Tibetan Balti . The isolated language Burushaski is spoken by over 100,000 people in Gilgit-Baltistan .



Faisal Mosque in Islamabad , which is financed by Saudi Arabia , can accommodate up to 74,000 worshipers
The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore is an example of Mughal architecture in Pakistan
St. Patrick's Cathedral in Karachi is the largest church in Pakistan

According to the 1998 census, 96.3 percent of Pakistan's population were Muslim . They belong to different currents, the strengths of which are hardly or not at all recorded statistically. The vast majority of Pakistanis (up to 80 percent) traditionally practice an orthodox form of Islam ; this is the rule especially in areas with a Pashtun majority. Islam is the state religion . Religious minorities, such as Hindus , are (as of 2016) strongly oppressed and are not allowed to show their faith in public. A small concession to the ongoing disenfranchisement of the Hindus is that, based on a law passed in early 2016 - at least in Sindh province - they will be allowed to marry each other in the future. Assaults and religious persecution against Christians in Pakistan and Hindus are not uncommon. Overall, the country is characterized by an atmosphere of religious intolerance.

The majority of Muslims in Pakistan are Sunnis . Sunni Islam does not present itself as a unit in Pakistan; rather, it is divided into several schools of thought. The direction with the most supporters is likely to be the Barelwīs . They represent an Islam shaped by Sufism (Islamic mysticism ) and are strict followers of the Hanafi school of law . They dominate mainly in the rural parts of the provinces of Sindh and Punjab and have many followers in the major cities of Lahore , Multan and Rawalpindi . The Deobandis are also Hanafites, but in contrast to the Barelwis, they refuse to worship graves and saints . They stand for a strict interpretation of Islam and strive to return to its "roots". The Deobandis are strongly represented in Karachi and among the Pashtuns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwas and Baluchistans . The smallest of the three schools of thought are the Puritan Ahl-i Hadīth , based on Saudi Arabia , which the four Sunni schools of law and Sufism reject. Their centers are Lahore, Sialkot , Gujranwala and Faisalabad .

It is unclear what proportion of the Twelver Shia ( Imami ) in the population of Pakistan. Estimates range from 10 to 15 percent or 15 to 20 percent. They are strongly represented in Karachi, Lahore, Sialkot and Jhang as well as in Gilgit-Baltistan . In addition, two Ismaili groups are represented in Pakistan : The Bohras live mainly in Karachi, the Nizarites are also mainly represented in the Gilgit-Baltistan ( Gilgit and Hunza ) and Chitral (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). A special group in the far north are the Nurbakhshis . During the Shiite mourning ceremonies in the mourning month of Muharram , there are frequent bloody clashes in Pakistan, most recently in Balochistan in October 2014.

The Ahmadis (in the Pakistani census of 1998 a population share of the Ahmadis of 0.22 percent was determined.) Live mainly in their center Rabwah and around Sialkot. They were officially stripped of their Muslim status in Pakistan in 1974; they are being pursued. Probably the actual number of Ahmadis is much higher; independent sources estimate three to five million Ahmadis in Pakistan (one to three percent of the population). There are also efforts to declare the Zikris group, which is widespread in Balochistan, to be non-Muslims.

In the course of the partition of 1947 , almost all Hindus and Sikhs were expelled from the Punjab. About a third of the Hindus remained in Sindh. There they make up 7.5 percent of the population, and it is even higher in the Thar desert . Their share of the total Pakistani population is 1.8 percent, including the lower boxes , which are listed separately in official statistics - for example in censuses. The proportion of Christians in Pakistan is slightly lower (1.6 percent). They live mainly around Lahore, in Rawalpindi and Islamabad as well as in Karachi. Most of them are descendants of untouchables who converted to Christianity during the British colonial era. Others, however, descend from Goans , who at that time were often employed as servants of the colonial rulers. The Roman Catholic Church in Pakistan and the Church of Pakistan , which emerged from several British Protestant communities , are roughly equally strong. There are also some of the Jehovah's Witnesses and churches founded by US missions such as the New Apostolic Church . In Karachi also still several thousand live parsing -called followers of Zoroastrianism and in the far northwest of the country several thousand Kalasha whose gods strongly the ancient Indian Vedic resemble gods.


In 2016, 39.2% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. The 10 largest cities are (as of 2017 census):

  1. Karachi : 14,910,352 inhabitants
  2. Lahore : 11,126,285 inhabitants
  3. Faisalabad : 3,203,846 inhabitants
  4. Rawalpindi : 2,098,231 inhabitants
  5. Gujranwala : 2,027,001 inhabitants
  6. Peshawar : 1,970,042 inhabitants
  7. Multan : 1,871,843 inhabitants
  8. Hyderabad : 1,732,693 inhabitants
  9. Islamabad : 1,014,825 inhabitants
  10. Quetta : 1,001,205 inhabitants


Since its independence, Pakistan has been the scene of violent clashes between different ethnic and religious groups. The dominance of the Punjabis is problematic from the point of view of the smaller ethnic groups. In addition, internal and external migratory movements in some parts of the country have led to considerable ethnic shifts, which are met with dissatisfaction. In Sindh , especially in the provincial capital Karachi and in Hyderabad , there are repeated bloody clashes between the indigenous Sindhi on the one hand and immigrant Muhajir on the other. The latter have a prominent role in public life due to their higher level of education. Originally moved from northern India, they now make up more than a fifth of the Sindh's population, while the Sindhi only make up just under 60 percent, and in Karachi less than 10 percent. In addition, there is the immigration of Panjabers and Pashtuns to the relatively wealthy Sindh. As a result, many Sindhi feel marginalized in society. Radical nationalists are calling for an independent state of Sindhu Desh ("Land of the Sindhi"). Also between the Muhajir and the economically increasingly influential Pashtuns, often refugees from Afghanistan , there are repeated armed attacks in Sindh. Regionalist or separatist efforts exist in Sindh as well as in Balochistan (Balochian Liberation Army) and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , where many Pashtuns are demanding an independent state or unification with Afghanistan.

In 1986 the “Blasphemy Act” (Article 295c of the Pakistani Penal Code) came into force, punishing blasphemy and disparaging remarks about the Prophet Muhammad with fines, imprisonment or even death. So far none of those convicted under this law has actually been executed; It is likely that defendants or convicts have been murdered by Islamists several times. There are also repeated cases of vigilante justice and lynching against members of religious minorities, for example Christians in Pakistan (accusation or pretext of “blasphemy”).


Since the Islamization policy of the 1980s, Pakistan has experienced a rapid increase in religious extremism in the country and in Koran schools ( madrasa ). The latter have been financially supported since the military dictatorship under General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq . At some of the around 18,000 Koran schools (as of 2009), fundamentalist views are widespread, which contribute to the radicalization of the country. This manifests itself in increasing violent clashes between militant Sunnis and Shiites and z. B. in the ongoing disadvantage of the numerically rather insignificant non-Muslim minorities as well as the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Several Pakistani governments have also repeatedly been accused of actively supporting terrorist groups as a means of exerting political influence in Afghanistan ( Taliban regime) and Kashmir . Some Islamist groups have developed a momentum of their own that is beyond the control of Islamabad. Waziristan on the Afghan border serves as a retreat for the radical Islamic Taliban. Pakistani government troops have been fighting Taliban groups since 2004 to restore governance in this part of the country.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , Pakistan became increasingly caught up in religiously motivated conflicts, especially since Musharraf practiced a close political and military alliance with the USA and participated in the fight against international terrorism . In the opinion of many Pakistanis, Musharraf's policy was pro-Western.

There were several terrorist attacks in 2009 that may have been related to the conflict in northwest Pakistan . On October 5, 2009, the office of the World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations in the high-security area of ​​the capital Islamabad was the target of a suicide attack by Taliban fighters. On October 12, a Pakistani Taliban organization called the TTP attacked the headquarters of the Pakistani army in the garrison town of Rawalpindi and took 40 soldiers hostage for 24 hours until a special squad managed to bloody end the hostage-taking, killing nine people. The attack on Pakistan's army headquarters raised concerns about the security of nuclear weapons in the country. Pakistan's position on the US military operations in the country, which have been accelerated since then, is ambivalent: On the one hand, Pakistani agencies provide the US military with the target coordinates required to attack suspected nests of terror; on the other hand, the Pakistani government formally condemns the subsequent use of military armed drones . The population is also divided: In June 2011, 38 percent saw the USA as the greatest threat to their country, and terrorism 22 percent.

After Pakistan had suspended the death penalty for a number of years , it was reintroduced after the 2014 Peshawar terrorist attack , not just for terrorist offenses, as initially announced, but in general. Hundreds of death sentences have since been carried out by hanging. Pakistan has the highest number of death row inmates awaiting execution. At the end of 2015 there were 6016 people. Civil and human rights activists in Pakistan and around the world complain that those sentenced to death often had no chance of a fair trial based on the rule of law.

In March 2017, at least 88 believers died in a Sufi shrine in an attack in Sehwan Sharif .

Social situation

Pakistan has the social problems typical of a developing country . The phenomenon of rural exodus is particularly pronounced . Low incomes and underemployment in agriculture force many villagers from underdeveloped rural areas to move to the cities. In most cases, however, the urban agglomerations are not able to withstand the enormous population pressure, which is exacerbated by high birth rates. In the slums on the outskirts of the city there is mass unemployment. Although the official unemployment rate was only 6 percent in 2017, the number of unreported cases is much higher because the widespread underemployment is not included. At the same time, millions of children, as cheap and docile workers, often have to do heavy physical labor in industry or in handicrafts (production of soccer balls, carpet weavers) or in agriculture. The cause is the poverty of their parents, who could hardly survive without their children's income, because, according to the United Nations, 17 percent of the population in Pakistan live on less than one US dollar a day. The administration and governance in town and country have not yet been able to adapt to these problems of urbanization .

The disadvantage of women is still serious. Both public life and family affairs are largely determined by men. Forced marriages are a common practice in Pakistan, as is marriage between cousins. A Muslim man can have up to four wives, but polygamous connections are still an exception. The spouse is selected primarily on the basis of social considerations. With the marriage, the bride's family, contrary to the Islamic practice of the morning gift from the husband to the wife, often undertakes to pay a dowry , which often exceeds the family's financial means. Suspicions of infidelity in marriage are the reason for acts of violence against women, including honor killings . Malnutrition, mortality and illiteracy are therefore higher in girls than boys. The consequence of the disadvantage of women is a surplus of men: in 1998 there were 108.5 men for every 100 women in Pakistan. In 2016, Pakistan was second to last in the Global Gender Gap Report .


Life expectancy development in Pakistan
Period Life expectancy Period Life expectancy
1950-1955 37.0 1985-1990 59.3
1955-1960 42.7 1990-1995 60.8
1960-1965 47.5 1995-2000 62.1
1965-1970 51.3 2000-2005 63.3
1970-1975 54.1 2005-2010 64.4
1975-1980 56.1 2010-2015 65.9
1980-1985 57.8

Health care is inadequate in many places. Well-functioning hospitals are usually only found in larger cities. In addition, there are poor hygienic conditions and the lack of clean water - not only in slums, but also in many rural regions - which promotes the spread of gastrointestinal diseases and epidemics such as tuberculosis , malaria and hepatitis . Cholera was also endemic in 2010 , according to the MSF . Malnutrition increases susceptibility to disease even more. In 2015, 20 percent of the population were considered malnourished, especially children. Child mortality is correspondingly high : around every tenth child dies before they reach the age of five. Besides Afghanistan, Pakistan is the only country in the world where poliomyelitis (polio) is still endemic . The World Health Organization is making efforts to eliminate the disease through vaccination programs. Some of the vaccinations were fought by religious fanatics and Islamist extremists. B. suggested that the vaccinations were part of a Western plan to render the population sterile. Between 2011 and 2015, at least 70 helpers in the polio vaccination program in Pakistan were murdered, so that public vaccination campaigns could only take place under heavy police protection. The fact that the CIA , while trying to find the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, obtained information about his children under the guise of an alleged vaccination program in order to ensure his identity also contributed to the discrediting of the vaccination program .


The University of the Punjab in Lahore is Pakistan's largest and oldest university (founded in 1882)
UIS literacy of Pakistan's adult population 1950–2015

Although progress has been made in developing the education system since independence, Pakistan's illiteracy rate was still one of the highest in Asia at around 42 percent in the 2015–2016 survey period. For men it is significantly lower at 30 percent than for women at 52 percent. Between 2004 and 2015 there was only little progress in this regard (in contrast to neighboring India, for example). Still, the Pakistani government only spent around 2.2 percent of its gross domestic product on education in 2017 - less than any other country in South Asia . Even today there is no general schooling or education requirement . Only in the province of Punjab has it been a legal requirement to attend a primary school since 1994, and since 2014 it has also been free of charge. The goal of free and compulsory education has been mentioned in the constitution since 2010. According to a 2014 UNESCO report, 5.5 million children in Pakistan did not go to school; this is the second highest number in the world (after Nigeria). According to figures from the Ministry of Education at the beginning of 2017, 22.6 million children in Pakistan were out of school, and in the same year Human Rights Watch lamented the devastating impact on education of the more than 800 school attacks between 2007 and 2015. Their report pointed to militant groups that are not pursued sufficiently or not at all by the authorities.

Education System

The National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences in Karachi

The state education system has three levels. The five-year elementary school, which children from the age of five are allowed to attend, is followed by the three-year middle school. The actual secondary education comprises two years of training at a high school, which is concluded with an examination, and then at a higher secondary school, which also lasts two years. Successful completion of the Higher Secondary School entitles you to attend a state university. There are over 110 recognized state and private universities in Pakistan.

In addition to the state schools, thousands of Madaris or Koran schools represent an important pillar of the educational system. As a rule, they also offer free basic education to children from poor families who would not be able to attend a state educational institution. Not infrequently they also provide humanitarian aid. However, they are not subject to any state control, so that religious extremists also use madrasas to spread extremist ideas.

According to the Pakistani constitution, children should be guaranteed free basic education. However, the reality is different. UNESCO called the rate of literacy in Pakistan "worryingly low" ( "disturbingly low") . According to UNESCO statistics, 56.4% of the population were able to read in 2015 (69.4% of men and 42.7% of women). Pakistan was thus significantly below the values ​​of the neighboring countries Iran, India and the People's Republic of China, but still ahead of Afghanistan. In 2013/14, the Punjab (61%) had the best reading for literacy, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (53%) and Balochistan (43%) had the worst .


There are over 6,000 libraries in academic, commercial, and religious institutions. Public librarianship is severely underdeveloped. The nearly 300 public libraries are located in larger cities. In the 1980s, over 4,000 box libraries were set up in the country , but little is known about their current status. Since 1998, national education policy has called for libraries to be set up in rural areas - but so far without any consequences.

According to the PTCL ( Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited ) 95 percent of the population should be able to access the internet. A relatively large number of internet cafes makes this number likely to be correct. A very small number of cyber community centers set up with international help provide qualitative Internet information access in rural areas and offer PC and Internet courses.

A postgraduate diploma in Library and Information Science can be obtained at six universities .


In 1979 the Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam (1926–1996) received the Nobel Prize in Physics and the Albert Einstein Medal from UNESCO for his contribution to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles. Abdus Salam was the first Pakistani and the first Muslim to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics. Abdus Salam was a follower of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community .


Regional history up to the emergence of Pakistan

Stone figure of the Indus culture from
Mohenjo-Daro interpreted as the “priest king”

Although the national territory of today's Pakistan - until its independence in 1947 there had never been a state of this name - was often only a transit country for the conquerors of the Indian subcontinent or the fringes of Indian empires, in ancient times it formed the heartland of the Indus culture , one of the earliest advanced cultures on earth with highly developed agriculture and handicrafts, urban planning, a widely branched trade network, advanced science and its own script that has not yet been deciphered ( Indus script ). The beginning of the Indus culture is estimated to be around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Dated. Their downfall is likely to be around 1800 BC. BC, the reasons for this are still in the dark. The Indus culture extended over the river lowlands of the Indus and its tributaries in the Sindh and Punjab to northwest India and Gujarat . Hundreds of ancient settlements and cities have been uncovered, the most important of which are Harappa in Punjab and Mohenjodaro in Sindh.

Around the middle of the 2nd millennium BC The Aryans from Central Asia invaded Pakistan. They shaped the Vedic culture and Hinduism . In the 4th century BC, Buddhism spread , which after the advance of Alexander the Great up to the Indus 326 BC. Mixed with the Greek culture to Graeco Buddhism . The latter arrived in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. It flourished in the Gandhara Empire on the soil of present-day Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. In late antiquity, Pakistan belonged to the Kushana and Gupta empires .

As early as the early 8th century, today's Pakistani territory came into contact with Islam when the Arabs under Muhammad ibn al-Qasim conquered the Indus Valley in 712 . For centuries, the border between the Islamic world and the Indian cultural area ran east of the Indus. The Punjab initially remained outside the Muslim sphere of influence. It was not until around 1000 that the Turkish Ghaznavid dynasty expanded its empire to all of Pakistan and parts of northern India. By the beginning of the 19th century, Pakistan was part of various Islamic empires, including those of the Persian Ghurids (12th and 13th centuries), the North Indian Delhi sultans (13th and 14th centuries) and Mughals (16th to 18th centuries) ) and the Afghan Durrani dynasty (18th and 19th centuries).

In 1843 the British East India Company conquered the Sindh, six years later it also subjugated the Sikh- ruled Punjab. This marked the beginning of Pakistan's 100-year membership of the British colonial empire. In 1858 the British possessions in India passed into direct possession of the Crown.

History and division of British India

The Indian independence movement took shape in 1885 with the establishment of the Indian National Congress . As a counterpart to the Hindu-dominated congress, the Muslim League (All-India Muslim League) was created in 1906 . It was only after several attempts to find a compromise with Congress and to maintain Muslim influence failed in the 1930s that the leader of the Muslim League, Ali Jinnah, mobilized the majority of Indian Muslims for a state of their own (two-nation theory ). The view to see Islam as a distinctive feature in nation building and to assign it a stronger political meaning therefore developed quite late. While the western-oriented educated middle class, the big landowners, but also the rural population supported the demand for the founding of Pakistan, some of the conservative religious scholars kept their distance. In addition, a large part of the Pashtuns advocated an undivided India. Nevertheless, in the Lahore resolution passed in 1940, the establishment of an independent Muslim state in India was finally decided. The diplomat Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan represented India at the League of Nations and , shortly before the split in India in July 1947, presented the position of the Muslim League in favor of Pakistan to the “Radcliffe Border Commission” and pleaded for a just demarcation of borders.

In 1937 women were granted national voting rights, but it was tied to reading and writing skills, income and taxation. In 1946, in the first election based on the Government of India Act of 1919, women were allowed to vote under certain conditions. The conditions applied to very few women. Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah was elected to the United Constituent Assembly of India in 1946 before Pakistan split off. However, because of the ongoing clashes, the Muslim League ordered that its members should not take the seats in the assembly. In 1947 Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah and Jahanara Shah Nawaz were elected to the national parliament.

History since independence

Founding of the state

The state of Pakistan emerged on August 14, 1947 from the predominantly Muslim parts of British India . In the course of the partition of India , over four million Muslims left what is now India, while about seven million Hindus and Sikhs left the national territory of Pakistan. It is believed that up to 750,000 people lost their lives in acts of violence and the hardships during the flight.

After the partition, Pakistan consisted of the two parts of West and East Pakistan, which were about 1500 kilometers apart. West Pakistan is identical to today's Islamic Republic of Pakistan. East Pakistan consisted of the eastern, predominantly Muslim part of the former British-Indian presidency of Bengal , which later declared itself independent as Bangladesh . The affiliation of the princely state of Kashmir to India or Pakistan, however, was controversial. Apart from the predominantly Hindu area around Jammu and the predominantly Buddhist Ladakh , the population of the state was predominantly Muslim. However, the ruling dynasty was Hindu, which is why the prince initially did not want to make a decision and later joined India. However, Pakistan gained control of the western and northern parts of this region. Both states claim all of Kashmir as their territory, a referendum proposed by the United Nations never took place. The Kashmir conflict has shaped the relationship between the two states ever since.

After independence in August 1947, the Government of India Act of 1935 became the Constitution of Pakistan. Certain women were able to vote in provincial and national elections on this basis.

West and East Pakistan under military regimes

Location of West and East Pakistan (1971) within Asia

In 1948, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father figure of the recently founded state of Pakistan, died.

During the deliberations on a new constitution in the 1950s, it was suggested that all men should be given the right to vote, but only educated women. On March 23, 1956, Pakistan's first constitution was passed, providing for universal active and passive voting rights for adults aged 21 and over at all levels if they had lived in the country for six months. In 1956 women were granted the right to vote for the first time in full and to the same extent as the right to vote for men. However, no election was held under this constitution because of the difficulties between civil and military powers.

On September 8, 1958, Oman handed the Gwadar exclave to Pakistan after Aga Khan III. paid three million pounds . Unstable political conditions led to the first military coup under General Muhammed Ayub Khan on October 27, 1958, and thus to a turning point in the history of the country. Since then, military dictatorships have repeatedly determined the fate of Pakistan. The Ayub Khan regime was followed in 1969 by the government of General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan .

In addition, the young state was faced with an internal ordeal from the start. The great distance between the two parts of the country, West and East Pakistan, not only made state and economic organization difficult, but also made it difficult to develop a common national identity. The women's suffrage was introduced 1956th Despite the emphasis on religious togetherness expressed in the 1956 constitution that made Pakistan the world's first Islamic republic , the Bengali language and culture remained an integral part of East Pakistan's identity. Then there was the unequal distribution of economic resources and political power. The government in West Pakistani Karachi , from 1958 in Islamabad - the capital founded especially for the new state - disadvantaged distant East Pakistan both in the distribution of state funds and in the allocation of leading positions in the administration and armed forces. When the separatist Awami League , which had replaced the Muslim League as the strongest political force in East Pakistan in 1954, partly influenced by the effects of the cyclone in November 1970 , won almost all East Pakistani constituencies in the December 1970 elections and thus an absolute majority in the Pakistani parliament , President Muhammad Yahya Khan invalidated the election, banned the Awami League and arrested its leaders. As a result, riots broke out, culminating in the genocide in East Pakistan and the East Pakistani War of Independence . In December 1971, East Pakistan declared itself independent as Bangladesh .

In terms of foreign policy, Pakistan has always been overshadowed by its larger and more powerful neighbor India , with whom it has fought three wars since 1947, two of which over the Kashmir region, which is claimed by both sides. Neither the First Indo-Pakistani War from 1947 to 1949 nor the Second Indo-Pakistani War in 1965 changed anything about the controversial status of Kashmir. In 1971 India intervened on the side of the East Pakistani independence movement in the Bangladesh war . In 1999 there was another armed conflict over Kashmir, which, however, was limited to a small geographical area. India and Pakistan were not officially at war, but given the several hundred deaths within a few weeks and the use of heavy military equipment , the conflict is now known as the Kargil War .

The secession of East Pakistan under the name of 'Bangladesh' meant a fundamental state crisis for Pakistan: not only had another war against rival India been lost, but the entire state model of Pakistan seemed to be called into question. Pakistan was founded without historical models with the claim to be the state for all Muslims on the Indian subcontinent. This was the guiding principle that should hold the different peoples of Pakistan together. After 1971, Pakistan could no longer maintain this claim. The Muslims of the Indian subcontinent were now distributed in similarly large parts across three countries: Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Accordingly, politicians from other ethnic groups in Pakistan began to wonder why they should remain in the remainder of Pakistan. The autonomy movements in Sindh (" Sindhudesh ") and in Balochistan received a boost.

Democratic intermediate phase and military dictatorship

The loss of the eastern part of the country prompted President Yahya Khan to resign in 1971, which initiated a cautious democratization of Pakistan. His successor Zulfikar Ali Bhutto issued a new constitution in 1973 in which he granted the prime minister the most important powers and limited the role of the president to purely representative tasks. In 1977 the formation of a democratic government failed. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq declared martial law and justified so that the third military dictatorship . He initiated the Islamization of Pakistan, among other things by introducing Sharia law as a legal basis. The civil war and the Soviet intervention in neighboring Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 had a negative impact on political and economic stability .

Pakistan intervened massively after a pro-Soviet government came to power in Afghanistan. The operating there against the government Mujahid received since 1979 financial and material support, the latter with weapons, especially by the United States , by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia . The arms deliveries and the training of many fighters were organized alongside and with the CIA by the Pakistani secret service, Inter-Services Intelligence ISI. The CIA invested billions of dollars in the struggles of the Islamist insurgents as part of the covert Operation Cyclone .

Democracy 1988–1999

Benazir Bhutto was the first woman to head an Islamic state

After Zia-ul-Haq's death in 1988, free elections were held for the first time since 1977 , from which Benazir Bhutto emerged victorious for the first time in the history of an Islamic state. It was followed in 1990 by the Nawaz Sharif government . In 1993 Bhutto managed to return to power until she was replaced by Sharif in 1997.

After India had carried out nuclear weapons tests for the first time since 1974 in mid-May 1998 , Pakistan responded with underground tests on May 28 and 30, 1998, thus finally confirming the successful completion of the nuclear program it had begun in 1972 . Pakistan has probably had nuclear weapons since the early 1980s .

Military dictatorship 1999–2008

Pakistan suffered a defeat in a military conflict with India that was limited to the Kargil region of Kashmir in the summer of 1999 (see Kargil War ). Thereupon General Pervez Musharraf deposed the elected government of Sharif in a military coup and established the fourth military dictatorship of Pakistan. In 2001 he became president.

A cautious rapprochement between India and Pakistan has been noticeable since 2003. Prisoner exchanges took place and connections were opened in the Kashmir region. In 2004, the conflict began in northwest Pakistan between Islamists in the tribal areas, including Taliban refugees from Afghanistan, and the Pakistani central government.

In October 2005, more than 73,000 people were killed after a severe earthquake in the northwest, and three million people lost their homes.

On November 3, 2007, General Musharraf declared a state of emergency and repealed the constitution. In the run-up to the parliamentary elections on January 8, 2008, General Musharraf lifted the state of emergency on December 15, but not the restrictions on freedom of the press. Preparations for the elections were overshadowed by the murder of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi. Most of the time, the leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, was blamed for the attack. Due to the unrest that followed, the election was postponed to February 18, 2008. The election was won by the Pakistani People's Party (PPP) and Yousaf Raza Gilani was elected the new Prime Minister on March 24 with 264 votes. A day later he was sworn in by President Musharraf. One of his first acts was the lifting of house arrest on former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who had been removed by Musharraf in November.

Change of power and democratization

Against the will of the opposition, the Pakistani electoral commission announced on January 2, 2008, with reference to the situation in the country, that the parliamentary elections would be postponed to February 18, 2008. The run-up to this was overshadowed by further attacks and acts of violence.

The opposition parties clearly won the elections: the PPP was the strongest party, followed by the PML-N led by Nawaz Sharif. Shortly afterwards, both parties agreed on a coalition. PML-Q, which is closely related to President Musharraf, was only third in the elections, which considerably weakened Musharraf's political position and encouraged the opposition to demand his resignation.

On March 24, 2008, the parliament elected the PPP politician and former parliamentary speaker Yousaf Raza Gilani as prime minister. He immediately ordered the release of all judges and lawyers who were arrested or placed under house arrest when the state of emergency was imposed in November 2007. Gilani, who was himself imprisoned under Musharraf from February 2001 to October 2006, was sworn in by Musharraf on March 25, 2008 as the new head of government. Because of this democratic development, the Commonwealth resumed Pakistan on May 12, 2008.

President Musharraf, who had come under severe domestic political pressure, announced his resignation on August 18, 2008, mainly due to the fact that the new government wanted to initiate impeachment proceedings. Musharraf probably wanted to forestall this.

The power struggle between the PPP and the PML-N, which intensified in the run-up to the new presidential elections, led to the ruling coalition breaking on August 25, 2008, so that both parties ran their own presidential candidate, the PPP with its incumbent chairman and Bhutto widower Asif Ali Zardari, the PML-N with the former judge Saeed uz Zaman Siddiqui. In the presidential elections on September 6, 2008, Zardari was able to win a clear majority of the votes in the lower house, in the Senate and in the four provincial parliaments and thus became the new president.

In July / August 2010, catastrophic floods occurred in northwestern Pakistan as a result of the strong monsoons , affecting up to 20 million people. In the upper reaches of the Indus there were at least 1,600 deaths to complain about.

In the 2013 parliamentary elections on May 11th, the Muslim League clearly won with 126 out of 272 seats.


Since independence, the political situation in Pakistan has been characterized by a lack of stability. Brief democratic phases were repeatedly interrupted by military coups . The military ruled the country from 1958 to 1971, from 1977 to 1988 and from 1999 to 2008. On March 23, 1956, the first constitution came into force, making Pakistan the first state to designate itself as the Islamic Republic , but after only two years has been overridden again. Further constitutions followed in 1973 and 1985. Since 1993, with an interruption from 1999 to 2002, the 1973 constitution has been in force again.

In some areas of West Pakistan with strong feudal and clan-like tribal structures, the state's monopoly on the use of force is restricted. Especially in the great landowners, Pashtun tribal leaders and Taliban organizations controlled border region of Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Islamabad exerts practically no more sovereign rights. In some rural parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwas , too, the state can only reasonably assert itself against the influence of tribal leaders and rich landowners. Even in the densely populated core regions of Punjab and Sindh , which have a largely functioning public administration, the state monopoly on the use of force is due to frequent violent riots, rampant corruption and the ubiquitous abuse of power by the security forces, which can even include arbitrary killings (extrajudicial execution), highly endangered.

The Pakistani state is riddled with corruption at practically every level of administration.

Political system

Parliament building in Islamabad
The Secretariat Building of the Prime Minister of Pakistan

According to the constitution passed in 1973 and amended several times, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a federal , semi-presidential democracy . The Islam is the state religion . In 1999, following a coup d'état, the constitution was repealed and parliament was dissolved. Although the constitution has been gradually restored since 2002 and parliamentary elections were held again for the first time in 2002, the military ruler Pervez Musharraf , who formally held the highest state office since 2001 , has ruled de facto dictatorially since 1999 . Although the parliamentary elections in 2002 were largely regular and peaceful, the military regime had previously excluded the two former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif from the elections, disadvantaged other opposition candidates and restricted the election campaign. The parliamentary elections in 2008 resulted in a victory for the opposition parties around the recently murdered Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, so that Pervez Musharraf resigned at the end of 2008 under public pressure.

Pakistan's head of state is the president who, according to the constitution, is elected for five years by an electoral body consisting of the two federal parliaments and the regional parliaments of the four provinces. He must be a Muslim and at least 45 years old when he takes office. Its tasks are predominantly of a representative nature, but it also has some special rights. So he can dissolve the National Assembly at any time and has supreme command of the armed forces. Pervez Musharraf came to power through a coup in 1999, appointed himself president in 2001 and was confirmed in office in 2002 in a referendum that was classified as highly unfair by independent election observers and the political opposition. With extensive constitutional amendments, he strengthened the president's position of power. In 2004 he created the National Security Council under his chairmanship, which can impose a state of emergency on the country. Pakistan is therefore de facto a presidential regime .

According to the constitution, the legislative power lies with the parliament (Majlis-e-Shoora). It consists of two chambers, the National Assembly (lower house) and the Senate (upper house). The National Assembly has 342 members, 272 of which are directly elected by the people for five years according to majority voting. All citizens over the age of 18 are entitled to vote. Sixty seats in parliament are reserved for women, ten more for representatives of religious minorities. The reserved seats are distributed among the parties represented in the National Assembly according to their share of the vote. The Senate has 100 members who are elected by the parliaments of the four provinces and the tribal areas under federal administration. Although the Senate is above the National Assembly in the hierarchy, the latter has more extensive powers. It elects the prime minister, who according to the constitution has the actual power to govern, and has sole decision-making power over the state budget and the country's financial legislation.

Political indices

Political indices issued by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 92.1 out of 120 25 of 178 Stability of the country: Alarm
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 4.31 out of 10 105 of 167 Hybrid regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 38 out of 100 - Freedom status: partially free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 46.86 out of 100 145 of 180 Difficult situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 31 of 100 124 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Federal structure, administrative division

Sindh Belutschistan Hauptstadtterritorium Islamabad Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Punjab (Pakistan) Gilgit-Baltistan (de-facto Pakistan - von Indien beansprucht) Siachen-Gletscher: de-facto unter Kontrolle der indischen Streitkräfte (von Pakistan als Teil von Gilgit-Baltistan beansprucht) Asad Jammu und Kaschmir (de-facto Pakistan - von Indien beansprucht) de-facto Indien (von Pakistan beansprucht und als "von Indien verwaltetes Jammu und Kaschmir" bezeichnet) de-facto China (von Indien beansprucht) de-facto China (von Indien beansprucht) Iran Turkmenistan Usbekistan Afghanistan Tadschikistan Indien Nepal China
Administrative division of Pakistan
Provinces, Territories and Districts of Pakistan

Pakistan is a federal state under the 1973 constitution . It is subdivided into the four provinces of Balochistan , Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly Northwest Frontier Province), Punjab and Sindh , each of which has a provincial assembly (Pronvincial Assembly) elected directly by the people for five years . The head of government is the chief minister , who is elected by the provincial assembly and is generally the chairman of the party that forms the largest group. In each province, however, the chief minister is headed by a governor appointed by the president who, in consultation with the president, can dissolve the provincial assembly and form a transitional government.

The capital territory of Islamabad is administered directly by the Pakistani central government, as is Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly northern regions) of the Kashmir region claimed by India, which is under Pakistani control . The latter also includes the semi-autonomous Asad Kashmir region , which has its own legislative assembly , a prime minister and a president.

Each administrative unit is divided into districts. The capital territory forms its own district. There are a total of 119 districts in Pakistan, 14 of them in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir. The tribal areas under federal administration are an exception.

Administrative unit status Capital Area
1 Balochistan province Quetta 347.190
2 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
(Northwest Frontier Province)
province Peshawar 101,741
3 Punjab province Lahore 205.344
4th Are province Karachi 140.914
5 Islamabad Capital territory Islamabad 906
7th Asad Kashmir semi-autonomous area Muzaffarabad 11,639
8th Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Territories) Territory under federal administration Gilgit 72,520
  Pakistan Islamic Republic Islamabad 880.254

Legal system

The Pakistani legal system is still largely based on British-Indian law, including Common Law and the Frontier Crimes Regulation , but has also included many components of Islamic law based on Sharia law since the 1970s . Family and inheritance law is based exclusively on Islamic law. Under the dictatorship of General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq (1977 to 1988), criminal law was also Islamized.

The country's supreme court is the Supreme Court , based in Islamabad . The President-appointed Chief Justice chairs the meeting . The other judges of the Supreme Court as well as all judges of the high courts of the four provinces subordinate to it are also appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice . The Supreme Court is Pakistan's highest appellate court, but it also has decision-making power in disputes between the central government and the provinces or between the provinces.

In addition to the civil jurisdiction, there is a Federal Shariat Court with eight judges. Three of them are Islamic religious scholars ( ulama ) . The task of the Federal Shariat Court is to examine the compatibility of the legislation with the commandments of Islam. If a law contradicts the Islamic legal interpretation, the court can force the president or the governor of a province to revise the corresponding law, depending on their jurisdiction. At lower courts of justice there are separate chambers in which ulama judge according to Islamic law.

The tribal councils (jirgas) that used to be common with the Pashtuns are banned, but still enjoy a high reputation in some rural parts of the country such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and judge largely independently of the applicable state law according to the Pashtunwali .

Political parties

Despite a diverse political landscape, party political work in Pakistan is only effective to a limited extent. The cause is in particular the lack of a democratic culture due to recurring military rule, a strong orientation of politics towards individual leaders and the lack of an ideological foundation for many parties. Immediately after independence , the Muslim League assumed a role that was similar to that of the Congress Party in India . However, after the death of party leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1948, it quickly lost its importance. The most important split of the Muslim League today is the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) , which is particularly close to the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf . The name addition Quaid-e-Azam means "Great Leader" in Urdu and stands for the founder of the state, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The more left-wing Pakistan People's Party (Pakistani People's Party; PPP) was founded in 1967 and was a ruling party under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto . The two large Islamist parties Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Community; JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Community of Islamic Scholars; JUI) have joined forces with several other parties of the religious right to form the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (United Action Front ; MMA) merged. The MMA has most of its supporters in Balochistan and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it has been the government since 2002. It is only moderately successful in the rest of the country. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (United People's Movement; MQM) represents the interests of the Muhajir minority .

Various oppositional movements, such as that of Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri , can only mobilize temporarily. The PTI, with its chairman Imran Khan , has seen an upswing in recent years, as it addresses the problems of the common man and thus gained an increase in members and stands up to the established parties.

Foreign policy

Current territorial division of Kashmir:
Under Indian control (State of Jammu and Kashmir ) Under Pakistani control ( Asad Kashmir ) Under Pakistani control ( Gilgit-Baltistan ) Under Chinese control ( Aksai Chin ) Shaksgam Valley (ceded by Pakistan to China, not recognized by India)

States with diplomatic relations with Pakistan

Pakistan's foreign policy relations since independence have been characterized primarily by its relationship with neighboring India , which is heavily burdened by the unclear status of the predominantly Muslim region of Kashmir, which is claimed by both sides . Pakistan and India have already waged war over the disputed region three times. In the First Kashmir War in 1947/48, India occupied the Kashmiri heartland as well as the predominantly Hindu area around Jammu and the Buddhist Ladakh . Pakistan conquered the northern part and a small area in the west of Kashmir, which received a semi-autonomous status as " Asad Kashmir " ("Free Kashmir"). The ceasefire line negotiated by the United Nations in 1949 has survived under the designation Line of Control to this day - even another war in the region in 1965 and the armed conflict of 1999 did nothing to change this - but it was never recognized as the final border. Rather, Pakistan insists on a referendum, also proposed by the United Nations, on the final status of Kashmir. However, this has not taken place to this day, as India is referring to the declaration of accession of the previously independent Kingdom of Kashmir to the Indian Union, signed in October 1947. In 1971 Pakistan and India were at war against each other, not over Kashmir, but because of the war of independence raging in East Pakistan ( Bangladesh ), in which India intervened on the side of East Pakistan. Since the Kargil War in 1999, the relationship between Pakistan and India has only been tightened by their possession of nuclear weapons. In 2002, these two warring states were on the brink of an armed conflict for the last time. Since then, an easy process of détente, favored by economic interests, has emerged. There were confidence-building measures such as the opening of several cross-border transport links. High-ranking government representatives from both countries now also meet regularly for talks in order to advance the peace process. However, a final solution to the cashmere question has yet to be found. The attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 , when ten young men trained in Kashmir by the Islamist terrorist organization Laschkar-e Taiba , killed 174 people. Hardliners in India then called for a military strike against Pakistan, and then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled quickly to New Delhi and Islamabad to calm the situation. Another setback was the spread of the Afghan terrorist organization Taliban and other radical Islamic groups in northwest Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan, as the government was barely able to exercise control over them.

Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf met then-US President George W. Bush in Islamabad in March 2006

To protect itself against India, Pakistan has been looking for strong allies since its inception, which it has found primarily in the USA and the People's Republic of China . The Pakistani alliance efforts were favored by the constellation of the Cold War , in the course of which India increasingly oriented itself in the direction of the Soviet Union and thus angered the USA and China. Accordingly, the Pakistani-Soviet relations were rather cold. The US, on the other hand, has not only given Pakistan extensive financial support since the 1950s, but has also supplied the country with weapons. Relations initially deteriorated during the military dictatorship of Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq . However, given the failure of Iran as an American ally after the Islamic Revolution under Ayatollah Khomeini and the intervention of Soviet troops in the Afghan civil war in 1979, Pakistan once again gained prominence in US foreign policy. With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union , Pakistan lost some of its importance. In the 1990s, relations with the United States deteriorated noticeably, as the religious extremists supported by Pakistan in the Afghan civil war no longer served the fight against the Soviets, but developed into a security problem for the West. Since President Pervez Musharraf sided with the United States after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Pakistan has again played an important role in the foreign policy structure of the United States, albeit no longer with regard to India, which has now become an important strategic partner of the United States in the region has become, but above all in the fight against Islamist terrorism . Pakistan has been on the list of major non-NATO ally since 2004 , making it one of the USA's closest diplomatic and strategic partners outside of NATO . However, the current developments, in particular the increasingly rampant terrorism, cast doubts about the stabilizing effect on Afghanistan, since the west of Pakistan is used as a base by Taliban supporters. Newly formed underground organizations such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) formed from 13 groups around Baitullah Mehsud and, after his death, Hakimullah Mehsud , have since 2006 focused on the fight against the Pakistani state and the Shiite minority. In addition, the political situation with regard to the Pakistani nuclear arsenal and growing fundamentalism is becoming increasingly threatening. The administration of President Donald Trump accuses Pakistan of supporting the radical Islamic Taliban and the Hakkani network allied with them and of giving them a haven. On January 4, 2018, the US government stopped providing security to Pakistan. The government had already announced in August 2017 that it would withhold $ 255 million in military aid for Pakistan.

Most of the countries of the European Union have friendly relations with Pakistan. Although the EU and various European governments are facing behave Pakistan's system of government and about the situation of democracy and human rights were concerned, the role is the Pakistani government as opponents of Islamist movements as well as a possible stabilizing factor in Afghanistan where several European countries on the protection force ISAF are involved , clearly in the foreground. In addition, as Pakistan's most important foreign trade partner, the EU is striving to expand economic relations. The European Commission has been present in Islamabad with a diplomatic mission since 1985.

Pakistan's relations with its western neighbor Iran are ambiguous. Up until the recent past, the two countries worked closely together. Iran even supported Pakistan militarily, for example in the suppression of separatist uprisings by the Baluch on Pakistani territory between 1973 and 1977. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 and the associated departure of Iran from its previously pro-American foreign policy did not mean a break in the country Relations between neighboring states. Only the increasing violence of Sunni extremists against the Shiite minority in Pakistan since the beginning of the 1990s resulted in a cooling of relations. Shiite Islam is the state religion in Iran. Even more serious was the alleged support of Pakistan for the strictly Sunni Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Since the end of the Taliban in 2001 and the Musharraf government's tougher crackdown on extremist Sunnis in its own country, relations have relaxed noticeably. So far, they have hardly been clouded by the dispute between the USA and the Iranian government under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the Iranian nuclear program . Iran has even offered itself as a mediator in the Indian-Pakistani Kashmir dispute on several occasions, as it maintains good relations with both sides.

Membership in international organizations
Commonwealth Membership Map

In 1947, the year of independence, Pakistan joined the United Nations . From the Commonwealth of Nations , to which it had also belonged since its independence, it resigned in 1972 in protest against the secession of Bangladesh and its accession to the Commonwealth . Pakistan did not decide to re-enter until 1989, but was suspended after Pervez Musharraf's coup in 1999 and only allowed back in 2004. On November 22, 2007, around 3 weeks after a state of emergency was imposed on all of Pakistan, the Commonwealth suspended Pakistan again. The state is also a member of the World Bank , the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Asian Development Bank , the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Organization for Economic Cooperation (ECO) and many more international ones Organizations. In 2005, Pakistan received observer status with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the same time as India and Iran ; Pakistan has been a full member since 2017.

Armed forces and defense

The backbone of the Pakistani army : the al-zarrar - Panzer
The Pakistani Navy during a maneuver


The Pakistani army is divided into the three classic armed forces , the army with around 550,000 men, the air force with 45,000 men, the navy and coast guard with 24,000 men. Another military force introduced by Pervez Musharraf in 1999 is the " Strategic Nuclear Command " . The nuclear arsenal is estimated at 150 warheads. There is no official information on this. The number of medium- and long-range missiles in Pakistan is also unclear. The number of active soldiers is 915,000. There are also 513,000 reservists and around 300,000 men in paramilitary units. The armed forces thus comprise a total of 1.43 million men. It is a pure volunteer army , there is no conscription . There have been several military coups in the country's history . The armed forces not only hold political power in their hands, they also control large parts of the economy.

In 2017, Pakistan spent just under 3.5 percent of its economic output or $ 10.8 billion on its armed forces. A total of 16.7% of the state budget goes to the military, which is a very high figure in a global comparison.

Secret services

The three large, relatively independently acting secret services have a great influence on politics . The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is the largest intelligence and supreme coordination center for all intelligence activities. It fulfills a variety of internal and external functions such as monitoring the media, political groups and foreigners, especially diplomats. In the event of war, she takes on espionage activities in hostile countries. She is also responsible for the security of the Pakistani nuclear program. The Director General of ISI must be a member of the Pakistani Army. Due to several bribery scandals with which it is linked, and the support and equipment of militant extremists, it is extremely controversial and is considered a "state within a state".

The Civil Intelligence Bureau (IB) reports to the Ministry of the Interior. Its primary task is to monitor politicians, political activists and suspected terrorists. It is also entrusted with counter-espionage .

Pakistan's third major intelligence agency is Military Intelligence (MI) , which is subordinate to the Pakistani Army . Their main tasks are counter-espionage and monitoring potential enemies of the state.

Human rights situation

Although the Pakistani constitution guarantees fundamental rights such as the inviolability of human dignity, equality before the law, freedom of movement, prisoner rights, freedom of assembly, association, expression and religion, human rights are repeatedly disregarded by both the state apparatus and individual elements of society. The government arranges arbitrary arrests and opaque trials of suspects. Pakistan imposes and uses the death penalty.

Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch repeatedly report arbitrary acts by the state such as torture and ill-treatment against representatives of organizations that strengthen the rights of ethnic minorities, human rights activists critical of the government and persons accused of blasphemous statements or actions. The blasphemy law also leads to indiscriminate complaints from private individuals or even to lynching, as in the case of a bodyguard who shot dead Salman Taseer , then governor of Punjab , in January 2011 and has been hailed for it ever since. In the parts of the country over which the state has only limited control, tribal courts or leaders judge independently of the political institutions and the constitution of the country. In addition, vigilante justice takes place, for example in the form of honor killings of women. In 2015, around 1,000 honor killings of women and girls were reported, more than in 2013 (869) or 2010 (791). Women and girls are often victims of domestic violence without the state taking any measures to punish the perpetrators. Pakistani law provides that the perpetrator will avoid prosecution if the victim's family members forgive him.

The execution of a man arrested at the age of 14 who confessed to an act under torture and was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for negligent homicide became internationally known. Shafqat Hussain had been found guilty under Pakistani anti-terrorism law, although no links to a terrorist organization could be proven. In December 2014, Pakistan lifted the moratorium on executions. After eleven years on death row, Shafqat Hussain was executed on August 4, 2015, and he was hanged in prison.

Shafqat Hussain, sentenced to death for kidnapping and negligent homicide in 2004, was hanged in Karachi Central Prison on August 4. According to his lawyers, at the time of the crime he was charged with, he was not yet of legal age and had been tortured to make a "confession" by the police.

He had been found guilty under Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Law, although no links to a terrorist organization could be proven. After Pakistan lifted a moratorium on executions in December 2014, Shafqat Hussain's execution was suspended four times.

In autumn 2016, a session of both houses of parliament passed two laws against honor killing and rape. The government's advisory Council of Islamic Ideology found honor killings to be un-Islamic. The application of the law, taking into account the Sharia, which is also in force, remains a dilemma for the judges.

In addition, there is a high percentage of child labor in Pakistan : A study by the Pakistani Ministry of Economic Affairs in cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO) found that 3.3 million children between the ages of five and 14 - this corresponds to 8.3 percent of all children of these Age group - regularly engaged in an economic activity (paid or unpaid work outside of the household), especially in agriculture and in artisanal export production. However, the study only counted those children whose work was their main activity; Children who attended school or who mainly did household chores and who also worked outside the household were not recorded. Many families are also likely to have concealed their children's work, as child labor under the age of 14 is prohibited by law in Pakistan. The actual extent of child labor is therefore likely to be much higher. The non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan assumes in its report on the situation of human rights for 2005, referring to the ILO, that eight to ten million child laborers are; this corresponds to about a fifth of all children under 14 years of age.

See also: Conflicts in Pakistan and Social Situation in Pakistan


Pakistan's economy is market-oriented, although its economic development goals have been set out in government five-year plans since 1955. The large industrial companies that were nationalized in the 1970s have been gradually reprivatised since the 1990s. After a significant slowdown in economic growth as a result of the military coup in 1999, the Pakistani economy has been on the upswing again since 2002. In the 2016 financial year, it grew by 5.7 percent. The gross domestic product amounted to 2,020, according to the International Monetary Fund around EUR 263 billion US dollars. At less than US $ 1,260, the annual per capita income is still very low and corresponds to that of a developing country .

Economic development is mainly hampered by widespread corruption , the inadequate infrastructure in large parts of the country and the unstable political situation in some areas, which is crucial from the point of view of foreign investors. The "backbone of the entire Pakistani economy" is the smuggling of drugs, weapons and consumer electronics, which is mainly based in the tribal areas. A high rate of inflation (2005/06: 7.9 percent) and a considerable budget deficit, which was considerably reduced compared to the 1990s, but still amounted to 4.5 percent in 2016 , had a negative impact . Pakistan has to import raw materials, machines and vehicles, which keeps a constant trade deficit. This is partially offset by remittances from Pakistanis living abroad. In 2016, international remittances totaled 19.4 billion US dollars, which was 7% of economic output.

In the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum for 2016/17, Pakistan ranks 122nd out of a total of 138 countries (129th out of 144 in the previous year). In the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index , Pakistan improved from 148th place in 2016 to 144th place in 2017, with a total of 190 countries assessed.

Pakistan hopes that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project will make urgently needed investments in its infrastructure and closer integration into global trade.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting

Despite major advances in industrialization and the development of the service sector since independence, Pakistan's economy is still heavily influenced by agriculture. Although only a third of the country is used for agriculture, in 2007/08 44.7 percent of all gainfully employed people were employed in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting. The share of this sector in the gross domestic product was 25.2 percent in 2016, of which 9.9 percent was generated with crops, 11.3 percent with livestock farming, 0.2 percent with forestry and 0.4 percent with sea and freshwater fish.

Agriculture is practiced on a fifth of the area of ​​Pakistan. Four fifths of the arable land is on the Indus plain, the rest on the oases of Balochistan and the northern foothills. Grains are mainly grown for food production, as well as pulses and types of fruit such as dates (2017: 524,041 t, which puts Pakistan in 6th place of all countries in which dates are grown) and bananas. In 2017, 135 442 t of bananas were harvested. By far the most important cereal plant is wheat . In 2017, Pakistan was one of the eight largest wheat producers (26,674,000 t) and one of the ten largest rice producers (11,714,700 t) in the world. Rice is mainly grown in the form of irrigated crops in Sindh Province . Corn and millet are also grown to a lesser extent . For millet, Pakistan ranked eleventh worldwide in 2017 with a production of 335,000 t. The main harvest time (kharif) is after the rainy season in late summer and autumn, in irrigated areas a second harvest (rabi) is possible in spring. The productivity of agriculture is not very high because the soil is easily swampy and salty. To avoid this, expensive drainage systems and pumping stations are required. Agriculture is also practically not mechanized because of the small tenant structure. Nevertheless, in the context of the " Green Revolution " that began in the 1960s, great progress was made with fertilizers and high-yielding varieties, so that Pakistan can now largely supply itself with food.

The cultivation of commercial crops is of paramount importance for Pakistan's export economy, especially cotton (with an annual production of more than five million tons, Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton fibers after China , the USA and India ), followed by sugar cane (47, 2 million tons production 2005, 5th place worldwide) and tobacco .

Livestock is important for the production of milk and dairy products, as well as meat, leather and wool. In the non-irrigated areas in the north and west of Pakistan, extensive grazing is practiced, sometimes in nomadic associations.

The coast of the Arabian Sea is extremely rich in fish, so that even dried fish can be exported.

In Pakistan there is a system of license hunting . A permit is required to hunt for the huntable animal species that are not regarded as pests, which is issued for a small fee. Hunting or staining is permitted for additional fees, depending on the province. For the trophy hunt for the partially threatened ibex , blue sheep , steppe sheep and screw goats , the provinces auction a few shooting permits per season in exchange for foreign currency, which can generate over 80,000 US dollars for screwdrivers. Four fifths of the funds flow to the local communities, which means that there is a local interest in species protection.


Mining Sector of the Pakistani Economy 2004/05
raw material Contribution to GDP
(Billion Rs.)
quantity Employees
natural gas 107.7 38.1 billion m³ 18.195
crude oil 044.8 24.1 million bbl. 10,951
Hard coal 003.5 03.7 million t 24,159
Copper ores 002.6 04.0 million t 01195
marble 001.2 01.3 million t 07827
limestone 000.9 14.9 million t 09316
Rock salt 000.4 01.6 million t 04227
plaster 000.3 00.6 million t 01425
Quartz sand 000.3 00.6 million t 02700
other 000.9 06734
total 162.7 86,729

Pakistan has a wide variety of mineral resources. However, the occurrences are often insignificant or difficult to access. In the 2004/05 financial year, the mining sector, with an average of 86,700 employees (0.1%), 2201 officially operated mines, contributed 163 billion rupees (2.7%) to the gross domestic product. The exploitation of deposits of the energy resources natural gas, crude oil and hard coal was particularly important from an economic point of view. The extremely high added value per employee was due solely to gas and oil, but in the rest of the sector it was roughly two and a half times the average for the Pakistani economy. In 2015, natural gas reserves covered 48% of domestic demand, while Pakistan's oil contracts corresponded to 25% of national demand in the same year.

The energy raw materials obtained can also by far not cover the company's own needs. Metallic raw materials must also be imported in spite of some existing deposits . This is especially true for iron ore . Exceptions are chrome - and more recently copper ores . In Baluchi Saindak near the Iranian border in 1995 a large copper deposit was developed, which also small gold - and silver quantities contains, the promotion had initially but after a few months due to lack of funding be set. It was not until 2003 that production could be resumed with the help of investments by the China Metallurgical Group . As early as 2006, inadequate contract drafting and insufficient supervision threatened to lead to complete exhaustion of the deposit by the end of the ten-year lease term of the mining rights instead of only half as expected by the Pakistani side. The state-owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation pursues various exploration and development projects , but typically does not have sufficient capital to carry out full developments or to operate the exploitation without joint ventures with foreign partners .

The existing mines are often operated with resources that are simple in international comparison and with a large number of personnel. Working conditions are particularly poor in small privately operated mines. The International Labor Organization introduced in 1998 for Pakistan each year 45 to 90 fatal accidents in small mines laid. Injuries and occupational diseases such as silicosis are much more common . Illegal operation of mines (5% to 20% in 1998) as well as precarious working conditions and illegal employment, including in legal mines, exacerbate the problems.


Karachi Financial District

With its independence, Pakistan inherited - at that time still including today's Bangladesh - only about five percent of British-Indian large-scale industry. In view of this unfavorable starting position, the establishment of a functioning industry was given top priority. To this end, Pakistan's industrial policy envisaged both state and private investments. Foreign capital should also drive the country's industrialization. In fact, considerable progress has been made through targeted government funding, so that Pakistan today has a relatively diverse industry. 20.0 percent (2007/08) of the workforce are employed in the industrial sector, two thirds of them in manufacturing and one third in construction. The share of industry in Pakistan's total economic output is 19.2 percent (2016), of which the manufacturing sector 18.2 percent, the construction industry 2.1 percent and public utilities 1.5 percent.

By far the most important branch of the processing industry - also for export - is traditionally the textile and, in particular, the cotton industry. Pakistan is one of the world's largest producers of cotton yarn and fabrics. The processing of leather also plays a major role: leather clothing, shoes, gloves and soccer balls are important export products. The food and luxury goods industry (sugar, tobacco), the chemical industry ( petrochemical industry, plastics, fertilizers, rubber, soap, cosmetics, matches), iron and steel production, and metal processing (machine and vehicle construction, electrical engineering industry) are also important ), the pharmaceutical industry, cement production and the paper industry.


The service sector employs 35.2 percent of the working population (2007/08) and generates 55.6 percent of the gross domestic product (2016). In the order of their economic output, the individual areas are wholesale and retail (17.5 percent), traffic, transport, communications and storage (10.3 percent), finance and insurance (6.2 percent), public service and Military (6.1 percent) and the residential real estate industry (2.7 percent). The remainder (11.1 percent) can be attributed to other services. The highest growth rates are recorded in the telecommunications, finance and IT sectors .

Tourism is of minor importance. In 2004, Pakistan earned only $ 186 million from the arrival of 648,000 overseas tourists, as more than half of all overseas visitors were Pakistani, foreign of Pakistani origin, or Indian nationals who came to visit relatives. International tourism in Pakistan has recently picked up speed again, not least due to the improved security situation.

Foreign trade

2016 led Pakistan goods worth 20.5 billion US dollars from. The most important export goods were textiles (59.7%, especially cotton fabrics, yarn and clothing, bed linen, knitwear, towels), food (9.6%, of which rice alone 6.9%), leather, leather goods and shoes ( together 6.7%), petroleum products (4.5%), chemicals and pharmaceuticals (2.7%), industrial products (2.2%, especially medical instruments), sporting goods (2.1%) and carpets (1, 5%).

Imports totaled US $ 47.0 billion in 2016 and mainly comprised machinery and vehicles (27.5%), petroleum and petroleum products (23.3%), chemicals (14.7%), food (6, 7%, of which 2.6% edible oils, 1.7% sugar and 0.8% tea), iron and steel (6.0%) and textiles (1.9%, mainly synthetic fibers).

Foreign Trade Development (GTAI)
in billion US dollars and its year-on-year change as a percentage
2014 2015 2016
Billion USD % yoy Billion USD % yoy Billion USD % year-on-year
import 47.5 +8.6 44.0 −7.5 47.0 +6.8
export 24.7 −1.6 22.1 −10.7 20.5 −7.0
balance −22.8 −21.9 −26.5
Main trading partner of Pakistan (2016), source: GTAI
Export (in percent) to Import (in percent) of
United StatesUnited States United States 16.7 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 29.1
China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 7.7 United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 13.2
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 7.6 IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 4.4
AfghanistanAfghanistan Afghanistan 6.7 United StatesUnited States United States 4.3
GermanyGermany Germany 5.8 JapanJapan Japan 4.2
SpainSpain Spain 4.1 Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 3.9
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 3.1 IndiaIndia India 3.5
United NationsU.N. other states 47.6 United NationsU.N. other states 37.4

Key figures

gross domestic product
- Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real World Bank
year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Change in% yoy 6.2 4.8 1.7 2.8 1.6 2.7 3.5 4.4 4.7 4.7 5.5 5.7
Development of GDP (nominal), World Bank
absolute (in billions of US dollars) per inhabitant (in thousands of US dollars)
year 2015 2016 2017 year 2015 2016 2017
GDP in billions of US $ 270 279 305 GDP per inhabitant (in thousands of US dollars) 1.43 1.46 1.55
Inflation and budget balance
Development of the inflation rate and the budget balance - GTAI , ~ = estimated
Inflation rate
in% compared to the previous year
Budget deficit
in% of GDP “minus” = deficit in the national budget
year 2015 2016 2017 year 2015 2016 2017
inflation rate 4.5 2.9 ~ 4.3 Budget balance −5.2 −4.5 ~ -4.3

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 54.6 billion , which was offset by income equivalent to US $ 41.7 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 4.5% of GDP .
The national debt in 2016 was $ 190.1 billion, or 66.9% of GDP. The state 's government bonds are rated B by the rating agency
Standard & Poor’s (as of December 2018). The country thus has a low credit rating.

In 2015, the share of government expenditure (in% of GDP) was in the following areas:


In 2018, Pakistan ranked 122nd out of 160 countries in the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of infrastructure. A number of projects to improve the infrastructure are currently being implemented, most of them in connection with the planned China-Pakistan Economic Corridor .

Road traffic

Although the Pakistani road network was extremely wide-meshed and almost exclusively unpaved when it gained independence, the road quickly developed into the country's most important transport route. Today, 92 percent of all people and goods are transported by road. The road network for left-hand traffic covers 254,000 kilometers, of which only 60 percent are paved (2003). The twelve national highways that connect all parts of the country and the most important cities with one another account for almost 8,000 kilometers . These two-lane roads take up most of the long-distance traffic and are accordingly heavily used. They are administered by the National Highway Authority (NHA). Of these, the N-5 National Highway is Pakistan's main road axis.

Side roads usually only have gravel surfaces. The NHA is also responsible for the four well-developed, toll-based motorways , which are only 700 kilometers long (2003). Further highways are planned or under construction , which will connect the coastal cities with the centers in the north and the neighboring countries. Overall, however, the road network is still largely inadequate, especially in view of the annual growth in traffic volume of five percent.

The main means of transport are intercity buses, but the number of private cars is increasing rapidly. The trucks with artistic bodies and paintings are typical of the country .

In 2013 there were a total of 14.8 road deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants in the country. For comparison: In Germany there were 4.3 deaths in the same year. In total, more than 25,000 people were killed in traffic. The rate is even higher in relation to the relatively low number of motor vehicles.

Rail transport

The first railway line in what is now Pakistan began operating on May 13, 1861, between Karachi and Kotri near Hyderabad . Today, the state-owned railway company Pakistan Railways employs almost 90,000 people, carries over 70 million passengers annually and manages a rail network of 7791 kilometers, 95 percent of which are broad-gauge (2004). However, only a 293-kilometer section - less than four percent of the entire route network - between Lahore and Khanewal near Multan is electrified . Some branch lines still have meter gauge, but are to be converted to the usual gauge of 1676 millimeters. The rather wide-meshed rail network is concentrated in the densely populated provinces of Punjab and Sindh, while the south-west of the country with the port city of Gwadar has not yet been connected, and the mountainous north cannot be reached by rail either. The railroad is therefore less important as a means of transport than in neighboring India, for example .

Air travel

Pakistan's three most important international airports in Karachi ( Jinnah International Airport ), Lahore ( Allama Iqbal International Airport ) and Islamabad ( Benazir Bhutto International Airport ) offer direct connections all over the world. Connections to the Gulf States, where many Pakistanis work, also exist from smaller airports such as Faisalabad , Gwadar , Multan , Peschawar , Quetta and Sialkot . There are also numerous regional airfields, also in remote parts of the country. The state-owned airline Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had a monopoly on domestic flights for a long time, but is increasingly facing competition from private companies.


Cargo handling in overseas shipping takes place almost exclusively in Karachi. Karachi is thus the linchpin of Pakistani foreign trade. To relieve the Karachi Port, the only natural harbor in the country, a second port, the Port Muhammad Bin Qasim, was built just outside of Karachi in the 1970s . In addition, in March 2002, the People's Republic of China began building a huge oil and container port in Gwadar . Inland navigation is of secondary importance due to the strongly fluctuating water flow in rivers.


In 2014, Pakistan covered around 65 percent of its electricity needs with thermal power . More than 50 percent of the most important fossil fuels are crude oil, which has to be imported mainly from countries in the Middle East, and natural gas, which is extracted in the country. The energy requirement almost tripled between 1988 and 2014, but production only roughly doubled. The supply situation is therefore tense; only part of the partly obsolete capacities can be used at any one time. The energy prices are hardly cost-covering, the payment behavior of large buyers is poor and the electricity producers cannot build up enough oil stocks because of their low liquidity. In January 2015 there was an acute fuel crisis in which around 80 percent of the population was cut off from the electricity supply. The extremely bureaucratic regulation of energy production and a fragile network prevented a quick remedy.

In view of the rapidly growing energy demand and numerous new construction projects for power plants, Pakistan will also be dependent on oil and gas imports in the future. The country is therefore showing keen interest in the planned pipeline , which will bring natural gas into the country from the resource-rich Turkmenistan via Afghanistan ( Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline ). However, this project has been put on hold. A gas pipeline from Iran to India ( Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline ) is also under discussion. The construction of new coal-fired power plants is also being planned with Chinese help.

In 2014, inexpensive hydropower only accounted for 30 percent (in the 1980s it was around 65 percent), while nuclear power accounted for just under 6 percent of total electricity generation. As early as 2003, Pakistan was the only Islamic country in the world with nuclear reactors: Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-I (CHASNUPP-I, start of operation 1971) and Chashma Nuclear Power Plant-II (CHASNUPP-II, established with Chinese participation, start of operation in 2000) ; CHASNUPP-III and CHASNUPP-IV are at an advanced stage of planning with the participation of the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI: Shanghai Institute for Research and Design of Nuclear Technology : a subsidiary of the China National Nuclear Corporation , CNNC).

With the exception of hydropower, against the expansion of which the rural population often protests, renewable energies such as wind power , solar energy and biogas have so far hardly played a role. However, in May 2003 the government founded the Alternative Energy Developing Board, with the help of which alternative energies are to be promoted. As the fourth largest producer of dairy products in the world, Pakistan would also have great potential for operating biogas plants. In rural regions without electricity, firewood has traditionally served as the main energy source.


The telecommunications company PTCL, privatized in 1996, held the monopoly for the fixed telephone network until 2005. Since then, it has faced competition from private companies, who so far have only a negligibly small market share. However, in 2005 there were only 5.3 million landlines across the country. In contrast, the number of mobile phone subscribers in November 2006 was over 46 million, almost four times the level of the previous year. In the rapidly expanding mobile phone market, there is fierce competition between several private companies. An exception is the entire telecommunications network of the government agencies, which is reserved for the state company NTC.

The number of private internet connections is low. In 2016, 17.8 percent of the population used the Internet. However, internet cafes are becoming increasingly popular in larger cities.


Under the various dictatorial regimes in the country's history, the Pakistani media have repeatedly suffered severe reprisals, but have always been able to maintain a minimum of freedom. Today there is a relatively high degree of freedom of the press in Pakistan. The Pakistani print media reflect the country's entire political and ideological spectrum. They are not subject to censorship and take a critical stance on all relevant issues, and criticism of the government can also be expressed openly. However, there are taboos that mainly affect national defense, the influential secret services and criticism of religion. Liberal journalists also occasionally face threats from religious extremists. In the tribal areas on the Afghan border , which are largely controlled by Taliban militias, free reporting is practically impossible.

The situation of press freedom in the country is thus still classified as "difficult".

Print media

Over 300 daily newspapers appear in Pakistan, the most important in Urdu and English , with English-language publications mostly being more international and liberal in orientation. Due to the high illiteracy rate and widespread poverty, the number of copies is comparatively small. The most widely read daily newspaper is the Urdu-language Jang with a circulation of 775,000, followed by Khabrain (Urdu; 345,000), Nawa-i-Waqt (Urdu; 295,000), Pakistan (Urdu; 125,000), Dawn (English; 125,000), Awam ( Urdu; 110,000) and The News (English; 105,000). In Sindh , there is also a wide sindhisprachige media landscape. The English-language Business Recorder is Pakistan's most important business newspaper.

watch TV

The television is now the most important mass media in Pakistan. There are now more televisions than radios in the country. There are around 170 televisions for every 1000 inhabitants, but only around 100 radio receivers.

The Pakistani state television station Pakistan Television (PTV) began operations in the Lahore area on November 26, 1964 and is now broadcasting on various channels. PTV One in Urdu and English as well as PTV National in the regional languages Punjabi , Sindhi , Pashtun and Baluch can be received nationwide. There are also several regional programs in different languages ​​and the international news program PTV World. PTV Global can only be received via satellite in the USA and Europe.

Private television stations have been licensed since 2000, have quickly established themselves and captured most of the television market.


The Pakistani state radio, Radio Pakistan, broadcasts in over 20 languages ​​and covers around four fifths of the country's area with 97 percent of the population. Under General Pervez Musharraf , the granting of broadcasting licenses was liberalized to a large extent, so that numerous private programs , mostly in the VHF range, were able to start operating and today enjoy a large audience, especially in the larger cities.


Due to its location on the edge of the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan has strong references to Indian culture, some of which have been overlaid by Persian, Afghan-Pashtun and Arab cultures. Islam has exercised significant influence since the 8th century and has profoundly permeated society to this day. However, bearing in mind the recent history of the state of Pakistan, its Islamic culture must always be viewed in the context of the tradition of Islam on the entire Indian subcontinent.


Representation of the Buddha with Heracles : an example of the merging of Greek and Indian Buddhist forms of expression in the Gandhara style
Persian architectural style: tomb of Shah Rukn-i-Alam (14th century) in Multan
Mazar-e-Quaid , completed in 1970, is the tomb of the state's founder, Ali Jinnah
The Minar-e-Pakistan is Pakistan's official emblem

With the beginning of the Indus culture around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC For the first time in the area of ​​today's Pakistan, an urban high culture emerged with large structures, some of which have been preserved as ruins to this day. Archaeologists have excavated numerous ancient cities, including Mohenjo-Daro , Harappa and Kot Diji , which are characterized by a uniform, functional structure with wide streets and sophisticated sanitary, irrigation and drainage systems. The majority of the mud brick buildings that have been preserved are residential or public buildings such as bathhouses and workshops. Monumental representational or temple buildings, as they are characteristic of ancient Egypt and the early civilizations of Mesopotamia , are missing. The architecture of the Indus cities thus reflects the rather "bourgeois" nature of the Indus culture with less pronounced social classes.

With the extinction of the Indus culture, architecture also suffered a considerable decline. The Vedic era left no architectural evidence. Presumably, ephemeral materials such as wood and clay served as building materials. It was only with the rise of Buddhism that outstanding architectural monuments emerged, especially of a sacred nature, which have survived to the present day. In addition came the Persian and the Greek influence. The latter led to the development of the Graeco-Buddhist style, which reached its peak with the Gandhara style from the 1st century AD . Significant remains of Buddhist stupas and other buildings with clearly recognizable Greek- Bactrian style elements such as Ionic columns can be found, alongside ruins from other eras, in the Gandhara capital Taxila in the far north of Punjab. The ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi (around 1st to 7th centuries AD) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are also considered a particularly fine example .

The arrival of Islam in what is now Pakistan - initially in Sindh - in the 8th century brought an abrupt end to Buddhist architecture, but paved the way for the predominantly non-graphic, ornamented Islamic architecture. Early mosques were still strongly based on the Arab style, including the ruined mihrāb- free mosque of Banbhore from 727, the first Muslim place of worship on the Indian subcontinent.

Under the Ghurids and Delhi Sultans , Arab influences were replaced by the Persian-Central Asian style. The most important characteristic of this style is the iwan , a vaulted hall that is closed on three sides and opened to one side, which was mainly used in the entrance area of ​​mosques, palaces and the typical Persian madrasas . Other features are large facades, often decorated with mosaics and geometric patterns, round or onion domes and the use of painted tiles. The most important of the few completely preserved buildings of Persian style is the tomb of Shah Rukn-i-Alam (built 1320 to 1324) in Multan .

Mughal architecture: Naulakha Pavilion (1633) in the fortress of Lahore

Indo-Islamic architecture reached its peak from the 16th century under the Mughals . In the Mughal style, the geometric, rather strict design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were combined with the curved and often playful forms of Hindu art borrowed from nature . This was expressed in particular in lush, stylized plant tendrils as facade decoration and the integration of columns and consoles as components. Lahore , temporarily the residence of the Mughal rulers, has a large number of important buildings in the Mughal style, including the Badshahi Mosque (built 1673/74), the fortress of Lahore (second half of the 16th century) with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the colorful one Strongly Persian-looking Wasir Khan mosque (1634/35) as well as numerous other mosques and mausoleums. The Shah Jahan Mosque of Thatta in Sindh was built by the Mughal ruler of the same name in the middle of the 17th century, i.e. at the same time as the Taj Mahal in Agra . Both buildings are similarly subtle in their appearance and differ from the more imperial-looking buildings of this time in Lahore. The countless tombs on the Makli hill near Thatta and the Chaukhandi burial ground east of Karachi are unique . Most of them were built between the 15th and 17th centuries and combine the influence of Mughal architecture from Central Asia with elements of North Indian temple buildings to create an independent architectural style of Sindh. The local Indian tradition from Gujarat in particular has led to the sculptural decorative elements and elaborate geometric and floral reliefs that emerge from the wall in the stone carvings.

The building activity of the Mughals came to a standstill in the late 18th century. After that, there was hardly any impetus from local architecture. In the British colonial era, mainly representative buildings in the Indo-Saracen style, a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic elements, were built.

After independence, Pakistan endeavored to express its newfound national identity in architecture as well. This is reflected above all in modern sacred buildings such as the Faisal Mosque in the capital, Islamabad, which was newly laid out in the 1960s . But monumental buildings such as the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore or the white marble mausoleum Mazar-e-Quaid of the founder of the state Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi expresses the self-confidence of the young state.


Pakistan's literature includes the literatures of the written languages ​​widely used in Pakistan, primarily Urdu , Sindhi , Punjabi , Pashtun , Baluch and, more recently, English . Up into the 19th century, poetry dominated in what is now Pakistan , devoted to religious, mystical and folk subjects. During the colonial period, under the influence of Western realism literature, native poetry increasingly took up other themes and forms of narration. Short stories are particularly popular today. But the poetry also kept its place with contemporary themes.

The national poet of Pakistan is Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), who wrote mainly in the Persian language (Dari), but also in Urdu. Most of his works deal with Islamic philosophy. At the same time, Iqbal was also one of the most important figures in the Pakistani national movement. His best-known work is the Persian collection of poems Asrar-i-Khudi (German: "The secrets of the self").

Urdu literature, whose origins go back to the 14th century, is most alive today . Saadat Hasan Manto (1912–1955), who was born in Punjab and moved from Bombay to Pakistan in 1948 , mainly dealt with the chaos of the Indian division in his short stories, often characterized by satire and black humor. He also fought against the sexual exploitation of women and worked as a translator and playwright. Even today he is considered the most important Indian-Pakistani short story writer of the 20th century. Some of his works have been filmed. The best-known representative of contemporary Pakistani Urdu literature was the communist Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911–1984), who was part of the resistance against the military regime of Muhammad Ayub Khan and had to live in exile in India for years. Her themes include female sexuality, which in the 1960s was an outrageous provocation.

Rukhsana Ahmad, a Karachi-born English literature lecturer, freelance writer and journalist based in the UK, published a collection of feminist poems written in Urdu and translated into English with The Women's Press in 1991.

The Sufi mystic Shah Abdul Latif (1689 / 90–1752 / 53) is considered to be the most outstanding Sindhi poet . Mirza Kalich Beg (1853–1929) pioneered modern Sindhi prose . The feminist Attiya Dawood is one of the poets who write in Sindhi, also known in the English-speaking world .

The Pashtun literary tradition divides Pakistan for centuries with the neighboring country Afghanistan . She produced extensive love poems and heroic poems. The founder of classical Pashto poetry is Khushal Khan Khattak (also Hushal Han , 1613–1689), a leader of the uprising against the Mughal rulers and master of the landai , a two-line Pashtun short poem. The classical tradition was cultivated by Ghani Khan (1914–1996), who also wrote occasionally in English and Urdu. He is considered to be the best Pashto poet of the 20th century. Ghani Khan, who came from the north-western tribal areas, was imprisoned for six years and was honored very late by the Pakistani government for his work.

Recently, Jamil Ahmad (1931-2014) became known, whose autobiographical memoirs of his service in the Pashtun tribal areas were published after 40 years. They were published in German in 2013 under the title Der Weg des Falken .

In Punjabi , especially love and religious didactic poems have survived. Punjabi literature reached its peak in the 17th century as the language of Sikhism .

Especially popular songs and ballads were written in Baluchi .

Kamila Shamsi (* 1973) writes her multiple award-winning novels in English .

The Pakistani Literature Festival , which has been held annually since 2010 in Karachi , the city with the fewest illiterates, is the largest in a Muslim country with some 10,000 visitors. In 2017 it took place for the eighth time.

Calligraphy and painting

Shahada (Islamic creed) as calligraphic lettering in the Wasir Khan mosque in Lahore

In Islam, calligraphy is used to perfectly reproduce the beauty of the content of God's word, i.e. the Koran . Benefiting from the prohibition of images in Islam, it developed into the highest form of fine art . In mosques, calligraphy is one of the most important types of surface and room design. As a result, artistically elaborated lettering decorated with ornaments can be found almost everywhere. The Koran quotations on glazed tiles in the Wasir Khan Mosque in Lahore are particularly famous .

On the other hand, painting is less pronounced due to the prohibition of the figurative representation of God, the prophet Mohammed and his followers. The ban on images was often interpreted as a general ban on depicting living beings. However, under Persian influence a high-ranking tradition of miniature painting developed , which was continued and further developed under the rule of the Mughals . The miniatures of the Mughal period mainly represented court life and historical events.

Many modern Pakistani artists see themselves in the tradition of Islamic calligraphers. Some turned to more painterly aspects and even came to figurative painting , like the internationally best-known Pakistani artist Sadequain (1930–1987). Nonetheless, calligraphy remains an integral part of Pakistani culture. The official language of Pakistan, Urdu , is written in Nastaliq , a calligraphic version of the Arabic alphabet . Up until the late 1980s, most of the Pakistani daily newspapers in Urdu had their typesetting made by hand by trained typists, which was not least due to the difficulty in converting this calligraphic script into machine typesetting.


Pakistan has a rich musical tradition that grew out of the merging of Indian music with Arabic and Persian influences . In Sufism , ecstatic chants like Qawwali express love for God. The qawwali songs are often accompanied by a harmonium , the kettle drum pair of tabla and clapping of hands. Probably the best known quawwale singer in western countries is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan . At pilgrimage sites, for example, professional street music ensembles perform with several double-headed tube drums dhol , several cone oboes shehnai and the bagpipe baghalbin . Folk music is particularly lively in the Balochistan Province and among the Pashtuns . Obsession rituals in Balochistan include the musical style gwati with the melody-leading string lute sorud (also suroz , related to the sarinda ) and the plucked two- to four-string long-necked lute damburag (similar to the northern Afghan dambura and the tanburo played in Sindh ). The doneli double-beaked flutes in Baluchistan and alghoza in Sindh can also be used for this purpose. The widespread in Balochistan and Sindh longitudinal flute Narh together with a sung drone blown. Other folk musical instruments are the small kettle drum pair naghara , the one to two-stringed long-necked lute yaktaro (equivalent to the ektara ) and the key zither banjo .

In classical music, instruments are used that are typical of Hindustan music that is widespread in northern India . The rhythm is given in the well-known khyal style by the tabla or in the dhrupad the double-celled pakhawaj , string instruments such as sitar , sarangi and sarod , wind instruments such as the bamboo flute, bansuri and the harmonium, are the main melody instruments . The dulcimer santur is of Persian origin .

Modern popular music is characterized by strong Western influences as well as classical and traditional elements. It is conveyed particularly through native and Indian films . Popular songs from successful Bollywood films are usually bestsellers in Pakistan too.

Pakistani feature film production
year number
1955 19th
1965 58
1975 111
1985 86
1995 64
2005 50


Cinema is one of the most important media in Pakistan today. The heart of the Pakistani film industry is Lahore , where the first silent film was shot in 1924. The first sound film followed in 1932. Based on Hollywood and Bollywood , the Urdu and Panjabi-speaking Pakistani film industry in Lahore is also known as " Lollywood ". There is a smaller Pashtun-speaking film industry in Peshawar .

An inseparable part of Pakistani films today are rousing music and dance scenes, so that many films have a musical-like character. Despite a ban on imports and performances in cinemas, Indian Bollywood productions that are broadcast on Pakistani television and traded as DVDs or videos on the black market are even more popular among the population. The Hindi dialogues can also be understood by Urdu speakers without any problems, as spoken Urdu differs from Hindi only through a higher proportion of Persian and Arabic loanwords.

The journalist and documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (* 1978) won several Emmy awards (including 2010 for Children of the Taliban ) and in 2012 the first Oscar to go to Pakistan in the Best Documentary Short Film category for Savon Face . This film is about the work of a plastic surgeon treating female victims of acid attacks.


The Pakistani cuisine has much in common with the North Indian cuisine , but has stronger influences from front and Central Asia on. In general, more meat is eaten in Islamic Pakistan than in neighboring India. In contrast to the Indian religions Hinduism , Buddhism , Jainism and Sikhism , Islam does not have a noteworthy tradition of vegetarianism .

Staple foods are mainly types of bread made from wheat , such as naan baked with yeast or yeast-free roti varieties (especially chapati ), which are served with every meal. Paratha is a chapati enriched with Ghi (clarified butter) from the Punjab . Almost as popular is rice , which is either simply cooked as a side dish or eaten as a spicy stir-fry with vegetables and meat. Examples of rice dishes are the spicy biryani ( spicy rice with vegetable or meat curry) or the milder pulao .

Vegetable and meat curries prepared in a spicy sauce are eaten with the main meals . Common ingredients are lentils , peas and other legumes, pickled vegetables or fruits, and dairy products like yogurt and ghi. A wide variety of spices and herbs are used, especially in Sindh and Punjab, including chilli , turmeric , garlic , pepper , cumin , coriander , cardamom , Indian bay leaf , cloves , ginger , cinnamon , saffron and many more. The most popular types of meat are mutton or lamb, chicken and beef; the consumption of pork is prohibited for religious reasons. The kebabs from the Middle East - grilled meat dishes that are often combined with Indian sauces and spices in Sindh and Punjab - exist in countless variations such as seekh kebab (marinated grilled meat), shami kebab (minced meat with chickpeas ) or the typical Pashtun chapli kebab ( seasoned ground beef). Indian origin, many poultry dishes, among which the paper loaded in yogurt marinade and cooked in the oven Tandoori -Hühnchen is the best known.

Sweets are very popular. Halva is usually made from semolina and mixed with sugar, honey, butter or vegetable oil and - depending on your taste - dried fruits, raisins or almonds, but also carrots or legumes to form a rich, very sweet mixture. The ingredients and the flavor can vary widely. Milk-based desserts, such as gulab jamun, are also popular .

The most common drinks in Pakistan are all non-alcoholic, as Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol. The national drink is tea , which is often drunk with milk and spices. Lassi is made from yogurt and can be mixed with fruit juice. There is also a large number of other milk and fruit juice drinks.


Pakistani hockey is one of the most successful in the world
As in many Commonwealth countries, cricket is the most popular sport

Most of Pakistan's most popular sports originated in the United Kingdom and came to the Indian subcontinent after the establishment of British India . The official national sport of Pakistan is hockey , although cricket and squash are also very popular. Football is less popular. With four titles in hockey world championships ( 1971 , 1978 , 1982 , 1994 ) Pakistan's men are record world champions in this sport. Likewise, three gold medals have been won at the Olympic Games so far: 1960 , 1968 and 1984 .

Cricket is considered the most popular sport in Pakistan. In addition to the Asia Cup ( 2000 , 2012 ) and the Asian Test Championship ( 1999 ), the Pakistani national team also won a World Cup title in 1992 and the Australasian Championship three times (1986, 1990, 1994). In 2009 they won the ICC World Twenty20 , which took place in England. In 2017 they won the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time . In March 2009, Sri Lanka's national cricket team was attacked by gunmen in Lahore , with the result that no international cricket was played in Pakistan until May 2015. Pakistan's co-hosting role for the 2011 Cricket World Cup has also been withdrawn.

Squash became particularly popular in Pakistan through Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan . Jahangir Khan became the youngest amateur squash champion at the age of 15 and the World Open Championship at 17, and then remained unbeaten for five years, six months and one day and over 500 squash matches, which is still a world record in squash today. He won the British Open ten times in a row and the US Open six times . Jansher Khan was Junior World Champion in 1986 and World Champion in 1987 when he defeated Australian Chris Dittmar in the final. He was world champion eight times, won the British Open six times and 99 professional titles during his career, and was number one for a total of six years. The two together won 14 world titles. This makes Pakistan the most successful country in this sport.

Pakistan has hosted or co-hosted several international sports tournaments: South Asian Games 1989 and 2004; World Squash Championships in 1984, 1993, 1996 and 2003; Cricket World Cups 1987 and 1996 ; as well as the men's field hockey world championship in 1990 .

public holidays

date German name / English name Local name Remarks
February 5th Solidarity Day with Kashmir / Kashmir Solidarity Day یوم یکجحتی کشمیر


Protest against Indian control over part of Kashmir .
March 23 Republic Day یوم پاکستان


Day of the signing of the Lahore resolution , which called for a separate state for the Muslims of British India .
1st of May Labor Day / Labor day یوم مزدور

Yom-e Mazdoor

Labor Day in Pakistan
August 14th Independence / Independence Day یوم آزادی


Commemoration of the official proclamation of Pakistan's independence from the United Kingdom on August 14, 1947
November 9th Birthday of Muhammad Iqbal یوم اقبال


Birthday of the national poet Muhammad Iqbal
25 December Birthday of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah یوم ولادت قائداعظم


Birthday of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah , the founder of Pakistan

Since Pakistan is a predominantly Islamic country, the religious holidays follow the Islamic lunar calendar . They therefore shift back about eleven days each year compared to the Gregorian calendar .

date German name Local name Remarks
10th and 11th Dhū l-Hijjah Festival of Sacrifice عید الاضحٰی

Eid ul-Adha

Celebration of the end of Hajj . In memory of the story of Abraham , a sacrificial animal (sheep, billy goat, camel, bull, etc.) is slaughtered.
1st and 2nd Shawwal Feast of the breaking of the fast عيد الفطر


Celebration of the end of Ramadan .
12. Rabīʿ al-awwal Birthday of the prophet عيد ميلاد النبی


Birthday of the Islamic prophet Mohammed .
9th and 10th Muharram Ashura day عاشوراء


Commemoration of the martyr death of Imam Hussain .
27. Rajab Ascension of Muhammad شب معراج



  • Jürgen Burkart: Pakistan - An illustrated book. Baltic Sea Press, Rostock 2010, ISBN 978-3-942129-41-1 .
  • Bernhard Chiari , Conrad Schetter (ed.): Guide to history. Pakistan. Publishing house Ferdinand Schoeningh, Paderborn u. A. 2010, ISBN 978-3-506-76908-4 .
  • Jochen Hippler : The most dangerous country in the world? Pakistan between military rule, extremism and democracy. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2008, ISBN 3-462-04011-1 .
  • Jorge Scholz: The Pakistan Complex. A country between decline and nuclear weapons. Pendo Verlag, Munich and others 2008, ISBN 978-3-86612-176-8 .
  • Oliver Thränert / Christian Wagner: nuclear power Pakistan. Nuclear risks, regional conflicts and the dominant role of the military. SWP study 3/2009, Berlin 2009, ISSN  1611-6372 .
  • David Arnold: South Asia (=  New Fischer World History . Volume 11 ). S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-10-010841-8 .

Web links

Commons : Pakistan  - collection of images
Wiktionary: Pakistan  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
 Wikinews: Pakistan  - on the news
Wikivoyage: Pakistan  Travel Guide
Wikimedia Atlas: Pakistan  geographical and historical maps

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Coordinates: 29 °  N , 69 °  E

This article was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 15, 2011 in this version .