Following is a write-up on Pakistan done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
PAKISTAN emerged as an independent country on 14th August 1947, but it has a history of over five thousand years. The land of Pakistan has been a cradle of ancient civilizations; with well-developed cities, the Indus Valley Civilization was a contemporary of the Nile, Mesopotamian and Yellow River civilizations
Additionally, over two thousand years ago, the Gandhara Buddhist Civilization flourished in northern Pakistan, with Taxila as a seat of Buddhist learning. Famous Chinese scholars, including Xuan Zang, traveled to Taxila to study Buddhist scriptures. These travels are celebrated in the famous Chinese novel Xi You Ji
(Journey to the West). Today, the Karakoram Highway that links Pakistan and China runs parallel to the fabled silk route of the past.
Pakistan' s Islamic heritage also goes back over a thousand years, and combines the traditions of Central Asia and West Asia in its architecture, poetry and literature. The richness of Pakistan's history, cultural traditions and heritage is matched by the diversity and beauty of Pakistan's landscape.Geography
Pakistan lies along the River Indus stretching over 2,000 kilometers from the freezing heights of the Pamirs in the north to the balmy beaches of the Arabian Sea in the south. Pakistan's neighbours include China to the north, Afghanistan to the northwest, Iran to the west and India to the east.
Pakistan is the seventh most populous country in the world with nearly 145 million people and a land area of over 800,000 square kilometers. The Northern Areas of Pakistan are the meeting point of three major mountainous ranges: the Karakorams, the Himalayas,and the Hindu Kush, with some of the highest mountain peaks in the world. Every year, thousands of trekkers and mountaineers from around the world visit this fascinating region.
The Federal Capital of Pakistan is Islamabad, a new, modern and scenic city. Lahore is the country's cultural centre, famous for its historic monuments, and is the capital of the largest province, Punjab. Karachi, the largest city with a population of 12 million, is a cosmopolitan port city and the capital of the southern province of Sindh. Peshawar is located at the southern end of the historic Khyber Pass and is the capital of the North Western Frontier Province. Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan, which is Pakistan' s largest province in area, and rich in natural resources.Politics and neighbouring environment
Pakistan is a federation of four provinces and a parliamentary democracy with a multi-party system. The mainstream politics of the country, as evident from the manifestoes and agendas of its major political parties, is moderate and focused on economic and social development. The principles imbibed in the State Constitution emphasise social justice, welfare, equality and equal opportunity, democracy, freedom and progress.
In foreign relations, Pakistan pursues a policy of seeking friendly and cooperative relations with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. President Pervez Musharraf is the constitutional Head of State. The Prime Minister Mr. Shaukat Aziz is an eminent former banker and has been Finance Minister of the country for the last five years. Pakistan has been affected by the political developments of the past twenty years in the region; however, the regional environment has now greatly improved. South Asian countries have agreed to a Preferential Trade Agreement and are aiming at free trade arrangements in the future within the framework of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
There are plans to link up South Asia with roads and oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia and Iran. Pakistan is a member of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which is an economic entity with ten member countries, including the Central Asian states, Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey. Pakistan has also close relations with South East Asian countries and is a member of the Asian Regional Forum (ARF).
Pakistan is located at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia and South West Asia. This is a strategic location with great potential for Pakistan to become a hub of economic activity. In addition to the available extensive rail and road network, the government is developing highways and the Gwadar Deep-sea Port that would serve to link up the adjoining regions of Central Asia.Pakistan's Economy
Pakistan is a developing country. As such, the government attaches the highest priority to economic and social development. The agricultural sector is responsible for 25% of the economy with cotton, rice, wheat, sugarcane and maize as the major crops. Pakistan is an exporter of fruits, especially citrus, and fish and fish preparations. The industrial sector accounts for 24% of the economy. Textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, building materials, cement, fertilisers, sports goods, surgical goods, and leather goods are the mainstay of the industrial sector and the country's primary industrial exports. Energy, IT and small and medium-sized industries are amongst the fastest growing sectors in the country.
Pakistan' s total GDP for year 2005-06 per capita income at US$ 846, real GDP grew by 6.6 percent in 2005-06 as against 8.6 percent last year. Pakistan's economy has grown at an average rate of almost 7.0 percent per annum during the last four years and over 7.5 percent in the last three years, thus enabling it to join the exclusive club of the fastest growing economies of Asia.
Pakistan' s exports grew by 13% and crossed US$ 12 billion in 2003. In comparison, imports grew by 19% and were over US$ 13 billion. Remittances from overseas Pakistanis exceeded US$ 4 billion in the year 2003-04. The current account balance, excluding official transfers, stood in surplus at US$ 1369 million. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) crossed US$ 1 billion in 2003-04 with large investment in the telecoms sector. Foreign exchange reserves have been more than US$ 12.5 billion.
Pakistan' s exports were targeted to grow by 18.1 percent in 2005-06 — rising from $14.4 billion last year to $ 17.0 billion this year. During the first nine months of the current fiscal year, exports were up by 18.6 percent, rising to $12.1 billion from $10.2 billion in the same period last year. Given the performance of the first nine months, exports are likely to touch $17 billion mark by the end of this fiscal year. Imports were targeted to grow by 26.0 percent in the current fiscal year — rising from $14.4 billion to $20.7 billion. Pakistan's imports are up by 43.2 percent in the first nine months of the current fiscal year — rising from $ 14.4 billion to $ 20.7 billion, showing an increase of almost $ 6.0 billion this year.
The current account deficit, excluding official transfers, stood at $4,696 million (3.7% of GDP) during July-March 2005-06, as against a deficit of $1181 million in the same period last year.
Pakistan' s exchange rate remained stable at an average of Rs. 60 to 1 US dollar. The current fiscal year, started with an inflation rate of 9.0 percent in July 2005, but continued to decelerate, reaching a 23-month low at 6.2 percent in April 2006. Food inflation was close to 9.7 percent at the beginning of the current fiscal year, but decelerated sharply to 3.6 percent in April 2006 — the lowest in the last 31 months.
Pakistan' s economy presents an upbeat picture of stability and growth. The economic policies are transparent and predictable. Private sector confidence has grown, the stock market is buoyant, the external balance of payments is in a comfortable position, expatriate Pakistanis are bringing capital into the country and FDI has increased. Positive indicators are also evident in the substantial increase in foreign exchange reserves, the stable exchange rate, low inflation, reduction of the debt burden, the low fiscal deficit and a surplus current account balance, and increased exports and revenue collection.