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Pakistan is a country in Southern Asia. It was officially created in 1947 and has since struggled to find a clear identity and role as a Muslim dominated country in the world. Politics in Pakistan has been characterized by chronic stability. The country’s rivalry with India has gone nuclear over the Kashmir. But the country’s role in the global stage changed after the September 11 attacks when she decided to relatively shift its ideology and support America’s antiterrorism activities inside the country. Economically, the country achieved respectable rates during the 1980s although mass population has since then slid further into poverty. This paper will discuss and provide a brief analysis on Pakistan as well as provide a political overview of the country and its economic environment.
Pakistan is a country located in southern Asia, between India on the east, China on the north and Iran and Afghanistan on the west. It covers a total area of 803,943 sq km and has an estimated population of 187,342,721 as at July, 2011. It has a federal type of government with its capital at Islamabad (Pakistan Country Profile; 2007).
Nationality of the Pakistan people is Pakistani. The country has an annual population growth rate of 1.81% (2005 estimate). Education literacy rates (2005 est.) are 63% male and 36% for female while life expectancy rates are 63.07 for men and 65.24 for women (Background Note: Pakistan; 2008).
Main ethnic groups in Pakistan are the Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Baloch and Muhajirs. Muhajirs are the Muslim immigrants from India. Most of the provinces in Pakistan have a relative homogenous ethnic population except of Sindhi which has big considerable non-Sindhi members in such cities like Hyderabad and Karachi (Background Note: Pakistan; 2008).
The official languages in Pakistan are Urdu (despite the fact that only 8% of the population is fluent in Urdu) and English. Other major languages spoken in Pakistan are Baloch, Punjabi, Burushaki, Brahui, Pashtu, Siraika and Sindi (Pakistan Country Profile; 2007).
Muslim is the major religion in Pakistan and accounts for over 97% of the total population with the Sunni accounting for 77% and Shia accounting for 20% of the Muslim population. Other religions like Hindu, Christians and others account for the remaining 3% (Pakistan Country Profile; 2007).
The country attained independence in August 14, 1947 and adopted parliamentary system of government. The country’s branch of government is the executive, judiciary and legislature. Executive contains the president who is the chief of state, the prime minister who is head of government while the legislature is made of a bicameral parliament with 100-seat senate and a 342 seat national assembly. The judiciary comprises of the Supreme Court, provincial high courts and Shari’a courts. Major political parties are the Pakistan people’s party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the Muttahid Maijlis-e-Amal (MMA) (Pakistan Country Profile; 2007).
Pakistan gained independence in 1947 from Britain when the subcontinent was divided into two successor states; that of Pakistan and the Dominion Republic of India. The frontier areas of British India helped create the East and West of Pakistan. Since independence, the military has always been an important part of the local administration especially because civilian institutions have been weak and provincial loyalties very strong (Profile Series: Pakistan; 2007). Pakistan was mainly created by the Muslim League from India to form a Muslim home for Muslims in British India. The new Pakistan leaders found it hard to devise a structure that could unite the East and the West portions of the country because of the 1947 war in India, early death of Pakistan’s founding father Jinnah in 1948 and a subsequent death of the country’s first prime minister Ali Khani in 1951. It took another 8 years before the country could agree to the final constitution that established Pakistan as a republic in 1956. In 1958, the country experienced the first military coup plotted by general Ayub Khan. He abolished political parties and declared martial laws and exercised military rule. About half of Pakistan’s existence has been about military rule since then. In 1962 a new constitution was promulgated that placed politics under military guidance with Khan as its first ruler (Foreign & Commonwealth Office).
According to the CIA World Factbook, Pakistan is an underdeveloped and impoverished country that has suffered from decades of internal disputes resulting to low foreign investments. However, government efforts have seen poverty reductions of up to 10% and a 5-8% GDP growth during 2004-7 especially spurred by industrial and service sectors. The rupee has been depreciating against the U.S. dollar due to what experts say is political and economic stability in the country. The country is also dependent on agriculture and the 2010 floods affected the agricultural sector heavily. The country is vulnerable to shifts in the world demand due to the country’s failure to expand a viable export base for its products.
The real GDP growth is 2.7 (2009 est.) while the per capita GDP is $2,600. The country’s natural resources include land, natural gas, oil, coal, iron ore, limestone and copper. The country produces agricultural products like rice, sugarcane, eggs, fruits, beef, mutton, sugarcane and vegetables. Industrial products include pharmaceutical products, shrimp, paper products, fertilizer and textiles and apparels (Pakistan Country Profile; 2010).
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The economy of Pakistan has been dynamic but it is mostly dominated by the public. Due to the country’s membership to The World Trade Organization (WTO), which advocates for free markets, the government involvement in the running of markets has been very limited. Therefore, Pakistani institutions are the ones playing a major role in driving the economy. However, the economic growth has been very slow. This can be attributed in part to the 1998 economic sanctions it had to endure, the never ending political instability, its fractious relationship to its neighbor India and it has also suffered from terrorism activities (Paris, p.14-16).
Natural Resources and Business Policy
Pakistan is situated in a region of bulk natural energy resources and is well endowed with natural resources. Despite a presence of vast natural resources, the country has not fully exploited it resource. Recent years have seen the economy grow with renewed vigor with a growth rate of 6.4% in 2006 while GDP grew at 6.6 during 2001-2006. The pro-Musharraf government undertook structural and fiscal reform that appeared promising and in turn attracted the World Bank, IMF, Asian development bank and other reputable financial institutions that endorsed the reforms (Pakistan Country Profile; 2010).
Marwat, 2011, reports that Pakistan is endowed with an expansive natural gas supplies, mineral ores like iron, copper, limestone and salt resources. Its main agrarian products are wheat, cotton and the widely acclaimed rice. It’s among the countries with the largest deposits of coal, copper, salt and gold. The two regions with the most of these resources are Reko Diq and Thar (Marwat, 2011).
Pakistan’s Foreign Policy
Pakistani’s foreign policy has especially been shaped by the September 11in 2001 attacks in the U.S. The country has been a major participant in global efforts to curb terrorism because of its strategic importance especially to the U.S. which culminated the country into combating terrorism and ensuring a peaceful and stable post Taliban country. However, Pakistan has not always been relevant to global politics and its strategic importance has been varying over time thus varying its foreign policy options available to the policy makers. Recently however, Pakistan has recognized that it is not advisable to stay in isolation especially with the present interdependent and complex global politics. The country has adopted policy of collaborating with other countries in order to cope with global issues like environment, population, energy, human migrations, drugs, poverty and terrorism (Pildat).
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Pakistan pursues a pro-active policy that does not have the ambition and capacity to assume the role of a regional power. But this policy has facilitated mobilization of international support and resources for its domestic socio-economic development helping it regulate the inputs from external to internal environment. This has strengthened security and territorial integrity which are the major concerns of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Recent major focus of Pakistan’s foreign policy has been about security against territorial integrity and national independence. The country highlights sovereign equality of states, mutuality of interest and non-interference in other countries domestic affairs as its fundamental foreign policy features. The country believes that it has to work within norms of international bodies and supports their restructuring to bring them in line with international system. The country thus maintains active part in UN charter and other international and regional organizations (Pildat).
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The country’s foreign policy objective has been protection from extern al threats and the preservation of its territorial integrity. It has had a contentious relation with India that has dominated and even shaped its foreign relations due to tensions over the Kashmir area that led to the 1948, 65, 71 and 1975 wars with India. Various recent talks have eased tensions although not on mutual suspicions. Pakistan’s consistent ally over the years has been China especially due to the fact that they share antipathies with such countries like Russia and India. Relations with Middle East countries have been warm apart from Iran because of the country’s relations with Shia Muslims. Relations with the U.S. improved ostensibly because of the September 11 attacks (Country profile: Pakistan; 2005).
Many of Pakistan citizens live in Western countries like the U.S. and the UK. About a million of them are in the UK and another million in the U.S. The government has been trying to tap this group by convincing them to channel some of their earnings back to Pakistan (Foreign & Commonwealth Office). These are some of the steps that it has taken to improve the economy, which is on the mend after the 2008 economic crisis. Since the country is systematically freeing up markets, it’s widely expected that institutions will take a leading role in running the economy. However, if the country cannot resolve its political situation, many citizens of Pakistan will not realize the benefit of this independence.
Human Rights Abuses
There has been a worldwide concern over human rights abuses in Pakistan especially of the religious minorities. People have faced death penalty on blasphemy charges. Other human rights abuses concerns forced marriages, child labor, honor killings and treatment of women. International countries such as the UK have continued to urge the government to guarantee rights to all Pakistanis especially to those who are more vulnerable; children, women and minorities (Foreign & Commonwealth Office).
Pakistan is sovereign Islamic state in south Asia born out of the Indian sub-continent in 1947. The country has suffered greatly from the consequences of September 11 attacks both politically and concerning its security. But the attacks also resulted to the country receiving large direct foreign investments because of its strategic location and its general economic appeal. The country has been dominated by military rule and there have been border tensions with India over the Kashmir province. The country is impoverished and underdeveloped the situation especially stemming from decades of internal political disputes resulting to low direct foreign investments. The government needs to invest more in education, healthcare and reduce dependence on foreign donors to fully realize its potential.