Pakistan Geography - History

Pakistan Geography - History

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Pakistan is located in Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east and Iran and Afghanistan on the west and China in the north. The terrain of Pakistan is a flat Indus plain in east; mountains in north and northwest; Balochistan plateau in west Climate: Pakistan is mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest; arctic in north

Geography of Pakistan

The Geography of Pakistan (Urdu: جغرافیۂ پاکِستان ‎) is a profound blend of landscapes varying from plains to deserts, forests, and plateaus ranging from the coastal areas of the Arabian Sea in the south to the mountains of the Karakoram, Hindukush, Himalayas ranges in the north. Pakistan geologically overlaps both with the Indian and the Eurasian tectonic plates where its Sindh and Punjab provinces lie on the north-western corner of the Indian plate while Balochistan and most of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lie within the Eurasian plate which mainly comprises the Iranian Plateau. Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir lie along the edge of the Indian plate and are prone to violent earthquakes where the two tectonic plates collide.

Pakistan is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the northwest and Iran to the west while China borders the country in the northeast. The nation is geopolitically placed within some of the most controversial regional boundaries which share disputes and have many-a-times escalated military tensions between the nations, e.g., that of Kashmir with India and the Durand Line with Afghanistan. Its western borders include the Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass that have served as traditional migration routes between Central Eurasia and South Asia.

At 881,913 square kilometres (340,509 sq mi), Pakistan is the 33rd largest country by area, little more than twice the size of the US state of California, and slightly larger than the Canadian province of Alberta.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing

Overall, approximately one-fourth of Pakistan is arable land, although only small fractions of that are in permanent crops (about 1 percent) or permanent pastures (6 percent). Roughly 5 percent of the country is forested. Nonetheless, agriculture, forestry, and fishing still provide employment for the single largest proportion of the labour force and a livelihood for an even larger segment of the population. Land-reform programs implemented in 1959, 1972, and 1977 began to deal with the problems of large-scale, often absentee ownership of land and the excessive fragmentation of small holdings by introducing maximum and minimum area limits. The commercialization of agriculture has also resulted in fairly large-scale transfers of land, concentrating its ownership among middle-class farmers.

The attention given to the agricultural sector in development plans has brought about some radical changes in centuries-old farming techniques. The construction of tube wells for irrigation and salinity control, the use of chemical fertilizers and scientifically selected seeds, and the gradual introduction of farm machinery have all contributed to the notable increase in productivity. As a consequence, Pakistan experienced what became known as the Green Revolution during the late 1960s, leaving a surplus that was partly shipped to East Pakistan (Bangladesh) and partly exported self-sufficiency in wheat—the national staple—was achieved by about 1970. Cotton production also rose, which added to the domestic production of textiles and edible cottonseed oils. Rice is the second major food staple and one of the country’s important export crops. Large domestic sugar subsidies have been primarily responsible for an increase in sugarcane production. Other crops include chickpeas, pearl millet (bajra), corn (maize), rapeseed, and mustard, as well as a variety of garden crops, including onions, peppers, and potatoes. Pakistan benefits greatly from having two growing seasons, rabi (spring harvest) and kharif (fall harvest).

The cultivation and transportation of illicit narcotics remains a large sector of the informal economy. Pakistan is one of the world’s leading producers of opium poppy (for the production of heroin) and also produces or transports cannabis (as hashish) from Afghanistan for local markets and for reexport abroad.

Animal husbandry provides important domestic and export products. Livestock includes cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, and poultry. These animals provide meat and dairy products for local consumption, as well as wool for the carpet industry and for export and hides and skins for the leather industry. The contribution of forestry to national income remains negligible, but that of fisheries has risen. Fishing activity is centred in Karachi, and part of the catch of lobster and other shellfish is exported.

River water is used in large parts of the country to irrigate agricultural areas. The Balochistan plateau has a remarkable indigenous method of irrigation called the qanāt (or kārīz) system, which consists of underground channels and galleries that collect subsoil water at the foot of hills and carry it to fields and villages. The water is drawn from the channels through shafts that are sunk into the fields at suitable intervals. Because the channels are underground, the loss of water by evaporation is minimized.

Economics and Land Use in Pakistan

Pakistan is considered a developing nation and has a highly underdeveloped economy. This is largely because of its decades of political instability and a lack of foreign investment. Textiles are Pakistan's main export, but it also has industries that include food processing, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, paper products, fertilizer, and shrimp. Agriculture in Pakistan includes cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, milk, beef, mutton, and eggs. Resources include natural gas reserves and limited petroleum.


The resources of this world are abundant. There is enough for each one of us. So much so that if each one of us earns as much as Bill Gates does, the resources won't deplete.

It is so unfortunate that most of us are raised with a scarcity mindset. There is less. The resources are limited. As a result, we start to fight and take the other person as a threat. There is not enough so I must fight. I must make it a competition since it's possible that the other person can get what should inherently be mine. My resources, my position, my job, my status. Everyone is out there to snatch it. So I must protect them by waging a war on everyone else.

So we fight. We start pulling each other's legs. We indulge in nasty and derogatory stuff.

As we do so, we miss out big time on the therapeutic effect of cooperation, of enjoying the miracles of collaboration, of celebrating the joy of mutual success. When you see everyone else as a threat you try going solo and someone said solo is not sustainable.

There is plenty for each of us. When we share the resources, they multiply, not deplete. No one has come to snatch your role, position, or job. So, build together, help each other grow and become better versions of themselves, construct more and construct together because this world has seen enough destruction.


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Punjab, province of eastern Pakistan. It is bordered by the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to the northeast, the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east, Sindh province to the south, Balochistān and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces to the west, and Islamabad federal capital area and Azad Kashmir to the north. The provincial capital, Lahore, is located in the east-central region, near the border with India. The name Punjab means “five waters,” or “five rivers,” and signifies the land drained by the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers, which are tributaries of the Indus River. Punjab is Pakistan’s second largest province, after Balochistān, and the most densely populated. Area 79,284 square miles (205,345 square km). Pop. (2011 est.) 91,379,615.

Urban civilization existed in the Indus River valley from about 2500 to 1500 bce , when, it is believed, Aryan incursions brought it to an end. The area entered recorded history with the annexation of Punjab and Sindh to the Persian empire by Darius I (c. 518 bce ). The founder of the Maurya dynasty, Chandragupta, incorporated the region into his Indian empire about 322 bce . The first Muslims to penetrate northern India were the Arabs, who in 712 ce conquered the lower Punjab. The rest of the Punjab was conquered (1007–27) by Maḥmūd of Ghazna. The area subsequently came under various other Muslim rulers until the victorious entry of the Mughals in 1526. Under the Mughals the province enjoyed peace and prosperity for more than 200 years. Their power declined after 1738, however, and in 1747 Lahore fell under weak Afghan rule marked by lawlessness and disorder. The religious sect called the Sikhs rose to power in the latter part of the 18th century. The Punjab came under British occupation in 1849, after the British victory over the Sikhs in the battles of Chilianwala and Gujrat. When the Indian subcontinent received its independence in 1947, Punjab was split between Pakistan and India, with the larger western portion becoming part of Pakistan. The present provincial boundaries were established in 1970.

Punjab’s area mostly consists of an alluvial plain formed by the southward-flowing Indus River and its four major tributaries in Pakistan, the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej rivers. The general slope of the land is from northeast to southwest, but it rises in the areas between rivers. The alluvial plain has a diversity of landforms: its active floodplains are flooded every rainy season and contain changing river channels, while meander floodplains lying adjacent to the active floodplain are marked by relict and abandoned channels. In the northern parts of the province are the Murree and Rawalpindi and the Pabbi hills, part of the Sub-Himalayas, and in the far north is the Potwar Plateau. Although the region is a traditional floodplain, the extraordinary flooding of the Indus River in the summer of 2010 was especially disastrous in Punjab, where millions of people were affected (by some estimates, one-half of all Pakistanis affected were in Punjab). The government’s failure to alert the public of the impending disaster elicited much criticism some felt that officials, having had previous experience handling flooding there, should have been able to provide Punjabis with more forewarning.

Punjab lies on the margin of the monsoon climate. The temperature is generally hot, with marked variations between summer and winter. In the plain the mean June temperature reaches the mid-90s F (mid-30s C), while the mean January temperature is in the mid-50s F (low 10s C). The average annual precipitation is low, except in the sub-Himalayan and northern areas, and decreases markedly from north to south or southwest, from 23 inches (580 mm) at Lahore in east-central Punjab to just 7 inches (180 mm) at Multān in the southwest.

Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, containing more than half the country’s total population as well as several of its major cities: Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multān, and Gujranwala. There is considerable rural-to-urban migration in the province, especially to the larger cities. In religion, the province is almost entirely Muslim, with a small Christian minority. Punjabi is the mother tongue of the great majority of the population. The main written language is Urdu, followed by English. The major ethnic groups are the Jat, Rajput, Arain, Gujar, and Awan. The caste system is gradually becoming blurred as a result of increasing social mobility, intercaste marriages, and changing public opinion.

Agriculture is the chief source of income and employment in Punjab. Much of the province once consisted of desert wastes that were unfavourable for settlement, but its character changed after an extensive network of irrigation canals was built in the early 20th century using the waters of the Indus tributaries. The area of settlement, which had formerly been limited to the north and northeast, was enlarged to include the whole province, and now about three-quarters of the province’s cultivable land is irrigated. Wheat and cotton are the principal crops. Other crops grown include rice, sugarcane, millet, corn (maize), oilseeds, pulses, fruits, and vegetables. Livestock and poultry are raised in large numbers.

Punjab is one of the more industrialized provinces in Pakistan its manufacturing industries produce textiles, machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, metals, bicycles and rickshaws, floor coverings, and processed foods. Pakistan’s main north-south road and railway connect Lahore with Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, to the north and with the ocean port of Karachi to the south. Punjab is connected by road or railway to India, China, and Afghanistan, and its major cities are linked by road. Lahore’s airport provides domestic service. The University of the Punjab and the University of Engineering and Technology are located in Lahore, as are other colleges, museums, libraries, and cultural centres.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Noah Tesch, Associate Editor.

Pakistan Geography - History

Located in the northwestern part of the South Asian subcontinent, Pakistan became a state as a result of the partition of British India on August 14, 1947. Pakistan annexed Azad (Free) Kashmir after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48. Initially, Pakistan also included the northeastern sector of the subcontinent, where Muslims are also in the majority. The East Wing and West Wing of Pakistan were, however, separated by 1,600 kilometers of hostile Indian territory. The country's East Wing, or East Pakistan, became the independent state of Bangladesh in December 1971.

Pakistan occupies a position of great geostrategic importance, bordered by Iran on the west, Afghanistan on the northwest, China on the northeast, India on the east, and the Arabian Sea on the south. The total land area is estimated at 803,940 square kilometers.

The boundary with Iran, some 800 kilometers in length, was first delimited by a British commission in 1893, separating Iran from what was then British Indian Balochistan. In 1957 Pakistan signed a frontier agreement with Iran, and since then the border between the two countries has not been a subject of serious dispute.

Pakistan's boundary with Afghanistan is about 2,250 kilometers long. In the north, it runs along the ridges of the Hindu Kush (meaning Hindu Killer) mountains and the Pamirs, where a narrow strip of Afghan territory called the Wakhan Corridor extends between Pakistan and Tajikistan. The Hindu Kush was traditionally regarded as the last northwestern outpost where Hindus could venture in safety. The boundary line with Afghanistan was drawn in 1893 by Sir Mortimer Durand, then foreign secretary in British India, and was acceded to by the amir of Afghanistan that same year. This boundary, called the Durand Line, was not in doubt when Pakistan became independent in 1947, although its legitimacy was in later years disputed periodically by the Afghan government as well as by Pakhtun tribes straddling the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. On the one hand, Afghanistan claimed that the Durand Line had been imposed by a stronger power upon a weaker one, and it favored the establishment of still another state to be called Pashtunistan or Pakhtunistan. On the other hand, Pakistan, as the legatee of the British in the region, insisted on the legality and permanence of the boundary. The Durand Line remained in effect in 1994.

In the northeastern tip of the country, Pakistan controls about 84,159 square kilometers of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. This area, consisting of Azad Kashmir (11,639 square kilometers) and most of the Northern Areas (72,520 square kilometers), which includes Gilgit and Baltistan, is the most visually stunning of Pakistan. The Northern Areas has five of the world's seventeen highest mountains. It also has such extensive glaciers that it has sometimes been called the "third pole." The boundary line has been a matter of pivotal dispute between Pakistan and India since 1947, and the Siachen Glacier in northern Kashmir has been an important arena for fighting between the two sides since 1984, although far more soldiers have died of exposure to the cold than from any skirmishes in the conflict.

From the eastern end of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a boundary of about 520 kilometers runs generally southeast between China and Pakistan, ending near the Karakoram Pass. This line was determined from 1961 to 1965 in a series of agreements between China and Pakistan. By mutual agreement, a new boundary treaty is to be negotiated between China and Pakistan when the dispute over Kashmir is finally resolved between India and Pakistan.

The Pakistan-India cease-fire line runs from the Karakoram Pass west-southwest to a point about 130 kilometers northeast of Lahore. This line, about 770 kilometers long, was arranged with United Nations (UN) assistance at the end of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48. The cease-fire line came into effect on January 1, 1949, after eighteen months of fighting and was last adjusted and agreed upon by the two countries in the Simla Agreement of July 1972. Since then, it has been generally known as the Line of Control.

The Pakistan-India boundary continues irregularly southward for about 1,280 kilometers, following the line of the 1947 Radcliffe Award, named for Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the head of the British boundary commission on the partition of Punjab and Bengal in 1947. Although this boundary with India is not formally disputed, passions still run high on both sides of the border. Many Indians had expected the original boundary line to run farther to the west, thereby ceding Lahore to India Pakistanis had expected the line to run much farther east, possibly granting them control of Delhi, the imperial capital of the Mughal Empire.

The southern borders are far less contentious than those in the north. The Thar Desert in the province of Sindh is separated in the south from the salt flats of the Rann of Kutch by a boundary that was first delineated in 1923-24. After partition, Pakistan contested the southern boundary of Sindh, and a succession of border incidents resulted. They were less dangerous and less widespread, however, than the conflict that erupted in Kashmir in the Indo-Pakistani War of August 1965. These southern hostilities were ended by British mediation, and both sides accepted the award of the Indo-Pakistan Western Boundary Case Tribunal designated by the UN secretary general. The tribunal made its award on February 19, 1968, delimiting a line of 403 kilometers that was later demarcated by joint survey teams. Of its original claim of some 9,100 square kilometers, Pakistan was awarded only about 780 square kilometers. Beyond the western terminus of the tribunal's award, the final stretch of Pakistan's border with India is about 80 kilometers long, running west and southwest to an inlet of the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan Geography - History

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K2, Chinese Qogir Feng, also called Mount Godwin Austen, called locally Dapsang or Chogori, the world’s second highest peak (28,251 feet [8,611 metres]), second only to Mount Everest. K2 is located in the Karakoram Range and lies partly in a Chinese-administered enclave of the Kashmir region within the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China, and partly in the Gilgit-Baltistan portion of Kashmir under the administration of Pakistan.

The glacier- and snow-covered mountain rises from its base at about 15,000 feet (4,570 metres) on the Godwin Austen Glacier, a tributary of the Baltoro Glacier. The mountain was discovered in 1856 by Col. T.G. Montgomerie of the Survey of India, and it was given the symbol K2 because it was the second peak measured in the Karakoram Range. The name Mount Godwin Austen is for the peak’s first surveyor, Col. H.H. Godwin Austen, a 19th-century English geographer.

The first attempt to reach the summit was made by an Anglo-Swiss expedition in 1902 that ascended to 18,600 feet (5,670 metres) on the peak’s northeastern crest. Other unsuccessful attempts included an Italian expedition in 1909, led by Luigi Amedeo, duke d’Abruzzi, via the southeastern ridge (later called the Abruzzi Ridge) that reached approximately 20,000 feet (6,100 metres). In 1938 an American expedition led by Charles Houston via the Abruzzi Ridge reached about 26,000 feet (7,925 metres) in 1939 another American-led expedition following the same route reached about 27,500 feet (8,380 metres) and in 1953 another expedition led by Houston reached 25,900 feet (7,900 metres) on the Abruzzi Ridge. Finally, in 1954, an Italian expedition consisting of five scientists (including the geologist Ardito Desio as leader), a doctor, a photographer, and 12 others, including a Pakistani, managed to conquer the Abruzzi Ridge despite the severe weather conditions. The summit was reached at 6 pm on July 31, 1954, by Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli. In the course of the ascent, Mario Puchoz, one of the guides, died of pneumonia.

Because K2 is prone to frequent and severe storms that make the already treacherous climbing conditions on its slopes even more challenging—and humans find functioning at such high elevations difficult—it is one of the world’s most difficult mountains to climb. The number of people to have reached the top constitutes only a small fraction compared with how many have successfully climbed Mount Everest. In addition, although there have been fewer deaths on K2 compared with those on Mount Everest, the proportion of those killed to the number of people who have attempted climbing K2 is significantly higher.


Buddhism, and to a lesser extent, Bön, were the main religions in the area. The region has a number of surviving Buddhist archaeological sites, such as the Sacred Rock of Hunza. Nearby are former sites of Buddhist shelters. Hunza valley was central as a trading route from Central Asia to the subcontinent. It also provided shelter to Buddhist missionaries and monks who were visiting the subcontinent, and the region played a major role in the transmission of Buddhism throughout Asia. [3]

The region was Buddhist majority till the 15th century, before the arrival of Islam in this region. Since then, most of the population have converted to Islam. Thus, the presence of Buddhism in this region has now been limited to archeological sites, as the remaining Buddhists of this region moved east to Leh where Buddhism is the majority religion. [ citation needed ] The region has many works of graffiti in the ancient Brahmi script written on rocks, produced by Buddhist monks as a form of worship and culture. [4] With the majority of locals converting to Islam, they had been left largely ignored, destroyed or forgotten, but are now being restored. [5]

Hunza was formerly a princely state bordering Xinjiang (autonomous region of China) to the northeast and Pamir to the northwest, which survived until 1974, when it was finally dissolved by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The state bordered the Gilgit Agency to the south and the former princely state of Nagar to the east. The state capital was the town of Baltit (also known as Karimabad) another old settlement is Ganish Village which means "ancient gold" village. Hunza was an independent principality for more than 900 years until the British gained control of it and the neighboring valley of Nagar between 1889 and 1891 through military conquest. The then Tham (ruler), branch of Katur Dynasty, Safdar Khan of Hunza fled to Kashghar in China and sought what would now be called political asylum. [6]

Mir/Tham Edit

An account wrote by John Biddulph in his book Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh

The ruling family of Hunza is called Ayesha (heavenly). The two states of Hunza and Nagar were formerly one, ruled by a branch of the Shahreis, the ruling family of Gilgit, whose seat of government was Nagar. First [M]uslim came to Hunza-Nagar Valley some 1000 years (At the time of Imam Islām Shāh 30th Imam Ismaili Muslims). After the introduction of Islam to Gilgit, married a daughter of Trakhan of Gilgit, who bore him twin sons, named Moghlot and Girkis. From the former, the present ruling family of Nager is descended. The twins are said to have shown hostility to one another from birth. Thereupon their father, unable to settle the question of succession, divided his state between them, giving Girkis the north/west, and to Moghlot the south/east bank of the river. [7]

2010 landslide Edit

On January 4, 2010, a landslide blocked the river and created Attabad Lake (also called Shishket Lake), resulting in 20 deaths and 8 injuries and effectively blocked about 26 kilometres (16 mi) of the Karakoram Highway. [8] [9] The new lake extends 30 kilometres (19 mi) and rose to a depth of 400 feet (120 m) when it was formed as the Hunza River backed up. [10] The landslide completely covered sections of the Karakoram Highway. [10]

Hunza is one of the most exotic places in Pakistan. [ citation needed ] Several high peaks rise above 7,000 m in the surroundings of Hunza Valley. The valley provides views of several mountains, including:

Rakaposhi 7,788 m (25,551 ft), Ultar Sar 7,388 m (24,239 ft), Bojahagur Duanasir II 7,329 m (24,045 ft), Diran peak (7,266), Spantik (7027m), Ghenta Peak 7,090 m (15,631 ft), Hunza Peak 6,270 m (20,571 ft), Darmyani Peak 6,090 m (19,980 ft), and Bublimating (Ladyfinger Peak) 6,000 m (19,685 ft).

The fairy-tale-like castle of Baltit, above Karimabad, is a Hunza landmark built about 800 years ago. Stilted on massive legs, its wooden bay windows look out over the valley. Originally, it was used the resistance of the Mirs (the title of the former rulers) of Hunza.

Hunza Valley is also host to the ancient watch towers in Ganish, Baltit Fort and Altit Fort. Watch towers are located in heart of Ganish Village. Baltit Fort stands on top of Karimabad whereas Altit Fort lies at the bottom of the valley. Dating back to the 8th century AD, a huge Buddha figure surrounded by small Buddhisatvas is carved on a rock. Pre-historic men and animal figures are carved on rocks along the valley. Some lakes like Attabad Lake, Borith Lake, Shimshal Lakes, Hassanabad Lake are located in Hunza.

Khunjerab Pass is a 4,693-meter-high mountain pass in the Karakoram Mountains. It is in a strategic position on the northern border of Pakistan and on the southwest border of China is also located in Hunza.

Eco-friendly hiking treks like Ondra Poygah Gulmit and Leopard Trek Shiskhat are also known for their views. [ citation needed ]

The valley is popularly believed to be the inspiration for the mythical valley of Shangri-La in James Hilton's 1933 novel, Lost Horizon

On the way, one can witness the 57 km long Batura Glacier, the fifth-longest glacier in the world outside the polar region, surrounded by Shispare, Batura and Kumpirdior peaks. Upon reaching Sost one can continue the journey up to Khunzhrav or turn west to the Chipursan (also Chapursan) Valley. In Yarzerech (also Yarzirich), one can have a look at Kundahill peak (6,000 m), or trek along the Rishepzhurav to the Kundahill. Beyond Yarzerech, one can travel further to Lupghar, Raminj, Reshit, Yishkuk up to Bobo Ghundi (Oston), the shrine of Baba-e-Ghund, a saint from Afghanistan near the border between Pakistan and the Wakhan region of Afghanistan

On 1 July 2018, Pakistan Army pilots, in a daring mission, rescued 3 foreign mountaineers stuck in snow avalanche at above the height of 19,000 feet (5,800 m) on Ultar Sar Peak near Hunza. The perilous weather conditions had made it difficult for the Army helicopter to go forth with a rescue operation on the 7,388 metres (24,239 ft) high Ultar Sar. Nonetheless, they completed it. Bruce Normand and Timothy Miller from the UK were successfully rescued alive while their companion Christian Huber from Austria had succumbed to avalanche. [11] [12] Britain's High Commissioner Thomas Drew in Pakistan termed the mission “remarkable and dangerous”. [13] [14]

The local languages spoken include Burushaski, Wakhi and Shina. The literacy rate of the Hunza valley is more than 95%. [15] The historical area of Hunza and present northern Pakistan has had, over the centuries, mass migrations, conflicts and resettling of tribes and ethnicities, of which the Dardic Shina race is the most prominent in regional history. People of the region have recounted their historical traditions down the generations. The Hunza Valley is also home to some Wakhi, who migrated there from northeastern Afghanistan beginning in the nineteenth century onwards. [16]

The longevity of Hunza people has been noted by some, [17] but others refute this as a longevity myth caused by the lack of birth records. [18] There is no evidence that Hunza life expectancy is significantly above the average of poor, isolated regions of Pakistan. Claims of health and long life were almost always based solely on the statements by the local mir (king). An author who had significant and sustained contact with Burusho people, John Clark, reported that they were overall unhealthy. [19]


As the second largest South Asian country, and one of the major actors in the politics of the Muslim world, Pakistan is a focus of multidisciplinary studies. [3] Various universities in the United States and the United Kingdom have research groups busy in academic and research related activities on Pakistan Studies. One such example is the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, established since 1973. An affiliate of the Association for Asian Studies, the institute regularly holds events such as seminars, public lectures, and conferences on various topics related to the Pakistan Studies. It also offers annual international fellowships for the research on materials relating to the history and culture of Pakistan. [4]

In April 2004, AIPS organized an international workshop on the Salt Range Culture Zone of Pakistan at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. [5] The event provided the international audience with an opportunity to understand the archaeological and architectural heritage of the country.

Another academic initiative is the British Association for Pakistan Studies that was established in 1989. The forum has wider views on the topic than the common historiographical contexts, and encourages research and dialogue that involves both the academics and practitioners. The forum acknowledges that the topic has not received the sort of individual attention that the country and its society deserve, and therefore strives to increase international awareness on the subject. [6]

There are also larger multinational and multicultural organizations that provide pluralist platforms for the discussions and debates on Pakistan Studies within the wider contexts of Asia. The Asia Foundation, for example, has launched specific projects for a diverse understanding of the subject through actions on local governance, civil society, human rights, and healthcare [7] as well as political, economic, judicial, and foreign relations. [8]

Curriculum Edit

Pakistan Studies is one of the few heritage subjects [9] for O-level [10] and IGCSE qualifications governed by Cambridge International Examinations. The syllabus covers Pakistan's history, cultural heritage, national identity, geography, economy, and environment, as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by the country. [11]

In Pakistan, the subject is one of the three compulsory courses (along with the Urdu and English language courses) at the Secondary School and Higher Secondary school levels of education. [12] It is also taught as a degree course at most of the Social Science departments in many universities. There are also university departments dedicated to the education and research in Pakistan Studies. [13]

Many of these departments provide degree programmes for in-depth studies, as well as research facilities for MPhil and PhD scholars. Courses broadly range from the history, politics and linguistics to the country's geography and economics, and from foreign affairs and religion studies to the social relations and literature. [14] The focused attention on the subject at higher education levels means a wider scope for the research, thus making the subject an increasingly interdisciplinary one.

Curriculum issues Edit

The variable political history of Pakistan shows the country being ruled alternately by the civilian and military leaderships. This lack of political succession has had its effects on the way the history was depicted in the curricula of Pakistan Studies until 2006, which increasingly portrayed what Rubina Saigol termed as 'glorification of military'. [15] However, the occasional attempts to alter the historical texts did not escape criticisms from the academics and scholars in Pakistan and abroad. [16] Historian Ayesha Jalal in her 1995 article also raised concerns over the trends of official historiography in Pakistan's history textbooks. [17]

Yvette Rosser, in an article based on her PhD thesis, [18] regards such curriculum as a composite of patriotic discourses. She identifies significant defects, inherent contradictions and inaccurate information within educational syllabus in general and the Pakistan Studies textbooks in particular. [19] In 2003, Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Pakistan published a report that had emerged from a survey of text books of Urdu, English, Social Studies and Civics subjects being taught at the secondary and higher secondary school levels. [20] The survey identified inaccuracies of fact and omissions that appeared to distort the significance of actual events in the country's history. Some of the prominent issues included the lack of understanding towards the civil society, religious diversity, and gender relations. The report recommended for major structural reforms and establishment of a National Education Advisory Board to centralise the curriculum development and carry out regular revisions. [21]

About the international perception of the subject, Burzine Waghmar of the School of Oriental and African Studies argues that Pakistan Studies is increasingly perceived with sonorous sessions on weapons control, civil unrest, bonded labour, gender inequality and the like. [22] These issues are considered among major hurdles to the wider international interest in the subject. Waghmar concludes that Pakistan and India, among other oriental societies, are plagued by visceral nationalism and post-imperial neurosis where state-sanctioned dogmas suppress eclectic historical readings. [22]

According to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute report 'Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus. For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible' [20] A 2005 report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace a non profit organization in Pakistan, found that Pakistan Studies textbooks in Pakistan have been used to articulate the hatred that Pakistani policy-makers have attempted to inculcate towards the Hindus. 'Vituperative animosities legitimise military and autocratic rule, nurturing a siege mentality. Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbour' the report stated. 'The story of Pakistan's past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. From the government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious.' Further the report stated 'Textbooks reflect intentional obfuscation. Today's students, citizens of Pakistan and its future leaders are the victims of these partial truths'. [23] [24] [25] [26]

An editorial in Pakistan's oldest newspaper Dawn commenting on a report in The Guardian on Pakistani Textbooks noted 'By propagating concepts such as jihad, the inferiority of non-Muslims, India's ingrained enmity with Pakistan, etc., the textbook board publications used by all government schools promote a mindset that is bigoted and obscurantist. Since there are more children studying in these schools than in madrassahs the damage done is greater. ' [27] [28]

According to the historian Professor Mubarak Ali, textbook reform in Pakistan began with the introduction of Pakistan Studies and Islamic studies by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1971 into the national curriculum as compulsory subject. Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq under a general drive towards Islamization, started the process of historical revisionism in earnest and exploited this initiative. 'The Pakistani establishment taught their children right from the beginning that this state was built on the basis of religion – that's why they don't have tolerance for other religions and want to wipe-out all of them.' [28] [29]

According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, a physics professor at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the Islamizing of Pakistan's schools began in 1976 when an act of parliament required all government and private schools (except those teaching the British O-levels from Grade 9) to follow a curriculum that includes learning outcomes for the federally approved Grade 5 social studies class such as: 'Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan,' 'Make speeches on Jihad,' 'Collect pictures of policemen, soldiers, and national guards,' and 'India's evil designs against Pakistan.' [30]

Referring to NCERT's extensive review of textbooks in India in 2004, Verghese considered the erosion of plural and democratic values in textbooks in India, and the distortion of history in Pakistan to imply the need for coordination between Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani historians to produce a composite history of the South Asia as a common reader. [31]

However, international scholars also warn that any attempt for educational reforms under international pressure or market demands should not overlook the specific expectations of the people at local levels. [32]

Curriculum reforms Edit

Following the extensive media debate and academic reiteration on the need to update the curriculum at all levels of education, the Government of Pakistan carried out measures in 2006 to improve the national curriculum for Pakistan Studies. [1] [2] These actions were based on the earlier studies and recommendations by the former University Grants Commission in 2001 [33] and then later by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) in 2003. [34]

The new curriculum, for secondary and higher school certificates, was implemented from 2007 to include the political history from pre-independence to the modern times, international relations, evolution of the country's economy and demographics, diversity of regional cultures and languages, and the status of religious groups with specific reference to Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s views that he expressed at his speech of 11 August 1947. [2] [35] It also eliminates prejudice against non-Muslims, efforts have been made to exclude all such material that promotes prejudice against the non-Muslims of pre-independence India. [1] [2]

Subsequently, the need was also realised to standardise the subject framework across the university degrees. As a result, in 2007, the Curriculum Division at the HEC revised the syllabus for the degrees of Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Pakistan Studies. [36] The new higher education course outline goes beyond the literature, politics, history and culture, and addresses the contemporary challenges of urbanisation, foreign policy and environment. [37] The recommendations also imply the needs for training the teachers to improve their communication skills in accordance with the new structures.