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Pakistan History and Current Affairs Essay


Pakistan map. Pakistan flag.

Historical Overview

Most scholars believe that the story of Pakistan commenced in the period between 3000-1500 BC. It was the beginning of the Indus Civilization. People who settled in those places were known as the Harappans.

The Indus Valley Civilization worshiped many gods, and one of them resembled the Hindu Shiva. The prosperity of Civilization began to decline with changes in weather patterns. Earthquakes destroyed the system of the river, and agriculture became impossible in such conditions1.

The Aryans, aggressive, and strong fighters replaced previous settlers. The Aryans invaded Central Asia in approximately 1700 BC. The Aryans society established the beginning of the modern Hinduism. They had the social caste system, and the Vedas were Aryans collections of sacred hymns. The Aryans moved to the Ganges valley, and the vast territory remained unprotected from numerous invasions.

During 400-500 BC, the Persian Emperor, Darius I, invaded the territory of modern Pakistan and founded the province of the Achaemenian Empire. Sindh and Punjab became the flourishing and well-developed province in the Empire.

The rule of the Persian Empire ended when Alexander the Great invaded territories one hundred years later. After the invasion of Alexander the Great, the territories of modern Pakistan underwent drastic changes.

They were under the control of various rulers. The promotion of Buddhism by Mauryan Emperor in 200 BC was distinguishing. Besides, Mauryans ruled all subcontinent, and it was a differentiated feature of the reign.

In 711 AD, the invasion by the Arab General, Mohammed bin Qasim, occurred in Sindh. It was signed as far as it brought the Islamic religion to the region. By that time, Muslims were already considered as the ruling class of the society, and their religion became widespread in the area.

Nevertheless, Muslims became truly superior to people with the arrival of the dynasty of Mughal. The dynasty of Mughal also took control over the whole subcontinent. The rule of the dynasty was indubitable in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The rule of Mughals was successful due to the advanced administrating system and an efficient government. For instance, Akbar, one of the rulers, realized the necessity to build rapport with Hindus as far as their numerousness made it impossible to invade them. The end of the Mughal Empire was a logical consequence of its rapid spread and prosperity. The Mughal Empire became so large that it was almost impossible to govern with maximum efficiency2.

The next significant stage of Pakistan’s history refers to the period of British colonialism. Initially, the British arrived at the subcontinent for profit. They collaborated with representatives of the Mughal dynasty.

However, the profit from the subcontinent countries increased, and the British became more interested in local politics. Finally, at the beginning of the 19th century, they began acting like imperialists, who aimed to seize new territories.

The British rule was established over India and Pakistan. It meant that both Hindus and Muslims had to live as one nation or population. It was unacceptable for both sides. In 1906, the Muslim League was formed to support the interests of the Muslim population. The division occurred in 1947 with the end of the rule of the British Empire. Since 1947, Pakistan started its way as an independent country.

In 1948, the first war with India commenced. It concerned the territory of Kashmir. In 1951, the era of military rule began in Pakistan. It lasted until the death of General Zia in 1988. Then comes the period of tense political relations accompanied by corruption and extremism. The conflict over Kashmir continued at the beginning of the 21st century. The following years were full of political changes and instability including testing of nuclear weapons and terrorist attacks3.

Geography and Demography

Pakistan is located in Southern Asia. It borders the Arabian Sea, India, China, Afghanistan, and Iran. The climate is predominantly hot. In the northwest part of the country, it is temperate and arctic in the north. Pakistan has notable terrain features.

Thus, there are mountain ranges in the northwest and north and a flat plain in the east. The Himalayas are located in the northern part of the country. There is the second largest world’s mountain in Pakistan — K2 or Mt. Godwin-Austin (8611 m).

The total area of Pakistan comprises 803 940 square kilometers. Indus River is the primary source of freshwater in the country. The country’s land is rich in natural gas resources. The geographical location of Pakistan is also the reason for devastating natural hazards such as earthquakes and floods4.

The following demographic data of Pakistan were gathered in 2014. Thus, the population of the country comprises 196 million people. More than thirty-five percent of the residents are 24-54 years old. The population growth rate is 1.49%. The population of major cities is as follows: Islamabad (capital) — 919 thousand, Karachi — 13 million, Lahore — almost 8 million, 3 million people live in Faisalabad.

The dominant ethnic group of the population is Punjabi (nearly 45% of the population). There are other ethnic groups such as Pashtun, Sindhi, Saraiki, and Balochi. The official and dominant religion of the country is Muslim (96.4 %). Hinduism and Christianity are minor religions. Urdu is the official language. English is also official, and it is regarded as the lingua franca of governmental authorities and official representatives. There is also a variety of dialects in every region of Pakistan5.

Political System

The official name of the country is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Pakistan’s form of state is the federal parliamentary democracy. The Government represents the legislative branch of the state. The Government is made up of two houses: the Upper House (Senate) and the Lower House (the National Assembly).

The head of the Government is Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President of the state. Prime Minister is chosen from representatives of the National Assembly. The National Assembly includes three hundred and forty-two seats. Sixty seats are given to female representatives in the Government.

Ten seats are reserved for minorities who profess other religions. The rest of the seats are granted to selected candidates. The Upper House or the Senate includes one hundred seats. Eighty-eight seats belong to representatives from four Provinces. The other twelve seats are for representatives from the capital of the state and tribal people. Women may occupy approximately twenty percent of seats6.

The President of Pakistan is the Head of the State. The Presidents represent the executive branch. Only Muslims may become the Head of the State. The electoral college has the right to elect the president. The current president of Pakistan is Mamnoon Hussain, who has been elected in 2013.

The President can be elected for two consecutive terms, each lasting five years. The Federal Cabinet or the Cabinet of Pakistan also presents the executive branch. The Prime Minister, being the head of the Government, is the primary adviser to the President. PM has a broad range of rights and responsibilities. The President has the right to dissolve the National Assembly and remove PM if necessary. The current PM is Nawaz Sharif.

Leaders

Leadership approaches varied in the country due to the continued instability and conflicts. The first powerful leader of Pakistan was Ayub Khan. He became the president of the state in 1958 — the period of high instability that was caused by the assassination of the founding father of Pakistan — Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Although many people criticized the military regime of Khan, others considered that it was the only way to bring the state into the condition of stability. Ayub Khan made several positive things that improved the life of people and the status of the country in general.

First, he made everything possible to stabilize political relations with both the United States of America and China. Second, Khan introduced new constitution to eliminate the instability and possess control over other political powers. Also, he diminished the role of clerics in the political decision-making processes. The last positive thing about Khan’s leadership concerned his paying attention to the economy and the development of infrastructure7.

The second distinguished leader of Pakistan was Benazir Bhutto. She became the first female Prime Minister in the Islamic country in 1988. Bhutto fought against the military dictatorship and, finally, achieved her goal. The first democratic elections were conducted due to persistence. She was the founder of the People’s Party of Pakistan.

The PPP is still one of the major political forces in the government. Bhutto improved the system of education and changed the status and rights of women in the country. In 1996, she had to leave the country as far as the military-based government took control over the state. Eleven years later, Bhutto returned to participate in the general elections, but she was assassinated8.

Asif Ali Zardari was the president of Pakistan in 2008-2013. His personality is extremely controversial. Zardari is known as a corrupt individual. At the same time, his reforms changed the state for the better. Thus, Zardari decentralized executive power. His civilian government existed all five years and did not end with dismissal or coup. Also, Zardari reestablished the freedom of the press.

Economy

Pakistan’s index of economic freedom is 55.6. The country is 121st, among others, from this perspective. The index increases slowly annually. It exemplifies the fact that the country makes some positive changes. The general condition of the economy of Pakistan is regarded as not efficient according to the world’s average rates. GDP per capita was almost $900 in 2014. GDP per capita PPP was $4600. GDP annual growth rate comprised 4.149.

The level of unemployment is more than 5%. Despite this fact, a substantial part of the population lives in poverty. The most common way of survival is agriculture. Starting a business can become rather a challenge for residents of the states. It usually takes three weeks to conduct all necessary procedures.

However, the execution of license may last for more than two hundred days. The financial system of the country is largely controlled by the government10. It impedes the successful development of the economy and well-being of the population.

Economic Structure and Resources

Agriculture is the central sector of Pakistan’s economy. The country belongs to the biggest suppliers of agricultural products, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This sector contributes more than twenty percent of the total GDP.

Also, it is the primary job market for almost half of the population. Livestock is another significant constituent of the economy. It comprises more than ten percent of GDP. The fishery is the third substantial component that provides more than four hundred thousand people with job opportunities. The industrial sector of Pakistan forms almost twenty-five percent of GDP11.

The natural resources of Pakistan are also significant for its economic structure. The land is a vital natural resource. It is used for agriculture. It is estimated that the gas reserves of the country will remain for the following twenty years.

Besides, some reserves have not been utilized at all. Not long ago, low-quality coal beds have been found in Pakistan too. There are approximately one hundred seventy billion tons of coal reserves that should last for the following two hundred years if the consumption remains the same12.

Current issues

Although Pakistan gained its independence more than sixty years ago, it did not achieve a significant level of development and progress. Nowadays, the country survives mostly on contributions from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and other countries.

The largest part of the population lives in rural areas without any basic facilities for a comfortable and healthy life. Nowadays, the country faces a variety of problems that hinder its development and prosperity of residents.

Poverty is one of the most significant issues in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan conducted research aimed at the evaluation of the well-being of the population. According to results, the level of poverty increased by 30-40% over the past decade.

Almost half of the population lives below the poverty line. It means that these people do not have access to proper education or medicine. They have nothing to eat or wear. This problem leads to other subsequent concerns.

When people need to think of the satisfaction of their basic survival needs, they neglect other aspects of civilized life. This situation results in the increasing illiteracy rate. Fifty percent of the Pakistan population is illiterate. It is necessary to mention that “literacy” means the ability to read and write. These skills are not enough for efficient development in the modern world. Thus, Pakistani people know almost nothing about modern technologies13.

Terrorism is also a significant concern in Pakistan. It should be noted that Pakistan is reputed for terrorism. A majority of countries consider Pakistan as a source of terror. Acts of terror are often conducted in Pakistan too. After the events of 9/11, Pakistan began to fight with jihadi groups.

Besides, the US military forces Pakistan pursued members of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. Terrorism is a grave threat to the development of Pakistan. The world cannot accept the country with high level of terrorism as equal. Besides, terrorist attacks damage the economy drastically.

Health issues are becoming more and more urgent for the population of Pakistan. People live in poverty, and it affects their condition of health. The country faces the problem of increasing rates of diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases.

According to the World Health Organization, there are outnumbered cases of such illnesses as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, diseases of the skin. They are caused by the poor quality of food and living conditions. The situation aggravates as far as people do not have money to pay for appropriate treatment14.

Corruption is another problem in Pakistan. Efficient governance is impossible when corruption becomes an integral part of activities at all levels of society. In 2013, Transparency International conducted a survey of levels of corruption throughout the world.

Pakistan was 127th of 177 countries15. Corruption is still the major problem of the country. Most deals are executed with the help of bribery. This way of decision-making process hinders the overall progress of the country and makes it impossible for the country to achieve prosperity.

The energy crisis is another worrying issue in Pakistan. The country experiences a lack of electricity. The available supply level cannot meet the pressing demand. Besides, the country has severe gas shortages. The country imports gas from Qatar. It is a long-lasting process that is extremely expensive. It is necessary to note that the government of Pakistan does not utilize the available coal reserves.

Malik writes that Pakistan has the second-largest reserves of coal and the USA — largest reserves in the world16. The United States of America uses coal as the source of energy through it pollutes the environment. In Pakistan, there are no such issues, but authorities fail to use available coal and prefer buying gas from Qatar.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Pakistan’s primary strength relates to its location and size. Thus, its location is advantageous in Asia. Besides, a large size of the country provides possibilities for the development of the domestic market. Pakistan also benefits from foreign aid. It receives donations from IMF, World Bank, and the USA. It means that it has the potential for the development of international relations.

Weaknesses outnumber the strong sides of Pakistan. First, almost all workers are unskilled. People do not have the necessary knowledge to become a modernized society and enter the IT infrastructure. Most residents work in the agricultural sector. The second problem is the cause of the first one. Pakistan lacks an efficient system of education.

Also, the English language is not taught at all. Pakistan is an Islamic state. It is necessary to shift priorities and emphasize the significance of education. Numerous coups have also undermined the development of the country17.

Foreign and Domestic Policy

Many elements of the domestic policy have been already discussed in previous parts of the paper. They refer mostly to the economic development of the state. The domestic policy of Pakistan is not efficient. Pakistan’s government does not modify the economy. The agricultural sector is not enough for the development of the country on the global level. Pakistan’s domestic policy impedes development and globalization.

The foreign policy of Pakistan had undergone several changes over sixty years of independence. Pakistan was involved in tense international relations with the USSR, India, and Afghanistan since 1947. Pakistan commenced the formation of foreign relations with the US during the period of the Cold War.

Thus, Pakistan became the ally of the US when the Soviet Union’s military forces invaded Afghanistan. Besides, Pakistan had significant political relations with other neighboring countries — China and Iran. The foreign policy towards India has always been hostile.

The international relations with the US are of particular importance for Pakistan. Since 9/11, Pakistan joined the US in its ‘War on Terror”. These relations were often concerned as extremely controversial. Nevertheless, the fact was that Pakistan aimed at finding and eliminating extremist terrorist groups within the country.

Pakistan assisted the US in Afghanistan, but the consequences were adverse. The US military forces intended to kill all terrorists. However, many civilians suffered or were slaughtered too. Thus, American Drone attacks killed almost three thousand Pakistani people18.

Future

Future prospects for Pakistan are not very positive. The improper governance, lack of an efficient system of health care and education, old and agriculture-based economy cannot provide the country with developing opportunities. Many scholars agree that the current state of Pakistan’s development is noticeably disadvantageous. No meaningful changes are expected to occur in the following five or seven years19.

There is the dilemma of governance in Pakistan that will exist for a long time. Military representatives rule the country, but they are not the best governors. At the same time, they will not let anyone else take control of Pakistan.

This controversy puts Pakistan in a kind of deadlock. Experts agree that Pakistan should collaborate with India. These two countries can create a powerful alliance that will protect their interests in the global arena of politics. The future of Pakistan is not clear at the current stage of its development. The country needs comprehensive reforms in all spheres to begin the way towards prosperity.

Works Cited

Akbar, Malik. “The Future of Pakistan.” . Web.

“Benazir Bhutto.” 100leaders.org. Web.

Bhattacharya, Sanchita. “.” Academia.edu. Web.

.” CSS Forum. Web.

.” Geography.about.com. Web.

Malik, Farid. “.” Pakistan Today. Web.

Mashru, Ram. “.” The Diplomat. Web.

.” Pakistan Insider. Web.

.” Heritage.org. Web.

.” Indexundi.com. Web.

.” Lonelyplanet.com. Web.

.” Tradingeconomics.com. Web.

.” BBC.com. Web.

“Pakistan’s Strengths & Weaknesses.” American.edu. Web.

Pillalamarri, Akhilesh. “.” The National Interest. Web.

.” CSS Forum. Web.

.” Hubpages.com. Web.

Wynbrandt, James. A Brief History of. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009.

Footnotes

1 as James Wynbrandt, A Brief History of Pakistan (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009), 15-18.

2 “Pakistan. History,” Lonelyplanet.com. Web.

3 “Pakistan Profile,” BBC.com. Web.

4 “Geography and Map of Pakistan,” Geography.about.com. Web.

5 “Pakistan Demographic Profile 2014,” Indexundi.com, Web.

6, “The Political System of Pakistan,” Hubpages.com, Web.

7 Akhilesh Pillalamarri, “Pakistan’s 3 Greatest Leaders of All Time,” The National Interest. Web.

8 “Benazir Bhutto,” 100leaders.org. Web.

9 “Pakistan GDP Growth Rate,” Tradingeconomics.com. Web.

10 “Pakistan,” Heritage.org. Web.

11 “Economy of Pakistan: an Overview,” CSS Forum. Web.

12 “Natural Resources of Pakistan,” Pakistan Insider. Web.

13 “Ten Major Problems Facing by Pakistan Today,” CSS Forum. Web.

14 Ibid.

15 Ram Mashru, “Pakistan: as corrupt as ever,” The Diplomat. Web.

16 Farid Malik, “Energy Crisis of Pakistan,” Pakistan Today. Web.

17 “Pakistan’s Strengths & Weaknesses,” American.edu. Web.

18 Sanchita Bhattacharya, “How doe Pakistan’s domestic strife influence its foreign policy, and vice versa,” Academia.edu. Web.

19 Malik Akbar, “The Future of Pakistan,” The Express Tribune. Web.

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