Pakistan Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022

Basic information about the territory

Pakistan Basic Information

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

Official State Name:

  • Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • Islami Jumhuriya Pakistan (Urdu)
  • Islamic Republic of Pakistan (English)

System of governance

Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic that gained independence in 1947 as a Muslim state of the Indian subcontinent. Historically, the country has alternated between military and civilian governments. According to the constitution, Pakistan is an Islamic republic with Islam as the state religion. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, as the representative of the executive, leads the ruling political party Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), which is in a coalition together with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and other smaller parties. The armed forces have a strong influence on political events, an important role is traditionally played by the commander of the army, currently General Kamar Džávid Bádžva. The country consists of four provinces and one federal territory: Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Capital Territory of Islamabad. Pakistan also administers two autonomous regions. Check equzhou to learn more about Pakistan political system.

Elections and parties

Elections to the lower house of parliament are held every five years and there are a total of 342 seats. 272 members are directly elected by a simple majority and the remaining 70 seats are reserved for women and non-Muslims, in a ratio of 60:10. Senate elections are held once every three years and half of the total number of 100 senators are elected. With the next general election due in 2023, former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strongest opposition party PTI is seeking an early election. There are roughly 21 political parties active in the country at the federal and provincial levels; the largest are the ruling parties PML-N and PPP and the opposition PTI. The president is elected every 5 years.

Political tendencies

Political alliances change frequently in Pakistan, and demonstrations by opposition groups are common. After the army stopped using its influence to ensure the support of the government coalition, the parliament expressed no confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan in April 2022. The ruling coalition led by his PTI party has been losing popularity since late 2021 due to a sharp rise in inflation, sparking outrage among the opposition, the general public and coalition supporters. The parliamentary majority of Imran Khan’s government was ended by the transition of several smaller coalition parties as well as some members of his own party to the opposition. The sacked prime minister blames this development on a “foreign conspiracy” organized by the United States and declares his intention to force early elections with mass demonstrations.

Estimated view

The government will try to stabilize the unfavorable economic situation and resolve open political issues, such as the functioning of the parliament after the declared but unconfirmed resignation of the majority of PTI MPs, the confusing situation in the most populous province of Punjab, where part of the political representation refuses to recognize the newly established government, or the continued operation of the president, who was inducted by PTI. PTI leader Imran Khan will try to mobilize his followers by presenting the current government as installed at the behest of the US and through demonstrations and blockades to force its resignation and the holding of early elections. The government will strive to limit the ex-prime minister’s still great influence and popularity, probably also by using criminal law; this may lead to further unrest. Economic problems as well as political tensions will put demands on the cohesion of the governing coalition, the core of which is the PML-N and the PPP. which until now have always competed with each other. Although the government anticipates holding elections on time in July 2023, it is not ruled out that they will take place earlier.

Foreign policy of the country

Pakistan is located in the area connecting the Middle East, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, surrounded by economic giants in the form of China and India. Pakistan’s foreign policy has long been oriented towards cooperation with China, Arab partners from the Persian Gulf region and other Muslim countries. Prime Minister Sharif’s generally positive statements to date on relations with India, the US, the United Kingdom or Iran do not indicate substantial changes. Among the main topics of foreign policy are the issue of Kashmir in dispute with India and the security and stability of Afghanistan. Check recipesinthebox for Pakistan defense and foreign policy.

India

Although relations with India are persistently strained, if not hostile, they have recently improved, with the two countries agreeing to a cross-border ceasefire in February 2021. After an accidentally fired Indian missile landed on its territory in March 2022, Pakistan exercised restraint—probably because that the incident did not result in casualties – and did not escalate the situation beyond calling for an investigation. The new Prime Minister Sharif expressed his interest in peaceful relations and cooperation.

China

China is a major economic and strategic partner of Pakistan. The country has received financial and material aid from its “iron brother”, including supplies of Chinese vaccines against Covid-19. The deterioration of relations between China and India is accelerating Sino-Pakistani cooperation, especially with regard to investments in the north of Pakistan, in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, which was part of historical Kashmir. Were it not for the long-term strained relationship with India and the unstable situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s strategic position would be advantageous in terms of logistics and trade. The country is an important part of China’s New Silk Road initiative, which includes the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the second phase of which will come into force in 2022 and include the Pakistan-administered Kashmir region.

Other countries in the region

Pakistan’s friendly countries include Turkey and Saudi Arabia, along with other Persian Gulf countries. In particular, relations with Turkey are stronger than ever, with a joint effort to have more influence in the Islamic world. Turkey is helping Pakistan in international forums and in the face of pressure from the international community to act more effectively in the fight against terrorism. Pakistan will work with the Taliban in Afghanistan to maintain its influence in that country, while trying to prevent instability in the neighboring state from providing a safe haven for its own separatist organizations. Pakistan is also trying to develop good relations with Russia after decades of enmity, despite that country’s invasion of Ukraine. Pakistan seeks to finalize an agreement with Russia on the construction of a gas pipeline called Pakistan Stream, which will transport liquefied natural gas from the port of Karachi to northern Pakistan. Pakistan is seeking to deepen relations with Qatar, on which it is heavily dependent for imports of liquefied natural gas, as well as with Iran, with which it is seeking a free trade agreement.

West

Relations between Pakistan and the US are strained under current US President Joe Biden, but could improve with a new prime minister leading Pakistan who could take a friendlier stance towards the US. The EU is viewed positively mainly due to the fact that Pakistan’s exports, and thus the overall economy, have benefited from the Generalized System of Tariff Preferences (GSP+) since 2014, which means zero duty on two-thirds of all product categories. Part of the GSP+ terms is Pakistan’s commitment to ratify and implement 27 core international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection and good governance. A May 2021 European Parliament resolution hinted at the possibility of revising GSP+ for Pakistan due to non-compliance with human rights conditions; the government has realized that the benefits of GSP+ are not guaranteed forever.

Population

The population is approximately 229 million. A large part of the population is settled along the Indus River and its tributaries, with Punjab being the most densely populated province. The population density corresponds to roughly 244 inhabitants. per 1 km2. The population is steadily increasing; it increases annually by approx. 2%. Between 1990–2003, Pakistan maintained its historic lead as the most urbanized nation in South Asia, with urban dwellers making up 38% of its population. By population size, Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan with 1million people. In the northern half, most of the population lives in an arc formed by the cities of Lahore (1million), Faisalabad (million), Rawalpindi (million), the capital Islamabad (million), Multan (million) and Peshawar ( million).

The number of economically active inhabitants is 7million, i.e. 32.2% of the total population. The population of Pakistan mainly professes Islam of the Sunni direction (80-85%) and Islam of the Shiite direction (10-15%). Christian and Hindu communities also live in Pakistan. Life expectancy at birth is 72 years for women and 68 years for men. Compared to the healthy life expectancy at birth, which was 54 years for men and 52 years for women in 2003, the situation has improved significantly. Health spending was 3.4% of GDP, while 2.5% is used for education. Pakistani society is relatively young, with the fifth largest country by population showing a median age of just 22 years.

Pakistani society is divided into individual classes. The upper group, about 7% of the population, consists of politicians, large-scale landowners, high-ranking businessmen, medical specialists and also, for example, industrialists, as well as military veterans. The majority of people belonging to this group are university-educated, the younger ones studied abroad, very often in Great Britain, USA, Australia or Canada. The middle group is made up of civil servants, other doctors, businessmen, small businessmen and teachers. The lowest group includes residents living in the countryside and in poor areas, most of them cannot read and write, around 60% of the country’s population is illiterate.