About 40% of the territory consists of the plain drained by the Indus and its tributaries; this plain is closed by mountains both to the north and to the west, and by a plateau to the south-west, the Balūčistān. The northern mountain barrier is part of the complex system of the Himalayan range; the relevance of this extensive mountainous region – 222,236 km 2 overall – referred to as Jammu and Kaśmir still remains undecided: here the border between Pakistan and India provisionally stands at the 1949 ceasefire line. The line, 660 km long, leaves to Pakistan a third of the country (Āzād Kaśmir, Gilgit, Baltistān) with about a quarter of the population.
The high plain, due to the convergence of the Indus with its five main tributaries (Jhelum, Kenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej), is indicated precisely as Panjab, ie five waters. South of Mithankot, ie downstream of the confluence with the last great tributary, the Indus assumes gigantic proportions and flows through an alluvial plain made up of more recent soils, the so-called Sind. The contribution of alluvial soils is very abundant and in some places the river runs hanging over the plain, protected by embankments.
An estimate for 1991 would indicate a total of 115,520,000 residents. The capital Islāmābād at the 1981 census had just over 200,000 residents. The annual population growth coefficient (34ı) remains one of the highest in the world, with a birth rate of 43.3ı (1990). Life expectancy is 59 years. In January 1990, about 3.8 million Afghan refugees were present in Pakistan, mainly concentrated in the province of the North-West Frontier, but it is estimated that 1.5 million returned to their homeland in 1992.
The gross national product per resident is very low (400 US dollars in 1991), but still higher than that of India (330 US dollars). Furthermore, the country is heavily indebted to foreign countries: according to the sources of the World Bank in 1991 the total indebtedness was close to 23,000 million US dollars. 65% of the population is still illiterate (the percentage rises to 79% among the female population). The urban population was 32% of the total in 1991, with an index somewhat higher than that of India. As in all developing countries, urbanism and industry are not interconnected: the rural proletariat flows en masse to the cities even without hope of finding work.
On the occasion of the 1981 census, three cities turned out to be ” millionaires ” and about twenty registered more than 100,000 residents. The authentic metropolis of the country is Karāchī (5.2 million residents in 1981), a large port and first industrial, financial and commercial center. The city has had a surprising development; it is estimated that nearly half of the residents are Muslims and descendants of Muslim refugees from India as a result of the partition. In second place after Karāchī is Lahore, the capital of Panjab, located on the left of the river Ravi; in the third place Fayṣalabād, also in the Panjab.
The rural settlement in Pakistan is mostly represented by compact villages, whose structure and generally considerable size are attributable to safety reasons and also to the scarcity of water.
Economic conditions. – Pakistan is an arid and semi-arid country, where the possibilities of life essentially depend on irrigation. Fortunately, the great plain is crossed in all its length by the Indus river, which – together with the tributaries – feeds a precious and widespread irrigation system.
In accordance with the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, ratified with the collaboration of international experts, Pakistan and India have agreed to use the Panjab rivers: the water of the Indus and the two western tributaries, Jhelum and Kenab, it is up to Pakistan, while the entire outflow of the three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) can be used from India. In practice, irrigation water is obtained either through channels or wells or, to a much lesser extent, through tanks. Of course, by far the largest part of the irrigated water comes from the canals. The most important ones derive water directly from the Indus, which – like all rivers in the region – has a very irregular regime, alternating months of lean, in winter, with months in which the combined action of monsoon rains and melting of snow causes floods and floods. The Indus has five dams (Jinnah, Taunsa, Gudu, Sukkur, Ghulam) from which five main channels derive, each in turn divided into numerous and progressive ramifications designed to bring water to the fields. For Pakistan economics and business, please check businesscarriers.com.
Agriculture occupies half of the active population and contributes 26% to the formation of GNP. The climatic conditions considerably affect the production of the main resources, such as wheat, rice, sugar cane and cotton, alternating years in which there is the need to resort to imports with years of abundant harvests. In recent years, Pakistan has achieved self-sufficiency in the production of wheat (145 million q in 1991), rice (49 million q) and sugar (20.8 million q of sugar in 1991, in addition to 11.5 million q of non-centrifuged sugar). Among the commercial crops, the first place belongs to cotton, grown mainly in the Indus plain: the production of fiber is huge (over 21 million q in 1991), equal to about 8% of world production.
Another important item of the Pakistani primary sector is that of livestock, very large in terms of number of heads (17.8 million cattle in 1991, 30.2 million sheep and 36.7 million goats), but with a still modest yield. due to the lack of valid methods of management. Fishing is moderately developed, especially in the maritime and delta region (446,400 t of fish in 1991).
The mineral resources (uranium, chromite, gypsum, limestone, manganese) have not yet been adequately exploited. The oil production of the Meyal, Tut, Balkassar, Joya Mair and Dhullian fields reached 3.4 million t in 1991, while the natural gas fields, connected with gas pipelines in Karāchī, Fayṣalabād and Islāmābād, had in the 1991, a production of 14 billion m 3. The manufacturing sector, dominated by the industry for the transformation of agricultural products, the cotton spinning and weaving sector and the production of consumer goods, employs 3,914,000 people and contributes 20% to the formation of GNP. In particular, the cotton industry not only covers local needs, but also allows for a considerable export: raw cotton, yarns and fabrics represent the most important items of export. Moreover, even the internal consumption is far from negligible, because it is estimated that each resident needs on average about 12 m of cotton wool per year.