October 15, 2018 / 21:23


Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent sovereign state in August 1947, as a result of the division of the British Indian Empire. With a land area of 796,095 sq. km.

28 March 2011 December 09:38
Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent sovereign state in August 1947, as a result of the division of the British Indian Empire. With a land area of 796,095 sq. km. [including FATA (Federal Administered Tribal Areas) and FANA (Federal Administered Northern Areas)], its population stands at nearly 172.80 million, according to the 2008 Census. Historically, this is one of the most ancient lands known to man. Its cities flourished before Babylon was built; its people practiced the art of good living and citizenship before the celebrated ancient Greeks.

The region traces its history back to at least 2,500 years before Christ, when a highly developed civilization flourished in the Indus Valley. Excavations at Harappa, Mohenjodaro and Kot Diji have brought to light evidence of an advanced civilization flourishing here even in most ancient times. Around 1,500 B.C. the Aryans conquered this region and slowly pushed the Hindu inhabitants further east, towards the Ganges Valley. Later, the Persians occupied the northern regions in 5th century B.C. The Greeks came in 327 B.C., under Alexander of Macedonia, and ran through the region like a meteor. In 712 A.D. the Arabs, led by Mohammed Bin Qasim, landed somewhere near what is now Karachi, and ruled the lower half of Pakistan for two hundred years. During this time Islam took root and influenced the life, culture and traditions of the inhabitants of the region.

From 10th century A.D. onwards, a systematic conquest of Indo-Pakistan by the Muslims from Central Asia began and lasted up to 18th century A.D., when the British colonized the Sub-continent and ruled for nearly 200 years (for 100 years over what is now Pakistan). The Muslim revival began towards the end of the last century when Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a renowned leader and educationist, launched a movement for intellectual renaissance of the Indian Muslims. In 1930, the well-known poet/philosopher, Dr. Mohammed Iqbal conceived the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of the Sub-continent, and in 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted the famous Pakistan Resolution.

After seven years of untiring struggle, under the brilliant leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan emerged on the world map as a sovereign state on August 14, 1947, when the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two independent states - India and Pakistan.


Pakistan has a total area of 803,940 square kilometers, slightly greater than France and the United Kingdom put together.

Pakistan is located in South Asia. To the south is the Arabian Sea, with 1,046 km of Pakistani coastline. To Pakistan's east is India, which has a 2,912 km border with Pakistan. To its west is Iran, which has a 909 km border with Pakistan. To Pakistan's northwest lies Afghanistan, with a shared border of 2,430 km. China is towards the northeast and has a 523 km border with Pakistan.

The main waterway of Pakistan is the Indus River that begins in China, and runs nearly the entire length of Pakistan, flowing through all of Pakistan's provinces except Balochistan. is fed by the combined waters of three of the five rivers of Punjab the Chenab, Jhelum, and Ravi. The waters of the other two rivers, the Beas and the Sutlej, are largely withdrawn for irrigation in India. Along the Indus and its tributaries are found most of Pakistan's population, its chief agricultural areas, and its major hydroelectric power stations, interconnected by the world's largest system of agricultural canals, join the Indus before it discharges into the Arabian Sea.

The northern and western areas of Pakistan are mountainous. Pakistani administered areas of Kashmir contain some of the highest mountains in the world, including the second tallest, K-2. Northern Pakistan tends to receive more rainfall than the southern parts of the country, and has some areas of preserved moist temperate forest. In the southeast, Pakistan's border with India passes through a flat desert, called the Cholistan or Thal Desert. West-central Balochistan has a high desert plateau, bordered by low mountain ranges. Most of the Punjab, and parts of Sindh, are fertile plains where agriculture is of great importance.

Major Vegetative Zone :
• Permanent snow fields & glaciers
• Dry alpine & cold desert zone
• Alpine scrub & moist alpine
• Himalayan dry coniferous with ilex oak
• Himalayan moist temperate forest
• Sub-tropical pine forest
• Sub-tropical dry mixed deciduous scrub forest
• Balochistan Juniper & pistachio scrub forest
• Dry sub-tropical and temperate semi-evergreen scrub forest
• Tropical thorn forest & sand dune desert
• Mangrove and littoral
• Sand dune desert

Agro Ecological zones include:
• Indus Delta
• Southern irrigated plain
• Sandy deserts
• Northern irrigated plains
• Rain-fed lands
• Wet mountains
• Northern dry mountains
• Western dry mountains
• Dry western plateau
• Sulaiman piedmont

Languages of Pakistan

Official language(s) English, Urdu
Main language(s) Punjabi (44.15%), Pashto (15.42%), Sindhi (14.1%), Saraiki (10.53%), Urdu (7.57%), Balochi (3.57%)
Regional language(s) Kashmiri; Saraiki; Potwari;
Minority language(s) Burushaski; Kalash; Khowar; Shina; Balti; Brahui; Hindko.
Sign language(s) Indo-Pakistani Sign Language

Urdu and English are both recognised as the official languages of Pakistan. English is used by the government, corporate businesses, and the educated urban elite. Most universities use English as the medium of instruction for degree courses. Urdu is the lingua franca of the people, being widely spoken as a second language, although it is the mother tongue of only 7.57% of the population, mainly Muhajirs (Muslim refugees from India after 1947), while an unknown percentage of Punjabis of urban areas appear to be switching to the usage of Urdu as well.

Additionally, nearly all Pakistanis speak mutually-intelligible regional Indo-Iranian languages of the Indo-European family. The most widely spoken is Punjabi, followed by Pashto, Sindhhi, and Balochi. Other Indo-European languages spoken in Pakistan include Siraiki, Dari, Hindko, Pothohari, Gujarati, Shina, Wakhi, Kashmiri, Marwari, Khowar, Memoni, and many others. In addition, small groups of non-Indo-European languages are also spoken, including Brahui, a Dravidian language, and Burushaski, a language isolate.

These and almost all of the other languages spoken in Pakistan belong to the Indo-Iranic language group. Some have a speaking population of hundreds of thousands, while others have only a few thousand or a few hundred speakers. These languages have been in contact with each other for many centuries, with a lot of borrowing, so the distinction between language and dialect is not sharply drawn, resulting in a complex language situation.

Urdu was chosen as a national language of Pakistan to act as a lingua franca amongst the various ethnic/cultural groups and has historical significance as the language developed during the Islamic conquests in the subcontinent during the Mughal Empire. It was chosen as the neutral language to unite various groups of Pakistan although only 8% of people in Pakistan speak Urdu as a first language. However, Urdu is, increasingly, being adopted and spoken as a first language by a new generation of urbanized Pakistanis.

Many regional languages are spoken in Pakistan and the major ones according to the number of native speakers are Punjabi (44%), Pashto (15%), Sindhi (14%), Saraiki (10%), Baluchi (4%). Pakistan has about 1 million native speakers of Persian. Persian continues to be an important literary language in Pakistan. Arabic is popular due to religious significance. Most Pakistanis understand at least two languages.

Pakistan has about 99% of languages spoken are in the Indo-Iranian (sub-branches: 75% of the Indo-Aryan and 24% Iranian), a branch of Indo-European family of languages. All languages of Pakistan are written in the Perso-Arabic script, with significant vocabulary derived from Arabic and Persian. Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi, Pashto (Iranian), Urdu, Balochi (Iranian), Kashmiri (Dardic/eastern Iranian), etc., are the languages spoken in Pakistan. In the case of Urdu/Hindi, while Hindi is the mother-tongue of 40% of the population in the Republic of India, Urdu is the mother-tongue of only 8% Pakistanis. Urdu and Hindi are considered by most linguists to be the same language; differing only in script, and formal vocabulary; in which Urdu favours words of Perso-Arabic origin whereas Hindi tends to use Sanskrit words. Colloquial Hindi and Urdu, however, are completely indistinguishable - and as such, were referred to as Hindustani in all of India before the 1947 partition.

Census History of Major Languages

(present-day Pakistan)

Following are the major languages spoken in Pakistan. The percentage of Pakistanis who are native speakers of that language is also given.

Numbers of speakers of larger languages

Urdu: the national language
Urdu (اردو) is Pakistan's national language (قومی زبان) and has been promoted as a token of national unity. More than 95% of Pakistanis can speak or understand Urdu as their second or third language in many cases, though only about 8% of the population of Pakistan has Urdu as its mother tongue. It is written in a modified form of the Arabic alphabet. The first recorded poetry in Urdu was by the Persian poet Amir Khusro (امیر خسرو) (1253–1325), the first published Urdu book, Dah Majlis, was written in 1728. The first time the word "Urdu" was used was in 1751, by Sirajuddin Arzoo (سراج الدین آرزو).

English: the official language
English is Pakistan's official language and is widely used in the government, the judiciary, the legislature and in educational institutes. Pakistan's Constitution and its laws are written in English. It is also widely used in business.

Major provincial languages
Punjabi (پنجابی) is spoken as first language by 44% of Pakistanis. It is an important language as about 70% of Pakistanis can speak or understand it. However, Punjabi does not have any official status in Pakistan. Punjabi lineage can be traced through Lahori and Multani during Muslim period (700 to 1860).

Punjabi dialects include:
Majhi, "the standard Punjabi language", spoken in the heart of Punjab where most of the Punjabi population lives. The main districts are Lahore, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat and to some extent in Jhelum in Pakistani Punjab and Gurdaspur and Amritsar in Indian Punjab. 
Potwari or Pothohari, is spoken in the Pothohar Plateau of Punjab and Azad Kashmir. The main districts are Rawalpindi, Mirpur and Sohawa Tehsil of Jhelum District. Dialects include Dhundi-Kairali, Chibhali, Mirpuri, Jhelumi, Pindiwali and Punchhi (Poonchi). 
Jhangvi or Jhangochi or Rachnavi, spoken in the central Pakistani Punjab, stretches from districts Khanewal to Jhang and includes Faisalabad and Chiniot. 
Shahpuri, spoken in Mianwali, Sargodha, Khushab and Mandi Bahauddin districts. 
Hindko, spoken in districts of Peshawar, Attock, Nowshehra, Mansehra, Balakot, Abbottabad and Murree and the lower half of Neelum District and Muzafarabad. 
Malwi, spoken in the eastern part of Indian Punjab. Main districts are Ludhiana, Ambala, Bathinda, Ganganagar, Malerkotla, Fazilka, Ferozepur. Malwa is the southern and central part of present day Indian Punjab. Also includes the Punjabi speaking northern areas of Haryana, viz. Ambala, Hissar, Sirsa, Kurukshetra, etc. 
Doabi (regional language), spoken between the rivers of Beas and Sutlej, in the districts of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.

Pashto (پشتو) is spoken as a first language by 15% of Pakistanis, mostly in the North-West Frontier Province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and in northern part of Balochistan Province. Pashto has no written literary traditions although it has a rich oral tradition. There are two major dialect patterns within which the various individual dialects may be classified; these are Pakhto, which is the northern (Peshawar) variety, and the Pashto spoken in southern areas around Quetta. Khushal Khan Khatak (1613–1689) and Rehman Baba (1633–1708) were two important poets in the Pashto language.

Sindhi (سنڌي ) is spoken as a first language by about 14% of Pakistanis, mostly in the Province of Sindh and the southeastern parts of the Province of Balochistan. Sindhi is known for its very rich literature and is taught in schools in the province of Sindh. The largest Sindhi-speaking city is Hyderabad, Pakistan.

The Saraiki language (Perso-Arabic: سرائیکی sometimes spelled Siraiki and Seraiki) has a substantial literature dating back a thousand years and including myriad proverbs. It was the language of Raja Dahar and its fellows, and according to Aslam Rasool Puri "the language which was effected by Daraveriens not other than Saraiki". It is spoken by 30 million Pakistanis, mostly in the southern part of the Province of the Punjab and in adjacent parts of Sindh, Balochistan and North-West Frontier Provinces. Saraiki , belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-European.

Balochi (بلوچی) is spoken as a first language by about 4% of Pakistanis, mostly in the Province of Balochistan. The name Balochi is not found before the tenth century. It is believed that the language was brought to its present location in a series of migrations from Northern Iran, near the Caspian Shores. Rakshani is the major dialect group in terms of numbers. Sarhaddi, is a sub-dialect of Rakshani. Other sub-dialects are Qalati, Chagai-kharani, Panjguri. Eastern Hill Balochi or Northern Balochi is very different from the rest.

There are an estimated one million native Persian (Farsi, or Dari) speakers in Pakistan.[1]. The philosopher poet Allama Iqbal, who pioneered the movement for the creation of Pakistan, was a noted Persian poet. Persian was the lingua franca of the Mughal Empire of India (and the region that is now Pakistan) since the time of the Persian Empire until its use was abolished by the British. After the annexation of Sindh (in 1843) and of Punjab (in 1849), the British changed the official language to Urdu.

Other languages
Other languages include Aer, Badeshi, Bagri, Balti, Bateri, Bhaya, Brahui, Burushaski, Chilisso, Dameli, Dehwari, Dhatki, Domaaki, Farsi (Dari), Gawar-Bati, Ghera, Goaria, Gowro, Gujarati, Gujari, Gurgula, Hazaragi, Hindko (two varieties), Jadgali, Jandavra, Kabutra, Kachchi (Kutchi), Kalami, Kalasha, Kalkoti, Kamviri, Kashmiri, Kati, Khetrani, Khowar, Indus Kohistani, Koli (three varieties), Lasi, Loarki, Marwari, Memoni, Od, Ormuri, Pahari-Potwari, Pakistan Sign Language, Palula (Phalura), Sansi, Savi, Shina (two varieties), Torwali, Ushojo, Vaghri, Wakhi, Waneci, and Yidgha.Some of these have a relatively small number of speakers, while others have hundreds of thousands of speakers. A few are highly endangered languages that may soon have no speakers at all.

Most of the languages of Pakistan belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. They are divided between two major groups of that branch: Indo-Aryan (the majority, including Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Hindko, and Saraiki, among others), and Iranian (including Pashto, Balochi, and Farsi, among others).

Indo-Aryan and Iranian languages are further divided into groups of languages, although the reasons for the divisions are not always well-documented. Indo-Aryan languages all belong to the same language genus (Indic), and Iranian languages all belong to a different language genus (Iranian).

Some of the important groups in the Indo-Aryan group have been referred to by some as macrolanguages. One of these has been given the name Lahnda, and includes Western Panjabi (but not Eastern Panjabi of India), Northern Hindko, Southern Hindko, Khetrani, Saraiki, and Pahari-Potwari, plus two more languages outside of Pakistan. The other is called Marwari, and includes Marwari of Pakistan and several languages of India (Dhundari, Marwari, Merwari, Mewari, and Shekhawati).A third is called Rajasthani (from India), and comprises Bagri, Gujari (of present-day Pakistan), and the rest from India: Gade Lohar,Harauti (Hadothi), Malvi, and Wagdi (of India).

Three groups in the Iranian group likewise have been called macrolanguages. One is Baluchi; it includes Eastern, Western and Southern Balochi.Another is called Pushto, and includes Northern, Central, and Southern Pashto.The third is called Persian, and includes Western Farsi (spoken in Iran) and Eastern Farsi (spoken in Pakistan and Afghanistan).

Brahui is a Dravidian language. Its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by Balochi. It has been postulated to be linked to the ancient Indus valley civilization of Pakistan. 
Balti, in the Bodic language genus of the Tibeto-Burman language family, the same genus as 47 other languages spoken in other countries 
Burushaski, a language isolate 
Pakistan Sign Language, a deaf sign language.

Pakistan is endowed with a rich and varied flora and fauna.


Markhor of which there are five distinct kinds, is the national animal of Pakistan. The kind that is photographed the most often is the Chiltan Markhor which, because of its long horns looks very conspicuous. Ever since the Markhor has been given protection its number has multiplied.

Other animals in the park are straight horned markhors, "Gad" (wild sheep) and leopards which occasionally migrate to the park from other areas, wolves, striped hyena, hares, wild cats and porcupines.

Many birds like partridge, warblers, shikras, blue rock pigeon, rock nuthatch, red gilled choughs, golden eagle, sparrow, hawks, falcons and bearded vultures are either found here or visit the park in different seasons.

Reptiles like monitor and other wild lizards, geckos, Afghan tortoise, python, cobra, horned viper and levantine may also be seen in the park.


Amongst the flora of the Park are the 225 species of plants. Prominent are the pistachios, juniper, wild olive, wild ash and wild almond. Many shrubs like wild fig, barbery, wild cherry, makhi, etc., provide food and shelter to the foraging animals, birds and other life forms. Medicinal herbs like Ephedra intermadia, gerardiana and nabro (densis) and Artemista (scoparia and martima) are also found in the park. There is a splash of colour in spring when most of the plants are in bloom. Nature lovers, students, scientists and researchers are welcome to visit the park at any time of the year. Permit to visit the park can be obtained from the Divisional Forest Officer, Spinny Road, Quetta.

Where to Go in Pakistan


Pakistan’s former capital and its largest city, Karachi is situated on the shores of the Arabian Sea near the mouth of the Indus. The capital of Sindh Province, it is now a modern industrial city and Pakistan’s major port. Though not strictly a tourist center, there are a number of attractions, such as the fish wharf where brightly colored boats bring in seafood, one of the country’s major foreign exchange earners. There are hundreds of lively street restaurants, tea houses, samosa and juice stalls. Boats can be hired to sail out of the harbor. There are architectural reminders of the former British Imperial presence, especially in the clubs. The most magnificent building, however, is the Quaid-e-Azam’s Mazar, the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, made entirely of white marble with impressive north African arches and magnificent Chinese crystal chandeliers. The changing of the guard, which takes place three times a day, is the best time to visit. Other places to visit are the National Museum, parks, the zoo and a beach at Clifton.

A region known for the remarkable quality of its light, Sindh has two main places of interest: Mohenjodaro, a settlement dating back 5000 years, and Thatta, notable for its mausoleums and mosques. There are sporting facilities on Lake Haleji.

Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan since 1963, and Rawalpindi are both located on the Pothowar Plain. The decision to build a new capital city in this area transformed the sleepy town of Rawalpindi into a busy counterpart to Islamabad. Rawalpindi now houses many of the civil servants working in the government district. The old part of the town boasts fine examples of local architecture and bazaars crammed into the narrow streets where craftspeople still use traditional methods.

As a planned capital, Islamabad lacks some of the regional flair of other cities, but it houses an interesting variety of modern buildings in the part designated for government offices. The city itself has an air of spaciousness, with parks, gardens and fountains below the silhouette of the Margalla Hills. In the midst of these lies Daman-e-Koh, a terraced garden with an excellent view over the city. Also in Islamabad is the Shah Faisal Masjid (mosque) which can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. The majestic white building comprises four 88m (288ft) minarets and a desert tent-like structure, which is the main prayer chamber.

About 8km (5 miles) from the city is Rawal Lake with an abundance of leisure facilities for watersports and a picnic area.

The Punjab
Lahore is an historic, bustling city with buildings of pink and white marble. There is plenty to see: bazaars, the Badshahi Mosque (one of the largest mosques in the world, and an example of Moghul architecture rivalled only by the Taj Mahal), the beautiful Shalimar Gardens, the National Museum of Archaeology and the Gate of Chauburji. Near Taxila are two interesting excavated sites, Jaulian and Sirkap, dating back to the Buddhist Gandhara period. Other towns in the Punjab include Attock, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad (formerly Lyallpur), Harappa and Multan.

Some of the highest mountains in the world can be found in this province, such as the famous Nanga Parbat and the second-highest mountain in the world, K2, also known as Mount Godwin-Austen. The Baltoro Glacier and the Batura Glacier are the largest outside the polar regions. The settlements of Gilgit and Skardu are well-known stop-offs on the mountaineering trail.

The Karakorum Highway
In the 1960s and 70s, the Pakistan and Chinese authorities jointly built an asphalt road between Rawalpindi and Islamabad (Pakistan) and Kashgar (Xinjiang province in China). This unique highway follows the ancient silk road (see China section) over a breathtaking knot of mountain ranges that incorporates the Himalaya mountains, Hindukush, Karakorum, Kunlun and Pamir. The trail runs along the Indus River and to the beautiful Gilgit and Hunza valleys. Today the highway is popular with tourists wishing to cycle or trek its length and it is still used by hajis (Muslims making a pilgrimage to Mecca). The main attractions of the route are undoubtedly its challenging geography, unusual yet spectacular scenery and hospitable local ethnic groups. The best time to travel here is between September and October, and due to its demanding altitude and difficult terrain, it should be undertaken with an organized tour group or travel agent. For further information, contact the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (see Top Things To Do).

North West Frontier Province
The capital of the North West Frontier Province, Peshawar is surrounded by high walls with 20 entry gates. This is the area of the Pashtuns, or Pathans as they are also known. The lawns and parks reflect the former colonial days. Much of the surrounding area is still under the jurisdiction of tribal law. These areas can only be visited with a permit from the relevant authorities. Many of the tribesmen carry firearms, the normal adornment for a Pathan warrior. In the land of the Afridis is the Khyber Pass, the 1067m- (3501ft-) high break in the sheer rock wall separating Afghanistan and Pakistan. Unsettled conditions may occasionally close the Khyber Pass to visitors and it is advised to contact the Pakistan Tourist Development Corporation (see Top Things To Do) for the latest information prior to travel to this attraction. North of Peshawar in the Hindu Kush Mountains is the wild and beautiful area of Chitral, inhabited by the Kalash people, last of the non-Islamic tribes of Kafiristan. This valley is noted for its hot springs and trout-filled rivers. East of Chitral is the beautiful Swat Valley. This is an area (average height 975m) of wild mountains and fantastic alpine scenery. It was, in ancient times, the home of the famous Gandhara school of sculpture, a manifestation of Greek-influenced Buddhist forms. The ruins of great Buddhist stupas, monasteries and statues are found all over Swat. It is now the home to the Swat Pathans and also boasts popular mountain retreats such as Behrain, Kalam, Miandam and Mingora, with Saidu Sharif its principal town.

Pakistan International Airlines, 
PIA Headquarters, 
Room No.A-114, 1st Floor, PIA H.O. Building, 
Karachi Airport, Karachi 
Tel: (021) 9044575, 9044846 Fax: 9044186 
Website: http://www.piac.com.pk Email: khishpk@piac.aero

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