Pakistan-Getting Acquainted With It

BY Shubhi Mathur, 18 Aug, 2018

Global Jigyasa - Countries 101

Neighbouring Regions

  • India on the East
  • Iran, Afghanistan on the West
  • China in the North

Capital of Pakistan and Political System

The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad.

The government in Pakistan is a Federal Parliamentary Republic. The chief of state is President Arif Alvi and the head of government is Prime Minister Imran Khan. Pakistan has been plagued by political instability since its independence. Recently, in July 2017, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted from power by the Supreme Court. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for indulging in corruption. It should be noted that no democratically elected Prime Minister has ever completed a full term since the country’s independence in 1947. Sharif’s ouster created a vacuum in the country. Recently, elections were held in Pakistan and Imran Khan, a famous Pakistani retired cricketer has been elected as the new Prime Minister of the country. He is the leader of the political party which received maximum votes during the elections – Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Western media has often referred to Pakistan as a ‘failed state’—a nuclear-armed country with a crippling economy infested by radical Islamic elements who target civilians on a day to day basis. From human development indicators to economy, Pakistan’s record is dismal and shows no signs of improvement. The country survives on bailout packages from IMF, World Bank and allies like USA and China. Pakistan has also become a hotbed for radical Islamic fanaticism. Threats to internal security originate from militant groups like Tehrik-e-Taliban, which has been responsible for an attack on Bacha Khan University, in Pakistan, in January 2016 which killed 21 people among many others. Similar attacks have been orchestrated by its sister militant groups in Lahore, killing 70 people and wounding 300 in April 2016. The government’s soft stance on curbing terrorism can also be gauged from the fact that Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and founder of terror outfit, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba was set free by a Pakistani court in November 2017.

Issues of International Importance over the Years

Economy

 

Political instability and extremist activities in Pakistan have proven disastrous for the economy of the country. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the country’s inflation rate soared to 5.83% in July 2018, which is 1.83% more than the upper limit of inflation for developing countries. The country’s extreme dependence on oil imports has been catastrophic for its foreign exchange reserves. Only in a year, foreign exchange reserves have dipped to half from USD 16.4 billion in May 2017 to USD 9 billion in June 2018. To provide a pan Asia perspective, Pakistan’s neighbour India’s forex reserves stood at USD 405.17 billion in July 2018, while China’s foreign exchange reserves were at USD 3.5 trillion. Pakistani rupee has consistently been the worst performing currency in all of South Asia. Its tax to GDP ratio is the lowest in the world at 11.2%. The only hope of the revival of Pakistan’s economy is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Railway projects, roads and maritime links worth USD 27 billion are being implemented in the country, through CPEC. Expanding trade deficits, declining foreign exchange reserves and the fear of defaulting on loans from World Bank, USA and China have made Pakistan seek massive bailout packages from IMF.

 

Tensions with India

 

Tensions between South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan have prevailed since their partition and subsequent independence in 1947. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been the primary source of conflict. Both these countries have fought four wars with each other since independence; first in 1947, second in 1948, third in 1965 (which led to the creation of Bangladesh), fourth in 1971 and a major armed conflict as recently as 1999 in Kargil. Even though both countries have not indulged in a full fledged war since becoming nuclear powers, little skirmishes have kept the tensions brewing. India has frequently accused Pakistan of supporting terror groups targeting India like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that have perpetrated attacks on Indian Parliament in 2001 and the Taj Mahal Hotel attacks in Mumbai in 2008. Rising tensions between these two countries have made Kashmir one of the most militarised zones in the world. In 2016, India carried out surgical strikes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir as a response to the Uri Attacks which had claimed the lives of 18 Indian Army jawans. According to Indian Army estimates, 30-70 militants were killed in the surgical strikes across the PoK.

 

Attacks on Minority Communities

 

Religious minorities in Pakistan like Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiya and Hazaras continue to bear the brunt of violent attacks and false accusations of blasphemy.  Their population has declined from constituting 20% of the country in 1947 to a little less than 3% in 1998. In May 2010, 94 people were killed in Lahore in an attack on Ahmadiyya community. According to United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a total of 430 people were killed from July 2013 to June 2014 in various instances of sectarian violence. In March 2016, atleast 72 Christians were killed while celebrating Easter in Lahore. Pakistan has repeatedly drawn flak from international human rights bodies for its dismal records.

Religious Group Distribution

  1. Muslim (official) 96.4% (Sunni 85-90%, Shia 10-15%)
  2. Other (includes Christian and Hindu) 3.6% (2010 est.)

Links for Detailed Research

About Pakistan Issues

 References:

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