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January 2008

Pakistan, 2002

Pakistan, 2002

Pakistan is located in Southern Asia bordering the Arabian Sea, between India to the east and Iran and Afghanistan to the west and China to the north. The majority of Pakistan's population lives along the Indus River Valley and along an arc formed by the cities of Faisalabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad, and Peshawar. Islamabad (pop. 800,000) and adjacent Rawalpindi (1,406, 214) comprise the national capital area with a combined population of 3.7 million. Pakistan is slightly less than twice the size of California. The country of Pakistan controls both Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, traditional invasion routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

The climate is mostly hot, dry desert, with temperate areas in the northwest and arctic areas in north. The terrain consists of flat Indus plains in the east, with mountains in the north and northwest, and Balochistan plateau in the west.

Natural resources include land, extensive natural gas reserves, limited petroleum, coal, iron ore, copper, salt, and limestone. Natural hazards include frequent earthquakes and flooding along the Indus River Valley after heavy rains, especially in July and August.

Archeological explorations have revealed impressive ruins of a 4,500-year old urban civilization in Pakistan's Indus River Valley. The reason for the total collapse of this highly developed culture is unknown. A possible theory is that it was crushed by successive invasions (circa 2000 B.C. through 1400 B.C.) of Aryans and Indo-European warrior tribes from the Caucasus region in what is now Russia. The Aryans were followed in 500 B.C. by Persians and, in 326 B.C., by Alexander the Great. Archeological research on the area continues.

The Pakistan constitution of August 1973, amended substantially in 1985 under Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, provides for a President (Chief of State) elected for a 5-year term by an Electoral College that consists of the Senate, National Assembly, and the members of the four provincial assemblies; and a Prime Minister (head of government) elected by the National Assembly in a special session. After the election, the President invites the Prime Minister to create a government. The constitution permits a vote of "no confidence" against the Prime Minister by a majority of the entire National Assembly, provided that it is not in the annual budget session.

Elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan on February 18, 2008.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 12/2007; 5/2007

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