Pakistan is a country in southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea to the south, India to the east, Iran and Afghanistan to the west, and China to the north. The capital is Islamabad and the largest city Karachi.
The separation in 1947 of British India into the Islamic state of Pakistan (with two sections, West and East) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved, and India and Pakistan fought two wars - 1947-1948 and 1965 - over the disputed territory of Kashmir. A third war between these countries in 1971 - in which India capitalised on Islamabad's marginalisation of Bengalis in Pakistani politics - resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In response to Indian nuclear-weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998. The dispute over the state of Kashmir is ongoing, but discussions and confidence-building measures have led to decreased tensions since 2002.
Pakistan, a developing country rich in manpower and natural resources, has suffered from decades of internal political disputes, low levels of foreign investment, and a costly, ongoing confrontation with neighbouring India. However, International Monetary Fund-approved government policies, bolstered by generous foreign assistance and renewed access to global markets since 2001, have generated solid macroeconomic recovery over the last five years. The government has made substantial macroeconomic reforms since 2000, most notably privatising the banking sector. Poverty levels have decreased by ten percent since 2001, and Islamabad has steadily raised development spending in recent years.
Pakistan is an Islamic republic with parliamentary type of government.
Members of parliament are elected through public vote. The Parliament of Pakistan has two houses; the upper house is the Senate and the lower house is the National Assembly. The provinces have provincial governments and assemblies, whose members are elected through a separate public vote.
The country's head of government is the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who is elected by the National Assembly. Nawaz Sharif of the Muslim League became Prime Minister in May 2013, the elections being the first change from one elected government to another in the country's history.
- See also: Pakistani Security Forces