Pakistan Essay

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Pakistan is on the northwest  border of India and also shares  borders  with  Iran,  Afghanistan,  and  China. The country  emerged  in 1947 from the partition  of India when the British left. Pakistan is an active member of the United Nations. With a population of 169.3 million, it is the sixth-most-populous country and the second-most-populous Muslim country in the world.

The  coastal  region  of modern-day  Pakistan  has been a center of extensive trade since ancient times, as archaeological work on the Indus Valley civilization has revealed. Goods from around the Indian Ocean, and even farther afield, were brought  in and traded  for many centuries.  Following the collapse of the civilization, northern Pakistan found itself astride the Silk Road, which facilitated trade between Europe and China. As a result, that region enjoyed increased wealth, and  its people  developed  close familial ties with people in Afghanistan.

During  the  period  of British  colonial  rule,  from the mid-19th century to 1947, Britain stationed many soldiers  in  the  region,  with  Quetta  emerging  as a major  garrison  town. Many Pakistanis also enlisted in the British Indian Army during the World  War I and World War II periods; as a result, many villages survived on army remittances. After independence  in 1947, Pakistan found itself in a difficult position both politically and economically. Its first aim was ensuring a stronger  economic position, which it achieved by developing  Karachi  into  a  major  port.  Karachi remains the largest city in the country, with a population of 9.34 million (2007), which is nearly twice that of the next-largest city, Lahore. The Pakistani government was eager to encourage a sense of national identity, however, so it moved the capital first to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad.

Some 42 percent  of the workforce is employed in the agricultural  sector, which provides some 22 percent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product  (GDP); services make up 38 percent of the workforce and 53 percent of the GDP. In industry—coal, iron, steel production, scrap metal, and oil—some 20 percent of the workforce accounts for 25 percent of the GDP.

In terms  of international trade, the country  runs up a large balance-of-payments deficit, exporting textiles, rice, and some other  agricultural  produce, and  importing   machinery,   petroleum,   petroleum products,   transport  equipment,   chemicals,  edible oils, grains, and flour. Some 21 percent of the nation’s exports go to the United States, and 11 percent of its imports are from China.

Pakistan experienced rapid economic growth in the 1960s, with West Pakistan becoming the powerhouse of the country’s economy. East Pakistan (modern-day Bangladesh) continued  to have a largely agricultural economy.  To protect  Pakistan’s new industries,  the government   introduced  several  exchange  rates  to make it harder  for imports  to compete  with locally produced products.

The country has had a variety of governments, with a military coup d’état overthrowing  the elected government  of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977; Bhutto was executed  two  years later.  Great  political  instability followed. General  Pervez Musharraf  staged  a coup in 1999 and ruled the country until his resignation in August 2008 and replacement  by President  Asif Ali Zardari, who was elected the next month. This instability has led to many foreign companies  being nervous about investing in the country.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center  and the Pentagon  on September  11, 2001, the U.S. military took a great deal of interest in the radical Muslim movements  in Pakistan, leading to tensions between the  pro-Western Musharraf  government  and  many Pakistanis on both  the left and the right, leading to further instability and frightening many would-be investors.  Despite Pakistan’s political problems,  the economy of the cities generally has held up, with inflation reaching 7.9 percent  in 2006. By contrast,  poverty is widespread in the countryside.  The country’s per capita GDP is $830 (128th in the world).

Bibliography:

  1. Viqar Ahmed and Rashid Amjad, The Management of Pakistan’s Economy 1947–82 (Oxford University Press, 1984);
  2. Russell Andrus  and  Azizali F. Mohammed,  Trade,  Finance and  Development  in  Pakistan (Oxford University Press, 1966);
  3. Mumtaz Anwar and Katharina Michaelowa, “The Political Economy of US Aid to Pakistan,”  Review of Development  Economics (v.10/2, 2006);
  4. Irfan-ul-Haque, A Compendium of Pakistan’s Economy (Royal Book Co., 1987);
  5. Shahid Kardar, The Political Economy of Pakistan (Progressive Publishers, 1987);
  6. Alain Lefebre, Kinship, Honour, and Money  in Rural  Pakistan (RoutledgeCurzon,  1999);
  7. A. Meenai, Money and Banking in Pakistan (Oxford University Press, 1984);
  8. Gustav F. Papanek, Pakistan’s Development: Social Goals and Private Incentives (Harvard University Press, 1967).

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