Pakistan emerged on the map of the world as an independent sovereign state in August 1947, as a result of the division of the British Indian Empire. The land of Pakistan (8,03,950 square meters (including FATA & FANA), population nearly 182 million)is rich in landscapes and cultural traditions. Half a dozen civilizations flourished here and left their imprint. 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 god living and citizenship before the celebrated ancient Greeks. Pakistan traces its history back to at least 2500 years before Christ when a highly developed civilization flourished in the Indus Valley area. Excavation at Harappa, Moenjodaro and Kot Diji have brought to light evidence of an advanced civilization flourished in the Indus Civilization existing even in the most ancient times. Around about 1500 BC the Aryans overwhelmed this region and by and by influencing the Hindu Civilization, whose center moved to the Ganges Valley, further east. Later the Persian occupied the northern region in the 5th century BC and again and again up tot eh 2nd century AD the Greeks came in 327 BC under the Alexander of Macedon and passed away like a Meteor. In 712 AD the Arabs, led by Mohammad Bin Qasim, landed somewhere near modern Karachi and ruled the lower half of Pakistan for two hundred years. During this time Islam took roots in the soil and influenced the life, cultures, and traditions of the people. In 10th century AD began the systematic conquest of Indo-Pakistan by the Muslims from central Asia who ruled almost the whole subcontinent up to the 18th century AD. When the British became the master of the land and ruled for nearly 200 years. – for only 100 years over what is Pakistan now. The Muslims revival began towards the end of the last century when Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, a renowned Muslim leader, and educationist, launched a movement for an intellectual renaissance of the Indian Muslims. In 1930m the well-known poet-philosopher, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal conceived the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of the sub-continent in 1940, a resolution was adopted by the all-India Muslim League demanding a separate independent homeland for the Muslims of India. After seven years of untiring struggle under the brilliant leadership of Quid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan emerged on the map of the world as a sovereign state on 14th August 1947, when the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two independent states – India and Pakistan.
People and Language
Being mostly Muslims, the people of Pakistan are culturally homogenous. The other religious groups include the Christian, Buddhist, Hindus, and Parses. All are of composite racial stock although the majorities are of Aryans extraction, English is extensively used in official and commercial circles. The regional languages are Sindhi in Sindh, Baluchi in Baluchistan, Punjabi in Punjab and Pushto in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
How to come to Pakistan
By Air: More than 5 airlines fly to Pakistan from over 50 countries. Pakistan International Airlines, Emirates, Sudia and China Xinjiang, Turkish, Ethihad, Airblue Airlines fly direct to the twin cities of Rawalpindi/Islamabad. PIA, Indian airlines, Saudia and Thai Airways fly direct to Lahore.
By land: From China; the Khunjerab Pass is open from 1st May to 31st December for tourists.
From India: Waga is the only land border open between Pakistan and India (Lahore – Amritsar route). The waga border post is open daily for foreigners.
From Iran: Paki-Iran border crossing is ony possible through Taftan – Zahidan. Several buses leave from Taftan to Quetta (634 kms and 8 hours drive).
By Sea: no passenger boats or ship for the general public sail to and from Pakistan at present.
Travel within Pakistan
Air; PIA serves 38 domestic airports with scheduled connections, including multiple daily flights between major cities of Karachi, Quetta, Multan, Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar. Some private airlines, Shaheen & Air Blue also serve Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad. PIA has daily flight linking the northern tourists’ towns of Gilgit, Skardu, and Chitral. All flights to the northern region are subject to good weather.
Road; Pakistan has an extensive network of roads and highways, connecting big or small towns, There are several highways like Grand Trunk Road (G.T.) between Lahore and Peshawar, Super Highway and National Highway linking Karachi with interior of Sindh and Punjab, Indus Highway linking Peshawar with southern Punjab, RCD highway linking Karachi with Quetta and on to Taftan (Pak – Iran border) and the famous Karakorum highway the 8th wonder of the world joining Islamabad with Kashgar (China) through Abbottabad, Gilgit, Hunza and Khunjerab Pass. A landmark has been achieved with the completion of Lahore – Islamabad Motorway (M2) and Faisalabad – Pindi Bhatian Motorway (M3) and Islamabad – Peshawar (M1) which have opened some of the remote areas of Pakistan for visitors.
What to buy
Pakistan is a treasure house of exquisite handicrafts, made by a people who grew up to weave, to pot, to work metals, wood, and stone, to decorate, to build things small and great. Pottery here is living history, a traditional craft that became an art, with its origins going back to 3000 year BC. Today, each region of Pakistan claims its own special jars and jugs, from sturdy terra-cotta to paper-thin ceramics, in vivid colors of mustard yellow, deep green, bricks red and sky blue. For those keen on shopping, the prices are still quite reasonable. You will find yourself returning home with hand-woven carpets, marble pieces, copper and brass items, woodwork, embroidered “Kurtas” and “Khussas” and countless objects d’art.
What to eat
Having inherited the culinary traditions of the Moghuls, the Turks, the central Asian and the Iranians, eating out in Pakistan is a rich and unique experience. Most local restaurants serve authentic Pakistani dishes straight from the oven, with the sights and sound of a bazaar in the background. Meat, fish & vegetables are the seasoned with spices. Particularly palatable are the grills and barbecues; seekh-kabab (minced meat grilled on skewer), shami kabab (minced meat), tikka (barbecued mutton), beef or chicken) and Saji (barbecued leg of lamb). Pakistani mutton and chicken curries and the oriental rice dish called, Pullao, are also popular with natives and foreign alike.
What to wear
Lightweight, cotton clothes suffice except in north in winter. Men wear suits for business meetings, social events. Casual Shalwaar suits are worn by all women and most men in public. Women should dress modestly.
What to see
Pakistan is special interest destination. Its main attractions include adventure tourism in the northern areas, cultural & archeological tourism as found in Taxila, Moenjodaro, Thatta and Peshawar. From the mighty Karakorum in the north to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus River in the south Pakistan remains a land of high adventure and nature. Trekking, mountaineering, white water rafting, wild boar hunting, mountain watching and desert jeep safaris, camel and yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching, are a few activities which entice adventure and nature lovers to Pakistan.
Some basic fact about Pakistan at glance:
Official Name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Capital City: Islamabad
Area: 796,095 sq.km. (Punjab 205,344; Sindh 140,914; Balochistan 347,190; Federal Administered Triable Areas 27220; Islamabad 906 sq. km
Population: Nearly 182 million
Ethnic Composition: 95% Muslim, 5% others
Per Capita Income: US$ 460
Currency: Pak Rupee
Language: Urdu (National Language) English (Official)
Archeological Sites: Moenjodaro, Harappa, Taxila, Kot Diji, Mehar Garh, Takht Bahi & Swat.
Major Cities: Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Lahore, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Karachi, Quetta.