U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Pakistan, November 1997
Released by the Bureau of South Asian Affairs
Official Name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Area: 803,943 sq. km. (310,527 sq. mi.); about twice the size of
Cities: Capital -- Islamabad and adjacent Rawalpindi comprise a national
capital area with a combined population of 3.7 million. Other cities --
Karachi (10 million), Lahore (5.7 million), Faisalabad (6.5 million).
Nationality: Noun and adjective -- Pakistan(i).
Population (1997 est.): 135 million.
Annual growth rate (1997): 2.8%.
Ethnic groups: Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan, Baloch, Muhajir (i.e., Urdu-
speaking immigrants from India and their descendants).
Religions: Muslim 97%; small minorities of Christians, Hindus, and
Languages: Urdu (national and official), English (official), Punjabi,
Sindhi, Pushtu, Baloch.
Education: Literacy -- 39%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1996) -- 100/1,000. Life expectancy
(1996) -- men 63 yrs, women 62 yrs.
Work force: Agriculture -- 48%. Services -- 39%. Industry -- 13%.
Type: Parliamentary in a federal setting.
Independence: August 14, 1947.
Branches: Executive -- President with constitutional authority, prime
minister, cabinet. Legislative -- National Assembly and Senate and
provincial assemblies. Judicial -- Supreme Court, provincial high
courts, Federal Islamic Court.
Political parties: the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the Pakistan
People's Party (PPP) are the most important on the national level. Other
parties include the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement
(MQM), the Awami National Party (ANP), and the Pakistan Muslim
League/Junejo group (PML/J).
Suffrage: universal at 21. Religious minorities vote for reserved seats.
Political subdivisions: Each of the four provinces--Punjab, Sindh,
Northwest Frontier, and Balochistan--has a parliamentary system;
northern areas and federally administered tribal areas (FATA) are
administered by the federal government, but enjoy considerable autonomy.
GDP (1996-97): $57 billion.
Real annual growth rate 1996-97: 3%.
Per capita GDP (1996-97): $470.
Natural resources: Arable land, natural gas, limited petroleum,
substantial hydropower potential, coal, iron ore.
Agriculture: Products -- wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, tobacco.
Industry: Types -- textiles, fertilizer, steel products, chemicals, food
processing, oil and gas products, cement.
Trade (FY 1996-97): Exports -- $8.3 billion: raw cotton, rice, cotton
yarn, textiles, fruits, vegetables. Major partners -- U.S., Japan, U.K.,
Saudi Arabia, Germany. Imports -- $11.9 billion: wheat, crude oil,
cooking oil, fertilizers, machinery. Major partners -- U.S., Japan,
Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, U.K., Sri Lanka.
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.
Although the official language of Pakistan is Urdu, it is spoken as a
first language by only 9% of the population; 65% speak Punjabi, 11%
Sindhi, and 24% speak other languages (Pushtu, Saraiki, Baloch, Brahui).
Urdu, Punjabi, Pushtu, and Baloch are Indo-European languages; Brahui is
believed to have Dravidian (pre-Indo-European) origins. English is
widely used within the government, the officer ranks of the military,
and in many institutions of higher learning.
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
major theory is that it was crushed by successive invasions (circa 2000
B.C. and 1400 B.C.) of Aryans, 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.
The "Gandhara culture" flourished in much of present-day Pakistan. The
Indo-Greek descendants of Alexander the Great saw the most creative
period of the Gandhara (Buddhist) culture. For 200 years after the
Kushan Dynasty was established in A.D. 50, Taxila (near Islamabad)
became a renowned center of learning, philosophy, and art.
Pakistan's Islamic history began with the arrival of Muslim traders in
the 8th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Moguls
dominated most of South Asia with an empire marked both by
administrative effectiveness and cultural refinement.
British traders arrived in South Asia in 1601, but the British Empire
did not consolidate control of the region until the latter half of the
18th century. After 1850, the British or those influenced by them
governed virtually the entire subcontinent.
In the early 20th century, South Asian leaders began to agitate for a
greater degree of autonomy. Growing concern about Hindu domination of
the Indian National Congress Party, the movement's foremost
organization, led Muslim leaders to form the all-India Muslim League in
1906. In 1913, the League formally adopted the same objective as the
Congress--self-government for India within the British Empire--but
Congress and the League were unable to agree on a formula that would
ensure the protection of Muslim religious, economic, and political
Pakistan and Partition
The idea of a separate Muslim state emerged in the 1930s. On March 23,
1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, formally
endorsed the "Lahore Resolution," calling for the creation of an
independent state in regions where Muslims constituted a majority.
At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom moved with increasing
urgency to grant India independence. However, the Congress Party and the
Muslim League could not agree on the terms for a constitution or
establishing an interim government. In June 1947, the British Government
declared that it would bestow full dominion status upon two successor
states--India and Pakistan. Under this arrangement, the various princely
states could freely join either India or Pakistan. Consequently, a
bifurcated Muslim nation separated by more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000
mi.) of Indian territory emerged when Pakistan became a self-governing
dominion within the Commonwealth on August 14, 1947. West Pakistan
comprised the contiguous Muslim-majority districts of present-day
Pakistan; East Pakistan consisted of a single province, which is now
The Maharaja of Kashmir was reluctant to make a decision on accession to
either Pakistan or India. However, armed incursions into the state by
tribesman from the NWFP led him to seek military assistance from India.
The Maharaja signed accession papers in October 1947 and allowed Indian
troops into much of the state. The Government of Pakistan, however,
refused to recognize the accession and campaigned to reverse the
decision. The status of Kashmir has remained in dispute.
With the death in 1948 of its first head of state, Muhammad Ali Jinnah,
and the assassination in 1951 of its first Prime Minister, Liaqat Ali
Khan, political instability and economic difficulty became prominent
features of post-independence Pakistan. On October 7, 1958, President
Iskander Mirza, with the support of the army, suspended the 1956
constitution, imposed martial law, and canceled the elections scheduled
for January 1959. Twenty days later the military sent Mirza into exile
in Britain and Gen. Mohammad Ayub Khan assumed control of a military
dictatorship. After Pakistan's loss in the 1965 war against India, Ayub
Khan's power declined. Subsequent political and economic grievances
inspired agitation movements which compelled his resignation in March
General elections held in December 1970 polarized relations between the
eastern and western sections of Pakistan. The Awami League, which
advocated autonomy for the more populous East Pakistan, swept the East
Pakistan seats to gain a majority in Pakistan as a whole. The Pakistan
Peoples Party (PPP), founded and led by Ayub Khan's former Foreign
Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, won a majority of the seats in West
Pakistan, but the country was completely split with neither major party
having any support in the other area. Negotiations to form a coalition
government broke down and a civil war ensued. India attacked East
Pakistan and captured Dhaka in December 1971, when the eastern section
declared itself the independent nation of Bangladesh. Yahya Khan then
resigned the presidency and handed over leadership of the western part
of Pakistan to Bhutto, who became President and the first civilian Chief
Martial Law Administrator.
Bhutto moved decisively to restore national confidence and pursued an
active foreign policy, taking a leading role in Islamic and Third World
forums. Although Pakistan did not formally join the non-aligned movement
until 1979, the position of the Bhutto government coincided largely with
that of the non-aligned nations. Domestically, Bhutto pursued a populist
agenda and nationalized major industries and the banking system. In
1973, he promulgated a new constitution accepted by most political
elements and relinquished the presidency to become Prime Minister.
Although Bhutto continued his populist and socialist rhetoric, he
increasingly relied on Pakistan's urban industrialists and rural
landlords. Over time the economy stagnated, largely as a result of the
dislocation and uncertainty produced by Bhutto's frequently changing
economic policies. When Bhutto proclaimed his own victory in the March
1977 national elections, the opposition Pakistan National Alliance (PNA)
denounced the results as fraudulent and demanded new elections. Bhutto
resisted and, after endemic political violence in Pakistan, arrested the
1977-1985 Martial Law
With increasing anti-government unrest, the army grew restive. On July
5, 1977, the military removed Bhutto from power and arrested him,
declared martial law, and suspended portions of the 1973 constitution.
Chief of Army Staff Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq became Chief Martial Law
Administrator and promised to hold new elections within 3 months.
Zia released Bhutto and asserted that he could contest new elections
scheduled for October 1977. However, after it became clear that Bhutto's
popularity had survived his government, Zia postponed the elections and
began criminal investigations of the senior PPP leadership.
Subsequently, Bhutto was convicted and sentenced to death for alleged
conspiracy to murder a political opponent. Despite international appeals
on his behalf, Bhutto was hanged on April 6, 1979.
Zia assumed the Presidency and called for elections in November.
However, fearful of a PPP victory, Zia banned political activity in
October 1979 and postponed national elections.
In 1980, most center and left parties, led by the PPP, formed the
Movement for the Restoration of Democracy [MRD]. The MRD demanded Zia's
resignation, an end to martial law, new elections, and restoration of
the constitution as it existed before Zia's takeover. In early December
1984, President Zia proclaimed a national referendum for December 19 on
his "Islamization" program. He implicitly linked approval of
"Islamization" with a mandate for his continued presidency. Zia's
opponents, led by the MRD, boycotted the elections. When the government
claimed a 63% turnout, with more than 90% approving the referendum, many
observers questioned these figures.
On March 3, 1985, President Zia proclaimed constitutional changes
designed to increase the power of the President vis-a-vis the Prime
Minister (under the 1973 constitution the President had been mainly a
figurehead). Subsequently, Zia nominated Muhammad Khan Junejo, a Muslim
League member, as Prime Minister. The new National Assembly unanimously
endorsed Junejo as Prime Minister and, in October 1985, passed Zia's
proposed eighth amendment to the constitution, legitimizing the actions
of the martial law government, exempting them from judicial review
(including decisions of the military courts), and enhancing the powers
of the President.
The Return of Democracy
On December 30, 1985, President Zia removed martial law and restored the
fundamental rights safeguarded under the constitution. He also lifted
the Bhutto government's declaration of emergency powers. The first
months of 1986 witnessed a rebirth of political activity throughout
Pakistan. All parties --including those continuing to deny the
legitimacy of the Zia/Junejo government--were permitted to organize and
hold rallies. In April 1986, PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, daughter of
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, returned to Pakistan from exile in Europe.
Following the lifting of martial law, the increasing political
independence of Prime Minister Junejo and his differences with Zia over
Afghan policy resulted in tensions between them. On May 29, 1988,
President Zia dismissed the Junejo government and called for November
elections. In June, Zia proclaimed the supremacy in Pakistan of Shari'a
(Islamic law), by which all civil law had to conform to traditional
On August 17, a plane carrying President Zia, American Ambassador Arnold
Raphel, U.S. Brig. General Herbert Wassom, and 28 Pakistani military
officers crashed on a return flight from a military equipment trial near
Bahawalpur, killing all of its occupants. In accordance with the
constitution, Chairman of the Senate Ghulam Ishaq Khan became Acting
President and announced that elections scheduled for November 1988 would
After winning 93 of the 205 National Assembly seats contested, the PPP,
under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto, formed a coalition government
with several smaller parties, including the Muhajir Qaumi Movement
(MQM). The Islamic Democratic Alliance (IJI), a multi-party coalition
led by the PML and including religious right parties such as the Jamaat-
i-Islami (JI), won 55 National Assembly seats.
Differing interpretations of constitutional authority, debates over the
powers of the central government relative to those of the provinces, and
the antagonistic relationship between the Bhutto Administration and
opposition governments in Punjab and Balochistan seriously impeded
social and economic reform programs. Ethnic conflict, primarily in Sindh
province, exacerbated these problems. A fragmentation in the governing
coalition and the military's reluctance to support an apparently
ineffectual and corrupt government were accompanied by a significant
deterioration in law and order.
In August 1990, President Khan, citing his powers under the eighth
amendment to the constitution, dismissed the Bhutto government and
dissolved the national and provincial assemblies. New elections, held in
October of 1990, confirmed the political ascendancy of the IJI. In
addition to a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, the alliance
acquired control of all four provincial parliaments and enjoyed the
support of the military and of President Khan. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, as
leader of the PML, the most prominent Party in the IJI, was elected
Prime Minister by the National Assembly.
Sharif emerged as the most secure and powerful Pakistani Prime Minister
since the mid-1970s. Under his rule, the IJI achieved several important
political victories. The implementation of Sharif's economic reform
program, involving privatization, de-regulation, and encouragement of
private sector economic growth, greatly improved Pakistan's economic
performance and business climate. The passage into law in May 1991 of a
Shariat bill, providing for widespread Islamization, legitimized the IJI
government among much of Pakistani society.
After PML President Junejo's death in March 1993, Sharif loyalists
unilaterally nominated him as the next party leader. Consequently, the
PML divided into the PML Nawaz (PML/N) group, loyal to the Prime
Minister, and the PML Junejo group (PML/J), supportive of Hamid Nasir
Chatta, the President of the PML/J group.
However, Nawaz Sharif was not able to reconcile the different objectives
of the IJI's constituent parties. The largest fundamentalist party,
Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), abandoned the alliance because of its perception
of PML hegemony. The regime was weakened further by the military's
suppression of the MQM, which had entered into a coalition with the IJI
to contain PPP influence, and allegations of corruption directed at
Nawaz Sharif. In April 1993, President Khan, citing "maladministration,
corruption, and nepotism" and espousal of political violence, dismissed
the Sharif government, but the following month the Pakistan Supreme
Court reinstated the National Assembly and the Nawaz Sharif government.
Continued tensions between Sharif and Khan resulted in governmental
gridlock and the Chief of Army Staff brokered an arrangement under which
both the President and the Prime Minister resigned their offices in July
An interim government, headed by Moeen Qureshi, a former World Bank Vice
President, took office with a mandate to hold national and provincial
parliamentary elections in October. Despite its brief term, the Qureshi
government adopted political, economic, and social reforms that
generated considerable domestic support and foreign admiration.
In the October 1993 elections, the PPP won a plurality of seats in the
National Assembly and Benazir Bhutto was asked to form a government.
However, because it did not acquire a majority in the National Assembly,
the PPP's control of the government depended upon the continued support
of numerous independent parties, particularly the PML/J. The unfavorable
circumstances surrounding PPP rule--the imperative of preserving a
coalition government, the formidable opposition of Nawaz Sharif's PML/N
movement, and the insecure provincial administrations--presented
significant difficulties for the government of Prime Minister Bhutto.
However, the election of Prime Minister Bhutto's close associate, Farooq
Leghari, as President in November 1993 gave her a stronger power base.
In November 1996, President Leghari dismissed the Bhutto government,
charging it with corruption, mismanagement of the economy, and
implication in extra-judicial killings in Karachi. Elections in February
1997 resulted in an overwhelming victory for the PML/Nawaz, and
President Leghari called upon Nawaz Sharif to form a government. In
March 1997, Sharif proposed and Parliament passed a constitutional
amendment removing the President's power to dissolve Parliament and
making his power to appoint military service chiefs and provincial
governors contingent on the "advice" of the Prime Minister.
Sharif has cited tackling the economic crisis, corruption and
institutional reform as his three primary objectives. In October 1997,
Sharif's government secured a $1.6-billion IMF assistance program.
Approval of the program is expected to trigger support from other
international financial institutions as well as give a boost to business
confidence and the markets. An increase in sectarian violence and a
lengthy confrontation over appointments of Supreme Court judges have
distracted the government from its stated objectives.
The Pakistan constitution of August 1973, amended substantially in 1985
under Zia, 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.
The National Assembly -- 217 members (10 of whom represent minorities)
elected directly by universal adult suffrage -- has a 5-year term. In
1990, a constitutional provision which established 20 reserved seats for
women expired and has not been renewed. The Senate consists of 87
members elected indirectly for 6 years (19 from each of the provincial
assemblies, 8 from the federally administered tribal areas, and 3 from
the federal capital area). One-third of the senate members stand for
reelection every 2 years.
Two lists--federal and concurrent--designate jurisdiction on legislative
subjects; all residual powers belong to the provinces. According to the
1973 constitution, the President, after consulting with the Prime
Minister, appoints provincial governors, who act on the advice of the
Cabinet or Chief Minister of the province.
The Supreme Court is Pakistan's highest court. The President appoints
the chief justice, and they together determine the other judicial
appointments. Each province has a high court, the justices of which are
appointed by the President after conferring with the Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court, the provincial governor, and the provincial chief
justice. During the martial law period, the powers and autonomy of the
civilian judiciary were curtailed. Several martial law decrees extended
the jurisdiction of military tribunals and prohibited the civilian
judiciary from reviewing the procedures and decisions of military
Pakistan's 585,000-member armed forces, the world's eighth largest, are
well trained and disciplined. Pakistan operates military equipment from
several foreign sources, among which the United States, China, France,
and the United Kingdom are the most significant. Much of this equipment
is becoming dated. The government's extensive efforts to modernize
Pakistan's defense capability are frustrated by the country's limited
industrial base and fiscal resources.
Until 1990, the United States provided military aid to Pakistan to
modernize Pakistan's conventional defensive capability. The United
States allocated about 40% of its assistance package to Pakistan to
nonreimbursable credits for military purchases; the remainder of the
program was devoted to economic assistance. U.S. government military and
new economic assistance to Pakistan, excepting counter-narcotics
assistance and disaster relief, was suspended in October 1990 due to the
Administration's inability to certify under the Pressler Amendment that
Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device.
Principal Government Officials
President--Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari
Prime Minister--Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Gohar Ayub Khan
Ambassador to the U.S.--Riaz Hussain Khokar
Ambassador to the UN--Ahmad Kamal
Pakistan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2315 Massachusetts
Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20008 (Tel. 202-939-6200).
Extreme poverty and underdevelopment in Pakistan obscure the reality of
a country which has the resources and entrepreneurial skill to support
rapid economic growth. In fact, the economy averaged an impressive
growth rate of 6.2% per year during the 1980s and early 1990s. However,
the economy is extremely vulnerable to Pakistan's external and internal
shocks, such as in 1992-93, when devastating floods and political
uncertainty combined to depress economic growth sharply. Average real
GDP growth from 1992 to 1997 dipped to 3.9% annually.
Since the early 1980s, the government has pursued market-based economic
reform policies. Market-based reforms began to take hold in 1988, when
the government launched an ambitious IMF-assisted structural adjustment
program in response to chronic and unsustainable fiscal and external
account deficits. Since that time, the government has removed barriers
to foreign trade and investment, begun to reform the financial system,
eased foreign exchange controls, and privatized dozens of state-owned
enterprises. Progress on reducing the budget and current-account
deficits has been mixed, however. The budget deficit in FY 1996-97 was
an estimated 6.2% of GDP, down only 0.1% over the previous fiscal year.
Over the same 2-year period, the Pakistani rupee has been devalued
twice, losing about 30% of its value against the U.S. dollar.
However, macroeconomic stability and sound fiscal policies were restored
during the second half of 1993 under the interim government of Prime
Minister Moeen Qureshi. Largely as a result, Pakistan was able to secure
a $1.3 billion financing package from the IMF in February 1994. The
government's FY 1994-95 budget was designed to broaden structural
reforms and reduce the budget deficit through tax reform and other
revenue mobilization measures. It also sought to contain defense
spending which, together with debt servicing, exceeds government
With a per capita GDP of about $470, Pakistan is considered a low-income
country by the World Bank. No more than 39% of adults are literate, and
life expectancy at birth is about 62 years. The population, currently
about 135 million, is growing at about 2.8% per year, roughly the same
rate as GDP growth. Relatively few resources have been devoted to socio-
economic development or infrastructure projects. Inadequate provision of
social services and high population growth have contributed to a
persistence of poverty and unequal income distribution.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
The country's principal natural resource is arable land (25% of the
total land area is under cultivation). It boasts one of the largest
irrigation systems in the world. Agriculture accounts for about 24% of
GDP and employs about 50% of the labor force. The most important crops
are wheat, cotton, and rice, which together account for almost 70% of
the value of total crop output. Intensive farming practices have enabled
Pakistan to become a net food exporter. Pakistan exports rice, fish,
fruits, and vegetables, and imports wheat, vegetable oil, and sugar.
The economic importance of agriculture has declined since independence
(when its share of GDP was around 53%). Following the poor harvest of
1993, the government introduced agriculture assistance policies, such as
increasing support prices for many agricultural commodities, expanding
the availability of agricultural credit, and providing incentives for
the import of agricultural machinery. From 1993 to 1997, real growth in
the agricultural sector averaged 5.7%, compared to about 4% for the
economy as a whole. Pakistan has extensive energy resources, including
fairly sizable natural gas reserves, some proven oil reserves, coal, and
large hydropower potential. However, the exploitation of energy
resources has been slow due to a shortage of capital and domestic
political constraints. For instance, domestic petroleum production
totals only about half the country's oil needs. Moreover, despite plans
to build several large power plants in the coming years, Pakistan's
energy grid is unable to meet the country's growing needs, creating an
energy gap which represents a major constraint on economic growth. The
need to import oil also contributes to Pakistan's persistent trade
deficits and the shortage of foreign exchange. Consequently, the
government has made development of the energy sector its first economic
priority. In FY 1996-97, real growth in the electricity and gas
distribution industry was nearly 12%. The latest policy aims to develop
thermal and hydropower generation capacity through private sector
investment while also encouraging development of offshore oil reserves.
Pakistan's manufacturing sector accounts for about 20% of GDP. Cotton
textile production and apparel manufacturing are Pakistan's largest
industries, accounting for about 50% of total exports. Other major
industries include cement, fertilizer, edible oil, sugar, steel,
tobacco, chemicals, machinery, and food processing. Despite ongoing
government efforts to privatize large-scale parastatal units, the public
sector continues to account for a significant proportion of industry. In
FY 1996-97, gross fixed capital formation in the public sector accounted
for about 38% of the total, a level that has remained stable throughout
the decade. In the face of an increasing trade deficit, the government
hopes to diversify the country's industrial base and bolster export
Foreign Trade and Aid
Weak world demand for its exports and domestic political uncertainty
have contributed to Pakistan's widening trade deficit. In FY 1996-97,
Pakistan recorded a current account deficit of $4.3 billion, up from
$1.8 billion in FY 1987-88 and only a slight improvement over the FY
1995-96 trade gap of $4.6 billion. Pakistan's exports continue to be
dominated by cotton textiles and apparel, despite government
diversification efforts. Major imports include petroleum and petroleum
products, edible oil, wheat, chemicals, fertilizer, capital goods,
industrial raw materials, and consumer products. External imbalance has
left Pakistan with a growing foreign debt burden. Principal and interest
payments in FY 1996-97 totaled $2.5 billion, more than double the amount
paid in FY 1987-88. Annual debt service now exceeds 27% of export
Pakistan receives about $2 billion per year in loan/grant assistance
from international financial institutions (e.g., the IMF, the World
Bank, and the Asian Development Bank) and bilateral donors.
Increasingly, the composition of assistance to Pakistan has shifted away
from grants toward loans repayable in foreign exchange. All new U.S.
economic assistance to Pakistan was suspended after October 1990, when
then-President Bush could no longer certify under the Pressler Amendment
to the Foreign Assistance Act [Section 620e(e)] "that Pakistan does not
possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed assistance
package reduces significantly the risk that Pakistan will acquire a
nuclear explosive device."
Pakistan is a prominent member of the Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) and an active member of the United Nations. In 1989,
Pakistan rejoined the British Commonwealth. Its foreign policy
encompasses historically difficult relations with India, a desire for a
stable Afghanistan, long-standing close relations with China, extensive
security and economic interests in the Persian Gulf, and wide-ranging
bilateral relations with the United States and other Western countries.
Since partition, relations between Pakistan and India have been
characterized by rivalry and suspicion. Although many issues divide the
two countries, the most sensitive one since independence has been the
status of Kashmir.
At the time of partition, the princely state of Kashmir, though ruled by
a Hindu Maharajah, had an overwhelmingly Muslim population. When the
Maharajah hesitated in acceding to either Pakistan or India in 1947,
some of his Muslim subjects, aided by tribesmen from Pakistan, revolted
in favor of joining Pakistan. In exchange for military assistance in
containing the revolt, the Kashmiri ruler offered his allegiance to
India. Indian troops occupied the eastern portion of Kashmir, including
its capital, Srinigar, while the western part came under Pakistani
India addressed this dispute in the United Nations on January 1, 1948.
One year later, the UN arranged a cease-fire along a line dividing
Kashmir, but leaving the northern end of the line undemarcated and the
vale of Kashmir (with the majority of the population) under Indian
control. India and Pakistan agreed with Indian resolutions which called
for a UN-supervised plebiscite to determine the state's future.
Full-scale hostilities erupted in September 1965, when India alleged
that insurgents trained and supplied by Pakistan were operating in
India-controlled Kashmir. Hostilities ceased 3 weeks later, following
mediation efforts by the UN and interested countries. In January 1966,
Indian and Pakistani representatives met in Tashkent, U.S.S.R., and
agreed to attempt a peaceful settlement of Kashmir and their other
Following the 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflict, President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi met in the mountain town of
Shimla, India, in July 1972. They agreed to a line of control in Kashmir
resulting from the December 17, 1971 cease-fire, and endorsed the
principle of settlement of bilateral disputes through peaceful means. In
1974, Pakistan and India agreed to resume postal and telecommunications
linkages, and to enact measures to facilitate travel. Trade and
diplomatic relations were restored in 1976 after a hiatus of 5 years.
India's nuclear test in 1974 generated great uncertainty in Pakistan and
is generally acknowledged to have been the impetus for Pakistan's
nuclear weapons development program. In 1983, the Pakistani and Indian
governments accused each other of aiding separatists in their respective
countries, i.e., Sikhs in India's Punjab state and Sindhis in Pakistan's
Sindh province. In April 1984, tensions erupted after troops were
deployed to the Siachen Glacier, a high-altitude desolate area close to
the China border left undemarcated by the cease-fire agreement (Karachi
Agreement) signed by Pakistan and India in 1949.
Tensions diminished after Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in November
1984 and after a group of Sikh hijackers was brought to trial by
Pakistan in March 1985. In December 1985, President Zia and Prime
Minister Gandhi pledged not to attack each other's nuclear facilities.
(A formal "no attack" agreement was signed in January 1991.) In early
1986, the Indian and Pakistani governments began high-level talks to
resolve the Siachen Glacier border dispute and to improve trade.
Bilateral tensions increased in early 1990, when Kashmiri militants
began a campaign of violence against Indian Government authority in
Jammu and Kashmir. Subsequent high-level bilateral meetings relieved the
tensions between India and Pakistan, but relations worsened again after
the destruction of the Ayodhya Mosque by Hindu extremists in December
1992 and terrorist bombings in Bombay in March 1993. Talks between the
Foreign Secretaries of both countries in January 1994 resulted in
After taking office in February 1997, Sharif moved to resume the
official dialogue with India. Meetings which have taken place at the
Foreign Secretary and Prime Ministerial level have featured positive
atmospherics and a mutual determination to keep the process going.
However, procedural issues have -- at least for the moment (November
1997) -- stalled further progress. Tensions remain, particularly over
Kashmir, nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation and other defense
and internal security matters, communal concerns, and economic issues.
Following the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Pakistani
Government played a vital role in supporting the Afghan resistance
movement and assisting Afghan refugees. After the Soviet withdrawal in
February 1989, Pakistan, with cooperation from the world community,
continued to provide extensive support for displaced Afghans. From 1992
to 1997 the United States has provided nearly $85 million in
humanitarian assistance for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, mainly through
multilateral organizations. In 1997, more than 1.2 million Afghan
refugees remained in Pakistan, as fighting between rival factions
continued in parts of the country.
Under military leader Ayub Khan, Pakistan sought to improve relations
with the Soviet Union; trade and cultural exchanges between the two
countries increased between 1966 and 1971. However, Soviet criticism of
Pakistan's position in the 1971 war with India weakened bilateral
relations, and many Pakistanis believed that the August 1971 Indo-Soviet
Treaty of Friendship, Peace and Cooperation encouraged Indian
belligerency. Subsequent Soviet arms sales to India, amounting to
billions of dollars on concessional terms, reinforced this argument.
During the 1980s, tensions increased between the Soviet Union and
Pakistan, because of the latter's key role in helping to organize
political and material support for the Afghan rebel forces. The
withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan and the collapse of the
former Soviet Union have resulted in significantly improved bilateral
People's Republic of China
In 1950, Pakistan was among the first countries to recognize the
People's Republic of China (P.R.C.). Following the Sino-Indian
hostilities of 1962, Pakistan's relations with China became stronger;
since then, the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits
resulting in a variety of agreements. China has provided economic,
military, and technical assistance to Pakistan.
Favorable relations with China have been a pillar of Pakistan's foreign
policy. The P.R.C. strongly supported Pakistan's opposition to Soviet
involvement in Afghanistan and is perceived by Pakistan as a regional
counterweight to India and Russia.
Iran and the Persian Gulf
Historically, Pakistan has had close geopolitical and cultural-religious
linkages with Iran. However, strains in the relationship appear to have
recently intensified. Pakistan and Iran support opposing factions in the
Afghan conflict. Also, some Pakistanis suspect Iranian support for
sectarian violence which has plagued Pakistan. Nevertheless, Pakistan
pursues an active diplomatic relationship with Iran.
Despite popular support for Iraq in 1991, the Pakistani government
supported the coalition against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and sent
11,600 troops to defend Saudi Arabia. Pakistan provides military
personnel to strengthen gulf-state defenses and to reinforce its own
security interests in the area.
The United States and Pakistan established diplomatic relations in 1947.
The U.S. agreement to provide economic and military assistance to
Pakistan and the latter's partnership in the Baghdad Pact/CENTO and
SEATO strengthened relations between the two nations. However, the U.S.
suspension of military assistance during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war
generated a widespread feeling in Pakistan that the United States was
not a reliable ally. Even though the United States suspended military
assistance to both countries involved in the conflict, the suspension of
aid affected Pakistan much more severely. Gradually, relations improved
and arms sales were renewed in 1975. Then, in April 1979, the United
States cut off economic assistance to Pakistan, except food assistance,
as required under the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act
of 1961, due to concerns about Pakistan's nuclear program.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 highlighted the
common interest of Pakistan and the United States in peace and stability
in South Asia. In 1981, the United States and Pakistan agreed on a $3.2-
billion military and economic assistance program aimed at helping
Pakistan deal with the heightened threat to security in the region and
its economic development needs.
Recognizing national security concerns and accepting Pakistan's
assurances that it did not intend to construct a nuclear weapon,
Congress waived restrictions (Symington Amendment) on military
assistance to Pakistan. In March 1986, the two countries agreed on a
second multi-year (FY 1988-93) $4-billion economic development and
security assistance program. On October 1, 1990, however, the United
States suspended all military assistance and new economic aid to
Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment, which required that the President
certify annually that Pakistan "does not possess a nuclear device."
Since then, both countries continue to cooperate in areas of common
interest such as UN peace-keeping missions.
There have been several incidents of violence against American officials
and U.S. mission employees in Pakistan. In November 1979, false rumors
that the United States had participated in the seizure of the Grand
Mosque in Mecca provoked a mob attack on the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.
The government's delayed response enabled the mob to burn the embassy.
Four people died, two of them U.S. nationals. The American Cultural
Center in Lahore also was destroyed by fire. At the time of the
incident, U.S. assistance to Pakistan had been suspended because of
concerns about Pakistan's nuclear program. In 1989, there was an attack
on the American Center in Islamabad, where six Pakistanis were killed in
the crossfire with the police. In March of 1995, two American employees
of the consulate in Karachi were killed and one wounded in an attack on
the home-to-office shuttle.
During the second Clinton Administration there has been renewed U.S.
Government interest in South Asia. The U.S. Government has been
encouraged by developments in the region, including resumption of
official dialogue between Pakistan and India, economic reforms in the
region, and strengthened democratic governments in all but two countries
in the region. This renewed interest is manifested in a series of high-
level visits of U.S. officials including the Under Secretary of State
for Political Affairs in October 1997, the Secretary of State in
November 1997, and a planned Presidential visit in the first quarter of
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Thomas W. Simons, Jr.
Deputy Chief of Mission--Alan W. Eastham
Defense Attache--Col. Herb Stoddard
Defense Representative--Col. James L. Spring
Counselor for Political Affairs--Thomas L. Price
Counselor for Economic Affairs--James S. Elliott
Public Affairs Officer--Barrie Walkley
Consul General--Bernard Alter
Consul General, Karachi--Douglas B. Archard
Principal Officer, Lahore--Geoffrey Pyatt
Principal Officer, Peshawar--Bradford E. Hanson
The U.S. Embassy is located at the Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5,
Islamabad [Tel. (92)-(51)-826161; telex 82-5-864].
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB).
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100.
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is
required). The CABB also carries international security information from
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication).
This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is
available on the Internet (www.state.usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the
NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.
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