The 62 kilometer long Baltoro Glacier, in northern Pakistan, is one of the longest glaciers outside the polar regions Pakistan covers 803,940 km2 (310,400 sq mi), approximately equalling the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. Its eastern regions are located on the Indian tectonic plate and the western and northern regions on the Iranian plateau and Eurasian landplate. Apart from the 1,046 km (650 mi) Arabian Sea coastline, Pakistan’s land borders total 6,774 km (4,209 mi) — 2,430 km (1,510 mi) with Afghanistan to the northwest, 523 km (325 mi) with China to the northeast, 2,912 km (1,809 mi) with India to the east and 909 km (565 mi) with Iran to the southwest. The northern and western highlands of Pakistan contain the towering Karakoram and Pamir mountain ranges, which incorporate some of the world’s highest peaks, including K2 (8,611 m/28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat (8,126 m/26,660 ft). The Balochistan Plateau lies to the West, and the Thar Desert in the East. An expanse of alluvial plains lies in Punjab and Sindh along the Indus river. The 1,609 km (1,000 mi) Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea. Pakistan has four seasons: a cool, dry winter from December through February; a hot, dry spring from March through May; the summer rainy season, or southwest monsoon period, from June through September; and the retreating monsoon period of October and November. The onset and duration of these seasons vary somewhat according to location.Rainfall can vary radically from year to year, and successive patterns of flooding and drought are also not uncommon. Pakistan is the second-most populous Muslim-majority countryand also has the second-largest Shi’a population in the world. About 95% of the Pakistanis are Muslim. The majority are Sunni, with an estimated 10% to 30% Shi’a 2.3% are Ahmadis who are officially considered non-Muslims since a 1974 “anti-Ahmadi” constitutional amendment. There are also several Sufi communities. Although the groups of Muslims usually coexist peacefully, sectarian violence occurs sporadically.The religious breakdown of the country is as follows: · Islam 173,000,000 (96%) (the majority are Sunni, 10% to 30% are Shi’a and 2.3% are Ahmadis). · Hinduism 3,200,000 (1.85%) · Christianity 2,800,000 (1.6%) · Sikhs Around 20,000 (0.001%) · The remaining are Parsis, Buddhists, Jews, Bahá’ís, and Animists (mainly the Kalasha of Chitral). Pakistan is a multilingual country with more than sixty languages being spoken. English is the official language of Pakistan and used in official business, government, and legal contracts. · Urdu is the national language. · Punjabi is the provincial language of Punjab.Saraiki is also spoken in larger area of punjab province. · Pashto is the provincial language of North-West Frontier Province. · Sindhi is the provincial language of Sindh
· Balochi is the provincial language of Balochistan.
Flora and Fauna
· Markhor, of which there are five distinct kinds, is the national animal of Pakistan.
· The Chiltan Markhor, because of its long horns looks very conspicuous. Ever since the Markhor has been given protection its number has multiplied.
· Other animals in the park are straight horned Markhors, “Gad” (wild sheep) and leopards which occasionally migrate to the park from other areas, wolves, striped hyena, hares, wild cats and porcupines.
· Pakistan’s wide range of animal life includes the Siberian ibex, wild sheep, buffalo, bear, wolf, jackal, fox, wildcat, musk cat, hyena, porcupine, gazelle, peacock, python, and boar . · In the south, there are crocodiles in the murky waters at the mouth of the Indus River whilst on the banks of the river, there are boars, deer, porcupines, and small rodents.
· In the sandy scrublands of central Pakistan are found jackals, hyenas, wild cats, panthers, and leopards while the clear blue skies abound with hawks, falcons, and eagles.
· In the southwestern deserts are rare Asiatic cheetahs.
· In the northern mountains are a variety of endangered animals including Marco Polo sheep, Urial sheep, Markhor and Ibex goats, black and brown Himalayan bears, and the rare Snow Leopard. Another rare species is the blind Indus River Dolphin of which there are believed to be about 1,100 remaining, protected at the Indus River Dolphin Reserve in Sindh.
· Chinkara is the only animal that can still be found in significant numbers in Cholistan, but rarely in Thall. The blackbuck, once plentiful in Cholistan, has now been eliminated; efforts are being made to reintroduce them into the country.
· A small number of blue bulls are found along the Pakistan-Indian border, and in some parts of Cholistan. Grey partridge, species of sand grouse and the Indian courser are the main birds of the area. Peafowl occur in some areas in Cholistan.
Birds · The national bird is the Chukar, also known as Chakhoor in Urdu.
· Many birds like partridge, warblers, shikras, blue rock pigeon, rock nuthatch, red gilled choughs, golden eagle, sparrow, hawks, falcons and bearded vultures are either found here or visit the park in different seasons.
Reptiles like monitor and other wild lizards, geckos, Afghan tortoise, python, cobra, horned viper and Levantine may also be seen in the park.
Flora Amongst the flora of the Park are the 225 species of plants. Prominent are the pistachios, juniper, wild olive, wild ash and wild almond. Many shrubs like wild fig, barbery, wild cherry, makhi, etc., provide food and shelter to the foraging animals, birds and other life forms. Medicinal herbs like Ephedra intermadia, gerardiana and nabro (densis) and Artemista (scoparia and martima) are also found in the park. There is a splash of colour in spring when most of the plants are in bloom. Nature lovers, students, scientists and researchers are welcome to visit the park at any time of the year. The mangrove forests of the coastal region give way to the mulberry, acacia, and date palms of the sparsely vegetated south; the foothills support phulai, kao, chinar, and wild olive, and the northern forests have stands of oak, chestnut, walnut, pine, ash, spruce, yew, and fir. Above 3,000 m (10,000 ft), birch, dwarf willow, and juniper are also found.
The forests range from coniferous alpine and subalpine trees such as spruce, pine, and deodar cedar in the northern mountains to deciduous trees such as the mulberry-type Shisham in the Sulaiman range in the south.
The western hills have juniper and tamarisk as well as coarse grasses and scrub plants. Along the southern coast are mangrove forests which form much of the coastal wetlands. There are a large variety of trees that are native to the Pakistan region with many that can be found through-out the South Asian sub-continent. Vast sections of the Indus flood plains have been cleared of natural vegetation to grow crops.
Culture and Tradition
The literature of Pakistan covers the literatures of languages spread throughout the country, namely Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Baluchi as well as English and Persian as well. Prior to the 19th century, the literature mainly consisted of lyric poetry and religious, mystical and popular materials. During the colonial age the native literary figures, under the influence of the western literature of realism, took up increasingly different topics and telling forms. Today, short stories enjoy a special popularity. The national poet of Pakistan, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, suggested the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. However, Iqbal had also wrote the Tarana-e-Hind which stated the belief of a strong united India. His book The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam is a major work of modern Islamic philosophy. The most well-known representative of the contemporary Urdu literature of Pakistan is Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Sufi poets Shah Abdul Latif, Bulleh Shah, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Khawaja Farid are also very popular in Pakistan.Mirza Kalich Beg has been termed the father of modern Sindhi prose.
Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a key leader in the Pakistan Movement and is a popular poet in Pakistan
· Pakistani society is largely hierarchical, with high regard for traditional Islamic values, although urban families have grown into a nuclear family system because of the socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system.
· Recent decades have seen the emergence of a middle class in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan and Peshawar (now numbering at 30 million, with an average annual income of US$10,000, with another 17 million belonging to the upper and upper-middle classes) that wish to move in a more centrist direction, as opposed to the northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan that remain highly conservative and dominated by centuries-old regional tribal customs. Increasing globalization has resulted in ranking 46th on the A.T. Kearney/FP Globalization Index.
· The variety of Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and western music, such as the synchronisation of Qawwali and western music by the world renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
· Pakistan is home to many famous folk singers such as the late Alam Lohar, who is also well known in Indian Punjab. However, majority of Pakistanis listen to Indian music produced by Bollywood and other Indian film industries.
· The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has rekindled Pashto and Persian music and established Peshawar as a hub for Afghan musicians and a distribution center for Afghan music abroad.
· State-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation were the dominant media outlets, but there are now numerous private television channels.
· Various American, European, and Asian television channels and films are available to the majority of the Pakistani population via private television networks, cable, and satellite television (43 million Pakistanis have satellite television).
· There are also small indigenous film industries based in Lahore and Peshawar (often referred to as Lollywood). And while Bollywood films have been banned from being played in public cinemas since 1965 they have remained popular in popular culture
· The arrival of Islam in today’s Pakistan meant a sudden end of Buddhist architecture. However, a smooth transition to predominantly pictureless Islamic architecture occurred.
· The architecture of the areas now constituting Pakistan can be designated to four distinct periods—pre-Islamic, Islamic, colonial and post-colonial. With the beginning of the Indus civilization around the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C. an advanced urban culture developed for the first time in the region, with large structural facilities, some of which survive to this day. Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kot Diji belong to the pre-Islamic era settlements. The rise of Buddhism and the Persian and Greek influence led to the development of the Greco-Buddhist style, starting from the 1st century CE. The high point of this era was reached with the culmination of the Gandhara style. An example of Buddhist architecture is the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in the northwest province.
· The most important of the few completely discovered buildings of Persian style is the tomb of the Shah Rukn-i-Alam in Multan. During the Mughal era design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were fused with and often produced playful forms of the Hindustani art. · Lahore, occasional residence of Mughal rulers, exhibits a multiplicity of important buildings from the empire, among them the Badshahi mosque, the fortress of Lahore with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the colourful, still strongly Persian seeming Wazir Khan Mosque as well as numerous other mosques and mausoleums. · The Shahjahan Mosque of Thatta in Sindh originates from the epoch of the Mughals. · In the British colonial period, predominantly functional buildings of the Indo-European representative style developed from a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic components. Post-colonial national identity is expressed in modern structures like the Faisal Mosque, the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Mazar-e-Quaid.
Festivals in Pakistan.
Religious festival celebrated on 14th of Shaaban, the 8th Islamic month. Prayers, fire works, exchange of sweet dishes and visits. Eid-ul-Fitr
Religious festival celebrating end of fasting month on 1st of Shawwal, the 10th month of Islamic Calendar. Special prayer after sun-rise, exchange of sweet dishes, visits.
Sibi Festival: (Last week of February)
At Sibi (Balochistan). Traditional sports, handicrafts exhibition, folk music and dances.
Sindh Horse & Cattle Show: (Last week of February)
At Jacobabad (Sindh). Similar activities as in Sibi Festival.
Jashan-e-Larkana:(Last week of February) At Larkana (Sindh). Traditional sports, exhibition of handicrafts, folk music and dances.
With the advent of spring Basant Festival is celebrated with pomp and show in mid February every year in Lahore. In other words this is the springfestival.
Alleging that kite flying is a Hindu event is also sheer ignorance. The sport originated in China about 5000 years ago, when Hinduism was in non existent. Why single out kite-flying then, especially when it is a source of joy for the old and the young men and women? The simple reason is that Hindu at Basant Festival fly kites for enjoying Basant. With times Muslims who were living together with Hindus in the sub-continent also join them in kite-flying. Since then Muslims are taking participation in just kite-flying at the time of Basant connotating it as Pala Urant. Now a days people of Lahore enjoy it by kite flying competition and by visiting the shrine of saint Madho Lal Hussein, where they assemble to pay their benediction.
Lahore is becoming the main focal point for the celebration of this festival in Pakistan. People traditionally fly kites on the roofs of their buildings. It is commonly observed that rest houses, hotels and house of relatives of the participants are fully packed with guests from all over the country. Moreover some five star hotels also arrange this function on their roof top for foreigners and other high class gentry. They also arrange variety of dishes with musical concert. Sometimes Lahorities on this occasion become emotional and in this state create law and order problems for the administration. Some of them use metal thread for kite-flying. Their such a deed oftenly imposes, besides life threat, a serious problem for WAPDA when the thread touches the live wires.
Inspite of the fact Basant Festival which has no links with the Muslim culture is becoming very popular and being celebrated in Lahore regularly every year with zeal and fervent.
Nauroze: (21-23 March)
Celebrated only in Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Chitral. Polo, foot-ball, volley-ball and hockey matches, folk dances and music.
Pakistan Day *: (23 March)
Commemorating the anniversary of Pakistan Resolution passed on March 23, 1940. Military parade at provincial capitals and Islamabad.
Mela Chiraghan (Festival of lamps): (Last week of March)
Held for 01 week outside Shalimar Gardens, Lahore.
Horse & Cattle Show: (End of March till 1st week of April).
At Dera Ismail Khan. Local games, folk dances, music, cattle races and exhibition of local handicrafts.
Jashan-e-Shikarpur: (In April for 01 week)
At Shikarpur, Sindh. Cultural activities, local sports and handicrafts exhibition.
Eid-ul-Azha * :
Religious festival commemorating the great sacrifice offered by Prophet Abraham. Celebrated on 10 Zilhaj, 12th month of Islamic Calendar. Collective prayers after sun set, sacrifice of goats, sheep, cows or camels and distribution of meat among relatives, friends and poor.
Joshi or Chilimjusht: (14-15 May)
Kalash festival of welcoming spring, held in Kalash Valleys near Chitral. Folk dances, music and exchange of dishes.
Shandur Polo Festival
Traditional polo tournament between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit is being held on the highest polo ground of the world – The Shandur Pass (Chitral district). Allied activities include fold music, folk dances and other competitions. A tent village along Shandur Lake will be set up in cooperation with the local administration.
Utchal: (15-16 July)
A harvest festival, celebrated by Kalash people in Kalash Valleys, Chitral.
Birth Anniversary of Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (P.B.U.H). on 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal – the 3rd month of Islamic Calendar.
Independence Day *: (14 August)
Meeting, processions, rallies, decorations and illustrations all over the country.
Defense of Pakistan Day: (06 September)
Parades and exhibitions of military equipment at Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi. Visits to the war memorials. (No national holiday except Armed Forces)
Air force Day: (07 September)
Display of latest aircraft of Pakistan Air force and air shows at Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.
Phool: (20 – 25 September)
Held in Kalash Valleys near Chitral. Reaping grapes and walnuts, dancing and singing.
Lok Mela: (1st week of October, for one week) Folk Festival held at Islamabad. Folk Music, songs, music contests, folk dances, craftsmen at work, exhibition and sale of handicrafts. The festival presents a unique opportunity to watch the culture and craft of the whole country at one place.
Chowmas: (18-21 October)
Held in Kalash Valleys near Chitral. Welcoming of winter with first snow-fall. Activities restrict to indoor.
Karakoram Car Rally: A colorful closing/award giving ceremony was held in Hunza Valley. Prizes, shields, certificates were distributed among the ralliers. SAF-International Karakoram Car Rally was also planned for year 2001, but it was postponed. International Karakoram Car Rally has been proposed to be held during the month of November in 2002 as part of the International Year of Mountains celebrations
Birthday of Allama Muhammad Iqbal: .(09 November)
National Poet * .
National Industrial Exhibition Islamabad:
Exhibition and sale of Pakistan’s industrial products and handicraft items
National Industrial Exhibition Lahore: (3rd week of November for 15 days)
Held at Fortress Stadium, Lahore. Exhibition and sale of industrial products and handicrafts of Pakistan.
National Horse & Cattle Show Lahore: (3rd week of November for 05 days ) Held at Fortress Stadium, Lahore. Cattle races, cattle dances, tent-pegging, tattoo show, folk music, dances, bands, cultural floats and folk games.
The show has been described as an eloquent expression of Pakistan’s heritage and an authentic account of its agricultural and industrial achievement’s. It is held in Lahore Fortress stadium at the end of February or at First week of March. The fortress stadium, the venue of the show is thronged by active participants, foreign visitors and peoples who watch the festival with great enthusiasm, verve and aplomb.
A large number of them are interested in watching and appreciating the best breeds of livestock. Many derive pleasure by watching other activities such as display parade of animals, dances by horses and camels, polo matches, tent pegging, dog shows and their races, vaudeville acts of stuntmen, mass display of military band, rhythmically physical exercise by the children.
Tastefully decorated industrial floats and torch light tattoo shows. Additional attractions include a subtle interplay of lights to weave enticing patterns at night and breath taking acts by foreign groups. The show began as a modest exhibition organized by the army to project the cattle wealth of the country in the early fifties.
Today it is an international event to which come dignitaries from abroad and visitors and foreign tourists. The organizing committee comprises representatives of a number of agencies including army, rangers, LMC schools, the police, industrialists and the art councils.
Christmas and Birth Anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam: (25 December)
Kashmir Day has been celebrated on 5 February each year since 1990 as a day of protest against Indian control of part of Kashmir. It is a national holiday in Pakistan.
Mountain Ranges, Peaks and Passes
Pakistan has within its borders some of the world’s highest and most spectacular mountains. Some of the famous mountain ranges of Pakistan are Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Sulaiman, Toba Kakar, Kirthar and Salt range. The Northern and Western Highlands produced by the mountain building movement extended from the Makran Coast in the south to the Pamir Plateau in the extreme north. The Northern and Western Highlands cover most of Balochistan, NWFP, Northern Areas (Gilgit Agency) and parts of the Punjab. These can be further divided into five physiographic entities: · Mountainous North · Koh-e-Safaid and Waziristan Hills · Sulaiman and Kirthar Mountains · Balochistan Plateau · Potowar Plateau and the Salt Ranges
In the northern part of the country, the Hindu Kush mountains converge with the Karakoram Range, a part of the Himalayan mountain system. These ranges have a large number of peaks ranging from 6000 to 8611 meters above the sea level. Pakistan has the densest concentration of high mountains in the world: five peaks over 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) and 101 peaks over 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) above sea level within a radius of 180 kilometers (112 miles). Thirteen of the world’s 30 tallest peaks are in Pakistan. The tallest include K2 (also known as Mount Godwin Austen), the second highest peak in the world at 8,611 m (28,251 ft), in the Karakoram Range; Nanga Parbat (8,125 m/26,657 ft) in the Himalayas; and Tirich Mir (7,690 m/25,230 ft) in the Hindu Kush. The Mountainous North covers the northern parts of Pakistan and comprises parallel mountain ranges intervened by narrow and deep river valleys. East of the Indus River, the mountain ranges in general run from east to west. To its west – from north to south – run the following important mountain ranges: · The Himalayas · The Karakorams
· The Hindu Kush
The Himalayas The western most parts of the Himalayas fall in Pakistan. The sub-Himalayas – the southern most ranges – do not rise to great heights (600 – 1200 masl). The Lesser Himalayas lie to the north of the sub-Himalayas and rise to 1,800 – 4,600 masl. The Great Himalayas are located north of the Lesser Himalayas. They attain snowy heights (of more than 4,600 m). The Karakoram Ranges
The Karakoram Ranges in the extreme north rise to an average height of 6,100 m. Mount Goodwin Austin (K-2) – the second highest peak in the world – is 8,610 m and located in the Karakorams.
The Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush Mountains take off the western side of the Pamir Plateau that is located to the west of the Karakorams. These mountains take a southerly turn and rise to snowy heights. Some of the peaks rise to great heights like Noshaq (7,369 m), and Tirich Mir (7,690 m).
Koh-e-Safaid and Waziristan Hills
The Koh-e-Safaid Ranges have an east-west trend and rise to an average height of 3,600m. They are commonly covered with snow. Sikeram, the highest peak in Koh-e-Safaid Ranges rises to 4,760 m. Similarly, the elevation of Waziristan Hills ranges from 1,500 and 3,000 m. Sulaiman and Kirthar Mountains The Sulaiman-Kirthar Mountain Ranges extending from south of Gomal River, lie between Balochistan Plateau and the Indus Plains. On reaching the Murre-Bugti Hills, they turn northward and extend up to Quetta. Further south, they meet the Kirthar Mountains, which merge in to the Kohistan area of Sindh. The Sulaiman Mountains rise to an average height of 600 m that decreases southward. Takht-e-Sulaiman (3,487 m) and Takatu (3,470m) are the highest peaks of the Sulaiman Ranges.
The Balochistan Plateau is located west of the Sulaiman-Kirthar Mountains. Its western part is dominated by a number of sub-parallel ranges: the Makran Coast Range (600 m), and the Central Makran Range (900 – 1200 m). The highest peak Ras Koh, attains a height of 3010 m.
Potowar Plateau and the Salt Ranges
The Potwar Plateau and the Salt Range region are located to the south of the mountainous north and lie between the Indus river on the west and the Jhelum river on the east. Its northern boundary is formed by the Kala Chitta Ranges and the Margalla Hills and the southern boundary by the Salt Ranges. The Kala Chitta Range rises to an average height of 450 – 900 m and extends for about 72 km. The main Potwar Plateau extends north of the Salt Range. It is an undulating area 300 – 600 m high. The Salt Ranges have a steep face towards the south and slope gently in to the Potwar Plateau in the north. They extend from Jhelum River up to Kalabagh where they cross the Indus river and enter the Bannu district and rise to an average height of 750 – 900 m. Sakesar Peak (1,527 m) is the highest point of the Salt Ranges.
Many mountain passes cross Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan and China. Passes crossing over the mountains bordering Afghanistan include the Khyber, Bolan, Khojak, Kurram, Tochi, Gomal and Karakoram passes.
· The most well-known and well-traveled is the 56 kilometer long Khyber Pass in the northwest. It links Peshawar in Pakistan with Jalalabad in Afghanistan, where it connects to a route leading to the Afghan capital of Kabul. It is the widest and lowest of all the mountain passes, reaching a maximum elevation of 1,072 m (3,517 ft). · The route of the Bolan Pass links Quetta in Baluchistan Province with Kandahar in Afghanistan; it also serves as a vital link within Pakistan between Sind and Baluchistan provinces. Historically, the Khyber and Bolan passes were used as the primary routes for invaders to enter India from Central Asia, including the armies of Alexander the Great. · The Tochi pass connects Ghazni in Afghanistan with Bannu in Pakistan and the Gomal pass provides an easy access from Afghanistan to Dera Ismail Khan in Pakistan and the Punjab.
· Also historically significant is Karakoram Pass, on the border with China. For centuries it was part of the trading routes known as the Silk Road, which linked China and other parts of Asia with Europe.
List of forts in Pakistan
· Sharda Castle · Throtchi Castle · Baghsar Fort · Ramkot Fort · Quetta Fort · Kalat Fort · Baltit Fort · Skardu Fort · Altit Fort · Bala Hisar Fort · Chitral Fort · Chakdarra Fort · Drosh Fort · Jamrud Fort · Malakand Fort · Miranshah Fort · Wana Fort · Kohat Fort · Attock Fort · Rohtas Fort · Derawar Fort · Lahore Fort · Noor Mahal · Sadiq Ghar Palace · Darbar Mahal · Pharwala Castle · Sheikhupura Fort · Multan Fort · Fort Abbas · Kot Diji Fort · Ranikot Fort · Faiz Mahal · Qasim fort · Rawat Fort