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October 2008

Pakistan, 2002

Pakistan, 2002

Pakistan is located in Southern Asia bordering the Arabian Sea, between India to the east and Iran and Afghanistan to the west and China to the north. Pakistan covers an area of 803,943 sq. km. and is almost twice the size of California. The majority of Pakistan's population lives along the Indus River valley and along an arc formed by the cities of Faisalabad, Peshawar, Lahore, and Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Pakistan controls Khyber Pass and Bolan Pass, the traditional invasion routes between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

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 possible theory is that it was crushed by successive invasions (circa 2000 B.C. through 1400 B.C.) of Aryans and 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. Archeological research on the area continues.

President Asif Ali Zardari has been in office since September 9, 2008. The president is elected by secret ballot through an Electoral College comprising of the members of the Senate, National Assembly, and the provincial assemblies for a five-year term. The next presidential election is scheduled to be held not later than 2013. On March 24, 2008, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was elected as prime minister; the prime minister is selected by the National Assembly. Pakistan’s Executive Cabinet is appointed by the President upon the advice of the prime minister.

Pakistani government and military leaders are struggling to control Islamist militants, many of whom are located in the tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan. The Pakistani government is also faced with a deteriorating economy as foreign exchange reserves decline, the currency depreciates, and the current account deficit widens.

Environment issues include water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff. Most of the country’s population does not have access to potable water, as natural fresh water resources are limited.

Natural hazards include frequent earthquakes and flooding along the Indus River after heavy rains, usually in July and August. On Tuesday, October 28, 2008, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan near the city of Quetta.

For more information on earthquakes in these regions, see the United States Geological Survey.

CIA World Factbook, United States State Dept. Background Notes, 10/2008, 07/2008

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