The Punjabi account for almost one-half of the population. The Sindhi and the Pashtun (Pathan) are the largest minorities. Other significant groups include the Baluchi and the Muhajir. The Muhajir are immigrants from India and their descendants. Since 1978 Pakistan has been home to Afghan refugees who fled their country's civil war. At one time more than 3 million refugees were living in Pakistan; now they are estimated at just over 1 million, many of them living in officially designated camps.
The two largest cities are Karachi and Lahore. The capital city is Islamabad. The country's urban areas have a population growth rate of 4.25 percent (1995-2000); substantial migration to cities in recent years has contributed to this growth. Rapid urban migration has increased problems such as traffic congestion and pollution in cities.
Many languages and dialects are spoken in Pakistan, reflecting the country's ethnic diversity. English is used in government and education. However, the use of Urdu, the official language, is encouraged in place of English to foster unity. Although only a minority speak Urdu as a first language, most Pakistanis speak it as a second language. Each province is free to use its own regional languages and dialects.
About four-fifths of the people of Pakistan are Sunni Muslim and another one-fifth are Shiite Muslim. Pakistan also has small Hindu and Christian minorities. Freedom of worship is guaranteed. There are five pillars of Islam—a Muslim is required to profess faith in one God and God's prophet, Muhammad; to pray five times daily facing Mecca (Makkah), Saudi Arabia; to fast from dawn to dusk during the lunar month of Ramadan; to give alms; and to make a pilgrimage to Mecca if he or she has the means to do so.
Individual choice of marriage partners has traditionally played a small role in the marriage process, and arranged marriages are still the standard. Formal engagements may last from a few months to many years, depending on the age of the couple. In some cases, the bride and groom meet for the first time on their wedding day. Pakistanis view marriage as a union of two families as much as a union of two people. Both families participate in the wedding preparations. A Qazi, or judge, completes the marriage contract between the two families. Wedding rituals are elaborate, and men and women generally celebrate separately.
Although increased modernization has brought many women into public life, the male is considered head of the home. It is common for the extended family—a father and mother, children and their families—to live together in the same household. The presiding male of the family has significant influence over the lives of all family members, although women are becoming more active in decision making. Islamic law permits a man to have up to four wives if he can care for each equally, but very few Pakistani men have more than one. The elderly are highly respected.
Nuclear families are generally large, with the average woman bearing 4.91 children per woman (1998) children in her lifetime. The government promotes family planning to help curb population growth.
The mainstay of the Pakistani diet is chapati or roti, an unleavened bread similar to pita bread. Pakistani food is generally spicy and oily. Observant Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol, and strict civil laws govern the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. A type of yogurt is commonly eaten at meals, and rice is part of many meals and desserts. Two customary dishes include pulla'o (lightly fried rice with vegetables) and biryani (rice with meat or vegetables and spices). Kheer is a type of rice pudding.
Only the more affluent families can afford to eat meat (usually mutton, lamb, beef, or chicken) or fish regularly. For marriage feasts, chicken curry is common. There are significant regional differences in cuisine. For example, curries and heavy spices prevail in the south, while barbecuing is more common in the north. The kabab, strips or chunks of meat barbecued over an open grill on a skewer, is cooked with or without spices and is prepared in various ways. Vegetables and fruits figure prominently in the diet. Snack foods include samosas (deep-fried pastry triangles filled with vegetables) and pakoras (floured and deep-fried vegetables). Tea is the most popular drink.
Muslims use only the right hand to eat food. In urban areas, many people have dining tables and may eat with utensils. In rural areas, people sit on the floor or ground to eat. Whenever possible, the whole family eats together. Chapati is used to scoop up the food. Often the father feeds young children and the mother feeds infants. In large groups, men and women eat in separate areas. Extended families often gather for large meals. During the month of Ramzan (Ramadan), Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sundown. They eat together in the evenings, which are also occasions to visit or offer prayers. During Ramzan, it is considerate for non-Muslims to avoid eating or drinking in front of Muslims during daylight hours.
A handshake is the most common greeting in Pakistan, although close friends may embrace if meeting after a long absence. Women might greet each other with a handshake or hug. It is not appropriate for a man to shake hands with a woman or to touch her in public. Greetings often include inquiries about one's health and family, which can take some time. In Pakistan, the most common greeting is Assalaam alaikum ("May peace be upon you"). The reply is Waalaikum assalaam ("And peace also upon you"). "Good-bye" is Khodha haafiz. Male friends may walk hand in hand or with their arms over each other's shoulders.
There is a long tradition of hospitality in Pakistan, and friends and relatives visit each other frequently. Hosts take pride in making guests feel welcome and whenever possible will greet each person individually. Visitors are usually offered coffee, tea, or soft drinks, and may be invited to eat a meal. It is usual to accept, although one may decline by offering a polite explanation. If well acquainted with the hosts or if the occasion is special, guests often bring fruit, sweets, or a gift for the children or the home, but anything that is expensive may embarrass the hosts. It is customary to socialize primarily before a meal and then to stay at least a half hour after the meal is finished. In traditional homes, men and women do not socialize together, but it is now common for educated urban dwellers of both genders to mingle socially.
Introduced during the British colonial period, cricket, field hockey, and squash are among the most popular sports. Sports developed in Pakistan include a particular type of team wrestling called kabaddi, and polo, which was adopted by the British. In kabaddi, two teams face each other. A player tags an opponent; he then attempts to get back to his team as his opponent comes after him and tries to restrain him by wrestling him down to the ground until his time is up. Pakistanis also enjoy soccer and tennis. Going to the cinema, watching television or videos, having picnics, listening to music, and visiting friends and family members are all popular forms of recreation.
Secular holidays include Pakistan Day (23 March); Labor Day (1 May); Independence Day (14 August); Defense of Pakistan Day (6 September); the Anniversary of the Death of Quaid-e-Azam, or Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the nation's founder (11 September); Allama Iqbal Day (9 November); and the Birth of Quaid-e-Azam (25 December). There are also bank holidays in December and July.
Islamic holidays are scheduled by the lunar calendar and fall on different days each year. The most important ones include Eid-ul-Fitr, the threeday feast at the end of the month of Ramzan (Ramadan); Eid-ul-Azha (Feast of the Sacrifice), which commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, as well as the pilgrimage (haj) to Mecca (Makkah); and Eid-i-Milad-un-Nabi, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. During Ramzan evenings, many towns sponsor fairs and other celebrations. During Shab-Barat, which precedes Ramzan, Pakistani Muslims ask God, known as Allah, to forgive their deceased loved ones. This is a night for prayer in mosques, reading the Qur’an, and visiting graveyards. It is believed that this is the time at which Allah decides people's fates for the coming year. People also light fireworks, light up the exteriors of mosques, and donate food to the needy.
In general, the music of Pakistan is similar in style to North Indian music, with some added influences from Central Asia. Instruments used in folk music are likewise similar to those found in North Indian folk traditions. The ?holak is a large, double-headed cylindrical drum, with one head pitched lower than the other. It is held horizontally and played with both hands as accompaniment for dance and many forms of singing. The ?hol is a similar instrument played with beaters for outdoor public entertainment and announcements. The highly rhythmic playing styles of these drums are often accentuated by other small pulse-marking instruments, such as small cymbals, wooden clappers, and ankle bells worn by dancers.
An important folk melody instrument is the shahnai, a double-reed oboe played with circular breathing, a technique in which the performer continuously fills the cheeks with air, like a bellows, in order to get a constant, unbroken sound. The bin is a set of parallel reed pipes, one used as a drone and the other as a chanter. This is the stereotypical snake charmer's instrument. Introduced originally by European missionaries, the harmonium, a small and portable bellow-operated organ, is a very popular instrument for vocal accompaniment. The rabab is a plucked lute also found in Afghanistan.
Art music uses the concept of raga, a kind of scale system which not only specifies what notes are in the scales, but also how they are treated and grouped together. A typical performance would begin with a solo instrument exploring the pitches and melodic formulae of the raga, going from low to high. Eventually the player goes into set rhythmic cycles called tala, often with drums to mark the beat. As in India, there are many drone instruments, and drone effects are also provided by attaching sympathetic strings to the instruments to provide reinforcing vibrations. The sarangi is the chief instrument in art music. A bowed violin with a fretless neck and skin-covered body, it is also widely played in India.
In the second half of the 20th century, genres of urban popular music and music from films, mostly in the Urdu and Punjabi languages, have proliferated over radio and television. Famous Sufi devotional singers, such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri Brothers, have also greatly popularized the song genre qawwali. Featuring dramatic vocal improvisations based on religious poetry, qawwali songs are accompanied by the harmonium and ?holak, or tabla. The electrified versions of qawwali have climbed the international "world beat" charts.
Karachi is the seat of some of the most important libraries in Pakistan, including the Liaquat Memorial Library, the Central Secretariat Library, and the University of Karachi library. Also of note are the National Archives of Pakistan in Islamabad and the Punjab Public Library, Quaid-e-Azam Library, and Punjab University library, all in Lahore.
The National Museum of Pakistan, in Karachi, contains important materials from the Indus Valley civilizations, as well as Buddhist and Islamic artifacts. Cultural materials are also displayed in the Lahore Museum and the Peshawar Museum. The Industrial and Commercial Museum in Lahore contains exhibits on the products manufactured in Pakistan.
Pakistan's president, who is elected by the national and provincial legislatures, has the power under the constitution to dismiss the prime minister and dissolve parliament. The bicameral legislature comprises a 217-member National Assembly (the lower house) elected for five years, and an 87-member Senate elected to six-year terms; one-third of Senate seats are up for election every two years. Pakistan is made up of four provinces (each with an appointed governor and an elected legislature), the federal capital of Islamabad, and federally administered "tribal" areas. The voting age is 21.
There has been an ongoing debate within Pakistan as to how much influence Shari'a (the Islamic code of religious law) should have on society. Most people support the current approach in which Shari'a is used when practical, but Western legal and business practices also exist. This approach allows for certain personal freedoms, but some Pakistanis oppose the mixed system as undermining Islamic values.
The tensions between Hindus and Muslims on the Indian subcontinent were recognized by Great Britain. Therefore, in 1947, when Great Britain finally agreed to independence for the subcontinent it was as two countries: India, incorporating the predominantly Hindu areas; and Pakistan, incorporating the predominantly Muslim areas. However, the Muslim areas were on opposite sides of India, 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) apart, so the country of Pakistan was divided into West Pakistan and East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). Partition was traumatic. War broke out in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, where a mainly Muslim population was ruled by a Hindu prince; a cease-fire was arranged in 1949, but the area has remained a source of tension between Pakistan and India ever since.
In newly independent Pakistan, internal tensions soon emerged between West Pakistan, the center of political and military power, and East Pakistan, where a majority of the population lived. The conflict between East and West eventually led to civil war in 1971. After India intervened, East Pakistan seceded and renamed itself Bangladesh. In the power vacuum created by the army's defeat in the civil war, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was elected leader of Pakistan. He introduced a policy of "Islamic socialism," but as separatist tensions resurfaced he became increasingly repressive. Victory for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party in the 1977 elections was met by opposition claims of massive electoral irregularities. After a period of unrest, General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq seized control of the government. Bhutto was jailed and, despite international protests, hanged in 1979. Zia postponed elections indefinitely, suspended civil rights, and established Shari'a (Islamic law) as the basis of civil law. In 1988, three months after he had dissolved the national and provincial legislatures, and in the midst of growing public unrest, Zia was killed in an airplane crash possibly caused by sabotage.
Free elections were held in November of the same year and Bhutto's daughter, Benazir Bhutto, was elected prime minister, becoming the first female leader of a modern Islamic country. Bhutto restored civil rights and attempted reforms, but she was distrusted by the military and plagued by allegations of corruption. After mounting ethnic tensions and violence, Bhutto was ousted by the president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, in 1990. Elections in October that year brought Nawaz Sharif to power. He began to liberalize the economy and reform the bureaucracy. An attempt by the president to dismiss Sharif in 1993 was overruled by the Supreme Court, but Ishaq Khan continued to try to undermine the prime minister through the provincial assemblies. To break the ensuing governmental deadlock, the army forced both leaders to step down. After elections in October 1993, Benazir Bhutto returned to power, and in November her choice for president, Farooq Leghari, was elected by the national and provincial legislatures. In November 1996, however, Bhutto was dismissed from office on charges of corruption. A caretaker government was installed until elections were held in February 1997. Sharif won the election and was inaugurated as Pakistan's 13th prime minister. And now on 12Th october the army chief Genral Pervaiz Musharrf control the government .And still running the country.