Pakistan Province


| North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) |




The Punjab (Shahmukhi: پنجاب) province of Pakistan is part of the larger Punjab region. Neighbouring areas are Sindh to the south, Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan to the west, North-West Frontier, Pakistan, Kashmir, India and Islamabad to the north and Punjab, India and other Indian states to the east. 

Punjab is the second largest province at 205,344 km² (79,284 square miles) and has the largest population: approximately 70 million in 1994. The major language spoken in the Punjab is Punjabi and Punjabis comprise the largest ethnic group. There is a nationalist movement amongst the Seraikis in the south of Punjab. Many wish to see a separate region set up called Seraikistan. The capital and main city of Punjab is Lahore, which has been the historical capital of the region. Many important Sikh shrines are in the Pakistani portion of Punjab, including the birthplace of the first Guru: Guru Nanak (born at Nankana Sahib). The once capital city of the Sikh Empire and the birth place of Maharaja Ranjit Singh , Gujranwala, is also in Punjab. However, the population of Punjab is now almost entirely Muslim. 

The region contains the Thar and Cholistan deserts. The Indus River and its many tributaries traverse the Punjab from north to south. The name Punjab is composition of "Panj" and "Ab", which means "five waters," referring to the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Chenab and Jhelum rivers. Part of Indus river also lies in Punjab, but it is not considered one of the "five" rivers. Despite its dry climate, extensive irrigation makes it a rich agricultural region. Its canal-irrigation system established by the British is the largest in the world. Wheat and cotton are the largest crops. Other crops include rice, sugarcane, millet, corn, oilseeds, pulses, fruits, and vegetables. Livestock and poultry production are also important.

 Punjab is one of the most industrialized provinces of Pakistan; its manufacturing industries produce textiles, sports goods, machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, metals, bicycles and rickshas, floor coverings, and processed foods. 


North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)

North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) is geographically the smallest of the four provinces of Pakistan. Neighbouring regions are Afghanistan to the west and north, and Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir to the east. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas stand as a buffer between the NWFP and parts of Afghanistan. Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory are to the south.

Its area is 74,521 km² and its districts include Hazara, home to the town of Havelian, western starting point of the Karakoram Highway. The district of Hazara is not to be confused with the Hazara people of Afghanistan. The capital and main city of the province is Peshawar. The major language spoken in the NWFP is Pashto, and most of its residents are Pashtuns, especially in the lowlands and the southern areas of NWFP. The mountainous northern regions of the province are mostly non-Pashtun, being home to diverse ethnic groups and languages, such as Khowar, Kohistani, Shina, Torwali, and Kalami. NWFP was traditionally a part of Afghanistan, but was divided during British rule of India.

During the 1950s, Afghanistan supported a secessionist movement in the NWFP known as the Pakhtunistan movement. There are also numerous Afghan refugee camps in the NWFP, owing to its proximity to Afghanistan. Likewise, it has a major base for supplying mujahideen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Pashtuns within the NWFP have sought to rename the province Pakhtunkhwa, which translates to "Land of the Pakhtuns" in Afghan. This has been opposed by the people of the mountainous northern regions of NWFP, who are mainly non-Pashtuns.

The Durand line is a term for the poorly marked 2,450 kilometer (1,519 mile) border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. After being defeated in two wars against Afghans, the British succeeded in 1893 in imposing the Durand line, dividing Afghanistan and what was then British India (now Pakistan). Named for Sir Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of the Indian government, it was agreed upon by representatives of both governments. One of the two representatives of the Afghan government was the revered Ahmadi Sahibzada Abdul Latif of Khost. The border was drawn intentionally to cut through the Pashtun tribes.

Afghanistan’s loya jirga of 1949 declared the Durand Line invalid.

Today, the line is often referred to as one drawn on water, symbolizing the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The line has come under special attention of late, as it has become notorious for allowing Taliban fighters and terrorists to freely travel back and forth, finding safety and shelter in the autonomous Pashtun regions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

NWFP continues to have an image problem. Even within Pakistan it is regarded as a "radical state" and a "backwater." In reality the NWFP has been the most stable and peaceful of Pakistani provinces. The plagues of sectarianism, terrorism and insurrection have not been a problem in the North-West Frontier.


Sindh (Sind) is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. Neighbouring regions are Balochistan to the west and north, Punjab in the north and Rajasthan (India) to the east. To the south are the Arabian Sea and the Rann of Kutch.

Sindh is the third largest province geographically. Its size is about 579 km north-south and 442 km (extreme) or 281 km (average) east-west, with an area of 140,915 km² The population was about 28 million in 1994, with about half urban. Its capital is Karachi. Other towns and cities include Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Tando Adam, Tando Allahyar, Nawabshah, Larkana, Shikarpur, Khairpur, Badin. Languages spoken include Sindhi, Urdu and Rajasthani.

The province contains the southern part of the Indus River valley. In the east is the Thar Desert of India.

The main crops are cotton, rice, wheat and sugar cane, with rice the most important. Other crops include banana and mango.


Historically, Sindh has been a very rich region. The first known village settlements date as far back as 7000 BCE. Some of the earliest known writings come from Sindh, dated at approximately 3500 BCE. The first urban civilization in South Asia, the Indus Valley Civilisation, developed in 3000 BCE, and Mohenjo Daro was one of the great centers. The Indus civilization was very urbanized, with planned cities, a drainage system, and a binary system of weights and a system of tax collection.

In 1700 BCE, Aryans came to this part of the world and it was known that beyond Sindh to the east was "Deserta inconeta," or unknown desert. The name Sindh was itself derived from the Sanskrit word for river, sindhu. Hindu, Indus, and India all find their origin in the same precursor.

Sindh was conquered by the Persian Empire in the 6th century BCE, and became the Persian satrapy (province) of Hindush. Alexander the Great invaded in 325 BCE, and conquered the Punjab as far as the Beas River, where his soldiers refused to go further east. Alexander's armies then moved south into Sind, and from there returned west. After Alexander's death, the eastern provinces of his empire passed to the Seleucids, and the provinces on the Indus were integrated into the Mauryan Empire. The Mauryan provincial capital was at Taxila near Islamabad.

In 275 BCE, the Mauryan King Ashoka became Buddhist. Sindh too was converted to Buddhism. In 60 CE, the Kushanas came and the country became prosperous and rich in agriculture. Later in the 6th century, the Hephthalites or "White Huns" came and the country was divided into several pieces. The 7th century saw the end of a period of sporadic Buddhist rule in the Sindh.

In 711 the first Arab Muslim armies, led by Muhammad bin Qasim, conquered Sindh from its Hindu rulers. Sindh became a province of the Umayyad Caliphate. Multan, in southern Punjab, became a center of the Ismaili sect of Islam, which still has many adherents in Sind. The region was ruled by the Ghaznavid kingdom from the 10th to the 12th, by the Delhi Sultanate from the 13th to the 16th centuries, and by the Mughals from the 16th to the 18th centuries. As the Mughal empire began to unravel in the 18th century, Sind came under the control of Afghan rulers.

In 1842-1843 British forces under General Charles Napier conquered Sindh. It is said that he sent back to the Governor General a one-word message, "Peccavi" Latin for "I have sinned". In actual fact, this pun first appeared as a cartoon in Punch magazine. The first Aga Khan helped the British in the conquest of Sindh and was granted a pension as a result. Sind was made part of British India's Bombay Presidency, and became a separate province in 1935. The province was incorporated into Pakistan upon Pakistan's independence in 1947.


The province of Balochistan (or Baluchistan) of Pakistan contains roughly the part of Balochistan that falls within the borders of present-day Pakistan. Neighbouring regions are Iranian Balochistan to the west, Afghanistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan to the north and Punjab and Sindh to the east. To the south is the Arabian Sea.

Balochistan is geographically the largest of the four provinces at 347,190 km², but has the smallest population: approximately 6.3 million in 1994. The population density is very low due to the mountainous terrain and scarcity of water. The southern region is known as Makran. A region in the centre of the province is known as Kalat.

The capital city is Quetta, located in the most densely populated district in the northeast of the province. Quetta is situated in a river valley near the border with Afghanistan, with a road to Kandahar in the northwest.

At Gwadar on the coast the Pakistani government is currently undertaking a large project with Chinese help to build a large port. This is being done partially to provide the Pakistani Navy with another base, and to reduce Pakistan's reliance on Karachi, which currently is the only major port.


See also the general history and culture of the historic region of Balochistan.

Balochistan was the site of the earliest known farming settlements in south Asia even though it rests geographically upon the Iranian plateau, the earliest of which was Mehrgarh dated at 6500 BC.

Balochistan was sparsely populated by various Elamo-Dravidian and Indo-Iranian tribes for centuries following the decline of the nearly Harappa-Mohenjo-daro civilisation to the east. Aryan invasions appear to has led to the eventual demise of the Elamo-Dravidians with the exception of the Brahui who may have arrived much later as did the Balochis themselves. The Balochis began to arrive from their homeland in northern Iran and appear to be an offshoot of the Kurdish tribes that would mainly populate the western end of the Iranian plateau. The Balochi tribes eventually became a sizable group rivalled only by another Iranian group, the Pashtuns, while the Brahuis increasingly came under the cultural influence of the Balochis. Muslim Arab invaders annexed the region during the Abbasid period and conversion to Islam was coupled with a Balochi cultural adoption of Arab culture as well. Today, many Balochis believe that their origins are Semitic and not Iranian contrary to linguistic and historical evidence. Balochi tradition holds that they left their Allepo homeland at some point during the 1st millennium CE and moved to Balochistan, but it appears more likely that the Balochis are an Iranian group who have absorbed some Arab ancestry and cultural traits instead. Balochistan subsequently was dominated by empires based in Iran and Afghanistan as well as the Mughal empire based in India. Ahmad Shah Durrani annexed the region as part of a "greater" Afghanistan. The area would eventually revert to local Balochi control, while parts of the northern regions would continue to be dominated by Pashtun tribes.

During the period of the British Raj, there were four Princely States in Balochistan: Makran, Kharan, Las Bela and Kalat, the largest and most powerful. During the first few decades of the 20th century it became clear that the British would eventually leave and that India would be partitioned.

Kalat was ruled by Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, who wanted independence rather than possible Pakistani rule. Indeed, the British had given many Princely States the choice of either India, Pakistan or independence during the immediate pre-partition period (though they were worried of having too many independent nations). When the British eventually gave India (and the newly-created Pakistan) independence in August 1947 Mir Ahmed Yar Khan declared Kalat's independence. Though this was not a Baloch-wide movement, many Baloch chiefs sympathised with the movement.

In April 1948 the Pakistani army was brought in, and Mir Ahmed Yar Khan signed an accession agreement ending Kalat's de facto independence. His brother, Prince Abdul Karim, decided to carry on the struggle. Basing himself in Afghanistan he conducted a guerilla war against the Pakistani army. However, this eventually failed.

Parts of Balochistan were held by Oman as late as the 1950s, but they were eventually turned over to Pakistan. Included in these areas is the coastal city of Gwadar.

In 1955 the provinces of West Paskistan (excluding areas of Pakistani-hled Kashmir) were amalgamated into One Unit. This was resented by many Baloch, as well as other peoples in Pakistan such as the Pashtuns. The One Unit measure was seen as a Punjabi centralising move aimed at removing power from the provinces. This resulted in a Baloch uprising, with several battles between Balochs and the Pakistani army. A guerilla war continued on into the 1960's, with several large-scale battled in 1964-65. This continued sporadically until One Unit was finally abolished in 1970.

In 1973, Pakistan's ruler Zulfikar Ali Bhutto dismissed Balochistan's provincial government. He said that Soviet guns and ammunition had been being found in Islamabad destined for Balochistan. Bhutto informed US president Richard Nixon of the find.

The Balochs were furious at the move and rose up against the Pakistanis. Eventually around 80,000 Pakistani troops were called in to quell the large uprising. Balochs attacked oil surveyors and cut roads.

The largest confrontation took place in September 1974 when around 15,000 Balochs fought the Pakistani army, which was armed with planes and helicopters. After three days of fighting the Balochs were running out of ammunition and so withdrew.

After this there was a continued guerilla war, with some basing themselves in Afghanistan (the Afghan government complied with this and offered some financial support).

In 1977 General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq took over in Pakistan. Announcing victory in Balochistan, he withdrew troops. By this time around 9000 - 10,000 people had died. The uprising itself had suffered from a lack of direction. Some Baloch wanted independence, others only greater autonomy within Pakistan. Attacks were organised by individual Baloch chiefs, rather then an organised Baloch-wide attack. Also, the Baloch hoped to get the support of the USSR, which never happened. Also, the large Pashtun minority in Balcohistan did not take part and were hostile to the idea of an independent Balochistan.

Since the 1970's there has been some small-scale violence. The area had been badly affected by fighting and instability in Afghanistan, with arms and refugees flooding the province. Small attacks have occurred against coal-miners and oil prospectors.

In 1998 Pakistan conducted a nuclear test in Balochistan.

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