Strategists such as Jinnah viewed Pakistan as a boundary land between the teeming masses of India and the vastness of Central Asia. Such a Pakistan, with its strong military tradition, was to serve as the guardian of South Asia. In subsequent years Pakistani strategists and their American and British counterparts came to see Pakistan as a balance to both the Soviet Union and the pro-Soviet government of India (eventually, China came to hold the same view).
A former Indian prime minister once famously said that one can choose friends, but one can’t choose one’s neighbours.
Physical features of Pakistan’s Location:
Geographical attributes of a state bring it both, some opportunities to avail and some risks to evade. Pakistan availed the opportunities from its geography but could not escape the risks it posed. When a state learns how to exploit its geography to the best of its political and strategic interests the study which comes in shape is called geostrategic and geopolitics. Pakistan’s geography where brought the country countless material benefits there its unwise exploitation also invited the chaos in the region. Being the gateway to Central Asia and a suitable route of access of World Powers into land-locked Afghanistan, the geography of Pakistan suffered from the side effects of the ‘New Great Game’ (geopolitical interest in Central Asia based on the mineral wealth of the region) and the ‘Global War on Terrorism’. But things are in transformation today. The Northern border with China where gets ready to bring billion dollars investment in the wake of CPEC there the Western border with Afghanistan is seeking TAPI Gas Pipeline. Similarly, the South Western boundary with Iran will sooner or later be flexible for Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline. Pakistan’s newly functional port of Gwadar and the strategic importance it has concerning its proximity to the Gulf States are some new aspects of Pakistan’s geographical importance. We shall evaluate all these aspects in this article after going through a brief description of country’s geography.
Geography of Pakistan
Pakistan is a land of plains, mountain ranges, deserts and coastal belt. The country shares its Eastern Border called ‘Radcliffe Line’ with India. On its Northern side, it has Sino-Pak Border. Its Western fronts include the boundaries of ‘Durand Line’ with Afghanistan and ‘Gold Smith Line’ with Iran (British drew two artificial lines (borders), the Goldsmith Line (1871) and the Durand Line (1893), dividing Balochistan into three pieces. The boundary line with Afghanistan was drawn in 1893 by Sir Mortimer Durand, then foreign secretary in British India). The Arabian Sea has limited the South of the country. In the north, it runs along the ridges of the Hindu Kush mountains and the Pamirs, where a narrow strip of Afghan territory called the Wakhan Corridor extends between Pakistan and Tajikistan. With the total area of 796,096 km square, Pakistan emerges to be one of the most significant geographical patches of Asia. The Northern Areas has five of the world’s fourteen highest mountains known as the “Eight-thousanders” (8,000+ m high). It also has such extensive glaciers that it has sometimes been called the “third pole.”
Traditional Geographical Importance of Pakistan
Traditionally, Pakistan’s geographical importance has been defined in following ways;
1. Pakistan’s North Western Border can be used as an access to the Central Asian Republics rich in natural resources. It’s a narrow strip of Afghan Territory between Tajikistan and Pakistan which if used as a transit route can benefit all the countries in trade. However, Iran’s Chabahar Port being built with coordination of India, would provide alternative route to Central Asian.
2. Pakistan’s South Western Border with Iran is of great significance in a trade with this oil-rich country.
3. Eastern Border of Pakistan with India has been quite less utilized than the potential it carries. This can be a free trade route with India if the major conflicts between both the states are resolved.
4. Northern Border of Pakistan with China provides another important route for access of Chinese products in Pakistan.
Modern Geographical Importance of Pakistan
Though the geography of the country is same, the interpretations of interests linked with it have improved a bit with the changing regional and international dynamics. This can be evaluated under the following new heads:
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
The $46 billion ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ scheme, which is being demonstrated as a ‘Game-Changer’ is more than a network of roads to link Chinese city of Kashgar with the Gulf States via Gwadar of Pakistan. CPEC is a complete package of energy projects and trade opportunities for Pakistan. It is the most cherished fruit of Pakistan’s geographical importance the country ever had. However, some credit also goes to the foreign policy makers of Pakistan who always kept into considerations the Sino-Pak mutual interests.
In the wake of CPEC, China is going to have the shortest route-access ever available to the Middle Eastern, African, and European markets. For Pakistan, it might be a new gain but to China, this access is a link to it long term strategic plan to take over US control in the said regions.
Gwadar port is the nearest warm-water port to energy-rich Central Asian Countries
Bought from Oman in 1958 (Gwadar and its surrounding region were overseas possessions of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman from 1783 until Pakistan purchased the territory September 8, 1958.), Gwadar has been developed into a warm-water seaport which now operated by a Chinese company named ‘China Overseas Port Holding Company’ under a 43 years agreed lease. The port is the soul of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Being the nearest deep-sea port to the landlocked Central Asian Republics, Gwadar is another manifestation of Pakistan’s geographical importance.
The Persian Gulf and Pars Gas Field
Pakistan’s Gwadar Port provides access to the ‘Gulf of Oman’ which extends via ‘Strait of Hormuz’ to form the ‘Persian Gulf’. This gulf is surrounded by Iran, UAE, Saudi Araba, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq. Access to the Persian Gulf via Gwadar port means access to all these countries most of which are rich in energy resources. The Persian Gulf also has the world’s largest natural gas reservoir ‘Pars Gas Field’ shared by Iran and Qatar. Pakistan’s geographic importance increases due to its proximity to such mega-fields of natural resources when the country has been suffering from energy starvation for long periods of time.
Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline (TAPI)
The Asian Development Bank’s funded project of TAPI is the name of a gas pipeline which aims to supply natural gas from the Caspian Sea to the four countries mentioned above. Pakistan due to its geographical nearness to this Central Asian Republic is seeking benefit from the project. It also reflects the dependence of India on Pakistan for having access to the natural resources of Central Asian Republics. The construction of the project commenced in December 2015, and it will be functional by 2019.
Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline
Also known as the ‘Peace Pipeline’ the project is another fruit of Pakistan’s geographic importance. The pipeline project was formally inaugurated in 2013, but it’s far from being operational due to several controversies. Particularly the anti-Iran stance of the USA influenced Pakistan to abandon the project. Things, however, have changed after the US-Iran Nuclear Deal and Iran is no more under enormous sanctions. Pakistan at the same time never utterly gave up the project. Good omens are apparent for the future of this project.
Pakistan shares Marine Border with Oman
Pakistan and Oman settled their maritime under an agreement in 2000; adhering to the International Law of Sea. This sharing of a maritime boundary with the brotherly country of Oman can interpret Pakistan’s geographical importance in the sense of access to Oman’s undersea energy resources. The sea route can also be used to have access to the Persian Gulf and its littoral states.
Location as cause of Civil Military Relations
The overemphasis on Pakistan’s geographical location and, consequently, how Pakistan should behave with the world strategically has also been a cause of civil-military conflicts in Pakistan. Since the early 1960s, the military has been dictating the strategy of survival for Pakistan.
Location as cause of weak Federation:
All provinces of Pakistan share borders with the neighboring countries. Pakistan has two peaceful borders, one that is shared with China and the second where the Arabian Sea lies. Consequently, provinces think that they can better survive in disunity by tapping their natural resources and exploiting their individual geographic locations strategically. This thinking has enervated the concept of the federation in Pakistan.
However, globally, economically successful countries are increasingly de-linking politics and economics. Thus, India-China, China-Taiwan and China-Japan have big disputes but are still trading extensively. Pakistan should also take the decision based primarily on economic factors. Bilateral official trade currently totals around $3 billion, with 90pc of it being Indian exports to Pakistan.
Eliminating the hurdles could increase bilateral trade to $6-10 billion annually, most of it representing increased Indian exports to Pakistan. India could then become Pakistan’s biggest trading partner. Increased imports from India will not necessarily devastate all Pakistani producers, since they will largely replace existing, more expensive, imports from elsewhere. Pakistani workers will also benefit overall, as there will be a net increase of around 100,000 jobs in the country annually.
Geography, Land, Boundaries and Neighborhoods
1: Geography and the People
Pakistan was comprised of two wings when it came into existence on August 14, 1947. East Pakistan separated in 1971. Post-1971 or present day Pakistan is located in the Northwestern part of South Asian Sub-continent.
It has maintained its distinctiveness in the Sub-continent. Indus Valley Civilization is as old as 2500-1600 BC. The archeological heritage of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro are clear evidence of this fact. Arians first came to this land followed by Islam and Muslims from Central Asia and Afghanistan. Muslim rule continued about one thousand years. Then the downfall of Muslim empire paved the way for British Rule, which ended with the formation of two independent states of India and Pakistan.
Pakistan is located between 24_37 degrees North latitude 61_75 degrees East longitude.
Its area is 796,095 sq Kilometers.
Diversity in the nature of territory:
- North and Northwest: It includes Mountains of Himalayan and trans-Himalayan Ranges, Korakoram & Pamirs, which includes some of highest peaks like K2, Nanga Parbat etc.
- West: Baluchistan Plateau is about 1000 feet in elevation with dry mountains crossing it from northeast to the southwest. Here very little rainfall occurs.
- Indus Plains: Main agricultural region in the middle of the Indus valley.
- The Potohar Plateau is there in the East of upper Indus plains.
- In South East of Indus Plains there is Deserts Thal, Cholistan and Thar.
Climate of Pakistan is diverse.
North, Northwestern Mountains are extremely cold in winter but mild in summer. The Indus Plains are extremely hot in summer but cold and dry in winter.Coastal regions are having temperate climate. There are some variations within each region.
Summer: May to September
Winter: November to February
Rain: It varies from region to region. The main rainy season is the summer i.e. Monsoon.
Pakistan is having a large population. The growth rate recorded over 3 percent in the 1970s to early 1990s. Now declined due to a number of measures by the government but still it is higher as compare to the other countries of the region. Census is taken after every ten years.
Important Features of the Population:
- More than 50 Percent population is under the age of 21. A large part of this population is dependent.
- Add to this people over 65 years.
- About 30 percent population lives in urban areas.
- Why migrations to urban areas: Education, jobs, facilities etc.
- Impact of urbanization: Poor civic conditions, education, health, housing, town planning etc.
- Provincial population. Punjab 56-57 percent Sind 23 percent NWFP 14 percent Baluchistan 5.3 percent
- Low literacy rate: Official literacy rate is 46 percent but functional literacy rate is even lower.
- Women literacy rate is much lower. In certain areas of Baluchistan women literacy is nominal to non-existent.
- Why population figures are important. For Planning and development, Socio-economic development and poverty alleviation etc.
- Social development indicators are poor in Pakistan. No ideal figure for population can be named. It depends upon the resources. High population is asset as well as a liability because we cannot feed them.
- Efforts to manage population are being done by the Government as well as by non-governmental organizations in the field of health care, family planning and education.
Pakistan shares boundaries with four countries.
- China in the northeast: About 600 km long border in the Northern Areas. Silk Route is a major link for trade and traveling.
- Afghanistan: North and Northwest about 1200 miles. Durand Line was drawn on November 1893 as a border between the two neighbors.
- Iran in the West share about 590 miles border from Koh-i-Malik Siah to Gawadar.
- India in the East having a border about 1400 miles which was established in August 1947. We also face India on the LOC in Kashmir, the most troubled frontier having hardly any natural barriers, highly volatile and porous.
- South: Arabian Sea, Coastline 450 miles. Stretches from the Rann of Kutch Indian border to the Iranian border in the West.
Pakistan is located in strategically important region. It is the center of global interests. For all the big powers like China and Russia it is important. U.S maintains interests to keep an eye on both China and Russia.
It is on the gateway of Central Asian Muslim States through Afghanistan. On the other side of it is the outer region of the Gulf region having rich oil resources and economic wealth. Pakistan has close brotherly ties with these states. Now the pipelines of oil and gas are planning to be passed through Pakistan. It will be a new start of economic cooperation in the region.
Natural Resources, Agriculture
1: Natural Resources
• Mineral Resources
• Rivers and Canals
1: Natural Resources:
The resources endowed by the nature to the country and the people are called National Resources, e.g., Mineral resources, rivers, forests and animals. Agricultural lands hold key to development and prosperity of a country.
The rate of development and prosperity of a country depends on efforts to make use of it. Effective management and human efforts are needed to avail them. Modern technology is also required to make use of it.
Pakistan is blessed with considerable mineral resources. Some of them are explored but much remains to be done for the search for more. Some important resources are:
Iron Ore is used for industry, especially steel industry. It is found in limited quantity and low quality. Most of the required Iron ore is imported from abroad. Its deposits are found in Chitral, Chaghai, Kohat, Kurram Agency, Mardan, Hazara, Mianwali (Kalabagh) and DG Khan.
Chromite: is used in preparing other metals, leather tanning, making of steel products, armament and stainless steel. The deposits of Chromite are found in Zoab (Muslim Bagh), Chaghai, Malakand, Mahmand, Waziristan, Fort Sandaman etc.
Gypsum is used for plaster of Paris, Paints and Cement. It is found in Jhelum, Mianwali, DG Khan, Kohat and Loralai.
Sulphur is used by chemical industry. Its deposits are found in Kalat, Khairpur, Mardan, and Jacobabad etc.
Coal is used in power generation. It is basically used as fuel. It is not found in good quantity and quality. It is mostly found in Sindh (Thatta, Tharparkar, Manara) Balochistan (Deegari, Sharig, Soer, Khost, Maach, Hernai), Punjab (Makarwal, Dandot), NWFP (Cherat and Noshera).
Oil: It is a major source of energy. It is mostly imported from Iran and Gulf states. Now some valuable reserves are found in Jhelum, Mianwali, Attock, Balkasar, Mial, Chakwal, and Dhodak.
Gas: it is itself a source of energy and fuel, and also used as a source of power generation. It is found in Sui, Mari, Uch, Khairpur, Jacobabad etc. Now some new discoveries are also found.
Uranium: It is the basic element for atomic power, indispensable for the defence. Its deposits are in DG Khan, Hazara and Kohat.
The river system of Pakistan is consisted of Indus and other associated rivers. We have a well- defined Canal system. The most important one is the Indus Basin project.
What we require is the proper management of water, its conservation, effective use, storage, dams and flood control. Water is dangerous if it is too much, it become a problem if it is too little. It is used for Agriculture where it is the backbone of agro-economy. It is also a cheapest source of hydroelectric Power generation.
Normally 25 percent area of a country should be covered with forest. But in Pakistan it is only 4 to 5 percent.
Some areas are not suitable for plantation like deserts and dry mountains. It is because of shortage of water and rainfall. Deforestation is also due to unplanned cutting of trees.
Forests have many advantages. They are helpful in improvement of weather. Protect against windstorms, help in slow melting of snow to stop floods. They add greenery, beauty and fresh air to the environment. Plants are source of food, medicine, timber, chemicals and fertilizers. They are the homes of animals, birds and insects. They are also used as fuel.
Animals provide milk, meat, hide and skins, wool etc. They are also used
for agriculture and transportation. They are a source of foreign exchange.
Their proper breeding requires planning and care. Animal husbandry and colleges of research are established to breed and cure useful species of animals. Department of Live Stock also provides Support System for raising animals both privately and through Government Projects. Government farms and military farms are also working for that purpose.
It is also a source of food and income. Department of fisheries also encourage private farmers to invest in this field and add to personal and national wealth.
Pakistan is an agricultural country. More than 70 percent of its population lives in rural areas. Over 50 percent are directly engaged in farming or agro-based activities.
Share of agriculture to GDP is 26 percent.
In Punjab and Sindh plains are very large. There are irrigated farmlands.
Two major crops are yielded in a year
(a) RABI: Sown in October-November and produce obtained in April-May. Important produces are Wheat, Gram, Oil seeds.
(b) KHARIF: Sown in May-June and produce is obtained in October-November.
Important crops are Rice, Sugar Cane, Cotton etc.
Main crops: Wheat, Rice, Cotton, Sugar Cane, Gram, Maize, Mustard, Tobacco, Oil seeds, Fruits and vegetables.
Land Reforms are introduced from time to time by different governments: in 1959, 1972, and 1977. The aim was to reduce land holding and to strengthen the position of tenants. It was done for improving yield per acre and poverty alleviation in agriculture field
Problems in Agriculture:
There are number of problems in our agriculture, for instance:
1. Outdated modes of cultivation, which cause low per acre yield.
2. Water Logging and Salinity.
Attention is being given to these since mid 1960.
3. Crop diseases are big problem. Technical support is being provided by Department of Agricultural. It helped to overcome the problem. Our inputs have problem of quality, which cause low prices in market. Other handicaps are low quality seeds, costly fertilizers, non-availability of electricity or oil for tube well etc.
4. Water related problem, sometimes it is too little, but sometimes it is too much. Cleaning of Canals is also necessary to provide water at the end of canal.
5. Credit facilities are also problematic.
6. Access to market is difficult.
7. Availability of reasonable price should be ensured for the welfare of the farmers and high yield of crop.
Agriculture and Development Plans:
Research is done for the development of high yield seeds giving better output. Information and guidance is being provided to the common farmer to enjoy the fruits of the advance research in the field of agriculture. University education is developed in various parts of Pakistan especially in Faisalabad and Jamshoro. Emphasis is laid on modern technology in practical field.
Communication and transportation facilities are increased.
Government ensures the payment to the farmers for their produce immediately.
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