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Background: The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world and dating back at least 5,000 years, spread over much of what is presently Pakistan. During the second millennium B.C., remnants of this culture fused with the migrating Indo-Aryan peoples. The area underwent successive invasions in subsequent centuries from the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs (who brought Islam), Afghans, and Turks. The Mughal Empire flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries; the British came to dominate the region in the 18th century. The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved, and India and Pakistan fought two wars - in 1947-48 and 1965 - over the disputed Kashmir territory. A third war between these countries in 1971 - in which India capitalized on Islamabad's marginalization of Bengalis in Pakistani politics - resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998. India-Pakistan relations have been rocky since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, but both countries are taking small steps to put relations back on track. In February 2008, Pakistan held parliamentary elections and in September 2008, after the resignation of former President MUSHARRAF, elected Asif Ali ZARDARI to the presidency. Pakistani government and military leaders are struggling to control domestic insurgents, many of whom are located in the tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan.
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $174.8 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 2.7% (2010 est.); 4.3% (2009 est.); 3.6% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $2,400 (2010 est.); $2,400 (2009 est.); $2,400 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 21.8%; industry: 23.6%; services: 54.6% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 24% (FY05/06 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.9%; highest 10%: 26.5% (2005);
Labor force: 55.77 million;
note: extensive export of labor, mostly to the Middle East, and use of child labor (2010 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 43%; industry: 20.3%; services: 36.6% (2005 est.);
Unemployment rate: 15% (2010 est.); 14% (2009 est.);
note: substantial underemployment exists
Budget: revenues: $25.33 billion; expenditures: $36.24 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: textiles and apparel, food processing, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, paper products, fertilizer, shrimp;
Industrial production growth rate: 4.9% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 90.8 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 72.2 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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Extremist violence has been escalating in Pakistan, with minorities of all stripes being targeted. Even Islamic sects are not spared.
For the past 18 years, Maryam Bibi's NGO has succeeded in bettering the lives of women and girls in a dangerous province of Pakistan.
The current standoff between the Pakistani government and the Supreme Court is yet another sign of the instability of Pakistan's democracy.
To compensate for its perpetual electricity shortfalls, Pakistan is considering investing in underground coal gasification.