Capital | Islamabad
Population | 187,342,721 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 803,940 SQ KM
Official Language | Urdu
Holidays | Republic Day, 23 March (1956)
Currency | Rupee (KPR)
Time Zone | UTC +5
Best Time to Visit | November to April in the south (when it’s cooler), May to October in the north (before winter sets in)
Connecting with the Culture | Trekking among giants in Baltistan, where the Karakoram erupts in an unequalled display of peaks and twisting glaciers. Experiencing an emotion-charged cricket match at Karachi. Exploring the ancient site of Moenjodaro, relic of an Indus Valley civilization. Soaking up the frontier atmosphere of Quetta, a desert outpost with buzzing bazaars. Rambling through the tangle of twisting alleyways in Lahore’s Old City en route to the historic Lahore Fort.
Read | Pakistan: The Eye of the Storm, by former BBC correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones; Salman Rushdie’s Shame, whose characters are a metaphor for Pakistan.
Listen | Nusrat Fateh Ali KhanI, the revered Qawwali singer, who has collaborated on soundtracks for Dead Man Walking and The Last Temptation of Christ.
Watch | The second film in the Earth, Fire, and Water trilogy, directed by Deepa Mehta and depicting the tragic upheaval of Partition.
Eat | meat and vegetable curries; hot and spicy samosas.
Drink | fresh fruit juices, milky tea, buttermilk flavoured with pistachios.
In a Word | Ap khairiyat se hai? (How are you?)
Characteristics | Trekking the Karakoram Highway; totally obsessed cricket fans; Shoab Akhtar, the world’s fastest bowler; General Musharraf; nuclear weapons; oily, spicy curries.
Surprises | In the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan federal law applies only to the roads and 10 yards on either side—elsewhere tribal law applies.
NEWS ABOUT PAKISTAN
Pakistan Plane Crash kills 100+
(HN, 4/20/12) - A Bhoja Airline passenger plane with 121 people on board crashed near Islamabad, Pakistan. The plane was a Boeing 737 which crashed to the north of the capital city near the Chaklala airbase, which the Pakistani air force uses, & is adjacent to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad. The plane was flying from the southern seaport city of Karachi & was said to have lost contact with the control tower minutes before landing. There were no survivors.
A huge rescue operation is underway & is being hampered by the poor weather conditions. In 2010, 152 people were killed when a Pakistani passenger plane crashed on the outskirts of Islamabad & the 1st known commercial passenger airplane crash occurred in Pakistan in 1953 when a Canadian Pacific DH-106 Comet crashed shortly after takeoff from Karachi. That crash killed 11 people on board. (Read more at DAWN)
Pakistan soldiers feared dead after avalanche
(HN, 4/25/12) - Rescue workers have used bulldozers to dig through huge banks of snow following a massive avalanche which engulfed a Pakistan military complex & buried at least 135 people, most of them soldiers, in a mountain battleground close to the Indian border. More than 24 hours after the disaster at the entrance to the Siachen Glacier, no bodies have yet been recovered, said military officials. The army said 240 troops & civilians worked at the scene with the aid of sniffer dogs & heavy machinery, some of which was flown in on military aircraft. They struggled to dig through some 80 feet of snow, boulders, mud & slush that buried the rear headquarters building in the Gayari sector on Saturday morning. Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited the site to supervise rescue operations. At least 124 soldiers from the 6 Northern Light Infantry Battalion & 11 civilian contractors are missing. (Read more at DAWN)
Pakistan court sentences Bin Laden wives, daughters to prison
(HN, 4/2/12) - On Monday a Pakistan court convicted Osama bin Laden’s 3 widows & 2 of his grown-up daughters of `illegal residency' in the country, sentencing them to 45 days detention & ordering their deportation. The al Qaeda terror chief’s 2 Saudi & 1 Yemeni widows, together with their children, have been in Pakistani custody since bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs at a compound in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. Monday’s proceedings lasted 3 hours, presided over by a judge in a makeshift court set up in the plush house where they're living in the leafy G6 neighborhood of Islamabad; & where they will serve out their sentences.
Zakarya Ahmad Abd al-Fattah, the Yemeni brother of bin Laden’s youngest & favorite wife, Amal Abdulfattah, said the court has told the government to arrange for their earliest deportation to their own countries. Bin Laden’s 2 other wives have been identified as Khairiah Sabar & Siham Sabar, both Saudi. The 3 women have an undisclosed number of children among them, but only those above 12 were charged. Abdulfattah, 30, was shot while trying to protect Osama bin Laden during the May raid. While in Pakistan, Abdulfattah had 4 children by bin Laden, 2 of them born in a public hospital. (Read more at DAWN)
UN peacekeepers get one-year sentence for rape
(HN, 3/30/12) - The United Nations Wednesday jailed 2 Pakistani UN peacekeepers policemen for a year with hard labour, after a military court in Gonaives, Haiti found them guilty of sexual abuse & exploitation of a teenage boy. UN peacekeeping police adviser Ann-Marie Orler confirmed the sentence was imposed on the men as a case of `rapid justice delivered.' She refused to disuss comments by Amnesty International, which questioned whether a 1-year sentence was severe enough punishment for the men who raped a 14-year-old boy. It's the first such criminal proceeding for UN peacekeepers, who serve under the MINUSTAH peacekeeping mission in Haiti. 6 Uruguayan peacekeepers, accused of abusing a young Haitian man last year, were referred to the Uruguayan judicial system. (Read more at the Jamaica Gleaner)