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Monday, Sep. 24, 2001 at 4:16 PM
The Muslim-majority state of Pakistan occupies an area which was home to some of the earliest human settlements and two of the world's major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism.
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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Country profile: Pakistan
The Muslim-majority state of Pakistan occupies an area which was home to some of the earliest human settlements and two of the world's major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. The modern state was born out of the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 and has faced both domestic political upheavals and regional confrontations.
OVERVIEW | FACTS | LEADERS | MEDIA
Created to meet the demands of Indian Muslims for their own homeland, Pakistan was originally in two parts.
The east wing - present-day Bangladesh - is on the Bay of Bengal bordering India and Burma and the west wing - present-day Pakistan - stretches from the Himalayas down to the Arabian Sea.
War with India over the disputed northern territory of Kashmir came shortly after independence - the two countries fought again in 1965.
The break-up of the two wings came in 1971 when the predominantly Bengali-speaking east wing seceded with help from India.
Civilian politics in Pakistan in the last few decades has been tarnished by corruption, inefficiency and confrontations between various institutions.
Alternating periods of civilian and military rule have not helped to establish stability.
During the 1980s, Pakistan received large amounts of outside aid in the struggle against Soviet forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
But with the end of the Cold War, that assistance is not so generous and Pakistan now hosts a large Afghan refugee population.
Pakistan came under military rule again in October 1999 after the ousting of a civilian government which had a lost a great deal of public support.
The coup leader, General Musharraf, has pledged to revive the country's fortunes - but must overcome economic backwardness, corruption, and law and order problems.
The latter are a major concern in the southern province of Sindh, beset by ethnic and sectarian strife.
Tension also persists with India over Kashmir. This has fuelled international fears of a regional arms race because both Pakistan and India have a nuclear capability.
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