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Pakistani Society

  • Date Submitted: 09/18/2012 12:04 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 37.7 
  • Words: 7885
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PAKISTANI SOCIETY IS ETHNICALLY DIVERSE yet overwhelmingly Muslim. It is largely rural yet beset by the problems of hyperurbanization. Since its independence in 1947, Pakistan has enjoyed a robust and expanding economy--the average per capita income in the mid-1990s approached the transition line separating low-income from middle-income countries--but wealth is poorly distributed. A middle-class is emerging, but a narrow stratum of elite families maintains extremely disproportionate control over the nation's wealth, and almost one-third of all Pakistanis live in poverty. It is a male-dominated society in which social development has lagged considerably behind economic change, as revealed by such critical indicators as sanitation, access to health care, and literacy, especially among females. Increasing population pressure on limited resources, together with this pattern of social and economic inequity, was causing increased disquietude within the society in the early 1990s.

Pakistan was created in 1947, as a homeland for Muslims in South Asia, and about 97 percent of Pakistanis are Muslim. The founders of Pakistan hoped that religion would provide a coherent focus for national identity, a focus that would supersede the country's considerable ethnic and linguistic variations. Although this aspiration has not been completely fulfilled, Islam has been a pervasive presence in Pakistani society, and debate continues about its appropriate role in national civic life. During the 1990s, Islamic discourse has been less prominent in political controversy, but the role that Islamic law should play in the country's affairs and governance remains an important issue.

There is immense regional diversity in Pakistan. Pakhtuns, Baloch, Punjabis, and Sindhis are all Muslim, yet they have diverse cultural traditions and speak different languages. Ethnic, regional, and--above all--family loyalties figure far more prominently for the average individual than do national loyalties....

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