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Wednesday 13th December
Pakistan Facts
The mountainous region in the north of Pakistan includes part of the Himalayas, the Karakoram Range and the Hindu Kush.

The highest mountain in Pakistan is K2 (8,611 m) on the Pakistan-China border in the Karakoram mountain range.

The Himalayas were formed by collision between the great plates of the earth's crust when the Indian Plate collided with the Eurasian Plate.

Fossils of early ancestors of whales, which were land-based creatures, have been discovered in Pakistan by Dr Hans Thewissen of Northeastern Ohio Universities.

The Indus Basin has a large network of canals. Much of the cultivated land in Pakistan is irrigated by the Indus canal system.

Mehrgarh, dating back to 6000 BC, is one of the earliest known farming villages in the Indus Valley.

The early civilization of the Indus Valley produced the great cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro.

Mohenjo Daro is famous for its giant granaries, drainage systems, and the Great Bath which measured thirty-nine by twenty-three feet.

The Sumerians and the Phoenicians were the first Western traders in the Indian sub-continent. Merchants bought spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. The value of many spices was higher in weight than that of gold.

The Moghul Empire was an important Islamic Empire. Shah Jehan is probably the most famous Moghul Emperor.

From the fifteenth century, India, which included present-day Pakistan, was settled by Europeans.

The first Europeans to settle were the Portuguese (Goa, India). They were followed by the French and the British.

In 1857 the British government took over control of India from the East India Company.

Following World War II (1939-1945) there was a demand for India's independence from the British Empire.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League, pressed for a separate nation from India.

In 1947 India gained independence, and Pakistan came into existence.

Pakistan was divided into two regions, separated by 1,600 km of Indian territory: West Pakistan between Iran and the western border of India, and East Pakistan on the eastern side of India.

India and Pakistan fought wars in 1948 and 1965 over disputed Kashmir territory.

In 1971 East Pakistan seceded from Pakistan. Thus Pakistan divided into two separate countries: Pakistan in the West and Bangladesh in the East.

Pakistan is a member of the Commonwealth.

On 8 October 2005, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, killing many thousands of people. Hundreds of people also died in the part of Kashmir administered by India.

The World Bank and Asian Development Bank each provided US $1 billion to help Pakistan rebuild the region devastated by the October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir.

Benazir Bhutto, a prominent political leader was assassinated in December 2007.

The resignation in August 2008 of President Musharraf led to the presidential election of Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto.

At the end of October 2008 a 6.4-magnitude earthquake occurred in southwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. Many people lost their lives; homes and government buildings were destroyed.

In December 2008 India claimed that the militants behind the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai had Pakistani links and demanded action. Pakistan denied any involvement but agreed to cooperate with Indian investigations. In February 2009 the government agreed to implement Sharia Law in the north-western Swat valley in a move to agree a permanent ceasefire with Islamist militants. In April 2009 the Swat ceasefire broke down leading to a government offensive to reclaim control from the militants.

In August 2009 the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a US drone attack. The new leader, Hakimullah Mehsud vowed revenge and a suicide bomb in the north-western city of Peshawar killed 120 people.

In December 2009 the Supreme Court ruled that the amnesty protecting President Zardari and a number of his allies was illegal.

In April 2010 parliament approved constitutional reforms, including transferring key powers from the president to the prime minister.

In August 2010 the worst floods in 80 years killed at least 1,600 and affected more than 20 million.

In October 2010 ex-military ruler Musharraf apologised for "negative actions" whilst in power and launched a political party from his exile in the UK.

In March 2011 the prime ministers of India and Pakistan met to watch a cricket match, an occasion seen as an opportunity for the two nations to repair relations.

In May 2011 Osama bin Laden, founder of Al-Qaeda, was killed by US special forces in the city of Abbottabad, 50 km north-west from the capital Islamabad. 80 people were killed in a double suicide bombing on a border guard training centre in north-western Pakistan, which the Pakistani Taliban said they carried out to avenge Bin Ladenís death. Pakistanís parliament passed a resolution declaring the US operation as a violation of Pakistanís sovereignty.

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