Dr Asma Jahangir of Pakistan was in 2010 appointed to the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, which presented its recommendations for reform in the Commonwealth to Commonwealth leaders at CHOGM in Australia in October 2011.
Cricketers Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, both born in Lahore, Punjab, achieved the ‘all-rounder’s double’ and Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World.
Mohammed Hanif won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best First Book award, in 2009, with A Case of Exploding Mangoes.
The country comprises four provinces: (from south to north) Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa (formerly North- West Frontier Province). The territory adjoining Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa is known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Pakistani-administered parts of Jammu and Kashmir in the north-east as Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas.
Islamabad (capital, pop. 689,200 in 2010), Karachi (Sindh Province, 13.21m), Lahore (Punjab, 7.13m), Faisalabad (Punjab, 2.88m), Rawalpindi (Punjab, 1.99m), Multan (Punjab, 1.61m), Hyderabad (Sindh, 1.58m), Gujranwala (Punjab, 1.57m), Peshawar (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, 1.44m), Quetta (Balochistan, 896,100), Sargodha (Punjab, 600,500), Bahawalpur (Punjab, 543,900), Sialkot (Punjab, 510,900), Sukkur (Sindh, 493,400), Larkana (Sindh, 456,500), Shekhupura (Punjab, 427,000), Jhang (Punjab, 372,600), Rahimyar Khan (Punjab, 353,100), Mardan (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, 352,100), Gujrat (Punjab, 336,700), Kasur (Punjab, 322,000), Mingaora (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, 279,900), Dera Ghazi Khan (Punjab, 273,300), Nawabshah (Sindh, 272,600), Wah (Punjab, 265,200), Sahiwal (Punjab, 251,600), Mirpur Khas (Sindh, 242,900), Okara (Punjab, 235,400), Kohat (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, 176,200), Abottabad (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, 148,600), Khuzdar (Balochistan, 148,100), Swabi (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, 115,000), Dera Ismail Khan (Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, 111,900) and Zhob (Balochistan, 56,800).
There are 262,260 km of roads, 72 per cent paved, and 7,791 km of railway, with 781 stations. Main lines run north–south, linking the main ports and industrial centre of Karachi with Islamabad, 1,600 km to the north. All major cities and most industrial centres are linked by rail.
Karachi port handles the bulk of foreign trade. Port Qasim, south- east of Karachi, is also an important port. Major international airports are at Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.
Pakistan is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, United Nations and World Trade Organization.
Pakistan has great topographical variety. The high mountain region of the north includes part of the Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindukush. There are 35 peaks over 7,320 metres high, including K-2, the world’s second-highest mountain. This region abounds in glaciers, lakes and green valleys. Southwards, the ranges gradually lose height. The western low mountain region covers much of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa Province, with mountains cut by valleys and passes, including the Khyber Pass, 56 km long, connecting Kabul in Afghanistan with Peshawar. The third region is the Balochistan plateau to the west. West of the Balochistan plateau is an area of desert with dry lakes, one 87 km long. The Potohar upland lies between the Indus and Jhelum rivers in the Islamabad/Rawalpindi area. This is an arid region, with cultivation along the valleys. The fifth region is the Punjab plain watered by the River Indus and its eastern tributaries (Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) and additionally irrigated by canals. The Sindh plain stretches between the Punjab plain and the Arabian Sea on both sides of the Indus river. The plain comprises a vast fertile tract with many lakes, and a desert spreading eastward into India.
In October 2005, a powerful earthquake, with its epicentre in the north of the country, close to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan- administered Kashmir, caused some 80,000 deaths and devastation of a large area which left millions homeless.
Extreme variations of temperature. The northern mountains are cold, with long and severe winters. Temperatures on the Balochistan plateau are high. Along the coastal strip, the climate is modified by sea breezes. In the rest of the country, the temperature rises steeply in summer. Seasons are: cold season (December to March), hot season (April to June), monsoon season (July to September) and post-monsoon season (October and November). Rainfall varies from 760–1,270 mm in the Himalayan foothills to 210 mm in Balochistan.
The most significant issues are soil erosion, deforestation, desertification, and water pollution with untreated sewage and industrial waste and by use of commercial pesticides.
Well-watered mountain slopes support forests of deodar, pine, poplar, shisham, willow and other species. Towering grasses and expanses of floating lotus flourish in the lake area of the Sindh plain. There are mangrove swamps to the south. Forest covers two per cent of the land area, having declined at 2.0 per cent p.a. 1990–2010. Arable land comprises 27 per cent and permanent cropland one per cent of the total land area.
Wildlife in the northern mountains includes brown bears, black Himalayan bears, musk deer, ibexes, leopards and rare snow-leopards. Chinkara gazelles have a wider distribution, while barking deer live closer to urban centres. In the delta, there are crocodiles, pythons and wild boar. Green turtles, an endangered species, regularly visit the Karachi coast during the egg-laying season. Houbara bustards are winter visitors. Manchar Lake in Sindh is rich in water-birds. In 2003, there were 37,800 sq km of protected areas (4.9 per cent of the land area). Some 24 mammal species and 23 bird species are thought to be endangered (2014).
On behalf of the Commonwealth I express the revulsion we feel at the terror unleashed on children in a place of learning - Commonwealth Secretary-General