Pakistan’s business sector is heavily dependent on agriculture, where just over 40 percent of the economically active population is employed. The country’s development strategy focuses on increased industrialization and reduced dependence on raw material exports.
Unlike in India, since independence in 1947, the economy has been focused mainly on expansion in the private sector. A small number of financial families control most of the investments, and the distribution of income and financial influence is extremely uneven. The economy is dependent on foreign loans and assistance. Also important are income from the large number of Pakistanis working abroad, mainly in the Arab countries.
About a quarter of Pakistan’s land is cultivated land. Wheat, rice, sugar cane and cotton are the most important crops. Wheat and rice are the main domestic staple crops, while rice and cotton are the most important export goods. Livestock farming is an essential part of the industry and accounts for almost half of production.
More than 80 percent of production is dependent on irrigation in connection with the larger rivers. Extensive dust structures and over-utilization of the irrigation systems have caused major problems with salting and neglect. The so-called green revolution has, since the 1960s, contributed to increased production through increased use of artificial fertilizers and high-yielding crops, but at the same time has widened the regional and economic gaps in agriculture. Like mechanization, it has mainly benefited larger landowners, while the situation for poor tenant farmers has hardly improved. The attempts at land reform made have had very limited effect.
Forestry has no major commercial significance in Pakistan. The entirely dominant use of wood is for household fuel. In total, an estimated 33 million m 3 of round timber was harvested in 2008, of which 30 million m 3 was used for fuel.
Pakistan has good assets on only certain minerals. The most important mining precious metal minerals are chromite, but the country also houses large copper deposits as well as gold deposits. The iron ore is of low quality and is not used in the steel industry. Quantitatively, the quarrying of limestone is the most extensive.
The most important commercial energy sources in Pakistan are natural gas and oil, which in 2008 accounted for 51 and 28 percent of consumption respectively. Then comes coal and water energy. About 20 percent of the oil is mined in the country, mainly in the Dhurnal area of northern Pakistan and from the source at Badin in the south. The natural gas resources are extensive, and the extraction takes place mainly in Sui and Mari in the southern Indus Valley. Coal is available to a lesser extent and the quality is low. Hydroelectric power stations are located in Indus and some of its tributaries in northern Pakistan. Energy shortages are prevalent in both households and industry. Power distribution is faulty, and power outages are common. Plans are underway to expand hydropower and to build a larger thermal power plant near Karachi. Pakistan has two smaller nuclear power plants.
The industrial heritage from the colonial era was a poorly developed food and textile industry. After independence in 1947, both these industries have grown substantially, while the heavy industry (partly due to the lack of domestic resources) has not been given the same role as in India. The most important individual industry branch is today the cotton industry, but also other lighter, often small-scale, manufacturing industries are increasing in importance. Natural gas is an essential base for Pakistan’s industry, as an energy resource, but also as a raw material in manure production. In the 1970s, during Ali Bhutto’s reign, public investment in heavy industry increased. However, growth remained low, and so did the subsequent industrial development, which returned to a strong focus on private investment; characterized by economic inefficiency and low productivity. However, the ’00s has meant strong growth in the electronics and automotive industries.
According to Countryaah, Pakistan’s exports are dominated by textile products, mainly cotton, cotton products, clothing and carpets, as well as rice and leather. The economically most important import goods are oil and oil products, machinery and plastics. The main trading partners are the US and China.
Tourism and gastronomy
Pakistan has good conditions for a developed tourism industry, but political concerns and competition from more easily accessible neighboring countries in South Asia mean that tourist visits are still at a low level. In 2012, the country was visited by just under 1 million tourists.
For the archaeologically interested, there are some of humankind’s oldest urban formations in Pakistan. Mohenjo-Daro in Sind, like Harappa further north, exhibits the remains of a large city from the high culture of Indusdalen 2500-1700 BC, to which is added interesting architecture from the beginning of our era. Also Taxila, just north of Rawalpindi, has the remains of a prehistoric city, but here it is mainly the expressions of Greek-Indian mixed culture with from the 100 century AD. which fascinates.
The art lover can note that Lahore, with its huge palace, the Baha’i Mosque, the Imperial Garden Shalamar Bagh and its museum (famous for its miniature collection), is actually part of the mogul culture that is expressed across the border in places like Delhi and Agra.
The hiker and mountaineer in northern Pakistan have a given destination. While mountains like K2 are climbed by a small crowd, mountain hikes offer lower altitudes, for example in the Swat Valley, unique scenery and contact with the many Buddhist monasteries in the area. Gilgit’s surroundings also offer opportunities for downhill skiing.
Spices, leather and groceries and textiles (including embroidery work and carpets) are offered in the Pakistani bazaar districts. The capital of Islamabad is the sibling city of Rawalpindi, against which it contrasts with its completely modern architecture and city plan.
The food is similar to the Indian, but is rarely as spicy and slightly oily. Features are also available from the Afghan and Iranian cuisine. In the northern parts of the country, peaches, apricots, almonds, apples and mushrooms are harvested; in combination with fatty tail sheep and chicken they provide a diet that is tasty and not very strong. Burra is diluted lamb that is completely grilled, filled with rice, nuts and raisins. Bread, goat cheese and yogurt are included in the daily diet.
In Baluchistan, the diet is even more based on the livestock herds. A common dish is aloo bukhara gosht (meat stew with plums, nuts, onions and raisins). The Punjab region is fertile, and here bread is eaten for every meal. Bread is also often, in combination with different fillings, a whole dish. Makai ki roti is corn bread eaten with sargon cheese saw, casserole with mustard bowl, and sag gosht, spinach meat. In Sind along the Indus and with access to the sea, seafood is common; mussels, oysters and crabs are usually served for rice, as it is in this part of the country that the basmati rice has its residence. The freshwater fish pallet, which is grilled, is a local specialty. Another specialty is kori gosht, lamb saddle marinated in yogurt and then grilled.