West Pakistan - a Brief Description of the Country
What constituted West Pakistan in 1947 was the province of Sindh, a truncated province of Punjab, the
entire North West Frontier Province and British Baluchistan. In 1947-1948, the princely states (Bahawalpur,
the Baluchi states of Las Bela, Kalat, Makran and Kharan, the tribal areas of the North West Frontier
Agency and a truncated Jammu and Kashmir were integrated into the new state of Pakistan.
West Pakistan thus constituted of an area which, in its core since the 1840es, had been under direct
British administration, of areas which later had been placed under direct British administration, and of
areas which had nominally remained under feudal rule.
West Pakistan consisted of urban areas, most of which had been centers of the British administration,
of agriculturally used areas and of areas inhabited by peoples engaged in pastoral nomadism, most
notably in Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province, areas where the British administration had
least affected the lifes of the people, if at all.
The band uniting Pakistan as a nation was Islam, not ethnicity. Of the 72 languages spoken in Pakistan,
the most important are Punjabi, Sindhi, Seraiki, Pashto, Brahui, Balochi. To this Urdu, the language of
the 5.9 Muslim refugees from India, has to be added. English and Farsi played a role as historical
By 1956 the princely states were integrated into the core provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and
the North West Frontier Province. Urdu was chosen as the official language, while Punjabi, Sindhi etc.
were continued to be used as regional languages. The capital, originally, was in Karachi; in
1959 it was moved to Rawalpindi.
The Establishment of Institutions .
At the time of the establishment of Pakistan, the Government College at Lahore (est. 1864) and the
University of the Punjab (at Lahore, est. 1882) already looked back at decades of tradition. In 1950, the
University of Karachi, in 1951 the University of Sindh (at Hyderabad) were established.
In 1955, Pakistan International Airlines was established (a predecessor, Orient Airlines, had been
established in 1946). The railroad network was taken over from the British, and placed under the
administration of the state-owned Pakistan Railways, which achieved some extension of existing
lines. In 1947, few Pakistanis could afford a car. However, busses and trucks were essential;
Pakistani authorities invested in the extension of the road system. With Karachi, Pakistan had
a seaport with modern facilities developed by the British. The State Bank of Pakistan was established
The territories which now formed West Pakistan had previously been part of British India, the
administrative center of which had been at New Delhi. Thus Pakistan had to establish a number of
institutions, in order to function as a state. The generation of politicians leading Pakistan in the decade
after independence believed that their country was undeveloped, the population poor and uneducated
because the British colonial administration purposely had failed to further develop the country; they
believed that Pakistan could catch up with the west by improving the infrastructure in transportation,
by building power stations, hospitals, institutions of higher education.
These investments benefitted the urban centers most, the agriculturally used countryside somewhat,
and hardly affected the tribal areas.
The institution receiving the most significant share of revenue was the Pakistani army, established in
1947. It looked upon the armed forces of Turkey as a role model to follow. The Army was not only to
safeguard Pakistan vis-a-vis the Indian forces, but also to guarantee the territorial integrity of Pakistan
and the functioning of her democracy; it was to stage coups d'etat in 1958, 1977, 1999, at times when
the army leadership believed that democratic civil administration was disfunctional, returning the
power to civil administrastions in 1973 and 1988.
Demography In 1948 West Pakistan had an estimated population of 36 million, in 1958 an
estimated 40 million (to be treated as rough estimates; figures for this period of time show considerable
discrepancies). Pakistan had a high birth rate; in the late 1940es it experienced the emigration
of 5.3 million non-Muslims to, and the immigration of 5.9 million Muslims from the Republic of India.
The latter had to be integrated into West Pakistan's society and economy, while the gaps left behind
by the emigrants had to be filled.
Society In state administration, army, national instutitions a stratum of society emerged which
identified with the new state of Pakistan. As Urdu was declared official language and a good number
of immigrant Urdu speakers had a decent education, in such positions, Mohajirs (Urdu-speaking
immigrant refugees) were overrepresented, compared to their share of the overall population.
Identification with the state of Pakistan was strongest in the urban centers, the weakest in the
tribal areas of Baluchistan and the NWFP.
The Economy The war of 1948, the integration of millions of refugees, the establishment and
equipment of armed forces required considerable investment, as did the establishment of institutions
the country did not have before.
Pakistan's economy did grow, but this growth did hardly affect the standard of living of the average
Pakistani, as the gain was consumed by the factors abovelisted and by Pakistan's strong population
When observing Pakistan's economy, we have to take into account that Pakistan established
institutions which were modelled after existing institutions in advanced economies. Yet in a Third
World Nation like Pakistan, the vast majority of the population did not qualify as taxpayers, because
their incomes were marginal; many of these were illiterate, the multitude of languages spoken in the
country only complicating matters.
Article Pakistan, Dominion Of, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1948 pp.565-566 (covering events of 1947) [G]
Article Pakistan, Dominion Of, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1949 pp.501-502 (covering events of 1948) [G]
Article Pakistan, Dominion Of, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1950 pp.529-530 (on events of 1949) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1951 pp. 538-539 (on events of 1950) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1952 pp. 542-544 (on events of 1951) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1953 pp. 545-547 (on events of 1952) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1954 pp. 546-547 (on events of 1953) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1955 pp. 593-595 (on events of 1954) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1956 pp. 529-531 (on events of 1955) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1957 pp. 594-595 (on events of 1956) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1958 pp. 528-530 (on events of 1957) [G]
Article Pakistan, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1959 pp. 527-529 (on events of 1958) [G]
Article : Pakistan, in : Americana Annual 1947 p.532 (on events of 1946) [G]
Article : Pakistan, in : Americana Annual 1957 pp.604-605 (on events of 1956) [G]
This page is part of World History at KMLA First posted on November 10th 2006