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Pakistan is officially the Islamic Republic of is a sovereign country in South Asia. With a population exceeding 180 million people, it is the sixth most populous country and with an area covering 796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi), it is the 36th largest country in the world in terms of area. Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest and China in the far northeast. It is separated from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's narrow Wakhan Corridor in the north, and also shares a marine border with Oman.
The territory that now constitutes Pakistan was previously home to several ancient cultures, including the Mehrgarh of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization, and was later home to kingdoms ruled by people of different faiths and cultures, including Hindus, Indo-Greeks, Muslims, Turco-Mongols, Afghans and Sikhs. The area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties, including the Indian Mauryan Empire, the Persian Achaemenid Empire,Alexander of Macedonia, the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, the Mongol Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Durrani Empire, the Sikh Empire and the British Empire. As a result of the Pakistan Movement led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the subcontinent's struggle for independence, Pakistan was created in 1947 as an independent nation for Muslims from the regions in the east and west of Subcontinent where there was a Muslim majority. Initially a dominion, Pakistan adopted a new constitution in 1956, becoming an Islamic republic. A civil war in 1971 resulted in the secession of East Pakistan as the new country of Bangladesh.
Pakistan is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of four provinces and four federal territories. It is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country, with a similar variation in its geography and wildlife. A regional and middle power, Pakistan has the seventh largest standing armed forces in the world and is also a nuclear power as well as a declared nuclear-weapons state, being the only nation in the Muslim world, and the second in South Asia, to have that status. It has a semi-industrialized economy with a well-integrated agriculture sector, its economy is the 26th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and 45th largest in terms of nominal GDP and is also characterized among the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world.
The post-independence history of Pakistan has been characterized by periods of military rule, political instability and conflicts with neighboring India. The country continues to face challenging problems, including overpopulation, terrorism, poverty, illiteracy, and corruption. Despite these factors it ranked 16th on the 2012 Happy Planet Index. It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Next Eleven Economies, ECO, UfC, D8, Cairns Group, Kyoto Protocol, ICCPR, RCD, UNCHR, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Group of Eleven, CPFTA, Group of 24, the G20 developing nations, ECOSOC, founding member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, SAARC and CERN.
Geography, environment and climate
The geography and climate of Pakistan are extremely diverse, and the country is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Pakistan covers an area of 796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi), approximately equal to the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. It is the 36th largest nation by total area, although this ranking varies depending on how the disputed territory of Kashmir is counted. Pakistan has a 1,046 km (650 mi) coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and land borders of 6,774 km (4,209 mi) in total: 2,430 km (1,510 mi) with Afghanistan, 523 km (325 mi) with China, 2,912 km (1,809 mi) with India and 909 km (565 mi) with Iran. It shares a marine border with Oman, and is separated from Tajikistan by the cold, narrow Wakhan Corridor Pakistan occupies a geopolitically important location at the crossroads of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Geologically, Pakistan overlaps the Indian tectonic plate in its Sindh and Punjab provinces; Baluchistan and most of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are within the Eurasian plate, mainly on the Iranian plateau. Gilgit– Baltistan and Azad Kashmir lie along the edge of the Indian plate and hence are prone to violent earthquakes. Ranging from the coastal areas of the south to the glaciated mountains of the north, Pakistan's landscapes vary from plains to deserts, forests, hills and plateaus.
Pakistan is divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands, the Indus River plain and the Baluchistan Plateau. The northern highlands contain the Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges (see mountains of Pakistan), which contain some of the world's highest peaks, including five of the fourteen eight-thousands (mountain peaks over 8,000 meters or 26,250 feet), which attract adventurers and mountaineers from all over the world, notably K2 (8,611 m or 28,251 ft) and Nanga Parbat (8,126 m or 26,660 ft). The Baluchistan Plateau lies in the west and the Thar Desert in the east. The 1,609 km (1,000 mi) Indus River and its tributaries flow through the country from the Kashmir region to the Arabian Sea. There is an expanse of alluvial plains along it in Punjab and Sindh.
The climate varies from tropical to temperate, with arid conditions in the coastal south. There is a monsoon season with frequent flooding due to heavy rainfall and a dry season with significantly less rainfall or none at all. There are four distinct seasons: a cool, dry winter from December through February; a hot, dry spring from March through May; the summer rainy season, or southwest monsoon period, from June through September; and the retreating monsoon period of October and November. Rainfall varies greatly from year to year, and patterns of alternate flooding and drought are common.
Flora and fauna
The diversity of landscapes and climates in Pakistan allows a wide variety of trees and plants to flourish. The forests range from coniferous alpine and subalpine trees such as spruce, pine and deodar cedar in the extreme northern mountains, through deciduous trees in most of the country (for example the mulberry-like shisham found in the Suleiman Mountains), to palms such as coconut and date in southern Punjab, southern Baluchistan and all of Sindh. The western hills are home to juniper, tamarisk, coarse grasses and scrub plants. Mangrove forests form much of the coastal wetlands along the coast in the south.
Coniferous forests are found at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 meters in most of the northern and northwestern highlands. In the xeric regions of Baluchistan, date palm and Ephedra are common. In most of Punjab and Sindh, the Indus plains support tropical and subtropical dry and moist broadleaf forestry as well as tropical and xeric scrublands. These forests are mostly of mulberry, acacia, and eucalyptus. About 2.2% or 1,687,000 hectares (16,870 km2) of Pakistan was forested in 2010.
The fauna of Pakistan reflects its varied climates too. Around 668 bird species are found there: crows, sparrows, mynas, hawks, falcons and eagles commonly occur. Palas, Kohistan, has a significant population of Western Tragopan. Many birds sighted in Pakistan are migratory, coming from Europe, Central Asia and India.
The southern plains are home to mongooses, civets, hares, the Asiatic jackal, the Indian pangolin, the jungle cat and the desert cat. There are mugger crocodiles in the Indus, and wild boar, deer, porcupines and small rodents are common in the surrounding areas. The sandy scrublands of central Pakistan are home to Asiatic jackals, striped hyenas, wildcats and leopards. The lack of vegetative cover, the severe climate and the impact of grazing on the deserts have left wild animals in a precarious position. The chinkara is the only animal that can still be found in significant numbers in Cholistan. A small number of nilgai are found along the Pakistan-India border and in some parts of Cholistan. A wide variety of animals live in the mountainous north, including the Marco Polo sheep, the urial (a subspecies of wild sheep), Markhor and Ibex goats, the Asian black bear and the Himalayan brown bear. Among the rare animals found in the area are the snow leopard, the Asiatic cheetah and the blind Indus river dolphin, of which there are believed to be about 1,100 remaining, protected at the Indus River Dolphin Reserve in Sindh. In total, 174 mammals, 177 reptiles, 22 amphibians, 198 freshwater fish species and 5,000 species of invertebrates (including insects) have been recorded in Pakistan.
The flora and fauna of Pakistan suffer from a number of problems. Pakistan has the second-highest rate of deforestation in the world. This, along with hunting and pollution, is causing adverse effects on the ecosystem. The government has established a large number of protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries, and game reserves to deal with these issues.
National parks and Wildlife sanctuaries
Plain of Deosai National Park
As of present, there are around 157 protected areas in Pakistan that are recognized by IUCN. According to the 'Modern Protected Areas' legislation, a national park is a protected area set aside by the government for the protection and conservation of its outstanding scenery and wildlife in a natural state. The oldest national park is Lal Suhanra in Bahawalpur District, established in 1972. It is also the only biosphere reserve of Pakistan. Lal Suhanra is the only national park established before the independence of the nation in August 1947. Central Karakoram in Gilgit Baltistan is currently the largest national park in the country, spanning over a total approximate area of 1,390,100 hectares (3,435,011.9 acres). The smallest national park is the Ayub, covering a total approximate area of 931 hectares (2,300.6 acres).
Pakistan, with its diverse cultures, people and landscapes attracted 1 million tourists in 2012. Pakistan's tourism industry was in its heyday during the 1970s when the country received unprecedented amounts of foreign tourists. The main destinations of choice for these tourists were the Khyber.
The country's attraction range from the ruins of civilization such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Taxila, to the Himalayan hill stations. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7000 m. The north part of Pakistan has many old fortresses, ancient architecture and the Hunza and Chitral valley, home to small pre-Islamic Animist Kalasha community claiming descent from Alexander the Great. Other attractions include the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Punjab province. Pakistan's cultural capital, with many examples of Mughal architecture such as Badshahi Masjid, Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Jahangir and the Lahore Fort. Before the Global economic crisis Pakistan received more than 500,000 tourists annually. .
In October 2006, just one year after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, The Guardian released what it described as "The top five tourist sites in Pakistan". The five sites included Taxila, Lahore, The Karakoram Highway, Karimabad and Lake Saiful Muluk. In 2009, The World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked Pakistan as one of the top 25% tourist destinations for its World Heritage sites. Ranging from mangroves in the South, to the 5,000-year-old cities of the Indus Valley Civilization which included Mohenjo-daro and Harappa.
The Meto Bus System in Lahore is country's first bus rapid transit, whileMetrobus Rawalpindi-Islamabad is under construction.
Jinnah International Airport in Karachihandles 16 million passengers annually.
The transport industry accounts for ~10.5% of nation's GDP. Pakistan'smotorway infrastructure is better than those of India, Bangladesh, andIndonesia, but the train system lags behind those of India and China, and aviation infrastructure also needs improvement. There is scarcely any inland water transportation system, and coastal shipping only meets minor local requirements.
Highways form the backbone of Pakistan's transport system; a total road length of 259,618 km accounts for 91% of passenger and 96% of freight traffic. Road transport services are largely in the hands of the private sector, which handles around 95% of freight traffic. The National Highway Authority is responsible for the maintenance of national highways and motorways. The highway and motorway system depends mainly on north–south links, connecting the southern ports to the populous provinces of Punjaband Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Although this network only accounts for 4.2% of total road length, it carries 85% of the country's traffic.
The Pakistan Railways, under the Ministry of Railways (MoR), operates the railroad system. From 1947 until 1970s, the train system was the primary means of transport until the nationwide constructions of the national highways and the economic boom of the automotive industry. Since 1990s, there was a marked shift in traffic from rail to highways; dependence grew on roads after the introduction of vehicles in the country. Now the railway's share of inland traffic is only 10% for passengers and 4% for freight traffic. Personal transportation dominated by the automobiles, the total rail track decreased from 8,775 km in 1990–91 to 7,791 km in 2011. Pakistan expects to use the rail service to boost foreign trade with China, Iran and Turkey.
Rough estimates accounts for 139 airports in Pakistan–both military and civilian airports which are mostly are publicly owned. Though the Jinnah International Airport is the principal international gateway to Pakistan, the international airports in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Multan also handle significant amounts of traffic. The civil aviation industry is mixed with public and private sectors, which has been deregulated in 1993. While the state-ownedPakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the major and dominated air carrier that carries about 73% of domestic passengers and all domestic freight, the private airlines such as airBlue, Shaheen Air International, and Air Indus, also provide the similar services with low cost expenses. Major seaports are in Karachi, Sindh (theKarachi port and Port Qasim). Since 1990s, the seaport operations have been moved to Balochistan with the construction of Gwadar Port and Gadani Port.
Science and technology
Development on science and technology plays an influential role in Pakistan's infrastructure and helped the country to reach out to the world. Every year, scientists from around the world are invited by the Pakistan Academy of Sciences and the Pakistan Government to participate in the International Nathiagali Summer College on Physics. Pakistan hosted an international seminar on Physics in Developing Countries for International Year of Physics 2005. Pakistani theoretical physicist Abdus Salam won a Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the electroweak interaction. Influential publications and the critical scientific works in the advancement of mathematics, biology, economics, computer science, and genetics have been produced by the Pakistani scientists at the domestic and international standings.
In chemistry, Salimuzzaman Siddiqui was the first Pakistani scientist to bring the therapeutic constituents of the Neem tree to the attention of natural products chemists. Pakistani neurosurgeon Ayub Ommaya invented the Ommaya reservoir, a system for treatment of brain tumors and other brain conditions. Scientific research and development plays a pivotal role in Pakistani universities, collaboration with the government sponsored national laboratories, science parks, and co-operation with the industry. In 2010, Pakistan was ranked 43rd in the world in terms of published scientific papers. The Pakistan Academy of Sciences, a strong scientific community, plays an influential and vital role in formulating the science policies recommendation to the government.
The 1960s era saw the emergence of the active space program led by the SUPARCO that produced advances in domestic rocketry, electronics, and aeronomy. The space program recorded few notable feats and achievements; the successful launch of the first rocket into the space that made Pakistan as first South Asian country to achieve such task. Successfully producing and launching nation's first space satellite in 1990, Pakistan became the first Muslim country and second South Asian country to put a satellite into space.
As an aftermath of the 1971 war with India, the clandestine crash program developed atomic weapons in a fear and to prevent any foreign intervention, while ushering in the atomic age in the post cold war era. Competition with India and tensions eventually led Pakistan's decision of conducting underground nuclear tests in 1998; thus becoming the seventh country in the world to successfully develop nuclear weapons.
After establishing an Antarctic program, Pakistan is one of the small number of countries that have an active research presence in Antarctica. The Antarctic program oversees two summer research stations on the continent and plans to open another base, which will operate all year round. Energy consumption by computer sand usage has grown since 1990s when the PCs were introduced; Pakistan has over 20 million internet users and is ranked as one of the top countries that have registered a high growth rate in internet penetration, as of 2011. Key publications have been produced by Pakistan, and domestic software development has gained a lot international praise.
Overall, it has the 27th largest population of internet users in the world. Since 2000s, Pakistan has made significant amount of progress in supercomputing, and various institutions offers research in parallel computing. Pakistan government reportedly spends ?. 4.6 billion on information technology projects, with emphasis on e-government, human resource and infrastructure development.
Culture and society
The civil society in Pakistan is largely hierarchical, emphasizing local cultural etiquettes and traditional Islamic values that govern personal and political life. The basic family unit is the extended family although there has been a growing trend towards nuclear families for socio-economic reasons. The traditional dress for both men and women is the Shalwar Kameez; trousers, Jeans, and shirts are also popular among men. The middle class has increased to around 35 million and the upper and upper-middle classes to around 17 million in recent decades, and power is shifting from rural landowners to the urbanized elites. Pakistani festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Ramazan, Christmas, Easter, Holi, and Diwali are mostly religious in origin. Increasing globalization has resulted in Pakistan ranking 56th on the A.T. Kearney/FP Globalization Index.
Clothing, arts, and fashion
The Shalwar Kameez is the national dress of Pakistan and is worn by both men and women in all four provinces Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa as well as in FATA and Azad Kashmir. Each province has its own style of wearing the Shalwar Qameez. Pakistanis wair clothes range from exquisite colors and designs to the type of fabric (silk, chiffon, cotton, etc.).
The fashion industry has flourished well in the changing environment of fashion world. Since Pakistan came into being its fashion has been historically evolved from different phases and made its unique identity apart from Indian fashion and culture. At this time, Pakistani fashion is a combination of traditional and modern dresses and it has become the cultural identification of Pakistan. Despite of all modern trends, the regional and traditional dresses have developed their own significance as a symbol of native tradition. This regional fashion is not static but evolving into more modern and pure forms.
The Pakistan Fashion Design Council based in Lahore organizes Fashion Week and Fashion Pakistan based in Karachi organizes fashion shows in that city. Pakistan’s first fashion week was held in November 2009.
Media and entertainment
The private print media, state-owned Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation(PBC) for radio were the dominant media outlets until the start of the 21st century. Since 2000, Pakistan has a large network of private 24-hour news media and television channels. In addition to the national entertainment and news channels, foreign television channels and films are also on air.
The Lollywood– an Urdu film industry– is based in Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar. Contrary to ailing film industry, the televised dramas and theatrical performances are widely popular in the country, as many entertainment media air the series regularly. In the 1960s–1970s, the pop music and disco (1970s) dominated the country's music industry. In the 1980s–1990s, the British influenced rock music began to be notice by the public and jolted the country's entertainment industry. In 2000s, the introduction and emergence of the heavy metal music country's entertainment circle was highly appreciated and gained critical acclaim by the public. To many observers, the Pakistan's ingenious rock music is the only "arsenal" the country had against India's encroaching entertainment industry."
Pakistani music ranges from diverse provincial folk music and traditional styles such as Qawwali and Ghazal Gayaki to modern forms fusing traditional and western music. Pakistan has many famous folk singers. The arrival of Afghan refugees in the western provinces has stimulated interest in Pashto music, although there has been intolerance of it in some places. Pakistan has some of the world's modern vibrant and open media. Pakistani media has also played a vital role in exposing corruption.
Pakistani architecture has four recognized periods: pre-Islamic, Islamic, colonial, and post-colonial. With the beginning of the Indus civilization around the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE, an advanced urban culture developed for the first time in the region, with large buildings, some of which survive to this day. Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kot Diji are among the pre-Islamic settlements that are now tourist attractions. The rise of Buddhism and the Persian and Greek influence led to the development of the Greco-Buddhist style, starting from the 1st century CE. The high point of this era was reached at the peak of the Gandhara style. An example of Buddhist architecture is the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The arrival of Islam in today's Pakistan meant a sudden end of Buddhist architecture in the area and a smooth transition to the predominantly picture less Islamic architecture. The most important Persian-style building still standing is the tomb of the Shah Rukn-i-Alam in Multan. During the Mughal era, design elements of Persian-Islamic architecture were fused with and often produced playful forms of Hindustani art. Lahore, occasional residence of Mughal rulers, exhibits many important buildings from the empire. Most prominent among them are the Badshahi mosque, the fortress of Lahore with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the colourful, Persian-style Wazir Khan Mosque, the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore and the Shahjahan Mosque in Thatta. In the British colonial period, predominantly functional buildings of the Indo-European representative style developed from a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic components. Post-colonial national identity is expressed in modern structures like the Faisal Mosque, the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Mazar-e-Quaid. Several of the architectural infrastructure has been influenced from the British design, and such architectural designs can be found in Lahore, Peshawar, and Karachi.
Food and drink
Although being part of South Asia, Pakistani cuisine has some similarities with different regions of the Indian subcontinent, originating from the royal kitchens of sixteenth-century Mughal emperors. Pakistan has a greater variety of meat dishes compared to the rest of the sub-continent and most of those dishes have their roots in British, Central Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Pakistani cooking uses large quantities of spices, herbs and seasoning. Garlic, ginger, turmeric, red chilli and garam masala are used in most dishes, and home cooking regularly includes curry. Chapati, a thin flat bread made from wheat, is a staple food, served with curry, meat, vegetables and lentils. Rice is also common; it is served plain or fried with spices and is also used in sweet dishes.
Lassi is a traditional drink in the Punjab region. Black tea with milk and sugar is popular throughout Pakistan and is taken daily by most of the population. Sohan Halwa is a very popular sweet dish of southern region of Punjab province and is enjoyed all over Pakistan.
The majority of the sports played in Pakistan are originated and were substantially developed from the United Kingdom who introduced in the British India. Field Hockey is the national sport of Pakistan; it has won three Gold medallions in the Olympic Games held in 1960, 1968, and 1984. Pakistan has also won the Hockey World Cup a record four times held in 1971, 1978,1982, and in 1994.
Cricket, however, is the most popular game across the country. The Cricket team (popular as Shaheen) has won the Cricket World Cup held in 1992; it had been been runners-up once in 1999, and co-hosted the tournament in 1987 and 1996. Pakistan were runners-up in the inaugural World Twenty20 (2007) in South Africa and won the World Twenty20 in England in 2009. Lately, however, Cricket has suffered severely because teams have refused to tour Pakistan for fear of terrorism. No teams have toured Pakistan since March 2009, when militants attacked the touring Sri Lanka's Cricket team.
In Athletics, Abdul Khaliq participated in 1954 Asian Games and the 1958 Asian Games. He won 34 International Gold, 15 International Silver and 12 Bronze Medals for Pakistan.
In squash, world-class players such as Jahangir Khan, widely considered to be the greatest player in the sport's history, and Jansher Khan won the World Open Squash Championship several times during their careers. Jahangir Khan also won the British Open a record ten times.
Pakistan has competed many times at the Olympics in field hockey, boxing, athletics, swimming, and shooting.Pakistan's Olympic medal tally stands at 10 of which 8 were earned in hockey. The Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medal tallies stand at 65 and 160 respectively.
At national level, polo is popular, with regular national events in different parts of the country. Boxing, billiards, snooker, rowing, kayaking, caving, tennis, contract bridge, golf and volleyball are also actively pursued, and Pakistan has produced regional and international champions in these sports. Basketball enjoys regional popularity especially in Lahore and Karachi.