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Pakistan - Land, People and History

             Pakistan is bounded by Iran to the west, Afghanistan to the northwest and north,China to the northeast, and India to the east and southeast. The coast of the Arabian Sea forms its southern border. Since 1947 the Kashmir region, along the western Himalayas, has been disputed, with Pakistan, India, and China each controlling sections of the territory. Part of the Pakistani-administered territory comprises the so-called Azad Kashmir ("Free Kashmir") region-which Pakistan nonetheless considers an independent state, with its capital at Muzaffarabad. The remainder of Pakistani-administered Kashmir consists of Gilgit and Baltistan, known collectively as the Northern Areas.
             The area currently occupied by Pakistan has long been a route of military conquest and an entrepôt for peoples and cultures. It is therefore a significant cultural and ethnic melting pot. Modern Pakistan's population can be divided broadly into five major and several minor ethnic groups. The Punjabis, who constitute roughly half of the population, are the single largest group. The Pashtuns (Pathans) account for about one-eighth of the population, and Sindhis form a somewhat smaller group. Of the remaining population, the muhajirs-Muslims who fled to Pakistan after the partition in 1947-and Balochs constitute the largest groups.
             There are subgroups within each of these five categories, as well as a number of smaller ethnic groups not included among them. The Arains, Rajputs, and Jats-all Punjabis-regard themselves as ethnically distinct. Some groups overlap the five categories; for instance, there are Punjabi Pashtuns as well as Hazarvi Pashtuns. Some smaller groups, such as the Brahuis in Sind (Sindh) and the Seraikis in Punjab, are also ethnically distinct. Tribal Pashtuns are another subgroup of the Pashtunconstellation. Divided into numerous tribal orders, they inhabit the mountainous region along the Afghan frontier.

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