Through the ages the mighty Himalayas have provided a natural barrier that cocooned the Indian sub-continent. The people living south of the Himalayas evolved independently, with little outside influence, until the 7th or 8th century CE.
The sub-continent was home to one of the cradles of civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization that flourished in 2600 BCE. The Aryan civilization flourished from 1500 BCE to 800 BCE.
The first sub-continent experience of foreign influences occurred when Arab invaders and later traders penetrated the Western Coast in the 7th and 8th centuries CE.
Regular raids by Islamic peoples coming through the mountain passes in the Himalayas began in the 12th century CCE and the raiders soon began establishing kingdoms in the Northern parts of the sub- continent. They brought their religion with them and many people in the Northern areas embraced Islam, either for love of the religion or fear of the sword.
Subsequent Muslim Sultanates expanded their kingdoms to all corners of the sub-continent, and Islam soon became a major religion.
The British, when they arrived in the 16th century CE, immediately saw the economic and political advantage to be gained by exploiting the differences between those who had embraced Islam and those who had adhered to the Hindu way of life. The political manoeuvrings that followed eventually led to the arbitrary drawing of a line, creating two countries out of one people. On August 14th 1947 was born Pakistan and India on August 15 of the same year.
Both countries share a historical and cultural heritage and differentiating the people is almost impossible. Despite following divergent paths since 1947, the people still consider themselves one and look forward to the day when politics permits free movement over the borders.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan or Islam-I Jamhuriya-e Pakistan and the Republic of India or Bharat, are both populous multicultural, multi religious, multi lingual, countries of South Asia.
In terms of geographical area, India is ranked 7th in the world. It occupies 3,278,240 sq. km and has a coast line of 7,516.6 km. By contrast, Pakistan is much smaller. It is ranked 36th in the world, and occupies 903,940 sq. km, with a coast line of 1,278 km.
The people of India are predominantly Hindu, though minority populations of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains play an important role in all aspects of life. Islam is the main religion in Pakistan. Religious minorities exist, but do not have any significant say in the county’s political, economic or cultural activities.
With a population of 1.2 billion, India is the second most populous country in the world after China. One sixth of the world’s people live in India. The population of Pakistan is 196 million.
India is a Constitutional Republic. There are 29 states, six union territories and the national capital territory, which includes the capital, New Delhi.
Pakistan is a Federal Republic having four provinces, a Federally Administered Tribal Region and the Islamabad Capital Region. Both countries have two legislative houses. In India the upper house is the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) while in Pakistan it is the Senate. In India the lower house is the House of the People (Lok Sabha), in Pakistan, the National Assembly.
For both countries the Head of State is the President and the Head of Government is the Prime Minister.
The continuous stream of traders, settlers and invaders has made both countries linguistically heterogeneous. In India, there are hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects, but as Hindi is widely spoken, it is one of the official languages. English is also an official language. In Pakistan each region speaks a different dialect. Urdu is a relatively new language, brought to Pakistan by the invaders. It is very similar to Hindi, and has been declared an official language in 2013. Previously, in Pakistan, English was the language used by the government.
India is a secular state and there is no official religion. The official religion of Pakistan is Islam.
India has a relatively stable government and independent foreign policy. She was a founding member of the non-aligned movement. Pakistan joined the SEATO after the Second World War. The country has been plagued by political instability, since the death of its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, in 1948.