Country Profile: Pakistan

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Jamhuryat Islami Pakistan), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Pakistan’s Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) is a principal source for legislation.

Country Background

Pakistan is located in South Asia bordering the Arabian Sea to the south. Pakistan’s border countries are Afghanistan and Iran to the west, India to the south and east, and China to the north. The country is divided into four provinces—Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. The tribal belt adjoining Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa is managed by the federal government and is named FATA (i.e., Federally Administered Tribal Areas). Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan each have their own respective political and administrative machinery, with some influence from the federal government. The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad. The official languages are Urdu and English. The country’s population in 2016 was approximately 202 million. Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 97% of the population Muslim (85-90% of whom are Sunnī and 10-15% of whom are Shīʿī). Pakistan is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Pakistan is referred to as a federal parliamentary republic. Pakistan, formally known as West Pakistan, was created under the Pakistan Independence Act of 1947. Although Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, intended the country to be a secular state, at present, Islam is the religion of the republic and the legal system is based on sharīʿa, codified systems, and English common law. Sharīʿa is the major source of legislation, followed by custom, natural law, and principles of equity and good conscience. The first Constitution of the country was secular in nature and approved in 1954, but it was replaced by 1962 by a new Constitution that incorporated sharī’a. . . .

Read Pakistan’s profile.