The Punjab or Panjab pronunciation (Punjabi/Urdu: پنجاب) province of Pakistan is the country's most populous region and is home to the Punjabis and various other groups. Neighbouring areas are Sindh to the south, Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province to the west, Pakistan controlled Azad Kashmir, Indian controlled Kashmir and Islamabad to the north, and Indian Punjab and Rajasthan to the east. The main languages are Punjabi, Seraiki, and Urdu and the provincial capital is Lahore. The name Punjab literally translates from Persian into the words Panj (پنج), cognate with Sanskrit Pańca, meaning "five", and Āb (آب), cognate with Sanskrit Āp, meaning "water" respectively, which can be translated as "five water" (hence the name land of the five rivers), referring to the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Chenab and Jhelum rivers. Part of the Indus also lies in Punjab, but it is not considered one of the "five" rivers.
Punjab is Pakistan's second largest province at 205,344 km˛ (79,284 square miles) and is located at the northwestern edge of the geologic Indian plate in South Asia. The provincial level-capital and main city of the Punjab is Lahore, which has been the historical capital of the region. Other important cities include Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, and Rawalpindi. The province is home to six rivers: the Indus, Beas, Sutlej, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi. Nearly 60% of Pakistan's population lives in the Pakistani Punjab, it is the nation's only province that touches Balochistan, Afghania, Sindh and Azad Kashmir, and contains the federal enclave of the national capital city at Islamabad. This geographical poistion and a large multi-ethnic population strongly influence Punjab's outlook on National affairs and induce in Punjab a keen awareness of the problems of the Pakistan's other important provinces and territories. In the acronym P-A-K-I-S-T-A-N, the P is for PUNJAB.
The province is a mainly a fertile region along the river valleys, while sparse deserts can be found near the border with India and Balochistan. The region contains the Thar and Cholistan deserts. The Indus River and its many tributaries traverse the Punjab from north to south. The landscape is amongst the most heavily irrigated land on earth and canals can be found throughout the province. Weather extremes are notable from the hot and barren south to the cool hills of the north. The foothills of the Himalayas are found in the extreme north as well.
Most areas in Punjab experience fairly cool winters, often accompanied by rain. By mid-February the temperature begins to rise; springtime weather continues until mid-April, when the summer heat sets in.
The onset of the southwest monsoon is anticipated to reach Punjab by May, but since the early 1970s the weather pattern has been irregular. The spring monsoon has either skipped over the area or has caused it to rain so hard that floods have resulted. June and July are oppressively hot. Although official estimates rarely place the temperature above 46 °C, newspaper sources claim that it reaches 51 °C and regularly carry reports about people who have succumbed to the heat. Heat records were broken in Multan in June 1993, when the mercury was reported to have risen to 54 °C. In August the oppressive heat is punctuated by the rainy season, referred to as barsat, which brings relief in its wake. The hardest part of the summer is then over, but cooler weather does not come until late October.
Demographics and Society
The population of the province is estimated to be 86,084,000 in 2005 and is home to over half the population of Pakistan. The major language spoken in the Punjab is Punjabi (which is written in Perso-Arabic script, known as Shahmukhi, in Pakistan) and Punjabis comprise the largest ethnic group (and overlap into neighbouring India). Punjabis themselves are a heterogeneous group comprising different tribes and communities, although caste in Pakistani Punjab has more to do with traditional occupations such as blacksmiths or artisans as opposed to rigid social stratifications.
The most important tribes within Punjab include the Gakhars, Jats, the Arain, the Gujjars and the Rajputs. Other smaller tribes are the: Awans, Rawns, and Maliks. In addition, there is a significant shift towards the usage of Urdu by the educated classes of the province as the Punjabis are the most ardent supporters of the nation-state of Pakistan and all of its national institutions. There is also a nationalist movement amongst the somewhat related Seraikis in the south of Punjab and many wish to see a separate the region into a new province of Seraikistan. Other smaller groups in the province include Hindko, Pakhtuns, Balochs, Kashmiris, Potohari and others.
The population of Punjab is over 99% Muslim with a Sunni majority and Shia minority. There are small non-Muslims groups of Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs, because of its strategic location in the Indian sub-continent, wave after wave of migrants poured into the area and settled on its fertile lands and today, although originally belonging to the Aryan stock, there has been some settlements of Iranians, Central Asians, and Afghans who have come individually or in groups.
The dialects spoken in different regions of the land have a common vocabulary and a shared heritage. The shared heritage also extends to a common faith, Islam. The people of Punjab have also a shared spiritual experience, which has been disseminated by Tassawwaf and can be witnessed on the occasion of the remembrance-fairs held on the Urs of Sufi Saints.