ECONOMY: AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK AND FISHING
Almost half of the active population is still employed in agriculture, which affects 28.5% of the territorial surface (approx. 60% is uncultivated and unproductive) and sees rice, cotton, wheat and sugar cane. Agricultural production is essentially based on the alternation of two harvests during the year: that of summer crops or kharif, which can only be done by irrigation, and that of rabi crops., also carried out increasingly through irrigation, but favored by monsoon rains and therefore more widespread. Agriculture is a sector, as has been said, which has remained backward with a prevalent diffusion of little or no mechanized microfunds; however, the creation of vast artificial basins, especially on the Indus and the Jhelum, and the consequent use of river waters through a complex network of derivation channels have allowed to increase the yields of the land, which have their best areas in the Punjab and in the Sind. Much of the arable land is reserved for wheat (of which it is the third Asian producer), a typical rabi crop, followed by rice, which is instead a kharif crop.and that it finds particularly favorable conditions in the flood plains of Sind; Other cereals are less important, such as maize, produced above all in the foothills, millet and sorghum, which are instead limited to dry and non-irrigable regions. Potatoes, numerous vegetables (onions, beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc.), citrus fruits (oranges, mandarins and lemons), mangoes, bananas and dates are also fundamental food crops. Cereals and legumes are grown almost exclusively in subsistence form, with the partial exception of wheat; rice, on the other hand, gives rise to a fair amount of exports, even if the increase in internal needs, due to population growth, has reduced the extent of these exports over the years. Industrial crops are also noteworthy; of particular importance is that of cotton (Pakistan is in fourth place worldwide for the production of cotton fibers and the third for that of yarns), widespread especially in the irrigated areas of the Indus valley, where it finds excellent environmental conditions, similar to those found in Egypt. Pakistan is also an important producer of oil crops, such as sesame, flax, castor, rapeseed and peanuts, while among the textile plants it includes hemp; well represented are also tobacco and sugar cane which, thanks to government incentives, recorded a significant increase so that the country has become the fifth largest producer in the world. The forests are not very extensive, occupying just 3.1% of the national territory, while the issue of increasing deforestation appears to be a priority for the future. The breeding has a considerable livestock stock and contributes to half of the GDP of the agricultural sector. Sheep and goats prevail, whose breeding is commonly of the pastoral type, based on transhumance between the steppes of the Indus plain and the mountain slopes; there is also a high number of cattle (oxen and buffaloes), largely used for agricultural work; donkeys, camels and horses are also bred, as well as poultry. In addition to being the first in the world for the number of cattle, Pakistan is among the largest producers of milk and butter in Asia and in the world. The fishing sector has registered a good increase, which feeds a fair amount of exports. The pressing intervention of international organizations and the United States on the authorities has also led to in the early years of the 2000s to a reduction in the areas devoted to the cultivation of opium poppies, which supports the international drug trafficking; however this production is still widespread, especially in some districts of the tribal areas, on the border with Afghanistan.
ECONOMY: TRADE AND COMMUNICATIONS
Recently developed, the tertiary sector now employs over a third of the workforce and contributes to more than half of GDP. Pakistan mainly exports raw and processed cotton (yarns and fabrics), rice, leather and hides, petroleum products, artificial fibers and yarns, sports equipment and carpets, while it mainly imports fuels, chemicals, machinery and means of transport, manufactured goods various. Oil-producing countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and those suppliers of industrial products, especially Japan and the United States, play a fundamental role in trade; trade partners are also Germany and other countries of the European Union, Afghanistan (third destination of exports in 2006), while the recent intensification of trade with China. The trade balance is in deficit: imports continue to largely prevail over exports. The sector of communication routes denounces serious shortcomings with respect to the needs of the country; this is also because both the railway network (approx. 7800 km in 2005) and the road network were designed by the British as a strategic function and as a complement to the Indian networks, as Pakistan has historically always represented a transit area between the Iranian plateau and the Gangetic plain. The fundamental railway axis, which from Karāchi turns towards the N crossing the country, rests on the course of the Indus and branches off, in Punjab, towards Peshāwar and Lahore. In Hyderābād the line for India is connected, while on the opposite side from Sukkur the trunk branches off which, touching Quetta and Baluchistan, it reaches the border of Iran. The road network is better developed (over 259,758 km, more than half paved); the main axis along the Indus is joined by the roads coming from Iran and Afghanistan to Peshāwar (through the Khyber pass) and Quetta; in 1978, after twenty years of work, the so-called “friendship highway” or Karakoram was completed, which connects northern Pakistan with the Xinjiang Uygur (China). The role of aerial communications is increasingly important; the main airport is the international airport of Karāchi, excellently located on the route connecting Europe with the Far East; the city is also the largest Pakistani seaport, through which almost all foreign trade passes.