The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a country located in South Asia, and is the sixth-most populous country in the word with a population of over 212,742,630 people – at 340,509 square miles, it is also the 33rd-largest country in the word. Its 650-mile coastline stretches along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south, while the remainder of the country is bordered by India (east), Afghanistan (west), Iran (southwest), and China (northeast); the Afghanistan Wakhan Corridor also separates Pakistan from Tajikistan to the northwest. Pakistan shares a maritime border with Oman.
Pakistan is considered a regional and middle power, and has the sixth-largest standing armed forces in the world. The country is also a nuclear power and has declared itself to be a nuclear-weapons state, making it just the second country in South Asia and the only nation in the Muslim world with that status.
The country is considered to have an emerging and growth-leading economy with one of the world's largest and fastest-growing middle classes. Pakistan as a nation continues to face severe problems with overpopulation, terrorism, poverty, illiteracy, and corruption. The country is a member of the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the OIC, the Commonwealth of Nations, the SAARC, and the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition.
In the Pakistan government, the legislative branch is known as the parliament. It is divided into two houses: the National Assembly (the lower house) has 342 members, 272 of whom are elected directly by the people. 70 seats are reserved for women, as well as religious minorities. The Senate (the upper house) is composed of 104 senators elected indirectly for six-year terms by members of provincial assemblies. All members of the Cabinet ministers (including the Prime Minister) must be members of Parliament (MPs). Both the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet are accountable to Parliament.
The Prime Minister is the head of the government of Pakistan, and is known constitutionally as the Chief Executive. He is popularly elected by direct elections in parliament, and is responsible for appointing a Cabinet, along with other important appointments such as the federal secretaries, the chief Secretaries of the provinces, administrative and military personnel in the Pakistan Armed Forces, and ambassadors and High Commissioners to other countries.
The Cabinet comprises 50 members (including the Prime Minister) of Parliament. Cabinet Ministers chair the Cabinet and are assisted by the Cabinet Secretary of Pakistan.
The President of Pakistan is a ceremonial figurehead role, acting as a head of state who represents the country as a whole. The President is elected for five years at a time through indirect means, with the electoral college consisting of Senators, National Assembly members and four provincial assemblies. The President can be re-elected, but cannot remain in office for more than two terms in a row; he enjoys all available constitutional powers and exercises them directly or delegates them to subordinates. The President is also responsible for making numerous appointments in government, and is also the civilian Commander in Chief of the Pakistan Armed Forces.
The President of Pakistan also retains the power to grant a pardon to or reduce a sentence. He can also reprieve, respite and remit, suspend, or commute any sentence passed by any authoritative body in Pakistan. The President can pardon anyone independently of the intervention of the Prime Minister, his Cabinet, or the legislative Parliament, though he chooses to act on the advice of the Prime Minister in regard to his executive actions.
The judicial system of Pakistan was initiated by the British Raj, and therefore still bears some resemblance to that of Anglo-Saxon countries. However, the fundamental rights problems in the system were addressed through changes to institutional and judicial procedures in the 1950s under American influence.
The judicial branch is composed of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, along with Provincial High Courts, District Courts, Anti-terrorism courts, Sharia courts, and Environmental courts. The Supreme Court is the superior court in all instances, and is made up of a Chief Justice and Senior Justices appointed by the President. The number of justices in the Supreme Court is not fixed by the constitution.