The Flag of Pakistan: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

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Written by Taiwo Victor

Published: December 31, 2022

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Pakistan, officially called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. The country is bordered by Iran and Afghanistan to the west, China to the northeast, and India to the east. The country is included in the Indian subcontinent with a majority of Muslims, and was created in 1947 as a result of the division of British India. Since both countries gained independence in 1947, Pakistan has been distinguishable from its larger southeast neighbor by its predominance of Muslims as opposed to India‘s predominance of Hindus.

Pakistan is a federal republic with two parliamentary chambers; the president serves as the head of state and the prime minister as the head of government. Also, the country is a multi-ethnic one with a diverse population in terms of language and religion, with Islam as the official religion of the country.

The goal of this article is to explain the background and significance of the national flag of Pakistan. Understanding the decision for this flag requires knowledge of the nation’s history. Read on to learn more.

Characteristics of Pakistan 

Pakistan is the fifth most populated country in the world.

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Pakistan is a very populated country – with over 231 million inhabitants, it is the fifth most populated country in the world and the second-largest Muslim country after Indonesia. The country occupies a total land area of 881,913 square kilometers (340,509 square miles), making it the 33rd-largest country in the world by area and the second-largest in South Asia. The area currently occupied by Pakistan has long been a route of military conquest and an entrepôt for peoples and cultures. In other words, the country is one big melting pot of diverse cultures that somehow found a way to cohabit peacefully.

Pakistan is inhabited to the north by the Himalayas, which has long been a physical and cultural divide between South and Central Asia. As a natural result of a geologically young mountain range, the country’s north and west are frequently vulnerable to seismic activity. The area is also frequently plagued by minor earthquakes, and as such, the population in this unfavorable northern region is generally scant. The majority of the country’s large population is split between its cities, with the most populated city having over 16 million inhabitants.

The country’s diverse population is divided into five major ethnic groups. The Punjabis are the largest ethnic group in the country, and they make up more than half of the population. The rest of the population is split between the Pashtuns, Sindhis, Muhajirs, and Balochs. Also, Pakistan is, in general, linguistically heterogeneous, and no single language can be said to be common to the whole population. Although it shares official status with English, Urdu is the primary and prevalent language used for interethnic communication in Pakistan. It is the country’s official language. However, there are still other numerous languages that are used as first languages by several ethnic groups, such as Punjabi, Sindhi, and Hindko. Islamist principles and practices permeate almost every aspect of Pakistani culture, and the majority of the country’s population is either Muslim or at least adheres to Islamic customs. Additionally, the country has a small yet sizable community of Christians. There are followers of many different denominations, with Roman Catholicism being the most prevalent.

Founding of Pakistan

The territory that includes modern-day Pakistan is home to some of the earliest ancient human civilizations in South Asia. The Lower Paleolithic Soanian people were the first known occupants of the area. The region saw the rise of Islam from 642 to 1219 CE, but the idea of Pakistan didn’t emerge until the 19th century. No part of the region that is now Pakistan was under any form of colonial rule until 1839 when a small village was seized by the English and used as a port and a military base. The rest of the area was taken in 1843 and the region that is now Pakistan remained a part of the British Indian Empire until its independence in 1947.

Before passing away in 1948, Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League and the country’s first governor-general, also served as the first speaker of the parliament. Pakistan was a monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations from 1947 to 1956, with Queen Elizabeth II serving as the country’s final monarch before that. However, by 1958, the country was declared under martial law, and this lasted for around 44 months. After this period, an election for the government happened in 1960, but the democratic period in the country ended in 1977. After the declaration of martial law’s end in December 1985, political parties aimed to reconstruct themselves in order to benefit from the new circumstances. A few wars broke out before the country finally adjusted to its current system of government.

Meaning and Symbolism of the Flag of Pakistan

The entire Pakistani flag is a representation of its loyalty to Islam and also the rights of the country’s other minor religions.

©iStock.com/Derek Brumby

The Pakistani flag has a green field with a white crescent moon and a five-pointed star in the middle, and a vertical white stripe at the hoist end. The country is predominantly Muslim, and the green color on the flag represents the religion of Islam. The unique shade of green used on the flag is so notable that it was given the label “Pakistan green” as opposed to the more common “dark green.”

Because the country has other minor religions, the white on the hoist end was added to signify these minorities, which is why the white is significantly smaller than the green portion of the flag. The five-pointed star and crescent are also symbols of Islam, with the five-pointed star signifying light and wisdom and the crescent denoting progress. As such, the entire Pakistani flag is a representation of its loyalty to Islam and also the rights of the country’s other minor religions.

History of the Flag of Pakistan

The flag of Pakistan

The current flag of Pakistan became officially adopted in 1947, three days before the country’s independence.

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Like most countries that have had several rulers in the form of empires, Pakistan has seen several flags. The first recognized flag that was used in the area was a flag shaped like a triangle with a green field and yellow sun, and this flag was used under the Mughal empire. The country experienced other flags under other empires before it became a part of the British Empire. During this time, a flag with the British union flag’s white and red stripes was in use. The star of India was eventually added to this particular flag.

The All-India Muslim League banner, however, served as the inspiration for Amiruddin Kidwai’s design of the current flag. This means that the flag of British India had no influence over Pakistan’s current flag. The current flag became officially adopted in 1947, three days before the country’s independence.

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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