Punjab (Urdu & Punjabi: پنجاب, romanized: Panjāb, pronounced [pənˈdʒaːb], ; lit. "Five waters") is Pakistan's most populous province, with an estimated population of 110,012,442 as of 2017. Forming the bulk of the transnational Punjab region, it is bordered by the Pakistani provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the enclave of Islamabad, and Azad Kashmir. It also shares borders with the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, and the Indian-administered territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The capital is Lahore, a cultural, historical, economic and cosmopolitan centre of Pakistan where the country's cinema industry, and much of its fashion industry, are based.
Punjab has been inhabited since ancient times. The Indus Valley Civilization, dating to 2600 BCE, was first discovered at Harappa. Punjab features heavily in the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and is home to Taxila, site of what is considered by many to be the oldest university in the world. In 326 BCE, Alexander the Great defeated King Porus at the Battle of the Hydaspes near Mong, Punjab. The Umayyad empire conquered Punjab in the 8th century CE. In the subsequent centuries, Punjab was invaded and conquered by the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Delhi Sultanate, Mughals, Durranis and the Sikhs. Punjab reached the height of its splendour during the reign of the Mughal Empire, which for a time ruled from Lahore. During the 18th century, Nader Shah's invasion of the Mughal Empire caused Mughal authority in the Punjab to fall apart and it thus fell into chaos. The Durrani Afghans under Ahmad Shah Durrani wrested control of Punjab but lost it to the Sikhs after a successful rebellion which allowed Sikh armies to claim Lahore in 1759. The Sikh Empire was established in 1799 under the rule of Ranjit Singh with his capital based in Lahore, until its defeat by the British. Punjab was central to the independence movements of both India and Pakistan, with Lahore being site of both the Declaration of Indian Independence, and the . The province was formed when the Punjab province of British India was divided along religious boundaries in 1947 by the Radcliffe Line after Partition.
Punjab is Pakistan's most industrialised province with the industrial sector making up 24% of the province's gross domestic product. Punjab is known in Pakistan for its relative prosperity, and has the lowest rate of poverty amongst all Pakistani provinces. A clear divide is present between the northern and southern portions of the province; with poverty rates in prosperous northern Punjab amongst the lowest in Pakistan, while some in south Punjab are amongst the most impoverished. Punjab is also one of South Asia's most urbanised regions with approximately 40% of people living in urban areas. Its human development index rankings are high relative to the rest of Pakistan.
The province has been strongly influenced by Sufism, with numerous Sufi shrines spread across Punjab which attract millions of devotees annually. The founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak, was born in the Punjab town of Nankana Sahib near Lahore. Punjab is also the site of the Katasraj Temple, which features prominently in Hindu mythology. Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located in Punjab, including the Shalimar Gardens, the Lahore Fort, the archaeological excavations at Taxila, and the Rohtas Fort.
Punjab was referred to in the Rig Veda as the Sapta Sindhu, meaning the “land of the seven rivers.” The region was known to the ancient Greeks as Pentapotamia, meaning the “region of five rivers,” while the Sanskrit name for the region, as mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, was Panchanada which means "Land of the Five Rivers.” The Persians later referred to the region as Punjab after the Muslim conquests, which also means “Land of the five rivers.” The word Punjab was formally introduced in the early 17th century CE as an elision of the Persian words panj (five) and āb (water), thus meaning the (land of) five rivers, similar in meaning to the Sanskrit and Greek name for the region. The five rivers, namely Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, flow via the Panjnad River into the Indus River and eventually into the Arabian Sea. Of the five great rivers of Punjab, four course through Pakistan's Punjab province.
Due to its location, the Punjab region came under constant attack and witnessed centuries of foreign invasions by the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Turks and Afghans. The northwestern part of South Asia, including Punjab, was repeatedly invaded or conquered by various mighty foreign armies throughout history, including those of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur, Nadir Shah and others.
The oldest evidence of life in Pakistan has been found in Soan River valley. It was here that some of the earliest signs of humans have been discovered during the excavations of prehistoric mounds. Tools up to two million years old have been recovered in the Potohar Plateau. In the Soan River, many fossil bearing rocks are exposed on the surface.
The main site in Punjab was the city of Harrapa. The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of what is today Pakistan and eventually evolved into the Indo-Aryan civilisation. The Vedic civilisation flourished along the length of the Indus River. Punjab during the Mahabharata times was known as Panchanada. Although the archaeological site at Harappa was partially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artefacts have nevertheless been found. Punjab was part of both classical Western Eurasian empires including the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Kushan, Greco-Bactrian, Indo-Greek and Hindu Shahi empires, as well as Indo-Gangetic (North Indian) empires such as that of the Maurya and Gupta. It also was for a period of time part of the Gurjara-Pratihara empire. Agriculture flourished and trading cities (such as Multan and Lahore) grew in wealth.
The city of Taxila, founded around 1000 BCE, was reputed to house one of the earliest universities in the world. One of its instructors was the Mauryan statesman and philosopher Chanakya. Taxila was a major centre of political control, intellectual discourse and trade between the Hellenistic kingdoms and the Maurya Empire. Taxila is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, valued for its archaeological and religious history.
Gandhāra was an ancient kingdom situated in the northwestern region of Pakistan, in the Peshawar valley and Potohar plateau with its capital at Taxila in modern northwestern Pakistan. Gandhara existed since the time of the Rigveda (c. 1500–1200 BC), as well as the Zoroastrian Avesta, which mentions it as Vaēkərəta, the sixth most beautiful place on earth, created by Ahura Mazda. Gandhara was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC. Later it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 327 BC, it subsequently became part of the Maurya Empire and then the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The name of the Gandhāris is attested in the Rigveda (RV 1.126.7) and in ancient inscriptions dating back to Achaemenid Persia. The primary cities of Gandhara were Puruṣapura (Peshawar), Takṣaśilā (Taxila), and Pushkalavati (Charsadda). Gandhara's language was a Prakrit or "Middle Indo-Aryan" dialect, usually called Gāndhārī. The language used the Kharosthi script, which died out about the 4th century. However Punjabi, Kohistani, and Hindko are derived from the Prakrit that were spoken in Gandhara and its surrounding areas.
Having conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Gedrosia and Seistan in ten days, Alexander the Great (known in Urdu as 'Sikander-e-Azam') crossed the Hindu Kush and was thus fully informed of the magnificence of the country and its riches in gold, gems and pearls. However, Alexander had to encounter and reduce the tribes on the border of Punjab before entering the luxuriant plains. Having taken a northeasterly direction, he marched against the Aspii (mountaineers), who offered vigorous resistance, but were subdued. Alexander then marched through Ghazni, blockaded Magassa, and then marched to Ora and Bazira. Turning to the northeast, Alexander marched to Pucela, the capital of the district now known as Pakhli. He entered Western Punjab, where the ancient city of Nysa (at the site of modern-day Mong) was situated. A coalition was formed against Alexander by the Cathians, the people of Multan, who were very skilful in war. Alexander invested many troops, eventually killing 17,000 Cathians in this battle, and the city of Sagala (present-day Sialkot) was razed to the ground. The Battle of the Hydaspes was fought astride the Jhelum River in western Punjab against the regional chieftain Porus, and the Siege of the Malli Tribe which occurred at the confluence of the Indus and Hydaspes Rivers near modern Multan (during which Alexander suffered a near-fatal arrow wound). Alexander left Punjab in 326 B.C. and continued to campaign down the course of the Indus River in modern day Sindh and Baluchistan.
The Indo-Greek Kingdom or Graeco-Indian Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom covering most of the Punjab. The kingdom was founded when the Graeco-Bactrian king Demetrius invaded the subcontinent early in the 2nd century BC. The city of Sirkap founded by Demetrius combines Greek and Indian influences without signs of segregation between the two cultures. The most famous Indo-Greek ruler was Menander (Milinda). He had his capital at Sagala in the Punjab (present-day Sialkot). The Indo-Greeks were involved with local faiths, particularly with Buddhism, but also with Hinduism'. Buddhism flourished under the Indo-Greek kings, and their rule, especially that of Menander, has been remembered as benevolent.
The Indo-Scythian king Maues invaded Indo-Greek territories in Punjab and established an Indo-Scythian empire. Maues first conquered Gandhara and Taxila around 80 BCE, but his kingdom disintegrated after his death. The Indo-Scythians ultimately established a kingdom in the northwest south Asia, based near Taxila, with two great Satraps, one in Mathura in the east, and one in Surastrene (Gujarat) in the southwest. The Indo-Scythians seem to have been followers of Buddhism, and many of their practices apparently continued those of the Indo-Greeks.
The Indo-Parthian Kingdom was ruled by the Gondopharid dynasty with its capital at Taxila, Punjab. Gondophares, founder of the Indo-Parthian kingdom, was a ruler of Seistan in what is today eastern Iran, probably a vassal or relative of the Apracarajas. Around 20–10 BCE, he made conquests in the former Indo-Scythian kingdom, perhaps after the death of the important ruler Azes. Gondophares became the ruler of areas comprising Arachosia, Seistan, Sindh, Punjab, and the Kabul valley. The temple of Jandial, Taxila is usually interpreted as a Zoroastrian fire temple from the period of the Indo-Parthians.
The Kushan Empire was a syncretic empire, formed by the Yuezhi, in the Bactrian territories in the early 1st century. Around 75 CE under the leadership of Kujula Kadphises they gained control of Gandhara and other parts of what is now Pakistan. The Kushan period is considered the Golden Period of Gandhara. Gandhara's culture peaked during the reign of the Kushan ruler Kanishka the Great (128–151). The cities of Taxila (Takṣaśilā) at Sirsukh and Peshawar were built. Kanishka was a great patron of the Buddhist faith; Buddhism spread to Central Asia and the Far East across Bactria and Sogdia, where his empire met the Han Empire of China. Buddhist art spread from Gandhara to other parts of Asia. Under Kanishka, Gandhara became a holy land of Buddhism and attracted Chinese pilgrims eager to view the monuments associated with many Jatakas. The Hephthalite Huns captured Gandhara around 451, and did not adopt Buddhism, but in fact "perpetrated frightful massacres." Mihirakula became a "terrible persecutor" of the Buddhist religion. During their rule, Hinduism revived itself and the Buddhist civilisation in Gandhara declined.
The Punjabis followed different faiths throughout history, mainly Buddhism and later a non Brahmanical form of Hinduism, however Islam had the biggest impact on the region culturally. Parts of Punjab first came into contact with Islam after the Umayyad Caliphate commander Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Raja Dahir in 712.
Punjab later became a part of different Muslim Empires consisting mostly of Afghans and Turkic peoples in co-operation with some local Punjabi tribes and others. In the 11th century, during the reign of the Ghaznavid ruler Mahmud of Ghazni, Punjab was for the first time annexed in its entirety by a Muslim ruler and became an important region of learning and culture in the eastern Islamic world.
Middle Eastern and Central Asian soldiers, merchants, scholars, administrators, architects, theologians and Sufis migrated from the rest of the Islamic world to the expanding sultanates in the Indian subcontinent with migrations increasing rapidly after the Mongol invasions as the sultanates began to be seen as a safe haven and refuge for Muslims fleeing Mongol persecution.
The Punjab region was therefore gradually Islamized due to Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Punjab; one such saint was Data Ganj Baksh, an 11th-century Iranian Sayyid mystic from Ghazni now buried at Data Darbar in Lahore. Another equally important saint for Punjabis was the Punjabi Muslim Fariduddin Ganjshakar also known reverentially as Bābā Farīd or Shaikh Farīd. He is widely considered to be one of the earliest proponents of Punjabi as the language of poetry. Farīd laid the basis for a vernacular Punjabi literature and ultimately a Punjabi identity.
The area subsequently came under various other Islamic rulers until finally becoming part of the Mughal Empire in 1526.
The Punjab region rose to significance in the Mughal Empire when Lahore became the capital for the royal family in 1584, the legacy of which is seen today in its rich display of Mughal architecture all over modern day Punjab, Pakistan.
The Mughals left an indelible mark on the landscape of Punjab from 1556 to 1739 by commissioning the construction of great gardens, forts, tombs, baths and mosques such as the Shalimar Gardens, Lahore Fort, Tomb of Jahangir, Tomb of Nur Jahan, Shahi Hammam, Akbari Sarai, Wazir Khan Mosque, and the Badshahi Mosque, all situated in Lahore, as well as architectural projects such as Hiran Minar and others elsewhere in Punjab. Akbar established two of his original twelve subahs (imperial top-level provinces) in Punjab :
After Nader Shah's invasion of the Mughal empire in 1739, Mughal authority significantly weakened allowing swaths of what is now Punjab to be invaded in 1747 by Nader Shah's commader Ahmad Shah Durrani who was now ruler of the Afghan Durrani Empire.
In 1758 Raghunath Rao, the general of the Hindu Maratha Empire, conquered Lahore and Attock. Timur Shah Durrani, the son and viceroy of Ahmad Shah Durrani, was driven out of Punjab. Lahore, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Kashmir and other subahs (ex-Mughal provinces) on the south and eastern side of Peshawar were under Maratha rule for the most part. In Punjab and Kashmir, the Marathas were now major players.
In the mid-fifteenth century, the religion of Sikhism was born. During the Mughal empire, many Hindus increasingly adopted Sikhism. The Sikhs became a formidable military force after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 and challenged the Mughals and later the Durrani Afghans for power in Punjab. After fighting Ahmad Shah Durrani in the later eighteenth century, the Sikh Misls took control of Punjab and its capital Lahore was captured by the Bhangi Misl. In 1799 Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Sukerchakia Misl, defeated the Bhangi Misl and captured Lahore thereby proclaiming himself as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at the age of 21. Ranjit Singh made Lahore his capital and formed a sophisticated Sikh Empire which lasted from 1799 to 1849. Ranjit Singh modernized his Sikh Khalsa army by using Franco-British principles and by employing veterans of the Napoleonic Wars to train the infantry in European style. Ranjit Singh expanded his empire so that by his death in 1839 his empire included most of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Kashmir.
Ranjit Singh was not without opponents who challenged his authority in the regions he had conquered. He faced huge opposition from Nawab Muzaffar Khan, Azim Khan, Syed Ahmad Barelvi and Mir Painda Khan. In 1818 Nawab Muzaffar Khan was killed by the Sikhs at the Battle of Multan after putting up stout resistance for many years. Azim Khan was the governor of Kashmir from 1812 until 1819 when Ranjit Singh captured it for himself. In 1823 Azim Khan took control of Peshawar and with support from Pashtun tribesmen faced off against the encroaching Khalsa army in the Battle of Nowshera. He abandoned his troops whilst they regrouped to continue fighting until they were defeated. Azim Khan retreated to Kabul where he died shortly thereafter due to grief. Syed Ahmad Barelvi was an Indian Muslim who declared Jihad against the Sikhs by garnering support from local Pashtun tribesmen and attempted to create an Islamic state with strict enforcement of Sharia. In 1821 Syed Ahmad Barelvi spent two years organizing popular and material support for his Punjab campaign. In December 1826 Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi and his followers clashed with Sikh troops at Akora Khattak, with no decisive result. Barelvi's movement weakened after there was infighting with his Pashtun followers and in a major battle near the town of Balakot in 1831, Syed Ahmad Barelvi and Shah Ismail Shaheed with volunteer Muslims were defeated and killed by the Sikh Army. Only Mir Painda Khan was able to maintain his independence at Tanawal in Hazara from the Sikh Empire. From about 1813 he began a series of rebellions against the Sikhs which continued throughout his lifetime inflicting defeats on the Sikhs whilst also losing territory to them before being poisoned in 1844. James Abbott, British officer and deputy commissioner at Hazara in 1851, described Mir Painda Khan as "a chief renowned on the border, a wild and energetic man who was never subjugated by the Sikhs".
Maharaja Ranjit Singh's death in the summer of 1839 brought political chaos and the subsequent battles of succession and the bloody infighting between the factions at court weakened the state. Relationships with neighbouring British territories then broke down, starting the First Anglo-Sikh War; this led to a British official being resident in Lahore and the annexation in 1849 of territory south of the Satluj to British India. After the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, the Sikh Empire became the last territory to be merged into British India. In Jhelum 35 British soldiers of the HM XXIV regiment were killed by the local resistance during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
In 1947 the Punjab province of British India was divided along religious lines into West Punjab and East Punjab. Western Punjab was assimilated into the new country of Pakistan, while East Punjab became a part of modern-day India. This led to massive rioting as both sides committed atrocities against fleeing refugees.
The part of the Punjab now in Pakistan once formed a major region of British Punjab, and was home to a large minority population of Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs up to 1947 apart from the Muslim majority.
Migration between Eastern and Western Punjab was continuous before independence. By the 1900s Western Punjab was predominantly Muslim and supported the Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After independence, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while Muslim refugees from India settled in the Western Punjab and across Pakistan, having fled pogroms that almost entirely depopulated Eastern Punjab of its Muslim population.
Agriculture continues to be the largest sector of Punjab's economy. The province is the breadbasket of the country as well as home to the largest ethnic group in Pakistan, the Punjabis. Unlike neighbouring India, there was no large-scale redistribution of agricultural land. As a result, most rural areas are dominated by a small set of feudalistic land-owning families.
In the 1950s there was tension between the eastern and western halves of Pakistan. To address the situation, a new formula resulted in the abolition of the province status for Punjab in 1955. It was merged into a single province West Pakistan. In 1972, after East Pakistan seceded and became Bangladesh, Punjab again became a province.
Punjab witnessed major battles between the armies of India and Pakistan in the wars of 1965 and 1971. Since the 1990s Punjab hosted several key sites of Pakistan's nuclear program such as Kahuta. It also hosts major military bases such as at Sargodha and Rawalpindi. The peace process between India and Pakistan, which began in earnest in 2004, has helped pacify the situation. Trade and people-to-people contacts through the Wagah border are now starting to become common. Indian Sikh pilgrims visit holy sites such as Nankana Sahib.
Starting in the 1980s, large numbers of Punjabis migrated to the Middle East, Britain, Spain, Canada and the United States for economic opportunities, forming the large Punjabi diaspora, resulting in growing economic ties between Punjab and these countries.
Punjab is Pakistan's second largest province by area after Balochistan with an area of 205,344 square kilometres (79,284 square miles). It occupies 25.8% of the total landmass of Pakistan. Punjab province is bordered by Sindh to the south, the province of Balochistan to the southwest, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, and the Islamabad Capital Territory and Azad Kashmir in the north. Punjab borders Jammu and Kashmir in the north, and the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east.
The capital and largest city is Lahore which was the historical capital of the wider Punjab region. Other important cities include Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Multan, Sialkot, Bahawalpur, Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Jhelum and Sahiwal. The undivided Punjab region was home to six rivers, of which five flow through Pakistan's Punjab province. From west to east, the rivers are: the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej. It is the nation's only province that touches every other province; it also surrounds the federal enclave of the national capital city at Islamabad. In the acronym P-A-K-I-S-T-A-N, the P is for Punjab.
Punjab's landscape consists mostly consists of fertile alluvial plains of the Indus River and its four major tributaries in Pakistan, the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej rivers which traverse Punjab north to south – the fifth of the "five waters" of Punjab, the Beas River, lies exclusively in the Indian state of Punjab. The landscape is amongst the most heavily irrigated on earth and canals can be found throughout the province. Punjab also includes several mountainous regions, including the Sulaiman Mountains in the southwest part of the province, the Margalla Hills in the north near Islamabad, and the Salt Range which divides the most northerly portion of Punjab, the Pothohar Plateau, from the rest of the province. Sparse deserts can be found in southern Punjab near the border with Rajasthan and near the Sulaiman Range. Punjab also contains part of the Thal and Cholistan deserts. In the South, Punjab's elevation reaches 2,327 metres (7,635 ft) near the hill station of Fort Munro in Dera Ghazi Khan.
Most areas in Punjab experience extreme weather with foggy 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.
Recently the province experienced one of the coldest winters in the last 70 years.
Punjab's region temperature ranges from −2° to 45 °C, but can reach 50 °C (122 °F) in summer and can touch down to −10 °C in winter.
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, and feature a much cooler and wetter climate, with snowfall common at higher altitudes.
The province is home to over half the population of Pakistan. Punjabis are a heterogeneous group comprising different tribes, clans (Urdu: برادری) and communities. In Pakistani Punjab, non-tribal social distinctions are primarily based on traditional occupations such as blacksmiths or artisans, as opposed to rigid social stratifications.
Punjab has the lowest poverty rates in Pakistan, although a divide is present between the northern and southern parts of the province. Sialkot District in the prosperous northern part of the province has a poverty rate of 5.63%, while Rajanpur District in the poorer south has a poverty rate of 60.05%.
The major and native language spoken in the Punjab is Punjabi (which is written in the Shahmukhi script - one of the oldest scripts used for writing Punjabi) and Punjabis comprise the largest ethnic group in the country. Punjabi is the provincial language of Punjab but is not given any official recognition in the Constitution of Pakistan at the national level.
The use of Urdu and English as the near exclusive languages of broadcasting, the public sector, and formal education have led some to fear that Punjabi in Pakistan is being relegated to a low-status language and that it is being denied an environment where it can flourish. Several prominent educational leaders, researchers, and social commentators have echoed the opinion that the intentional promotion of Urdu and the continued denial of any official sanction or recognition of the Punjabi language amounts to a process of "Urdu-isation" that is detrimental to the health of the Punjabi language In August 2015, the Pakistan Academy of Letters, International Writer's Council (IWC) and World Punjabi Congress (WPC) organised the Khawaja Farid Conference and demanded that a Punjabi-language university should be established in Lahore and that Punjabi language should be declared as the medium of instruction at the primary level. In September 2015, a case was filed in Supreme Court of Pakistan against Government of Punjab, Pakistan as it did not take any step to implement the Punjabi language in the province. Additionally, several thousand Punjabis gather in Lahore every year on International Mother Language Day.
Hafiz Saeed, chief of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) has questioned Pakistan's decision to adopt Urdu as its national language in a country where majority of people speak Punjabi language, citing his interpretation of Islamic doctrine as encouraging education in the mother-tongue. The list of thinktanks, political organisations, cultural projects, and individuals that demand authorities at the national and provincial level to promote the use of the language in the public and official spheres includes:
The population of Punjab (Pakistan) is estimated to be 97.21% Muslim with a Sunni Hanafi majority and Shia Ithna 'ashariyah minority. The largest non-Muslim minority is Christians and make up 2.3% of the population. The other minorities include Ahmadiyya, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Bahá'í.
The Government of Punjab is a provincial government in the federal structure of Pakistan, is based in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab Province. The Chief Minister of Punjab (CM) is elected by the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab to serve as the head of the provincial government in Punjab, Pakistan. The current Chief Minister is Sardar Usman Buzdaar He got elected as a result of 25 July 2018 elections. The Provincial Assembly of the Punjab is a unicameral legislature of elected representatives of the province of Punjab, which is located in Lahore in eastern Pakistan. The Assembly was established under Article 106 of the Constitution of Pakistan as having a total of 371 seats, with 66 seats reserved for women and eight reserved for non-Muslims.
There are 48 departments in Punjab government. Each Department is headed by a Provincial Minister (Politician) and a Provincial Secretary (A civil servant of usually BPS-20 or BPS-21). All Ministers report to the Chief Minister, who is the Chief Executive. All Secretaries report to the Chief Secretary of Punjab, who is usually a BPS-22 Civil Servant. The Chief Secretary in turn, reports to the Chief Minister. In addition to these departments, there are several Autonomous Bodies and Attached Departments that report directly to either the Secretaries or the Chief Secretary.
When the divisions were restored as a tier of government in 2008, a tenth division – Sheikhupura Division – was created from part of Lahore Division.
Punjab has the largest economy in Pakistan, contributing most to the national GDP. The province's economy has quadrupled since 1972. Its share of Pakistan's GDP was 54.7% in 2000 and 59% as of 2010. It is especially dominant in the service and agriculture sectors of Pakistan's economy. With its contribution ranging from 52.1% to 64.5% in the Service Sector and 56.1% to 61.5% in the agriculture sector. It is also a major manpower contributor because it has the largest pool of professionals and highly skilled (technically trained) manpower in Pakistan. It is also dominant in the manufacturing sector, though the dominance is not as huge, with historical contributions ranging from a low of 44% to a high of 52.6%. In 2007, Punjab achieved a growth rate of 7.8% and during the period 2002–03 to 2007–08, its economy grew at a rate of between 7% to 8% per year. and during 2008–09 grew at 6% against the total GDP growth of Pakistan at 4%.
Despite the lack of a coastline, Punjab is the most industrialised province of Pakistan; its manufacturing industries produce textiles, sports goods, heavy machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, vehicles, auto parts, metals, sugar mill plants, aircraft, cement, agricultural machinery, bicycles and rickshaws, floor coverings, and processed foods. In 2003, the province manufactured 90% of the paper and paper boards, 71% of the fertilizers, 69% of the sugar and 40% of the cement of Pakistan.
Despite its tropical wet and dry climate, extensive irrigation makes it a rich agricultural region. Its canal-irrigation system established by the British is the largest in the world. Wheat and cotton are the largest crops. Other crops include rice, sugarcane, millet, corn, oilseeds, pulses, vegetables, and fruits such as kinoo. Livestock and poultry production are also important. Despite past animosities, the rural masses in Punjab's farms continue to use the Hindu calendar for planting and harvesting.
Punjab contributes about 76% to annual food grain production in the country. Cotton and rice are important crops. They are the cash crops that contribute substantially to the national exchequer. Attaining self-sufficiency in agriculture has shifted the focus of the strategies towards small and medium farming, stress on barani areas, farms-to-market roads, electrification for tube-wells and control of water logging and salinity.
Punjab has also more than 68 thousand industrial units. There are 39,033 small and cottage industrial units. The number of textile units is 14,820. The ginning industries are 6,778. There are 7,355 units for processing of agricultural raw materials including food and feed industries.
Lahore and Gujranwala Divisions have the largest concentration of small light engineering units. The district of Sialkot excels in sports goods, surgical instruments and cutlery goods.
Punjab is also a mineral-rich province with extensive mineral deposits of coal, iron, gas, petrol, rock salt (with the second largest salt mine in the world), dolomite, gypsum, and silica-sand. The Punjab Mineral Development Corporation is running over a hundred economically viable projects. Manufacturing includes machine products, cement, plastics, and various other goods.
The incidence of poverty differs between the different regions of Punjab. With Northern and Central Punjab facing much lower levels of poverty than Western and Southern Punjab. Those living in Southern and Western Punjab are also a lot more dependent on agriculture due to lower levels of industrialisation in those regions.
As of June 2012, Pakistan's electricity problems were so severe that violent riots were taking place across Punjab. According to protesters, load shedding was depriving the cities of electricity 20–22 hours a day, causing businesses to go bust and making living extremely hard. Gujranwala, Toba Tek Singh, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Bahawalnagar and communities across Khanewal District saw widespread rioting and violence on Sunday 17 June 2012, with the houses of several members of parliament being attacked as well as the offices of regional energy suppliers Fesco, Gepco and Mepco being ransacked or attacked.
This is a chart of the education market of Punjab estimated by the government in 1998.
Punjab has been the cradle of civilisation since time immemorial. The ruins of Harappa show an advanced urban culture that flourished over 8000 years ago. Ancient Taxila, another historic landmark also stands out as a proof of the achievements of the area in learning, arts and crafts. The ancient Hindu Katasraj temple and the Salt Range temples are regaining attention and are in need of repair.
Mosques abound all over Punjab and vary in architectural style. Calligraphic inscriptions from the Quran decorate mosques and mausoleums in Punjab. The inscriptions on bricks and tiles of the mausoleum of Shah Rukn-e-Alam (1320 AD) at Multan are outstanding specimens of architectural calligraphy. The earliest existing building in South Asia with enamelled tile-work is the tomb of Shah Yusuf Gardezi (1150 AD) at Multan. A specimen of the sixteenth century tile-work at Lahore is the tomb of Sheikh Musa Ahangar, with its brilliant blue dome. The tile-work of Emperor Shah Jahan is of a richer and more elaborate nature. The pictured wall of Lahore Fort is the last line in the tile-work in the entire world.
The culture of Punjab derives its basis from the institution of Sufi saints, who spread Islam and preached and lived the Muslim way of life. People have festivities to commemorate these traditions. The fairs and festivals of Punjab reflect the entire gamut of its folk life and cultural traditions. These mainly fall in the following categories:
Religious fairs are held on special days of Islamic significance like Eid ul-Adha, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, Shahb-e-Barat, Ashura, Laylat al-Qadr and Jumu'ah-tul-Wida. The main activities on these special occasions are confined to congregational prayers and rituals. Melas are also held to mark these occasions.
The fairs held at the shrines of Sufi saints are called urs. They generally mark the death anniversary of the saint. On these occasions, devotees assemble in large numbers and pay homage to the memory of the saint. Soul inspiring music is played and devotees dance in ecstasy. The music on these occasions is essentially folk and appealing. It forms a part of the folk music through mystic messages. The most important urs are: urs of Data Ganj Buksh at Lahore, urs of Sultan Bahu at Jhang, urs of Shah Jewna at Jhang, urs of Mian Mir at Lahore, urs of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar at Pakpattan, urs of Bahaudin Zakria at Multan, urs of Sakhi Sarwar Sultan at Dera Ghazi Khan, urs of Shah Hussain at Lahore, urs of Bulleh Shah at Kasur, urs of Imam Bari (Bari Shah Latif) at Rawalpindi-Islamabad and urs of Shah Inayat Qadri (the murrshad of Bulleh Shah) in Lahore.
A big fair/mela is organised at Jandiala Sher Khan in district Sheikhupura on the mausoleum of Syed Waris Shah who is the most loved Sufi poet of Punjab due to his classic work, Heer Ranjha. The shrine of Heer Ranjha in Jhang is one of the most visited shrines in Punjab.
Exhibitions and annual horse shows in all districts and a national horse and cattle show at Lahore are held with the official patronage. The national horse and cattle show at Lahore is the biggest festival where sports, exhibitions, and livestock competitions are held. It not only encourages and patronises agricultural products and livestock through the exhibitions of agricultural products and cattle but is also a colourful documentary on the rich cultural heritage of the province with its strong rural roots.
Vaisakhi, also called Besakhi, is a harvest festival to celebrate harvesting the wheat crop. Colourful festivals are held at the time of Besakhi when farmers are free to enjoy their leisure time. Various literary festivals and fairs are organised in many places. 
Basant is a seasonal festival and is celebrated as a spring festival of kites. The day is marked by wearing yellow, eating food with yellow colouring such as potatoes with turmeric and saffron rice, and holding parties.
The crafts in the Punjab are of two types: the crafts produced in the rural areas and the royal crafts.
The province is home to several historical sites, including the Shalimar Gardens, the Lahore Fort, the Badshahi Mosque, the Rohtas Fort and the ruins of the ancient city of Harrapa. The Anarkali Market and Jahangir's Tomb are prominent in the city of Lahore as is the Lahore Museum, while the ancient city of Taxila in the northwest was once a major centre of Buddhist and Hindu influence. Several important Sikh shrines are in the province, including the birthplace of the first Guru, Guru Nanak. (born at Nankana Sahib). There are a few famous hill stations, including Murree, Bhurban, Patriata and Fort Munro.
Katasraj Mandir is a Hindu temple complex situated in Katas village near Choa Saidanshah in the Chakwal district. Dedicated to Shiva, the temple has, according to Hindu legend, existed since the days of Mahābhārata and the Pandava brothers spent a substantial part of their exile at the site and later Krishna himself laid the foundation of this temple.
The Khewra Salt Mine is a tourist attraction. Tours are accompanied by guides as the mine itself is very large and the complex interconnected passages are like a maze. There is a small but beautiful mosque inside the mine made from salt stone. A clinical ward with 20 beds was established in 2007 for the treatment of asthma and other respiratory diseases using salt therapy.
Classical music forms, such as Pakistani classical music, are an important part of the cultural wealth of the Punjab. The Muslim musicians have contributed a large number of ragas to the repository of classical music. The most common instruments used are the tabla and harmonium.
Among the Punjabi poets, the names of Baba Farid, Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah and Mian Muhammad Baksh are well known. Amongst folk singers the likes of Inayat Hussain Bhatti, Tufail Niazi, Alam Lohar, Sain Marna, Mansoor Malangi, Allah Ditta Lonawala, Talib Hussain Dard, Attaullah Khan Essa Khailwi, Gamoo Tahliwala, Mamzoo Gha-lla, Akbar Jat, Arif Lohar, Ahmad Nawaz Cheena and Hamid Ali Bela are well-known. In the composition of classical ragas, there are such masters as Malika-i-Mauseequi (Queen of Music) Roshan Ara Begum, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Salamat Ali Khan and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan. Alam Lohar has made significant contributions to folklore and Punjabi literature, by being a very influential Punjabi folk singer from 1930 until 1979.
For the popular taste however, light music, particularly Ghazals and folk songs, which have an appeal of their own, the names of Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Nur Jehan, Malika Pukhraj, Farida Khanum, Roshen Ara Begum, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are well-known. Folk songs and dances of the Punjab reflect a wide range of moods: the rains, sowing and harvesting seasons. Luddi, Bhangra and Sammi depict the joy of living. Love legends of Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiban, Sohni Mahenwal and Saiful Mulk are sung in different styles.
Folklore songs, ballads, epics and romances are generally written and sung in the various Punjabi dialects.
There are a number of folk tales that are popular in different parts of the Punjab. These are the folk tales of Mirza Sahiban, Sayful Muluk, Yusuf Zulekha, Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, Dulla Bhatti, and Sassi Punnun. The mystic folk songs include the Kafees of Khwaja Farid in Saraiki, Punjabi and the Shalooks by Baba Farid. They also include Baits, Dohas, Lohris, Sehra, and Jugni.
One social/educational issue is the status of Punjabi language. According to Manzur Ejaz, "In Central Punjab, Punjabi is neither an official language of the province nor it is used as medium of education at any level. There are only two daily newspapers published in Punjabi in the Central areas of Punjab. Only a few monthly literary magazines constitute Punjabi press in Pakistan".