Pakistan and the USA are both constitutional democracies, nuclear powers and known for their religious culture. Beyond these similarities, from attitudes toward women to education to sports preferences, Pakistan and the USA are as far apart culturally as they are geographically. Only by making efforts to understand, appreciate and learn from their differences can citizens of such disparate worlds find peace and respect for the other.
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The most obvious difference between Pakistan and the USA is religion. Ninety-seven per cent of Pakistanis are Muslim, the official state religion and raison d'etre. Seventy-seven per cent of Pakistani Muslims are Sunni, and 20 per cent are Shia. Although the country is officially pluralistic, 78.4 per cent of Americans identify as Christians, 51.3 per cent of those as Protestant and 23.9 as Catholic. This religious difference affects all differences between the countries.
Pakistan's system of government is actually quite similar to the U.S.'s in many ways since both are constitutional federal republics. Pakistan's biggest political differences from the U.S. lie in reserved seats in government and lack of separation of religion and state. The 342-seat National Assembly, equivalent to America's House of Representatives, has 272 seats open to popular vote, 60 reserved for women and 10 for minorities. Also much of Pakistani law is based on Islamic law, a concept alien to Americans.
Culture and Education
Pakistani culture is based on Islam, sometimes reinforced by the government. For example, alcohol, illegal under Islamic law, is illegal in Pakistan, along with blasphemy. American culture is predominately secular. The religiously inspired Prohibition movement in America was a failed experiment that lasted from 1920-1933, and there a ban on blasphemy would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Cricket is Pakistan's most popular sport; America's is football.
Pakistanis receive less education than Americans, and it shows in a comparison of the literacy rates. Pakistan's is 49.9 per cent; America's is 99.
In spite of having 70 reserved seats in the National Assembly and having had a female Prime Minister in Benazir Bhutto, women in Pakistan do not have nearly as many rights as American women, especially in the countryside. Young girls are sold into virtual slavery by their families or offered up to settle disputes between families or to uphold family honour. Rape is a common means of settling a score. Such practices are unheard of in even the most backwards American regions.
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