Pakistan is located in South Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, between India on the east and Iran and Afghanistan on the west. Pakistan's Islamic history began with the arrival of Muslim traders in the 8th century. The British came to dominate the region in the 18th century, and by the early 20th century British India included all of modern Pakistan.
Because of hostilities between British India’s Muslims and Hindus, the separate Muslim nation of Pakistan was created when British India gained independence in 1947. Pakistan was originally in two parts - the east wing and the west wing. East Pakistanis felt that power was unfairly concentrated in the west, and in 1971 a civil war erupted. Aided by India, east Pakistan won the war and became the separate nation of Bangladesh.
India and Pakistan fought two wars - in 1947-48 and 1965 - over the disputed Kashmir territory. The Kargil War between the two countries in 1999 ironically led to diplomatic engagement. Although the dispute is ongoing, discussions and confidence-building measures have led to decreased tensions since 2002.
Politics in Pakistan in the past few decades has been tarnished by corruption, inefficiency and confrontations between various institutions. Alternating periods of civilian and military rule have not helped to establish stability. A coup in October 1999 ousted the civilian government and the coup leader General Musharraf came to power. Mounting public dissatisfaction with President Musharraf, coupled with the assassination of the prominent and popular political leader Benazir Bhutto in late 2007, led to Musharraf’s resignation in August 2008 and the election of Zardari, Bhutto's widower, as president.
Pakistani government and military forces are struggling to maintain control over the tribal areas adjacent to the border with Afghanistan, where Taliban-linked militants are firmly entrenched. Pakistan is an impoverished and underdeveloped country. Political and economic instability caused by decades of internal political disputes, as well as ongoing conflict with neighboring India, has resulted in low levels of foreign investment to the country.