Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan's economy, employing more than 40% of the population. Cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, and tobacco are the chief crops, and cattle, sheep, and poultry are raised. There is also a fishing industry. Most of Pakistan's agricultural output comes from the Indus basin. The country is now self-sufficient in food, as vast irrigation schemes have extended farming into arid areas, and fertilizers and new varieties of crops have increased yields.
Pakistan's industrial base is able to supply many of the country's needs in consumer goods and other products. The country major manufactures textiles (the biggest earner of foreign exchange), processed foods, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, paper products, and fertilizer. Remittances from Pakistanis working abroad constitute the second largest source of foreign exchange. Since the mid-1950s electric power output has greatly increased, mainly because of the development of hydroelectric power potential and the use of thermal power plants.
The annual cost of Pakistan's imports usually exceeds its earnings from exports. The chief imports are petroleum, machinery, plastics, transportation equipment, edible oils, paper, iron and steel, and tea. Exports include textiles and clothing, rice, leather and sporting goods, chemicals, and carpets. The chief trading partners are the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and China.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.