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Pakistan

A key Cold War ally against Soviet expansion, Pakistan was slapped with U.S. sanctions after testing nuclear weapons in 1998. When it acted on behalf of the U.S. to threaten the Taliban, the Bush administration last month relaxed sanctions. Pakistan backs Muslim separatists fighting Indian troops in disputed Kashmir. Some in the military are aligned with the countryís own fundamentalists, raising fears Osama bin Laden or the Taliban could get control of Pakistanís nuclear arsenal, or overthrow President Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani army chief who seized power in a coup in 1999.

Area: 310,400 square miles, almost twice the size of California.

Population: 142 million.

Religions: Muslim (Sunni 77 percent, Shiite 20 percent) Christian, Hindu, and other, 3 percent.

 



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