The Muslim-majority state of Pakistan was born out of the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, and has faced both domestic political upheavals and regional confrontations.
Created to meet the demands of Indian Muslims for their own homeland, Pakistan was originally made up of two parts.
The east wing - present-day Bangladesh - is on the Bay of Bengal bordering India and Burma. The west wing - present-day Pakistan - stretches from the Himalayas down to the Arabian Sea.
The break-up of the two wings came in 1971 when the Bengali-speaking east wing seceded with help from India.
Pakistan is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists. Intelligence agents and members of banned militant organisations are behind "serious threats" to reporters, says Reporters Without Borders.
The government uses legal and constitutional powers to curb press freedom and the law on blasphemy has been used against journalists. The broadcasting regulator can halt the carriage of foreign TV channels via cable, particularly Indian or Afghan ones.
Television is the dominant medium, and there are dozens of private channels. Most viewers watch them via cable; there are no private, terrestrially-broadcast stations. State-run Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) is the sole national terrestrial broadcaster.
More than 100 private FM radio stations are licensed. They are not allowed to broadcast their own news.
Scores of unlicensed FM stations are said to operate in the tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. Usually operated by clerics, some of the outlets are accused of fanning sectarian tension.
Nearly 18% of Pakistani citizens use the internet (ITU, 2016). The rapid growth in mobile phone use is boosting the delivery of online content.
Filtering targets content deemed blasphemous, secessionist, anti-state, or anti-military, OpenNet Initiative reports. The regulator has imposed temporary blocks on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites over material it says is "sacrilegious".
Pakistani users active on Twitter include senior politicians and sports and entertainment stars.
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