People discover Pakistan is actually an abbreviation – and no one can believe it

Pakistan on a map
-Credit: (Image: Google)

Pakistan, the world's fifth most populous country and 33rd largest by area, has a unique backstory to its name that's just come to light.

Despite being one of Asia's biggest countries with a swelling population of over 241.5million, it's fascinating to know that Pakistan's name is an acronym.

Despite its growing economic profile and mid-range level of power on the global stage, few had been aware of this abbreviated origin - until now. Social media users have recently expressed surprise at the discovery.

A Reddit user confessed: "Today I learned Pakistan is an abbreviation", while a curious Quora user inquired: "How was the acronym of Pakistan made?"

History credits Choudhry Rahmat Ali, a Pakistani activist who helped shape the national narrative, with the creation of the country's name in January 1933. The original iteration of the name 'Pakstan' appeared in his pamphlet, Now or Never, where Ali explained the significance behind the selection of each letter: "It is composed of letters taken from the names of all our homelands, Indian and Asian, Panjab, Afghani, Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchis tan."

Ali reportedly emphasised the linguistic roots of the name, stating: "Pakistan is both a Persian and Urdu word... It means the land of the Paks, the spiritually pure and clean."

Bringing more clarity to the verbal puzzle, another Reddit user contributed: "In Persian, Urdu, and most central Asian Languages the word Pak (long a, Paak) means clean, pure, untainted by sin. Then the suffix "stan" means land. All we have to do then is connect the two words together using an 'ezafe', in many cases this is just the "eh" sound. So Pak - e - Stan, Land - of - Clean/Sinless People."

According to Britannica, it details: "The call for establishing an independent Islamic state on the Indian subcontinent can be traced to a 1930 speech by Sir Muhammad Iqbal, a poet-philosopher and, at the time, president of the All India Muslim League (after Pakistan's independence, shortened to Muslim League). It was his argument that the four northwestern provinces and regions of British India-i.e., Sind (Sindh), Balochistan, Punjab, and North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)-should one day be joined to become a free and independent Muslim state."

They continued: "The limited character of this proposal can be judged from its geographic rather than demographic dimensions. Iqbal's Pakistan included only those Muslims residing in the Muslim-majority areas in the northwestern quadrant of the subcontinent."

One internet user enlightened the online world with: "It means "land of the pure" in Urdu." Meanwhile, another one chimed in: "Baluchistan got ripped off in this acronym."

And another confessed: "Today I actually learned something."