Azad Kashmir

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Azad Kashmir
آزاد جموں و کشمیر
State of Pakistan
Azād Jāmmu o Kāshmir
Landscape of Pak-Kashmir.

Location of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Coordinates: 34°13′N 73°17′E / 34.22°N 73.28°E / 34.22; 73.28Coordinates: 34°13′N 73°17′E / 34.22°N 73.28°E / 34.22; 73.28
Country Pakistan
Established 1 July 1970
Capital Muzaffarabad
Largest city Mirpur
 • Type Autonomous territory of Pakistan
 • Body Legislative Assembly
 • President [1]
 • Prime Minister [2]
 • Total 13,297 km2 (5,134 sq mi)
Population (2008; est.)
 • Total 4,567,982
 • Density 343.535/km2 (889.75/sq mi)
Time zone PKT (UTC+5)
ISO 3166 code PK-AK
Main Language(s)
Assembly seats 33[3]
Districts 10

The State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, (Urdu: آزاد جممو اور کشمیر پاکستان) also called Azad Kashmir is a self governing region of Pakistan. Together with Gilgit Baltistan it makes up Pakistan-administered Kashmir. In terms of land area it is bigger than Trinidad and Tobago but smaller than Brunei.

Gilgit Baltistan is to the north, while the Indian occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir is to the east which is the region of dispute between Pakistan and India. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is west of it, and the Pakistani province of Punjab is south of it.

The capital city of Azad Kashmir is Muzaffarabad. Azad Jammu and Kashmir has an area of 5,134 mi² (13,297 km²). The inhabitants of this region are Kashmiri citizens of ethnic Punjabi origin and ethnic Kashmiri Muslims. About 4 million people live there.

State symbols of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
State animal Kashmir stag Cervus cashmeerianus Smit.jpg
State bird Black-necked Crane Stavenn Grus nigricollis 00.jpg
State tree Chinar tree Platanus orientalis tree.JPG
State flower Rhododendron ponticum Rhododendron pontica-1.jpg

Government and politics[change | change source]

Azad Kashmir is a self-governing state under Pakistan.[4][5] It has its own elected president, prime minister, legislature, high court, emblem and official flag. However, the highest body in the state is the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council. This council has six members from the government of Azad Kashmir (including the President and the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir) and five members from the government of Pakistan, including the President of Pakistan who is the chairman/chief executive of the council. Although Under Section 56 of the Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act (which was drafted by the Federal Ministries of Law and Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad), the Pakistani federal government can dismiss any elected government in Azad Kashmir irrespective of the support it may enjoy in the AJK Legislative Assembly. The Interim Constitution Act provides for two executive forums—the state Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir based in Muzaffarabad and the Azad Kashmir Council in Islamabad.

The latter body, presided over by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, exercises paramount authority over the AJK Legislative Assembly, which cannot challenge decisions of the council. The council is under the numerical control of the federal government in Islamabad, as in addition to the PM it comprises six other federal ministers, the minister of Kashmir affairs as the ex-officio member, the prime minister of Azad Kashmir, and six Azad Kashmir members elected by the Legislative Assembly. The interim constitution act lists fifty-two subjects—virtually everything of any importance—that are under the jurisdiction of the Azad Kashmir Council, which has been described as the “supra power” by the Azad Kashmir High Court. Its decisions are final and not subject to judicial review.

Thus, Azad Kashmir remains for all intents and purposes under Pakistan’s strict control, exercising no real sovereignty of its own. From the outset, the institutional set up in the disputed territory was designed to ensure Pakistan’s control of the area’s affairs. According to the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) 39 resolutions, Azad Kashmir is neither a Sovereign state nor a province of Pakistan, but rather a “local authority” with responsibility over the area assigned to it under the current 2003 ceasefire line agreement. The “local authority” or Provisional government of Azad Kashmir as established on the 24th October 1947 handed over to Pakistan under the Karachi Agreement of April 28, 1949, matters related to defense, foreign affairs, negotiations with the UNCIP and coordination of all affairs relating to Gilgit and Baltistan (strategically important territories that now comprise Pakistan’s “Northern Areas” but are falsely claimed by the Republic of India as part of it's so-called state of Jammu and Kashmir). A report described the situation as “government of Azad Kashmir, for Pakistan.” Had pointed out to the striking continuity of the “old princely system” under British rule because of Islamabad’s “Viceroy” role generally and the maintenance of the traditional biradarisystem locally. Therefore the constitution of Azad Kashmir poses major impediments towards genuine democracy as it bars all those parties and individuals from participating in the political process who do not support the idea of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan and hence precludes all those who are in favor of Kashmiri independence. To fail to support, or fail to appear to support Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan means to invite the ire of Pakistan’s abusive intelligence agencies and its military. It also entails inviting political persecution, such as ineligibility to contest elections or to seek employment with any government institution, or the curtailing of basic Freedom of expression[4][5] Azad Kashmir is administratively divided into three divisions which, in turn, are divided into ten districts.

The Government of Azad Kashmir and Jammu is based in Muzaffarabad, the interim state capital of the Azad Kashmir disputed territory.

Divisions[change | change source]

The state is divided into three divisions.[6] The divisions are further divided into districts. There are 10 districts.

Division District Area (km²) Population (1998) Headquarters
Mirpur Bhimber 1,516 301,633 Bhimber
Kotli 1,862 563,094 Kotli
Mirpur 1,010 333,482 Mirpur
Muzaffarabad Muzaffarabad[7] 2,496 638,973 Muzaffarabad
Hattian ? ? Hattian Bala
Neelum[8] 3,621 106,778 Athmuqam
Poonch Poonch 855 411,035 Rawalakot[7]
Haveli 600 (est.) 150,000 (est.) Forward Kahuta[7]
Bagh 768 243,415 Bagh
Sudhnoti 569 334,091 Pallandari
AJK Total 10 districts 13,297 2,972,501 Muzaffarabad

Geography[change | change source]

The northern part of Azad Jammu and Kashmir encompasses the lower area of the Himalayas, including Jamgarh Peak (4,734 m or 15,531 ft). However, Hari Parbat peak in Neelum Valley is the highest peak in the state. Fertile, green, mountainous valleys are characteristic of Azad Kashmir's geography, making it one of the most beautiful regions of the subcontinent.[4]

The region receives rainfall in both the winter and the summer. Muzaffarabad and Pattan are among the wettest areas of Pakistan. Throughout most of the region, the average rainfall exceeds 1400 mm, with the highest average rainfall occurring near Muzaffarabad (around 1800 mm). During the summer season, monsoon floods of the rivers Jhelum and Leepa are common due to extreme rains and snow melting.

References[change | change source]