|Azad Jammu and Kashmir
آزاد جموں و کشمیر
Azad Jammu o Kashmir
Clockwise: Chitta Katha Lake, Neelum Valley, Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, Ratti Gali Lake
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is shown in red. Pakistan and the Pakistani-controlled territory of Gilgit–Baltistan are shown in white.
|• Type||Self-governing state under Pakistani control|
|• Body||Legislative assembly|
|• President||Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan|
|• Prime Minister||Chaudhry Abdul Majid (PPP)|
|• Total||13,297 km2 (5,134 sq mi)|
|Population (2008; est.)|
|• Density||340/km2 (890/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PKT (UTC+5)|
|ISO 3166 code||PK-JK|
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Urdu: آزاد جموں و کشمیر Azad Jammu o Kashmir) abbreviated as AJK or Azad Kashmir (literally Free Kashmir), is a self-governing, autonomous territory of Pakistan. This region lies west of India and is bordered by the autonomous Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. It was part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which ceased to exist as a result of the first Kashmir war fought between India and Pakistan in 1947.
It shares a border with Gilgit–Baltistan, together with which it is referred to by the United Nations and other international organizations, as "Pakistani-controlled Kashmir" (or Pakistan Administered Kashmir) and as "Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir" in India and is part of the disputed Kashmir region, which has been the subject of conflict between India and Pakistan since 1947. Azad Jammu and Kashmir borders the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to the east (separated from it by the Line of Control), Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province to the west and Pakistan's Punjab Province to the south. With its capital at Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir covers an area of 13,297 square kilometres (5,134 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about four million.
The centre of one of the worlds largest disputes, Azad Kashmir has a parliamentary form of Government. The president is the constitutional head of the state, while the prime minister, supported by a Council of Ministers, is the chief executive. Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly elects both the prime minister and president. The state has its own Supreme Court and a High Court. The Ministry of Kashmir affairs serves as a link between the Government of Pakistan and the Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The 2005 earthquake left the region in unparalleled devastation, including 3 million people were displaced and 100,000 deaths. Since then with help from Islamabad and foreign donors reconstruction of infrastructure is underway. Currently, its economy largely depends on agriculture, services, tourism and remittances sent each year by members of the large Kashmiri diaspora. There are approximately 1880 hospital beds, the total number of doctors, including administrative doctors, health managers and dentists is 702. Azad Kashmir's literacy rate is 64%. At present the gross enrolment rate at primary level is 95% for boys and 88% for girls (between the age of 5-9).
At the time of the Partition of India in 1947, the British abandoned their suzerainty over the princely states, which were left with the options of joining India or Pakistan or remaining independent. Hari Singh, the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, wanted his state to remain independent. In order to buy some time, he signed a stand-still agreement, which sidestepped the encouragement of the princely states to join either India or Pakistan. Later, there was a revolution by Muslims in the western part of the state, as raiders from what was then the North-West Frontier Province and the tribal areas feared that Hari Singh might accede to the Union of India. In October 1947, they attacked Kashmir in an attempt to take control of the princely state. Initially, Hari Singh tried to counter the invasion but failed. He then requested the military assistance of India, which responded that it would not help him unless he acceded to India. On October 26, 1947, Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession, and Indian troops were immediately airlifted into Srinagar. Pakistan intervened subsequently. Fighting ensued between the Indian and Pakistani armies, with the two areas of control stabilized, more or less, around what is now known as the "Line of Control".
Later, India approached the United Nations, asking it to solve the dispute, and resolutions were passed in favor of the holding of a plebiscite with regard to Kashmir's future. However, no such plebiscite has ever been held on either side, since there was a precondition which required the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army along with the non-state elements and the subsequent partial withdrawal of the Indian Army. from the parts of Kashmir under their respective control – a withdrawal that never took place. In 1949, a cease-fire line separating the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir was formally put into effect.
Following the 1949 cease-fire agreement, the government of Pakistan divided the northern and western parts of Kashmir that it occupied at the time of cease-fire into the following two separately-controlled political entities:
- Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) – the narrow, southern part, 250 miles (400 km) long, with a width varying from 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 km).
- Gilgit–Baltistan formerly called the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) – the much larger political entity to the north of AJK with an area of 72,496 square kilometres (27,991 sq mi). It was directly administered by Pakistan as a de facto dependent territory, i.e., a non-self-governing territory. However, it was ostensibly granted "full autonomy" on August 29, 2009.
An area of Kashmir that was once under Pakistani control is the Shaksgam tract, a small region along the northeastern border of Gilgit–Baltistan that was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People's Republic of China in 1963 and which now forms part of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
In 1972, the then-current border between the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir was designated as the "Line of Control". The Line of Control has remained unchanged since the 1972 Simla Agreement, which bound the two countries "to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations". Some political experts claim that, in view of that pact, the only solution to the issue is mutual negotiation between the two countries without involving a third party such as the United Nations.
A devastating earthquake hit Azad Kashmir in 2005.
Azad Kashmir Day is celebrated in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on October 24, which is the day that the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government was created in 1947. Pakistan has celebrated Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5 of each year since 1990 as a day of protest against India's de facto sovereignty over its State of Jammu and Kashmir. That day is a national holiday in Pakistan. Kashmiris in Azad Kashmir observe the Kashmir Black Day on October 27 of each year since 1947 as day of protest against military occupation.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is a self-governing state under Pakistani control, but under Pakistan's constitution the state is not actually part of the country as the dispute on Azad Kashmir is not yet been resolved.[clarification needed] Azad Kashmir has its own elected President, Prime Minister, Legislative Assembly, High Court, with Khawaja Shahad Ahmad as its present chief justice, and official flag. The government of Pakistan has not yet allowed Azad Kashmir to issue its own postage stamps, meaning that those of Pakistan are used instead. Brad Adams the Asia director at Human Rights Watch has said in 2006
Although ‘azad’ means ‘free,’ the residents of Azad Kashmir are anything but, The Pakistani authorities govern Azad Kashmir with strict controls on basic freedoms.
The Government of Azad Kashmir has very little control over its' territory, with its' politicians mainly spending their time in Islamabad.
Azad Kashmir's financial matters, i.e., budget and tax affairs, are dealt with by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council rather than by Pakistan's Central Board of Revenue. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council is a supreme body consisting of 11 members, six from the government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and five from the government of Pakistan. Its chairman/chief executive is the president of Pakistan. Other members of the council are the president and the prime minister of Azad Kashmir and a few other AJK ministers.
The state is administratively divided into three divisions which, in turn, are divided into ten districts.
|Division||District||Area (km²)||Population (2008)||Headquarters|
|Haveli||600 (est.)||150,000 (est.)||Forward Kahuta|
|AJK Total||10 districts||13,297||4,567,982||Muzaffarabad|
Geography and climate
|This section requires expansion. (January 2010)|
The northern part of Azad Jammu and Kashmir encompasses the lower part of the Himalayas, including Jamgarh Peak (15,531 feet [4,734 meters]). However, Hari Parbat peak in the 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 on the subcontinent.
The southern parts of Azad Kashmir including Bhimber, Mirpur and Kotli districts has extremely hot weather in summers and moderate cold weather in winters. It receives rains mostly in monsoon weather.
In the central and northern parts of state weather remains moderate hot in summers and very cold and chilly in winter. Snow fall also occurs there in December and January.
This region receives rainfall in both winters and summers. Muzaffarabad and Pattan are among the wettest areas of the state. Throughout most of the region, the average rainfall exceeds 1400 mm, with the highest average rainfall occurring near Muzaffarabad (around 1800 mm). During summer, monsoon floods of the Jhelum and Leepa rivers are common, due to high rainfall and melting snow.
Kashmir as a whole is the one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Some well-known and popular tourist destinations are the following.
- Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Azad Kashmir, is located on the banks of the Jhelum and Neelum rivers. It is 138 kilometres (86 mi) from Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Well-known tourist spots near Muzaffarabad are the Red Fort, Pir Chinassi, Patika, and Subri Lake.
- The Neelam Valley is situated to the north and northeast of Muzaffarabad, The gateway to the valley. The main tourist attractions in the valley are Athmuqam, Kutton, Keran, Sharda, Kel, Arang Kel and Taobat.
- Rawalakot city is the headquarters of Poonch District and is located 122 kilometres (76 mi) from Islamabad. Tourist attractions in Poonch District are Banjosa Lake, Devi Gali, Tatta Pani, and Toli Pir.
- Bagh city, the headquarters of Bagh District, is 205 kilometres (127 mi) from Islamabad and 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Muzaffarabad. The principal tourist attractions in Bagh District are Bagh Fort, Dhirkot, Sudhan Gali, Ganga Lake, Ganga Choti, Kotla Waterfall Bagh AjK, Neela Butt, Danna, Panjal Mastan National Park, and Las Danna.
- The Leepa Valley is located 105 kilometres (65 mi) southeast of Muzaffarabad. It is the most charming and scenic place for tourists in Azad Kashmir.
The culture of Azad Kashmir has many similarities to that of northern Punjabi (Potohar) culture in Punjab province. The natives of Azad Kashmir speak Urdu, Potwari, and the Pahari languages. The traditional dress of Kashmiri women is the shalwar kameez in Pahari style. The shalwar kameez is commonly worn by both men and women. Women use the shawl or Kashmir shawl to cover their head and upper body.
The popular and traditional cuisines of Azad Kashmir are Kashmiri Raan (Fried leg of lamb in Kashmiri style), Rogan Josh, Balti Gosht, Kashmiri Dal Chawal (A mixture of split peas, split red lentils, and boiled rice), and Dam Aloo (Fried Potatoes in Kashmiri style).
The traditional drink of Kashmir is Kashmiri tea. Kashmiris are very fond of drinking tea.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir is predominantly Muslim. The majority of the population is culturally, linguistically, and ethnically related to the people of northern Punjab. The principal languages spoken are Pahari, Gojri, Dogri, Potohari, Urdu, Kashmiri, Pashto, and Punjabi.
Historically the economy of these areas now called ‘Azad’ Kashmir has been agricultural which meant that land was the main source or mean of production. This means that all food for immediate and long term consumption was produced from land. The produce included various crops, Fruits, Vegetables etc. Land was also the source of other livelihood necessities such as wood, fuel, grazing for animals which then turned into dairy products. Because of this land was also the main source of revenue for the governments whose primary purpose for centuries was to accumulate revenue.
Agriculture is a major part of Azad Kashmir's economy. Low-lying areas that have high populations grow crops like barley, mangoes, millet, corn (maize), and wheat, and also raise cattle. In the elevated areas that are less populated and more spread-out, forestry, corn, and livestock are the main sources of income. There are mineral and marble resources in Azad Kashmir close to Mirpur and Muzaffarabad. There are also graphite deposits at Mohriwali. There are also reservoirs of low-grade coal, chalk, bauxite, and zircon. Local household industries produce carved wooden objects, textiles, and dhurrie carpets. There is also an arts and crafts industry that produces such cultural goods as namdas, shawls, pashmina, pherans, Papier-mâché, basketry copper, rugs, wood carving, silk and woolen clothing, patto, carpets, namda gubba, and silverware. Agricultural goods produced in the region include mushrooms, honey, walnuts, apples, cherries, medicinal herbs and plants, resin, deodar, kail, chir, fir, maple, and ash timber.
The migration to UK was accelerated and by the completion of Mangla Dam in 1967 the process of ‘chain migration’ became in full flow. Today, remittances from kashmiri diaspora make a critical role in AJK's economy. In the mid-1950s various economic and social development processes were launched in Azad Kashmir. In the 1960s, with the construction of the Mangla Dam in Mirpur District, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Government began to receive royalties from the Pakistani government for the electricity that the dam provided to Pakistan. During the mid-2000s, a multi-billion dollar reconstruction began in the aftermath of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.
In addition to agriculture, textiles, and arts and crafts, remittances have played a major role in the economy of Azad Kashmir. One analyst estimated that the figure for Azad Kashmir was 25.1% in 2001. With regard to annual household income, people living in the higher areas are more dependent on remittances than are those living in the lower areas. In the latter part of 2006, billions of dollars for development were mooted by international aid agencies for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of earthquake-hit zones in Azad Kashmir, though much of that amount was subsequently lost in bureaucratic channels, leading to considerable delays in help getting to the most needy. Hundreds of people continued to live in tents long after the earthquake. A land-use plan for the city of Muzaffarabad was prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
- Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST),Mirpur
- University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Muzaffarabad
- University of Poonch, Rawalakot
- Women University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Bagh
Public medical colleges
- Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Medical College Mirpur-AJK
- Azad Jammu & Kashmir Medical College, Muzaffarabad-AJK
Private medical colleges
- Mohiuddin Islamic Medical College, Mirpur (Admission Stopped)
In terms of sports, Azad Kashmir is very popular in Football, Cricket and Volleyball. Many of tournaments are also held throughout the year ans in the holy month of Ramazan night floodlight tournaments are also organized.
Mirpur has a cricket stadium Quaid-e-Azam Stadium which has been taken over by the Pakistan Cricket Board for renovation for International standard. There is also a cricket stadium in Muzaffarabad with the capacity of 8,000 person. The stadium hosted 8 matches of Inter-District Under 19 Tournament 2013.
There are also many registered sports clubs in mainly South Asia Cricket Club, Pilot Football Club,Youth Football Club and Kashmir National FC. Pilot FC is the current champion of the District Football Association Cup (DFA Cup). Mirpur also take part in the All AJK Football Championship, last year Mirpur was the runner-up beaten by Rawalakot in the final.
- Aziz Khan, former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Pakistan
- Baba Shadi Shaheed, Sufi saint
- Barrister Sultan Mahmood, former prime minister of Azad Kashmir
- Baba-e-Poonch Khansahib Col Khan Muhammad Khan, MLA for Bagh and Sudhonoti Tehsil, 1934–1946
- Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, Sufi saint
- Mohammad Sharif Chattar, educationist, botanist, author, poet
- Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan, former prime minister and president of Azad Kashmir
- Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan (1915-2003) Founder and first President of Azad Kashmir
- Sardar Muhammad Anwar Khan, vice-chief of the General Staff
- Saif Ali Janjua, Hilal-e-Kashmir awardee
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