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Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)
آزاد جموں و کشمیر
Flag of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) آزاد جموں و کشمیر Map of Pakistan with Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) آزاد جموں و کشمیر highlighted
Country
Pakistan Pakistan
Capital
Coordinates
Muzaffarabad
34°13′N 73°17′E / 34.22°N 73.28°E / 34.22; 73.28
Largest city Mirpur
Population (2008)
 • Density
4,567,982 (estimate)
 • 306/km²
Area
13,297 km²
Time zone PST (UTC+5)
Main language(s) Urdu (official)
Pahari
Mirpuri
Gojri
Hindko
Punjabi
Pashto
Status Self-governing state under Pakistani control[1]
Districts 8
Towns 19
Union councils 182
Established 1948
Governor/Commissioner President Raja Zulqarnain Khan
Chief Minister Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan
Legislature (seats) Legislative Assembly (49)
Website Government of Azad Kashmir

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Urdu: آزاد جموں و کشمیر; AJK) or Azad Kashmir for short (literally, "Free Kashmir"), is the southernmost political entity within the Pakistani-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. It borders the present-day Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir to the east (separated from it by the Line of Control), the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan to the west, the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) to the north, and the Punjab Province of Pakistan to the south. With its capital at Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir covers an area of 13,297 square kilometres (5,134 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about four million.

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.[2][1]

Contents

History

map of the entire Kashmir region

After the Partition of India in 1947, the princely states were given the option of joining either India or Pakistan. However, Hari Singh, the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, wanted Jammu and Kashmir to remain independent. In order to buy some time, he signed a stand-still agreement, which sidestepped the agreement that each princely state would join either India or Pakistan.[3] The raiders from North-West Frontier Province and the Tribal Areas feared that Hari Singh might join Indian Union. In October 1947, supported by the Pakistani Army, they attacked Kashmir and tried to take over control of Kashmir. Initially Hari Singh tried to resist their progress but failed. Hari Singh then requested Indian Union to help. India responded that it could not help unless Kashmir joined India. So on 26 October 1947, Kashmir accession papers were signed and Indian troops were airlifted to Srinagar. Fighting ensued between the Indian Army and Pakistani Army, with control stabilizing more or less around what is now the "Line of Control".[4]

Later, India approached the United Nations to solve the dispute and resolutions were passed to hold a plebiscite with regard to Kashmir's future. However, this plebiscite has not been held on either side, since the legal requirement for the holding of a plebiscite was the withdrawal of the Indian and Pakistani armies from the parts of Kashmir that were under their respective control—a withdrawal that never did take place.[5] 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 which it held into the following two separately-controlled political entities:

  1. 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).
  2. Gilgit-Baltistan formerly called Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) - is the much larger area to the north of AJK, 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 officially granted full autonomy on August 29, 2009.[6]

An area of Kashmir that was once under Pakistani control is the Shaksgam tract—a small region along the northeastern border of the Northern Areas that was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People's Republic of China in 1963 and which now forms part of China's Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang.

In 1972, the then-current border between Pakistani and Indian, which held areas of Kashmir, was designated as the "Line of Control". The Line of Control has remained unchanged[7] 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.

Government

Districts of Azad Kashmir

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is a self-governing state under Pakistani control but is not constitutionally part of Pakistan.[2][1] It has its own elected president, prime minister, legislature, high court, and official flag. The government of Pakistan has not yet allowed the state to issue its own postage stamps, however, and Pakistani stamps are used in the state instead. The state is administratively divided into two divisions which, in turn, are divided into eight 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[8] 2,496 638,973 Muzaffarabad
  Neelum[9] 3,621 106,778 Athmuqam
Poonch Poonch 855 411,035 Rawalakot[8]
  Bagh 1,368 393,415 Bagh
  Sudhnati 569 334,091 Pallandari
AJK total 8 districts 13,297 2,972,501 Muzaffarabad

A 2008 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that Pakistan-administered Kashmir was 'not free'.[10]

There are roughly 1.5 million refugees from Indian Administered Kashmir in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.

Geography and climate

The northern part of Azad Jammu and Kashmir encompasses the lower area of the Himalayas, including Jamgarh Peak (15,531 feet [4,734 metres]).[1]

Ethnic groups

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 article Ethnic groups of Azad Kashmir gives a breakdown of all the major tribes in the state. The vast majority of the people from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, despite that region being referred to as part of Kashmir, do not speak Kashmiri or any of its dialects.

A large majority of Kashmiris have relatives who live in England. Mirpur in particular retains strong links with the UK.[11]

Toli pir Rawalakot

Languages

Urdu is the official language of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.[12] However, due to the area's diverse cultural blend, many languages are spoken by different populations, including Pahari, Kashmiri, Gojri, Punjabi and Pashto.[13][14]

Economy and resources

In the mid-1950s various economic and social development processes were launched in Azad Kashmir.[15] 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 electricity the dam provided to the nation.During the mid-2000s a multi-billion dollar reconstruction began in the aftermath of the Kashmir Earthquake[16] .

Agriculture is a part of Azad Kashmir's economy; low-lying areas that have high populations grow crops like barley, millet, corn (maize), and wheat, and also raise cattle. In the more elevated areas that are less populated and are spread out, foresty, corn and livestock are the source of living.

There are some mineral and marble resources in Azad Kashmir close to Mirpur and Muzaffarabad; there are also some graphite deposits at Mohriwali. There are some reservoirs of low-grade coal, chalk, bauxite, and zircon. Local household industries produce carved wooden objects, textiles, and dhurrie carpets.[1] There is also an art and craft industry that produces such cultural goods as: namdas, shawls, pashmina, pherans, papier mache, basketry copper, rugs, wood carving, silk and woolen clothing, patto, carpet, 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.[1][2][17]

In addition to agriculture, textiles, 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; for household annual income, those people living in higher areas are more dependent on remittance than lower areas.[18]

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 delay in help reaching the most needy, and hundreds of people continued to live in tents long after the earthquake.[19] A land-use plan for the city of Muzaffarabad was prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Remittance by British Pakistanis forms an important part of the Kashmiri economy.

Education

The literacy rate in Azad Kashmir was 62% in 2004, higher than in any other region in Pakistan.[20] However, only 2.2% were graduates, compared to the average of 2.9% for the whole of Pakistan.[21]

Gallery

State symbols

Notable Kashmiris

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Azad Kashmir" at britannica.com
  2. ^ a b c http://www.ajk.gov.pk/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2257&Itemid=144
  3. ^ http://www.indiatogether.org/peace/kashmir/intro.htm
  4. ^ South Asian Journal
  5. ^ UNCIP Resolution of August 13, 1948 (S/1100) - Embassy of India, Washington, DC
  6. ^ http://www.daily.pk/pakistan-grants-full-autonomy-to-northern-areas-9753/
  7. ^ UNMOGIP: United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan
  8. ^ a b http://www.eurojournals.com/ejsr%2017%203.pdf#page=89
  9. ^ Official website, Government of Azad Kashmir. ""Facts and Figures"". http://www.ajk.gov.pk/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2256&Itemid=144. Retrieved 2006-04-19.  - Neelum is a recently created district and no figures are available as yet.
  10. ^ Freedom in the World 2008 - Kashmir (Pakistan), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2008-07-02
  11. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6178092.stm
  12. ^ "Urdu declared official language of Azad Kashmir". Pakistan Times. 21 August 2005. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  13. ^ "About Kashmir". Prime Minister of AJ&K. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ History of Planning & Development Department in AJK
  16. ^ Rs1.25 trillion to be spent in Azad Kashmir: Reconstruction in quake-hit zone - Dawn Pakistan
  17. ^ http://www.ajk.gov.pk/tourism/administrative.html
  18. ^ http://www.sdpi.org/whats_new/recent_publications/BGPaper_Remittances_Pakistan.pdf
  19. ^ Rs1.25 trillion to be spent in Azad Kashmir: Reconstruction in quake-hit zone - Dawn Pakistan
  20. ^ Literacy Rate in Azad Kashmir nearly 62 pc
  21. ^ http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_17-4-2005_pg7_37 - 7th Paragraph.

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Azad Kashmir article)

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : Pakistan : Azad Kashmir

For the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, see Jammu and Kashmir

Rawalakot Banjosa Lake
Rawalakot Banjosa Lake

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) or simply Azad Kashmir is the Pakistani-controlled portion of Kashmir. It's technically self-governing and constitutionally not a part of Pakistan — Azad is Urdu for "free" — but, for all practical purposes, it acts like a part of Pakistan in practice and is claimed by India as well.

Regions

There are two division of Azad Kashmir

  • Muzaffarabad & Rawalakot - includes districts of Muzaffarabad, Neelum, Poonch, Bagh and Sudhnati - which are further divided into Muzaffarabad city, Rawalakot, Hajira, Abbaspur, Bagh, Haveli, Dhirkot and Pallandari.
  • Mirpur - includes districts of Mirpur, Bhimber and Kotli - which are further divided into Mirpur, Dudial, Bhimber, Barnala, Samahni, Kotli, Fatehpur and Sehnsa.
  • Muzaffarabad - the capital of the state and close to the epicenter of the 2005 earthquake
  • Mirpur - is the second largest city of Azad Kashmir. Popular for its nearby Mangla view resort.
  • Rawalakot Rawalakot- Its Kashmir heaven on earth.
  • Bhimber
  • Kotli
  • Bagh
  • Sudhnati
  • Neelum
  • Mangla Resort [1]
  • Neelum Valley is a scenic valley located 240kms from Muzaffarabad. It runs parallel to Kaghan valley and is separated by snow covered peaks. It offers panoramic view of hills on both sides of the river, lush green forests, enchanting streams, high altitude lakes and attractive surroundings. It is also ideal for Mount tourism. A scenic road opens this valley to tourists up to Kel, 155 kilometers from Muzaffarabad. Buses ply daily on this route and accommodation facilities are also available in the rest houses at places of tourist attraction.
  • Jhelum Valley is another scenic valley located 59kms from Muzaffarabad
  • Palandri in Sudhnati: Baral is the village near Plandri is a a Beautiful Place.There is a fort of Dogra (sikh) period.
  • Billan Nar is the another small, beautiful place.
  • Niyarain sharif is a religious place.

Understand

Some parts of Azad Kashmir are off-limits to tourists, especially the 15-mile-wide buffer zone along the Line of Control that separates the state from the neighboring Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Large portions of Azad Kashmir were devastated in the October 2005 earthquake, which leveled entire villages and towns and killed over 75,000 people.

Talk

Urdu is the official language, but in practice, people speak a mix of Pahari, Gojri, Pashto, Mirpuri and Hindko. As elsewhere, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and those involved in the tourist industry.

Get in

By plane

There are no direct flights to Azad Kashmir.

  • Islamabad International Airport [2] in Islamabad is currently scheduled to be expanded and modernized to meet future passenger needs, as the demand for air travel has increased dramatically. There are many airlines flying into and out of Islamabad, including Ariana Afghan Airlines, British Airways, and China Southern Airlines. When the Islamabad airport is used by local government officials and foreign diplomats, however, other travelers might find the airport temporarily closed to them for security reasons.

By land

Traveling by road to Azad Kashmir is itself an attraction as you come across the most beautiful scenes of winding rivers and hills. It takes about 4 to 5 hours from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad in a car or van. You also pass through the beauty of hills the Murree during the journey. This is the shortest route to this city.

Buses and MPVs leave from Islamabad, Pakistan approximately every 20 minutes for different destinations in Azad Kashmir.

Get around

By Bus

Muzaffarabad and Mirpur has the busiest bus network in Azad Kashmir, running from early hours of the morning to late night. Daily routes includs Bhimber District, Dina, Gujrat, Jhelum, Kharian & Kotli District.

The new coaches in Muzaffarabad / Mirpur travel to larger cities of Pakistan including Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi & Sialkot.

By Taxis

Also by Car hire

See

Azad Kashmir is rich in natural beauty. Its snow-covered peaks, forests, rivers, streams, valleys, velvet green plateaus and climate varying from arctic to tropical, join together to make it an excellent tourist attraction.

Visit scenic valleys like Neelum, Jhelum, Leepa, Rawalakot, Banjosa, Samahni & Baghser.

Do

Azad Kashmir has varied mountainous landscape ranging from low hills to high mountains (2000 to 6000 m) which are suitable for adventure sports like climbing, trekking, mountaineering, summer camping and hiking.

Its Rivers & Stream are suitable for white water sports, especially rafting, canoing and kayaking.

It has a varied wildlife to see which includes Leopard, Himalayan Bear, Ibex, Grey Goral, Musk Deer, Kashmir Stag, Monal Pheasant, Western Tragopan, Snow Pheasant, Red-led Partridge, Black Koklas Pheasant, Peacock, Dusk Markhor etc.

Eat

Kashmiris celebrate the first snowfall of the season by socializing over a barbecue. They relax in the cold crisp evenings with a cup of warm 'Kahwa'... a black tea brewed with cinnamon, cardamom and honey. Also a perennial favorite is the pink colored 'Nun Chai' made with a special salt. Rich and redolent with the flavor of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and saffron, Kashmiri food is suitable for all palates.

Drink

Pakistan is mostly a dry country and Azad Kashmir is no exception.

Stay safe

Azad Kashmir is considered to be relatively safe, but some parts of it are off-limits to tourists, particularly the 15-mile-wide buffer zone along the Line of Control that separates the state from the neighboring Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Domestic tourists can visit Azad Kashmir without any restriction but, however, are advised to keep their identity papers with them. Foreign tourists are only allowed to visit following places with permit; Dheerkot, Rawalakot, Chotta gala, Chikkar, Daokhan, Muzaffarabad, Mangia & Sehnsa. Permits are issued by the AJK Home Department at Muzaffarabad.

Large portions of Azad Kashmir were devastated in the October 2005 earthquake, which leveled entire villages and towns and killed over 75,000 people.

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