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Azad Jammu and Kashmir ( ; AJK) or, for short, Azad Kashmir (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 Kashmirmarker to the east (separated from it by the Line of Controlmarker), the North-West Frontier Provincemarker of Pakistan to the west, the Federally Administered Northern Areasmarker (FANA) to the north, and the Punjab Provincemarker of Pakistan to the south. With its capital at Muzaffarabadmarker, Azad Kashmir covers an area of 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.

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 side-stepped the agreement that each princely state would join either India or Pakistan. The raiders from North-West Frontier Province and the Tribal Areas feared that Hari Singh may join Indian Union. In October 1947 supported by 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 joins India. So on 26 October 1947 Kashmir accession papers were signed and Indian troops were airlifted to Srinagar. Fighting ensued between Indian Army & Pakistani Army with control stabilizing more or less around what is now the "Line of Control".
Las Dana-Haji Pir Road, Bagh District


Later, India approached UN 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. 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, long, with a width varying from .
  2. Gilgit-Baltistanmarker formerly called Federally Administered Northern Areasmarker (FANA) - is the much larger area to the north of AJK, , 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 29 August, 2009.


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 Chinamarker 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 held areas of Kashmir was designated as the "Line of Control". The Line of Control has remained unchanged since the 1972 Simla pact, 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.

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 . 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 Bhimbermarker
  Kotli 1,862 563,094 Kotlimarker
  Mirpur 1,010 333,482 Mirpurmarker
Muzaffarabad Muzaffarabad 2,496 638,973 Muzaffarabadmarker
  Neelum 3,621 106,778 Athmuqam
Poonch Poonch 855 411,035 Rawalakotmarker
  Bagh 1,368 393,415 Baghmarker
  Sudhnati 569 334,091 Pallandarimarker
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'. It also criticized the Pakistani Government saying 'The appropriation of land in the Northern Areas by non-Kashmiri migrants from elsewhere in Pakistan, with the tacit encouragement of the federal government and army, has led to dwindling economic opportunities for the local population and an increase in sectarian tension between the majority Shia Muslims and a growing number of Sunnis.'

Ethnic Groups

Azad 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 who live in Azad Kashmir, despite that region's being referred to as part of Kashmir, do not speak Kashmiri or any of its dialects.

Languages

Urdu is the official language of Azad Kashmir but is spoken by only a minority of people . The dominant language spoken in the state is Pahari, which is very similar to Pothwari and Hindko .

Economy

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 those funds were subsequently lost in bureaucratic channels, leading to delay in help reaching the most needy, and hundreds of people are still living in tents. A land-use plan for Muzaffarabadmarker city was prepared by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Education

The Literacy rate for Azad Kashmir was 62% in 2004. Higher than any other region in Pakistan. Out of 62% about 55.47% are people at the age of 10 or a little above of it, 70.52% are male and 40.46% are female. However, only 2.2% were graduates compared to the average of 2.9% for the whole of Pakistan.

Gallery



Image:Bkh_sherudhara1.jpg|Sheru Dhara, Baghimage:Cloud near Toli peer .jpg|Cloudy weather in Toli pirImage:Rawalkot 3.jpg|Banjosa, RawalakotImage:Kotli_Azad_Kashmir.jpg|KotliImage:Kotli District.JPG|Kotli DistrictImage:Mirpur_Mangla_Dam.JPG|Mangla Dam, adjacent to MirpurImage:Typical_Homes_in_Mirpur.JPG|Typical houses in Mirpurimage:Toli pir most popular pic.jpg|Toli pir Azad kashmirImage:Rw005.JPG|Rawalakot ValleyImage:100 0112.JPG|Banjosa rest house and lakeImage:100 1693.jpg|Rawalakot bazaarImage:Abc_bagh_cityview1.jpg|Bagh, city view

State Symbols

Image:Stavenn Grus nigricollis 00.jpg|Black-necked crane, the state birdImage:Zoo-Dortmund-IMG 5549-a.jpg|Kashmir stag, the state animalImage:Urueña almendro1 lou.jpg|Almond tree, the state treeImage:Rhododendron-by-eiffel-public-domain-20040617.jpg|Rhododendron, the state flowerImage:Polo pakistan.jpeg|Polo, the state sport

Notable Kashmiris



See also



References

External links




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