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Subdivisions of Pakistan

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Title: Subdivisions of Pakistan  
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Subject: Urdu, List of sovereign states, Federal republic, Quetta, Lahore, Abbottabad, Bahawalpur, Hyderabad, Sindh, Gwadar, Great Rann of Kutch
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Subdivisions of Pakistan

The administrative units of Pakistan consist of five provinces, one federal capital territory, three autonomous territories and a group of federally administered tribal areas.[1] Below this top tier, there are four more tiers of government, including 27 divisions, more than a hundred districts (zillahs), more than four hundred sub-districts (tehsils), and several thousand union councils.


The administrative units as of 2010 derived from the administrative units inherited from British India. From independence in 1947 to 1971, Pakistan comprised two "wings" separated by 1600 kilometres of Indian territory. The eastern wing comprised the single province of East Bengal which included the Sylhet District from the former British Raj province of Assam. The western wing was formed from three full provinces (North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), West Punjab, and Sind), one Chief Commissioner's Province (Baluchistan), thirteen princely states, and parts of Kashmir. In 1948, the area around Karachi was separated from Sind province to form the Federal Capital Territory. In 1950, NWFP was expanded to include the small states of Amb and Phulra and the name of West Punjab was changed to Punjab. The four princely states of southwest Pakistan formed the Baluchistan States Union in 1952.

The One Unit policy was enforced in 1955, whereby the all the provinces and princely states of the western wing were merged to form the new single province of West Pakistan, with Lahore as the provincial capital. Simultaneously, East Bengal was renamed East Pakistan, with Dhaka as the provincial capital. In 1960, the federal capital was moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi and, later, Islamabad (when construction was finished). In 1961, the Federal Capital Territory was merged into West Pakistan.

The One Unit policy was intended to reduce expenditure and eliminate provincial prejudices, but the military coup of 1958 signaled difficulties when the first military President, Ayub Khan, abolished the office of Chief Minister of West Pakistan in favour of Governor's rule. West Pakistan was dissolved in 1970 by the second military President, Yahya Khan, and four new provinces were created. East Pakistan became independent in December 1971 as the new country of Bangladesh. In 1974, the last of the princely states (Hunza and Nagar) were finally abolished and their territory merged with the Gilgit Agency to form the Northern Areas (now known as Gilgit–Baltistan). The Federally Administered Tribal Areas were formed from parts of Hazara, districts of Peshawar, and Dera Ismail Khan in 1975. The status of the Islamabad area was changed to a capital territory in 1981. Gilgit-Baltistan is now a de-fact province and NWFP has been renamed as Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.[2]

In August 2000, the "divisions" were abolished as part of a plan to restructure local government, followed by elections in 2001. Many of the functions previously handled by the provinces have been transferred to the districts and tehsils. In 2008, the new civilian government restored the former tier of "divisions" and appointed commissioners for each one.

Structure of administrative units

Pakistan's administrative units are as follows:

No. Administrative unit Local name Capital Population[3] Area (km²)[3] Population density
(inh. per km²)
1 Balochistan (province) بلوچستان Quetta 4.8% 39.3% 18.9
2 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (province) خیبرپختونخوا Peshawar 12.9% 8.5% 238.1
3 Punjab (province) پنجاب Lahore 53.7% 23.3% 358.5
4 Sindh (province) سنڌ سندھ Karachi 22.2% 16.0% 216
5 Islamabad Capital Territory وفاقی دارالحکومت Islamabad 0.6% 0.1% 888.8
6 Federally Administered Tribal Areas وفاقی قبائلی علاقہ جات Peshawar 2.3% 3.1% 116.7
7 Azad Kashmir آزاد کشمیر Muzaffarabad 2.2%[4] 1.5%[4] 223.6
8 Gilgit–Baltistan گلگت – بلتستان Gilgit 1.3% 8.2% 24.8
Pakistan پاکستان Islamabad 182,000,000 881,889 226.6/km2

The provinces are sub-divided into 105 districts called zillahs (Urdu: ضلع‎). Zillahs are further subdivided into sub-districts called tehsils (Urdu: تحصیل‎) (roughly equivalent to counties). The term "Tehsil" is used everywhere except in Sindh province, where the term taluka (Urdu: تعلقہ‎) predominates. Tehsils may contain villages or municipalities. Pakistan has over five thousand local governments. Since 2001, these have been led by democratically elected local councils, each headed by a Nazim (Urdu: ناظم‎) ("supervisor" or "mayor"). Women have been allotted a minimum of 33% of the seats on these councils. Some districts, incorporating large metropolitan areas, are called City Districts. A City District may contain subdivisions called Towns and Union Councils.

The diagram below outlines the six tiers of government in Pakistan, together with an example.

Federal government
Province (e.g. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
Division (e.g. Mardan Division)
District (e.g. Mardan)
Tehsil/Mardan/Town (e.g. Bakhshali)
Union Council (e.g. Bakhshali)

See also

Pakistan portal


External links

  • Government of Balochistan
  • Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • Government of the Punjab
  • Government of the Sindh
  • Government of the Islamabad Capital Territory
  • Government of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
  • Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
  • Government of Gilgit-Baltistan

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