Administrative units of Pakistan

Administrative units of Pakistan
پاکستان کی انتظامی اکائیاں (Urdu)
Also known as:
Category Federated state
Location Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Number 4 provinces
1 federal capital territory
2 autonomous territories
1 federally administered tribal area
Populations 197.3 million
Areas 548,275 mi (882,363 km)
Government Provincial government, Federal territory, Autonomous administrative division, Public benefit corporation
Subdivisions Divisions, Districts, Union councils, Agency
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The administrative units of Pakistan consist of four provinces, one federal capital territory, two autonomous and disputed territories, and a group of federally administered tribal areas. Pakistan has three lower tiers of government, including 34 divisions, 149 districts (zillahs), 588 sub-districts (tehsils), and several thousand union councils.[1]


The administrative units as of 2010 derived from the administrative units inherited from British India. From independence in 1947 to 1971, Pakistan had 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 Sindh), 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 by Iskander Mirza[2] in 1955, whereby 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 moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi and, later, to Islamabad (when construction finished in 1966). In 1961 the Federal Capital Territory was merged into West Pakistan.

The One Unit policy aimed to reduce expenditure and to 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. The second military President, Yahya Khan, dissolved West Pakistan in 1970 and established four new provinces. East Pakistan became independent in December 1971 as the new country of Bangladesh. In 1974 the two last princely states (Hunza and Nagar) were 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. As of 2015 Gilgit-Baltistan is now a de facto province. North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) was renamed "Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" in 2010.

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 to 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:

Abbreviation Administrative unit Capital Population
(per km²)
AJK Azad Jammu & Kashmir (autonomous territory)* (آزاد جموں و کشمیر) Muzaffarabad 2,972,501 13,297 223.55
BN Balochistan (province) (بلوچستان) Quetta 13,162,222 347,190 37.91
FATA Federally Administered Tribal Areas (وفاقی قبائلی علاقہ جات) Peshawar 3,930,419 27,220 144.39
GB Gilgit-Baltistan (autonomous territory)* (گلگت بلتستان) Gilgit 1,441,523 72,971 19.75
ICT Islamabad Capital Territory (federal capital territory) (وفاقی دارالحکومت) Islamabad 1,151,868 906 1,271.38
KP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (province)
Peshawar 26,896,829 74,521 360.93
PB Punjab (province) (پنجاب) Lahore 91,379,615 205,344 445.01
SD Sindh (province) (سندھ) Karachi 55,245,497 140,914 392.05
Pakistan (پاکستان) Islamabad 197,361,691 882,363 223.79

*Disputed with India.

The provinces are subdivided into 34 divisions, which are subdivided into 149 districts called zillahs (Urdu: ضلع). Zillahs are further subdivided into 588 sub-districts called tehsils (تحصیل) (roughly equivalent to counties). The term tehsil is used everywhere except in Sindh province, where the term taluka (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 (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. Malakand Division)
District (e.g. Malakand District)
Tehsil/Town (e.g. Batkhela)
Union Council (e.g. Middle Batkhela)

See also


  1. "List of Districts, Tehsils/Talukas" (PDF). Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. July 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  2. History and Culture of Pakistan
  3. "Population shoots up by 47 percent since 1998". The News International. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  4. "Area, Population, Density and Urban/Rural Proportion by Administrative Units". Population Census Organization, Government of Pakistan.

External links

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