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close this bookCase Studies on Technical and Vocational Education in Asia and the Pacific - Islamic Republic of Pakistan (UNEVOC - ACEID, 1996, 58 p.)
close this folder1. General Overview
View the document1.1 Emergence of Pakistan
View the document1.2 Location and Geography and Climate
Open this folder and view contents1.3 Social Factors
Open this folder and view contents1.4 Administration
Open this folder and view contents1.5 Economy

1.2 Location and Geography and Climate

Pakistan stretches over 1,600 kms north to south and is about 885 kms broad east to west, lying between the latitudes of 23°30' East. It comprises four provinces: Baluchistan, North-West Frontier, the Punjab and Sind. Of these, Baluchistan is the largest province, with an area of 347,188 sq. kms, followed by the Punjab with an area of 206,251 sq kms, inclusive of the Federal Area. Sind has an area of 140,913 sq kms, North-West Frontier 74,522 sq kms and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) cover 27,221 sq kms. The total area is 796,095 sq kms.

Pakistan is a land of diversified relief. In the north, it is bounded by the Himalayan Ranges, the Karakoram Range, and the Hindukush beyond it. The Himalayas have an average elevation of 6,100 metres with some of the highest peaks in the world. K-2 (Mount Godwin Austin), 8,616 metres, is the highest peak of the Karakoram Range, while Tirich Mir, 7,736 metres, is the highest peak of the Hindukush. Below the Karakorams is the parallel range to the Himalayas extending far to the east and on the west, ending up at the Nanga Parbat peak, 8,215 metres.

In the west, it has a 2,252 kms long common border, known as Durand Line, with Afghanistan. To the south of the Durand Line, there is a common border of about 805 kms with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Arabian Sea lies in the south. To the east is the Indian territory of East Punjab and Rajasthan with a common border of about 1,610 kms.

Out of the total area of 796,095 sq kms, about 475,884 sq kms in the north-west and west form a highly differentiated mountainous terrain. The remaining 320,211 sq kms present a flat and gradational surface. The whole land, excluding most of Baluchistan, falls into the hydrological unit drained by the Indus system of rivers. The unit includes the north-western hills, northern and north-western submontane, upper and lower Indus plains and parts of Baluchistan, which is a region of small rivers. Large parts of it form areas of inland drainage.

Pakistan comprises six major physical divisions or regions: (i) northern mountains; (ii) western off-shoots of the Himalayas; (iii) Baluchistan plateau; (iv) Potwar plateau and the Salt Range; (v) upper and lower Indus plains; and (vi) the Thar desert.

The northern section, forming the western ranges of the Himalayas, occupy a large area in Kashmir and cover the northern part as far as Gilgit. This is the broadest section of the Himalayas lying in the difficult mountains terrain. The altitude decreases towards the south but due to increasingly aridity, the border is difficult to negotiate. The middle portion contains some passes, which carry a historic value in breaking the isolation of South Asia and have made communications possible. The Babusar Pass, 4,554 metres high, connects Abbottabad with Gilgit; Lowari Pass, 3,120 metres, connect Peshawar with Chitral; and Shandur Pass, 3,723 metres, connect Chitral with Gilgit. The northern mountains intercept winds from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, and on this depends the rainfall. They also act as a great barrier to cold winds coming from Central Asia towards the plains of Pakistan.

The Western off-shoots of the Himalayas stand in the west of the Indus plain. From the Hindukush to the Kabul river, there are three major ranges, between them flow Swat, Panjkora and the Chitral - Kunar rivers. South of the Kabul river, the Koh-e-Sofaid range (3,690 metres) runs east-west. The Kurran river flows south of the range, and between the Kurran and the Gomal rivers, is the Waziristan hills area. The Koh-e-Sulaiman runs southward from the Gomal river for a distance of about 777 kms with Takht-e-Sulaiman (3,385 metres) separating the Indus plain from the Baluchistan plateau. The historic Khyber Pass, starting from Jamrud, 16 kms from Peshawar, runs for 37 kms up to Torkham (a check post on the Pak-Afghan border) which lies in the south of river Kabul, while Bolan pass connects Quetta with Sibi.

The Baluchistan Plateau consists of dry valleys, saline lakes and a vast area of desert with dry hills, generally running from north-east to south-west. The Toba Kakar and Chagai ranges run along the Pak-Afghan border. The Central Brahui and Mekran ranges occupy the central portions, and the coastal Mekran range runs almost east-west. Tome south of this range is the narrow coastal plain of Baluchistan. The mountains in the north-west contain fairly large deposits of coal, iron, chromite, copper and other minerals.

The Potwar Plateau, varying in height from 305 to 610 metres above sea level, lies to the north of the Salt Range. The plateau is drained by the Haro and Soan rivers. Its topography is extremely varied, consisting of ridges, troughs and basins. A large part of the plateau has been eroded and dissected by streams. The Range starts from near the Jhelum district in the Jogi Tilla and Bakrala ridges. Near Kalabagh, it crosses the Indus and tends southward into the districts of Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan. The average height of the range is about 671 metres and the Sakesar peak is 1,525 metres high. This range contains huge quantities of rock salt, besides gypsum and coal.

The Indus plain, covering an area of about 16,100 kms is the most prosperous agricultural region of the country. It extends for 1,050 to 1,130 kms from the rim of the Potwar plateau southward to the Arabian sea. Its northern zone comprises the province of the Punjab while the southern zone is mainly the province of Sind. The river Indus, having its source in lake Mansorowar in Tibet, flows through almost the whole of Pakistan. Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum rivers have long courses in this region with extensive catchment areas. With an average gradient of 19 cm to a km the Indus plain slopes gently to the sea. It is divided in the Upper and Lower Indus plains and is a region of micro relief. The Upper Indus plain is divided into a number of doabs, meaning the land lying between the two rivers. The Rechna Doab is between the rivers Ravi and Chenab while the Sind Sagar Doab, also known as Thal and the largest of the doabs, lies between the rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus. The lower Indus plain begins from below Mithankot These plains have been formed due to the changing course of the river Indus. The flow of the river Indus is very slow and the silt that it carries is mostly deposited on its bed thereby raising it above the level of the sandy plain. The bunds constructed on either side of the river protect the land.

The Thar desert lies in the south-east of the Lower Indus plain and, being a part of the larger Rajputana desert, extends into Pakistan from India and has lakes in its depressions.

The Rann of Kutch, divided between Pakistan and India under the 1968 agreement, lies on the east of the sub-region of the delta, south of Thatta in the province of Sind, and consists of a marshy salt plain almost flush with sea level. Besides having some pastures, it is an old silted up marine gulf and is flooded with sea water during the monsoons.

The Sub-tropical, semi-arid areas are characterized by two district seasons (summer and winter) and a monsoon period which brings heavy rains from July through September in most parts of the country.


Mean temperature and rainfall at selected centres in 1990

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Rawalpindi/ Islamabad









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