Administrative units of Pakistan

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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. Below this top tier, there are three more tiers of government, including 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 comprised two "wings" separated by 1600 kilometres of Indian territory:

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 facto province and North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) has been renamed 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[edit]

Pakistan's administrative units are as follows:

Clickable map of the four provinces and four federal territories of Pakistan.
Balochistan (Pakistan) Punjab (Pakistan) Sindh Islamabad Capital Territory Federally Administered Tribal Areas Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Azad Kashmir Gilgit-BaltistanA clickable map of Pakistan exhibiting its administrative units.
About this image
No. Administrative unit Local name Capital Pop.[3] Area (km²)[3] Pop. density
(inh. per km²)
1 Balochistan (province) بلوچستان Quetta 4.8% 39.3% 18.9 Balochistan in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
2 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (province) خیبرپختونخوا Peshawar 12.9% 8.5% 238.1 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
3 Punjab (province) پنجاب Lahore 53.7% 23.3% 358.5 Punjab in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
4 Sindh (province) سنڌ or سندھ Karachi 22.2% 16.0% 216 Sindh in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
5 Islamabad Capital Territory وفاقی دارالحکومت Islamabad 0.6% 0.1% 888.8 Islamabad Capital Territory in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
6 Federally Administered Tribal Areas وفاقی قبائلی علاقہ جات Peshawar 2.3% 3.1% 116.7 Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
7 Gilgit Baltistan گلگت بلتستان Gilgit 1.5% 8% 25
8 Azad Kashmir آزاد کشمیر Muzaffarabad 2.5% 1.5% 340
Pakistan پاکستان Islamabad 182,000,000 881,889 226.6

The provinces are sub-divided into 105 districts called zillahs (Urdu: ضلع‎). Zillahs are further subdivided into 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. Mardan Division)
District (e.g. Mardan)
Tehsil/Mardan/Town (e.g. takht Bhai)
Union Council (e.g. Shergarh)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Districts, Tehsils/Talukas". Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. July 2014. Retrieved September 2014. 
  2. ^ Mughal, Muhammad Aurang Zeb. 2013. Nation, Province and Region. Anthropology Today 29(4): 27-28.
  3. ^ a b "Area, Population, Density and Urban/Rural Proportion by Administrative Units". Population Census Organization, Government of Pakistan. 1998. Archived from the original on 5 January 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 

External links[edit]