Administrative units of Pakistan

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Administrative units of Pakistan
پاکستان کی انتظامی اکائیاں (Urdu)
Also known as:
Category Federated state
Location Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Number 5 Provinces
1 Federal Capital Territory
1 Autonomous Territories
1 Federally Administered Tribal Area
Populations 2,441,523 (Gilgit-Baltistan) – 110,012,442 (Punjab)
Areas 906.0 km2 (349.81 sq mi) (Islamabad Capital Territory) – 347,200 km2 (134,050 sq mi) (Balochistan)
Government Provincial government, Federally Administred Tribal government
Subdivisions District, Agency
State emblem of Pakistan.svg
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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 (sherwans).[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 (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 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 Sindh 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 signalled 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[edit]

Pakistan's administrative units are as follows:

Flag Emblem English name Urdu name Abbreviation Capital Population
(per km²)
Flag of Azad Kashmir.svg Emblem Of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.png Azad Jammu and Kashmir[a] آزاد جموں و کشمیر AJK Muzaffarabad 4,045,366 13,297 223.55 Azad Kashmir in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
Flag of Balochistan.svg Coat of arms of Balochistan.svg Balochistan بلوچستان BN Quetta 12,344,408 347,190 37.91 Balochistan in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
Flag of FATA.svg Coat of arms of FATA.svg Federally Administered Tribal Areas وفاقی قبائلی علاقہ جات FATA Peshawar 5,001,676 27,220 144.39 Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
Flag of Gilgit Baltistan.svg Gilgit Baltistan Government Logo.svg Gilgit-Baltistan[a] گلگت بلتستان GB Gilgit 2,441,523 72,971 19.75 Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan (de-facto + wo Glacier) (claims hatched).svg
Islamabad Capital Territory وفاقی دارالحکومت ICT Islamabad 2,006,572 906 1,271.38 Islamabad Capital Territory in Pakistan (special marker) (claims hatched).svg
Flag of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.svg Coat of arms of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.svg Khyber Pakhtunkhwa خیبرپختونخواہ KP Peshawar 30,523,371 74,521 360.93 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
Flag of Punjab.svg Coat of arms of Punjab.svg Punjab پنجاب PB Lahore 110,012,442 205,344 445.01 Punjab in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
Flag of Sindh.svg Coat of arms of Sindh Province.svg Sindh سندھ SD Karachi 47,886,051 140,914 392.05 Sindh in Pakistan (claims hatched).svg
Flag of Pakistan.svg State emblem of Pakistan.svg Pakistan پاکستان Islamabad 214,261,409 882,362 223.79 Pakistan adm location map.svg
  1. ^ a b 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. Punjab)
Division (e.g. Rawalpindi Division)
District (e.g. Jhelum District)
Tehsil (e.g. Sohawa)
Union Council (e.g. Domeli)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Districts, Tehsils/Talukas" (PDF). Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. July 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  2. ^ History and Culture of Pakistan
  3. ^ "Area, Population, Density and Urban/Rural Proportion by Administrative Units". Population Census Organization, Government of Pakistan. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. 

External links[edit]