Image Credit: Jagran Josh

Since independence, India and Pakistan have sustained and deepened a rivalry. Today these two countries have a territorial or ideological difference over a few topics. But one issue has always been the base of several disputes between Indian and Pakistan, and that is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which is called Azad Kashmir since 1947. For most of the people like us, POK has always been a mystery as very less is written or said about the place. So, let's know some lesser-known facts about POK:

1. Various "Titles of POK":

POK is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and it is administratively divided into two parts, which are called Jammu-Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in official languages. It is also called as Azad Kashmir or Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). United Nations and other international organisations refer to PoK as “Pakistan-administered Kashmir”. PoK shares its border with China and Afghanistan too. It covers an area of 13,297 square kilometres (5,134 sq mi). And the capital of PoK is located at Muzaffarabad.

View from Sharda Fort, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan Image Credit:

2. POK was never directly ruled by the Britishers:

During the British rule, Jammu and Kashmir were under the rule of Maharaj Hari Singh. So technically PoK was never under the direct rule of the British.

3. Invasion of Pathan Tribesmen on independent Jammu and Kashmir:

POK was never under the regime of the British, and even during the India-Pakistan partition, Jammu and Kashmir were given the option to join either India or Pakistan but Maharaja Hari Singh decided to keep it as an independent state. But in 1947, Pakistan's Pashtun tribals attacked Jammu and Kashmir. And Pakistan denied its role in the invasion, but the shreds of evidence recite the different story.

Maharaja Hari Singh Image Credit:

4. The instrument of Accession:

After the invasion of Pashtun tribes, Maharaja Hari Singh wrote a letter to Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor-General of India, asking for help from Pathan tribesmen invasion. In the reply, Lord Mountbatten accepted the accession with a remark. It is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people. And Finally, on 26th October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession to India.

5. 26th October is celebrated as Accession Day as well as the Black Day:

Accession Day is celebrated as a holiday in Jammu and Kashmir. On 26 October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession to India. People celebrate by bursting firecrackers, sing the national anthem of India and hoisting Indian flag. But several Kashmiri separatists attend Accession Day as Black Day.

6. Sino-Pakistan Agreement:

That extreme northern park of PoK, which are shown as part of China is a result of the Sino-Pakistan agreement of 1963. Technically, the Pakistanis gifted China the territory. It resulted in China ceding over 1,942 square kilometres (750 sq mi) to Pakistan and Pakistan recognizing Chinese sovereignty over hundreds of square kilometres of land in Northern Kashmir and Ladakh. The agreement is not recognized as legal by India, which also claims sovereignty over part of the land. 

Image Credit: travelerbase

7. Governed by Pakistan controlled Legislative assembly:

PoK claims to have its self-governing legislative assembly but the fact is not hidden that it is under control of Pakistan. The President of PoK is the head of the state while the prime minister is the chief executive who is supported by a Council of Ministers.

8. PoK has its own Supreme Court and a High Court:

The state has its own Supreme Court and a High Court, while the Government of Pakistan's Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan serves as a link with POK's, although Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is not represented in the Parliament of Pakistan.

9. Population, agricultural and literacy in POK:

The population of POK, according to the preliminary results of the 2017 Census is 4.45 million. The main sources of income are maize, wheat, forestry, and livestock. 17.87 % of the households own farms in PoK, agricultural products in this area include mushrooms, honey, apples, cherries, medicinal herbs and many more. There is a shortage of schools and colleges in this region, but the website of the POK government reports the literacy rate to be 74%, with the enrolment rate in primary school being 98% and 90% for boys and girls respectively. Also, Languages like Pashto, Urdu, Kashmiri and Punjabi are spoken prominently here.

10. The scenic beauty of POK with a Scarcity of Tourism:

Heavens unleashed Neelum valley Pakistan Image Credit:

Delightful, green, mountainous valleys are distinctive of POK's geography, giving rise to one of the most beautiful regions on the subcontinent. Perhaps the most beautiful place in PoK is Neelam Valley, located some 240 km from Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK, the valley is connected with another elegant place Kaghan Valley, the two are separated by snow-covered peaks. And in winters, the snowfall makes this place more heavenly. One of the biggest attractions in the region is the Chitta Katha Lake, which is in the Shonter valley, a sub valley of Neelam and can be accessed by road followed by a short trek. But critical ignorant structures of its government, to not let the region develop has not only eroded the region of any touristic footfall but have dragged it into a state of wreckage.

11. Development of POK:

According to the project report by the Asian Development Bank, the bank has set out development goals for POK in the areas of health, education, nutrition, and social development. The whole project is estimated to cost US$76 million. Germany, between 2006 and 2014, has also donated $38 million towards the POK Health Infrastructure Programme.

12. The Economy of POK:

Historically the economy of POK has been agricultural which meant that land was the main source or mean of production.

In this area there are low-grade coal reserves, chalk reserves, bauxite deposits are found. Making of inscribed wooden items, textiles and carpets are the main products of industries located in these areas. In addition to agriculture, textiles, and arts and crafts, remittances have played a major role in the economy of POK. One analyst estimated that the figure for Azad Kashmir was 25.1% in 2001. With regard to annual household income, people living in the higher areas are more dependent on remittances than are those living in the lower areas. In the last part of 2006, billions of dollars for development were lent by international aid agencies for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 2005 earthquake-hit zones in POK. 

13. Training camps of terrorist organizations and no freedom of expression:

Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the largest terrorist organizations in South Asia has its several training camps in PoK. One of the convicted of the 26/11 attack on India Ajmal Kasab received his marine warfare training in Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK in Pakistan.

PoK also lacks an independent media, everything there is controlled by the Pakistan government. Only one radio station known as Azad Kashmir Radio is allowed to operate in PoK.

14. Reason for disputes among India and Pakistan

Apart from the 1971 war, all the other disputes between India and Pakistan is related to PoK issue. During the first war of India Pakistan which started in 1947 United Nations intervened and ordered ceasefire between the two countries. But an electing meet for both nations demanded by the U.N. could not move forward because they left the issues unresolved. Since then the heat between India and Pakistan only increased and in 1949, a formal cease-fire line separating the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir came into effect. Following the 1949 cease-fire agreement with India, the government of Pakistan divided the northern and western parts of Kashmir that are controlled at the time of cease-fire into the following two separately-controlled political entities, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) the narrow, southern part and Gilgit–Baltistan formerly called the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA).

Even the first Prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru move to approach the United Nations for settling the PoK issue is considered wrong by many and it left the dispute unresolved.

15. Matter of Pride:

The common valley has no economic value to both countries. But it is a matter of pride for both Indian and Pakistan. Any government who tempts to go low on the topic would indicate a political failure.

Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Azad Kashmir Image Credit: