AZAD JAMMU & KASHMIR
After the partition of Sub-Continent in 1947, the princely States were given the option of joining either India or Pakistan. However, Hari Singh , the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, wanted Jammu and Kashmir to remain independent. In order to buy some time, he signed a stand-still agreement, which sidestepped the agreement that each princely State would join either India or Pakistan. In view of geographical, religious and historical links the people of Jammu & Kashmir state demanded freedom, instead, entered into an unfortunate conspiracy with the Hindu leadership and acceded to India. This sparked the liberation movement of the Muslim population of the State against the Dogra and Indian forces in Kashmir. As a result of this freedom movement, a part of the State was liberated from the Dogra-cum-fadian domination in October 1947, and named Azad State of Jammu & Kashmir.
It has its own elected President, Prime Minister, Legislature, High Court,Supreme Court And Official Flag.
Geography and climate:
The northern part of Azad Jammu and Kashmir encompasses the lower area of the Himalayas, including Jamgarh Peak (4,734 meters).However, Sarwaali Peak” (6326 meters) in Neelum Valley is the highest peak in the State. Fertile, green, mountainous valleys are characteristic of Azad Kashmir’s geography, making it one of the most beautiful regions of the Subcontinent. The region receives rainfall in both the winter and the summer. Muzaffarabad and Pattan are among the wettest areas of Pakistan. Throughout most of the region, the average rainfall exceeds 1400 mm, with the highest average rainfall occurring near Muzaffarabad (around 1800 mm). During the summer season, monsoon floods of the rivers Jhelum and Neelum are common due to extreme rains and snow melting.
People & Culture:
Azad Jammu and Kashmir is a fascinating land of people, languages & culture. The texture of present population is composed of races claiming their descent from Semitic, Mongoloid, Aryans, Persians, Turks& Arabs. The people of districts Kotli, Mirpur & Bhimber are sturdy, simple, truthful and deeply attached to their land. The culture of this area resembles to that of the adjoining area of Punjab. The people of districts Poonch, Bagh, Haveli & Sudhanoti are adventure loving and there are numerous anecdotes of their matchless valour as well as inspiring sacrifices for freedom. While Muzaffarabad District has its own distinctive culture. The people of the State are intelligent ingenious, hardworking, dynamic & skillful.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir embodies the poetry of nature, which no human language can interpret in words. Majestic ice capped mountains, verdant woods, lively rivers and placid lakes form the landscape of the state. Its snow-covered peaks, dense forests, winding rivers, turbulent foaming streams, wheat scented valleys, velvet green plateaus and climate varying from arctic to tropical, all join together to make it an excellent tourist attraction. Valleys like Neelum, Jhelum, Sudhan Gali, Rawalakot, Banjonsa,Tata pani, Samahni & Mangla lake ,Baghsar unfold delightful scenic beauty and provide a feast of pleasure to a discerning tourist’s eyes.
Azad Kashmir is also blessed with a varied mountainous landscape ranging from low hills to high mountains (2000 to 6000 meters) most suitable for soft to medium adventure tourism. The area provides excellent opportunities for rock climbing, trekking, mountaineering, summer camping and hikes. Moreover blessed with large number of rivers and streams, the state offers great potential for white water sports like rafting, canoeing and kayaking
Opportunities for Investment
Azad Kashmir has great potential for development of tourism. Its numerous picturesque spots, dense forests, winding rivers, turbulent foaming streams, majestic towering mountains, flora & fauna, bracing climate and historical & cultural heritage all together make it an excellent tourist resort. Despite the tourism potential available in abundance, it could not be explored for a long time. It was mainly due to the absence of the infrastructure, paucity of funds and other problems of varied type. However, with the overall improvement of the conditions in the area, tourism also got some attention since 2008 and since then efforts are being made to develop and provide basic amenities for the tourists in Azad Kashmir.
The AJK Tourism Department initially confined its development activities to such areas which were linked with good roads and where some other basic infrastructure was available. However, with the gradual improvement of general infrastructure and in view of the growing requirements of the tourists the scope of the tourist activities was enlarged. The AJK Tourism Department since 1975 onwards has implemented various development projects with the main objective to develop reasonable accommodation facilities at places of tourist interest. With the result the AJK Tourism Department has established a network of Tourist Lodges throughout the State. In addition to these activities, emphasis was also laid to provide recreational and transport facilities to the tourists.
Resort development has now become the corner stone of the tourism related activities throughout the world. In Azad Jammu & Kashmir also it has become imperative that tourism developmental activities should be shifted to resort development. In this regard, the AJK Tourism Department has got prepared Master Planning for promotion of tourism and tourist resort in Azad Jammu & Kashmir through a renowned consultant firm. The consultant after conducting detailed survey of Azad Jammu & Kashmir has identified following areas for development of tourist resorts.
- Neelum Valley area.
- Muzaffarabad, Saran/ Pirchinassi area,
- Dao Khan, Leepa Valley area,
- Dhirkot, Neelabutt, Hanschowki including Danna area,
- Chikkar, Loonbagla, Sudhangali and Ganga-Choti area,
- Rawalakot, Banjonsa, Ghorimar, Tolipir including Lasdana Area,
- Tatta Pani – Kotli, Sensah area,
- Mirpur – Mangla, Bhimber & Samahni area
Moreover, identification, protection and preservation of the Archaeological assets of AJK is another subject which figures important in the tourism sector. To take up this job on scientific and planned manner the AJK Tourism Department has engaged a consultant to conduct feasibility study and prepare development projects in this regard.
Azad Jammu & Kashmir has also great potential for promotion of adventure tourism particularly because of its topography, scenic beauty, location accessibility and close proximity to Islamabad. To tape this potential AJK Tourism Department has initially focused on White Water Rafting, Rock Climbing, Para Gliding, Hiking & Trekking, Mountaineering and camping. In this regard various events have been successfully launched with the technical and logistic support of Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP), Adventure Foundation Pakistan (AFP) and Pakistan Association of Free Frying (PAFF).