Kashmir: Geography


Click on the map to see a larger version.
Map courtesy of Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas.

The red line shows the traditional boundary claimed by the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The green area is controlled by Pakistan, the orange by India and the rest (in the northeast) by China.

Here is a more detailed map of Kashmir region.

The total area of the state is 85,806 square miles, around the size of Utah or Minnesota. Pakistan controls about 43% (about the size of Indiana) 35% (about the size of South Carolina), India controls another 37% (about the size of South Carolina) 46% (about the size of Indiana) and China controls about 20% 19% (a little less than double the size of New Jersey).

According to the 2001 census, the population of Indian Kashmir is 10,069,917 with a density of 256 persons per square mile. The population of Pakistani Kashmir is 3.785 million according to the 1998 census. This comes to about 114 persons per square mile. The Chinese-controlled portion does not have any significant permanent habitation. If Kashmir were a US state, it would be the 5th most populous one, after California, Texas, New York and Florida.

Kashmir consists of a number of distinct areas (with different history and ethnicity) and is controlled by three countries. The state can be divided generally into the Kashmir vale, Jammu province, Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan. India controls Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh. Pakistan controls a strip of land which is called Azad (Free) Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas which consist of Gilgit and Baltistan. China controls the northeastern part of Ladakh (called Aksai Chin) and some area in Hunza/Baltistan (Shaksgam) that Pakistan gave to China in 1963 over the objections of India.

Here is a description of the geography of the state.

Although the terrain of Jammu and Kashmir is highly diversified, only a small portion of its total area of approximately 85,000 square miles (220,000 square km.) is well suited to human settlement. Of particular note is the fertile Vale of Kashmir, a valley roughly 80 miles long and up to 35 miles wide (130 × 55 km.) astride the upper Jhelum River. This densely settled and surpassingly beautiful area, lies at an average elevation of approximately 5,500 feet (1,675 m.). Held entirely by India, the Vale comprises the core of Kashmir proper. In normal times, it supports an economy based on tourism, handicraft industries and intensive agriculture. Two other favorable areas are of note: the foothills of the Himalayas, together with a narrow strip of the adjoining plain, in Indian-held southern Jammu; and the northwestern extension of that region, comprising the greater part of Pakistani-held Azad Kashmir. These mainly agricultural areas are all relatively well-watered and, where not cleared for cultivation, support rich stands of mainly coniferous forest.

Between southern Jammu and Azad Kashmir on the one hand and the Vale on the other is the Pir Panjal mountain range, which, despite its rugged nature, supports a moderately dense and partially migratory population dependent on largely terraced agriculture, pastoralism, and forestry. Through these mountains must pass the overland traffic connecting the Vale with the plains of India. In the immediate aftermath of the de facto partition of the state in 1947-48, this traffic was funneled through the Banihal Pass, which, at an elevation of 9,290 feet (2,830 meters), was often closed by winter snows. This problem has been mitigated, however, though not entirely eliminated, by the construction of the Jawaharlal Nehru Tunnel at a significantly lower elevation, and by increasing reliance on air transportation. A much easier and formerly much more heavily utilized route to and from the Vale ran through the Baramula Gap by which the Jhelum River flows to what are now Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.

Along the northeastern flank of the Vale runs the main range of the Himalayas. This enormous mountain chain extends from the eastern border region of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan southeastward to and well beyond the southern border of Jammu and Kashmir. Forested on their windward southwestern flanks, the Himalayas present a dramatically different, largely barren, aspect to the northeast. There the terrain gives way to the high, arid regions of Pakistani-held Baltistan, administered as a part of the Northern Areas, and Indian-held Ladakh. These two thinly populated regions, comprising well over half the total area of the state, form a western extension of the Plateau of Tibet and are compartmentalized by a series of mountain ranges, generally paralleling the main crest of the Himalayas. They support scattered patches of agriculture, largely dependent on small-scale irrigation works, along with sheep-, goat-, and yak-based pastoralism. An even more barren area, further to the northeast, is known as the Aksai-Chin (White Stone Desert). Held by China since the mid-1950s, it is regarded by India as a part of Ladakh.

The western portion of the Northern Areas, comprising the former Gilgit Agency, is a region of highly variegated, generally mountainous terrain. Through it runs the strategic Karakoram Highway, linking Pakistan with China, and providing access to such fabled, once-isolated locales as Hunza. A thinly populated area, with an economic base similar to that of Ladakh and Baltistan, the region has considerable tourist potential and its Karakoram Mountains, wherein lies K2 (elevation 28,250 ft../ 8,611 m.), the world’s second highest peak, are a mecca for mountaineers.

No discussion of the geography of Jammu and Kashmir would be complete without mention of its great rivers and numerous glaciers. Among the latter are the Baltoro and Siachen Glaciers, the world’s largest outside the polar regions, and the site of continuous military skirmishes between India and Pakistan, the highest battles ? and, arguably, the most senseless ? fought in all of history. Of the state’s rivers, all but some interior-draining, intermittent streams (mainly in the Aksai Chin) form portions of the Indus drainage basin. The Indus itself originates in Tibet. Along with its major tributaries, the Jhelum and Chenab, it flows out of the state and into Pakistan, which is vitally dependent on their waters for its canal-based irrigation. Another major tributary, the Ravi, flows along the state’s southern border before entering Pakistan. The distribution and use of the waters of the Indus system between India and Pakistan is regulated by the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

Here are some more maps. The first one shows the different districts of Kashmir. You can also see the maps of Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas, the two regions of the state controlled by Pakistan.

Finally, a word about word usage. “Kashmir” is a confusing name since it applies to the Indian state of Kashmir, the Pakistani Azad Kashmir, the Kashmir valley and to the whole state as well. I’ll generally use Kasmir to refer to the region demarcated with a red line in the map shown above (i.e, the whole state). When referring to the portion of Kashmir ruled by India (or Pakistan or China), I’ll call it Indian (or Pakistani or Chinese) Kashmir or Country-controlled Kashmir. I’ll avoid Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) or Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). I’ll however refer to a portion of Pakistani Kashmir as Azad Kashmir. I am not making a value judgment here, but I think this is the easiest and least confusing way to refer to that area.

Arranged Marriage: The Problem

You probably already know from my series of posts on marriage that I don’t like arranged marriages. They are obviously not the disaster that people in the West generally think they are. However, there is one big problem with them and it is apparent from this money quote from the last article in that series I pointed out yesterday:

Since their first night together, Asim and Nida have proceeded backwards along the typical course of a Western romantic relationship. First married, then physically intimate, they are now entering the stage of courtship.

Busy Busy Busy

Sorry for the lack of posts. Amber was here for the weekend and I have been really busy with work and stuff.

I have a couple of Kashmir posts in the pipeline. Hopefully, I should post them in a day or two.

In the meantime, here are a couple of interesting things to read.

  • Via Ikram Saeed, a Village Voice article about Pakistanis in New York leaving. I have been to the Pakistani community neighborhood on Coney Island Ave a number of times, though not recently.
  • Via Eternal Illusions, a series on a Pakistani guy in Canada going to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.

Comment Milestones

Congratulations to Godless Capitalist for the 1000th comment.

And it seems I am famous now since I got my first real hateful comment against Muslims (I have had antisemitic comments before but they were more about conspiracy theories than direct hate. UPDATE: Rereading those comments, I was wrong. I have had comments which were extremely hateful towards Jews). This guy, from the US, was so filled by hate that he needed to repeat the same comment 5 times.

What Legend Are You?

You are a siren.
What legend are you?. Take the Legendary Being Quiz by Paradox

Definitely not me. But as The Poor Man would say, it’s the Internet, so it must be right.

Via Unqualified Offerings.

Movies and Women

The movie “Baran1 is being shown on campus. Forwarding the message about the screening, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) President at our school added a quote:

“The movie is absolutely clean and only on rare occasions do you see a woman, and even then she would have her head covered.”2

I am not sure whether I should quote from his email on my weblog, but I found that very funny. Mind you, I am not making fun of religious people’s sensibilities. Obviously, everyone can decide on what sort of stuff they should or should not watch and I respect that. I favor the slogan “bikini or burqa by personal choice.”3 I just find it funny to see a young guy assuring everyone about the supposed “clean”-ness of the movie as related to women. Why didn’t he say anything about violence in the movie, for example?

Continue reading “Movies and Women”

September 11

I don’t know what to say about the dastardly terrorist attack two years ago. I have no interesting story of where I was. I was sleeping in Atlanta and was awakened by my roommate around 11am because of frantic calls by Amber from Jersey. She found out about the WTC attacks when she reached her office that morning in central Jersey. I think she, along with her colleagues, went to the basement of their building for a while when there were rumors of more possible attacks. I spent the rest of the day looking at the television news in horror. I must admit that my first thought was of Al-Qaeda and such terrorist groups being behind it.

I can’t even imagine the grief of people who lost family and friends that day. My heart goes out to them. Also, I hope we bring the perpetrators (I mean everyone involved in the conspiracy; obviously the hijackers themselves are already dead) to justice soon.

And then there are nutcases like Al-Muhajiroun (link via Letter from Gotham). I don’t have anything to say to the likes of these guys except: Fuck you, Osama Bin Laden and damn you, Al-Muhajiroun.

Optical Illusion

There are some very interesting optical illusions here. I especially like the “rotating snakes.”

Via Uncertain Principles.

Weird Comment

Mr. Samiulhaq, apparently from Saudi Arabia, reached my weblog by searching for samiulhaq. He got to my post on Activist Islam in Pakistan and commented:

send me photo

Now, if only he had looked around on my weblog, he would have found a number of photos of me. But alas, he wasn’t that curious!

I just hope it’s Ms. Samiulhaq (Sorry, Amber dear).

Productivity: Experts’ View

While talking about the economic output per hour and hours worked in different countries, I had a question about estimating productivity in the IT industry:

I also have a question for anyone who knows economics more than I do. Everyone I know in the I.T. and other hitech fields works 50-60 hours a week but doesn’t get any overtime. Do they count as 40-hour work-week for calculation of productivity numbers?

Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley provides some analysis:

In the four quarters ending 2Q03, the increase in manufacturing productivity (3.5%) was below the gain in overall nonfarm business productivity (4.1%). A strong increase in services sector productivity is the only way to reconcile these numbers; my rough guesstimate points to nonmanufacturing productivity growth of 4.5% on a year-over-year basis —- about 30% faster than measured gains in manufacturing.

This is where the productivity miracle falls apart, in my view. I honestly don’t think we have a clue as to how to measure productivity in the white-collar services sector. The problems lie both in the numerator (output) and the denominator (labor input) of the productivity equation. The production of the proverbial ‘widget’ makes measurement of tangible output in the manufacturing sector relatively easy by comparison. The intangible output of services is a different matter altogether. Measuring quality-adjusted value-added in knowledge-based activities is tough in theory and virtually impossible in practice. Yet that’s exactly what the productivity metric requires us to do. Is it correct to measure the output of a software programmer, for instance, by the lines of code that he or she writes? Or the number of words that an analyst produces? Or is less more? To me, the efficient software program and the insightful piece of analysis wins, hands down. Try measuring managerial output —- hardly a trivial consideration given that managers account for fully 25% of America’s total white-collar workforce.

As tough as it is to measure the numerator in the white-collar productivity calculus, I have long been equally critical of efforts to capture the denominator —- labor input. The official data on labor input comes from the establishment surveys of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics; at the crux of this gauge is an estimate of the length of average work schedules. For white-collar knowledge workers, these numbers simply don’t make any sense to me. Take financial services —- an industry in which I have spent my entire career. According to the BLS, the average workweek in the financial activities sector was 35.4 hours in July 2003 —- essentially unchanged from the level a decade earlier (35.6 hours in July 1993). I find that most difficult to fathom. Over the past decade, the IT-enabled knowledge worker has seen a radical transformation of work schedules. Courtesy of miniaturized and portable information appliances, together with near-ubiquitous connectivity, workdays have been extended as never before. Yet in this increasingly ‘24 × 7’ mindset, the official data speak of unbelievably short and unchanged work weeks. What a disconnect!

To me, this smacks of a classic measurement problem. The official data seem to underestimate woefully actual hours worked in America’s increasingly knowledge-based, white-collar economy. We are guilty of confusing extended work schedules with productivity growth. I’ve said it before: Productivity is not about working longer. It’s all about generating more value added per unit of labor input. To the extent that government statisticians are undercounting work time, it follows they are guilty of overstating productivity. With America’s newfound productivity gains skewed increasingly toward the white-collar services sector, this statistical conundrum takes on even greater meaning for the economy as a whole.

Brad DeLong disagrees with his analysis.

The first criticism is only half-right because the bulk of white-collar service-sector work—including virtually all of managerial work—are themselves inputs into further stages of the production process. The management of Daimler-Chrysler helps the rest of Daimler-Chrysler make cars. The management of Nike helps the rest of Nike make shoes. We know what a car is. We know what a shoe is. To the extent that we overestimate white-collar productivity in Daimler-Chrysler’s and Nike’s value chains, we automatically underestimate blue-collar productivity because the combined output of both—quality-adjusted cars or shoes—is something we know about. It is very possible that we are overestimating white-collar and underestimating blue-collar productivity, but such errors should cancel each other out for the economy as a whole. And yet the statistics for the economy as a whole are very impressive.

The second criticism is also only half-right. Because people are easier to reach, they are spending less time hanging around the office twiddling their thumbs waiting just in case somebody needs to reach them and learn something they know. Because people are easier to reach, they are being bugged more and made to work more outside formal normal working hours. Which effect dominates? I don’t know. I do know that people seem to prefer the wired to the hanging-around-the-office lifestyle, and prefer it by quite a bit. But I live near the center of where the most action is. It’s not clear to me whether Stephen Roach’s point is quantitatively important, indeed, it’s not clear to me that it cuts in the direction he thinks it does.

Moreover, there is a third potential criticism of the productivity numbers that Stephen Roach doesn’t make, and that I wish he would: the speed-up criticism. More and more, blue-collar and lower-level white-collar workers can be watched, monitored, and assessed. The pace at which they are expected to work can be ratcheted up with much more ease than in past ages. Is this factor—either the reduction in paid on-the-job leisure, or the breaking of the wage-effort social contract in the interest of extracting more value for each wage and salary dollar, depending on your viewpoint—important? I do not know. I wish I did.

No, I don’t have any intelligent comment myself.