Pakistan: Land And EnvironmentPakistan: Land And Environment

Chapter #3 Pakistan: Land And Environment


Location of Pakistan

Pakistan is one of the large countries in the South Asian region. It has an area of 796096 km2 and a population of 207,774,520 according to the 2017 census. Pakistan is a federation comprising four provinces. Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan, is one of the most modern and elegantly planned capitals of the world. According to the 3rd June 1947 plan, every area of the country became a part of Pakistan first and then it became a part of the federation.


Pakistan lies between the latitudes of 23.45° to 37.05° north and between the longitudes of 60.50° to 77.50° east. The land of Pakistan stretches over 1600 km from north to south and it is about 850 km wide from east to west.

Neighbors Countries of Pakistan

Pakistan occupies a significant position in the region. In the north and northeast, Pakistan shares a 592 km long border with the Peoples’ Republic of China. In the northwest, a narrow strip of Afghanistan’s wash an area about 16 km wide at its narrowest point, separates Pakistan from the area which is now a part of the independent Central Asian Muslim state of Tajikistan.

In the west nearly 2250 km long borderline known as the Durand Line (demarcated in 1893 by the British government) separates Pakistan from Afghanistan. Pakistan shares an 850 km border line with Iran. Pakistan has about 1600 km long common border with India. The Arabian Sea is south of Pakistan.

Importance of location

Pakistan is surrounded by three very important countries of the world – Russia, China, and India. Most of the world trade between East and West countries passes through the Indian Ocean. Therefore, Karachi and Gwadar sea ports are considered very important ports of the region. Western powers attach great importance to Pakistan. Only Pakistan is in a position to provide transit trade to Afghanistan and the Central Asian States, as these countries are either landlocked or have no warm water seaports. Pakistan commands the sea lanes from oil-rich Gulf States including Saudi Arabia to the Arabian Sea and most of the air traffic between East and West. Most of the airplanes use Pakistan’s air space to travel between East and West.

Physical features

The land of Pakistan is divided into five different regions based on physical features. Mountainous Region: This division includes the northern, north-western, and south-western mountain ranges.

a.       Plateaus: There are two big plateau regions in Pakistan these are the Potwar Plateau and the Balochistan Plateau.

b.      Plains: The plains area of Pakistan is divided into two main parts, the first is called Upper Indus Plain and the second one is the Lower Indus Plain.

c.       Deserts: Thal Cholistan, Nara, Tharparkar and Kharan deserts extend over large areas of Pakistan. Coastal Region: This division includes the coastal areas of Sind and Balochistan.

Climate and Weather

ü  Weather: Weather is the daily state of the atmosphere in a particular area regarding temperature, cloudiness, rainfall, wind, and other meteorological conditions.

ü  Climate: Climate is the average weather or the regular variation in weather in a particular area (normally determined by the meteorologist after a study extended over 30 years).


Factors Responsible for Climatic Changes


Many factors are responsible for determining an area’s climate and bringing about climatic changes such as.

·         Location: Distance from the equator, poles, sea, and mountains, etc. Altitude: Height above sea level.

·         Air: General behavior of the air which causes winds, cyclones thunderstorms, dust storms, and monsoon, air pressure, and humidity.

·         Other factors: Water courses like rivers and streams, forests, properties of the soil, and the earth’s crust. The density of the population, industrial establishments, town planning, and energy consumption behavior of the people living in the area.

·         Precipitation (rain, snow, or hail): Precipitation phenomena are indirectly related to the factors mentioned above.

Temperature Zones

Pakistan is divided into FOUR major zones based on temperature variation:

Highlands (Northern and North-Western Mountains Region): This region consists of areas of very high altitude. It is the coldest region of the country. On very high altitudes mountain peaks remain snow-capped throughout the year. These mountains are 4000 to 6000 meters high and have an Arctic Climate (an average temperature of minus 0° Celsius). The valleys located amid these mountains have an average altitude of 2000 meters. Winters sustain from 6 to 8 months. But the summer season is of small period but is a very pleasant one.

Plains (Upper and Lower Indus Plains): The Upper Indus Basin has a sub-tropical climate. Summers are extremely hot but winters are moderately cold. The temperature reaches its climax in June. The temperature in the peak summer months (May, June, and July) varies from 25°C to 40°C.

Balochistan Plateau and the Thar Desert: The Balochistan Plateau and the Desert of Thar are extremely hot and dry in the summer. Sibbi and Jacobabad are placed among the hottest points on the surface of the globe. Temperature raises to 50°C, and even more, occasionally. Nights are comparatively cool and there is a marked difference between the day and night temperatures. Winters are moderately cold but very short-lived. Certain points, like the valley of Quetta, have extremely cold weather and receive occasional snowfalls. Southeastern Balochistan and the southwestern desert area have a markedly dry and hot arid climate. The hot dusty wind blows continuously from mid-May to mid-September. Temperature is very high.

Coastal Areas: This region comprises the Indus Delta and the entire coastal area including Karachi and Makran coastline This area, naturally, has a maritime climate (Maritime climate is always marked with a moderate level of temperature but a high level of humidity Cool breeze blows from the sea towards the land. This helps to keep the temperature low in the hot summer months. The mean monthly temperature is 32°C. May, June, and October are the hottest months. The high temperature in October is due to the dry winds from the desert from the southeast.

Climatic Regions Based on climatic conditions the land of Pakistan is divided into four major regions:


  1. Sub-tropical continental highland type.
  1. Sub-tropical continental plateau type.
  1. Sub-tropical continental plain/low-land type.
  1. Sub-tropical coastal type.





Glaciers and Drainage System

Glaciers: Most of the major rivers of Pakistan receive water or originate from the glaciers of the Himalayas, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush mountain ranges.

Glaciers of the Karakoram Range: Largest glaciers in Pakistan are located in Karakoram Range. Siachen is 72 miles long. The glacier’s meltwaters are the main source of the Shyok River. River Braldu originates from Biafo and River Hunza from Batura glaciers respectively.

Glaciers of the Hindu Kush Range: River Kunarh receives water from Tirchmir and Rich and other glaciers of the Hindu Kush Range.

The Glacier of the Himalayas Range: Southern Rupal is a glacier of the Himalayas range, its waterfalls in the River Astore, and Northern Rupal falls in the River Indus.

Drainage System

Pakistan’s drainage system is divided into three parts:

  • River Indus and its tributaries.
  • Internal irrigation system.
  • Irrigation system of Southern Balochistan.




River Indus and its Tributaries: The Indus is one of the longest rivers in the world. It originates in Tibet from Lake Mansarovar and cuts kilometers-deep gorges into the world’s highest mountain ranges, Karakoram and Himalaya. Flowing in an east-west direction the river reaches a point named Sazin and takes a southward turn. The course of the river Indus from Sazin to Kalabagh, according to experts, is the world’s most tortuous and intricate one, it is in this area that the Indus has cut a gigantic 6500 meters deep gorge at Dasu (district Kohistan). In this area, the river flows in an extremely deep but narrow channel of 400 meters (0.4 km) which expands to an average of 16 km as the river moves downward from Kalabagh and passes through the plains.

Tributaries of the River Indus: Flowing, mostly in a north-south direction from Kalabagh to the Arabian Sea the River Indus receives water from a number of its tributaries from the east (left) and west (right) bank. Right-bank rivers, comparatively small in size, are the following (in descending order); River Gilgit, River Kabul, River Kurram, and River Gomal.

Indus receives the largest part of its water from left bank tributaries, these rivers deposit enormous quantities of water and sediment in the Indus. Sediment deposited by these tributaries has played an important role in forming the Indus Plain. Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej are the five left bank tributaries from which the Indus receives most of its water, but the Beas does not flow on the land of Pakistan as it joins the Sutlej before the Sutlej enters into Pakistan area. Other left bank tributaries join one another at different points and form one great mainstream at Mithankot. This enormous body of water is now called Panjnad. The Panjnad flows 72 kilometers downstream and falls into the Indus. From this point onward no other tributary joins the Indus till it falls in the Arabian Sea.

Inland Drainage System: The drainage system covering the northern parts of southwestern Balochistan, including the Chaghi and Ras Koh mountains in the north and Siahan Mountain in the south, is called the Inland Drainage System. This area is dry; the rivers are not very big and do not fall into the sea. Some of these rivers remain dry throughout the year except for a small period when they receive rainwater and flow for sometimes; others get absorbed in the desert sand and very few can complete their journey and fall in lakes. Saltwater lakes, locally called Hamuns, are shallow and marshy. The most well-known Hamuns in the area are Hamun Mashkel, Hamun Lora, and Hamun Murgho.

Drainage System of Southern Balochistan: The rivers of Southern Balochistan form their independent drainage systems. Following are the most important river systems of the area: Hab, Porali, Hingol, and Dasht. All these rivers originate from the mountain ranges of southern Balochistan, some of these die in hot and dry weather the mountain peaks in this region receive no snowfall, the streams flow only when in the desert sand while the others can make their way to the Arabian Sea. Since this region has extremely rain falls on mountain peaks.

The Kirthar mountain range is located to the east of the River Hab; Pab range lies to the west of the river. Hab Dam built across the river supplies water to the adjoining areas of the province (Balochistan) as well as the city of Karachi. The Porali River flows in the valley between the Pub and the Hala Mountain ranges; the River ends where the fertile Lasbela Plain starts and extends northward The Hingol River originates in the Central Brahvi Hills. Hala Hills lie in the east of the River Hingol The Central Makran and Makran Coast Hills lie in the west of the River Hingol. This river flows only in the rainy season. Flowing between the Central Makran and Makran Coast ranges Rivers Ketch and Nihing join at a point located at a distance of 50 km west of Turbat, henceforth this stream is called River Dasht. Mirani Dam has been built on this river.

Also Read: Ch#1 Ideological Basis of Pakistan

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