Neelam Valley

The Neelam is the northernmost of 10 districts located in Azad Kashmir. Taking up the larger part of the Neelam Valley, the district has a population of around 191,000 people (as of 2017).

It was among the worst-hit areas of Pakistan during the 2005 Kashmir earthquake


On the north and northeast, the district is bordered by the Diamer District, the Astore District, and the Skardu District of Gilgit-Baltistan. On the south, the district is bordered by the Kupwara District and the Bandipora District of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. On the southwest, the district is bordered by the Muzaffarabad District. On the west, the district is bordered by the Man.

Before the partition, the valley that is now known as Neelum was referred to as Kishanganga; after the partition, it was renamed the town of Neelam. It originates in the Gurez Valley, which is located in the portion of Jammu and Kashmir that is under Indian administration, and basically follows a route that is first western and then south-western until it reaches Muzaffarabad, where it combines with the Jhelum River. The valley is a heavily forested region [citation needed] with an elevation varying from 4,000 feet (1,200 m) to 7,500 feet (2,300 m), and the mountain peaks on either side of the valley reach a height of 17,000 feet (5,200 m).
The whole length of the Neelum Valley is 144 kilometers (89 miles). The Line of Control passes across the valley, either traversing the mountains to the southeast or running in certain places right down the river. Several of the communities that are located on the left bank are located on the Indian side of the boundary.


The Neelum District of Azad Kashmir covers the most land of any other district in the region. It comprises two tehsils, namely the Athmuqam Tehsil and the Sharda Tehsil. The Athmuqam Tehsil is also home to the district’s administrative offices. Until 2005, the Neelum District was included in the Muzaffarabad District’s administrative boundaries.

The valley’s length, measured in kilometers, is close to two hundred. It follows the Neelum River. This is a generally impoverished region that is dependent on subsistence agriculture and handicrafts. In recent years, however, tourism has become an increasingly important industry.

The Neelum District is ranked number 33 out of 148 districts in Pakistan regarding education, as indicated by the Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2015. The district receives a 136 out of 148 ranking for its facilities and infrastructure.


Native speakers of multiple languages can be found in the district. The Hindko language is the most common. It is the language of wider regional communication. It is spoken at a native or near-native level by practically all members of the other language communities, many of whom are quitting their language and shifting to Hindko. This is because it is the language of wider communication in the region.

This language is typically referred to as Parmi (or Parimi, Prim), a name that most likely derives from the Kashmiri word aprim, which means “from the other side.” The Kashmiris of the Vale of Kashmir used this term to refer to the highlanders who spoke this language. Parmi (or Parimi, Prim) is another name for this language. The language is also occasionally referred to as Pahari. However, it is more similar to the Hindko language spoken in the neighboring Kaghan Valley than the Pahari language in the Murree Hills.

It differs from other varieties of Hindko, Pahari, and Punjabi in that it has maintained the voiced aspirated consonants at the beginning of the word. For instance, the word for “grass” in Hindko is gha, but in Punjabi, it is kà, in which both the aspiration and the voicing have been lost, resulting in a low tone on the vowel that comes after it. However, this change in sound is currently spreading here as well, but it has only had an impact on the communities that are located along the Neelam highway up until this point.

Since Partition, there have been numerous ways in which the linguistic traditions on either side of the Line of Control have varied. For instance, there is a higher amount of Urdu loanwords in the Neelam Valley, whereas the variant of Hindko spoken on the other side of the Line of Control has kept more traditional words. This dialect of Hindko is also used in some of the neighboring regions of Kashmir that India rules.

Kashmiri is the language that is spoken in the Neelam Valley by the second most people after Urdu. It is the only mother tongue spoken in almost half of these settlements, although it is the majority language in at least a dozen or so of these communities. It is more similar to the Kashmiri spoken in the northern region, specifically in the Kupwara District, than the Kashmiri spoken in Muzaffarabad.

The Gujjars, whose settlements are dispersed all around the valley, make up the third-largest ethnic group but do not speak their language. Although most of them have adopted Hindko as their primary language, some villages still speak Gujari at home. The Bakarwal, who go into the valley (and beyond, into Gilgit-Baltistan) with their herds in the summer and spend the winters in the lower portions of Azad Kashmir and Punjab, are more likely to speak Gujari consistently. This is because Bakarwal spends their summers in the valley.

There are two distinct settlements, each speaking one of two unique forms of Shina, located at the upper end of the valley (locally sometimes called Dardi). Near the Indian border is where one of them may be located, specifically in Taobutt and the adjoining settlement of Karimabad, formerly known as Sutti. The people who speak this form of Shina claim that it is similar to the dialect spoken farther up the valley in Indian Gurez. The Shina community is multilingual in Kashmiri and is culturally closer to the Kashmiri villages nearby than the other Shina group, who reside in the primary village of Phulwei, which is located 35 kilometers (22 miles) further downstream. The Shina people living in Phullwei state that their ancestors came from Nait, located close to Chilas in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Dhaki and Changnar, located on the Line of Control, are home to residents who speak a dialect of the Pashto language. The local dialect could be more understandable to people who speak any of the other varieties of language spoken in Pakistan. Since the beginning of the 1990s, there has been consistent firing across the border, which has caused a considerable number of people to leave these settlements.

Kundal Shahi is a language only spoken in the Neelum Valley and is in danger of dying out. Some of the people living in the Kundal Shahi village located close to Athmuqam speak this language.

In addition, people who have completed their formal education often speak Urdu, frequently employed in educational settings alongside English.


According to Pakistan District Education Ranking 2017, a report that Alif Ailaan published, the district of Neelum has a score of 60.87 out of a possible 100 when it comes to education, which places it at number 58 on the list of rankings connected to education at the national level.

The Neelum District is regarded as the least important of all the districts of Azad Kashmir.