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Abbottabad Cantonment

As you speed across the flat land, you suddenly find yourself driving up an occasionally winding road as you reach Abbottabad at a height of 4,010 feet. This is a picturesque town housing the country's Military Academy and a number of elitist schools and colleges. Abbottabad is home to the Pakistan Miltary Academy (PMA), Kakool. So there is a large military presence in the town. Lying in a valley 4000 feet above sea level, surrounded by the foothills of the Himalayas between northern Pakistan and Kashmir, Abbottabad had its own military cantonment and was not considered a true hill station like Kashmir, Murree or Simla.

Abbottabad was founded in 1853 AD by Major ( later General, Sir) James Abbott of Blackheath London, who became first deputy commissioner of Hazara. The Hazara gazetteer of 1883 declared Abbottabad as the most beautiful hilly town of sub continent. Trees from UK and Kashmir were brought to this unmatchable town and avenues and landscapes of Abbottabad had trees of horse chestnuts, Elms, Ash, Pistacia, Chinar (Kashmir maple), himalayan pine, Cedars of Lebanon, fragrant camphors of England, etc... and shrubs and flowers of all kinds including fragrant gardenias etc. Major James Abbott fell in love with the rolling hills and awe inspiring views of Himalayan peaks of this thickly forested little England of East and he wrote following mystical lyrical Love poem in the praise of nature and Abbottabad.

Abbottabad cantonment had been the base depot for two regiments of Gurkhas, the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles and the 6th Furkha Rifles, as well as the 13th Frontier Force Rifles, a regiment of mountain artillery and a brigade headquarters. Five miles away there had been another cantonment at Kakul, which in the thirties had been home to the Indian Army School of Artillery and more recently, during the Second World War, a training school for young officers of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC). Abbottabad Cantonment was only eighty miles from Rawalpindi by road; there was also a rail link from Rawalpindi, though it terminated at Havelian, ten miles short of Abbottabad.

The Cantonment Board has the same functions in the cantonment area, as Municipal Community has in the municipality, except additional responsibility of maintaining Law and Order, with the help of Police (Civil) and Military Police (MP). Cantonment Board can call any of the Military Units setup in the locality in case of emergency or for help.

District Abbottabad was once part of the Hazara division, which covered the present-day districts of Abbottabad, Battagram, Haripur, Kohistan and Mansehra. The district takes its name from the city of Abbottabad, named after Major James Abbot, the first deputy commissioner of Hazara, who served from 1849 to 1853 under the British colonial administration of India. The terrain of the area is both rugged and scenic, and its location at the base of the Himalayas lends it a temperate climate throughout most of the year. Situated between 33 50' and 34 23' North, and 73 35' and 73 31' East, Abbottabad is bordered by Mansehra district in the North, Muzzafarabad and Rawalpindi districts in the East, Haripur and Rawalpindi districts in the South and Haripur district in the West.

116 km from Rawalpindi and 217 km from Peshawar, Abbotabad is a popular summer resort, located at the end of Murree-Abbottabad hill tract at a height of 1255 Metres. This tourist resort is known for its verdant parks, gardens, golf course and pine covered hills. Abbottabad is also known for the nearby town of Kakul, which houses the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy. It is also the gateway to most of the mountain peaks of Pakistan - the Karakorams, the HImalayas and the Hindukush. One can reach Swat, Kohistan, Dir and Chitral of the Hindukush Range from here, besides Naran, Saif-ul-Muluk, Shogran and Babusar Pass of the Himalayan Range. Neelum, Lipa and Jhelum Valley of beautiful Azad Kashmir are also connected through Abbottabad.

Regimental Training Centers of the Pakistan Army are located in various parts of Abbottabad. The Pakistan Military Academy is the Military Academy of Pakistan Army. It is located at Kakul near Abbottabad in NWFP, Pakistan. The Pakistan Military Academy is similar in function to Royal Military Academy Sandhurst or West Point and provides training to the officers of Pakistan Army. Kakul is a town situated in the Kakul Valley at an elevation of 1300 meters, 5 km north of Abbottabad city near the Thandiani Hills, in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.

For some Abbotabad is known for the Pakistan Military Academy, some few miles from it in nearby town of Kakul, but in fact it attracts lot of visitors during summers and winters to enjoy its cold weather. Just some distance away from the city, there is a 2691 Meters (9,000 feet) high Thandiani Hills. Going up the steep winding road, one reaches the hill top and can feel the pollution free air. The area generally came to limelight after the state owned television installed its booster.

The main areas are Abbottabad City, Abbottabad Cantt, Mandian, Kakul and Supply. Spread over an area of 1,967 km2 (178,401 ha), Abbottabad district is located in predominantly mountainous terrain. The average elevation of peaks in the district ranges from 2,500 m to 2,700 m (the Miranjani peak at 3,313 m is the highest point). These mountains form part of the lesser Himalayas and dominate the landscape.

Abbottabad's social structure is heavily influenced by tribal affiliations. Most of the district's residents belong to the Abbassi, Dhund, Gujjar, Jadoon, Karlal, Syed or Tanoli tribes. The Abbassis are for the most part urbane and educated. The traditional leadership of the area, as well as political leaders in modern times, largely belonged to this tribe. The Abbassis' rural residences serve as a base for their political operations, while they maintain a second home in urban areas to manage their business interests. They depend for their income on significant landholdings as well as trade and business activities. With an important presence in the power structure, both at the national and local level, they have a practical orientation characterised by independent thinking, but are not particularly amenable to external influences.

Abbottabad district is home to an estimated 928,000 individuals, with the vast majority living in rural areas. Although just 18.6% of the district's residents currently make their home in the cities, deepening poverty is leading to increasing urbanisation. Spread over 178,401 ha of predominantly mountainous terrain, population density in the district is high, at 466 persons per km2. Forests cover an area of 39,395 ha, or a little over 20% of the district, accounting for 5.4% of the total forest resources of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The majority of Abbottabad's forested area is today so severely denuded that only 29% of forests support a density greater than 50%. Meanwhile, the gap between use and regenerative capacity continues to widen.

Two major highways run through the district. The Karakoram highway starts at the Chamba bridge on the Haripur-Abbottabad border and extends up to the Abottabad-Mansehra border at Lodhiabad. Its length within Abbottabad is 46 km. This highway plays a crucial role in the life of the district, connecting many of its secondary roads to the national roads network. The second highway is the Murree- Abbottabad road, which enters the district at the border village of Barrian and joins the Karakoram highway inside the Abbottabad cantonment. Its length within the district is 58 km.

Despite a roads network spanning some 464 km, access to remote rural areas is difficult. The district is traversed by a number of major roads, including the Karakoram highway and the Murree-Abbottabad road. As a result of its location at the crossroads of major highways, Abbottabad city is exposed to excessive pollution originating from transit traffic.

Common dress of the people is Shalwar Qamiz, however Government officials and students use trousers and coats. Turban, Kraquli, Patti caps are worn by the people. Men often wear Waistcoats and Coats over Shalwar Qamiz. Women's dresses are also very simple and consist of Shalwar, Qamiz, Dopatta and Chadder. A large majority of the population (60%) depends upon agriculture for their subsistence. However, income from agriculture is too meager to support the population. As a result, many of them have found work in other parts of the country or left for abroad. Other minor professions to which people have taken to, include those of cobblers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, weavers, barbers, washermen, laborers etc.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:39:29 ZULU