Azad Kashmir abbreviated PAK (literally “Free Kashmir”) is the southernmost and the smaller of the two political entities which together constitute the Pakistani-controlled part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which ceased to exist as a result of the First Kashmir War (1947) and Indo-Pakistani War of 1948. The northernmost and the larger of the two political entities is the Pakistani-controlled territory of Gilgit-Baltistan. Both PAK and Gilgit-Baltistan are self-governing political entities and, constitutionally, do not form liberated parts of Pakistan. For all practical purposes, though, both PAK and Gilgit-Baltistan act like parts of Pakistan.
Neelum Valley is a scenic valley located 240kms from Muzaffarabad. It runs parallel to Kaghan valley and is separated by snow covered peaks. It offers the panoramic view of hills on both sides of the river, lush green forests, enchanting streams, high altitude lakes and attractive surroundings. It is also ideal for Mount tourism. A scenic road opens this valley to tourists up to Kel, 155 kilometers from Muzaffarabad. Buses ply daily on this route and accommodation facilities are also available in the rest houses at places of tourist attraction.
The Neelum River was known before Partition as Kishan Ganga and was subsequently renamed after the village of Neelam. It flows down from the Gurez Valley in Indian Jammu and Kashmir and roughly follows first a western and then a south-western course until it joins the Jhelum River at Muzaffarabad. The valley is a thickly wooded region with an elevation ranging between 4,000 feet (1,200 m) and 7,500 feet (2,300 m), the mountain peaks on either side reaching 17,000 feet (5,200 m). Neelum Valley is 144 kilometres (89 mi) long.
Most of the valley is taken up by the Neelum District. The district is bordered on the south-west by Muzaffarabad District, which also encompasses the lower reaches of the valley; to the north-west beyond the mountains lies the Kaghan Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Mansehra District; to the north and north-east are the Diamer, Astore and Skardu districts of Gilgit-Baltistan. To the south and east are the Kupwara and Bandipora districts of Indian Kashmir. The Line of Control runs through the valley – either across the mountains to the south-east, or in places right along the river, with several villages on the left bank falling on the Indian side of the border.
Several languages are spoken natively in the district. The predominant one is Hindko. It is the language of wider communication in the area and is spoken at a native or near-native level by almost all members of the other language communities, many of whom are abandoning their language and shifting to Hindko. This language is usually called Parmi (or Parimi, Pārim), a name that likely originated in the Kashmiri word apārim ‘from the other side’, which was the term used by the Kashmiris of the Vale of Kashmir to refer to the highlanders, who spoke this language.