The Rivers of Pakistan

The Rivers of Pakistan

The river system of Pakistan originates from the snow-covered Himalayan and the Karakoram range. The system comprises mainly five rivers that pass mostly through the Punjab province; therefore the name ‘Punjab’ — ‘panj’ meaning five and ‘aab’ meaning water. The five rivers of Pakistan are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sultej and Indus.


River Jhelum is nearly 774 kilometres long and is the tributary of River Chenab. Jhelum originates from the south-eastern part of Kashmir valley and flows through Srinagar before entering Pakistan.

Along its journey, it is joined by the largest tributary of the Neelam River near Muzaffarabad. River Jhelum also has many dams and barrages constructed on it, with one of the dams being Mangla which is the world’s largest earth-fill dam and was constructed in 1967. It has a storage capacity of nearly 5.9 million acre-feet. Rasul Barrage is also built on Jhelum River as well as Trimmu Barrage.


Sutlej flows through the historic crossroad region of Punjab in northern India and Pakistan. It is located north of the Vindhya Range, south of the Hindu Kush segment of the Himalayas, and east of the Central Sulaiman Range in Pakistan. Some 550 kilometres long, Sutlej is also called as the Red River.


The Chandra and Bhaga rivers in the upper Himalayas join to form the Chenab River. Chenab flows through Jammu and Kashmir. It is then joined by the Jhelum River at Trimmu, a flood control mechanism near Jhang and on moving further it merges with the Sutlej near Uch Sharif in Pakistan. Chenab River is nearly 960 kilometres long.


River Ravi, like many other rivers of the region, originates in the Himalayas. After it flows through south-west region of Indian Punjab, it moves along the Indo-Pak border and enters Pakistan and merges with Chenab. River Ravi is nearly 720 kilometres long. It’s also called ‘The river of Lahore’ since the city of Lahore is located at Ravi’s eastern bank.


The Indus river is the longest river in Pakistan, originating from the Himalayan region. It is also the world’s 21st largest river in terms of annual water flow. With a total length of 3,180 kilometres, it is also Pakistan’s lifeline.

Indus River originates from the Tibetan plateau near Lake Mansarovar in China. It then runs through Jammu and Kashmir, enters the Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly Northern Areas of Pakistan) region and flows through the entire length of the country and merges with the Arabian Sea. The Indus River fulfils the water requirements of Pakistan and is the main support for agriculture. The main tributaries of Indus are Astor River, Balram River, Gilgit River, Kabul River, Tanubal River and the Zanskar River.

The Indus River originates in the Tibetan plateau, making its 3,200km journey southwards along the entire length of Pakistan, before emptying into the Arabian Sea. The river basin is divided between Pakistan, which has about 60 per cent of the catchment area, India with about 20 per cent, Afghanistan with 5 per cent and around 15 per cent in Tibet. The two major riparians, Pakistan and India have extensively dammed the Indus River to provide for irrigation and hydro-electricity. [A riparian zone is defined as the area of interface between land and a river or stream.]

The Indus has five main tributaries. The Jhelum, the largest of these, originates in the Valley of Kashmir. The Chenab, a second tributary, flows through the Jammu region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir before entering the Indian state of Punjab. The remaining three tributaries (Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) either originate or flow through India’s state of Himachal before entering Indian Punjab.

Famous Rivers in Pakistan

  • The Dasht River is located in the Makran region and Gwadar District. The Mirani Dam is located across the Dasht River in the Central Makran Range.
  • The Kech River flows in the Makran region, of southeastern Iran and the southwestern area of Balochistan The seasonal intermittent river is a tributary of the Dasht River. The city of Turbat is located on the Kech River.
  • Basol River flows southward in the Gwadar District of Balochistan
  • Hingol River is located in the Makran region, in the Gwadar District The Hingol River is 350 miles (560 km) long, the longest in Balochistan
  • Nal River is a stream in Balochistan. Nal River is also known as Nal Kaur River.
  • Porali River, Bela, Balochistan
  • Hub River is located in Lasbela, Balochistan Alexander the Great crossed Hub River through Lasbela on his way back to Babylon after conquering Northwestern India. Alexander mentions the river name as Arabius, and local people as Oreitans. In 711 CE, the Arab general, Muhammad bin Qasim crossed Hub River when he passed through Lasbela on his way to Sindh.
  • Malir River is located in Karachi, Sindh
  • Panjnad River is a river at the extreme end of Bahawalpur district in Punjab
  • The Poonch River is a river in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, India and Azad Kashmir in Pakistan
  • The Kunhar is 166 kilometres (103 mi) long river, located primarily in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is in the Indus River watershed basin.
  • The Neelum River is a river in the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan; it starts in the Kashmir city of Gurais and then merges with the Jhelum River near the city of Muzaffarabad
  • Gomal River is a 400 km long river in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The river lends its name to the Gomal University in Dera Ismail Khan
  • Kundar River is located in Balochistan
  • Zhob River is located in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa The total length of the Zhob River is 410 km The Zhob River is used to irrigate the land in northern Balochistan along with the Gomal River, making the fertile soil available for agriculture. Although in the 1960s and 1970s degradation of the channel of the Zhob decreased the irrigable acreage
  • The Gambila River also called the Tochi river, is located in Bannu District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa The Gambila is an important river for the inhabitants of the Dawar valley, as it serves to irrigate a large area of land that it runs through, particularly that belonging to the Takhti Khel Marwats, Bakkakhel Wazirs, and Miri and Barakzai Bannuchis.
  • The Soan River is an important stream of the Pothohar. It drains much of the water of Pothohar. It starts near the small village of Bun in the foothills of Patriata and Murree. It provides water to Simly Dam, which is the water reservoir for Islamabad.
  • Haro is the name of a river that flows through parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Its main valley is in Abbottabad District
  • The Kabul River is a 700-kilometre (430 mi) long river that emerges in the Sanglakh Range of the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and empties into the Indus River near Attock, Pakistan. It is the main river in eastern Afghanistan and is separated from the watershed of the Helmand by the Unai Pass.
  • The Swat River is a perennial river in the northern region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa The name is derived from an old Sanskrit term, Suvastu, which means crystal clear water, like azure in colour.
  • The River Jindi, also known as Kot and Manzari Baba, begins in the hills of Malakand Agency, in the northern district of Charsadda, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
  • The Panjkora River is a river in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa The Panjkora River is the natural habitat of trout and other freshwater fish sought by anglers. The most common species are Rainbow trout and Brown trout.
  • Bara River is a river in Khyber Agency and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • The Kunar River also called the Chitral River or the Kama River is about 480 km long, located in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa The river has great untapped hydropower potential which could be harnessed for cheap hydro electricity generation.
  • Astor River, in Gilgit-Baltistan region, is a tributary of the Indus River
  • The Rupal River is an east-west glacial stream rising from the meltwater of the Rupal Glacier in northern Pakistan.
  • Gilgit River is a tributary of the Indus River, and flows past the town of Gilgit. It is also referred to as the Ghizer River.
  • Hunza River is the principal river of Hunza in Gilgit–Baltistan
  • The Hispar River forms from the melt water of the Hispar Glacier – a 49 kilometer-long glacier in the Karakoram mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan
  • Higar River is located in Baltistan The river is tributary to Indus River and meets the Indus in Skardu Valley.
  • The Braldu River flows in the Skardu District


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