Pakistan is divided into four provinces, each with deep historic roots and both linguistic and cultural associations, since 1972. Outside the provinces, there are Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan, and the federal capital of Islāmābād. In addition, provincial governments directly administer tribal areas within their territories.
The provinces, in order of population size, are Punjab (with its capital at Lahore), Sindh (Kara¯chi), Northwest Frontier Province (Peshawar), and Baluchistan (Quetta), the largest in area. Under the 1973 constitution, provinces have popularly elected provincial assemblies, a governor appointed by the president, and a chief minister in whom executive power is vested. The governor acts on the advice of a chief minister who is elected from the party commanding the support of the assembly.
The senior administrative officer of each province is the chief secretary. Each province is divided administratively into divisions headed by commissioners who, like the chief secretary and the secretaries of provincial ministries, are senior members of the Pakistan Civil Service (CSP). Divisions are further subdivided into districts headed (depending on local usage) by deputy commissioners, district officers, or collectors, also members of the CSP, who manage development funds, collect the revenues, supervise the police, adjudicate disputes, administer justice, and interface with the elected councils at the local level which have limited taxing authority, decide on priorities for local development programs, and try certain local legal cases.
The Pakistan-controlled third of the original state of Jammu and Kashmir is divided into two areas. The southern portion, referred to as Azad Kashmir, is administered from Muzaffarabad by an appointed president and council of ministers. The larger portion to the north is known as the Northern Areas and is administered by a Commissioner and an elected council.
The number of seats in the provincial assemblies was increased in October 2002, and seats were reserved for women and non-Muslims. In the provincial assembly elections held on 10 October, the MMA won a landslide victory in the Northwest Frontier Province. In Punjab, the Quaid-e-Azam faction of the PML took the most seats, with Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party coming in second. The PPP came in first in Sindh, and the MMA came in first in Baluchistan.