More than two-thirds of Pakistan is arid or semiarid. The west is dominated by the Baluchistan plateau, consisting of arid plains and ridges. Rivers, streams, and lakes exist only seasonally. The arid south ends at the rugged Makran coast and rises to the east into a series of rock-strewn ranges, the Kirthar, and to the north, the Sulaiman, which extends to the Indus plains. A semiwatered plateau surrounds Rawalpindi, bounded to the south by the salt range. Southward, the extensive Punjab plains support about 60% of the country's population.
In the northern areas of Pakistan, the forest-clad hills give way to lofty ranges, including 60 peaks over 6,700 m (22,000 ft) high. K-2 (Godwin Austen), at 8,611 m (28,250 ft), is the second-highest mountain in the world.
The principal ranges, trending NW – SE , include several Himalayan ranges—notably the Pir Panjal and Zaskar—leading into the Karakoram Mountains. The Indus is the principal river of Pakistan. Its major tributaries are the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej.