Sialkot (Punjabi and Urdu: سيالكوٹ) is a city in Punjab, Pakistan. Sialkot is Pakistan's 12th most populous city, and is part of north-east Punjab — one of Pakistan's mostly highly industrialized regions. Sialkot is believed to be site of ancient Sagala, a city razed by Alexander the Great in 326 BCE, and then made capital of the Indo-Greek kingdom by Menander I in the 2nd century BCE – a time during which the city greatly prospered as a major centre for trade and Buddhist thought.
Sialkot clock tower
|Nickname(s): City of Iqbal|
|Old name||Sagala or Sakala|
|• D.C.O||Hassan Javaid|
|• Total||19 km2 (7 sq mi)|
|Elevation||256 m (840 ft)|
|• Density||48,000/km2 (130,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC+5)|
|Number of Union councils||152|
Sialkot is wealthy relative to other cities in South Asia, with an estimated 2014 per capita income of $2800 (nominal). The city has been noted by The Economist for its entrepreneurial spirit, and productive business climate. The relatively small city exported approximately $2 billion worth of goods in 2015, or about 10% of Pakistan's total exports. Sialkot is also home to the Sialkot International Airport – Pakistan's first privately owned public airport.
Alexander the Great conquered upper Punjab in 326 BCE, and razed ancient Sialkot, where the Cathaeans had entrenched themselves. Ancient Sialkot was then made capital by the Indo-Greek king Menander I, of the Euthydemid dynasty, under whose reign the city greatly prospered as a major trading centre renowned for its silk. Menander embraced Buddhism, in a process recorded in the Buddhist text Milinda Panha.
Sialkot became a part of the medieval Sultanate of Delhi after Muhammad Ghauri conquered Punjab in 1185. Ghauri was unable to conquer the larger city of Lahore, but deemed Sialkot important enough to warrant a garrison. Sialkot was laid siege to by Khusrau Malik, who tried unsuccessfully to capture the city.
Sialkot was captured by armies of the Mughal Empire in 1520, when the Mughal commander Usman Ghani Raza advanced towards Delhi during the initial conquest of Babur. Babur recorded a battle with Gujjar raiders, who had attacked Sialkot, and allegedly mistreated its inhabitants.
Following the collapse of the Mughal empire in the 18th century, Sialkot and its outlying districts were undefended and forced to defend itself. Sialkot city was appropriated by powerful families of Pashtuns from Multan and Afghanistan: the Kakayzais and Sherwanis. In 1748 the city and three nearby districts, Sambrial, Pasrur and Daska, were given to the Pashtun ruler Ahmed Shah Durrani, and later amalgamated into the Afghan empire. After 1751 Ahmed Shah Durrani left his son Taimur to rule Lahore and the surrounding districts. During that time Raja Ranjit Deo of Jammu expanded his dominion over the peripheral areas, but did not capture Sialkot.
Sialkot, along with Punjab as a whole, was captured by the British following their victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Gujrat in February 1849. During the British era, an official known as The Resident who would in theory advise the Maharaja of Kashmir would reside in Sialkot during the wintertime. During the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, regiments based in Sialkot rebelled against the British colonialists, while their native servants also took up arms against the British.
Sialkot's prosperity began during the colonial era. The city had been known its paper making and ironworking prior to the colonial era. Sialkot was first noted to be a centre of metalwork in the 1890s, and the city's association with surgical instruments came from the need to repair, and subsequently manufacture, surgical instruments for the nearby Mission hospital. By the 1920s, surgical instruments were being manufactured for use throughout British India. The city's industry was further boosted by demand for instruments during World War Two, with technology imported from Britain.
The city also became a centre for sporting goods manufacturing for British troops stationed along the Northwest Frontier due to the availability of nearby timber. Muslim craftsmen generally manufactured goods, while Sikh and Hindu merchants of the Sindhi Bania, Arora, and Punjabi Khatri castes who acted like middle men to bring goods to market. During the late British period, the Hindu businessman H.S. Uberoi controlled most of the city's sporting goods trade.
As a result of the city's prosperity, migrants from Kashmir came to the city in search of employment. At the end of World War 2, the city was considered the second most industrialized in Punjab, after Amritsar. Much of the city's infrastructure was paid for by local taxes, and the city was one of the few in British India to have its own electric utility company.
The first communal riots between Hindus and Muslims took place on 24 June 1946, a day after the resolution calling for the establishment of Pakistan as a separate state. Sialkot remained peaceful for several months while communal riots had erupted in Lahore, Amritsar, Ludhiana, and Rawalpindi. The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement. While Muslim refugees had poured into the city escaping riots elsewhere, Sialkot's Hindu and Sikh communities began fleeing in the opposite direction towards India. They initially congregated in fields outside the city, where some of Sialkot's Muslims would bid farewell to departing friends. Hindu and Sikh refugees were unable to exit Pakistan towards Jammu on account of conflict in Kashmir, and were instead required to transit via Lahore.
After independence in 1947 the Hindu and Sikh minorities migrated to India, while Muslim refugees from India settled in Sialkot. The city had suffered significant losses as a result of communal rioting that erupted because of Partition. 80% of Sialkot's industry had been destroyed or abandoned, and the working capital fell by an estimated 90%. The city was further stressed by the arrival of 200,000 migrants, mostly from Jammu, who had arrived in the city.
Following the demise of industry in the city, the government of West Pakistan prioritized the re-establishment of Punjab's decimated industrial base. The province lead infrastructure projects in the area, and allotted abandoned properties to newly arrived refugees. Local entrepreneurs also rose to fill the vacuum created by the departure of Hindu and Sikh businessmen. By the 1960s, the provincial government laid extensive new roadways in the district, and connected it to trunk roads to link the region to the seaport in Karachi.
During the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, when Pakistani troops arrived in Kashmir, the Indian Army counterattacked in the Sialkot Sector. The Pakistan Army successfully defended the city and the people of Sialkot came out in full force to support the troops. In 1966 the Government of Pakistan awarded the Hilal-i-Istaqlal to the citizens of Sialkot, Lahore and Sargodha for their courage and bravery. The armoured battles in the Sialkot sector like the Battle of Chawinda were the most intense since the Second World War.
Despite being cut off from its historic economic heartland in Kashmir, Sialkot has managed to position itself into one of Pakistan's most prosperous cities, exporting up to 10% of all Pakistani exports. Its sporting goods firms have been particularly successful, and have produced items for global brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and Puma. Balls for the 2014 FIFA World Cup were made in Sialkot.
Sialkot's business community has joined with the local government to maintain the city's infrastructure, as the local government has limited capacity to fund such maintenance. The business community was instrumental in the establishment of Sialkot's Dry Port in 1985, allowing customs services to be performed in Sialkot to help overcome logistics restraints. Its business community also largely funded the Sialkot International Airport – opened in 2011 as Pakistan's first privately owned public airport, which now offers direct flights from Sialkot to Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The post-monsoon season from mid-September to mid-November remains hot during the daytime but nights cool down substantially and the low humidity makes the heat more bearable. In the winter from mid-November to March, days are pleasantly mild to warm and occasionally heavy rainfalls occur from the passage of frontal cloudbands. The temperature during winter may drop to 0 °C or 32 °F, but maxima are very rarely less than 15 °C or 59 °F.
|Climate data for Sialkot, Pakistan|
|Record high °C (°F)||26.1
|Average high °C (°F)||18.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.6
|Average low °C (°F)||5.0
|Record low °C (°F)||−1.1
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||41.1
|Source: NOAA (1971–1990)|
Sialkot's core is composed of the densely populated Old City, while northeast of the city lies the vast colonial era Sialkot Cantonment - characterized by wide streets and large lawns. The city's industries have developed in a "ribbon-like" pattern along the cities main arteries, and are almost entirely dedicated to export. The city's sporting good firms are not concentrated in any part of the city, but are instead spread throughout Sialkot. Despite the city's overall prosperity, the local government has failed to meet Sialkot's basic infrastructure needs.
Sialkot is a wealthy city relative to the rest of Pakistan and South Asia, with a per capita income in 2014 estimated at $2800. As of 2015, Sialkot exported US$2 billion worth of goods which is equal to 9% of Pakistan's total exports (US$22 billion). 250,000 residents are employed in Sialkot's industries. Most enterprises in the city are funded by family savings. Sialkot's Chamber of Commerce had over 6,500 members in 2010, with most active in the leather, sporting goods, and surgical instruments industry.
Sialkot is the world's largest producer of hand-sewed footballs, with local factories manufacturing 40~60 million footballs a year, amounting to roughly 60% of world production. The 2014 FIFA World Cup's footballs were made by Forward Sports, a company based in Sialkot. Clustering of sports goods industrial units has allowed for firms in Sialkot to become highly specialised, and to benefit from joint action and external economies. Leather for the balls is sourced from nearby farms. There is a well-applied child labour ban, the Atlanta Agreement, in the industry since a 1997 outcry, and the local industry now funds the Independent Monitoring Association for Child Labour to regulate factories.
Sialkot is also the world's largest centre of surgical instrument manufacturing. The surgical instrument industry also benefits from clustering. The industry is made up of a few hundred small and medium size enterprises, supported by thousands of subcontractors, suppliers, and those providing other ancillary services. The bulk of exports are destined for the United States and European Union.
Notable people from SialkotEdit
- Muhammad Iqbal, Ph.D Doctor, Titles: Sir & Allama, Mufakkir-e-Pakistan, One of the founders and President of All India Muslim League in 1906 as well as Poet of the East
- Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Poet
- Waheed Murad, actor
- Zaheer Abbas, cricketer and President of ICC
- Ghulam Ali, Ghazal singer
- Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Current Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Former Federal Minister of Defense & Federal Minister of Water & Power
- Rajendra Kumar, Film actor
- Ijaz Ahmed Famous Cricketer
- Shoaib Malik, Former captain of Pakistan Cricket team
- Umera Ahmed, novelist and author, and screenplay writer born in Sialkot.
- Gulzari Lal Nanda, politician and economist,
- Chaudhry Amir Hussain, politician
- Khawaja Muhammad Safdar, Former Acting President of Pakistan
- Kuldip Nayar, Indian Journalist
Amjad Islam Amjad, Poet
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“ 29th December: We dismounted at Sialkot. If one enters Hindustan the Jats and Gujjars always pour down in countless hordes from hill and plain for loot of bullocks and buffalo. These ill-omened peoples are senseless oppressors. Previously, their deeds did not concern us because the territory was an enemy's. But they did the same senseless deeds after we had captured it. When we reached Sialkot, they swooped on the poor and needy folk who were coming out of the town to our camp and stripped them bare. I had the witless brigands apprehended, and ordered a few of them to be cut to pieces.'Babur Nama page 250 published by Penguin ”
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