Posted August 4, 2010on:
Sialkot the capital of Sialkot District, is a city situated in the north-east of the Punjab province in Pakistan at the feet of the snow-covered peaks of Kashmir near the Chenab river. Formerly, Sialkot has been the winter-capital of the State of Kashmir. The city is about 125 km (78 mi) north-west of Lahore and only a few kilometres from Jammu. It is one of the major industrial centres of Pakistan and is well-known for its manufacture and export of surgical instruments, musical instruments, sports goods, leather goods, textile products and other light manufactures. A Pakistan Army base (Sialkot Cantonment) is situated adjacent to the city. Sialkot is undergoing significant development and its people are well known for their entrepreneurial qualities. The Sialkot International Airport, Limited (SIAL) and the Sialkot Dry Port serve the Sialkot, Gujranwala and Gujrat region. A University of Engineering Science and Technology Sialkot is being set up in Sialkot by the Government of Pakistan in collaboration with the Government of Sweden. A new Sialkot Lahore Motorway is also under construction.
There are various sources tracing the origins of the city of Sialkot but the authenticity of many of these sources varies. The less-reliable historical sources about the origins of the city have been derived from oral traditions based on ancient local beliefs which, most historians concur, are full of inaccuracies, concocted legends and erroneous facts. These are, nonetheless, stated here. More reliable and validated historical references relating to the city date back to 327 BCE in which it has been stated that the city is of Persian and/or Greek origin. Excavations throughout the area have revealed large amounts of Greek coins, ancient Zoroastrian temples and several Buddhist stupas. The antiquities of Sialkot have also been discussed by Sir Alexander Cunningham in his Archaeological Survey Reports, II, 21, 22, and XIV, 44 to 47.
Some of the more unreliable references to Sialkot are mentioned in ancient scriptures and oral traditions, these state that Siálkot is believed to have been founded by Raja Sul or (Shalya), emperor of Madradesa and brother of Madri, second wife of emperor Pandu and mother to Nakul and Sahadeva. He was the uncle of the Pandavas, whose heroic deeds are recorded in the epic Mahábhárta. After his death, some 5000 years ago, there is a tradition that the dynasty continued for some 1500 years. The seasonal stream, known as the Aik Nala, that still flows through the city, has been mentioned in the Upanishads. In the late Vedic period (c. 1500 – c. 200 B.C.E.), Sákala (Siálkot) was the capital of the Madras (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad). Sákaladvipa (island of Sákala) was the name of the doáb (land lying between two rivers) between Chandrabhága (Chenab) and Irávati (Ravi). In those early days, Sákala was studded with thick forests and inhabited by a pastoral race called Yahars or Yirs.
According to the Greek historical texts which bring mention of the city of Sialkot dating back to 327 BCE when the city was known as Sagala, it represented the eastern-most outpost and expansion of the Hellenic Empire created by Alexander the Great which has been cross-correlated to ancient Greek maps of the era and several monuments found in the Sialkot district. The Greek historians state that the city was one of the most productive and the wealthiest regions of the Achaemenid Empire. The Punjab had earned a reputation as being the richest satrapy (province) of the then Persian Empire. Sákala or Sagala was the capital, or one of the capitals, of the Indo-Greek Kingdom which broke-away from the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom during the Euthydemid Dynasty, and the residence of Menander I (Milinda) during his reign between 160 and 135 BCE. Shun and Dall were two of the most powerful tribes in Sialkot. Then the country was flooded and remained one vast uninhabited region for about 1000 years.
According to Punjabi folk-lore, the early history of Sialkot is closely interwoven with the traditions of Raja Sáliváhan, his son, Raja Rasálu, and his foe, Raja Húdi. A popular belief is that the city was re-founded by Raja Sáliváhan or Sálbán when it became a part of Kashmir under King Sama Dutt. Raja Sáliváhan built a fort (Sialkot Fort)and the city and gave the place its present name. He was of Sia caste (a Jat clan of Scythian origins), and it is believed that the word “Sialkot” means the ‘fort of the Sia’. Legend also says that Raja Sáliváhan had two sons: Puran and Rasalu. Puran got punished by his father, Raja Sáliváhan, due the to actions of a wicked stepmother and thrown into a well, still the resort of pilgrims near Sialkot, called “Puran di Khui”, (Puran’s Well). A mohalla (town) in the city is also named “Puran Nagar”. The other son of Raja Sáliváhan, Rasalu, became Raja after the death of Raja Sáliváhan. Attacks from the neighbouring Raja of Jehlum ruined the city. Raja Rasalu got involved in wars with Raja Hudi, popularly stated to have been a Gakkhar chieftain. Being worsted in battle, Rasalu, as the price for peace, was forced to give his daughter in marriage to his conqueror, who gave the territory he had conquered to Rasalu’s adopted son. After Rasalu’s death in 400 AD, there are no significant accounts of Sialkot for the next 300 years in the known history except that, after the invasion of the Húnas (Huns or Hephthalites) in the last quarter of the 5th century AD, it became the capital of Toramána and his son Mihirakula until he was defeated by a native Indian Prince, Yasodharman.
In 790 AD, Raja Nairut, supported by the Yousafzai Pashtun tribe, attacked and demolished the city. There is again no mention of Sialkot in the historical texts for a fairly long period after that except that it remained a part of Jammu under the rule of Raja Braham Deo.
Sialkot became a part of the Muslim Sultanate of Delhi when Shahab-ud-Din Muhammad Ghauri conquered Punjab in 1185. He was unable to conquer Lahore but left a garrison in Sialkot. Later, Sultan Khusro Malik tried to capture the city but failed to do so. Sialkot then became a part of the Muslim Mughal Empire. The Mughal commander, Usman Ghani Raza, advanced towards Delhi by way of Sialkot which capitulated to his armies. During the era of the Mughal Emperor, Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar, the present district of Sialkot formed a part of the Rachna-Bar Sarkar of the Lahore province. Under the reign of the Mughal Emperor, Shahab-ud-Din Muhammad Shah Jahan, Ali Mardan Khan held the charge of Sialkot.
At the end of the Mughal dynasty, the suburbs and the outlying districts and areas of Sialkot were left to themselves. Sialkot itself was appropriated by a powerful family of Pashtuns from Kandahar, the Kakazai and another family from Kabul, and the sub-mountainous tracts were in the hands of Raja Ranjit Deo of Jammu. In 1748, the four districts of Gujrat, Sialkot, Pasrur and Daska were given to the Afghan ruler, Ahmed Shah Durrani and the area was amalgamated into the Afghan empire. After 1751, Ahmed Shah Durrani left his son, Taimur, to rule Lahore and these districts. During that time, Raja Ranjit Deo of Jammu expanded his domination over the peripheral areas, but the city of Sialkot was not included in it. Afterwards, the city was held strongly by a Pashtun family from Kandahar till the occupation of the Sikhs who ruled for a period of about 40 years followed by the British. The Pashtun presence is still considerable to this day and continues to attract newer Pashtun migrants and workers from Pakistan’s tribal areas.
During the decline of the Durrani regime, Sialkot was occupied from the Pashtuns by the Sikhs and thus began the rise of their short lived empire. Between 1797 to 1810, Maharaja Ranjit Singh occupied the Sialkot district. The Sikh Empire extended from Peshawer in the west, to Kashmir in the north (touching) the borders of Tibet, to the Indus River in the south near Multan and in the east to modern-day Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Ranjit Singh and his Sikh generals were capable of conquering such a great expanse of land for many reasons, varying from their European trained army, Sikh discipline, their modern European weaponry, modern British maps and the presence of ex-European mercernaries in his forces. After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the British officers were appointed in Sialkot. Sialkot was annexed by the British after the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849. The British laid the foundation of the Sialkot Cantonment in 1849 which was completed in 1852. For establishing the Sialkot Cantonment, the British Commander-in-Chief, Sir Lord Napier, surveyed and selected the area between the seasonal streams, Bher Nala and Palkhu Nala, from the point of view of defence. The Area Command laid its foundation in 1852 under the leadership of Major-General Angulas. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 it was the scene of heavy fighting, and the Sialkot Fort was used by the Europeans for protection. The native troops plundered the treasury and destroyed all the records. Murray College, Sialkot was established in 1889. The railway branch from Wazirabad to Sialkot was extended to Jammu in 1890. The Sialkot-Narowal railway line was opened in 1915.
Pakistan Movement Era
The city played an important role during the Pakistan Movement. The national poet of Pakistan who spearheaded the movement for an independent country, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal was born in Sialkot in 1877. In May 1944, the historic Sialkot Convention was held here. This convention is widely regarded as the landmark event which catapulted the All India Muslim League into prominence in the British-Indian Punjab. This convention was host to such Muslim League luminaries as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan, Chaudhry Naseer Ahmad Malhi, Khawaja Nazim-ud-Din, Sardar Abd-ur-Rab Nishtar, Mumtaz Ahmad Khan Daultana, Nawab Iftikhar Hussain Khan of Mamdot and Maulvi Tamiz-ud-Din.
After the independence of Pakistan from British rule in 1947, thousands of Muslims from Pathankot and Gurdaspur and from other parts of East Punjab came to Sialkot as refugees and settled here. Earlier, the Muslim residents of Gurdaspur had believed that the entire district, with a slight Muslim majority, was to be allocated to Pakistan. However, at the time of partition of India, the British, in a highly controversial decision, allocated the district to India, allegedly to grant it access to the land route to the Princely State of Kashmir. Most of these refugees have since settled and intermarried into the local population. The large Hindu and Sikh populations of Sialkot and the adjoining Shakargarh (then called Shankargarh) tehsil of Gurdaspur district, which was allocated to Pakistan and later merged with Sialkot, migrated to East Punjab. Ever since, Sialkot has gradually become one of the major industrial centres of Pakistan and is well-known for its manufacture and export of surgical instruments, musical instruments, sports goods, leather goods, textile products and other light manufactures. Its people have built on their tradition of being hard working, entrepreneurial and progressive.
During the Second Kashmir War in 1965, the Lahore-Sialkot region was attacked by the Indian Army which, despite overwhelming numerical superiority managed only to capture some outlying areas in the sector. The people of Sialkot came out in full force to support the troops of the Pakistan Army to repel the invasion by India. In fact, the armoured battles in the Sialkot sector (especially, the Battle of Chawinda), in 1965, were the most intense since the Second World War. In 1966, the Government of Pakistan awarded the Hilal-i-Istaqlal to the citizens of Sialkot, Lahore and Sargodha for their courage and bravery during the 1965 war between Pakistan and India.
Again, during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the region witnessed bitter battles, most importantly, the Battle of Basantar in the Sialkot-Shakar Garh area. The major Indian counter-offensive came in this area where, two Pakistani tank regiments, equipped with the obsolete Patton tanks, confronted the Indian First Armoured Corps, which was equipped with the then more modern British Centurion tanks. Again, the Pakistan Army and the people of Sialkot earned a mark for their valour in defending against such numerical odds.
Geography and Climate
Lying between 32°30′ North latitude and 74°31′ East longitude at an altitude of 256 m above sea level, Sialkot is bounded on the north by Jammu, north-west by Gujrat, on the west by Gujranwala and on the south by Narowal. The Chenab river flows on the northern side of Sialkot. There are three small seasonal streams flowing through the city, Aik, Bher and Palkhu.
Sialkot is cold during winters and hot and humid during summers. May and June are the hottest months. The temperature during winter may drop to 0°C. The land is, generally, plain and fertile. Most of the rain falls during the Monsoon season in summer which often results in flooding. Sialkot has a one of the most modern weather forecasting and flood warning centre in the country, which is fully activated to take and transfer constant observations and data to and from the relevant concerens. This facility is fully radar based equipped and internationally assisted.
Sialkot District Government is headed by the District Nazim, Akmal Cheema and assisted by Naib Nazim who is also Speaker of District Council. District Nazim is elected by the Nazims of Union Councils and Union Councillors and , who themselves are elected directly by the votes of the local public. There are 106 Union Councils in District Sialkot. He is assisted by the District Coordination Officer (DCO) and the District Police Officer (DPO). All the Departments are grouped and placed under the Executive District Officers, of various Departments, including Health, Finance, Revenue, Industry, Agriculture, Education, Law, Literacy, IT, Community Development, Transport,etc. who are subordinate to the DCO. The City is managed by Tehsil Municipal Administration headed by a Tehsil Nazim. Sialkot Cantonment is managed by Sialkot Cantonment Board.
Sialkot (district) has a diverse population of 3,500,000 which mainly consists of Punjabis, Kashmiris and Pashtuns. The population of the Sialkot city(proper) is about 600,000 with most the lands owned by the Pashtun Kakazai tribes. Population Density is 1160/km. Population Growth Rate is very low as compared to other urban areas of Pakistan. In 1947, Sialkot was the 6th largest city in Pakistan (150,000) and in 2007, it is the 12th largest. Major clans are Jatt, Arain, Rajput, Awan, Kakazai, Butt, Mir, Sharif, Sheikh, Gujar, Pathan, Mughal and Qureshi. Literacy rate is among the highest in Pakistan. In urban areas, it is 73% and in rural areas, it is 54%. Employment in agriculture is only 19.5% and 32% in elementary occupations. 95% of the population have electricity and 96% have water facility. Sialkot has attracted many labourers and other entrepreneurs many of whome hail from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), notably from Bajaur and Mohmand agencies who have set up vibrant business throughout the area.
Economy and Industry
Sialkot is the third largest economic hub in Punjab after Lahore and Faisalabad. It is commercially linked with the Lahore Stock Exchange through its Sialkot branch, known as the Sialkot Trading Floor (STF). The State Bank of Pakistan and the Export Promotion Bureau of Pakistan have branch offices in Sialkot. After Karachi, Sialkot is Pakistan’s second largest source of foreign exchange earnings through its exports and remittances from overseas manpower. For the past several decades, the manufacturers and exporters of the city have been awarded the annual national Exports award by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Sialkot has an Industrial Estate and an Export Processing Zone. Another Export Processing Zone is planned along the Sialkot Lahore Motorway. The per capita Income of Sialkot is ranked among the highest in Pakistan. Honda Motors is planning to establish its second car manufacturing plant in Sialkot. The UAE-based multinational Coastal Group International will also invest US $1 billion to set up a Mercedes car manufacturing plant near Sambrial, Sialkot.
The history of industralization of Sialkot is very old. The Damascene craftsmen of Sialkot (koftgars or koftars) were famous during the Mughal period for their fine swords and daggers. Papermaking in Sialkot dates back to the time of the Mughal Emperor Akbar which was famous all over the world. Brick making was another historic skill of the people of the Sialkot and those bricks were known as the “Sialkoti Bricks” throughout India. Most of the states in India relied on the slender but strong Sialkoti bricks for the erection of forts, castles, monuments, public buildings, infrastructure construction, etc.
Nowadays, Sialkot is famous all over the world because of its Sports Equipment and Surgical Instruments manufacturing industry. According to a myth, the sport goods industry got its start in Sialkot when a British man broke his tennis racquet and, since an immediate replacement was not possible, he asked a local craftsman to repair it. The man did a perfect job and the sports goods manufacturing industry took root in Sialkot. The recorded history of the industry goes back to 1895 when the city started becoming famous for its tennis racquets. By 1903, cricket bats were being crafted from imported English willow and exported to different parts of South Asia and beyond. In 1922, a local manufacturer was awarded the British Empire Export Award for supplying footballs to the British Army. Over the years the industry grew to include a variety of wood and leather-based sports equipment, and diversified into related industries such as cricket balls, volleyballs, field hockey sticks, polo sticks, recreational fishing equipment, sports apparel and horse riding equipment and even the Scottish bagpipes. The most successful sports manufacturing firms now have international collaborations with the well-known sports brands like Adidas (Germany), Puma (Germany), Nike (USA), Dita (UK), Mikasa (Japan) and Slazenger (UK). In the recent past, however, lack of modernisation and allegations of child labour usage have resulted in a loss of market share to the new entrants in the business like Thailand, Korea and China. The Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry has now almost controlled the incidents of child labour usage within the industry with the collaboration of the United Nations (ILO). Most of the companies have adopted the ISO standards.
As with the industrial clusters elsewhere in the world, the birth of Sialkot’s surgical industry can partly be explained by what Paul Krugman, a U.S. economist’ calls an “historic accident”. In 1905, some broken surgical equipment at the American Mission Hospital in Sialkot afforded a chance for Sialkot craftsmen to adopt their skills. Encouraged by the hospital staff, they gradually started manufacturing replicas of originals. Orders were received from other mission hospitals in British India. By 1920, Sialkot was exporting to all parts of the British empire including Afghanistan and Egypt and was later selected for supplying surgical instruments for the Allied forces in World War II. The Metal Industries Development Centre (MIDC) was established in 1942 to act as a supply and inspection agency for the Allied forces. Although the surgical instruments manufacturing factories were mostly owned by Hindus, the craftsmen were mostly Muslim and the industry was not affected by the partition of British India. At present, the surgical instruments manufacturing industry in Sialkot is one of the world’s largest surgical instruments manufacturing industrial clusters second only to Tuttlingen, Germany. However, the quality of workmanship and raw materials are the issues that have been hindering the progress of this niche industry which is also likely to face increasing pressures from the rapid advances in the field of surgery. During last three decades, manufacture and export of veterinary instruments has also emerged very prominently here.
Other important industries in Sialkot include Leather Tanneries, Leather Garments, Musical Instruments, Sportswear included Martial arts wear , Gloves, Badges, Seat and Walking Sticks, Cutlery, Hunting Knives, Air Guns and Shotguns. These are all export-oriented businesses and fetch billions of dollars every year in foreign exchange. There are several other allied industries which are working day and night as vendors of the automobile industry of Pakistan. Sialkot has a rich tradition of producing wooden and steel furniture, rubber products, cooking utensils, bicycles, their tyres and tubes.
The great Sufi saint of Sialkot,Imam Ali-ul-Haq, better known as Imam Sahib, lived here during the 13th century, during the reign of Feroz Shah Tughlaq (of the Tughlaq Dynasty). He is reputed to have converted a majority of the local population to Islam. Another renowned scholar of Sialkot was Mullah Abdul Hakim Sialkoti who is known in the Middle East as Fazil Lahori. The Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, had him weighed in gold once and in silver twice. He is buried in Sialkot near the old Power House.
Sialkot is city of poets and writers. Sialkot is also the birthplace of the Muslim philosopher, scholar and poet, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, as well as the famous Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal was born at Iqbal Manzil. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, another famous poet and writer was born at Kot Mehrath, Sialkot. Amjad Islam Amjad the famous Urdu poet and lyricist was also born at Sialkot. Professor Asghar Sodai famous Urdu poet and writer of 2nd national anthem (Pakistan ka matlab kiya) was also from Sialkot. Rajinder Singh Bedi, a famous Urdu writer, was also born at Sialkot. Narendra Kohli, who is one of the most prominent Hindi language authors of modern times, also belongs to Sialkot. Zulfikar Ghose, famous English writer, was born at Sialkot. The famous Indian journalist, Kuldip Nayyar, was also born at Sialkot. In journalism, Khalid Hasan, Professor Waris Mir and his son, Hamid Mir, and Mumtaz Hamid Rao are notable. Another notable multi-dimensional personality Dr. Qamar Tabish, a physician, a mystic poet, a scholar and a painter who contributed a lot to the Urdu and the Persian poetry, religion and painting also hailed from Sialkot. He is also remembered as a great devotee of Mohammad (peace be upon him) – the Prophet of Islam.
Many famous politicians were born at Sialkot. The famous Indian politician and twice Prime Minister of India, Gulzari Lal Nanda, also came from Sialkot. The eminent orator of Pakistan Syed Faiz-ul Hassan Shah belonged from Sialkot. Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi was born at Sialkot. Famous religious scholar and politician Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer was also from Sialkot. One of the founding figures of Pakistan, Chaudhry Naseer Ahmad Malhi, also hailed from an area near this city. It was due to his association with the city that the famous Sialkot Convention of the All-India Muslim League was held here. Another well-known personality from Sialkot was Inayat Ullah Choudhary (1905-1974), who participated actively in the Pakistan Movement. Khawaja Muhammad Safdar was a former acting President of Pakistan and Chairman of the Majlis-e-Shoora. His son Khawaja Muhammad Asif is also a fomous politician and at present he is National Assembly member from Sialkot City area and Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources. Former Speaker of the National Assembly, and Acting President, Chaudhry Amir Hussain, is also from Sialkot. The advisor to prime minister for interior affairs Rehman Malik also hails from Sialkot.
The famous Bollywood hero Rajendra Kumar and the vetran actor A. K. Hangal were also born at Sialkot. Ghulam Ali, the famous Ghazal singer and Ustad Allah Rakha, the famous Sarangi Nawaz are also from Sialkot.
Sialkot is not only famous and internationally recognised for its sports industry, but also for the world-famous sports legends like the Pakistani National Cricket players, Zaheer Abbas, Ijaz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Mansoor Amjad, Zahid Fazal, Ijaz Butt, Abdur Rehman, Abbas Khan (Finnish National Cricket player and Jawaid Iqbal (Hong Kong National Cricket player) were also born at Sialkot. The captains and players of the Pakistani National Hockey team including Shahnaz Sheikh, Manzoor Hussain, Nasir Ali, Tariq Sheikh, Asif Bajwa and Kamran Ashraf also hail from this city. Chacha Cricket, a world-known cricket fan, also belongs to Sialkot.
In the Civil Service of Pakistan, a few names distinguishably surface which belong to Sialkot. These include Ejaz Naik, Secretary of Commerce; Niaz Naik, Secretary of Foreign Affairs; and Riaz Naik, Chairman CBR. Shoaib Sadal, I G Police Sind is also from Sialkot. The world-famous brand for Indian spices, MDH Masalay, started at Sialkot in 1919 by Mahashay Chuni Lal who owned a small shop (Mahashian Di Hatti) in Sialkot.
The old city has a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and crowded bazaars. In the old part of the city is located the shrine of Hazrat Imam Ali-ul-Haq also known as Imam Sahib. The mausoleum complex is a maze of narrow corridors leading to several shrines of saints. The tomb of Imam Ali-ul-Haq is to the right, through a mirrored gateway tiled with Koranic inscriptions and geometric designs. Seerat Study Center is situated at the southern edge of the Khayaban-I-Iqbal (Company Bagh) on Ghazi Road. It is world renonwed center for conducing research on the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. On a low hill in the centre of the old city are the few remains of the Sialkot Fort. It is one of the oldest forts in Pakistan established around the 2nd century AD. The shrine of the saint Muradia Shah is also on the Fort. Puran’s Well is a famous historical site located just outside the city of Sialkot. According to Mutiny in Sialkot there were remains of Puran’s tomb extant in 1857, but now there is no tomb except for a small building, a small place for worship and a running well.
Also of interest is the birth place of Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) which has been turned into a small museum containing some of his personal belongings and a library and named as Iqbal Manzil (Iqbal House). The most famous square of Sialkot city is Allama Iqbal Chowk. Here, the famous Shaheen monument has been erected to pay tributes to Dr. Muhammad Iqbal. Near the Allama Iqbal Chowk is located the biggest grand mosque of city, Jamia Masjid Donga Bagh. One of its three minarets is the tallest land mark in Sialkot. Other places of interest include the tombs of the great Muslim scholars, Mullah Abdul Hakim Sialkoti near Abdul Hakim Park, Hakim Khadim Ali on Khadim Ali Road and Hafiz Muhammad Alam, near Do Darwaza (the name of one of the gates of the once walled city).
On Zafarwal Road is located a famous Sikh Gurdwara Beri Sahib. Every year, many Sikh pilgrims come to visit here. Located in the cantonment area is the famous Holy Trinity Cathedral Church also known as Sialkot Cathedral which was built in 1852. In Saddar Bazar is located the famous more then a century old Clock Tower. The Connelley Park, named after a British Deputy Commissioner of Sialkot), was converted to Jinnah Stadium in 1979. The Jinnah Stadium has one of the fastest cricket pitches in Pakistan. Close to Jinnah Stadium is located the famous Murray College which was established in 1889. Its alumni include Dr Muhammad Iqbal and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Sialkot has two main parks, Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park on Parsur Road and Garisson Park on Kashmir Road. More than a century old Company Garden is located on Ghazanvi Road in the Sialkot Cantonment. Some of the other famous and historic places are the Talab Maula Bakhush and Ram Talai. Talab Maula Bakhush is the place where, in May 1944, the historic Sialkot Convention of the All India Muslim League was held. It was also attended by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan. Both sites have been converted to mini stadiums for traditional Wrestling (Kabadi) and Vollyball matches and also for political rallies .
There are several famous squares in the city as Beri Wala Chowk, Rang Pura Chowk, Dara-Araian, Imam Sahib Chowk, Shahab Pura Chowk, Sublime Chowk, and Anwar Khawaja Chowk. Famous markets (bazaars) are Bazar Kalan, Trunk Bazar, Tehsil Bazar, Lahai Bazar and Saddar Bazar. The Sialkot Railway Station, is situated on the Railway Road near the Iqbal Chowk. On the Paris Road is located the American Mission Christian Hospital Sialkot which was established in 1880. Also located there is the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the branches of many multi-national banks. Marala Headworks is located on the Chenab river about 20 km from Sialkot. Two major water canals originate at the Marala Headworks – the Marala-Ravi Link Canal and the Upper Chenab Canal. Planning of the Mangla Marala Link Canal is in the pipeline. Headworks Marala is also a picnic spot.
Sialkot International Airport is the first ever private sector Airpor of Pakistan managed by SIAL. It is noted for having the longest runway in Pakistan, is located near Sambrial. Direct flights are available from Sialkot International Airport to Karachi, Faisalabad and Kuwait. PIA would start non-stop flight between Sialkot to Manchester and Dubai as well as Hajj flights from Sialkot International Airport in 2008. Emirates is also expected to start its flights in mid 2008 to Dubai. Airblue will operate domestically from Islamabad, Multan and Karachi in mid 2008. There is also a small Sialkot Cantonment Airport in Sialkot Cantt in use by the aviation wing of the Pakistan Army. During 1995-1996 this airport was also used as a public airport by PIA for Helicopter Service from Sialkot to Islamabad.
Sialkot Dry Port has the honor to be the first-ever private-sector dry port in Asia. It was established in 1986 near Sambrial, about 20 km from the Sialkot city under the control of the Sialkot Dry Port Trust.
Sialkot is served by Pakistan Railways through the Sialkot Junction. Sialkot used to be a junction in the British era with trains leaving for Jammu and Gurdaspur. Plans are under consideration to open the border for an international train between Sialkot and Jammu. Express trains to and from Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Narowal, Bahawalpur and Karachi are available daily. The Railway station is situated in the center of the city. Other suburb train stations are Ugoki and Sambrial.
Sialkot is attached with National Highway N-5 through Gujranwala and Wazirabad. A dual carriage-way is available between Sialkot and Wazirabad. There is a new bridge on Chenab under construction these days. The bridge is called Shahbazpur bridge and it is located to the north-east of Gujrat. Once completed, it will connect Sialkot to N-5 at Gujrat. From Lahore, it’s about 2 hours’ drive while from Islamabad it’s about 4 hours’ drive. The Sialkot Lahore Motorway (M-9) is also under construction. All the bus and commuter coach stations are located on Jail Road. A bus service operated by Daewoo is available from Sialkot to Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan.
No proper means of public transport are available in Sialkot and the main mode of transport within the city is the auto Rikshaw. No proper taxi service is available, however, there are many rent-a-car service outlets in the city.
Sialkot is a city with a lot of educational institutions. A University of Engineering Science and Technology has been planned in cooperation with Sweden, a sub-campus of the Fatima Jinnah Women University, a sub-campus of the Virtual University of Pakistan, a Medical College, eight Degree Colleges for Women, five Degree Colleges for Men, six Commerece Colleges, one Law College, two Cadet Colleges, one Poly-Technic Institute, one Homeopathic Medical College, one Para-Medical School, one Nursing School, with numerous Inter Collges, Higher Secondary Schools and over 250 High Schools.
The University of Engineering Science and Technology Sialkot (UEST) at Sialkot has been established in collaboration with Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology on the Sialkot Lahore Motorway (under-construction) and will also have a Technology Park. The Government of Pakistan, through the Higher Education Commission (HEC), is financing and building the campus while the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) Sweden will be responsible for the provision of technical support which includes course contents specification, university management, human resource development and education quality control.
Convent of Jesus and Mary, Sialkot was the first Catholic school in the Punjab and 2nd in British India was established in 1856.
Murray College Sialkot was established as Scotch Mission College by Scottish missionaries belonging to the Church of Scotland Mission in 1889. It is one of he oldest educational institution in Pakistan. It offers education up to post graduate level.
Fatima Jinnah Women University Sialkot Campus is a sub-campus of the Fatima Jinnah Women University and is being established in Sialkot starting from 2008. The sub-campus of the FJWU in Sialkot will be established on a 200 acre land with a cost of Rs 300 million.
Sialkot Medical College was established in 2002 with a sanction of Rs.750 million. 30 seats were allocated for the year 2003 at the Services Institute of Medical Sciences, Lahore to be shifted to the Sialkot Medical College in 2004. However, because of local politics, the project was shelved. In April 2007, the President of Pakistan again announced an immediate construction of the Medical College building in Sialkot. Temporary project office has been established at the Allama Iqbal Memorial Hospital Sialkot which will also be the attached teaching hospital.
Sialkot Stallions Logo
The Sialkot Cricket Team is called the Sialkot Stallions. It was a national champion in 2005-2006 and won Quaid-i-Azam Trophy Golden League. It was runners-up in 2006-2007. Sialkot Stallions also won the ABN-AMRO Twenty-20 Cup in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. Its home ground is Jinnah Stadium. According to the latest 20 International Ranking, Sialkot Stallions are at the 2nd position, only one point behind the Victorian Bushrangers, (Victoria, Australia).
Sialkot also annually hosts the Allama Iqbal Open Golf Championship at the Sialkot Golf Club. An International Sialkot Hockey Stadium is located at Pasrur Road adjacent to the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park Sialkot. An Internationl level Sialkot Sports Complex is under construction at Daska Road with Tartan track facility for athletic events.
Sialkot is not only famous and internationally recognized for its sports industry, but the world-famous sports legends like the crickters ” Asian Bradman” and “Run making Machine” Zaheer Abbas, Ijaz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik (present Pakistan Cricket team Captain), Zahid Fazal, Ijaz Butt, Abdur Rehman and the players and captains of the national hockey team of Pakistan including Shahnaz Sheikh, Manzoor Hussain Junior, Nasir Ali, Tariq Sheikh, Asif Bajwa and Kamran Ashraf also hail from this city. In Sialkot, there are three main national level Vollyball clubs named as Etihad Vollyball Club, Star Volly Ball Club and Asad Vollyball Club. Mazhar Farid Qurashi (Ex Captain) of Pakistan National Volleyball team was from Asad Vollyball Club, Sialkot. Mostly Pakistan’s National Volleyball team has always two to three players being picked up from these three clubs of Sialkot. Famous football clubs are the Cresent FC and the Capital FC. CTI High School Sialkot was one of the pioneers of Basket Ball in Pakistan. CTI produced some of Pakistan’s finest Basket Ball players, including Wallace Badruddin. Bodybuilding and Weightlifting are also among the popular sports in Sialkot. Abdul Waheed Butt and Farooq Butt have represented Pakistan in Asian Games for bodybuilding.