District: City District of Sialkot
Location: 32.30.19 N, 74.32.03 E
Altitude: 256 metres AMSL
Area: 3,016 km²
Calling code: 052
Population: 3,000,000 approx (2006 est)
Time zone PST: (UTC+5)
Sialkot is situated in the northern part of the Punjab province in Pakistan. It lies close to Snow covered peaks of Jammu and Kashmir near the river Chenab. Sialkot is located about 110 km north of Lahore and about 330 kms South East of Capital Islamabad. A cornered city of Pakistan, yet Sialkot is one of the most important city and a hub business and industrial activities for a population of 3million people. Most of the population belongs to adjacent small towns and villages. Sialkot is also known as City of Iqbal (being birth place of poet Allama Muhammed Iqbal, who also gave muslims of subcontinent a vision for a separate country). Sialkot is well-known for its industry such as sporting goods, leather garments & accessories, knitwear, surgical & beauty care instruments, musical instruments and several other manufactures with an export upto $1bn. It has its own Dry port and a near completion Sialkot International airport with the longest runway of Pakistan. An approximate 25% of the population of the district is urban.
Sialkot like other parts of Punjab is flat plain, fertile and is extremely ideal for agriculture. The weather is hot and humid during summer season and temperature can soar up to 47°C. Days are hot in summer but mostly evenings are pleasant. In winter being at the foot of Kashmir, temperature drop up to 4°C. The average annual rain fall is about 1000 mm. Sialkot districts’ major crops are Wheat and Rice, while main vegetables are cauliflower, potato, turnip, onions, peas, lemon, garlic, turnips etc. It is said that about 15,000 acres of land is under forest. Since river Chenab flows close by, several canals from it makes the Sialkot district very fertile and suitable for agriculture
Sialkot is linked by provincial highways with Daska & Gujranwala, which are linked towards south with Lahore through 6-lane (N-5) and towards north 4-lane N-5. Sialkot is rail junction as well.
On the eastside of Sialkot, close to Pak-Indo border, lie small but important Tehsils of Pasrur, and Narowal. On the south is another important Tehsil Daska and on the west is Tehsil Sambrial. At Sambrial lies the Sialkot Dry port, and close to it Sialkot International Airport is being built. Sambrial is the start point of Sialkot Lahore motorway which will end up at Lahore Ring Road at Mehmood booti. A new Swedish Engineering university is being built along sialkot Lahore motorway at Sambrial.
About 25% of population of Sialkot is urban and 75% lives in villages and nearby towns. The economy of Sialkot is dependent upon its industry and agriculture as well. Most of the laborers come from the villages, who not only works in factories but also share in agriculture field back home. Rice and wheat are the major crops of area and as a result there are about 15 flour mills and 60 rice husking mills.
Major industries include, Sporting Goods such as, cricket bat, balls and related gear, football, soccerball, rugby ball, mini ball, beach balls, etc, Leather Tanneries, Leather Products, Leather Garments, saddles, Surgical Instruments, beauty care instruments, Cutlery, hunting equipment, fishing equipments, rifles, guns, swords, knives, Musical Instruments, Knitwear and hosiery, footwear, textile, Embroidered Badges, Silk & Gilt Cords, Flags, Banners, Pennants, Beverages & Processed Fruit Juices, Ice Cream & Dairy Products, Drugs & Pharmaceuticals, Sanitary Fittings, Sanitary Ware, Earthen Ware, Flour Mills, Rice Mills, Sugar Mills, Vegetable Ghee/Cooking Oil Mills, Iron & Steel Re-Rolling Mills, Diesel Engines, farming gear etc. In total there are more than 3,500 units.
Farming is also an important player in rural areas, hence annual availability of hides and skins is estimated at 536 thousand pieces. Related to this there are 92 tanneries, 244 leather products manufacturing units, and more than 900 sports goods manufacturing units.
Poultry is also a good industry and there are 954 broiler, 134 layer and 9 breeding poultry farms having rearing capacity of 11150, 747 and 63 thousand birds respectively.
History of Surgical Industry:
Sialkot’s surgical industry’s history is tagged with Wazirabad’s find craftsmen.
A U.S Economist “Paul Krugmann” calls a “historic accident”. The craftsmen of Sialkot were famous during the Mughal period for their fine swords and daggers, but the introduction of rifle in 1857, put them out of work. The opportunity for alternative work arose in 1905, when some broken equipment at the American Mission Hospital in Sialkot afforded a chance to adopt their skills. Encouraged by the hospital staff, they gradually started manufacturing replicas of originals. Before long, orders were received from other mission hospitals in British India. By 1920, Sialkot was exporting to all parts of 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.
History of Sporting Goods Industry
According to a myth, the sport goods industry started in Sialkot because an English man broke his tennis racket and, since an immediate replacement was not possible, he asked a local to repair it. The man did a perfect job and the sports goods manufacturing industry took root in Sialkot.
As recorded in the history Sialkot industry paid over Rs. 10,000 as income tax in year 1920.Two fifth of the tax was furnished by the firm of Uberoi Ltd. Two Uberoi brothers Ganda Singh and Jhanda Singh started small scale manufacturing of cricket bats with only half a dozen workmen, and later badminton, tennis racquets, polo sticks, cricket balls, hockey balls, hockey sticks, footballs, golf club and gymnastics equipment in their products. The local willow and then Kashmiri willow was first tried but the best result were not achieved.
In 1899 the Uberoi brothers separated and took to trade rivalry. Ganda Singh made a great advance by importing English willow for cricket bats. In 1903 he visited England, studied the trade there, and eventually imported power machines and English experts. A system of apprenticeship was started and workmen in Sialkot trained to follow English methods. Apprenticeship indentures were not actually employed but boys were taken on for a couple of months or so, to judge of their suitability, and were paid 3 to 4 annas a day, they were then specialized in light work such as stitching balls, and as they grew they were pushed up into higher grade work in the same line. After the first period they usually signed on again, and were finally graded into classes. Many boys left after six years and many stayed on for 14 or 18 years. The first grade workmen, able to turn out work equal to English model, only formed about 2 to 3 percent of the total and they were extremely difficult to retain. Many workmen that learnt in Ganda Singh’s shops had gone away to set up at their own. The result was sporting goods turned out at Sialkot and exported without maker’s marks to dealers elsewhere who put their own marks on the goods.
The English experts, Mr. Trimmings and his son, had been responsible for progress in the quality of the firm Uberoi Ltd, and the former had introduced many patents and improvements. The firm Uberoi Ltd was the only firm at that time that employed power machines and had been responsible for the great strides made by the industry in general. The export of sports goods to England had developed immensely during the world war when English industries were at standstill, and Sialkot goods were found in Japan , America, Australia, Africa and other countries, mostly in British Empire.
By 1903, cricket bats were being crafted from imported English willow and exported to different parts of South Asia and beyond. In 1922, one, Mr. Syed, was awarded the British Empire Export Award for supplying footballs to the British Army.
There are various historical sources tracing the origins of the city of Sialkot. While many sources have not been confirmed, reliable and accurate historical source on the city of Sialkot dates back to 327 BC and is of Greek origin. The antiquities of Sialkot have also been discussed by Sir Alexander Cunnigham in his Archaeological Survey Reports, II, 21, 22, and XIV, 44 to 47.
According to the ancient Indian scriptures, Sialkot is believed to have been founded by Raja Sul or Sala, the uncle of the Pandavas. After his death, some 5000 years ago, 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 (1500 – 200 B.C.), Sakala (Sialkot) was the capital of the Madras (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad).
Sakaladvipa (island of Sakala) was the name of the doab (land lying between two rivers) between Chandrabhaga (Chenab) and Iravati (Ravi). In those early days, Sakala was studded with thick forests and inhabited by a pastoral race called Yahars or Yirs. According to the Milinda Panha, the Bactrian-Greek king, Menander, ruled in Sialkot during the 2nd century BC.
The most reliable and accurate historical source on the city of Sialkot dates back to 327 BC when the city was known as Sagala and it represented the eastern-most outpost and expansion of the Hellenic Empire created by Alexander the Great and has been cross-correlated to the Greek maps of the era and the monuments found in the Sialkot district. The Greek historians state that the city was one of the most productive and wealthiest regions of the Achaemenid Empire and the Punjab region which had earned a reputation as being the richest satrapy (province) of the then Persian Empire which had controlled it for an estimated 1100 years.
According to the Punjabi folk-lore, the early history of Sialkot is closely interwoven with the traditions of Raja Salivahan, his son, Raja Rasalu, and his foe, Raja Hudi. A popular belief is that the city was re-founded by Raja Salivahan or Salban when it became a part of Kashmir under King Sama Dutt. Raja Salivahan built a fort and the city and gave the place its present name. He was of Sia caste, and it is believed that the word “Sialkot” means the ‘fort of the Sia’. Legend also says that Raja Salivahan had two sons: Puran and Rasalu. Puran got punished by his father, Raja Salivahan, due to the instrumentality of a wicked step-mother 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 Salivahan, Rasalu, became Raja after the death of Raja Salivahan. Attacks from the neighboring Raja of Jehlum ruined the city. Raja Rasalu got involved in wars with Raja Hudi. 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. A another legend narrated to Mr. Prinsep describes these 300 years as:
“After the death of Raja Rasalu, the country is said to have fallen under the curse of Puran, for 300 years lying totally devastated from famine and incessant plunder.”
After the invasion of the Hunas (Huns or Hephthalites) in the last quarter of the 5th century AD, Sialkot became the capital of Toramana and his son Mihirakula until he was defeated by a native subcontinent Prince, Yeshodharman.
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 1011. 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 of India. 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, 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. 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 this area, but the city of Sialkot was not included in it. The city was held strongly by a Pastun family till the occupation of the Sikhs.
During the decline of the Durrani regime, Sialkot was occupied from the Pashtuns by the Sikhs. Between 1797 to 1810, Raja Ranjit Singh occupied the Sialkot district. After the death of Raja Ranjit Singh, the British officers were appointed in Sialkot. Sialkot was annexed by the British after the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849. During the Mutiny 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.
After the independence of Pakistan from the British rule in 1947, thousands of Muslim refugees, settled in Sialkot. Ever since, Sialkot has gradually become one of the major industrial centers 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.