Sindh is the third largest provinces of Pakistan with Karachi being the capital city. Locally known as Mehran, the region covers an area of 54,407 square miles (140,914 square km) inhibiting some 47,886,051 (as per 2017 census) people following a unique culture with 52.02% urban population.
Geographically Sindh is located to the southeast of the country making up the lower Indus Basin. The entire landscape of Sindh province is flat except the Kirthar range making the western border with Balochistan province. Punjab is located to the northeast, the Indian state of Rajhistan and Gujrat to the east, and the Arabian Sea bordering the entire south.
The province of Sindh has 29 districts including 5 in Karachi. Major cities of Sindh are Karachi, Thatta, Hyderabad, and Sukkur, where most of the tourist attractions are located.
The name “Sindh” has been derived from a Sanskrit word “Sindhu” which essentially means “ocean, river or stream” referring primarily to “Indus River”. The term “Sindhu” was phonetically transformed into Hindu in old Persian and with a slight further modification, it was then called Indu by the Greek who conquered Sindh under the command of Alexander the great. The word Indu was further extended to the word Indus to feature a broader concept, basically a name given by the British to an entire region of South Asia and called it India.
The land making up today’s Sindh has been a cradle of successive civilizations. The first known village settlements to the human on this land dates as far back as to 7000 BCE when the Mehrgarh settlements of Baluchistan expanded westward to Sindh. It then gave rise to the Indus valley civilization which was known as a highly developed society ever existed in the region from about 3000 BC to 1500 BCE.
Sindh was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century BC before Alexander the Great conquered the region in 326 and 325 BC. Following his death, Sindh came under the dominance of the ancient Greek Seleucids Empire for a brief period and then Mauryan Empire lead by Chandragupta. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka spread the Buddhist religion in Sindh during his rule and later it was replaced by Hinduism which introduced the caste system. The 17 years old Arab conqueror Mohammad Bin Qasim invaded Sindh in 711 AD to spread Islam which is still deep-rooted in the region.
Form 9th to 19th century the province hosted seven successive dynasties named as Sumras, Sammahs, Arghuns, Tarkhan, Mughals, Kalhoras, and Talpurs.
In 1524 the Mughal Empire was welcomed into Sindh and the empire became more powerful in the region gradually. During the reign, Mughals produced various scholars but after the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire and its institutions began to decline. The British came through East India Company in the 19th century and divided it into districts and assigned the Wadera system to collect taxes. The British ruled the area for a century before it became part of Pakistan in 1947.
Sindhis are the most colorfully dressed people. The women in the cities wear the Shalwar kameez or the sari and those in the rural deserts dress in long red skirts and bright tie-died shawls. The men in the urban wear the traditional shalwar kameez or the kurta with pajama and typical Sindhi colorfully cap embroidered with glittered tiny mirrors. In the rural areas, the men wear traditional long-tailed shirts over Lungis and embroidered slippers with upturned pointed toes.
Sindh is also known as “Bab ul Islam” meaning “the gateway to Islam”. Most of the rural Sindhi cultural life revolves around the Shrines of Sufi saints where devotional songs and religious music makes up the major part of religious ceremonies.
Arts and crafts
The tradition of Sindhi craftwork has roots dating back to 5000 years of invaders and settlers. The graceful floral and geometrical patterns that can be observed in everyday objects from clay to fabric and from wood & stone to metal traces the Muslim influence in the region.
Sindh is world renowned for its arts and handicrafts. The province was historically a large producer of traditional indigo and cotton cloth and the produce was sold in ancient markets of Damascus, Baghdad, Basra, Istanbul, Cairo, and Samarkand. Sindhi blue shade Ajrak has existed in Sindh since the birth of its civilization and is a mark of respect when it is given to an honored guest or friend.
The Sindhi language is the major provincial language and the identity of the province yet there are other regional languages like Kutchi, Lari, and Saraiki are also spoken in the different parts of the province. Karachi, the provincial capital, is a melting pot of diverse cultures and languages where Urdu is spoken as a major source of communication while English is the official language in the entire province.
Sindh, one of the ancient cities of the world, has a number of tourist attractions ranging from historic ruined cities to contemporary edifices. Mohenjo Daro, Sukkur bridge, The Talpur-era Kot Diji Fort, Noor Mahal Palace in Khairpur, the gigantic Ranikot Fort, Shah Jahan Mosque, Makli Necropolises, Heliji Lake, Keenijhar Lake, Sindh Museum, Karachi port, and tourist attractions in Karachi are the places make Sindh a destination of choice.
Sindh also has a rich legacy of traditional handicrafts evolved over the centuries. Its tradition of Lacquered woodwork; paintings on woods, tiles and pottery; and hand-woven textiles and Ajraks is a tradition alive today and is a source of living for many hardworking Sindhis.
The economy of Sindh is largely agriculture-based and depends entirely on Indus River as a prime water source. Major produces include cotton, rice, wheat, and sugarcane besides the production of dates, bananas, and mangoes which are sold in the international markets. The province also has a reputation for producing polished ornaments including pottery, leatherwork, textiles, carpets etc. and the craftsmanship of Sindhi people since the Indus Valley Civilization.
Sindh lies in the tropical and subtropical regions of Pakistan; the climate of Sindh, therefore, ranks among the hottest during summers (30 to 50 degrees) and mild during winter (10-30 degrees). The northern territories are mostly hot and humid being mostly desert plains while the southern regions annexing the Arabian sea enjoy cool breezes in the evenings and nights.
Best time to visit
November to March is the best time to visit Sindh as summers are hard to travel particularly in the interior parts of the province.
Things to do
Sindh has a rich cultural, architectural, and natural heritage. Its several thousand years old ancient ruins, holy shrines, Palaces, Forts, British era Gothic-style buildings, Lakes, and its rich wildlife heritage in the Kirthar national park provides with a range of options to choose from. Karachi is base, one can enjoy tourist attractions in Karachi and day excursions from Karachi.
Sindh is accessible both by air and by road. Jinnah international airport in Karachi is the major international airport besides several domestic airports at major cities. One can also fly from Islamabad International airport and Lahore International airport by making a domestic connection with an international flight. By road, Sindh is accessible from other major cities of Pakistan either by train or by private buses.
Islamabad is the modern capital city of Pakistan located in the north of Potohar Plateau, at the foothill of the Margalla Hills, at an elevation of 507 m above the sea level. Geographically the capital city is located 185 km (115 mi) east of Peshawar, 295 km (183 mi) North and Northeast of Lahore, 120 km (75 mi) South and Southwest of Muzaffarabad, and 300 km(190 mi) West and Southwest of Srinagar, the capital of Indian Kashmir.
History of Islamabad
Historically the city is known to have been one of the ancient human settlements in Asia. Some of the earliest Stone Age artefacts found on the plateau date back to 100,000 to 500,000 years. Excavations have also revealed the existence of a pre-historic culture settled on the banks of Soan River where relics and human skulls found were dating back to 5000 BC. Moreover, the region has historically been crossroads of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the Margalla pass acting as a gateway.
Islamabad Capital City
After the partition of the subcontinent, when Pakistan was established in 1947, Karachi was the first capital. Soon it was realized that Karachi as capital was not suitable technically as it was located at one end of the country, making it vulnerable to attacks from the Arabian Sea. A capital, preferably in the centre with a moderate climate, which could easily be accessed from all parts of the country and logistically viable, was therefore needed. The commission that was specially constituted for the selection of the capital city in 1958 chose the land making up current-day Islamabad as the location of Islamabad was closer to army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the disputed territory of Kashmir in the North.
In 1960, Islamabad was constructed as a forward capital for several reasons. Originally nestled against the Margalla hills, Islamabad was planned by a Greek firm of architects, called Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis, based on grid scheme and triangular in shape with apex towards the Hills. The capital territory is divided into eight zones designated Administrative Zone, Commercial District, Educational Sector, Industrial Sector, Diplomatic Enclave, Residential Areas, Rural Areas and Green Area. Islamabad city is divided into five major zones: Zone I, Zone II, Zone III, Zone IV, and Zone V. The sectors are lettered from A to I, and each sector is further divided into four numbered sub-sectors 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each sub-sector is accessed by streets and Galis and any address can easily be accessed.
The city is broadly spread having well paved and wide tree-lined streets, elegant public buildings and larges houses; each sector has its own well – organized residences, shops, and parks. Because of its easy-to-navigate sectors & zones and other characteristics Islamabad is ranked as Gamma-world city. The capital was not moved directly from Karachi to Islamabad, it was first shifted temporarily to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad when the development was completed.
Islamabad features a strange climate with hot summers accompanied by a monsoon season and then follows wet winters. Usually, its micro-climate is regulated by three artificial reservoirs; Rawal Lake in Islamabad, Simli Dam, and Khanpur Dam. Summers from May to July are the hottest months with an average temperature of 40 degrees; the highest temperature recorded was 45 °C (113.0 °F) on June 23, 2005. Monsoon season spans from July through September with heavy rainfalls and thunderstorms where the highest monthly rainfall recorded in July 1995 was 743.3 millimetres (29.26 in). Winters, however, are from October to March with temperature varies subject to location. The lowest ever temperature was recorded was −6 °C (21.2 °F) on January 17, 1967.
Things to Do:
Islamabad is a beautiful city for sightseeing. There are a number of exciting things to do in Islamabad including fishing in Rawal Lake, Paragliding on the Margalla Hills, Cycling along various designated routes in Islamabad, walking on the specially designed trails named as Trail 1, Trail 2, Trail 3, Trail 4, Trail 5, Trail 6, Saidpur Trail, and Bari Imam Trail, exploring museums and tourist places and visiting surrounding attractions in Rawalpindi, and Murree Hills as day excursion.
Islamabad is well-planned city and each sector in Islamabad has a central shopping mall. One can hope to find all types of local and international brands at a reasonable cost. The popular markets are the F6 Markaz (aka Supermarket) F7 Markaz (aka Jinnah Super Market), F8 Markaz (aka Ayub Market), G6 Markaz (aka Melody Park), and G9 Markaz (aka Karachi Company). Each Markaz (Center) has its own uniqueness and each one is worth visiting. Besides, the Blue Area in Islamabad also has a variety of shops from tech shops to backers to garments and what not.
Super Market and Jinnah Super Market have a large collection of western food products, handicrafts, rugs and carpets, Pashmina shawls, Jewelry, souvenirs, gift items, furniture, bookstores and whatever tourists like to buy at reasonable prices.
Where to Eat:
Islamabad has almost all the tastes of food. From the Restaurants of star hotels to international chain restaurants to local food chains, and from Chinese to Thai to Italian to local cuisines, the food variety is diverse. Major restaurants are located in
How to reach Islamabad
Islamabad has an international airport called Benazir Bhutto International Airport (IATA: ISB). Flights from a variety of international destinations, including Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, London, Thailand, Sri Lanka, China.
Local transport companies including Skyways, Faisal Movers, Niazi express, and Daewoo Sammi are some of the international standard long-haul operators. It is possible to travel directly from major cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Lahore, Peshawar etc. Almost all major transport stations are located outside twin cities and they have alternate arrangements to get passengers to the offices located within cities.
There is train service to Rawalpindi from all major cities and it is possible to make it by train to Islamabad.
Tourism is a complex and multidisciplinary field constitutes a diverse amalgam of sectors and each sector is made up of a variety of products and services visitors/tourists choose according to their own taste and budget. Following are the basic components of tourism that can have an impact on overall tourism of a particular destination.
The primary motivation and preconditions of travel are the attractions of all kinds in a destination which are the major reason for providing pleasure to tourists. These attractions are classified as natural, manmade, and cultural which make up the major tourism product. Following are the details.
Natural attractions in a destination are the combination of public utilities including natural beauty, physical features, and the climatic features of the area. These attractions may include scenic places ranging from deep oceans, beaches, lakes, rivers, creeks to the mountains, landscapes, national parks, wildlife, flora & fauna, and diverse seasons.
Any destination abundant in natural beauty can also fall prey to threats and challenges of managing and preserving the resources. There are many instances of destinations lost their prominence because of the impact of tourists.
Manmade attractions include the built environment by the human. E.g. historical buildings, religious monuments, leisure parks, Disney lands, museums, aquariums, zoos, and orphanages etc. Tourism can be sustained to manmade attractions if the attractions are well preserved with respect to time.
These attractions usually hold aesthetic beauty in a society including the way of life of the indigenous community in a typical natural setting which obviously has spared itself from modernization, national events and festivals, customs, dress, art, handicraft, rituals, folklore, languages and local cuisines. In a developed city cultural attraction include discotheques, live or recorded music, clubs, social events, trade fairs, exhibitions, sports competitions etc.
Due to urban sprawl and modernization, indigenous communities gradually switching and adapting to modern life which results in a gradual fading of cultural beauty.
Accessibility is a major tourism product/service and a key factor in the development of tourism. It comprises means (ports, airports, roads, highways, trails etc.) and mode (aerial, surface, and water) of transportation infrastructure which helps tourists reach their desired destinations and attractions. Accessibility determines the tourists’ experience based on qualities including reliability, affordability, convenience, comfort, and variety. Tourism developments are dependent on the ease of access and types of transportation available. Destinations with sound accessibility features attract a lot of tourists and have longer tourist seasons which help stakeholders earn healthy livings. Three major types of transportation are:
This type of transportation includes all types of airways (commercial plans, jets, helicopters, etc.) to travel long distances. This type of means of transportation helps people travel quickly and are a source of time saving and development.
It is a type of transportation through roadways or railways and is considered the cheapest means of transportation. Trains, buses, cars, carts, and all types of animal transportation feature surface transportation.
It is a 19th-century revolution and made an important contribution to travel after the innovation of shipping technology. Ships, ferry’s, yachts, boats, etc. make up this type of transportation.
Accommodation is a service sector and is subdivided into further categories as shown below:
It refers to the important services provided by the various bodies as mentioned below.
From 5-star resorts to guest houses and from cruise ships to camping, there are various forms lodging comprises and these are categorized as star hotels, apartments, lodges, inns, villas, resorts, huts, tree houses, guest houses, RVs, camping villages etc.
Food & Beverage:
Food & Beverage is a vital component of the overall tourism industry. The sector includes high-end restaurants, conventional restaurants, fast food operators, functional catering, and vending outlets etc.
The attitude and overall behaviour of residents of a destination are significant determinants of tourism. Moreover, the way of treating tourists and their general safety in a destination make or mar the flow of tourism to a great extent. The amicable interaction between tourists and residents leaves a good impression on the fate of the destination.
Supplementary Accommodation or Self-Catering Accommodation refers to the premises which offer only accommodation but not the services of a typical hotel that provides food & accommodation in return of cash per day. Examples of such type of accommodation are Youth Hostels and Tourist holiday villages etc.
There are two types of amenities:
These include seashores, sea bath, fishing, rock climbing, trekking, sightseeing, river, sunrise etc.
These amenities are human designed and include Dance, Music, Drama, Cinema, Swimming Pool, Fair & Festivals, and Internet etc.
Tourism has strong direct, indirect and induced impacts on local communities either positive or negative in aspect. The scale of impacts of tourism can often vary from country to country based on the structure of the tourism sector and how well tourism activities are linked with the local economy. The positive and negative impacts of Tourism industry can be classified into three major areas called the socio-cultural impact, economic impact, and environmental impact. Below are the details.
Tourism may have diverse impacts on the socio-cultural aspects of life in a particular region depending on the strengths of the region. The impacts can be both positive and negative in nature. The socio-cultural impacts are the social changes in the lives of local residents, improvements and development of infrastructure, interactions between peoples and culture background, attitudes and behaviours, and their relationships to material goods. The introduction of tourists to sensitive areas can be damaging, cause a loss of culture, and may contribute to the preservation of culture and cultural sites through increased resources.
Positive Impacts of Tourism on Society
- Infrastructure development benefitting the local population.
- Awareness of the superfluous customs prevailing in the region.
- Helps eradicate poverty by promoting the local arts and crafts produced by the local people.
- Fosters a sense of pride among locals.
- Helps strengthen bonds among communities.
- Helps establish peace and security through understanding and helps release stress
- Prevent urban centralization
- Helps conserve culture and tradition
- Restrains migration because of business/employment opportunities locally.
- Helps maintain part-time activities due to the creation of multiple opportunities.
- Promote safety as institutions feel it important to safeguard tourists and stakeholders.
Negative Impacts of Tourism on Society
- Hinders cultural freedom.
- Deters the life of the local population because of congestion, noise, and pollution.
- Promotes social evils like alcoholism, drug addiction, and prostitution in the local society.
- Displacement of locals to create new accommodation and recreation facilities.
- Cause of spread of contagious diseases.
- Distortion of community structure, family relationships, collective traditional lifestyles.
- Devaluation of unique artefacts
- Increased child labour due to growth
The economic impact can be measured in terms of monetary benefits and the overall economic development of the society. Economic impacts are usually observed as positive because of its contribution to employment, better services, and social stability. At the same time, these impacts can also contribute to high living costs within the community leading to rising costs for locals and push local business out of the areas.
Positive Impacts of Tourism on Economy
- Tourism (inbound and domestic) helps to generate revenue from foreign shores.
- Create job opportunities.
- Stimulate the development of infrastructure.
- Generates opportunities for small-scale local businesses.
- Contributes to exchange earning
- Helps increase government revenues through tax
Negative Impacts of Tourism on Economy
- Tourism (outbound) creates economic leakage.
- Create a sense of dependency on the customer or economic recession.
- Promote parallel economies.
- Expenses for development
- Import of particular food items
- International investor intervention
Besides its impact on national and local economies, the tourism sector has a strong environmental aspect that must be considered. Tourism’s environmental impact refers to its impact on nature and surrounding areas which collectively make up tourism attractions in a particular destination. Environmental impacts basically affect the overall carrying capacity of a destination, natural cycle, flora and fauna, vegetation, air quality, water bodies and the water tables.
Positive Impacts of Tourism on Environment
- Promotes investment in the conservation of natural habitats and the ecosystem.
- Contributes to the stability of the ecosystem.
- Discourages deforestation and over-fishing in water bodies in developing countries.
- Contributes to creating awareness of the value of the environment for humans.
- Helps produce an alternative to natural resources
- Helps lead a better quality of life
Negative Impacts of Tourism on Environment
- Promotes vandalism, littering and littering.
- Makes way for the destruction of wildlife and vegetation.
- Invites air, and water pollution and disturbs animal and marine life.
- Creates a large carbon footprint.
- Creates a sense of dependency on natural resources.
- Causes depletion of natural resources
- Disturbs natural habitat of wildlife
TOURISM – A BRIEF OVERVIEW
“Tourism” is a concept coined lately as compared to “Travel” which has roots deeply penetrated into the human history. Travel has fascinated man from the very beginning. In fact, from the ancient times, travel has been an important social activity of human. People traveled on foot to hunt, to explore or perform religious obligations. Moreover, food, shelter, and trade were some of the major drives to make people travel.
Human endeavor to explore bounties of the lord was somewhat limited in ancient times. Gradually, human desire to explore new places within the respective realm or beyond the borders, to seek nature’s bounties and pleasure of life, to experience the diversity and the desire to be educated became the essential part of life.
With the steady development in communication and technology over the years, a phenomenal increase in the volume of travel and human interest to explore alien places has further developed. The idea of sailing, the invention of the wheel, the creation of engine, the beginning of commercial airlines, development of infrastructure and the advancement in technology have all brought about phenomenal changes in the travel industry. Likewise, along with scientific discoveries, the socio-economic progress of humans in different societies has also further improved.
The term “tourism” was coined only in recent years and the status of the industry was given to the field after its rapid growth and contribution observed towards human wellbeing. During the last two centuries, the evolutions and fast development of communication and technology helped tourism take new heights. Thus, in the long journey from a dramatic start to quick development patron tourism was defined from diverse perspectives. Before going any further, let’s first differentiate the two basic notions Travel and Tourism.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TRAVEL AND TOURISM
The terms “Travel” and “Tourism” are often used interchangeably but Tourism as a subject is a wider concept than Travel. Tourism encompasses a lot more than Travel alone though Travel is an older notion and remained a strong basis for Tourism to evolve.
Tourism is the journey to and the stay at a destination outside one’s usual place of residence as well as the activities undertaken for leisure and recreation whereas Travel infers journeys undertaken from one place to another for any purpose including work, leisure and/or residence. This implies all tourism includes some travel, but not all travel is tourism.
WHAT IS TOURISM?
Many of us at some point in our lives must have been tourists yet defining it can still be slightly difficult. Despite its growing importance, there is still no harmony on a single definition of tourism because of its multidisciplinary nature. Tourism is a dynamic and ever-developing industry giving birth to new niches and requiring the ability to adapt constantly with respect to change in time, technology, the behavior of tourists/consumers, and a variety of other factors that directly or indirectly impact tourism.
Although tourism is defined in different ways by each institution, yet the essence can be explained in a crux as:
“Tourism is a collection of activities, services, and industries which deliver a travel experience comprising transportation, accommodation, eating and drinking establishments, retail shops, entertainment businesses and other hospitality services provided for individuals or groups traveling away from home”
Likewise, leading and conventional institutions have defined tourism in their own perspective. However, to prevent the disagreement, UNWTO defined tourism as:
“Tourism comprises the activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, and other purposes”.
WHY IS TOURISM IMPORTANT?
Tourism is a hope. It has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world, even surpasses oil, food, and automobile industries. It has a strong impact on the development accounting for 10 percent of the global GDP and contributing towards the generation of every 11th job. It is now a significant source of income generation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings, and promotion of cross-border cooperation, and cross-cultural understanding.
Tourism is an extensive subject and has multidimensional impacts. Its contribution to economic well-being depends on the quality of its offers and revenues generated through offers. The course of tourism activities and operations are linked with and have a strong impact on three major areas including economic, socio-cultural, and environmental which have both positive and negative impact.
Modern day Pakistan is a land enormously blessed with a rich history like no other country in the world. A journey through the history of Pakistan outlines the significance and richness of this land. It is a land hosting ancient civilizations of the world and housing most significant archaeological sites recognized worldwide. These sites and cities, dating back to thousands of years, are simply a testimony to the existence of ancient civilization in human history on this land. The legacy has passed through different empires and each empire has left a mark that made the history of this country alluring. A brief account of historic events this land has hosted is highlighted below.
Ancient History of Pakistan – A journey through the ages
Soanian Culture: From the lower Paleolithic era
The edged pebble tools discovered during an excavation on the bend of the Soan River near the twin cities (Rawalpindi/Islamabad) is perhaps the oldest sign of life in the heart of Pakistan. Thus, long before the emergence of the great Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) on the banks of River Indus, about some 5,000 years ago, the earliest known humans to make present-day Pakistan their abode were a hunter-gatherer society who lived some 50,000 years ago called the Soanians. They are called Soanians because of the site called the Soan Valley where Stone Age relics are found in the form of tools and pottery. The Soan valley is a rich archaeological and natural heritage site along the Soan Riverbank. Today, the river has been reduced to nothing more than a sewer and a dump site, unfortunately.
Mehrgarh: the world’s oldest village culture
Mehrgarh is one of the most significant Neolithic (7000 B.C.E. to 3200 B.C.E.) sites located in Balochistan province of Pakistan, on the Kachhi plain near the Bolan Pass, between the cities of Quetta (Kalat) and Sibi. The 9000 years old settlement encompassing an area of about 200 hectares was discovered in 1974 by an archaeological team directed by French archaeologist Jean-François Jarrige.
The earliest settlement unearthed was a small farming village dated between 7000 B.C.E.–5500 B.C.E. from early food-producing era called Pre-Harappan phase. Evidence founded from the excavation at Mehrgarh unfolded an exceptional insight to life before and during the first stages of the Indus Valley civilization, one of the earliest sites of human civilization existed in today’s Sindh province of Pakistan.
Archaeologists divide the occupation at the site into several periods. The first period (7000 B.C.E.–5500 B.C.E.) called the Neolithic and aceramic (without the use of pottery). Early Mehrgarh inhabitants lived in mud brick houses, used to store their grain in granaries, created tools fashioned with local copper ore, and lined their large container with bitumen. The progress continued through several hundred years until 2600 BCE when the region largely became arid and was abandoned in favour of Indus Valley Civilization.
Indus Valley civilization (3300 BC to 1800 AD): An advanced society of the ancient time
The Indus valley civilization (also known as the Harappan Civilization) was a Bronze Age riverine civilization that flourished along the Indus River Valley around 3300-1800 BCE. The IVC is known to have consisted of two major cities called Harappa in Punjab and Moenjodaro in Sindh excavated in 1921 and 1922 respectively.
The more than 5000 old Indus Valley Civilization is divided into three major phases and eras: the Early Harappans from 3300 to 2600 BCE (Regionalization era), the Mature Harappans from 2600 to 1900 BCE (Integration era), and the Late Harappans from 1900 to 1300 BCE (Localization era).
The people of Indus Valley Civilization were said to be very advanced in the use of technology. Their tools and system for measurement, their uniform size moisture-resistant fire-backed bricks, their buildings and sewage system all suggest the features of a highly advanced society at a time when America was the land of Red Indians and people in Europe dressed in animal hide. By around 1800 BCE, about five million inhabitants of Indus Valley Civilization cities had been abandoned and the reason was the climate change which disrupted the rivers system and they could not produce food anymore.
Gandhara (1st Century BC to 11th century AD): the cradle of Buddhism
The ancient kingdom of Gandhara comprised of the major cities in Northwest Pakistan, the Potohar plateau, and Jalalabad in Kabul. Its main cities were Pushpapura (current day Peshawar), Pushkalavati (Current day Charsada), Mardan, Swat, Dir, Malakand, Bajaur agencies, Takshashila (modern Taxila ) in Punjab and Varmayana (Bamiyan in Jalalabad) in Afghanistan. The kingdom was the cradle of Gandhara civilization and spread to rest of the Buddhist world as far away as Japan and Korea.
Buddhism was adopted as state culture and lasted here for over 1000 years. The famed archaeological sites spread over Taxila, Swat and other cities of KP, as well as rock carvings and petroglyphs along the Karakoram Highway (ancient Silk Route), are a great reminder of the Gandhara Civilization. The Kingdome of Gandhara lasted from 6th century BC to 11th century AD. It attained its height under Kushan Kings from 1st to 5th century AD and was disappeared when it was conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 AD.
Alexander (326 BC): The Great Conqueror
Alexander the great (famous as Sikandar-e-Azam in Urdu) of Macedonia, a wise philosopher and a fearless conqueror, entered Punjab in Pakistan from the northern route at Swat in 326 BC. He received a glorious welcome from Ombhi, the then ruler of Taxila, and was offered an alliance against the King Porus who was a source of agitation for Taxila and annexing regions. Alexander stayed at Taxila for some time and held the discussion with the learned people of the time. He left for south via the Indus River and crossed over to the region what is called Balochistan today.
Alexander wandered major parts of today’s Pakistan and left a sizeable population of his armies in every region he conquered including Gandhara. When he died in June 323 AD, most of his armies returned home but he left his mark in the form of the Greek centre and people. The Kalash tribe in the north are said to be descendants of Alexander’s men. There are relics of Alexander and his armies all over Pakistan, such as old coins commemorating his battles and victories and the Jandial Temple in Taxila.
The Maurya Empire (322 BCE – 185 BCE): an iron grip of Kings
The departure of Alexander the Great created a void which was filled by Chandragupta Maurya. He recruited an army and killed the king of tyrannical Magadha kingdom and ascended the throne and founded the Mauryan dynasty. Chandragupta used different techniques to expand his kingdom and expanded from eastern Iran to Burmese hills including the subcontinent. After 25 years of rule, he passed on the throne to his son, Bindusara, and became a Jain monk while he was Hindu. Bindusara further expanded the realm. After the death of Bindusara, Ashoka (son of Bindusara and grandson of Chandragupta), whom the world has ever known the greatest ruler, became the king of Mauryan dynasty. The empire Ashoka inherited was even larger than what his predecessors seized. He gave up violence and actively patronized Buddhism.
Ashoka (273 BC-232 BC), like his grandfather, started his career from Taxila as a governor. He himself collected the ashes of Buddha and distributed among major cities of his empires and he constructed grand stupas and renovated older ones. Dharmarajika stupa in Taxila and the Butkara stupa in Swat are two of them. Mauryan control over northern areas is confirmed from the Rock Edicts left by Ashoka, such as at Shahbaz Garhi, Mardan.
Chandragupta, the founder of Mauryan Empire was Hindu but converted to Jain and became a monk in his later life, while Ashoka promoted Buddhism but it was not clear whether he formally converted or not. The stronghold of Mauryan Empire shrank 50 years after the death of Ashoka when the king was assassinated by his own general.
The Mughal Empire (1526-1707): Where the splendid art and architecture boomed
Babar was the first Mughal ruler and founder of the Mughal Empire in the subcontinent. The dominance of the six Great Mughal Emperors lasted from 1526 to 1707 (Babur (1526-1530) Humayun (1530-1540, 1555-1556), Akbar (1556-1605), Jahangir (1605-1627), Shah Jahan (1627-1658), and Aurangzeb (1658-1707). During this period, the Mughals experienced ups and downs yet founded and built remarkable buildings with unique architecture, even boasting today, such as the Badshahi Mosque, the Shalimar Gardens, the Lahore Fort, Wazir Khan Mosque, Hiran Minar, and many more monuments in Punjab.
The Mughal way of architecture features decorating with stone carvings, glazed tile decorations, and beautiful decorative designs in precious stones set in marble. A vivid testimony is an exquisite work done inside the buildings in Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, and Makli Tombs in Thatta (the largest necropolis in the world and home to the resting place of Sindh’s people, between the 14th and 18th centuries, with many belonging to kings, Queens, and saints).
The British Raj (1858 to 1947): A dominant realm in the subcontinent
The British came in the guise of East India Company, ruled the Subcontinent from 1858 to 1947 and divided the subcontinent into Pakistan and India after almost 90 years presence in the region. However, much was done by the British for the administration of the country, infrastructure, and institutions. The glorious monuments like Aitchison College Lahore, Clock Tower in Peshawar, the clock tower in Faisalabad, Frere Hall Tower in Karachi are some of the remarkable pieces of architecture left by the British.
The national symbols of Pakistan are the trademarks that represent Pakistan. Each symbol signifies an interesting description of its attachment to the country. Below are the National Symbols of Pakistan with description.
|National Flag||White vertical bar with major extension in dark green decked with a white crescent and a five-pointed star in the middle. The Flag symbolizes Pakistan’s profound commitment to Islam, the Islamic world and the rights of religious minorities.|
|National Anthem||Approved in: August 1954
Verses Composed by: Abdul Asar Hafeez Jullundhri
Tune Composed by: Ahmed G. Chagla
Duration: 80 seconds
|National day||23rd March|
|National Airline||Pakistan International Airline Corporation (PIAC)|
|National Language||Urdu is the major national language of Pakistan with 40 characters fulfilling the language needs. Urdu is understood in the subcontinent and to some extent in Bangladesh and Nepal.|
|State Emblem||The State Emblem consists of:
1. The crescent and star which are symbols of Islam
2. The shield in the centre shows four major crops
3. Wreath surrounding the shield represents cultural heritage and
4. Scroll contains Quaid’s motto: Faith, Unity, Discipline
|National Poet||Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal
Great philosopher and the national poet of Pakistan
He was born on: 9 November 1877
Died on: 21 April 1938
|Mother of the nation||Mother of the Nation (mader-i-millat)
Ms. Fatima Jinnah
Born on 30 July 1893
Died on 9 July 1967
|National Bird||Chakor (Red-legged partridge)|
|National Mammal||Indus Dolphin|
|National Drink||Sugar cane juice|
|National Vegetable||Lady Finger|
|National Mountain||K-2, 8,611m, Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan|
|National Dress||Shalwar (trousers)-Qameez (long shirt)|
|National Currency||The Pakistani currency is called Rupee and comes in different dominations with highest currency bill is 5000 paper currency and lowest is 1 Rupee coin. In between are paper bills of 1000, 500, 100, 50, and 20. There are coins of 10, 5 and 2 besides of 1 rupee.|
|National River||Indus River|
|National monument||Pakistan Monument in Islamabad has been declared as National Monument.|
|National Tower||Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore|
|National Mausoleum||The mausoleum of the father of nation situated in Karachi city of Pakistan is also known as National Mausoleum. It is the final resting place of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnan. The basement houses all the belongings of the father of nation along with mausoleums of some of the heroes who played a leading role in creation of Pakistan.|
|National Mosque||The Faisal Mosque in Islamabad has been declared as national mosque. It is the largest mosque in the capital city, Islamabad, Pakistan.|
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (meaning: the land of the pure) is a country strategically placed on the crossroads of South Asia. The country came into being on the world map on 14th August 1947 as a result of the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan. Currently, Pakistan is the 36th largest country by area (796,095 sq km or 307,374 sq mi.) and 6th most populous by size currently housing more than 212 million residents of diverse cultural and geographic backgrounds. Honour, pride, and shame are all common social values which influence people’s behavior. It is a diverse country full of wonders that make it one of the major tourist attractions in the world. Below are the details.
- Pakistan has the largest canal-based irrigation system in the world.
- Changa Manga forest (12,423 acres in area) is a manmade forest originally planted in 1866 by British foresters.
- Pakistan’s 25% of the land is under agricultural cultivation thereby Pakistan irrigates three times more land area than Russia.
- Pakistan’s 72 percent population is associated with agriculture as their main source of income.
- Mehr Garh, Moenjo Daro, Harappa, Taxila, Kot Diji, Takht Bhai, Buddhist heritage in Swat, Caves in Baluchistan, Rock carvings along the Karakoram Highway and Skardu, Karga Buddha, Henzal Stupa, and Manthal Buddha in Gilgit-Baltistan are major archaeological sites in Pakistan.
- The Arabian Bedouin tent shapes Shah Faisal Mosque in Pakistan can accommodate more than 100,000 worshippers at a time. It was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 until 1993.
- The 100 domed Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta, with no minarets at all as in conventionally designed mosques, is the only mosque built so technically that the voice of the preacher can be heard clearly in all sections of the mosque without the help of an amplifier.
- Masjid e Tooba or the Gol Masjid in Karachi is the pillar-less 48 ft high domed mosque with 212 ft in diameter balanced on a low surrounding wall. It was built in 1969.
- Pakistan has the world’s thirteenth most powerful,7th largest in terms of active military personnel, the largest among Muslim countries, and most active UN peacekeeping force.
- Pakistan has some of the world’s best-trained air force pilots.
- The late Pakistani Air Commodore MM Alam is known to have downed nine Indian aircraft including five planes in less than a minute during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.
- Pakistani intelligence is considered the best intelligence corps in the world.
- Pakistan is a proud manufacturer and exporter of one of the best jet fighters of the world: JF-17 Thunder fighter jet.
Arts & Craft
- Pakistan is famous for truck art – trucks decorated with complex floral patterns and poetic calligraphy in lavish colors with appealing creativity.
- Pakistan is the largest producers of jewelry especially gold and silver jewelry made by Pakistani artists is loved around the world.
- Sylvester Stallone’s movie Rambo III was shot in Pakistan.
- Pakistani handicraft, especially the handmade carpets and rugs, is famous worldwide for its beautiful artwork,
- Pakistan’s national language is Urdu and its official language is English.
- More than 60 different languages are spoken in different parts of Pakistan.
- Punjabi is the most spoken language approximately by 48% of residents.
- Pakistan has one of the world’s largest broadband internet systems.
- Pakistan has hosted one of the oldest civilizations in history – Mehrgarh – dating back to 6000 B.C., now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization.
- Shalwar kameez is the traditional Pakistani dress, which is worn and liked roughly by 70% of Pakistanis.
- The Pakistani Rupee (PKR) is the official currency of Pakistan with the denominations of 1, 2 and 5 in coins and 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 in paper money.
- State bank is the highest financial institution in Pakistan
- Pakistan is amongst the top 11 countries having the potential to be amongst the top economies of the world in the near future nominated by UNO.
- The leather exports of Pakistan are very high and they are loved worldwide by consumers for their quality.
- The GDP of Pakistan is $305 billion (2018).
- The nominal GDP per capita is $5,100.
- Pakistan is also one of the top producers and exporters of surgical instruments in the world and almost 99% of these instruments are produced in Sialkot.
- Pakistan is the world’s fourth-largest cotton producing country after China, India, and the USA.
- Major crops of Pakistan include cotton, wheat, rice, and sugarcane.
- Major industries of Pakistan include textile, cement, fertilizer, steel, sugar, electric goods, and shipbuilding.
- Major imports of Pakistan include machinery, electrical goods, petroleum products, transportation equipment, metals, and metal products, fertilizer and foodstuffs.
- Pakistan is the world’s 5 largest mango producer and Pakistani mangoes are very famous and exported worldwide.
Education, Science & Technology
- Pakistan is the world’s first Islamic country to attain nuclear power in 1998.
- The world’s seventh-largest collection of scientists and engineers is from Pakistan.
- Pakistan is also known for its missile technology, which is one of the best in the world.
- The world’s youngest Microsoft Expert (Arfa Karim late) was from Pakistan. She became certified at just five years old.
- Muhammad Ilyas is the youngest civil judge of Pakistan, passing his examination when he was just 20 years old.
- The two Nobel Prize winners from Pakistan are Malala Yousafzai for Peace in 2014 and Abdus Salam for Physics in 1979.
- Pakistan’s 188 higher education institutions produce about 445,000 university graduates and 10,000 computer science graduates annually
- Pakistan has the 7th largest pool of scientists and engineers of the world.
- The A levels and O levels Cambridge exams have been topped by Pakistani students – a record yet to be broken.
- Over 68% of Pakistan’s energy is generated from fossil fuels.
Food & Drinks
- Pakistan has a rich diversity of meals varying from region to region.
- The average Pakistani home-made meals include:
Breakfast: Milk tea, bread/paratha, eggs, and butter.
Lunch: meat-based curry, rice, lentils, and veggies etc
Dinner: Usually a big family meal includes meat kebab, spicy lentils with gravy, naan, flatbread, salad, etc.
- Sugarcane juice is the national drink of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it is also known as “roh.”
- Red meat, if the animal slaughtered according to Islam, is halal.
Flora & Fauna
- Markhor is the national animal and Chukar partridge is the national bird of Pakistan.
- Indus Blind Dolphin is the most endangered species in Pakistan.
- Mango is the national fruit of Pakistan and Jasmine is its national flower.
- Pakistan has 10 major national Parks rich in biodiversity.
- The subcontinent was divided into India and Pakistan; both countries got their independence at midnight of 14–15 August 1947.
- The borders of Pakistan were drawn two days after on 17th August 1947, after the separation of India and Pakistan.
- Pakistan is a country of a diverse landscape from the world’s highest mountains and longest glaciers outside the polar region to the longest coastal line at the Arabian Sea.
- Pakistan is made up of four provinces (Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab), three territories (Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, and FATA) and the Capital City of Islamabad.
- Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, officially became the capital of Pakistan on 14 August 1967, is located in the heart of the country with easy access to all provinces and territories.
- Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, and the Arabian Sea share a border with Pakistan.
- Pakistan has one of the largest irrigation systems in the world covering 14.4 million hectares of land.
- The Indus River flows for 2880km across the length of the country from the northern Himalayan mountains to the Arabian Sea
- March 23rdis Pakistan’s Republic Day or “Pakistan Day.”
- In 1965, Pakistan had a second war with India over Kashmir. The seventeen-day war caused thousands of casualties on both sides, and also witnessed the largest tank battle since World War II.
- Pakistan and India both claimed victory in the war of 1965, which ended after a ceasefire declaration by the intervention of the Soviet Union and the United States.
- An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck the Kashmir region and Balakot in Pakistan on October 8, 2005, killed almost 76,000 and caused displacement of approximately 3 million people.
- In July 2010, the country was hit by three floods, which left about one-fifth of the country under water.
- Gaddani, Pakistan is also home to the world’s third-largest ship breaking yard.
- The total length covered by railways in Pakistan is 11,881 km out of which 11,492 km is the broad gauge, while 389 km is the narrow gauge.
- Pakistan boasts the world’s highest ATM operated by the National Bank of Pakistan installed at a height of 16,007 feet above sea level, at the Pak-China border, Khunjerab Pass.
- Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was founded on 23 October 1946 as Orient Airways. The airline was nationalized on January 10th, 1955.
- Pakistan has the 21st biggest road network in the world with 263,942 km of roadway infrastructure, out of which 708 km is the expressway.
- Pakistan has 11 international airports, 30 domestic airports, 14 military airbases, and 03 seaports.
- Gwadar in Baluchistan province of Pakistan is the largest deep-sea warm water port with an area of 64,000 square meters and a depth of more than 14 meters is the economic corridor of South Asia.
- The Karakoram Highway is considered as the highest paved highway of the world, unofficially called as the 8th wonder of the world.
Law & Order
- The Supreme Court is the highest court in Pakistan.
- A person at the age of 18is qualified to vote in Pakistan.
- Islamic law was made the law of the land in 1991.
- In 1973, Pakistan adopted a constitution for the parliamentary system of government.
Landscape and landmarks
- The 887 km Karakoram Highway (KKH) in Pakistan is the longest highway considered the eighth wonder of the world connecting Pakistan and China at the Khunjerab Border.
- Pakistan has the world’s second largest salt deposit called ‘Khewra Salt Mine’ or the Mayo Salt Mines.
- Tarbela Dam is the largest earth-filled dam in the world (and fifth largest by structural volume) on the Indus River in Pakistan. The dam was built in 1968 and 1976. The dam is 143.26 meters high and 2,743.2 meters long.
- Shandur Pass located in the Ghizer District of Gilgit-Baltistan is home to the world’s highest Polo ground at 3,700 meters.
- The Tharparkar desert is the only fertile desert in the world located in Sindh province of Pakistan.
People, Politics, Population
- Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) was the founder of Pakistan and regarded as Father of the Nation.
- Allama Iqbal was the poet and philosopher, who gave the idea of a separate Muslim country resulted in the creation of Pakistan.
- Benazir Bhutto became the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan as well as of any Muslim nation.
- Queen Elizabeth II was the Queen of Pakistan until 1956.
- Pakistan is home to the world’s second largest Muslim population, behind Indonesia.
- The majority of Pakistan’s population is Muslim, amounting to 96.4%, while the rest includes Hindus and Christians.
- Pakistanis are the fourth-most intelligent people in the world as per poll results gathered from 125 countries by the Institute of European Business Administration.
- On August 31st, 2007, General Parvez Musharraf amended the constitution of Pakistan to allow himself a third term as president.
- When Pakistan became independent, it received between 10 and 12 million refugees from different parts of India.
- Pakistan is a country with a diverse population housing several ethnic groups in society. Here are the main ones:
- – North: Wakhi, Shinaki, Dards, Burusho, Khuwar, Dome, and Baltis;
– South: Muhajirs and Makrani;
– East: Kashmiris, Punjabis, Sindhis, and Potwaris;
– West: Pashtuns, Hazaras, and Baloch.
- Women can work combat jobs in Pakistan, which is just one of two Muslim countries to allow this.
- Pakistan (Sialkot) is the world’s largest producer of hand-sewn footballs producing about 50 million footballs making about 60% of the world’s total production.
- Jahangir Khan, the former World No. 1 professional squash player between 1981 and 1986, won 555 matches consecutively (the longest winning streak by any athlete in top-level professional sports as recorded by Guinness World Records) including the British Open title, the most prestigious event in the game record 10 times which is an unbelievable record. Another great achievement is that in one of his British Open title won, he didn’t lose any single point.
- In 1994, Pakistan became the first country of the world to hold 4 World Cups titles in different mainstream sports simultaneously. The sports include Cricket, Hockey, Squash, and Snooker.
- Since 1936, traditional polo festival is being held at Shandur Top which was originated by Maj Cobb as a game played on moonlight and called moony ground then.
- Sohail Abbas, a Pakistani field hockey defender, is the highest goal scorer in the history of field hockey, with his current goal tally at 348.
- Pakistan has the world’s largest ambulance network listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
- The Edhi foundation lead by a noble philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi is accredited to have the largest private ambulance service having 300 centers and a fleet of over 1800 ambulances and still growing which serves people all around the country.
- Pakistani national anthem tune is listed amongst the world’s top three tunes. The duration of Pakistan’s National Anthem is 80 seconds.
- The national flag of Pakistan has a green ground with a vertical white band (symbolizing the role of religious minorities) on the hoist side while a large white crescent and star are centered in the green field representing traditional symbols of Islam.
- One in three Pakistanis lives below the federal poverty line.
- Taboo subjects are sex, dating, homosexuality, alcohol, and questioning Islamic beliefs.
- Pork is forbidden and virtually impossible to find.
Travel & Tourism
- Pakistan is one of the top places for tourists rich in history, archaeology, manmade landmarks, and natural beauty.
- The Lonely Planet, World’s most famous tourist guidebook, has stated Pakistan as being the Next Big Thing of the world tourist industry.
- Pakistan hosts 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 24 tentative heritage sites
- Five of the world’s eight highest (above 8000m) mountains are in Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan)
- K-2 (Chagori) is the highest mountain peak in Pakistan and the second highest in the world.
- The world’s longest glacial system outside the Polar Regions – the Biafo Glacier – is in Pakistan.
- Karakoram Highway, connecting Pakistan and China at the Khunjerab Pass, is considered the 8th wonder of the world and the highway displaying most tourist attractions.
- Pakistan is a country with four distinct seasons which is not easily witnessed in most of the other parts of the world.
- The mighty Thar Desert is the 9th largest sub-tropical dessert of the world located near the Indian border and is one of the oldest deserts of the world.
- Shandur Polo ground is the highest polo ground of the world which is situated at an elevation of 12, 200 feet. It also is a picturesque location with beautiful lakes and sky-high mountains on all sides of the valley.
Pakistan is a unique and blessed state made up of Asia’s most remarkable landscapes. It has diverse geography blended with rich cultures and a long tradition of hospitality mirrored by the people of its country. There is no other country in the world presenting more prospects to trace roots of modern-day humans than Pakistan.
The territory that constitutes today’s Pakistan has for centuries been a cradle of ancient civilizations and home to ancient cultures and dynasties. Tracing its history back from the 9000 years old Neolithic Mehergarh civilization followed by the 5000 years old bronze age Indus Valley Civilization, the 3000 years old Buddhist Gandhara Civilization, the 16th century Mughal Era, the brief Sikh rule, and the 200 years British occupation, until independence in 1947, Pakistan has seen unprecedented events that no other independent sovereign state might have gone through.
Officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is the world’s 6th most populous country in South Asia housing more than 212,742,631 people (as per 2017 census). It is the 33rd-largest country encompassing 881,913 square kilometres (340,509 square miles). The country has four provinces – Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – and three territories – FATA, Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan – surrounding a well-planned modern capital city, Islamabad, located in the heart of the state.
Pakistan is strategically placed on the crossroads of Asia and divided into three major geographic areas – the northern highlands, the Indus River plains, and the Balochistan Plateau. The country is bordered by the 1046 km coastline of the Arabian Sea in the south, India to the east, China to the northeast, Afghanistan to the northwest, and Iran to the southeast. From the mighty glaciated mountain ranges in the north (Gilgit-Baltistan) to the coastal areas of the south the diverse landscape of Pakistan is rich in alluvial fertile planes, vast deserts, dense forests, plateaus, jungles, flora and fauna, rivers, and lakes.
Pakistan is abundant in tourist attractions.
The northern mountainous part of the country constitutes some parts of KPK (Chitral, Swat, and the Kaghan Valley), Azad Jammu & Kashmir, and the entire Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly northern areas) – making up the westernmost edge of the great Himalayas – a unique playground for adventure lovers. The region is ideal for adventure sports and is known as a haven for nature and adventure lovers.
Gilgit-Baltistan has the honour of hosting world’s highest mountains and longest glaciers located outside the polar region famous for trekking, mountaineering, climbing, white water rafting, mountain & desert jeep safaris, and paragliding. The junction point of three mighty mountain ranges – the Karakoram, the Hindukush, and the Himalaya – and the Pamir mountain range exist in Gilgit-Baltistan. The region has been the melting pot of Buddhism and remained one of the several trade routes of ancient Silk Route – currently the Karakoram Highway connecting Pakistan and China Pakistan and China at Khunjerab Pass as a trade and tourism artery embellished by more than 100,000 petroglyphs and rock carvings testifying the Buddhist rule, towering mountains with tiny valleys and terraced fields in the backdrop, ancient forts featuring architectural dexterity, and hundreds of years old rich history of the natives.
The central territories of the country feature mostly, dense forests, vast deserts, and fertile lands so abundant in history and culture housing unique landmarks. Its archaeological heritage making up ancient sites such as Moenjo-Daro & Harappa of Indus Valley Civilization as well as Taxila & Takht-i-Bahi of Gandhara Civilization are the spotlights drawing domestic and international visitors in volumes. In addition to these sites, Pakistan boasts a wealth of architecturally significant landmarks, many dating from the Islamic era, Moghul Empire, Sikh rule, and from the British era, located in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Karachi & Peshawar.
Its southern region constituting Sindh and Baluchistan make up archaeological sites, religious landmarks, architectural heritage, lakes, and some of the world’s best golden beaches stretching along the coastal line. The Makran Coastal Highway from Karachi to Gwadar and Jiwani is a unique highway in the world crowned with exclusive tourist attractions. Pakistan hosts six of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and several dozens of sites still lined up to be declared the World Heritage.
The country’s major cities reflect historic and modern influences. The people of different colors and creeds having diverse cultural backgrounds living in different parts of these cities belonging to diverse ethnic groups, practicing their own faiths, wearing colorful costumes speaking some of the world’s distinct languages, consuming rich diet, maintaining and harmonious society are known as the most hospitable people present a true image of the country.
Pakistan is accessible by road from China via Khunjerab border, from Afghanistan via Khyber Pass (currently closed), From Iran via Taftan border and from India via the Wahga border. By air, Pakistan is accessible from several countries directly and indirectly. A number of international flag carriers fly to the major airports of Pakistan including Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Sialkot, and Karachi.
The region’s four distinct seasons, its countless landmarks including the highest mountain ranges and longest glaciers outside polar region, crystal blue lakes, gushing rivers, longest highways, trekking routes, terraced fields, monuments, cuisines, and cultural diversity are what make it a distinguished region and draw tourists in volumes.
The history of tourism goes as far back as the evolution of human civilisation – long before the coinage of the word “tourism” in the 18th century. People travelled for a number of reasons. The earliest known purpose of travel was for the food and shelter by the bare feet hunters and gatherers. Tourism today, however, is a full-fledged industry and operating worldwide as an engine of socio-economic growth.
The evolution of tourism from exploration for basic needs in the early human history to the modern day diversified tourism trend is a long and fascinating journey. New inventions, advancements in technology, exploration of new destinations, travel intensive religious obligations, preservation of ancient monuments, erections of modern buildings, human desire for exploration, and an increase in wealth – gradually helped shape and increase the trend of tourism.
The human journey began as a wanderer, especially in search of food. The man then started travelling for religious purposes and then for knowledge & exploration. Gradually with steady developments in the society, the purpose of travel extended to trade and business followed by travel for leisure and recreation. Development of technology in the 20th century had phenomenal repercussions on the travel industry around the world, particularly during the last two centuries.
In the beginning, travel mainly was confined to well-off people or for explorers when the concept of real travel originated for the purpose of knowledge and leisure. Spas and coastal resorts during the Roman Republic as well as Chinese nobles visiting Mount Tai and other five mountains is a fine example of the travel experience constrained to the rich. During the middle ages, however, the tradition of pilgrims motivated even the lower classes to undertake travelling in order to perform religious rituals.
Before the advent of technology, man domesticated animals and learnt to ride horses to travel faster to cover longer distances. The invention of boat and wheel in 3500 BC, the invention and use of horse carts in 2000 BC, the invention of wheelbarrow in 1st century and shoes in 8th century, the concept of public transport using horse-pull carts in 17th century, the invention late 18th century steam engine and hot air balloon, the first ever steam-powered locomotive train in 1814, the first motorcar invented in 1862 and first cable car in 1871, the shortest flight of first air plan by Wright brothers in the 1903, and modern day fast & luxurious transport system supported by rapidly improving technology – all have a significant role in shaping tourism to the current form.
Modern tourism has a deep association with the Grand Tour – a traditional trip undertaken by wealthy Europeans, mainly from northern and western parts of Europe. The custom flourished initially during the 1660s and with the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, travel was associated with a standard tour program or itinerary. The Grand Tour became the real status symbol of the upper classes because it was expensive to undertake.
In the 2nd half of the 18th century, the concept of travelling was extended to the Americas and other parts of the world. The industrial revolution in the United Kingdom helped promote leisure time and that lead to the emergence of leisure tourism. Gradually the trend of travelling enabled more middle class after rail and steamship became the part of mass transportation. From mid-19th to mid-20th century Thomas Cook operated tours within Europe and to Americas through his own company Thomas Cook (later Thomas Cook & Son). Tourism then extended to the USA and other parts of the world through the new concept of inclusive tours whereby the traveller went independently for a fixed period over any chosen route but his agency charged for travel, food and accommodation.
Tourism has direct and indirect links to development which essentially impact the lives of people. It causes economic growth which in turn helps increase tourism again, essentially by investing in tourism product development and marketing. The business volume of tourism today has surpassed major industries including food, automobiles and oil. With continued growth and deepening diversification, tourism is expected to be the major source of livelihood in the world.
The word tourist basically was first used by 1772 and tourism by 1811. Originally it is formed from the word tour which itself is derived from turian. Turian was an old French word torner which was derived from a Latin word Tornare and Tornare itself was derived from the Greek word tornos.
Over the years the phenomenon has changed significantly and tourism has adopted the form of industry. Today, more than a billion people travel annually around the world. It is now one of the rapidly growing industries contributing to 9.8% of global GDP and generating every 11th job in the world. It has now become a source of economic reliance in most of the countries in the world.
The contribution of tourism to economic well-being in future depends on the quality of tourism products & services and revenue generated from tourism offers. It also depends on how old destinations sustain and new ones position themselves in the international markets.
Pakistan is a country strategically located on the crossroads of South Asia abundantly rich in history, archaeological remains, natural beauty, cultural diversity, manmade landmarks, and in architectural heritage. It is a cradle of ancient civilization hosting the most significant centers of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), Gandhara Civilization, and Mughal Heritage. Six of these sites of cultural or natural significance make up to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites of Pakistan.
The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the natural and cultural properties that are considered to be of outstanding universal importance and deserve conservation. These sites are unique for their respective historic value and well-planned construction. Some of the World Heritage Sites in Pakistan inherit about 5000 years of history and boasting of their legacy today.
Tentative sites in Pakistan
There are 26 additional important heritage and natural sites lined up in the inventory of tentative sites list. Eight of the total sites have recently been approved to be added up to the list of already existing six sites that include: the Derawar Fort in the Cholistan, Hingol Cultural Landscape in Balochistan, Nagarparkar Cultural Landscape in Sindh, Central Karakoram National Park and Deosai National Park in Gilgit-Baltistan, Ziarat Juniper Forest and Karez System Cultural Landscape in Balochistan, and the Khewra Salt Mines in Punjab.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan
The 5000 years old city of Mohenjo-Daro (also spelled Mohenjodaro or Moenjodaro) was only unearthed in 1922. The city of Mohenjo-Daro is a metropolis of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) dating back to around 3rd millennium B.C. The magnificent site is located on the right bank of River Indus in Larkana District of Sindh in Pakistan. The whole city, from what the construction system indicates, was laid out following strict rules which also shows evidence of an early system of town planning.
Excavation at the site was carried out between 1930 and 1965. Only one-third of the city has yet been said to have discovered. The entire city was built of unbaked brick and gradually deteriorating due to material decay, moisture infiltration, poor drainage, and salt action. The government of Pakistan, in collaboration with UNESCO, is working to better conserve the site. Moenjodaro was included in the list of World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1980.
Takht-i-Bahi literally means spring throne in Persian. Sahr-i-Bahlol is a small fortified city located about 5 km from Takht-i-Bahi. Stretched on a crest of hilltops with altitude ranging between 36 meters and 152 meters, the early 1st century Buddhist monastic complex of Takht-i-Bahi and the neighboring city remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol are the imposing relics of Buddhism in the Gandhara region of Pakistan. Takht-i-Bahi and Sahr-i-Bahlol are in fact two different sites inscribed in the world heritage sites of Pakistan in 1980.
The ruins of Takht-tBahi and Sahr-i-Bahlol are located some 16 km from Mardan city, 78 km from Peshawar, and about 170 km from the capital city of Islamabad. Owing to its location and altitude the complex of Takht-i-Bahi escaped successive invasions and is still very well preserved. Sahr-i-Bahlol, however, is exposed to damage from local visitors digging for relics and antiquates.
The main Takht-e-Bahi site consists of four major sections including the Court of Stupas, a monastic complex, a temple complex, and a tantric monastic complex. The dates of these vary and add to the area’s cultural depth. The site is a perfect day excursion from Islamabad and Peshawar.
The Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens are two outstanding gifts from Mughal era dating back to 17th century. The two sites are located in Lahore about 7kms apart from each other. Both sites are exquisitely designed and constructed displaying the height of artistic skills at the time Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule.
The fort is located in the northwest corner of the walled city consists of marble palaces and mosques ornamented with mosaics. It was said to have been destroyed and rebuilt several times between the 13th and 15th centuries. The Shalimar Gardens, however, were constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1642 are a reflection of Persian and Islamic traditions. The gardens cover 16 hectares of land area.
Dating back to the 14th century the vast necropolis of Thatta city in Sindh province of Pakistan is home to around half a million tombs. The monuments are spread over an area of 9 km square considered to be the largest Muslim Necropolises in the world. The monuments and mausoleums are built from a high-quality material including stone, bricks, and enameled tiles reflecting the then Sindhi civilization.
The remnants at the site display a shining era of Sindh tradition during its golden time. Icons of the time including kings and queens, saints, scholars, and philosophers all are buried here. Some of the tombs of famous rulers and saints are still preserved representing Hindu, Mughal, and Islamic architecture. It was included in the world heritage sites in 1981.
Rohtas Fort or Qila Rohtas is an outstanding example of early Muslim architecture located 16km northwest of Jhelum city of Punjab in Pakistan. The fort is built strategically on a hilltop in a gorge with guarding view of surroundings. Its history dates back to 1541 when Sher Shah Suri (Lion King) of Suri dynasty ousted Emperor Humayun. The fortified complex was built to thwart the possible return of Humayun and the surrounding Ghakkhar tribe.
The main fortification of this massive fort extends to the 4km circumference of the robust wall with 68 bastions at an irregular distance for vigilance. It also has 12 main gates with specific purpose and name given to each gate. Inside the fortification are three deep wells (baolis) for self-sufficiency during wartime. There are other subsequent constructions including Haveli Maan Singh, the mosque, and Rani Mahal.
Although the fort was built according to the wishes of Sher Shah Suri; the Lion King died before it was completed. Humayun returned after the death of Sher Shah but the fort was not used for the purpose it was built. The name Rohtas, though, is derived from Rohtasgarh, the site of Sher Shah’s victory in 1539 over a Hindu ruler in India. It was included in the world heritage site in 1997.
Taxila is a significant archaeological site located about 35km north of Rawalpindi/Islamabad. The city of Taxila has been an important center of learning, the core of Buddhism, an urban metropolis, and a melting pot of ancient civilization. It was discovered in the late 1800s.
The city is situated strategically on a branch of Silk Road that linked China to the West. The history of the city dates back to the Gandhara period containing ruins of Taksasila. It was a major Hindu and Buddhist center. Taxila illustrates the stages of development of a city alternately influenced by Persia, Greece, and Central Asia from 5th century BC to 2nd century A.D. The city reached its apex between the 1st and 5th centuries. It was destroyed by White Huns in the 5th century.
There are about 50 sites within a radius of 30 km. Most of the archaeological sites of the city are located around the rich Taxila museum. Major sites include Dharmarajika, Sirkap, Julian, and Mohra Muradu. These sites are well maintained and frequently visited by local and foreign tourists. In 1980, Taxila was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From the mighty Himalayan Mountains in the northern areas (now Gilgit-Baltistan) – crowned with world’s highest mountains and longest deep-rooted glaciers in a knot of four mountain ranges outside polar region – to the serene beaches making the 1046 km long coastline in the south bordering the Arabian Sea, the country is enormously rich in wealth of attractions – a source for flourishing Tourism in Pakistan.
Geography and Accessibility:
Spread over an area of 796,095 km², Pakistan, a country of approximately190 million people from diverse cultural backgrounds, is poised at a strategic location on the globe. To the northeast it has 585km border with China connected through the KKH at 4,733m Khunjerab Pass. Likewise, to the southeast Pakistan has 2,912km border with India accessible through Wahga border in Lahore. Similarly, to the north and northeast Pakistan has 2,252km Durand line with Afghanistan. The legendary Khyber Pass from Peshawar in Pakistan connects Afghanistan. Finally, Pakistan shares a 909km long southwestern border with Iran and accessible by road via Taftan. To the south, there is only 1046km long coastal line bordering the Arabian Sea.
By air, Pakistan is accessible from number of international destinations by various airlines. PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) is the national flag career having direct flights to US, Canada, Europe, Middle East, and China. Likewise, international airlines including Emirates, Qatar airways, Etihad airways, Thai airways, Gulf air, Turkish airline, Kuwait airways, Saudi air, Sri Lankan airlines etc. fly to Pakistan’s major international airports including Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, and Karachi from major international destinations.
Historic background of Tourism in Pakistan
Since the very inception of Tourism sector, after partition of the subcontinent, it did not get its due space to grow in full capacity. Tourism remained part of the Ministry of Railways till 1955 and later functioned under Ministry of Commerce till 1964, before it was made part of Civil Aviation Department. After the creation of Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan (TDCP) and Ministry of Tourism in 1972, tourism received a temporary attention in policy making but again in 1976 it was dragged to perform under the Ministry of Commerce. Later, between 1977 and 1996 tourism remained the part of Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism until a separate Ministry of Tourism was created in 2004.
However, in the 18th amendment Tourism Ministry was devolved to the provinces simply to be neglected. No any due attention and solid steps were taken on part of the state to draw benefit from this most rewarding sector practically though much has been boasted in papers.
Flow of Tourism in Pakistan
Tourism in Pakistan enjoyed its heydays during the 70s, 80s and until mid 90s when the country received record number of international tourists from all over the world, mostly from Europe and America. It was the time when international tourists would frequently travel to Pakistan without any reservation and need for invitation. It was also the time Pakistan was considered a hot tourists destination for its scenic natural beauty and alluring cultural heritage.
Major tourist attractions to fascinate international tourists included monuments and beachside in Karachi, the Mughal treasure in Lahore, the legendary Khyber Pass in Peshawar, ancient Taxila ruins in the heart of the country, and old bazaars of Rawalpindi. Besides, Chaukandi tombs, Makli hills, Shah Jahan mosque in Thatta, Ruins at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, Palaces and Forts in Bahawalpur, Shrines in Multan, Buddhist treasure in Swat, Rohtas fort, and Salt mines were among the must visit tourist sites for culture lovers.
Likewise, for adventure enthusiasts exploring the scenic valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, traveling to the alluring Kalash tribe, the fascinating journey along the KKH leading to Pak-China border at Khunjerab, and taking up trekking & mountaineering expeditions through the famous routes in the northern mountain kingdom have been the famous activities of foreign tourists.
Due to the flow of international tourism, a diverse range of businesses flourished rapidly in Pakistan. Stakeholders including airlines, hotels, restaurants, travel companies, tour operators, tour guides, transporters, museums, forts, ancient sites, souvenir shops, vendors, and a number of tourist attractions continued to grow and enjoyed a steady stream of income. The trend of international tourism also helped other businesses grow indirectly and the country enjoyed an aura of prosperity and happiness so more than two decades.
The downfall of international tourism:
The turn of the century proved unfortunate for the tourism industry of Pakistan and distorted the whole scenario. Some inauspicious occurrences, particularly the ill-fated incident of 9/11, which proved to be a devastating episode in the history of the tourism industry of Pakistan, lead to a decline in international tourist arrivals. The sheer drop observed in the influx of international tourism following 9/11 and the subsequent launch of “war on terror”, which broadcasted the impression to the potential markets around the world as Pakistan a major harbor of terrorism, lead to change the whole mechanism of tourism business in the country.
The decline in inbound tourism led most leading tour operators and stakeholders to reduce the field of operations or closed down the fading businesses gradually. At the same time destinations and businesses suffered poorly in the major tourist destinations. This phenomenon loomed as a gloomy aura in the tourism industry. No major immediate step was taken at any level to revive international tourism. The image of the country on the international front had altogether changed.
Realistically, there seemed no strong basis to uphold Pakistan as a tourist destination when the whole world saw the state as a chaotic destination. Pakistan was amongst the few countries that suffered most because of war on terror. It was a time of uncertainty. Most of it was only because of the biased media that fabricated and exaggerated a false notion about Pakistan on the international front. This exaggeration brought with it a hard time for the government, tourism stakeholders, and for the public at large.
Attempts for revival of tourism
Some specific attempts, however, at home and abroad were instigated to fascinate international tourism much later. The pioneering step was taken, following the devastating earthquake of 2005, was by “The Guardian” by releasing “The top five tourist sites in Pakistan” in order to help the country’s dwindling tourism industry. These sites included Taxila, Lahore, Lake Saif ul Muluk, Karakoram Highway and Karimabad.
Likewise, in 2007 Pakistan launched “Visit Pakistan” marketing campaign which involved year-long organizing of various events including fairs and festivals, sporting events, different arts and craft shows, folk festivals and numerous openings of historical museums.
Similarly, in 2009, The World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked Pakistan as one of the top 25% tourist destinations for its World Heritage sites. This credible international level ranking had positive implications on the overall image of the country.
The outcome of these successive efforts resulted in 1.1 million foreign tourist arrivals in the year 2011 and almost 1 million in 2012. However, tourism again portrayed a picture of a negative growth gradually. It might, however, be more because of global economic crisis than for anything else.
Role of Stakeholders
Private tour operators left no stone unturned to maintain connections with international markets either by promoting destinations from home using electronic and social media or by physically participating in mega international tourism fairs including ITB, WTM, and a number of other mega exhibitions. Through participation in these events, tour operators have been able to secure some business to survive.
It goes without saying that the most effective role Pakistani missions abroad could and still can play to attract international tourism by promoting the country’s remarkable destinations and that is also the need of time. It is possible by adding an informative section on tourism on their respective embassy website featuring information on tourism attractions in Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistani embassies and consulates overseas can also help boost tourism by ensuring their participation in mega tourism fairs. The most important step Pakistani missions abroad can take is by softening visa granting process.
Today if our neighboring countries enjoy boom of tourism it is most because of the continuous efforts their tourism ministries play at international level. China, India, Iran, and Nepal, for example, earn a good chunk of foreign exchange from tourism only because of the keen interest of their respective governments in boosting tourism sector, formulation of tourism-friendly policies, and effectively marketing their destinations by exhibiting their attractions in a professional manner. There is a dire need for the state tourism department to efficiently market the tourism treasure in Pakistan using essential media.
However, unless there is a strong government backing to ensure internal peace and exhibit the country’s tourism products efficiently, private tour operators’ endeavor alone will never be sufficient. Moreover, in order to boost tourism in Pakistan, there is also a dire need of public-private partnership at home which in many countries is playing a pivotal role to enhance tourism and derive enormous economic benefits.
Our competitors and their allies would try hard to portray Pakistan a failure state by investing in activities which directly discourage international tourism flow to Pakistan and malign the image of the state at an international platform. This would most times result in regulating travel advisories by the countries considered potential markets for Pakistan. Ultimately, the flow of inbound tourism tends to shrink which further leads to limited foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Tourist Attractions in Pakistan
Pakistan is abundantly blessed in all aspects of tourist attractions and has a unique potential for attracting international tourists. Within a latitudinal difference of 0 to 8611m, from the Arabian Sea to the summit of K2 (the highest mountain peak in Pakistan), a rich cultural heritage and a diverse landscape vibrantly boast its beauty. The country’s captivating landscapes, scenic valleys, burning vast deserts, golden beaches, tranquil lakes, gushing rivers, four distinct seasons, flora and fauna, diverse cultures, charming history, ancient ruins, and alluring manmade attractions make Pakistan a destination of choice.
The Coastal Highway from Karachi to Gawadar and further to Jiwani is packed with attractions. The golden beaches at Sonmiani, Kund Malir and Ormara, the Princess of Hope, the Sphinx, Hingol National Park, Buzzi wildlife sanctuary and Gwadar city are some of the attractions one can enjoy while traveling along the highway. The wetland making a unique bird sanctuary at Jiwani is an added beauty.
Sindh is rich in Heritage. Start with exploring Karachi. The beach site, Museum, Mazar-e-Quaid, Frare Hall, Quaid-e-Azam museum house, Mohatta Palace, Tooba mosque, Clifton beach, and Hawks bay are some of the prominent sites to visit. While traveling north from Karachi to Punjab via N-5 National Highway one can come across countless of attractions. Chaukandi Tombs, Makli Hills, Helji Lake, Keenjhar Lake, Lake Manchar, Bhanbor,
Pakistan also has the leverage of being a country hosting six of the world heritage sites and almost three times as many are on the wait list. All these sites have an international recognition and are a reason to attract international tourists.
The fact that only the physical environment is not the viable solution to attract international tourists, there also has to be an amicable social environment for a country to be tourism friendly. What tourists expect on a foreign land is the best value for their money. This is only possible when all the essentials of pleasure are made available to the tourists with least invasion on their privacy without compromising on our cultural values. There has to be a balance between tourist demand and our cultural values.
Recent Developments in tourism sector in Pakistan
Obviously, there are hurdles in promoting tourism in Pakistan but there have also been gradual developments most recently. With tireless efforts of Pakistan army, the successful operation Zarb-e-Azb had great repercussions on the overall internal stability in the country. The operation led to improved law and order situation and stability in the affected parts of the country. Pakistan seems to have regained the lost glory after a long period of uncertainty which is a great omen for the tourism industry in Pakistan.
Likewise, the Karakoram Highway (KKH) which was considered to be a great lure to attract international tourists has now been reconstructed. It embraces a rich treasure of attractions for tourists traveling along the highway from Hasanabdal all the way to Pak-China border at Khunjerab. Lush green fields, waterfalls and creeks, valleys, snow-capped mountain peaks, glaciers, historic monuments, Petroglyphs, and people with diverse cultural background are all part of this highway. The recent reconstruction of the highway paved the way to international tourists, including Chinese tourists, to visit Pakistan through Khunjerab. This will result in a boom of tourism to Pakistan in general and Gilgit-Baltistan in particular in the coming years.
Gondogoro La, a famous pass at 5,585m altitude was subject to NOC and full expenses of a liaison officer which most times resulted in cancellation because of formalities and high costs. Recently the condition of accompanying liaison officer has been lifted and the process has been made easy which has made it easy for tour operators to promote the famous route for international tourists.
Foreign tourists will no longer need no-objection certificate (NOC) to travel to Malakand Division. The statement issued by Tourism Corporation Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) was a major initiative to promote tourism. All foreign tourists now no longer need NOC to travel to Swat, Chitral and other areas of KPK province.