Monday, June 1, 2009


 Islamabad (help·info) (Urdu: اسلام آباد) Islāmabād (Meaning "Abode of Islam") is the capital of Pakistan, and is the tenth largest city in Pakistan. [1] The Rawalpindi/Islamabad metropolitan area is the third largest in Pakistan with a population of over 4.5 million inhabitants, 1.5 million in Islamabad and three million in Rawalpindi. [2]

Islamabad is located in the Potohar Plateau in the north of the country, within the Islamabad Capital Territory. The region has historically been a part of the crossroads of Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province, Margalla pass being a gateway to the North-West Frontier Province.[3]

The city was built during the 1960s to replace Karachi as Pakistan's capital. However the capital was not moved directly from Karachi to Islamabad but first moved from Karachi to Rawalpindi then to Islamabad. The development of the country was focused on Karachi and President Ayub Khan wanted it to be equally distributed.

Islamabad is one of the most well-planned and green cities in South Asia.[peacock term][4] The city is well-organized and divided into different sectors and zones. Islamabad is also home to the Faisal Masjid which is well known for its architecture and immense size.

Early History

The relatively young city of Islamabad has over thousands of years of history in its record books. Islamabad Capital Territory, located in the Pothohar Plateau, is regarded to be one of the earliest sites of human settlement in Asia. Situated at one end of the Indus Valley Civilization, this area was the first habitation of the Aryan community from Central Asia. Islamabad was one of the routes though which the armies from North and North West passed to invade Indian Subcontinent. Many great armies such as those of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur and Nader Shah have used this route on their way to Indian Subcontinent. Relics and human skulls have been found dating back to 5000 B.C. that show this region was home to Stone Age man who used the banks of Swaan River as their settlement.

Construction and Development

In 1958, a commission was constituted to select a suitable site for the National Capital with particular emphasis on location, climate, logistics and defence requirements along with other attributes. After extensive study, research and thorough review of various sites, the commission recommended the area Northeast of Rawalpindi. A Greek firm of architects Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis designed the master plan of the city which was triangular in shape, based on a Grid plan, with its apex towards the Margalla Hills.

17 major changes have been made in the Master Plan of Islamabad since the Greek architects Doxiadis Associates prepared it in 1960.[5]

As Capital of Pakistan

When Pakistan was created in 1947, Karachi was the first capital. However, in 1960 Islamabad was constructed as a forward capital due to the following reasons:
Traditionally, the development was focused on the colonial centre of Karachi and President Ayub Khan wanted it to be equally distributed.
Karachi was located at one end of the country and a capital which was easily accessible from all parts of the country was needed.
Karachi was vulnerable to attacks from the sea while Islamabad, by contrast, is 750 miles inland and surrounded by mountains.
A statement was needed to be made regarding Kashmir territories in the North, which were disputed with India.
It was also closer to the GHQ which was, and still is, in Rawalpindi.
The climate in Islamabad is favourable compared to Lahore.

Geography and ClimateClimate chart for Islamabad airport
average temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: [2]
Imperial conversion[show]

The city is situated at the haseeb ibrahim faisal edge of the Pothohar plateau, south of the Margalla Hills. The modern capital Islamabad and the ancient Gakhar city of Rawalpindi stand side by side, displaying the country’s past and present. The area's micro-climate is regulated by three man-made lakes (Rawal, Simli and Khanpur Dam). The city overall has an extreme climate with hot summers with monsoon rains occurring during July and August, and fairly cold winters with sparse snowfall over the hills and sleet in the city. The weather ranges from a minimum of −3.9 °C (25.0 °F) in January to a maximum of 46.1 °C (115.0 °F) in June.[6]

The modern city of Islamabad was envisaged as the new capital of Pakistan in the 1960s. In the mid 1960's the capital was shifted from Karachi to Islamabad, with most of the Government machinery shifting to Islamabad, along with the foreign embassies, though off-shoots of some of these remain even today in Karachi. The city was built as a planned city and has been divided into various sectors on a "grid". One axis is indexed numerically, the other alphabetically.

The surrounding areas of Islamabad include:
East: Kotli Sattian/Murree
North East: Murree / Kahuta
North West: Taxila / Wah Cantt / Attock District
South East: Gujar Khan / Kallar Syedian / Rawat / Mandrah
South West: Rawalpindi
West: North-West Frontier Province

The Islamabad area has surprising religious diversity of considerable antiquity. A shrine of Sufi Pir Mehar Ali Shah is at Golra while the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi is in Nurpur Shahan. Saidpur Village hosts Hindu temples that have striking architecture and "Bethak of Zinda Pir" which is famous for the traditional lamps (diyas).

Islamabad/Rawalpindi Metropolitan Area

Islamabad and Rawalpindi are twin cities with just a highway separating them. Both cities, combined with Taxila and other adjoining areas, form the Islamabad/Rawalpindi Metropolitan Area with total population exceeding 5 million.

Tourism and Sightseeing
See also: List of places in Islamabad
Faisal Mosque in Islamabad
The site of Pakistan National Monument.
Lake View Park with Rawal Lake in the background.

Islamabad is one of the few cities in Pakistan that is a planned city with a well-developed infrastructure due to which it made its entry into the list of the most well-planned cities in South Asia.[7] This along with its picturesque location at the base of Margalla Hills make it a favourite destination with tourists. The sculpted gardens of Islamabad's Shakar Parian Hills, newly constructed National Monument, the fascinating Heritage Museum, and the huge marble Shah Faisal Mosque are the major highlights of the city.

Faisal Mosque was constructed on the suggestion of King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz.[8] With the area of over 5000 square meters and a capacity of over 300,000 worshippers, it is the biggest mosque in Pakistan and one of the biggest in the world. The newly constructed Lake View Park alongside Rawal Lake has become a favourite picnic spot in the city.[9]

The city's pleasant climate has enabled the introduction of many exotic plants to the area. There is also much wildlife in the north in the Margalla hills, which have been turned into a national park. The Margalla hills are home to various species of wild life including a variety of exotic birds and carnivores such as the rare and presently endangered Margalla leopards.

Main Entrance National Art Gallery, IslamabadPopulation through decades
Census Population Urban

1951 95,940 -
1961 117,669 -
1972 237,549 32.26%
1981 340,286 60.05%
1998 805,235 65.71%


According to the 1998 census, Punjabis account for 71% of the population followed by the Muhajirs at around 10%, Pashtun at 10% and others (Sindhis, Balochis, Kashmiris etc) at 9%. [10] The city is also host to many foreigners from around the globe and families of dignitaries.

The main language spoken in Islamabad is Urdu which is predominantly used within the city due to an ethnic mix of populations. English, being the official language of Pakistan is also commonly understood. Other languages include Punjabi, Pashto and Pothohari.

The Petal Monument
The Saudi-Pak Tower on Chaand Raat
The Fatima Jinnah Park

Islamabad's architecture walks a tight-rope between modernity and tradition. The Saudi-Pak Tower is a good example of the combination of modern and traditional styles into one building. The beige-coloured edifice is trimmed with blue tilework in Islamic tradition, and is one of Islamabad's tallest buildings. Islamabad is a great place for hiking there are 5 hiking tracks in Islamabad.

Other examples of intertwined Islamic and modern architecture include Pakistan Monument and Faisal Mosque. The murals on the inside of large petals of Pakistan Monument are based on Islamic architecture, and were decorated by a team of artists led by Kausar Jahan and Zarar Haider Babri, who spent a total of 119,000 hours on the artwork.[11] The relatively is great great great unusual design of Shah Faisal Mosque fuses contemporary lines with the more traditional look of an Arab Bedouin's tent with large triangular prayer hall and four minarets. The mosque's architecture is a departure from the long history of South Asian Muslim architecture. However, in some ways it makes a bridge between Arabic, Turkish and Mughal architectural traditions.[12]

The Centaurus is one of the examples of modern architecture under construction in Islamabad. The complex is designed by WS Atkins PLC, whose portfolio includes the Burj al-Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, and the Bahrain World Trade Centre in Bahrain.

Jinnah Super Market

Most of Pakistan's state-owned companies like PIA, PTV, PTCL, OGDCL etc. are based in Islamabad's Blue Area. The City is also home to many branches of Karachi-based companies, banks, TV channels etc. Headquarters of all major telecommunication operators; PTCL, Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone, China Mobile & others are located in Islamabad.

Islamabad Stock Exchange is Pakistan's third largest stock exchange after Karachi and Lahore.

Recently, Islamabad has seen an expansion of information and communications technology with the addition two Software Technology Parks which house numerous national and foreign technological and IT companies. Call centres for foreign companies have been targeted as another significant area of growth, with the government making efforts to reduce taxes by as much as 10% in order to encourage foreign investments in the IT sector.

The international baggage claim at Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
Airblue A321 at Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

Islamabad is connected to the major destinations around the world through an international airport called "Benazir Bhutto International Airport". All major cities and towns are accessible through regular trains and bus services running mostly from the neighboring city of Rawalpindi which is considered a gateway town between north and south. Lahore and Peshawar are linked to Islamabad through a network of modern and rapid motorways which has resulted in a significant reduction in traveling times between these cities. Rawalpindi and Islamabad are also connected through a network of local buses and mini vans. For more convenient traveling, a $2 taxi ride covers most urban areas within the twin cities metropolitan.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has intended to carry out a feasibility and reference design for a rapid mass transit system for the twin-cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. On April 5, 2007, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that a railway station would be built near the planned Islamabad Airport at Fateh Jang to facilitate passengers called "New Islamabad International Airport". The New Islamabad International Airport is a 3,600-acre (15 km2) international airport that is being built to serve the city of Islamabad, Pakistan. The airport is located in Fateh Jang, which is 30 km south-west of the city. Construction of the airport began in April 2007, after a decade long postponement. It is expected to be completed and operational in approximately three years. It will then take all the commercial flights that are currently operating out of the Islamabad International Airport. The Airport will be named as "Gandhara International Airport" after the ancient Buddhist kingdom.Estimated to cost about $400 million, the new Airport facility, which is the first green-field airport in Pakistan, shall comprise a contemporary state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, control tower, runway with a provision of a secondary runway, taxiways, apron, cargo complex, and hangar together with all the necessary infrastructure and ancillary facilities. It would cater to the requirements of latest generation of modern passenger aircraft.

Civic Administration

In 1959, a site on the northwest of the newly independent Pakistan was chosen and named Islamabad. Doxiadis Associates of Athens were commissioned to design the master plan in 1960. Islamabad is located on an area of 909 sq.m at the foot of the Himalaya mountain range. An autonomous governmental body was established for the implementation of the master plan under the name The Capital Development Authority (CDA). The landscaping of Islamabad was carried out by Derek Lovejoy and Partners in collaboration with many other designers.[13]

Diplomatic Enclave
Islamabad Zones
Map of Islamabad, showing all the sectors.

Islamabad is divided into eight zones: the diplomatic enclave, the commercial district, the educational sector, the industrial area and so on, each with its own shopping area and park. Each sector is identified by a letter of the Roman alphabet and a number, and covers an area of approximately 2 km x 2 km (11⁄4 x 11⁄4 mi). Each sector is further divided into 4 sub-sectors. The sectors currently in use are lettered from D to I.

Currently, there is only one D sector, D-12. Although this sector is underdeveloped with its development to be completed in 2008, it will be considered as one of the most beautiful sectors of Islamabad because of its location near the Margalla Hills. However, in the revised Master Plan, CDA has decided to develop new sectors including D-13 and D-14.

The E sectors are numbered from E-6 to E-18. Many foreigners and diplomatic personnel are housed in this sector. But with new revised Master Plan, CDA has decided to develop a park on the patterns of F-9 park in sector E-14. Sector E-8 and E-9 contain the campuses of three Defense universities Bahria University (Sector E-8), Air University (Sector E-9) and National Defence College (now National Defence University).

The F sectors are numbered F-5 through F-12. F-5 is an important sector for the software industry in Islamabad, as both of the two software technology parks are located here. The entire sector of F-9 is dedicated for the Fatima Jinnah Park. The Centaurus complex (including a 7 star plaza, 5 star hotel and apartments) will be one of the major landmarks of F-8.

The G sectors are numbered G-5 through G-16. Some important landmarks include the Convention Center, Serena Hotel and Center for Advance Studies in Engineering (CASE) in G-5, the Lal Mosque and Melody Market in G-6, the Karachi Company shopping center in G-9 (named after a construction company from Karachi who made one of the first flats in this area in and around 1978) and the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital in G-8 which is the largest medical complex in the capital and is hence also known by the locals as simply the 'Complex Hospital.' The Institute is a national centre of excellence and tertiary referral centre. With its own helipad it was the focal point of rescue missions and the point of referral for the most seriously wounded in the Northern Areas earthquake of 2005.

The H sectors are numbered H-7 through H-12. The H sectors are mostly dedicated to educational and health institutions. Sector H-12 is allocated to National University of Science and Technology (NUST) for construction of its new campus.

The I sectors are numbered I-8 through I-18. Except for I-8, these sectors are primarily set aside as part of the industrial zone. Only Two sub-sectors of Sector I-9 and one sub-sector of sector I-10 is used as Industrial Area. Sector I-11 is proposed site of a state-of-art Vegetable and Fruit Market. CDA has planned to relocate the operating Veg. and Fruit market from I-11 to Sangjani. Sector I-15 is a new sector for Low-income group. CDA is planning to set up Islamabad Railway Station in Sector I-18 and Industrial City in proposed sector I-17.

The road separating I sector from Rawalpindi is called I J Principal road.

Union Councils

There is no proper District Government setup in ICT but efforts are being made towards the establishment of a local Government system in the ICT, which is still not in place in ICT as local government systems exist in other parts of the country. In 2005, the Ministry of Interior divided the ICT into 40 union councils — 20 union councils in rural/urban areas of the ICT. However, the Union Council system is yet to be implemented. The 20 union councils each cover the following regions of the ICT (the name in brackets refers to each council's jurisdiction, named after a main town in the area covered by each council, e.g. Rewat or Tarnol):
Union Council No. 1 (Rewat): Rewat, Bhangreel Kalan, Bhangreel Khurd, Kortara, Takht Pari, Shadi Dhamial, Mohra Amir, Sood Gangal, Mohri Khumbal, Sheikhpur, Hoon Dhamial, Chuchkal and Bhima Kanait.
Union Council No. 2 (Humak): Humak, Kotha Kalan and Naizian
Union Council No. 3 (Sihala): Sihala, Gagri, Mughal, Chak Kamidar, Nara Sayedan, Sandu, Chitroh, Herdogher, Jabi Gakhran, Ladhiot, Kangota, Sayedan, Jandala and Kangota Gujran.
Union Council No. 4 (Koral): Koral, Lohi Bher, Choocha, Rakh Lohi Bher, Pagh, Panwal, Bora Bangial, Bukher, Khathreel, Dhaliala, Pind Dia, Paija, Darwala, Sher Dhamial, Pindi Malkan, Pindori Hathial, Pindori Sayedan, Bhimber Trar, Gohra Mast, Sigga, Channi Mahsu and Khan.
Union Council No. 5 (Khana): Khana Dak, Gangal, Gandhian, Tarlai Khurd and Sodhar.
Union Council No. 6 (Tarlai Kalan): Tarlai Kalan, Chaper Mir-Khanal, Tramri, Tamma, Gohra Sardar, Chatha Bakhtawar and Khardapur.
Union Council No. 7 (Kirpa): Kirpa, Jhang Sayedan, Partal, Saknal, Panjgran, Frash and Ali Pur.
Union Council No. 8 (Cherah): Cherah, Herno Thanda Pani and Ara.
Union Council No. 9 (Tumair): Tumair, Kijnah, Sihali, New Simbli, Jandala, Jandgran, Garathian, Darkalai, Rakh Tumair A, Rakh Tumair B, Dakhian and Pind Begwal.
Union Council No. 10 (Phulgran): Phulgran, Shahpur, Sakrila, Dohala, Bbbri Betha, Athal, Maira Begwal, Chattar, Karlot, Hotran, Kathar, Mangal, Chaniari, Rakh Maira A & B and Malot.
Union Council No. 11 (Bhara Kau): Kot Hathial.
Union Council No.12 (Malpur); Malpur, Shahdara (Malpur Rural), Jhang Bangial, Mandla, Subban, Mangial, Quaid-e-Azam University and Muslim Colony.
Union Council No. 13 (Noorpur Shahan): Noor Pur Shahan, Ratta Hoter, Talhar, Gokina and Saidpur.
Union Council No. 14 (Kuri at Chak Shehzad): Kuri, Rehara, Chak Shahzad, Majuhan, Mohrian, Gohra Baz, Mohra Jijan, Jagiot and Nogazi.
Union Council No. 15 (Rawal Town): Mohra Noor, Rawal Tonw, Rawal Colony, Mochi Mohra, Sumbal Korak (Katchi Abadi) and Sumbal Korak.
Union Council No. 16 (Sohan): Sohan, Kana Kak, Jaba Taili, Shakrial, Pindori, Sihana, Lakhwal, Chak Bera Sing, Kartal, Bohan, Dhoke Sharaf, Ojri Kalan & Khurd and Poona Faqiran.
Union Council No. 17 (Golra): Golra, Maira Bairi, Baker Akku, Dharek Mori, Maira Sumbal Aku, Maira Sumbal Jafer, Dharmian (F-11), E-10 (Sihala), Badia Rustam and Khan.
Union Council No. 18 (Shah Allah Ditta): Shah Allah Ditta, Seri Seral, Pind Sangral, Sara-e-Kharbooza, Johd, Siray Madhu, Bara Dari, Bakhar Fateh and Bakhsh.
Union Council No. 19 (Jhangi Sayeda): Jhangi Sayedan, Nothia, Thala Sayedan and Chailo, Sheikhpur, Kak, Noon, Narala and Bokra.
Union Council No. 20 (Tarnol): Bhadana Kalan, Tarnol, Pindi Parian, Naugazi, Dorey, Ahi Paswal, Sangjani and Bhadana Khurd.

Bahria University, Islamabad
National Defence University
Women Block of the International Islamic University, Islamabad
Quaid-i-Azam University Entrance
International Islamic University
National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Islamabad
Main article: List of educational institutes in Islamabad/Rawalpindi

Islamabad boasts the Highest Literacy Rate in Pakistan at 72.38%.[14] A large number of public and private sector educational institutes are present in Islamabad. The higher education institutes in the capital are either federally chartered or administered by private organizations and almost all of them are recognized by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. High schools and colleges are either affiliated with the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education or with the UK universities education boards (A/O Levels, IGCSE etc.). According to AEPM's (Academy of Educational Planning And Management, Ministry of Education) Pakistan Education Statistics 2006-07 report, there are total 904 recognized institutions in Islamabad, out of which 30 are pre-primary, 2 are religious schools (Deeni Madaris/Mosques), 384 are primary, 157 are middle, 232 are high (10 years of education), 59 are higher secondary (12 years of education), 15 are inter and 25 are degree colleges[15]. 7 teacher training institutes are also running in Islamabad with a total enrollment of 581,068 students and 491 teaching faculty [16].

The Gender Parity Index in Islamabad is 0.93 compared to 0.95 for Pakistan as a whole[17]. There are 178 boys only institutes, 175 girls and 551 mixed institutes in the capital territory [15]. Total enrollment of students in all categories is 273583, 139961 for boys and 133,622 for girls [18].

There are 17 recognized universities in Islamabad with a total enrollment of 279,820 students and 25,653 teachers [19]. The world's largest university Allama Iqbal Open University is located in Islamabad.[20] The two top engineering universities in Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Engineering & Applied Sciences(PIEAS) and National University of Science and Technology (NUST) also have their headquarters in the capital.[21] Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad is ranked the best university in Pakistan in general category[21]. Other notable universities include Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science & Technologhy , Fatima Jinnah Women University, a female only university, Hamdard University, the largest and the most popular private university of the country, National Defence University, Shifa College of Medicine, National University of Modern Languages, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah University.

In 2006-2007, the Federal Government spend a total of 54,523.637 million Rs. on the education sector out of which 25,830.670 million was developmental fund [22]. This amount is 25.18% of the total educational budget spend in that year, which was 216,518.059 million Rs. The public expenditure on education as percentage of total government expenditure that year was 14.09% [22].

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