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Introducing Islamabad

Updated on May 24, 2015

When it comes to Pakistan, most people have negative connotations attached to it. They associate it with poverty, terrorism and corruption. We can blame it on many conspiracy theories, but the reality is that it is us who have failed to brand Pakistan properly. People believe what they see and hear, and since we didn’t show them the beauty of our landscapes, the passion of our people, and the diversity of our culture, we can’t blame them for misjudging us.

In order to change the prevalent perception about Pakistan in the global audience, we have chosen to work on branding Islamabad- The beautiful Capital of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The construction of Islamabad began in 1960; the area which was previously a forest was transformed into a developed Capital furnished with modern infrastructure. The construction of the city was undertaken following an efficient plan prepared by a firm of Greek Architects that divided the city into several sectors with each sector being an independent entity on its own having its own parks, hospitals, markets and schools. A sector was devoted to be a recreational park, and a few others were demarcated to University. Even amidst all this beauty the city has still retained its natural beauty.

The roadsides and pavements of Islamabad are lined with trees, shrubs and flowers. Small Parks are located all over the city. Moreover Islamabad boasts the Himalayas as a crown adding to her scenic beauty. It’s truly a piece of Eden on earth. The TopTenFindings website has ranked Islamabad second in the list of best Capitals in the world.

The Majestic Faisal Mosque
The Majestic Faisal Mosque
Relics found in Islamabad preserved in the National History Museum
Relics found in Islamabad preserved in the National History Museum
At the foothills of the Margalla Hills on the southwest of Islamabad lie, silently, the caves with Buddhist relics in the centuries-old Shah Allah Ditta village
At the foothills of the Margalla Hills on the southwest of Islamabad lie, silently, the caves with Buddhist relics in the centuries-old Shah Allah Ditta village
Ahmed Shah Duranni Passed through Islamabad to invade the Indian Sub Continent.
Ahmed Shah Duranni Passed through Islamabad to invade the Indian Sub Continent.
Ghengis Khan passed through Islamabad to Invade the Indian Subcontinent.
Ghengis Khan passed through Islamabad to Invade the Indian Subcontinent.
Islamabad Terrain before Development
Islamabad Terrain before Development
Bird's eye view of Islamabad in 1962
Bird's eye view of Islamabad in 1962

History and Development of Islamabad

Islamabad Capital Territory, located on the Pothohar Plateau, is regarded to be one of the earliest sites of human settlement in Asia. Some of the earliest Stone Age artifacts in the world have been found on the plateau, dating from 500,000 to 100,000 years ago. The crude stones recovered from the terraces of the Soan River testify to the endeavors of early man in the inter-glacial period. Items of pottery and utensils dating back to prehistory have been found.

Excavations have revealed evidence of a prehistoric culture. Relics and human skulls have been found dating back to 5000 BC that show this region was home to Neolithic people who settled on the banks of the Swaan River. The Neolithic people developed small communities in the region at around 3000 BC. A Buddhist town once existed in the region.

Situated at one end of the Indus Valley Civilization, the area was the first habitation of the Aryan community in Central Asia. Their civilization flourished here between the 23rd and 18th centuries BC. Many great armies such as those of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur and Ahmad Shah Durrani used the corridor through Islamabad on their way to invade the Indian Subcontinent. Modern Islamabad is based on the old settlement known as Saidpur. The British took control of the region from the Sikhs in 1849 and built Asia’s largest cantonment in the region.

Islamabad is located in the northwest of the country on Potohar Plateau. This area has been significant in history for being a part of the crossroads of the Rawalpindi and the North West Frontier Province. The city was built in 1960 to replace Karachi as the Pakistani capital, which it has been since 1963. Due to Islamabad's proximity to Rawalpindi, they are considered sister cities.

Compared to other cities of the country, Islamabad is a clean, spacious and quiet city with lots of greeneries. To the north of the city you will find the Margalla Hills. Hot summers, monsoon rains and cold winters with sparse snowfall in the hills almost summarize the climate of this area. Islamabad also has a rich wildlife ranging from wild boars to leopards.

After the formation of Pakistan in 1947, it was felt that a new and permanent Capital City had to be built to reflect the diversity of the Pakistani nation. It was considered pertinent to locate the new capital where it could be isolated from the business and commercial activity of the Karachi, and yet is easily accessible from the remotest corner of the country.
A commission was accordingly set in motion in 1958, entrusted with the task of selecting a suitable site for the new capital with a particular emphasis on location, climate, logistics and defense requirements, aesthetics, and scenic and natural beauty.

After extensive research, feasibility studies and a thorough review of various sites, the commission recommended the area North East of the historic garrison city of Rawalpindi. After the final decision of the National Cabinet, it was put into practice. A Greek firm, Doxiadis Associates devised a master plan based on a grid system, with its north facing the Margalla Hills. The long-term plan was that Islamabad would eventually encompass Rawalpindi entirely, stretching to the West of the historic Grand Trunk road.

Islamabad nestles against the backdrop of the Margallah Hills at the northern end of Potohar Plateau. Its climate is healthy, pollution free, plentiful in water resources and lush green. It is a modern and carefully planned city with wide roads and avenues, elegant public buildings and well-organized bazaars, markets, and shopping centers.
The city is divided into eight basic zones: Administrative, diplomatic enclave, residential areas, educational sectors, industrial sectors, commercial areas, and rural and green areas.

The metropolis of Islamabad today is the pulsating beat of Pakistan, resonating with the energy and strength of a growing, developing nation. It is a city, which symbolizes the hopes and dreams of a young and dynamic nation and espouses the values and codes of the generation that has brought it thus far. It is a city that welcomes and promotes modern ides, but at the same time recognizes and cherishes its traditional values and rich history.

People and Demographics

According to the 1998 census, the total population of the city was 805,235, with 434,239 males and 370,996 females. The average annual population growth rate from 1981 to 1998 was 5.19. The urban population of the city was 529,180, with 209,717 males and 238,463 females. The total rural population in 1998 was 276,055, with 143,522 males and 132,533 females.

Urdu is predominantly spoken within the city due to the ethnic mix of populations. English, being the official language of Pakistan, is also commonly understood. Other languages include Punjabi, Pashto and Pothohari. The mother tongue of the majority of the population is Punjabi, at 71.66%. 10.52% of the population is native Pashto speakers. Urdu is the mother tongue of 10.11% of the population, Saraiki 1.11%, Sindhi 0.56% and other languages accounting for 7.04%.[41] The total migrant population of the city is 397,731, with the majority from Punjab (241,977). Around 76,614 of the migrated population came from North-West Frontier Province, 26,143 from Sindh, 24,438 from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and 21,372 from other countries. Smaller populations emigrated from Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Baluchistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Islam is the largest religion in the city, with 95.53% of the population Muslim. In rural areas this percentage is 98.80%, while in urban areas the percentage of Muslims is 93.83%. The second largest religion is Christianity, with 4.07% of the population, 0.94% in rural areas and 5.70% in the city. Hinduism accounts for 0.02% of the population, and other minorities 0.03%.

The majority of the population lies in the age group of 15–64 years, around 59.38%. Only 2.73% of the population is above 65 years of age; 37.90% is below the age of 15. Islamabad has the highest literacy rate in Pakistan, at 72.88%. 9.8% of the population has done intermediate education (equivalent to grades 11 and 12). 10.26% have a bachelor or equivalent degree while 5.2% have a master or equivalent degree. The labor force of Islamabad is 185,213 and the unemployment rate is 11.70%.

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Places to Visit in Islamabad

Islamabad has a lot to offer to its inhabitants and visitors. It offers a lot of beautiful and scenic and peaceful destinations that you can take your family to.

Bird's eye view of Islamabad
Bird's eye view of Islamabad
Faisal Mosque
Faisal Mosque

Faisal Mosque

Located Just in front of the beautiful Margalla hills, The Faisal Mosque is one of the finest Mosques in the world and a famous landmark of Islamabad; it was initially designed by a Turk Architect with the financial assistance of Saudi Arabia. It’s a terrific place to visit. Very picturesque and the road leading to the mosque is also photo worthy.

Pir Sohawa
Pir Sohawa

Pir Sohawa

Pir Sohawa is a beautiful scenic spot about an hour’s drive from Islamabad on the Margalla hills. The drive to Pir Sohawa is beautiful and scenic with an excellent view of Islamabad from the hills. There is a lot to do in Pir Sohawa:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Camping
  • Picnics

…and for someone who wants to spend good money there is an upscale resort as well. There are small "dhabaa" and other small joints serving various foods, and confectionery shops are also available to visitors.

Pakistan Monument
Pakistan Monument

Pakistan Monument Museum

The Monument of Pakistan and the museum are excellent visiting sites with family. Neatly laid out at western side of Shakarparian Hill overlooking old Islamabad side this place offers a treat for the whole family from young ones to older people from all walks of life. The arrangements at the monument are visitor friendly and its serene & peaceful environment attracts all, including foreigners. The history of Pakistan is very nicely depicted at the museum from early Muhammad Bin Qasim Days to Mughal dynasty and struggle for Pakistan by Quad e Azam & Allama Iqbal.

The Pakistan Monument represents the nation's four provinces and three territories. The blooming flower shape of the monument represents Pakistan's progress as a rapidly developing country. The four main petals of the monument represent the four provinces (Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh), while the three smaller petals represent the three territories (Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The Monument has been designed to reflect the culture and civilization of the country and depicts the story of the Pakistan Movement, dedicated to those who sacrificed themselves for future generations. Pakistan Monument Museum is a must-see sight for all visitors.

Daman-e-Koh
Daman-e-Koh

Daman e Koh

Daman-e-Koh (Lap of the mountains) is one of the most famous places in capital Pakistan. It's a green mountainous place where you can ride, walk and explore the beautiful mountain, restaurants and park. You can also see the whole City from there.

It has been developed in the last one decade and there is couple of very good restaurants located here. There is a tourist viewpoint which gives a beautiful overview of whole of the Islamabad and Rawalpindi cities. It is a place which should be visited both in the day and at nighttime.

It is a great place to take a break, slow down, and enjoy the fantastic vistas of Islamabad.

Margallah Hills National Park

Pakistan is home to some exotic flora and fauna in the Indian sub-continent. The wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Pakistan offer some exciting wildlife tour options. If you are in Islamabad, a wildlife tour to Margalla Hills National Park is a must. The Margalla Hills National Park is situated in the foothills of the Himalayas and is one of the easily accessible national parks in Pakistan.

The Margalla Hills are a series of hills located north of Islamabad, Pakistan. The Margallas are excellent for hiking purposes and cater to both the serious hiker and the less serious enthusiast. The best seasons to hike are the mild winter months when there is less rain and the days are extremely pleasant. The Margalla Hills National Park is home to a number of wild animals that include barking deer, wild boars, Asiatic leopard, chinkara, red fox, leopard and jackals.

Fatima Jinnah Park
Fatima Jinnah Park

Fatima Jinnah Park

The largest park, in terms of area, in the whole of Asia, Fatima Jinnah Park is a sprawled scenic wonderland. It has a walking and jogging track, where people from all across the city come for some peaceful calm. In addition to several hundred acres of green wilderness, Fatima Jinnah Park is also undergoing uplifting and development.

Rawal Lake
Rawal Lake

Rawal Lake

Rawal Lake is a very beautiful lake located in Islamabad Park Area. A dam was built on this lake across Korang River in 1962 called Rawal Dam. It has a storage capacity of 47,500 acre feet and covers 3.5 square miles.

Park covers a large area and encloses variety of recreation activities like:

Pathways for walking, Green Lawns for sitting by
Passenger train & Electric Bus
Ibex club, rock climbing gym
Paintball battlefield
Motor sports ranch
Fun Rides & games for children & adults
Boating Area
Zoo of rare species of Birds

It is an ideal place for picnic, fishing and boating. There is a terraced garden on the lake side. THe highest point in the garden offers a great view of the lake, Margalla and Murree hills.

The Veiw from Shakker Parrian
The Veiw from Shakker Parrian

Shakkar Parrian

Shakar Parian Hills are situated near Zero Point, up above the Loke Virsa Museum & Rose & Jasmine Garden. From here you can view the twin cities of Islamabad & Rawalpindi very clearly. Hills have two View Points. East Viewpoint & West View Point.

East View Point:
The older & more visited picnic spot is East View Point where there is a terrace surrounded by a park with a fountain. Jinnah Stadium, Rawal Lake & neighboring hills of Margalla and Murree can be easily viewed from here.
There is a small garden of Pine Trees near the terrace. Specialty of this garden is that all trees have been planted by country heads (Kings/Presidents/Prime Ministers) of friend countries. It is a tradition that whenever a foreign president or prime minister visits Pakistan he/she plants a tree at Shakar Parian which is a symbol of friendship between the countries.

There is a monument/foundation memorial on East View point where Islamabad City's Master Plan was approved by that time's President His Excellency Mr. Ayub Khan in 24 May 1960.

West View Point:
Pakistan Monument is built on West View Point. Also you can view Islamabad's sky line from West View Point.

Rose and Jasmine Garden
Rose and Jasmine Garden

Rose and Jasmine Garden

This 20,360 sq. meters garden has 250 different varieties of roses as well as a dozen types of Jasmines. It’s a very popular spot among residents to relax. Springs and autumn flower shows are arranged here by Horticultural Society of Pakistan in association with Capital Development Authority every year. There is also the Tourist Camping Site near this park.

Conclusion

Islamabad has a lot to offer to anyone who decides to pay a visit. It is truly at the peak of Peace. Islamabad is a great place to raise families, and build long lasting memories. It’s a piece of Eden right here on Earth. Even though It is a Capital city; Islamabad is free from a Metropolitan, political atmosphere. It has excellent Infrastructure, great civic services, and most importantly the sound of Laughter echoes in the Mountains of Islamabad, and it’s a fun place to live in, and it’s a great place to raise a family.

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