FAISALABAD, 24January (BelTA - Associated Press of Pakistan). - Standing tall at the heart of the city with eight arteries, the ‘Faisalabad's Clock Tower' narrates the saga of a century-old civilization of Rachna Doaba (the land falling within two rivers).
The city of magnificent eight bazaars formerly known as “Lyallpur” named after Sir James Lyall, the then Lt Governor of Punjab, is the third largest city of Pakistan after Karachi and Lahore.
Distinctive presence of clock tower and eight bazaars reveals its conscious designing synonymous to Union Jack.
Plateau of Rachna Doaba was barren land having low rainfall and owing to its geographical dynamics, it remained uninhibited since 1800. Later, it provided an abode for freedom fighters waging struggle against British colonial regime.
Tough resistance to the occupied regime made the British rule to conceive an idea in late 1800s to colonise this region with multiple political, economic and administrative objectives and the task was assigned to James Lyall.
Naming it as Lyallpur was a tribute to James Lyall for his services rendered in colonisation of Rachna Doaba and lower Chenab valley.
Later on, during Second World War, a network of canals was laid down to materialise natural and agricultural potential of this region to feed the huge British army.
Idea behind this overture was to ensure consistent supply of wheat and other commodities to Army as well as nailing down the freedom fighters taking refuge in this area.
Lyallpur, a beautiful and well-planned city was primarily designed for a population of only 40,000 people.
Ample space was left for greenery and Banyan trees were specifically nurtured around the Clock Tower.
Bazaar directing towards Railway Station was named as Rail Bazaar and the one heading towards district courts was named as Kutchery Bazaar. Karkhana Bazaar was leading towards industrial while Bhawana Bazaar, Jhang Bazaar, Aminpur Bazaar, Chiniot Bazaar and Montgomery Bazaar were also named after the cities towards their direction.
These eight bazaars cover a total area of 110 acres connected with each other through a circular road called “Gol Bazaar.”
“Creation of this city had a purpose. British regime desired to harness its natural resources, rich agriculture land as well as deal with freedom fighters,” said Dr Rizwanullah Kokab, Professor of History at GC University Faisalabad.
The time took its course and like other cities Lyallpur continued expanding with rural population shifting to this city in search of jobs and better amenities. In September 1977, this multi-colored jewel of lower Chenab was renamed as “Faisalabad” by the Pakistan Government in honor of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia who had great love for Pakistan and its people.
Lyallpur was an agricultural district with majority of Sikhs and Hindus till the Muslims from Ambala, Jhalander, Hoshyarpur, Gurdaspur and other districts in Indian Punjab migrated to this region. Today, there is a city with a new name – “Faisalabad” – a thickly populated and an industrial city.
“At the time of its creation, it was a thinly populated greenish abode to people. But, time turned it into third most populated city of the country and in this process, it lost its greenery,” said Dr Rizwanullah Kokab.
“As per 2017 census, its population had swelled to 7,882,444 with thousands of acre agriculture land turned into residential settlements,” he said.
Even after its renaming, its bazaars continued to serve the trade and business purposes as per their nomenclature. Main bazaars serve vendors and shopkeepers and Gol bazaars are wholesale points with relatively cheaper commodities.
These bazaars cater for businessmen and citizens needs of garments, medicines, shoes, sports goods, mobile phones, home appliances, jewelry, cloth, yarn, food items, fruits, vegetables, stationary, printing material, electronics and cooking appliances.
The business continued flourishing gradually. But, a major boom was witnessed when power looms replaced hand looms in 1958. It spurred industrialisation and use of modern techniques still goes on.
“We started journey as a small market town during colonial era with a sluggish growth till 1947. But, the post independence era especially 1960s had been marvelous for laying down proper industrial infrastructure,” said Hafiz Ihtasham Javed, Chairman All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association (APTPMA).
“This journey still goes on prospering every segment of society. Today if we have big industrial units on business side, we have latest hospitals and education institutes like Agriculture University and GC University Faisalabad,” he said.
Fabric, value added apparel, towel, knitwear and hosiery products manufactured in Faisalabad grab 25 to 33 per cent share in overall economy and 60 to 65 per cent share in textile exports. “This made us and Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to call this city as Manchester of Pakistan.”
President Anjman-e-Tajran Haji Shahid Razzaq Sikka said, at the time of independence half of the eight bazaars were lying vacant and Katchery Bazaar was the elite bazaar accommodating Zaildars from various parts of the district.
“But, the time has changed and today Faisalabad is an industrial hub and its populace is swelling,” he said.
“So, it is direly needed to prepare a proper plan for restoring original beauty of this city and control populace influx.”
Member Punjab Assembly (MPA) Firdous Rai termed Faisalabad as a historic city enjoying distinction to have unique symmetry of eight bazaars. “The government intends to preserve its original beauty and develop it as a business and tourist destination. I have also submitted a plan to declare eight bazaars vehicle free.”
“Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI's) federal and provincial governments are heavily investing in infrastructure development to attract foreign investment and facilitate common man,” she said.
She informed that number of projects in health, education, roads and infrastructure development sectors have been completed under the Rs 13 billion package announced by Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar. “Moreover, Federal Minister Hammad Azhar recently inaugurated two grid station Allama Iqbal Industrial City to gear up its speedy colonization.”
Be it the ancient times or present era, Clock Tower still stands there with all grace adding to beauty of the city and providing a sense of pride for the Faisalabad residents.