Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan, and is federally administered as part of the Islamabad Capital Territory. Islamabad is the ninth largest city in Pakistan, while the larger Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area is the country's fourth largest with a population of about 7.4 million.Built as a planned city in the 1960s to replace Karachi as Pakistan's capital, Islamabad is noted for its high standards of living, safety, and abundant greenery. The city is the political seat of Pakistan and the local government setup is run by the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation, supported by the Capital Development Authority. Islamabad is located in the Pothohar Plateau in the northeastern part of the country, between Rawalpindi District and the Margalla Hills National Park to the north. The region has historically been a part of the crossroads of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the Margalla Pass acting as the gateway between the two regions.
The city's master-plan, designed by Greek architect Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis, divides the city into eight zones, including administrative, diplomatic enclave, residential areas, educational sectors, industrial sectors, commercial areas, and rural and green areas. The city is known for the presence of several parks and forests, including the Margalla Hills National Park and Shakarparian Park. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Faisal Mosque, the largest mosque in South Asia and the fourth largest in the world. Other landmarks include the Pakistan's National Monument and Democracy Square.Islamabad is a gamma-global city; it is categorised as Medium on the Human Development Index, with an HDI of 0.678, the highest in the country. Its life expectancy at 70.77 years, as of 2018, is also higher than the Pakistan average of 67.11. Furthermore, it also has the highest per capita income in the country at GNI Per capita US$8,527 as of 2018 . The city has the highest cost of living in Pakistan, and its population is dominated by middle and upper middle class citizens. Being an expensive city, the prices of most fruits, vegetable and poultry items increased in Islamabad during the year 2015-2020The city is home to twenty universities, including the Bahria University, Quaid-e-Azam University, PIEAS, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and NUST. The city is one of the safest in Pakistan, and has an expansive surveillance system with 1,900 CCTV cameras.
Data and Facts
- The total land area of Islamabad is 350 square miles (906 square kilometres); population was 1.015 million in 2017
- Islamabad is located 1,770 ft above sea level
- Despite being founded as a city a mere 56 years ago, Islamabad is actually one of the earliest known human settlements in Asia and boasts some of the earliest stone age artefacts in the world, dating back more than 500,000 years
- Pakistanis living in Islamabad enjoy a humid subtropical climate with five seasons (winter, spring, summer, rainy monsoon and autumn) and an average annual temperature of 21°C
- Pakistan welcomed 966,000 tourists into the country in 2012, many of whom visited Islamabad for its cosmopolitan vibe and urban-meets-countryside lifestyle
The Islamabad Capital Territory Administration, generally known as ICT Administration or Islamabad Administration, is the civil administration as well as the main law and order agency of the Federal Capital. The local government authority of the city is the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation with some help from the Capital Development Authority , which oversees the planning, development, construction, and administration of the city.
Islamabad Capital Territory is divided into eight zones: 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. Out of these, Zone IV is the largest in area. Zone I consists mainly of all the developed residential sectors while Zone II consists of the under-developed residential sectors. Each residential sector is identified by a letter of the alphabet and a number, and covers an area of approximately 2 km 2 km . The sectors are lettered from A to I, and each sector is divided into four numbered sub-sectors.
Series A, B, and C are still underdeveloped. The D series has seven sectors , of which only sector D-12 is completely developed. Sectors E-8 and E-9 contain the campuses of Bahria University, Air University, and the National Defence University. The F and G series contains the most developed sectors. F series contains sectors F-5 to F-17; some sectors are still under-developed. F-5 is an important sector for the software industry in Islamabad, as the two software technology parks are located here. The entire F-9 sector is covered with Fatima Jinnah Park. The Centaurus complex is a major landmark of the F-8 sector. G sectors are numbered G-5 through G-17. Some important places include the Jinnah Convention Centre and Serena Hotel in G-5, the Red Mosque in G-6, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, the largest medical complex in the capital, located in G-8, and the Karachi Company shopping center in G-9.
The H sectors are numbered H-8 through H-17. With the exception of I-8, which is a well-developed residential area, these sectors are primarily part of the industrial zone. Currently two sub-sectors of I-9 and one sub-sector of I-10 are used as industrial areas. CDA is planning to set up Islamabad Railway Station in Sector I-18 and Industrial City in sector I-17. Zone III consists primarily of the Margalla Hills and Margalla Hills National Park. Rawal Lake is in this zone. Zone IV and V consist of Islamabad Park, and rural areas of the city. The Soan River flows into the city through Zone V.
When the master plan for Islamabad was drawn up in 1960, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, along with the adjoining areas, was to be integrated to form a large metropolitan area called Islamabad/Rawalpindi Metropolitan Area. The area would consist of the developing Islamabad, the old colonial cantonment city of Rawalpindi, and Margalla Hills National Park, including surrounding rural areas.However, Islamabad city is part of the Islamabad Capital Territory, while Rawalpindi is part of Rawalpindi District, which is part of province of Punjab .Initially, it was proposed that the three areas would be connected by four major highways: Murree Highway, Islamabad Highway, Soan Highway, and Capital Highway.
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and a net contributor to the Pakistani economy. Whilst having only 0.8% of the country's population, it contributes 1% to the country's GDP. The Islamabad Stock Exchange, founded in 1989, is Pakistan's third largest stock exchange after Karachi Stock Exchange and Lahore Stock Exchange. The exchange has 118 members with 104 corporate bodies and 18 individual members. The average daily turnover of the stock exchange is over 1 million shares. As of 2012, Islamabad LTU (Large Tax Unit) was responsible for Rs 371 billion in tax revenue, which amounts to 20% of all the revenue collected by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) as of 2012.Islamabad has seen an expansion in information and communications technology with the addition three Software Technology Parks which house numerous national and foreign technological and IT companies. The tech parks are located in Evacuee Trust Complex, Awami Markaz and I-9 sector. Awami Markaz houses 36 IT companies while Evacuee Trust house 29 companies.
Call centers 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. Most of Pakistan's state-owned companies like Pakistan International Airlines, PTV, PTCL, OGDCL, and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd. are based in Islamabad. The city is home to many branches of Karachi-based companies, banks, and TV channels. Headquarters of all major telecommunication operators such as PTCL, Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone, China Mobile and are located in Islamabad. Being an expensive city, the prices of most of fruits, vegetable and poultry items increased in Islamabad during the years 2015-2020.
Pakistan made some important progress towards the ease of doing business for small and medium-sized enterprises, finds the latest edition of the World Bank Group’s Doing Business report.Pakistan announced a three year road map to improve its global ranking on doing business earlier this year. Consistent with that, the country completed three reforms in the past year in Registering Property, Getting Credit and Trading Across Borders. The highest number in a single year over the past decade. Pakistan improved access to credit information by legally guaranteeing borrowers’ rights to inspect their own data. The credit bureau also more than doubled its borrower coverage, thereby increasing the amount of creditor information and providing more financial information to prospective lenders. Pakistan now ranks second in the South Asia region in the area of Getting Credit.As a result of these reforms, Pakistan’s position in the Doing Business global rankings improved to 144 out of 190 economies this year, as against 148 in 2016 under the latest methodology. Pakistan’s Distance to Frontier score, a measure of distance each economy has moved towards best practice expressed as frontier at 100, in Doing Business Report also improved from 49.48 in 2016 to 51.77 this year.
While Pakistan’s recent improvements are encouraging, the report finds that local entrepreneurs still face difficulties in many areas such as Enforcing Contracts and Getting Electricity. For instance, it takes almost three years to settle a commercial dispute in Pakistan, compared to the global average of 637 days. And firms in both Karachi and Lahore experience power outages on a daily basis. This year’s report includes, for the first time, a gender dimension in three indicators: Starting a Business, Registering Property and Enforcing Contracts. The country needs to pay significant attention to gender aspects, going forward. The Paying Taxes indicator set has been expanded as well to include measures of post-filing processes relating to tax audits and Value Added Tax refund. Tax audit compliance in Pakistan takes 29 hours, which is considerably less than the regional average of 48 hours, but higher than the global average of 17 hours.
Islamabad is connected to major destinations around the world through Benazir Bhutto International Airport, previously known as Islamabad International Airport. The airport is the third largest in Pakistan and is located outside Islamabad, in Chaklala, Rawalpindi. In fiscal year 2004–2005, over 2.88 million passengers used Benazir Bhutto International Airport and 23,436 aircraft movements were registered. Gandhara International Airport is under construction at Fateh Jang to cope with the increasing number of passengers. When completed in August 2017, the airport will be the largest in Pakistan. The airport will be built at a cost of $400 million and will be completed by mid-2017. All major cities and towns are accessible through regular trains and bus services running mostly from the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi. Lahore and Peshawar are linked to Islamabad through a network of motorways which has resulted in a significant reduction in travelling times between these cities. M-2 Motorway is 367 km long and connect Islamabad and Lahore. M-1 Motorway connects Islamabad with Peshawar and is 155 km long. Islamabad is linked to its 'Father' city Rawalpindi through the Faizabad Interchange, the first cloverleaf interchange in Pakistan with a daily traffic volume of about 48,000 vehicles.
The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metrobus is a 24 km bus rapid transit system that serves the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in Pakistan. This service covers a huge distance from city Saddar, Rawalpindi to Pak-Secretariat, Islamabad. This service is very reliable and consistent, and the labour force as well as students are using this government provided service on a daily basis. It has reduced the time consumption by reducing the route. Now this bus service is being extended to more areas in Islamabad that include areas near G-13 and H-12. Work is currently being done to keep it along the Kashmir Highway.People use private transport like Taxis, Careem, Uber, Bykea, and SWVL for local journeys. In March 2016, Careem became functional in Islamabad and Rawalpindi with taxi services.M-2 Motorway is 367 km long and connect Islamabad and Lahore.
Pakistan’s first largest NIC at Islamabad is running under the public-private partnership providing a comprehensive ecosystem for start-ups, incubators, and accelerators. The National Incubation Center (NIC) Islamabad is a first of its kind technology hub, launched under the public-private partnership of the Ministry of IT & Telecom, Ignite Fund, Jazz & Teamup.
Pakistan's young and tech-savvy population, market of over 220 million people and increasing levels of local capital are creating opportunities for tech entrepreneurs, as Miriam Partington reports.Hena's company works with a development team based in Karachi, Pakistan's business center and best-known tech hub. It was here that transportation startup Careem — acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion (€2.8 billion) in March 2019 — wrote its first lines of code and where a cluster of software engineers has formed gradually over the years.The country was named one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia in McKinsey & Co's latest report on the Pakistani ecosystem. The same report revealed that 720 startups had been created since 2010 — 67% of which are still in operation — with 100 successfully raising funding.
Airlift, an app-based bus service founded just 11 months ago, raised a Series A funding round of $12 million in August 2019, led by US-based venture capital (VC) firm First Round Capital. This round marked the firm's first investment in Asia in more than a decade. These successes come at a time where Pakistan’s economic picture is arguably dismal. According to a recent report published by the Islamabad Policy Institute, 2019 was a “crisis-driven” year for Pakistan. It cited high unemployment, slow GDP growth and rising inflation as just some of the issues that will continue to affect Pakistan into 2020.
According to Rabeel Warraich, founder of Pakistan-based venture capital fund Sarmayacar, the string of startup success stories — combined with a more stable political landscape under President Imran Khan and decreasing levels of corruption nationwide — has increased "investors' confidence that Pakistan holds huge potential for exiting businesses."
This newfound confidence has led to an increase in the availability of local capital. While Pakistan's startup scene and VC market is still nascent, the number of funds — such as i2i Ventures and Fatima Gobi Ventures — and active angel investors have increased significantly since 2018. And, while startups in Pakistan raised a meager $18.8 million in fundingin 2019 overall, more capital is expected to flow into startups from overseas in the ensuing years. Egyptian ride-hailing company Swvl, for instance, recently shared plans to invest $25 million in Pakistan's tech scene over the next two years to fund preseed startups and create 10,000 jobs.
Facilitating Pakistan's so-called digital transformation is central to government plans to create an enabling environment for tech startups and stimulate economic growth. The launch of the "Digital Pakistan" initiative in December 2019 headed by former Google executive Tania Aidrus revealed an ambitious agenda to increase access and connectivity, enhance digital education and introduce a new era of e-governance. Other objectives include cultivating a business environment that supports entrepreneurship and innovation. The effects of the initiative awaits to be seen. As it stands, digital participation in Pakistan is limited by weak infrastructure, low internet penetration rates and a lack of online payment services, according to key findings from DW Akademie's Speakup Barometer for Pakistan. There’s also concern about how tech entrepreneurs can navigate Pakistan's complex business environment.
According to Shahjahan Chaudhary, director of the National Incubation Center Karachi, "excessive taxation, constraints on capital flows and bureaucratic headaches" present significant challenges for growing tech startups. He added that government departments should be thinking of ways to support the local ecosystem to "truly benefit from its talented entrepreneurs." In the latter half of 2019, Pakistan passed six reforms to this end. Measures taken to ease the regulatory environment for businesses included introducing a three-year tax relief and creating an online one-stop registration system. Companies can now be incorporated in 17 days, rather than 20, at a reduced cost of 1.1%. On the surface, the reforms appear to be effective: Pakistan's position in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business report jumped from 136th place in 2018 to 108th place in 2019. According to many Pakistani nationals living overseas, new avenues of opportunity are opening up in their homeland. Sonya Barlow, a British-Pakistani entrepreneur living in the UK, hopes to launch a version of her social enterprise Like Minded Females in Pakistan this year. Based in London, the initiative provides skill workshops, mentoring and corporate training to a diverse network of women.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Islamabad had an estimated population of 1,014,825 according to the 2017 Census.[Urdu, the national and first official language of the country, is predominantly spoken within the city due to the ethnic mix of populations. English, the second official language, is also commonly understood. Other languages include Punjabi and Pashto. The mother tongue of the majority of the population is Punjabi, at 62%. 12% of the population are Sindhi speakers, 18% are Pashto speakers, and 8% other languages as of the 2006 census. The total migrant population of the city is 397,731, with the majority from Punjab . Around 116,614 of the migrated population came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 75,143 from Sindh, 24,438 from Azad Kashmir, and 21,372 from other countries. Smaller populations emigrated from Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan. The second largest religion is Christianity, with 6.07% of the population, 0.94% in rural areas and 5.70% in the city. Hinduism accounts for 4.02% 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 87%. 9.8% of the population has done intermediate education . 10.26% have a bachelor or equivalent degree while 5.2% have a master or equivalent degree. The labour force of Islamabad is 185,213 and the unemployment rate is 15.70%.
Islamabad is home to many migrants from other regions of Pakistan and has a cultural and religious diversity of considerable antiquity. Rawat Fort in the region was built by the Gakhars in the 16th century and contains the grave of the Gakhar chief, Sultan Sarang Khan.Saidpur village is supposedly named after Said Khan, the son of Sarang Khan. The 500-year-old village was converted into a place of Hindu worship by a Mughal commander, Raja Man Singh. He constructed a number of small ponds: Rama kunda, Sita kunda, Lakshaman kunda, and Hanuman kunda. The region is home to a small Hindu temple that is preserved, showing the presence of Hindu people in the region. The shrine of Sufi mystic Pir Meher Ali Shah is located at Golra Sharif, which has a rich cultural heritage of the pre-Islamic period. Archaeological remains of the Buddhist era can also still be found in the region. The shrine of Bari Imam was built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Thousands of devotees from across Pakistan attend the annual Urs of Bari Imam. The event is one of the largest religious gatherings in Islamabad. In 2004, the Urs was attended by more than 1.2 million people.The Lok Virsa Museum in Islamabad preserves a wide variety of expressions of folk and traditional cultural legacy of Pakistan.