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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Sialkot: How domestic prosperity affects electoral outcomes

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S M Fahad Ali |

Sialkot, despite being a small city in terms of population, 655,852, and land area, 19km2, is a powerhouse when it comes to industry and entrepreneurship. It is one of Pakistan’s most highly industrialized regions and even though it is the 12th most populous city, it has the highest exports, amounting to more than $2bn, and 10% of the total Pakistani exports. Sialkot also has one of the highest GDP per capita in South Asia, standing at almost $2800 per capita.

There are various accounts of Sialkot’s ancient history which make it very ambiguous but the most popular tradition states that Sialkot was founded by King Shalya of the Madra Kingdom and later razed by the forces of Alexander the Great. It served as the capital of multiple Indian empires but later lost its significance after Lahore rose to prominence.

Other than these two major industries, there are many smaller industries in Sialkot which include the martial arts goods industry, the workwear industry, leather garment industry and industry of all sports gear.

Sialkot’s entrepreneurial spirit is captured by the fact that it is the home to Pakistan’s and South Asia’s first privately owned public airport, Sialkot International Airport. It is a hub of small medium enterprises and the major industries include sports, leather, work wear, and surgical instruments. In contrast to the rest of the exports in Pakistan, Sialkot produces manufactured and finished goods, and they are of a very competitive quality in the international markets.

Read more: Why PML-N retained all its seats in Sialkot?

In the 2013 General Elections, PML-N won all the five seats from Sialkot and in the 2018 General Elections, PML-N retained all its five seats, albeit a few were controversial but the overall results show that the PML-N retained its popularity in Sialkot. Why PML-N lost its position its majority position in most of Punjab but not Sialkot can be best understood by critically analyzing Sialkot’s economic position.

Sialkot is the biggest producer of hand-sewed footballs in the world with a production of around 40-60 million footballs per month which is roughly 60% of world production. Footballs for the FIFA World Cup 2014 were made by Forward Sports, a company based in Sialkot. Similarly, footballs for the FIFA World Cup 2018 were also made in Sialkot, again by Forward Sports. Other than Forward Sports, there are many other renowned manufacturers of sports equipment in Sialkot including Power Sports, Moltex, Sialkot Sports, Khawaja Mir, and MTH Sialkot.

In contrast to the rest of the exports in Pakistan, Sialkot produces manufactured and finished goods, and they are of a very competitive quality in the international markets.

Football is not the only good that Sialkot is famous for, it has also specialized in the production of surgical instruments. Over 10,000 different medical instruments, covering all basic and surgical segments, are being manufactured in Sialkot and the industry comprises of over 3000 companies with the labor force ranging from (15-450) per unit. 30 among these are considered large enterprises while around 150 are medium-sized enterprises.

Read more: Sialkot Police yet to arrest Nawa-i-Waqt-journalist Zeeshan Butt’s killer

They produce over 170 million pieces a year. Top 10 buyers are the US, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, UAE, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia. It generates around $360M annually but the potential is much greater since a lot of potential revenue is being lost to outsourcing importers. U.S. is the biggest importer of disposable instruments while EU is the biggest importer of reusable instruments.

Other than Forward Sports, there are many other renowned manufacturers of sports equipment in Sialkot including Power Sports, Moltex, Sialkot Sports, Khawaja Mir, and MTH Sialkot.

Other than these two major industries, there are many smaller industries in Sialkot which include the martial arts goods industry, the workwear industry, leather garment industry and industry of all sports gear. They are smaller than the major two but contribute a great deal towards the economy of the city and are known for their high quality and exports. The sports gear industry earns around $100M per annum.

Read more: Water woes of Pakistan

The major manufacturers of these goods include Nizam Sons, Khawaja Anwar, MB Sports, Star Pak, and Leather Field among others. Industries in Sialkot employ around 250,000 people and the PML-N’s tenure has seen further blossoming of Sialkot’s industry. These 250,000 people translate into 250,000 families and with an average size of 4 voters per family, this number reaches over a million people and that is not all. These are the directly employed people in Sialkot’s industry.

A huge number of people benefit indirectly from the industries in the form of logistics, housing, everyday goods, and other ways. When the purchasing of the power of the people in an area increases, the economy of the whole area gets a huge boost. Since the people of Sialkot prospered in PML-N’s regime, they had no solid reason to elect a new party for its representation.

Syed Muhammad Fahad Ali is an Assistant Editor at Global Village Space. He has recently cleared his CSS examinations and been allocated in the Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service (PAAS). The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.