Okara District (Punjabi and Template:Lang-ur), is a district of Punjab, Pakistan. It became a separate district in 1982, prior to that it was part of Sahiwal District. The Multan Road connects the district capital, Okara with Lahore 110 km away and Faisalabad is 100 km by passing away Ravi River. According to the 2017 census, the district has a population of 3,39,139.
Okara District shares boundary on the South Bahawalnagar, on the South-West by Pakpattan, on the west by Sahiwal, on the north by the districts of Faisalabad and Nankana Sahib, on the Near-East & Far-North by Kasur, on the South-East by Fazilka (India). Okara District lies on Radcliffe line/Indo-Pakistani border, therefore its geographic importance for defence is high. Okara Cantonment has a significant position in Pakistan.
Okara region was an agricultural region with forests during the Indus Valley Civilization.the old name of OKARA city was (okan-wala اوکا والا) The Vedic period is characterized by Indo-Aryan culture that invaded from Central Asia and settled in the Punjab region. The Kambojas, Daradas, Kaikayas, Madras, Pauravas, Yaudheyas, Malavas, Saindhavas and Kurus invaded, settled and ruled ancient Punjab region. After overrunning the Achaemenid Empire in 331 BCE, Alexander marched into present-day Punjab region with an army of 50,000. The Okara was ruled by Maurya Empire, Indo-Greek kingdom, Kushan Empire, Gupta Empire, White Huns, Kushano-Hephthalites and the Turk and Hindu Shahi kingdoms.
In 997 CE, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, took over the Ghaznavid dynasty empire established by his father, Sultan Sebuktegin. In 1005, he conquered the Shahis in Kabul, and followed it by the conquests of northern Punjab region. The Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire ruled this region. The Punjab region became predominantly Muslim due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of the Punjab region.
After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the Sikh Empire invaded and occupied Sahiwal. The Muslims faced restrictions during the Sikh rule. During the period of British rule there was a forest of Okaan where the city has been built. The city is a relatively new agricultural city. The word "Okara" for this district was actually originated from word "Okan" (a lush green tree with needle like leaves). The Okan Tree gave birth to word Okanwali (Land of Okan) which ultimately finalized into Okara. During British rule the area was part of Montgomery District and contained a large saltpeter refinery. At independence in 1947, one of the two textile mills that Pakistan got was in Okara. The mill was known as Sutlej textile mill and it was Asia's biggest textile mill at that time but at present, it is closed down. In 1982 the city became the headquarters of the newly created Okara District. Okara has had a railway line since 1892.
Okara District was previously part of Montgomery District which included: Pakpattan, Sahiwal, Okara districts of Punjab. The predominantly Muslim population supported the Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslim refugees from India settled in the Okara district.
Okara District is famous for its fertile lands, peaceful natural environment and green fields of Potato, tomato, sugarcane, wheat, rice and maize crops. Oranges and Mangoes orchards are common. The area of district Okara is the gold mine for history seekers, spiritual and curious travellers. One can find archaeological remains of different dynasties of prehistory, Indus Valley Civilisation, Persians, Ghaznavids, Sultanates, the Mugal Empire, the Sikh Confederacy and the British Raj.
There is a central ridge, in the centre of Okara District, which marks the old river bed of the Beas, and the boundary b/w the eastern and western half of the district. The ridge descends from Kasur, all the way to Chunian, and then Shergarh in Okara. As you go west of the ridge, into Okara & Renala Khurd, the subsoil water is brackish, therefore the area is dependent on canals for irrigation. However, after you cross the ridge east into Depalpur Tehsil, the subsoil water is sweet and good for agriculture.
Other produce grown locally includes the outputs of lemon, guava & grapefruit orchards, belonging to the food processing company, Mitchell's Fruit Farms Limited. The orchard runs for about 6 miles, along with the LBDC, from Renala Khurd all the way up to the Okara bypass.
The predominant first language according to the 1998 census was Punjabi, spoken by Template:Sigfig% of the population, while Urdu accounted for 3.5%.:1 The main Punjabi dialects of the district are Jhangvi (or Rachnavi), and the standard Majhi dialect. Haryanvi (locally known as Ranghari) is also spoken by some Muhajirs.
Okara is also known for its cattle breed known as Sahiwal and a Water buffalo breed known as Niliravi. It is very rich in livestock population and production. The Livestock Production Research Institute (LPRI) Bahadar Nagar Farm is a very large Government farm near Okara city (18.5 km on Faisalabad road from DepalPur Chowk Okara). The farm has a large number of cows, buffalos, bulls (for reproduction), goats and sheep. Okara is a major milk producing city of Pakistan. There is also a large military dairy farm in Okara district originally set up in 1913. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the 'battai system' (sharing-partners in crop yields) continued in all military-owned farms in Pakistan, with the farmers taking their respective shares in the crop yields.
Okara have all the basic physical and organizational structures, services and facilities needed and necessary in a city. Like the whole of Pakistan, Cricket is the most famous sports in Okara as well. There are two modern Cricket Stadiums (Okara Gymkhana Cricket Ground and Jinnah Cricket Stadium). Okara Gymkhana Cricket ground is a First Class Cricket venue of Pakistan Cricket Board as it has an all great cricketing facilities along with world class cricket pitches. Football, Hockey, Basketball Court, Badminton Arena are also constructed in the heart of City. A new international hockey stadium is being constructed in Renala Khurd Tehsil of Okara, which would be completed by 2013. This stadium will develop a strong infrastructure for hockey in the country.
There are also many small and considerable big parks for the general public. The three main recreational parks are Ladies Park, Bagh-e-Jinnah and District Park.
Educational institutes include Education University, Cadet College, Government College for Boy, two Government Colleges for Women.
There are various numerous public & private hospitals and clinics providing the health services. Hospitals include the District Government hospital, surgical hospital and C.M.H Okara Cantt. There is also a Social welfare health society which is being operated by the Government of Punjab. Every hospital has more than two ambulances. Located in the village of Rehampur the Rosary Christian Hospital also provides medical services to Okara and surrounding areas.
The '1122 Rescue' Government organization is also offering their services in Okara city. There is also a separated Fire station, located in the centre of the city, which has several old and also latest fire engines for safety services.
Okara also has a Railway station, which contains several platforms, where almost every train going from Islamabad to Karachi makes a stop. There are two railway underpasses and one flyover which helps in smooth flow of traffic.
On 31 May 2005, the Ex-President General Pervez Musharraf inaugurated the Okara Bypass (30.786887° 73.459238°), the length of 12.7 km, on GT road (N-5). This project was commenced on 5 September 2003, due to the great demand of the people of the area. It was completed at the cost of 62.817 Crore Rupees. This interchange proved very helpful in the smooth flow of national highway traffic, particularly between Lahore and Multan and to reduce the national traffic in the city. This bypass connects the Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar national highway which is the economic lifeline of Pakistan.
Nearby cities are Haveli Lakha, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Depalpur, Mandi Ahmadabad, Basirpur and Renala Khurd. There is a famous shrine of Sufi Sayed Shubbeer Husain Shah Ghilaani situated in the village "47/2-L (Raajpootaan) near Depalpur road, Okara. There is a famous shrine of Sufi Baba Wali Roshan Shah situated in the village of Bonga Saleh. Every year on 27th of Harr (Desi month), Mela is celebrated. Another well-known shrine near Depalpur is that of Daud Bundgi Kirmani, located in the town of Shergarh. His urs is held in the middle of March, and is attended by thousands from all over Punjab and beyond. In the west of Okara city, the Ravi river goes winding along the borders of Faisalabad District and Sheikhupura District.
The main towns of the district are:
And some minor towns of the district are:
|Depalpur||1/SP WESAWEWALA, AMLI MOTI, AWAN KALAN, BARICT (CHAK BAWA), BASIRPUR-1, BASIRPUR-2, BEHLOL PUR, BHELA GULAB SINGH, BHOMAN SHAH, BHONE MANZaBTA, BHUTA MOHABBAT, BONGA SALEH, CHIPLI PUR, DEPALPUR-1, DEPALPUR-2, DEPALPUR-3, DHULLIANA, FARID PUR SOHAG, GUDDAR MULKANA, HAVELI LAKHA-1, HAVELI LAKHA-2, HAVELI LAKHA-3, HUJRA SHAH MUQEEM-1, HUJRA SHAH MUQEEM-2, HUJRA SHAH MUQEEM-3, JAITH PUR, JHUJH KALAN, KANI PUR, KLAIR KALAN, MAHANT DARSHAN, MANCHARIAN, MANDI AHMADABAD, MAROOF, MAZHAR ABAD, MEHAR SHAH KHAGA, MOHIB ALI UTAR, MUHAMMAD NAGAR, MUSTAFABAD., NAHAL MAHAR, NAMA JINDEKA, PANDAT MANFOOL PUR, PHULLAN TOLI, PIPLI PAHAR, QADIR ABAD, QILA JAVAND SINGH, QILA TARA SINGH, RAJOWAL, RATTA KHANNA, REHMAT WALA, ROHILA TAJEYKA, RUKAN PURA, SHAH NAWAZ KHAN, SHAH YAKKA, SHERGARH, SOBHA RAM||55|
|Okara||Thatta Ghulamka CHAK NO 25/2R SANGO-KA (CH BASHIR AHMAD SANGO-KA PAK ARMY), AKBAR, BIBI PUR, BURJ JEWAY KHAN, CHAK 2/4L, CHAK 12/GD, CHAK 14/GD, CHAK 15/1R, CHAK 16/GD, CHAK 17/GD, CHAK 18/GD, CHAK 24/GD, CHAK 27/4L, CHAK 32/2L, CHAK 32/2R, CHAK 38/2R, CHAK 34/GD, CHAK 36-A/4L, CHAK 4/4L, CHAK 40/3R, CHAK 40-A/4L, CHAK 42/3R, CHAK 44/2L, CHAK 45/GD(RETRI), CHAK 48/3R, CHAK 52/2R, CHAK 53/2L, FATEH PUR, GOGERA-1, JABOKA, JANDRAKA, KOHLA, LASHARI, OKARA-1, E-BLOCK, Masibat Pura, OKARA-10, OKARA-11, OKARA-2, OKARA-3, OKARA-4, OKARA-5, OKARA-6, OKARA-7, OKARA-8, OKARA-9, SATGHARA, SHEIKHU SHARIF, TARIQ ABAD||41, 19/1R REHANO WALA.|
|Renala Khurd|| Chak 13/1.R,( Imtiaz Ahmad Bhatti PA Vice Principal Academic, Aitchison College Lahore)
Chak 7/1-AL(of mahalmis) CHAK 10/1.AL, KOT GUJJARAN o KAMYANA Chak No 8/1R AKHTARABAD, BAZEEDA, CHAK 11/1L, Chak 12/1-L, CHAK 13/1-L, CHAK 14/1-L, CHAK 18/1L, CHAK 22/1AL, CHAK 23/2L, CHAK 33/1AL, CHAK 4/1AL, CHAK 4/GD, CHAK 5/1RA, CHAK NO 4/1RA, CHAK 6/1L, CHAK 4/1.L, CHAK 7/1R, KAMAN, MOPALKEY, RENALA-1, RENALA-2 || 18
The district is also represented in the National Assembly, by 4 elected members who represent the following constituencies:
|NA-141||Ch. Nadeem Abbas Rabbera||PML(N)|
|NA-142||Riaz ul Haq||PML(N)|
|NA-143||Rao Muhammad Ajmal Khan||PML(N)|
|NA-144||Muhammad Moeen Wattoo||PML(N)|
Okara is also known for the wide variety of culture reflecting the traditions and customs of the area. Melas (fairs) in the month of 'Saawan' are notable among these traditions where different types of games are played on the drum-beat and shops of sweets and toys etc. are decorated. The population mostly relies on agriculture as their main source of livelihood, although a number of people work in factories and offices as well. Dairy and fruit products are the identical mark of the area. The tombs of many great Sufis are also present here and Doll village of Pakistan Thatta Ghulamka.
There are many tribes and clans settled in the Okara District. The majority of the population of Okara are Punjabi speaking Muslims. The main tribes and clans include: Syed, Malik, Jhujh, Basti Peeran Wali Depalpur Shekikhu Sharif, Channar, Wattus, Mungun, Jhakhar, Klaason, Dhall Jutt, Raajpoots, Shaikhs, Lodhis, Kharals, Kamyanas, Kumbohs, Khaanzaadas, Noons, Arains, Chaudhary and Baloch are prominent. However, the Jat population is less compared to other communities.
- Bushra Bibi – (wife of Imran Khan)
- Farhan Rana Rajpoot – Media:Pakistani-Russian Youtuber
- Syed Samsam Bukhari – Politician
- Aftab Iqbal – Journalist
- Rao Sikandar Iqbal – Politician
- Zafar Iqbal – Poet and Columnist
- Indrias Rehmat, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Faisalabad.
- Ghulam Ali Okarvi – Scholar
- Manzoor Wattoo – Politician, Former Chief Minister of Punjab
- Saieen Zahoor – Sufi Musician
- Mian Yawar Zaman – Politician
- Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal – Historic Hero
Thatta Ghulamka Doll Village of Pakistan in Okara
- History of Okara District on Cantonment Board Okara website Government of Pakistan website, Retrieved 12 April 2021
- "DISTRICT WISE CENSUS RESULTS CENSUS 2017". pbscensus.gov.pk. http://www.pbscensus.gov.pk/sites/default/files/DISTRICT_WISE_CENSUS_RESULTS_CENSUS_2017.pdf.
- Okara on Punjab Portal, Punjab Government website Retrieved 11 April 2021
- Aslam Piracha (22 February 2018). "Visiting Okara District Complex a tough task". Dawn (newspaper). https://www.dawn.com/news/1390884.
- Punjab – Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 20, p. 312.
- 1998 District Census report of Okara. Census publication. 127. Islamabad: Population Census Organization, Statistics Division, Government of Pakistan. 2000.
- Kunwar Khuldune Shahid (1 June 2016). "This Land is Our Land: Peasants in Okara fight for their rights". Newsline (magazine). https://newslinemagazine.com/magazine/land-land-peasants-okara-fight-rights/. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
- Ikram Junaidi (14 February 2017). "Okara farms dispute nearing 'amicable solution'". Dawn (newspaper). https://www.dawn.com/news/1314706.
- Population Detail of Okara District on Government of Punjab website Retrieved 12 April 2021
- "After election debacle, Wattoo resigns as PPP's central Punjab president". Dawn (newspaper). 14 May 2013. https://www.dawn.com/news/1011363.
- Sana Jamal (19 February 2018). "Baba Farid: Where Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka found each other". Gulf News (World Asia) website. https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/baba-farid-where-imran-khan-and-bushra-maneka-found-each-other-1.2175771.
- "ASIA/PAKISTAN - Appointment of the Bishop of Faisalabad". http://fides.org/en/news/66279-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Appointment_of_the_Bishop_of_Faisalabad.