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Okara, A major contributor to the national economy and human resources

Okara is located at 127 KM south-west of Lahore on national highway and on Lahore Karachi main railway line. Its approximate height above sea level is 50 meters. Okara is named after a local tree “OKAAN”.  Before the !st July 1982 it was a subdivision of Sahiwal District but  to facilitate people by bringing administration to their door steps, a district with Okara, Renala Khurd & Dipalpur as its sub-divisions was formed .The new district was named Okara because its headquarter is situated in the subdivision Okara . Depalpur, Baseerpur, Satghara, Gogera, Sherghar, Hujra Shah Muqeem and Renala Khurd are towns of this city.  Today Okara is one of the most populated districts of Pakistan. It is basically an agricultural district. . According to the 1998 census, the district had population of 2,232,992 of which 22.84% were urban and the rest were rural

Brief History: The histoty of this area is 3000 BC old. This area of land remained war land for Turks, Arabs, Persians, Lodhies, Tugliqs, Mangola, Mughal Emperors, Merhattas, Sikhs and Hindus. This area was also ruled over by Rajpoots till 1770AD. In 1849, the British occupied this area. In the Freedom War of 1857, the people of this area resisted against the British. Rai Ahmad Khan Kharil including Mehr Murad Fatiana and many other brave people fought against the British and defeated the British at a number of places. History speaks of these freedom fighters who were few in number but they put to death Lord Burkley and his fifty soldiers.

When the British Govt., after defeating Sikh rulers, annexed this area to their rule in 1849, they established a new district in Pakpattan which was later on Shifted to Goger, a town near the Ravi. When a Railway line was laid out between Multan and Lahore it was shifted to Montgomery in 1864. This area remained the part of Montgomery District.

After the creation of Pakistan, Okara played a vital role for the progress of the country. Out of the only two textile mills that remained  in Pakistan at the time of the Partition one was located at Okara. The mill was known as Sutlej textile mill and belonged to Aditya Birla Group. It was Asia’s biggest textile mill at that time.

Education in OkARA:

Okara district has 12 degree colleges, 05 higher secondary schools, 142 secondary schools, 155 middle schools, 1257 primary schools and 469 Masjid schools for both male and female students. Above mentioned data is only showing government institutes, there are also many private schools and colleges in Okara.

Major crops of OKARA:

Potato, Sugarcane, Wheat, Rice and Maize are main crops of Okara. It is famous for its potato production. Oranges and Mangoes are main fruits farmed in the district of Okara. It is also famous for the lemon, guava and grapefruit orchards, belonging to the food processing company, Mitchell’s Fruit Farms Limited. The orchard runs for about 6 miles, along the LBDC, from Renala Khurd all the way up to the Okara bypass.

Leading politicians of OKARA:

The district is represented in the Provincial Assembly by 9 elected MPAs who represent the following constituencies: Constituency Member Party PP-186 Javed Allaudin Sajid, PPP PP-187 Syed Raza Ali Gilani, PML(Q) PP-188 Rubina Shaheen Wattoo, PPP PP-189 Ch. Nadeem Abbas Rabera, PML(Q) PP-190 Mohd. Ashraf Khan Sohna, PML(Q) PP-191 Mian Yawar Zaman, PML(N) PP-192, Malik Ali Abbas Khokhar, PML(N) PP-193, Moeen Wattoo, PML(N) Total 9. The district is also represented in the  National Assembly by 5 elected members who represent the following constituencies: Constituency Member Party NA-143 Rai Ghulam Mujtaba Kharal, PPP NA-144 Sajjad-ul Hassan, PPP NA-145 Syed Samsam Ali Bokhari, PPP NA-146 Manzoor Wattoo, PPP NA-147 Khurram Jahangir Wattoo Total 5.

Besides these political parties, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf is also fast-growing party in the district.

Literary Figures of OKARA:
Following are the literary personalities of the district.
1-    Salah-ud-Din
2-    Zafar Iqbal
3-    Masaud Ahmad
4-    Qazi Shafqat
5-     Muhammad Naseem

Military Farms in Okara:
The Okara farms are part of the military farms group, Okara and Renala, which comprise 16,627 acres of land consisting of two dairy farms, seven military farms and 22 villages. Out of the total acreage, 16,627 acres are cultivated by 1,323 farmers residing in Okara and Renala.

Livestock:

Okara is also famous for its cattle breed known as Sahiwal and a water buffalo breed known as Nili-Ravi. It is very rich in livestock population and production. The Livestock Production Research Institute Bahadar Nagar Farm is a very large Government farm near Okara city. The farm has large number of cows, buffalos, bulls (for reproduction), goats and sheep.

Historical places in Okara:

Dipalpur: Depalpur city is an ancient city about 2000 years old. The city has been demolished and rebuilt several times during this period. According to the historian Abnashi Chander Das “AC Das”, the original name of this city was Siri Puria or Siri Nagar after the elder brother of Raja Salvahan of Sialkot (who was the explorer of Sialkot) Raja Depa Chand renamed Depalpur after his beloved son Raja Depa. According to A C Das, that was about 2000 years ago when Aryans entered the Subcontinent they began to live in the land of Pert Sindh (The Land of Seven Rivers) including River Ravi, Chinab, Satluj, Jhelum, Beas, Indus and Kabul. So the famous civilisation which was developed at that time was Ajodhan (Pakpattan), Qabula and Depalpur. Now the Depalpur is a tehsil of district Okara and it is an older tehsil than Okara. This area also remained the part of Montgomery District before 1982 when Okara became a district. It contains 945 villages.

Hujra Shah Muqeem:

Many Muslim saints have come to preach in this area.  Hazrat Bahawal Haq commonly known as Bahawal Sher Qalandar came from Baghdad and settled in the village of Patharwall near Dipalpur. The saint constructed a hujra (small living room) and a mosque outside the village. His grandson Hazrat Shah Muqeem continued his mission. The village came to be known as Hujra Shah Muqeem. This is the place mentioned in the famous Punjabi love story Mirza Saheban, although there is no historical evidence that Jati  (Sahiba) came here and prayed that “The streets should be deserted to facilitate my lover Mirza  to come to meet me”.

Renala Khurd:

It is growing city of the district. It is mainly known for a famous fruit products company Mitchell’s Fruit Farms Limited. It has orchards of guava & citrus running both sides of the Lower Bari Doab Canal and the Multan Road, for about 8 miles all the way up to Okara bypass. This region is also well known as a major producer of sugarcane & rice. These crops can be cultivated due to abundance of water supplied by the Lower Bari Doab Canal & smaller water channels. At Renala Khurd, one may visit Renala Hydro Power Station, situated on Canal Lower Bari Doab. Its capacity is 1MW. Sir Ganga Ram (1851′ 1927), a civil engineer and leading philanthropist of his time, established Renala Hydro Power Station in 1925.

Hazrat Karmanwala Sharif:

There is Mazar-i-Sharif of Hazrat Sahib, Karmanwala, situated on the National Highway  towards Renala Khurd and Lahore. This Mazar-i-Sharif is commonly known as Astana Alia Hazrat Karmanwala Shareef’. Beside the Mazar-i-Sharif, there is a main Masjid. Both were constructed under the authority and guidance of Hazrat Syed Mohammed Ali Shah Bhukari (RA) Naqshbandi Sahib, in honour of their late Father, Hazrat Syed Mohammed Ismael Shah Bhukari (RA), Naqshbandi sahib, who was affectionately referred to as “Hazrat Sahib, Karmanwala”.

Shergarh:

It is a town located 10 miles away from Renala Khurd on the Hujra Shah Muqeem road, and is a Union Council of Dipalpur Tehsil. It is a very historic town. It was named by the 16th century governor of Multan, Fateh Jang Khan, in the honour of that time Afghan ruler of India, Sher Shah Suri. This fact is documented by Abbas Khan Sarauni in his book, Tarikh-e- Sher Shah Suri.

Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka:

A few kilometers from Okara on the Okara-Faisalabad road there is a village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka. While going to the village you pass through Gogera’ a place where Rai Ahmed Khan Kharral broke famous jail during War of Independence of 1857 and British Extra Assistant Commissioner (Lord) Berkley was defeated and killed by the resilient locals.

The unique claim of the village to international fame is the dolls and toys made by village women that are collectors delight all over the world. Dolls made in the village have travelled to International Dolls Museum in Amsterdam and also have been put on display in the “Theme-park” at EXPO 2000 in Hanover (Germany) as one of the 767 worldwide projects ‘an example of thinking for 21st century. Earlier, the dolls participated in International Toy Fair in Nuremberg. These dolls show as to how culture goes beyond simple work of art and becomes collaboration among applied and natural sciences as well as other forces that affect our lives.

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