Islamabad Capital Territory, located on the Pothohar Plateau, is regarded to be one of the earliest sites of human settlement in Asia. Some of the earliest Stone Age artifacts in the world have been found on the plateau, dating from 500,000 to 100,000 years ago. The crude stones recovered from the terraces of the Soan River testify to the endeavours of early man in the inter-glacial period. Items of pottery and utensils dating back to prehistory have been found.
Excavations have revealed evidence of a prehistoric culture. Relics and human skulls have been found dating back to 5000 BC that show this region was home to Neolithic people who settled on the banks of the Swaan River. The Neolithic people developed small communities in the region at around 3000 BC. A Buddhist town once existed in the region.
Situated at one end of the Indus Valley Civilization, the area was the first habitation of the Aryan community in Central Asia. Their civilization flourished here between the 23rd and 18th centuries BC. Many great armies such as those of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur and Ahmad Shah Durrani used the corridor through Islamabad on their way to invade the Indian Subcontinent. Modern Islamabad is based on the old settlement known as Saidpur. The British took control of the region from the Sikhs in 1849 and built Asia’s largest cantonment in the region.
THE GOLRA RAILWAY STATION
Construction and Development
When Pakistan gained Independence in 1947, Karachi was its first capital. In 1960, Islamabad was constructed as a forward capital for several reasons. Traditionally, development in Pakistan was focused on the colonial centre of Karachi, and President Ayub Khan wanted it to be equally distributed. Moreover, Karachi was located at one end of the country, making it vulnerable to attacks from the Arabian Sea. A capital which was easily accessible from all parts of the country was needed. The newly selected location of Islamabad was closer to army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the disputed territory of Kashmir in the North.
In 1958, a commission was constituted to select a suitable site for the national capital with particular emphasis on location, climate, logistics, and defence requirements along with other attributes. After extensive study, research, and a thorough review of potential sites, the commission recommended the area northeast of Rawalpindi. A Greek firm of architects, Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis, designed the master plan of the city which was based on a grid plan and triangular in shape, with its apex towards the Margalla Hills. The capital was not moved directly from Karachi to Islamabad; it was first shifted temporarily to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad when the development was completed.