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Hilal English

Evolution of Multan: A Journey Through the Past, Present, and Future

June 2024

By focusing on tourism, healthcare, agriculture, culture and urban development, Multan is poised to emerge as a vibrant metropolitan city while preserving its rich heritage. These efforts reflect Multan's commitment to progress and development, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.

Multan, a city steeped in ancient civilization, traces its roots back to Hindu mythology and Alexander the Great's conquests. Over the centuries, it has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, from Arab rule to the Mughal era and eventually British colonialism. Multan is home to ancient civilization, culture, and traditions. Its documented history mostly remains silent for a period beyond the invasion by the Greeks. With a strategic location and a thriving economy, the city is poised to play a significant role in the country's development landscape. With its rich historical heritage and promising future, it can capitalize on several key areas to foster growth and development.
Manifestation of Sufi Saints. The essence of Multan lies in its rich Sufi heritage, with revered saints like Bahauddin Zakariya and Shah Rukn-e-Alam, blessing the land with their spiritual presence.
Historical Evolution. From pre-Arab periods to Arab conquests, Multan has seen various rulers shaping its destiny. The city's transition from the Karamatian era to the Mamluk-Mughal rule reflects its dynamic history.
Architectural Heritage. Multan's United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-declared status as a "World City of Heritage" owes much to its historical monuments, such as the Multan Fort, Shah Yousuf Gardezi's tomb, and the iconic tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam.
Demography and Culture. The Gazetteer of Multan from 1901 paints a picture of a diverse populace, with Muslims and Hindus coexisting in a melting pot of languages, attire, and traditions.
Economic Backbone. Agriculture has long been the backbone of Multan's economy, with exports of cotton, wheat, and mangoes driving its prosperity. Cattle farming and educational institutions also contribute significantly to its economic landscape.
Multan Today
Geography. Situated at an elevation of 122 meters above sea level, Multan covers 133 square kilometers and benefits from the confluence of the Chenab and Sutlej rivers, resulting in fertile agricultural lands. The city experiences a hot desert climate with scorching summers and mild winters, receiving most of its annual rainfall during the monsoon season. Its strategic location at the crossroads of major transportation routes, including the M4 motorway and national highways, contributes to its significance as a transportation hub.
Demography. With a population of 5.62 million and an annual growth rate of 2.1 percent, Multan is equally divided between males and females, with a significant portion under 20 years old. Although the city boasts religious tolerance and pluralistic coexistence, Saraiki is the predominant language, and Islam is the predominant religion. Bustling markets, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and diverse residential neighborhoods characterize Multan's urban areas.
Icons of Multan. Notable figures across various fields, including military heroism, political leadership, scientific innovation, literary excellence, cricketing prowess and social activism, have left indelible marks on their respective domains, elevating Multan's reputation.
Contemporary Attractions. Modern architectural marvels like Garrison Public Library,  Rumanza Golf Club, The Arena Sports Complex, Mall of Multan, Kashmir Park, Country Club of Multan and Multan Cricket Stadium offer recreational, leisure and entertainment opportunities, catering to diverse interests and preferences.
Multan Garrison and Fort Colony. The city's history is intertwined with its garrison, which played a crucial role in British colonial strategy. Heritage sites like Fort Colony, Multan Garrison Mess, Headquarters of 2 Corps and 1 Armored Division, and contemporary landmarks like Multan International Airport and Dotaa complex, reflect the city's military and architectural heritage.
Flora and Fauna. Multan's lush greenery and biodiversity are evident through tree species like Indian Rosewood, Java Plum, and Neem, along with bird species like quails, partridges, and pigeons. These elements contribute to the city's natural beauty and environmental diversity.
Economy. Multan's economy thrives on its industrial, agricultural, and transportation sectors. Renowned industries like textiles, food processing, chemicals, and ceramics drive economic growth, while agriculture remains a cornerstone, especially in cotton and mango production. The city's strategic location and government initiatives further bolster its economic expansion, attracting investment and fostering job creation.
Education. Multan's educational landscape includes reputable universities, medical colleges, and research institutions that offer diverse postgraduate and medical education opportunities. Institutions like CMH Institute of Medical Sciences, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Nishtar Medical University, and numerous colleges contribute to the city's academic excellence and research innovation.
Healthcare. Multan's healthcare infrastructure comprises hospitals, clinics and specialized centers, catering to the diverse medical needs of its residents. Facilities like Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Nishtar Hospital and Basic Health Units ensure accessible and quality healthcare services, though challenges like urban-rural healthcare disparities persist.
Transportation. Multan's well-developed transportation network includes railways, air transport and motorways, facilitating trade, commerce and connectivity with other cities and countries. The Multan Metro Bus service, alongside flyovers and underpasses, addresses commuting needs and enhances urban mobility, though challenges like traffic congestion remain.
Multan's Path to a Promising Future
Multan, often regarded as the future capital and economic hub of Southern Punjab, is undergoing a transformative journey towards prosperity and sustainability. With a strategic location and a thriving economy, the city is poised to play a significant role in the country's development landscape. Here's a concise overview of the key elements driving Multan's promising future.
Economic Vibrancy. Multan boasts a rich cultural heritage and a thriving industrial sector, contributing significantly to its economic prosperity. The city's focus on modernizing farming practices and leveraging its strategic location for trade and commerce positions it as a vital economic centre in South Punjab.

Urban Development. The emergence of well-planned housing societies and contemporary architecture, led by projects like Defense Housing Authority (DHA), reshapes Multan's urban landscape. Future developments such as Mega Mall DHA, DHA Club, DHA Theme Park and Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel underscore the city's commitment to modern amenities and sustainable urban growth.
Youth Empowerment. Multan's investment in education and sports empowers its youth for a brighter future. Renowned universities and sports facilities are paving the way for talent development and community engagement, fostering a generation poised for success.
Heritage Preservation. As the "City of Saints," Multan treasures its rich heritage and cultural legacy, efforts to preserve Sufi shrines, rehabilitate historical sites, and promote local cuisine and handicrafts are not only enhancing tourism but also preserving Multan's unique identity.
Envisaged Projects. The inauguration of the Multan Safe City Project, establishment of new rescue stations, and enhancement of metro bus infrastructure demonstrate Multan's commitment to public safety and efficient transportation, setting the stage for continued growth and development.
Healthcare Infrastructure. Multan is set to witness a healthcare revolution with the establishment of state-of-the-art medical facilities like the Medical Health Care City and Nishtar 2 Hospital. These initiatives, alongside efforts to strengthen primary and secondary healthcare services, aim to address the diverse healthcare needs of the population.
Social Welfare Initiatives. Initiatives focusing on social welfare, including homes for disabled persons, drug rehabilitation centers and child protection institutes, underscore Multan's commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
Government Initiatives. Local government efforts, such as improving flood protection bunds, installing clean drinking water filtration plants and enhancing the sewerage system, highlight Multan's proactive approach.

Recommendations for Multan's Growth and Development 
Multan, with its rich historical heritage and promising future, can capitalize on several key areas to foster growth and development. Some of the recommendations are as follows:
Religious Tourism
▪   Promote Multan's Sufi culture through sponsorships and affiliations with countries like Persia, Iraq, and Central Asia.
▪  Develop comprehensive tour packages for national and international tourists.
▪  Launch an intensive media campaign to highlight Multan as a top spiritual and cultural destination.
Medical Tourism
▪  Leverage Multan's advanced healthcare infrastructure and specialists to attract medical tourists.
▪ Foster collaboration between public and private sectors to provide subsidies on medical equipment.
▪ Promote Multan as a premier healthcare provider through attractive packages for surgeries and treatments.
Increasing Mango Export
▪ Utilize modern farming techniques and expand mango orchards.
▪ Collaborate with agricultural institutions to introduce innovative farming techniques and extend mango shelf life.
▪ Obtain international certifications to boost mango exports and contribute to the national economy.

With a strategic location and a thriving economy, the city is poised to play a significant role in the country's development landscape.

Celebrating City’s Heritage and Culture
▪  Organize cultural events such as 'Siraiki' and 'Waseb' days and Multan Traditional Week in collaboration with public and private sectors.
▪   Foster community events like spring and harvesting festivals to promote local identity and culture.
Hosting International Events
▪  Develop infrastructure, including upscale hotels and road networks, to host international events like Pakistan Super League (PSL) and golf championships.
▪  Enhance existing 5-star hotel networks and prioritize construction near Multan Cricket Stadium.
▪ Improve road infrastructure to reduce the population inconvenience and attract sports tourists.
Increased Domestic Flights
▪ Increase domestic flight operations from Multan to major cities and Northern Areas of Pakistan.
▪  Provide affordable freight transportation opportunities to boost the economy and create employment.
▪  Offer attractive transit tourism packages to domestic travellers, leveraging Multan's strategic location.
Green Pakistan Initiative
▪ Implement a Smart Agriculture Farm System to enhance agricultural production capacity.
▪ Preserve Multan's cotton and mangoes through subsidized seeds and sustainable farming practices.
Transcending Multan to an Iconic Metropolitan City
▪  Undertake strategic urban planning to accommodate residents and develop modern infrastructure.
▪  Position Multan as a central transportation hub to drive economic growth.
Ambitious projects and initiatives across various sectors mark Multan's journey towards prosperity. By focusing on tourism, healthcare, agriculture, culture and urban development, Multan is poised to emerge as a vibrant metropolitan city while preserving its rich heritage. These efforts reflect Multan's commitment to progress and development, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.