Sindh is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran" and "Bab-ul-Islam". The Door to Islam, because Islam in the Indian subcontinent was first introduced from Sindh. Different cultural and ethnic groups also reside in Sindh including Urdu-speaking Muslim refugees who migrated to Pakistan from India upon independence as well as the people migrated from other provinces after independence. The neighbouring regions of Sindh are Balochistan to the west and north, Punjab to the north, Gujarat and Rajasthan to the southeast and east, and the Arabian Sea to the south. The main language is Sindhi. The name is derived from Sanskrit, and was known to the Assyrians (as early as the seventh century BCE) as Sinda, to the Greeks as Sinthus, to the Romans as Sindus, to the Persians as Abisind, to the Arabs as Al-Sind, and to the Chinese as Sintow. To the Javanese the Sindhis have long been known as the Santri.
Origin of the name
The province of Sindh and the people inhabiting the region had been designated after the river known in Ancient times as the Sindhus River, now also known by Indus River. In Sanskrit, síndhu means "river, stream". However, the importance of the river and close phonetical resemblance in nomenclature would make one consider síndhu as the probable origin of the name of Sindh. The Greeks who conquered Sindh in 325 BC under the command of Alexander the Great rendered it as Indós, hence the modern Indus, when the British conquered South Asia, they expanded the term and applied the name to the entire region of South Asia and called it India.
The Indus Valley civilization is the farthest visible outpost of archaeology in the abyss of prehistoric times. The prehistoric site of Kot Diji in Sindh has furnished information of high significance for the reconstruction of a connected story which pushes back the history of South Asia by at least another 300 years, from about 2500 BC. Evidence of a new element of pre-Harappan culture has been traced here. When the primitive village communities in Balochistan were still struggling against a difficult highland environment, a highly cultured people were trying to assert themselves at Kot Diji one of the most developed urban civilization of the ancient world that flourished between the year 25th century BC and 1500 BC in the Indus valley sites of Moenjodaro and Harappa. The people were endowed with a high standard of art and craftsmanship and well-developed system of quasi-pictographic writing which despite ceaseless efforts still remains un-deciphered. The remarkable ruins of the beautifully planned Moenjodaro and Harappa towns, the brick buildings of the common people, roads, public-baths and the covered drainage system envisage the life of a community living happily in an organized manner.
This civilisation is now identified as a possible pre-Aryan civilisation and most probably an indigenous civilization which was met its downfall around the year 1700BC. The downfall of the Indus Valley Civilization is still a hotly debated topic, and was probably caused by a massive earthquake, which dried up the Ghaggar River.
Geography and climate
Sindh is located on the western corner of South Asia, bordering the Iranian plateau in the west. Geographically it is the third largest province of Pakistan, stretching about 579 km from north to south and 442 km (extreme) or 281 km (average) from east to west, with an area of 140,915 square kilometres (54,408 sq mi) of Pakistani territory. Sindh is bounded by the Thar Desert to the east, the Kirthar Mountains to the west, and the Arabian Sea in the south. In the centre is a fertile plain around the Indus river.
Sindh is situated in a subtropical region; it is hot in the summer and cold in winter. Temperatures frequently rise above 46°C (115°F) between May and August, and the minimum average temperature of 2 C (36 F) occurs during December and January. The annual rainfall averages about seven inches, falling mainly during July and August. The southwest monsoon wind begins to blow in mid-February and continues until the end of September, whereas the cool northerly wind blows during the winter months from October to January.
Sindh lies between the two monsoons — the southwest monsoon from the Indian Ocean and the northeast or retreating monsoon, deflected towards it by the Himalayan mountains — and escapes the influence of both. The average rainfall in Sindh is only 6–7 in (15–18 cm) per year. The region's scarcity of rainfall is compensated by the inundation of the Indus twice a year, caused by the spring and summer melting of Himalayan snow and by rainfall in the monsoon season. These natural patterns have recently changed somewhat with the construction of dams and barrages on the Indus River.
Sindh is divided into three climatic regions: Siro (the upper region, centred on Jacobabad), Wicholo (the middle region, centred on Hyderabad), and Lar (the lower region, centred on Karachi). The thermal equator passes through upper Sindh, where the air is generally very dry. Central Sindh's temperatures are generally lower than those of upper Sindh but higher than those of lower Sindh. Dry hot days and cool nights are typical during the summer. Central Sindh's maximum temperature typically reaches 43–44 °C (109–111°F). Lower Sindh has a damper and humid maritime climate affected by the southwestern winds in summer and northeastern winds in winter, with lower rainfall than Central Sindh. Lower Sindh's maximum temperature reaches about 35–38 °C (95–100°F). In the Kirthar range at 1,800 m (5,900 ft) and higher at Gorakh Hill and other peaks in Dadu District, temperatures near freezing have been recorded and brief snowfall is received in the winters.
Flora and fauna
The province is mostly arid with scant vegetation except for the irrigated Indus Valley. The dwarf palm, Acacia Rupestris (kher), and Tecomella undulata (lohirro) trees are typical of the western hill region. In the Indus valley, the Acacia nilotica (babul) (babbur) is the most dominant and occurs in thick forests along the Indus banks. The Azadirachta indica (neem) (nim), Zizyphys vulgaris (bir) (ber), Tamarix orientalis (jujuba lai) and Capparis aphylla (kirir) are among the more common trees.
Mango, date palms, and the more recently introduced banana, guava, orange, and chiku are the typical fruit-bearing trees. The coastal strip and the creeks abound in semi-aquatic and aquatic plants, and the inshore Indus delta islands have forests of Avicennia tomentosa (timmer) and Ceriops candolleana (chaunir) trees. Water lilies grow in abundance in the numerous lake and ponds, particularly in the lower Sindh region.
Among the wild animals, the Sindh ibex (sareh), wild sheep (urial or gadh) and black bear are found in the western rocky range, where the leopard is now rare. The pirrang (large tiger cat or fishing cat) of the eastern desert region is also disappearing. Deer occur in the lower rocky plains and in the eastern region, as do the striped hyena (charakh), jackal, fox, porcupine, common gray mongoose, and hedgehog. The Sindhi phekari, ped lynx or Caracal cat, is found in some areas. In the Kirthar national park of sind, there is a project to introduce tigers and Asian elephants.
Phartho (hog deer) and wild bear occur particularly in the central inundation belt. There are a variety of bats, lizards, and reptiles, including the cobra, lundi (viper), and the mysterious Sindh krait of the Thar region, which is supposed to suck the victim's breath in his sleep. Crocodiles are rare and inhabit only the backwaters of the Indus, eastern Nara channel and karachi backwater Besides a large variety of marine fish, the plumbeous dolphin, the beaked dolphin, rorqual or blue whale, and a variety of skates frequent the seas along the Sind coast. The pallo (sable fish), a marine fish, ascends the Indus annually from February to April to spawn.
Due to the semi arid climate of Sindh The left out forests support average population of jackals and snakes. The national parks established by the Government of Pakistan in collaboration with many organizations such as World Wide Fund for Nature and Sindh Wildlife Department support a huge variety of animals and birds. The Kirthar National Park in the Kirthar range spreads over more than 3000 km² of desert, stunted tree forests and a lake. The KNP supports Sindh Ibex , wild sheep (urial) and black bear along with the rare leopard. There are also occasional sightings of The Sindhi phekari, ped lynx or Caracal cat. There is a project to introduce tigers and Asian elephants too in KNP near the huge Hub dam lake.
The Indus river dolphin is among the most endangered species in Pakistan and is found in the part of the Indus river in northern Sindh. Hog deer and wild bear occur particularly in the central inundation belt. There are also varieties of bats, lizards, and reptiles, including the cobra, lundi (viper).
Some unusual sightings of Asian Cheetah occurred in 2003 near the Balochistan Border in Kirthar mountains. The pirrang (large tiger cat or fishing cat) of the eastern desert region is also disappearing. Deer occur in the lower rocky plains and in the eastern region, as do the striped hyena (charakh), jackal, fox, porcupine, common gray mongoose, and hedgehog.
Between July and November when the monsoon winds blow onshore from the ocean, giant Olive Ridley turtles lay their eggs along the seaward side. The turtles are protected species. After the mothers lay and leave them buried under the sands the SWD and WWF officials take the eggs and protect them until they are hatched to protect them from predators.
Crocodiles are rare and inhabit only the backwaters of the Indus, the eastern Nara channel and some population of Marsh crocodiles can be very easily seen in the waters of Haleji Lake near Karachi. Besides a large variety of marine fish, the plumbeous dolphin, the beaked dolphin, rorqual or blue whale, and a variety of skates frequent the seas along the Sind coast. The pallo (sable fish), though a marine fish, ascends the Indus annually from February to April to spawn. The rare Houbara Bustard also find Sindh's warm climate suitable to rest and mate.
The 1998 Census of Pakistan indicated a population of 30.4 million, the current population in 2009 is 51,337,129 using a compound growth in the range of 2% to 2.8% since then. With just under half being urban dwellers, mainly found in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Nawabshah District, Umerkot and Larkana. Sindhi is the sole official language of Sindh since the 19th century. According to the 2008 Pakistan Statistical Year Book, Sindhi-speaking households make up 59.7% of Sindh's population; Urdu-speaking households make up 21.1%; Punjabi 7.0%; Pashto 4.2%; Balochi 2.1%; Saraiki 1.0% and other languages 4.9%. Other languages include Gujarati, Memoni, Kutchi (both dialects of Sindhi), Khowar, Thari, Persian/Dari and Brahui.
Sindh's population is mainly Muslim (91.32%), and Sindh is also home to nearly all (93%) of Pakistan's Hindus forming 7.5% of the province's population. A large number of Hindus migrated to India during Partition and were replaced by Muslim refugees known as Muhajirs who settled in Sindh. The Muhajirs migrated from different parts of India the majority of them spoke Urdu. Smaller groups of Christians (0.97%), Ahmadi (0.14%); Parsis or Zoroastrians, Armenian, Sikh and a Jewish community can also be found in the province.
The Sindhis as a whole are composed of original descendants of an ancient population known as Sammaat, various sub-groups related to the Seraiki or Baloch origin are found in interior Sindh. Sindhis of Balochi origin make up about 60% of the total population of Sindh, while Urdu-speaking Muhajirs make up more than 20% of the total population of the province. Also found in the province is a small group claiming descent from early Muslim settlers including Arabs, and Persian.
The Provincial Assembly of Sindh is unicameral and consists of 168 seats of which 5% are reserved for non-Muslims and 17% for women. The provincial capital of Sindh is Karachi.
The Sindh government was been presided by Chief Minister.
Most of the Sindhi tribes in the province are involved in Pakistan's politics. Sindh is a stronghold of the centre-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is the largest political party in the province.
There are 23 districts in Sindh, Pakistan.
Sindh has the 2nd largest economy in Pakistan. Historically, Sindh's contribution to Pakistan's GDP has been between 30% to 32.7%. Its share in the service sector has ranged from 21% to 27.8% and in the agriculture sector from 21.4% to 27.7%. Performance wise, its best sector is the manufacturing sector, where its share has ranged from 36.7% to 46.5%. Since 1972, Sindh's GDP has expanded by 3.6 times.
Endowed with coastal access, Sindh is a major centre of economic activity in Pakistan and has a highly diversified economy ranging from heavy industry and finance centred in and around Karachi to a substantial agricultural base along the Indus. Manufacturing includes machine products, cement, plastics, and various other goods.
Agriculture is very important in Sindh with cotton, rice, wheat, sugar cane, bananas, and mangoes as the most important crops. Sindh is the richest province in natural resources of gas, petrol, and coal.
The Sindhi language
Sindhi is spoken by about 25 million people in the province of Sindh. The largest Sindhi-speaking city is Hyderabad, Pakistan. It is an Indo-European language, related to Kutchi, Gujarati and other Indo-European languages prevalent in the region with substantial Persian, Turkish and Arabic loan words. In Pakistan it is written in a modified Arabic script.
Key dialects: Kachchi, Lari, Lasi, Thareli, Vicholo (Central Sindhi), Macharia, Dukslinu (Hindu Sindhi), and Sindhi Musalmani (Muslim Sindhi).
Places of interest
Sindh has numerous tourist sites, the most notable being the ruins of Mohenjo-daro near the city of Larkana. Islamic architecture is quite prominent in the province; numerous mausoleums dot the province, including the very old Shahbaz Qalander mausoleum dedicated to the Iranian-born Sufi, and the beautiful mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah (known as the Mazar-e-Quaid) in Karachi. Also of note is the Jama Masjid in Thatta, built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan.
Chaukandi Tombs, Karachi
Kotri Barrage near Hyderabad
Minar-e-Mir Masum Shah, Sukkur
Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi
Rani Bagh, Hyderabad
Ranikot Fort near Sann
Ruins of Mohenjo-daro & Museum near Larkana
Pakka Qill Hyderabad
Sadhu Bela Temple near Sukkur
Sukkur Barrage, Sukkur
Talpurs' Faiz Mahal Palace, Khairpur
Arts and crafts
The traditions of Sindhi craftwork reflect the cumulative influence of 5000 years of invaders and settlers, whose various modes of art were eventually assimilated into the culture. The elegant floral and geometrical designs that decorate everyday objects—whether of clay, metal, wood, stone or fabric—can be traced to Muslim influence.
Though chiefly an agricultural and pastoral province, Sindh has a reputation for ajraks, pottery, leatherwork, carpets, textiles, and silk cloths which, in design and finish, are matchless. The chief articles produced are blankets, coarse cotton cloth (soosi), camel fittings, metalwork, lacquered work, enamel, gold and silver embroidery. Hala is famous for pottery and tiles; Boobak for carpets; Nasirpur, Gambat and Thatta for cotton lungees and khes. Other popular crafts include the earthenware of Johi, the metal vessels of Shikarpur, the relli, embroidery and leather articles of Tharparkar, and the lacquered work of Kandhkot.
Prehistoric finds from archaeological sites like Mohenjo-daro, engravings in various graveyards, and the architectural designs of Makli and other tombs have provided ample evidence of the people's literary and musical traditions.
Modern painting and calligraphy have also developed in recent times. Some young trained men have taken up commercial art.
Sindhi women collecting water from a reservoir on the way to Mubarak Village
Sindh has a rich heritage of traditional handicraft that has evolved over the centuries. Perhaps the most professed exposition of Sindhi culture is in the handicrafts of Hala, a town some 30 kilometres from Hyderabad. Hala’s artisans manufacture high-quality and impressively priced wooden handicrafts, textiles, paintings, handmade paper products, and blue pottery. Lacquered wood works known as Jandi, painting on wood, tiles, and pottery known as Kashi, hand woven textiles including khadi, susi, and ajraks are synonymous with Sindhi culture preserved in Hala’s handicraft.
The Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (SMEDA) is planning to set up an organization of artisans to empower the community. SMEDA is also publishing a directory of the artisans so that exporters can directly contact them. Hala is the home of a remarkable variety of traditional crafts and traditional handicrafts that carry with them centuries of skill that has woven magic into the motifs and designs used.
Sindh is known the world over for its various handicrafts and arts. The work of Sindhi artisans was sold in ancient markets of Armenia, Baghdad, Basra, Istanbul, Cairo and Samarkand. Referring to the lacquer work on wood locally known as Jandi, T. Posten (an English traveller who visited Sindh in the early 19th century) asserted that the articles of Hala could be compared with exquisite specimens of China. Technological improvements such as the spinning wheel (charkha) and treadle (pai-chah) in the weaver's loom were gradually introduced and the processes of designing, dyeing and printing by block were refined. The refined, lightweight, colourful, washable fabrics from Hala became a luxury for people used to the woolens and linens of the age.
The ajrak has existed in Sindh since the birth of its civilization. The colour blue is predominantly used for ajraks. Sindh was traditionally a large producer of indigo and cotton cloth and both used to be exported to the Middle East. The ajrak is a mark of respect when it is given to an honoured guest or friend. In Sindh, it is most commonly given as a gift at Eid, at weddings, or on other special occasions like homecoming.
The Rilli, or patchwork quilt, is another Sindhi icon and part of the heritage and culture. Most Sindhi homes have a set of Rillis—one for each member of the family and a few spare for guests. The Rilli is made with small pieces of cloth of different geometrical shapes sewn together to create intricate designs. They may be used as a bedspread or a blanket, and are often given as gifts to friends and guests.
Many women in rural Sindh are skilled in the production of caps. Sindhi caps are manufactured commercially on a small scale at New Saeedabad and Hala New. These are in demand with visitors from Karachi and other places; however, these manufacturing units have a limited production capacity.