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Evolution of Town Planning in Pakistan: With a Specific Reference to Punjab Province

Evolution of Town Planning in Pakistan: With a Specific Reference to Punjab Province

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Evolution of Town Planning in Pakistan: With a Specific Reference to Punjab Province

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Oct 16, 2017


The book describes the world’s oldest human settlements during the rather long and diversified sets of civilizations and cultural epochs in the regions, which are now situated within the territorial limits of Pakistan, and highlights three historical periods, namely (i) the age of neolithic settlements, (ii) the Indus Valley civilization, and (iii) the period of precolonial empires and kingdoms and against this backdrop deals with the human settlements of the colonial and postcolonial period in Pakistan.

The main motivation for writing this book has been threefold. First, to increase the awareness among the current and prospective students of town planning in particular and the planners at large, in general, about the evolutionary process of town planning in Pakistan. Second, to identify some of the shortcomings, gaps, and overlapping in the process of planning and development of towns in Pakistan. And third, to emphasize the need to undertake further research about the various facets of the subject area.

This book is a time series rather than a cross-sectional analysis of the Evolution of Town Planning in Pakistan. It attempts to highlight the various processes and geopolitical landmarks during the nine-thousand-years-long evolutionary processes of physical planning and development in the Indian subcontinent in general and those in Pakistan in particular. It traverses a long temporal and evolutionary progression of town planning processes in Pakistan. This book is a very modest effort to fill a huge gap and may even provide an incentive for the future planning historians and academicians to undertake more in-depth cross-sectional analysis of various processes comprehensively.
Lançado em:
Oct 16, 2017

Sobre o autor

Dr. Anis ur Rahmaan is an engineer, architect, and urban and regional planner. He has studied and taught in ten institutions of higher learning in the USA, UK, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. He prepared the first Master Plan for Greater Lahore – the second largest city of Pakistan – in the 1960s, which has not only been catalogued in the Library of Congress but also in the libraries of the major USA’s universities. He worked for a number of years as Director of Town Planning of the Punjab and North Western Frontier Provinces in Pakistan. He was awarded International Development Fellowship by the East-West Center, University of Hawaii in 1967; and later conferred the Best Professor’s Award by the King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He has also worked as United Nations Advisor for Urban and Regional Planning for about ten years in Saudi Arabia and as a UN Consultant in the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. In 1999 his name appeared in Who’s Who in the World. Currently he is engaged in community development and poverty alleviation through education and vocational training programs on philanthropic basis in Pakistan, Dr. Rahmaan has already published two books: (i) Anjuman-e-Arzu in Urdu language for the people at large and (ii) The Imperatives of Urban and Regional Planning: Concepts and Case Studies from the Developing World for the academicians, practitioners and students of urban and regional planning. Anjuman-e-Arzu has already been translated in English language under the title of “A Galaxy of Desires”. All the three books are available on Amazon.com. Dr. Rahmaan has also contributed a number of articles in leading literary and professional journals and chapters in edited books. His e-mail addresses are: (i) arahmaan@hotmail.com; and (ii) anis.urrahmaan@gmail.com.

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Evolution of Town Planning in Pakistan - Anis ur Rahmaan





With a Specific Reference to

Punjab Province


Copyright © 2017 by Anis Ur Rahmaan.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Rev. date: 04/08/2019








I. Historical Background

1. The Age of Neolithic Settlements

2. The Indus Valley / Harappan Civilization

3. Period of Precolonial Empires and Kingdoms

II. The Attributes and Composites of Planning

1. The Attributes of Planning

2. The Composites of Planning

3. The Human Ecosystem

III. Imperatives of Spatial Development

1. The Process of Development Planning

2. The Typologies of Spatial Development Planning in the Context of People’s Participation

3. Approaches and Models of Development Planning

4. The Significance of Power Structure in Development Planning

IV. An Overview of Planning Legislation in Pakistan

1. The Significance of Planning Legislation

2. Municipal Acts and Ordinances

3. Punjab Town Improvement Act, 1922

4. Urban Development Authorities’ Acts

5. The Cantonment Act, 1924

6. Cooperative Societies Act, 1925

7. The Punjab Colonization of Government Lands Act, 1912 and the Punjab Colonies Manual, 1936

8. Thal Development Authority Act, 1949

9. Basic Democracies Order, 1959

10. Local Government Ordinance, 1979 (LGO 1979)

11. Punjab Local Government Ordinance, 2001

12. Punjab Local Government Act, 2013

13. Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997

V. The Planning Institutions of Pakistan

1. The Significance of Planning Institutions

2. Coordinating and Research-Oriented Planning Institutions

3. Consulting Institutions in the Semipublic and Private Sector

4. The Institutions Engaged in Physical Development Planning in the Public and Private Sectors

5. Institutions Imparting Urban and Regional Planning Education

6. Professional Planning Institutes

VI. The Planners

1. Broad Categories of Planners in the Historical Context

2. The Desired Roles of Planners

3. Salient Typologies of Planners in Pakistan

VII. Five-Year and Perspective Plans of Pakistan

1. National Five-Year Plans

2. The Perspective Plans

VIII. National Spatial Strategy and Spatial Development Plans

1. The Significance of National Spatial Strategy and Spatial Development Plans

2. The National Spatial Strategy and Provincial Spatial Development Plans in Pakistan

3. The Master Plans for Metropolitan Cities and Towns

4. The Outline Development Plans (ODPs) for Urban Areas

IX. Developments Planned for the People in Punjab

1. Socio-Spatial Backdrop

2. The Colony Towns

3. The Thal Development Authority (TDA) Towns

4. Satellite Towns

5. Area Development Schemes

6. Defence Housing and Askari Housing Societies

7. Ashiana Housing Schemes

8. Planned Developments by the Municipalities, Improvement Trusts, and Development Authorities

9. New Town of Islamabad

10. Bahria Town real-estate Developments

X. Developments Planned with the People

1. Orangi Pilot Project

2. Khuda Ki Basti—A Housing Project for the Shelterless People

3. Housing Schemes by the Cooperative Housing Societies

4. Citizen Community Board’s (CCB) Development Schemes

XI. Developments Planned by the People

1. Third World’s Squatters’ Settlements

2. Squatting in the Western Countries

XII. An Overview of Physical Environment in the Urban Areas of Pakistan

1. The Salient Pollutants in the Urban Areas of Pakistan

2. The Plight of Physical Environment in the Urban Areas of Pakistan

3. An Evaluative Synthesis of the Environmental Crises in Pakistan

XIII. Epilogue

1. Diversities of Cultures, Civilizations, and Political Systems

2. The Piecemeal and Inadequate Statutory Cover

3. The Institutional Crises

4. Dearth of Planners and Absence of a Planning Cadre

5. Static Plans Rather Than the Dynamic and Proactive Planning

6. Development Devoid of Environmental Impact Studies

7. Lack of Coordination between Development Agencies

8. Absence of the Follow-up and the Feedback Mechanisms

9. Desirability of Revisiting the Implemented Planned Developments




To my co-traveler in the journey of life,

Bushra Anis,

who inspired me to write this book


This book is a modest effort to fill in a gap in the existing literature about town planning in Pakistan and may even provide an incentive for the future planning historians and academicians to deal with the topic of evolution of town planning in Pakistan more comprehensively. It may, however, be clarified that this book does not deal with the morphological design of urban patterns or subdivision planning regulations; neither does it deal with the various components of land-use planning, such as housing, community facilities and services, and urban transportation planning. It just deals with the process and the essentials or the prerequisites of town planning in the context of the human ecosystem.

The only other publication dealing with the topic, known to the author, is Ahmad Ali’s monograph titled Historical Aspects of Town Planning in Pakistan and India.¹ The monograph briefly deals with the urban culture of the Indus Valley and town planning in the ancient Aryan era, highlights cities in the Muslim period, British influence on planning of cities, and a brief review of improvement trusts and town planning legislation in the Indian subcontinent.

The main motivation for writing this book has been threefold. The first one is to increase the awareness among the current and prospective students of town planning in particular and the planners at large, in general, about the evolutionary process of town planning in Pakistan. The second is to identify some of the shortcomings, gaps, and overlappings in the process of planning and development of towns in Pakistan. And thirdly, to emphasize the need to undertake further research about the various allied facets of the subject area.

As expected, this is a broad time-series account rather than an in-depth cross-sectional analysis of the various evolutionary processes of town planning and their manifestations in Pakistan. In its mechanics, the book has been divided into thirteen chapters. The first chapter deals with the rich historical background of human settlements during the rather long and diversified sets of civilizations and cultural epochs in the regions which are now situated within the territorial limits of Pakistan. This chapter highlights three historical periods—namely, (i) the age of Neolithic settlements, (ii) the Indus Valley civilization, and (iii) the period of precolonial empires and kingdoms. And it provides a backdrop for the human settlements of the colonial and postcolonial periods that have been dealt with in the following chapters of the book.

The second and third chapters, respectively, attempt to describe the salient attributes, composites, and the imperatives of spatial planning and development. These two chapters provide a conceptual basis for the ensuing chapters of the book. The fourth chapter deals with planning legislation, which is one of the prerequisites of the planning and development process as it provides a legal framework for the preparation and effectuation of planning and development plans. This chapter has been subdivided into nine sections that deal with the statutory provisions for town planning in various municipal and cantonment acts, urban renewal schemes of improvement trusts and development authorities in various towns and cities of Pakistan in general, and the enactments promulgated to accomplish specific planning projects, such as the colony towns in Punjab and mandi towns in the Thal Desert. It may, however, be pointed out that this chapter mainly focuses on the planning legislation in the Punjab province because of the personal familiarity of the author, who has been director of town planning for Punjab for a number of years. Besides, Punjab is also the most populous and urbanized province of Pakistan.

The fifth chapter deals with various types of academic and professional planning institutions and agencies and their hierarchies at various levels of government. Planning institutions are just as important for the continuation and effectuation of the planning process as is the planning legislation because the planning institutions act both as the incubators as well as facilitators of the planning process.

The sixth chapter highlights the historical perspective and significance of town planners in general and briefly describes Pakistani town planners in the temporal context by dividing them in four broad categories (viz. [i] the pioneers, [ii] the flame bearers, [iii] the promoters and sustainers, and [iv] the innovators and advocates). The purpose of this chapter is not to provide a complete list of Pakistani planners but rather to pay homage to the first generation of planners, as they were the pioneers in the field of town planning in Pakistan, and to mention the names of flame bearers who belonged to the second and the third generations of town planners in Pakistan. The subsequent generations of planners have been grouped together in the category of the promoters and sustainers. The planners belonging to this category are mostly the product of City and Regional Planning (CRP) Department of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, and other universities of Pakistan where town planning courses have recently been instituted. The reader who wants to know the names of Pakistani planners in this category is advised to refer to the directory of graduates of CRP Department of UET, along with other universities awarding degrees in town planning, and also the latest directory of architects and planners, published by the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP). Or they may refer to the list of members of the Institute of Planners Pakistan (IPP). A list of town planners contained in the previous directory of PCATP has, however, been appended as an appendix in this book. This list is by no means complete as it is not up to date, and it only gives the names of those planners who have paid their latest PCATP membership fees. The fourth category basically comprises of nonplanners whose contributions in the fields of socio-physical planning and development, environmental protection, and cultural conservation and rehabilitation certainly deserve to be acknowledged.

After having dealt with the planning legislation, planning institutions, and the planners, chapter 7 of the book briefly describes and critically evaluates Pakistan’s National Five-Year and Perspective Plans. Chapter 8 deals with the national spatial strategy and the hierarchy of provincial, regional, metropolitan, and city development strategies and plans. The ensuing ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters highlight the various physical developments planned for, with, and by the people. Chapter 12 reviews the environmental plight in the urban areas of Pakistan. And finally, chapter 13 casts a concluding hindsight over the entire process of development planning of towns in Pakistan and critically reviews the salient bottlenecks and constraints encountered—and are still being encountered—during the evolutionary process of town planning in Pakistan.

Anis ur Rahmaan


The author would like to express his deep sense of gratitude to Messrs. Muhammad Aslam Mughal, Tasnim Ahmad Siddique, and Shaker Mahmood Mayo for providing valuable information, which has been specifically acknowledged in the pertinent chapters of the book. The author is also extremely grateful to Messrs. Mohammad Afzal, Ata ur Rahman, and Nazar Mohammad Sheikh for having gone through the draft chapters of this book and for providing valuable editorial suggestions. The author would also like to gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by Bilal Saghir and Muhammad Nadeem Rao, graduating students of City and Regional Planning, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, for collecting the requisite data for this book.

Author’s special thanks go to Monis ur Rahman for the design of front cover of the book, and for getting permissions to reproduce some of the images from the respective copyright holders. The author is also highly appreciative for the technical help and logistic support provided by Asim Hassan, Mohammed Saud Anwar, Faiz Afzal, Sunya Hassan, Sadia, Yusra, and Kisra, which was forthcoming throughout the compilation of the book. The author also acknowledges with thanks the contributions of various people mentioned in the footnotes and references appended at the end of the book, whose researches in the allied fields of study provided food for thought for the author.

There used to be days when encyclopedias used to be the ultimate source of reference, but due to the explosion of knowledge at a geometric rate, even the encyclopedias are getting outdated at a very fast rate and have to be updated every now and then. Therefore, besides the relevant books, the author has also used the updated data from the Internet for the analyses of various topics dealt within this book and would like to thank various bloggers whose online researches were indeed very enriching.

During the days of relatively limited knowledge, citing the source was considered good enough. However, during the current information age, besides acknowledging the source, copyright permission has either to be obtained or bought if the information does not lie in the public domain. This was the author’s greatest concern as well as a laborious and patience-testing undertaking.

The domain of the Internet is infinitely vast and yet telescopically accessible. It contains highly diversified material, both authentic as well as unauthentic. One can virtually meet and communicate with people sitting anywhere on the globe, round the clock! The information providers are both academics as well as agencies. The author has had the good fortune communicating with both types of information providers around the globe and is grateful to Professor Yunsheng Huang of the University of Virginia for allowing him to use his images of the remains of Taxila; Timothy Ciccone, web administrator of the website of Oriental Architecture (orientalarchitecture.com) for providing the file of Professor Huang’s photographs of the remains of Taxila; Professor Huntington of the Ohio State University, for granting permission to use his map of the Mauryan Empire and images of some of the figures and leads for the map of Sirkap City of the ancient Taxila; Mr. Michel Danino, an academic in South India, for giving the author information about the citation of the maps of Mohenjo-daro and Sirkap located in the Indus Valley and Taxila region, respectively, and that these images lie in the public domain; Jona Lendering, creator of the website of Livius.org.; Ellie Crystal, creator of Crystalinks; Duncan Lithgow, copyright owner of Arntein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation, currently working in Norway; Ryosuke Hayashi, chief official of General Affairs Division National Spatial Planning and Regional Policy Bureau, Ministry of Lands, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), Japan, for allowing me to use the material from Country Profiles of the Netherlands and Malaysia; Saleem ul Haq, director Archaeological Department, government of Punjab, for getting copyright permission for some maps and images of ancient Taxila; Muhammad Shah Bukhari, director Archaeological Department, government of Sindh, for the copyright permissions for some of the historic remains of Mohenjo-daro; Ms. Dolores Campanario, WHO Press (Permissions Management, Licensing and Reprint Rights), Geneva, for granting permission to use WHO Urban Ambient Air Pollution database; Dr. Akram Sheikh, former deputy chairman Pakistan Planning Commission and Federal Minister for Planning for certifying that the data of Five-Year Development Plans lie in public domain, and anyone can use their data for review and analyses; and many more mentioned in the text. The author has been greatly benefitted by all of them in one way or the other, although there are very slight chances that he will ever be able to meet any of them personally!

The author could hardly reconcile with the idea of not using the images, maps, and graphics for illustrative purposes in a book which is dealing with town planning per se. Nevertheless, some of the illustrative material had to be deleted due to the lack of explicit copyright permissions to use them. Nevertheless, some pointers have been provided in the footnotes for the keen readers to retrieve the contextual photographs and images from the respective websites. The author is extremely grateful to Messrs. Google and Wikipedia for their liberal policy of using their images and illustrative material for educational purpose.

The author has taken special care to acknowledge the contributions of the bloggers of various websites. However, in case of any omission, the author will acknowledge their useful contributions with thanks personally as soon as it is brought to his notice and will also acknowledge them in the next edition of the book.

I. Historical Background

The history of human settlements in Pakistan is as old as the history of human civilization. The country has had the privilege of housing the world’s oldest human settlements, such as Mehrgarh, Harappa, Mohenjo-daro of the Indus Valley, and Taxila of the Gandhara civilization, which emerged respectively in the four provinces of Pakistan, known as Baluchistan, Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), formerly NWFP. Figure I-1 shows the locations of some of these and other major settlements. The remains of these settlements not only highlight the culture of one of the oldest agricultural civilizations but also bring out the fact that these settlements constituted a very well-integrated and interconnected hierarchical system, representing the physical manifestations of human functions. The historical account of the emergence of human settlements and their evolution in Pakistan has been divided into six distinct epochs—namely, (i) the age of Neolithic settlements, (ii) the period of Indus Valley civilization, (iii) Vedic era, including Gandhara civilization, (iv) the period of precolonial empires and kingdoms, (v) the colonial period, and (vi) postcolonial period. The first four epochs have been highlighted in the following sections of this chapter, whereas the remaining two periods will be described in the subsequent chapters of the book.

1. The Age of Neolithic Settlements

The human race has successively passed through Paleolithic (Old Stone) to Mesolithic (Middle Stone) and to Neolithic (New Stone) eras of human history. The temporal boundaries of these eras overlap and vary with different geographical settings. The origins of the Paleolithic era go back into oblivion of prehistoric period. The archaeologists have estimated its extent, starting from about 2.6 million years BC to around 10,000 or 9000 years BC. A review of the pertinent literature reveals that the lifestyle during the Paleolithic era was nomadic and tribal, and the human beings relied on hunting animals, fishing, and gathering wild fruits for food. Animal hides were used to make clothes. They lived in clans of twenty to thirty people, they were controlled by elders or the powerful, and they either lived in caves or outdoors or in cabins made of tree branches and animal skin.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Mesolithic Period (which is also called the Middle Stone Age) existed between the Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age), with its chipped stone tools, and the Neolithic Period (New Stone Age), with its polished stone tools. Mesolithic culture is characterized by greater innovation and diversity than is found in the Paleolithic. Among the new forms of chipped stone tools were microliths, very small stone tools intended for mounting together on a shaft to produce a serrated edge.

Polished stone was another innovation that occurred in some Mesolithic assemblages. Although culturally and technologically continuous with Paleolithic peoples, Mesolithic cultures developed diverse local adaptations to special environments. The Mesolithic hunter achieved a greater efficiency than the Paleolithic and was able to exploit a wider range of animal and vegetable food sources.²

The Neolithic era succeeded the Mesolithic era. This era is characterized by the beginning of agriculture. The lifestyle in this era became sedentary; the abodes of caves, huts, and skin tents were replaced by dwellings made of mud bricks supported by timber. The people started farming and domesticating and raising animals. Stone tools were made sharper by polishing. Woven garments replaced animal skins. Military and religious leaders assumed the authority to run the government, and monarchy emerged. The concept of private property and ownership emerged for things, such as land and livestock. Neolithic people were shorter and had low life expectancy. Diseases like tooth cavities and typhoid emerged in the New Stone Age. The women had more children because the lifestyle was no longer nomadic.³

Because agriculture developed at different times in different regions of the world, there is no single date for the beginning of the Neolithic era. It has been pointed out in the Ancient History Encyclopedia that "in the Near East, agriculture was developed around 9000 BCE, in Southeast Europe around 7000 BCE, and later in other regions. Even within a specific region, agriculture developed during different times. For example, agriculture first developed in Southeast Europe about 7000 BCE, in Central Europe about 5500 BCE, and Northern Europe about 4000 BCE. Various regions in East Asia entered the Neolithic era from 6000 to 2000 BCE."⁴

The earliest known human settlements established by mankind were during the Neolithic Age. The human settlements in this era sprang up in a sporadic fashion in the fertile river valleys. Therefore, the history of agricultural settlements is indeed as old as the history of human civilization because before the Neolithic era, the human beings were not leading a civilized life. In fact, the Homo sapiens also evolved into their most refined form in the Neolithic era. Before the Neolithic era, the humans were said to be more rustic, taller, and much stronger ⁵ as they had to withstand the rigors of wild and unprotected environments.

In the context of Indo-Pak subcontinent, the Neolithic era has been estimated by archaeologists to have emerged from about 7000 BC and continued till about 3300 BC. Pakistan has the distinction of having the locale of one of the most ancient Neolithic agricultural settlement known as Mehrgarh.⁶ Its site was discovered in 1974 by an archaeological team directed by a French archaeologist, Jean-François Jarrige, and was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986. Regionally, the site of Mehrgarh is located 125 miles west of the Indus Valley, near the Bolan Pass next to the west bank of the Bolan River, and between the present-day Pakistani cities of Quetta, Qalat, and Sibi. The site, now known as Kachi Plain in today’s Baluchistan, is situated at the Bolan peak pass, on one of the main routes connecting Southeastern Afghanistan, Eastern Iran, the Baluchistan hills, and the Indus Valley.

Figure I-2 shows an area of two square kilometers of rolling hills, which is located on the western edge of the Indus Valley (fig. I-2). The earliest settlement of Mehrgarh emerged in the northeast corner of this site. It was a small farming village dated between 7000 BCE and 5500 BCE.⁷. The initial site is quite small and exhibits evidence of crop farming, with produce such as Asiatic wheat and barley, and of domestic herding (cattle, sheep, and goats) in South Asia. The archaeological research also provides an evidence of extensive trade with the west. Traded goods included turquoise, copper, and cotton from as far away as Arabia. By 5000 BC, the dwellings of the Mehrgarh went from simple semipermanent housing to mud brick and then large permanent housing. Around 2500 BCE, a large urban civilization flourished here at the same time as those of Mesopotamia and the ancient Egyptian empire (Kenoyer and Kimberly 2005).

Early Mehrgarh residents, according to Wikipedia, lived in mud brick houses, stored their grain in granaries,⁸ fashioned tools with local copper ore, and lined their large basket containers with bitumen. They cultivated barley, wheat, dates, and herded sheep, goats, and cattle. Residents of the later period (5500 BCE to 2600 BCE) put much effort into crafts, including tanning, bead production, and metalworking. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BCE.⁹

In April 2006, the scientific journal Nature published the findings of an archaeological research study that the oldest (and first early Neolithic) evidence in human history for the drilling of teeth in vivo (i.e., in a living person) was found in Mehrgarh and that the people in the Neolithic era had the knowledge of proto-dentistry—Stone Age man used dentist drill (BBC News).¹⁰

Archaeologists divide the emergence, evolution, and the demise of Mehrgarh into several periods. Mehrgarh Period I, from 7000 BCE to 5500 BCE, was Neolithic and nonceramic (i.e., without the use of pottery). The earliest farming in the area was developed by seminomadic people using plants such as wheat and barley and animals such as sheep, goats, and cattle. The settlement was established with simple mud buildings with four internal subdivisions. Numerous burials have been found, many with elaborate goods such as baskets, stone and bone tools, beads, bangles, pendants, and occasionally, animal sacrifices, with more goods left with burials of males. Ornaments of seashell, limestone, turquoise, sandstone, and polished copper have been found, along with simple figurines of women.¹¹ Seashells from far seashore and lapis lazuli¹² found far in Baldachin, Afghanistan, shows good contact with those areas. A single ground stone axe was discovered in a burial, and several more were obtained from the surface. These ground stone axes were the earliest to come from a stratified context in South Asia.¹³.

Period II (5500 BCE–4800 BCE) and Merger Period III (4800 BCE–3500 BCE) were ceramic Neolithic (i.e., pottery was now in use) and later chalcolithic. Much evidence of manufacturing activity has been found, and more advanced techniques were used. Glazed faience beads were produced, and terra-cotta figurines became more detailed. Figurines of females were decorated with paint and had diverse hairstyles and ornaments. Two flexed burials were found in Period II with a covering of red ochre on the body. The amount of burial goods decreased over time, becoming limited to ornaments and with more goods left with burials of females. The first button-seals were produced from terra-cotta and bone and had geometric designs. Technologies included stone and copper drills, updraft kilns, large pit kilns, and copper-melting crucibles. There is further evidence of long-distance trade in Period II. This is important, as an indication of this is the discovery of several beads of lapis lazuli—originally from Badakshan.

And lastly, somewhere between 2600 BCE and 2000 BCE, the city seemed to have been largely abandoned, which was when the Indus Valley civilization was in its middle stages of development. It has been surmised that the inhabitants of Mehrgarh migrated to the fertile Indus Valley as Baluchistan became more arid due to climatic changes.

In summing up this brief introduction of Mehrgarh, it may be worthwhile to give the opinions of some of the archaeological authorities about it. Jean-François Jarrige, a well-known French archaeologist who continuously worked on the excavations of Mehrgarh from 1974 to 1986 and later on became the director of Musée Guimet, Paris, made the following concluding remarks about Mehrgarh in his lecture at the French Embassy in Karachi in 2005:

Although Mehargarh was abandoned by the time of the emergence of the literate urbanized phase of the Indus civilization around Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, etc., its development illustrates the development of the civilization’s subsistence patterns, as well as its craft and trade.(Reported in Dawn, Feb. 19, 2005)

As rightly pointed out by Ahmad Hasan Dani, professor emeritus of archaeology, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, that "Mehrgarh is now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization; and that the discoveries at Mehrgarh has changed the entire concept of the Indus civilization" (Dani 2007). Catherine Jerrige of the Center for Archaeological Research Indus Baluchistan of the Musée Guimet, Paris, also very appropriately pointed out that for the first time in the Indian subcontinent, a continuous sequence of dwelling sites has been established from 7000 BCE to 500 BCE as a result of the explorations in Pirak from 1968 to 1974, in Mehrgarh from 1975 to 1985, and of Nausharo from 1985 to 1996.¹⁴

2. The Indus Valley / Harappan Civilization

The Indus Valley civilization, also called Harappan civilization, is known as one of the world’s earliest, longest-lived, most flourishing, and most extensive (area-wise) human civilization, which succeeded Mehrgarh’s agricultural civilization of the farming villages in about 3300 BC and continued to flourish for the following 2,600 years till about 700 years BC (Mark 2012).¹⁵

The phrase early river civilizations usually brings to mind the images of Egypt and Mesopotamia and their pyramids, mummies, and golden tombs. But in the 1920s, a huge discovery in South Asia proved that Egypt and Mesopotamia were not the only early civilizations. The archaeological discoveries of the remains of a 4,600-year-old city under layers of land and mounds of dirt in the vast Indus River plains (located in what is today’s Pakistan and Western India) highlighted the fact that a thriving urban civilization had existed at the same time as Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations—in an area twice each of their sizes.¹⁶

The people of the Indus Valley civilization were different from Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. They did not build massive monuments like their contemporaries, nor did they bury riches among their dead in golden tombs. There were no mummies, no emperors, and no violent wars or bloody battles in their territory. Remarkably, the lack of all these is what makes the Indus Valley civilization so exciting and unique.¹⁷ While other civilizations were devoting huge amounts of time and resources to the rich, the supernatural, and the dead, Indus Valley inhabitants were taking a practical approach to supporting the common, secular, living people. Sure, they believed in an afterlife and employed a system of social divisions. But they also believed resources were more valuable in circulation among the living than on display or buried underground.

The vast extent of alluvial plain of the Indus, its tributary rivers, and some of the agricultural villages and towns of the Indus Valley civilization estimated to be about one hundred,¹⁸ are shown in figure I-1. In addition, the figure also shows the superimposition of settlements of the farming and post-Indus cultures such as Mehrgarh, Nausharo, and Pirak, as well as the modern cities of Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi.

Various archaeologists have attempted to analyze and draw their own inferences about the multifarious aspects of the settlements of the Indus Valley civilization, such as their morphology; size; social, economic, and political systems; religious orientation; and the way of life of their inhabitants. However, these inferences have been explorative and were based on contextual rationalizations. For instance, even a cursory look at figure I-1 would lead to a conclusion that the Indus Valley had been studded with human settlements of various types in various periods of human civilizations. The vestiges of the Indus Valley civilization were found as far apart as Sutkagen Dor (Dales 1962) near the shore of the Arabian Sea, three hundred miles west of Karachi and Rupnagar (Rao 1973) in India, at the foot of the Shimla hills one thousand miles (1,600 km) to the northeast. A later exploration established its extent southward down the west coast of India as far as the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay), five hundred miles southeast of Karachi (Singh 2008) and as far east as the Yamuna (Jumna) river basin, thirty miles north of Delhi (Joshi and Bala 1982). It is thus decidedly the most extensive of the world’s three earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Another feature worth noting is the dried-up course of the great river named Ghaggar-Hakra, also sometimes referred to as Sarasvati (shown by double-dashed lines toward the eastern side of the Indus

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