Ch Umar Nawaz Saroya
SAMBRIAL
All-out efforts will be made to strengthen export-oriented industry of Sialkot and all problems being confronted by the industry will be resolved to enhance exports volume and earn more and more foreign exchange for the country.
Currently Sialkot’s industry has been exporting different products including surgical and sportswear to more than 140 countries while the US, Germany, UK, France, Italy and UAE are its biggest customers.  This was stated by newly-elected Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Fazal Jilani during an exclusive interview with TheNation here.
The SCCI president pointed out that currently the industry in the country in general and Sialkot in particular was confronted with multifarious problems, adding that energy crisis had cut the industry to the bone, affecting manufacturing adversely. “Power outages coupled with gas shortage have brought the entire textile industry to a halt while the exporters have been finding it hard to meet deadlines and deliver consignments to foreign buyers on time,” Fazal Jillani regretted, adding that Pakistani exporters under the circumstances had been unable to compete with their regional competitors and had been losing foreign markets on various accounts.
To a question, the SCCI president claimed that Sialkot was producing around 2,000 surgical instruments of various types for worldwide exports.
He declared that Sher-Iqbal had a prominent name and status in manufacturing of world class sportswear and surgical instruments.
“Sialkot sports industry has a unique history which has its root back in the British Raj. The British officers used to acquire services of Sialkot’s craftsmen for repair of damaged goods like tennis racquets, Footballs, hockey sticks, Polo sticks, cricket goods and horse riding equipment etc.
Due to repair to damaged goods, craftsmen of Sialkot tried to make those goods themselves. After a great struggle and hard work they got the skill of manufacturing sports goods. The quality of sports and other goods made by Sialkot’s craftsmen was better than the British goods due to which British officers and army started purchasing made-in-Sialkot sports and surgical goods and sends it all over British India and England.
Fazal Jillani also threw light on the history of Sialkot surgical Industry, saying that this industry also had its birth in British Raj as some broken instruments of an American Mission Hospital (Christian Memorial Hospital) became the opening of new vista for genius and potential craftsmanship of Sialkot.
British doctors gave some medical instruments for repair to an ironsmith. He tried to make simpler instruments like scalpels and different type of knives used in surgery. When the ironsmith returned instruments, he also presented to the doctors some same instruments made by him. The dean and doctors of the hospital checked the instruments; they were very much impressed by the quality of the instruments. The reputation of this infant industry spread and soon other hospitals in British India started buying surgical instruments from Sialkot.
The SCCI president informed that when the Second World War broke out, the British government selected the Sialkot’s surgical companies for supplying surgical instruments to the Allied forces. He revealed that the same was the history of musical instruments, cutlery goods, military badges, military uniforms, leather goods and other industries in Sialkot.
Sialkot is known world over for rich industrial heritage in the field of sports goods and surgical instruments but it needs will-conceived policies and facilities to enhance it capacity and make its exports competitive,” he stressed.
Fazal Jillani emphasised that Sialkot was the third largest economic hub in Punjab after Lahore and Faisalabad and the government should formulate special policies to strengthen its industry.