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Attock Cantonment

Attock District is located in the northern most corner of the province is distinct from other DISTRICTS of Punjab in quite a few ways. Firstly, its strategic location on the River Indus along & NWFP. Secondly, one-third of the National Production of oil in the country is produced here. Attock District was constituted in 1904. The district was named Campbellpur after the name of Sir Campbell who laid foundation stone of Campbellpur City in 1908 a few kilometers away on south-east of Attock Khurd Town. The name Attock was again given to it in 1978.

The place is of both political and commercial importance, as the Indus is here crossed by the military and trade route through the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan. Alexander the Great, Tamerlane and Nadir Shah are believed to have successively crossed the Indus at or about this spot in their respective invasions of India. The river runs past Attock in a deep rapid channel about 200 yds. broad, but is easily crossed in boats or on inflated skins of oxen. The rocky gorges through which it flows, with a distant view of the Hindu Kush, form some of the finest scenery in the world.

In 1824 one Syud Ahmed, of Bareilly, in North-west India, a man of much learning and repute among his co-religionists, returned to India, by way of Kandahar, Kabul, and Peshawar, from the orthodox pilgrimage to Mecca. His original sanctity as a Syud, or direct descendant of the Prophet, was greatly increased by his pilgrimage, and he was readily listened to by the ignorant and superstitious Pathans of Peshawar and the surrounding hills when he began to preach a Jihad, or Holy War, against the infidel, and to profess to work miracles. It was a good time for a cunning peripatetic saint like the Syud to make an impression, for the Pathans were smarting under a crushing defeat lately inflicted on them by Runjeet Sing, and under the oppressive government he had imposed upon them. Numbers flocked to the Syud to join in the Jihad, and he soon had a formidable if undisciplined army at his disposal. He then formed the ambitious idea of dislodging the Sikh garrison from the fort of Attock, which by controling the passage of the Indus enabled Runjeet Sing to pour troops into the Peshawar Valley at will. The first military movement ordered when the news of the Meerut outbreak reached Peshawar was to send a regiment from Kohat to Attock to expel the garrison of mutinous Sepoys. The Syud's attempt to take the fort of Attock was, however, beyond his strength. The Sikhs were able to put an army into the field against him, and gave him a crushing defeat.

The value of Attock as controlling the route between the Punjab and Peshawar was felt in 1857. A Movable Column of reliable troops was organised, to take the field at once, under a competent commander, and to operate upon any point where rebellion might bristle up, or danger might threaten in the Punjab. The Guide Corps was at once utilized in advance of sanction for the formation of the movable column. On the 13th of May the Guide Corps, which since so greatly distinguished itself, quitted its cantonment at Murdan six hours after it got the order, and the next morning had accomplished the distance of thirty miles to Attock, while hurrying on to assist in the recovery of Delhi. A suspected Sepoy garrison was removed from the Fort of Attock - an important position, which it was of immense moment to secure; and British communications were to be placed beyond the reach of danger by posting at the Attock ferry a Pathan guard under a tried and trusty Pathan leader. At the same time other changes in the disposition of the troops were to be made; the Native regiments being drawn into the posts at which they might least readily co-operate with each other, and most easily be overawed by the Europeans.

Soon after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 serious attention was directed to the military necessity of reducing the difficulty and danger of crossing the river Indus, on the line of the grand trunk road in the neighbourhood of Attock, near the northwest frontier of India.' The town and fort of Attock is situated on the left or eastern bank of the Indus, just below the junction of the Cabul river, at a point where the usually wide channel of the first is contracted to 1000 or 1200 feet in its passage through a range of hills which crosses its course. This contraction causes the river to rise in ordinary high floods to the great height of about 50 feet above the average cold season level, the velocity of the current being then increased to upwards of 12 miles an hour. The river, moreover, is subject to extraordinary floods at uncertain intervals, caused by the temporary damming up. of one or other of its Himalayan branches by ice or landslips. In the years 1841 and 1858 it is recorded that the summer floods rose 100 and 70 feet respectively, above the ordinary cold weather level, and from the nature of their origin, and the formation of the valley at Attock, there appears to be nothing to prevent the occurrence of still higher floods at any time.

The important crossing of the Indus in the neighborhood of Attock, on the line of the grand trunk road, was for many years effected by means of ferry-boats during the summer, or flood-season, and by a temporary boat-bridge during the winter; the ferry crossing was always difficult and often dangerous, and the communication was at all times liable to sudden and prolonged interruption. Numerous proposals and trial efforts were made from time to time for improving this state of matters-such as a permanent boat bridge, a flying bridge worked by cables and the force of the current, a steam ferry, and a suspension or other bridge placed at a high level above the reach of floods. The great difficulties to be encountered in dealing with such a torrent as the Indus at Attock, subject to so great an ordinary flood rise, and liable, moreover, to extraordinary floods of uncertain limits, led at length to a well-considered proposal in the year 1859, to turn the more important of these difficulties by the substitution of an under passage or tunnel beneath the river.

The railway bridge at Attock carried a section of the North-western Railway running from Lahore to Peshawur (near the north-west frontier), and also the Grand Trunk Road, over the Indus river. This section of line was originally constructed for purely military puq1oses; it was completed as far as the Indus at the end of the year 1880, and beyond that river to Peshawur early in 1882, but the magnificent bridge over the river, together with the heavy cuttings and tunnels on the approaches, were not opened until the 24th May 1883. Above the site of the bridge at Attock the Indus drains an area estimated as equal to that of Great Britain and Ireland, viz., 120,000 square miles.

The fort of Attock was built by the emperor Akbar in 1581, on a low hillock beside the river. The walls are of polished stone, and the whole structure is handsome; but from a military point of view it is of little importance, being commanded by a hill, from which it is divided only by a ravine. On the opposite side of the river is the village of Khairabad, with a fort, also erected by Akbar according to some, or by Nadir Shah according to others. The military importance of Attock has diminished, but it still had a small detachment of British troops by 1910.

The Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) declared Army Public School and Attock College best institution at SSC level for 2008 among its affiliated institutions within Pakistan. The FBISE plans to hold a grand function to celebrate excellent performance of the students, teachers and institutions affiliated with it. The Army Public School showed excellent result in SSC exam 2008 due to professional qualities, selfless devotion and commitment of the teachers. The school was established in 1974 as a nursery, gradually rose to middle level in 1990, to secondary level in 1993 and to higher secondary level in 1997. The school/college is currently headed by Principal Syed Ghalib Raza Gillani, a senior professional educationist.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:39:30 ZULU