Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar (left), and the Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhryand, celebrate after signing the Sialkot-Bolingbrook Sister City Agreement. [Image: Shannon Antinori/Bolingbrook Patch]

Illinois and Pakistan Strengthen Ties with Sialkot-Bolingbrook Sister City Agreement


In July, Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, signed the Sialkot-Bolingbrook Sister City Agreement with the Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhryand, in hopes that the relationship can spur more cooperation opportunities in business, education, and culture, between the two cities.

Sialkot, a small city with a population of less than one million in northern Pakistan, exported approximately $2 billion worth of goods in 2015, ranking as the second largest exporting city in Pakistan. Due to a high demand for international transportation of sportswear and surgical instruments, exporters of Sialkot established the Sialkot International Airport under a Civil Aviation Authority approved by the President of Pakistan. Sialkot International Airport – Pakistan's first privately owned airport – facilitates regular cargo flights to America.

Bolingbrook, a southwest suburb of Chicago, has an active community of Pakistani-Americans. The city’s Association of Pakistani Americans and the local government host a Pakistan Day Celebration annually, the biggest and most well-known Pakistani Independence Day celebration in the United States. Last year marked the 25th celebration, with more than 3,000 Pakistani-Americans, local officials, and friends from all over the world — including Deputy Mayor of Bolingbrook Leroy Brown — supporting local community businesses and promoting cultural exchange. This year’s celebration will be held in Bolingbrook in August, with guests including Mayor Roger Claar and Consul General of Pakistan Faisal N. Tirmizi.

Pakistan matters for America in exports and the medical industry. According to the US Department of Commerce, goods exports from the United States to Pakistan supported an estimated 10,000 American jobs in 2015. Approximately 409,163 Pakistani-Americans lived in the United States in 2010 – twice as many as lived there ten years prior. Pakistani-Americans are the second fastest growing Asian immigrant group in the United States, with a population growth percentage of 100%, behind first-place Bangladeshi-Americans. More than 15,000 Pakistani American doctors work across the United States, with a large group concentrated in Illinois, making them the fourth highest source of international medical graduate doctors in this country.

Xinxin Zhang is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a graduate student in public policy at the University of Chicago.