Takht Lahore and Saraiki Waseb – by Zulfiqar Ali

The Commission about formation of new provinces within Punjab reinvigorated the debate. Just few months ago PML (N) initiated and Punjab assembly unanimously passed the resolution asking for creation of south Punjab and rehabilitation of Bahawalpur as province. PML (N) may have thought it had outwitted Asif Ali Zardari and PPP considering that PPP would not accept that and they can claim their sincerity to Saraiki people. They did not have plan “B”. They also made mistake of asking to make two new provinces. If two new province of majority Saraiki area are made, they would have twice the number of senators, which would be overwhelmingly PPP for at least one generation. Now they have taken opposite stance further alienated the Saraikis.

Initially PML(N) announced not to agree the new province based on linguistic basis. This was not only laughable but also shows that we are still living in the same state of absolute fantasy of religious zeal which was practiced in case of Bengal with such ugly results. It does not need to take a genius to realize that language is the most important factor in defining any group of people. Aristotle rightly called human beings as ‘talking’ animals. So it is natural that a group which speaks the same language will form the most coherent group and thus a nation. If one speaks a different language, then it becomes harder to communicate, thus cannot be exactly same ‘community’. When one says German or Polish nation, it is obvious that people speak the same language. It is based on language that people start living together and hence share the subsequent history, geography and most of the other social aspects like religion, custom etc. By not recognizing or asking people to denounce their language, culture etc. for the more sacred causes of country or religion is not just wrong but mostly counterproductive. It can easily be explained by our own selves. Before partition everyone living in India was Indian as well as having other many identities. For example sake Punjabis and Bengalis living in India and Pakistan did not cease to be Punjabis or Bengalis after being divided into both countries. We did try to take their identity away by doing acts like banning Tagore, but it caused more problems.

PML (N) and others are opposing the formation of commission quoting different reasons at different times and different programs, selecting whichever suits them. First of all commission was needed after the Punjab assembly’s unanimous resolution. Had it not been announced, PML (N) again would have chastised AZ for not being ‘sincere’ to Saraikis, even though he himself is a Saraiki. Another point which neither PML (N) nor media is telling the nation is that recommendations of commissions are nothing unless those are approved by broth a constitutional amendment and two third majority by Punjab assembly again. So if they do not agree, they can vote against them.


The word “Saraiki” roots from Sira/Sirai meaning head, upper part. Classically Sindhi language was divided into Siraiki, primarily spoken in upper Sindh. Lari, primarily spoken by majority of lower Sindh (Lar, hence Lark (h)ana) and Thari spoken primarily in Thar desert area(Trump , 1872).Trump also said “Sindhi is a pure Sanskritical language most free from any of the other North Indian vernaculars. Most persevered since the time of Prakrit. It has three dialects Lari, Siraiki, Thari. The Saraiki has remained far more original….”

Lari has been more of a literary while Saraiki has more of spoken status in Sindh. It was and is the mother tongue of Kalhora and Talpur rulers. Overwhelmingly, Baloch tribes of Sindh (Jatoi, Zardari, Leghari, Gopang etc.) all speak Saraiki at home. Adjoining districts of Baluchistan and KP also have significant population of Saraikis. Well known families include Jamali, Kundi and Maulana Mufti Mahmood family etc.

The demand of Saraiki has not just economic but historical and emotional background too. Roohi (Cholistan) has same value in Saraiki as Malir or Kech Mekran in love stories of Sassui Punnoo and Umar Marvi. The saint poet, Kawaja Farid, used to spend many months every year in Rohi. He addressed God as “You are my empire Malir, You are my Rohi Cholistan” says Khawaja SaiN, who lived in Roohi for eighteen years. He praised cholistan as if it was his beloved. It is also said that his famous Kafi quoted above written in Kaaba, while on hajj.

Multan without any doubt is the oldest populated city of Pakistan. Its Sun temple has been mentioned by historians like Herodotus, Huang Sen, Skylax. It was site of annual pilgrimage for Indians till it was destroyed by Ghaznavi. Mutlan became part of Punjab in 1818 when Ranjit Singh army defeated the valiant Muzzaffar Khan ( Muzzaffar Garh is named after him).Before that not only it was never part of Punjab, but other parts of Punjab were part of Multan. It is famous saying of Data Ganj Bakhsh that “Lahore Yak e az Muzzaffat e Multan ast” (Lahore is one of the outskirts, satellite town, of Mutlan).After Arab conquest, Sindh was divided into northern and southern units. Multan was capital of northern unit while Alor was for south.

Myself, being from Bahawalpur and more familiar with its history, will focus more on its situation which is not much different from other Saraiki areas. I felt it imperative to discuss because after watching one full program dedicated to new province issue, how anchors and panel could be so ignorant about history and social problems of places. Under Durani Empire, rulers were called deputy governors and after the demise of Durani Empire, Bahawalpur as sate came into existence and rulers adopted the title of “Nawab”. It was one of the most peaceful and wealthiest states of India. As per of Bombay Geographical Society (Vol. 4 1841 P 110)

“Bikanir and other Rjput States of the east mainly depend on Bahawalpur for their supplies of consumption. There are few if any countries in Asia where provisions the product of soil are more abundant or cheaper than in Bahawalpur State”.

People of Bahawalpur state have similar cultural and trade relations with other Rajputana States.Famous Farid Gate of city of Bahawalpur’s original name was ‘Bikaneri Gate’ and road  going east to Bikanr was called Bikaner road. As many other names, these, too, threatened ‘Islam’ so named were changed. During partition negotiations at Shimla, Nawab of Bahawalpur tried to make rulers of other Rajputana states to join Pakistan while as Shimla. Sardar Patel got hint and it did not work. At the time of partition Bahawalpur State was the second richest of Indian states after Hyderabad. It had University (Jamia Abbasia), many free hospitals, Bahawal Victoria Hospital still is the main hospital of division affiliated to Quaid e Azam Medical College was established in 1906.Sadiq Egerton (S.E) College was establsiedh in 1886.In addition it had many architecturally beautiful buildings like Noor Mahal, Darbar Mahal etc. which were taken over by army establishment resulting in ruinous metamorphoses.

After partition it did not become ‘PART’ of Pakistan. It was “affiliated’ with Pakistan as a “sovereign” state. It is important to understand the difference. One becomes affiliated like a brother or someone one likes/loves etc. Government of Pakistan (GOP) herself declared in court

“…In these circumstances I am here to say that the State of Bahwalpur is NOT a part of His Majesty’s Dominion (Pakistan) and that the Ameer within the limitations imposed upon him by the constitutional arrangements set out above is the sovereign rule of the state”( Sayce v. Ameer, Bahawalpur State’, (May 20, 1952. Judges: Somervell, Jenkins and Morris).

This arrangement continued till 1954 when GOP asked the state to officially become part of Pakistan. This was done so that ‘parity’ can be achieved with Bengal. After the breakup of one Unit, Saraikis expected the rehabilitation as a province. When it was not done, there was strong movement and people did die, if someone feels it is necessary to gauge the sincerity of movement. Since 1969 the main projects which can be of mention are a new Medical College at Bahawalpur and small airport at Bahawalpur. The state which was once amongst the richest in whole India is now one of the poorest areas of Pakistan.

It would be worth mentioning that Shaykh Zayed did great help especially in district Rahim Yar Khan. Its district hospital was expanded and runs mainly with the help of Abu Zahbi state.Airport at Rahim Yar Khan was also made by them and not by GOP or Punjab government. Shaikh Zayed approved a medical college in 1976/77 which was later resisted by Takht Lahore mentality and was made just few years ago. Shaikh Zayed hospital of Lahore was meant for that medical College but was moved to Lahore by same takht mentality.

After One Unit, ZAB tried to keep the balance of power by having a Saraiki either as governor or chief minister of Punjab. It was discounted after him as undeclared policy and seems to have been introduced by AZ. During subsequent censuses, same mentality deleted Saraiki as a separate language and was reintroduced after protests from Saraikis. Development budget of city of Lahore is persistently more than the budget of all the Saraiki areas of Punjab. Those are the feelings of Saraiki people which make them demand the province of their own. Some of them may be imaginary but they do exist and exist very passionately. Apart from Takht, establishment also has its own reasons to undermine it. After Sindh, the main chunk of still un-allotted land lies in Cholistan, even though hundreds of thousands acres has already been grabbed.

Because persons belonging to those mentalities overwhelmingly happen to be Punjabis, Punjab as a whole gets the feeling of hatred from all others who feel aggrieved because of such policies. Unfortunately it is common Punjabis who, undeservedly, suffer due to retributive actions.

If someone still has doubts about peoples’ feeling about this issue, they should look into election results of 1970.When PPP swept across all the Punjab, it got only one seat from Bahawalpur division. Others all went to “Bahawalpur Sooba Mahaz”. But, who needs to learn from history!!





میں تسا میڈی روہی تسی۔۔
۔ تسی روہی جائی ۔۔
۔ میکوں آکھ نہ پنج دریائی
‘ (میں پیاسا میری روہی پیاسی،
پیاسی روہی میں پیدا ہونے والی۔۔۔
مجھے پنج دریائی نہ کہو)۔

I am forever thirsty,
Like my, forever bone dry, Rohi (Cholistan)
Like is every single soul born there, thirsty !!
Don’t put the false label of Five Rivers on me.
I have been forever, thirsty
Like my, forever bone dry, Rohi (Cholistan)
Like is every single soul born there, thirsty !!
Don’t put the false label of Five Rivers on me.



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