Sraiki Suba, Yes or No?

The waderas of Multan have their eyes on Bhawalpur for which they even manufactured a plea that it was a Sraiki ‘speaking’ area. Former Senator, Mohammed Ali Durrani, a Bahawalpuri himself, led a spirited campaign showing Bahawalpur was not a Sraiki speaking area.
He contradicted this claim by saying that the people of Bahawalpur speak “Riyasti” , in Multan Multani, in Dera, Dera wali, etc. The claim that there is a Sraiki language is of recent origin.



by Dr Samiullah Koreshi


Note for WoP readers:

Creation of a separate province based on Sraiki speaking areas of Punjab was hyped up by former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. Since this stance suited the ruling PPP too, therefore, presdient Asif Ali Zardari also put his full weight into a demand for such province.

After the departure of Mr. Gilani, th movement appeared to have almost died down. But recent appointmrnt of Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood as the new Governor of Punjab, has ignited once again the discussions about the pros and cons of a Sraiki province.

Had there been a sincere wish to carve out a separate province, which means to faciliate the people of the areas in southern Punjab, nobody would have opposed such a move. But as the things are, such slogans are raised just to gain political mileage, perticularly [as has been pointed out by almost every analyst] the stance has a design to do more damage to the PMLN’s vote bank than to serve the people of the Sraiki belt in south of Punjab.

All the ruling dynasties of Multan i.e. the Gilanis, Gardezis, Khakwanis, Makhdooms so on and so forth have been in power not from today, not from the time of the creation of Pakistan but far beyond that period. The fact is that during the British colonial rule, it were the same ruling families of Multan who ruled the roost even in those days as they do so now as well.

Surprisingly not for a single time, any one of them raised the demand for a separate province for the Sraiki areas. Why then now?
The idea behind this move is more for the princes of Multan to have their full control over the resources of the whole Sraiki belt, which they have to get out of the total budget of the whole province. However, in case of a separate province the resources of the new province will be completely at their disposal, same way as they control the rural masses on their estates, the poor mazaras tilling their lands, dependent upon their feudal lords for their bread , their health and the education, employment of their kids. In other words a state of perpetual slavedom of the people in Sraiki areas.[Nayyar]


It is a sad commentary on the performance of the Ruling Party that each time one writes on a main event of the week it starts with a criticism of its high handedness. It seems that the ruling party treats the power it enjoys to reap benefits money or bestow unjustified empowerment to its leaders to make the yesterdays poor and now Novo-rich multi-millionaire or multi-billionaire leaders.

Amass wealth right or wrong, amass power while the Ganga floats as is the idiom, and the Ganga here means abuse of power while the sun shines.

I do not relish it but my long habit of stating the truth makes me write my humble views what ever they are worth. This time I am writing on what I consider a very hasty political action in creation of South Punjab Province – as a reward to Yusuf Raza Gilani and his family or the other feudal lords of Multan and their families – to enjoy a fiefdom for ever and ever.

This claim for democracy they boast they gave to the country, not Q-i-Azam , in my humble view shows that the erstwhile Communist Yugoslavia – where I had been Ambassador during its Non Aligned Days- was better than the People’s Democracy here where, in the former, any major proposed legislature used to be put in Party offices through out the country for one year , for eliciting public comments the legislature was modified in the light of the public consensus on that bill and finally presented to the legislature, as embodying country’s consensus.

But here the “Resolution” for creation of Southern Punjab was put to vote in a jiffy like chat mungni put biah (Today engagement tomorrow wedding). In no democratic world such highhandedness will be witnessed.

But first I must examine the claim that “ Sraiki “ people have suffered Istahsal or deprivation and exploitation. If it was true then the responsibility rests with the most backward Waderas who were the worst feudals of the subcontinent, the Gilanis, the Gardezis the Khakwanis, etc. They yielded power over their peasants who were tenants at will. The worst waderas were from this so-called Saraiki belt a term which is controversial when it came in use – in early 70s.

If there was Istahsal as they claim none other than these waderas- glorified as religious icons also- were responsible for it and none else. They were the supreme powers in this area In early days much before Pakistan came into existence there was a saying in Persian “Chahar chez est tohfay Multan, Gard-o Garma, Gada- o- Goristan” (For four things Multan is renowned , Dusty winds, hot season, beggars and graveyard). The fact that this saying is in Persian which means the couplet was of a Persian poet written much before Partition in 1947.

May one examine what were our big wigs before creation of Pakistan, how their fortunes and of the areas which came to Pakistan what was their standing what was the economic condition of the areas which came to Pakistan. Consult Gazetteers of the Areas published under the British era hundred years ago or more. Just to judge the claim of Istahsal, or exploitation.

These waderas had their eyes on Bhawalpur for which they even manufactured a plea that it was a Sraiki ‘speaking’ area. Former Senator, Mohammed Ali Durrani, a Bahawalpuri himself, led a spirited campaign showing Bahawalpur was not a Sraiki speaking area. He contradicted this claim by saying that the people of Bahawalpur speak “Riyasti” , in Multan Multani, in Dera, Dera wali, etc. The claim that there is a Sraiki language is of recent origin.

As regards Bahawalpur as far as I know, the Ruling family of Bahawalpur originally are from Baghdad who ran from there after Abbaside Rule was devastated by the Halakoo Khan and founded a dynasty in Bahawalpur. They call themselves Abbasis and they named cities in their state as Baghdad el Jadid and Qat-el-Ammara, etc in memory of their old roots from there. If one would check the Historical Atlases of old India- I have done so- never Bahawalpur was part of Punjab even when the Sikhs over ran Multan and Dera, and much of Afghanistan and some parts of Balochistan as stated in the history books of Balochistan written over hundred fifty years ago.

When Bahawalpur acceded to Pakistan in 1952, Quaid –e-Azam granted its separate identity and so it remained till One Unit. It was much prosperous and had no wadera-ism, and was a reasonably self sufficient prosperous native princely state.

After the Nizam of Hyderabad , Bahawalpur gave Pakistan some financial help. Merging Bahawalpur into Punjab was a violation of the Accession to Pakistan Agreement the Ruling Prince of Bahawalpur signed with the Quaid-i-Azam.

While South Punjab also as a province would require financial injections and will be a burden over the Federation, and increase Pakistan’s dependence on Foreign aid, Bahawalpur can stand on its own feet all through its canal system that the Rulers of Bahawalpur had spread through out the state, according to accounts, has now become a desert for the canals were neglected. .

It may be recalled that during the First War for Independence in 1857, when the Probyian soldiers from Meerut Cantonment had insisted on putting the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar on the throne in Red Fort Delhi, it was this region which sided with the British Imperial Rule through its proxy the East India Company. It was this the Sikhs and Dogras of Kashmir and Waderas of Multan –turned Ulemas who sided with the British suppression and the Ulemas of Multan issued Fatwas in favour of the British and equated the rising against the British as a rebellion and sin , as recorded in Indian History.

Multan waderas helped British to crush the “Mutiny” and contributed a cavalry regiment which stormed Delhi breaking through Kashmiri Gate in Delhi. These waderas have a long history of such recorded “ sacrifices” like surrendering to the Sikhs. I might add that history also records that Kharals of Multan dissented with the fatwas This is an appropriate occasion to recall this history as only a few before was the 10th of May the date in 1857 on which the “Mutiny” began .

With this background, I will now come to The PPP’s involvement in getting a National Assembly passing a resolution for creation f a Greater South Punjab with Bahawalpur as its part. What was the hurry to impose it on the country through questionable hurry without three readings and all that

First the PPP knows that in the educated and enlightened urban areas they cannot get support. It is limited to the uneducated wadera infested rural side. So they want to make a clear divide in the country of the Rural-unprivileged uneducated areas elsewhere and South Punjab which they desire to break away from Punjab. This is a cut Punjab to size and weaken PML –N ‘s hold or takhte Punjab as they call it.

Second they would like to reward Gilani and other alocal waderas for their “loyalty” to the PPP , and their sons and daughters to have an exclusive arena to establish their “prime ministership as long as they can..

Third as a colloray to this thinking they want Yusuf Raza Gilani to have a seat as Chief Minister or his son in “South Punjab” to compensate him for loss of Prime Ministership. I understand there has been a reaction to this proposal which PPP want to be in position before the General Elections. Already voices are being heard in Karachi for creation of a South Sindh Province. This division in a way was proposed by Mr Z A Bhutto who divided Sindh’s share on the basis of Urban and Rural Sindh. 

The writer a veteran diplomat has served as  Pakistan’s ambassador to different countries, prominently being Nigeria, Lebanon and former Yugoslavia. His assignments in these  three capitals were marked  as cricial junctures in the history of the each country [as each was experiencing a civil war].

Related Posts:

 1. Will more provinces lead to a vivisection of the Nation State of Pakistan 2. Rationale for the Saraiki province 3. Diminishing Punjab 4. More subas? — I 5. The dangers of new provinces6. What if Punjab is too large? 7. Before breaking up Punjab, please care to read this….
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1 Comment

  1. Sraiki Sooba is the urgent need of time, but only from administrative point of view, not on basis of political agendas of this or the other party.These areas always showed a backward trend as compared to era before partition. During that era Nawabs had much better performance for the welfare of their people than the political and military groups of Pakistan. These political groups keep their families’ hold on basis of a culture of worshipping the graves and shrines through which they fool the masses, grab all funds and transfer these to their personal accounts, resultingly thus generate least index of development. Military generals too do not lag behind these political goons and usurp rich fertile lands of the Sraiki belt in the the name of unseen services to this nation.

    So for correcting all blunders done during the last 67 years and still being done, the people in Sraiki seriously need social reforms to get rid of the backwardness, which has been imposed on them by their feudal godfathers.

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