Amna Zaffar

‘Pakistan’, a country of mixed ethnicities, cultures, languages and history, which all came together under one identity, in 1947. Where independence of Pakistan is only 73 years old there’s a 272 years old, Muslim independent state in Pakistan that once stood with all it’s glory and wealth amidst British colonization. This state was ruled by Nawabs and was known as State Of Bahawalpur. Once, amongst the richest state of sub-continent is now the most underdeveloped and forgotten region of Punjab. There is not much of political representation from Bahawalpur and there is not much of revenue spent on Bahawalpur. Bahawalpur state under Nawab Sadiq V joined Pakistan as a sovereign state and later Nawab agreed to the decision of Pakistan Government to merge all the provinces and Bahawalpur into One Unit under the condition that Bahawalpur will be restored to its provincial position when One Unit will break. But authorities forgot their promise. Government stripped Bahawalpur from its provincial identity. Government took away its wealth, pride and confidence. All the grandeur of Bahawalpur being a land of plenty is now merely in memories of its old residents.

Bahawalpur has always been independent and economically stable state. It has its own identity, history, language, tradition and culture. Pakistan merged all differences under one identity, i.e religion, for the sake of promoting nationalism in its people. Nonetheless, removing long history of people by replacing it with a new one, is rather confusing and is acceptable only if the masses don’t feel exploited and find themselves under identity crisis. Bahawalpur also had its own administration, bureaucracy, army and legislation along with justice courts. Depriving an autonomous state from its sovereignty and stripping people from their identities is nothing but an invitation to unrest and chaos. People of Bahawalpur had always been ahead of time as inhabitants of independent state, in education, healthcare, welfare, revenue, history, security, transportation and infrastructures, but all its riches were given to the central government of the new country, when Bahawalpur joined Pakistan.

At the time of independence, Nawab of Bahawalpur instantly offered Quaid e Azam 7 crore rupees to pay official’s monthly salary, as a gesture of good will and a gift to Quaid. But Bahawalpur was just a steppingstone for the politicians in Pakistan. Bahawalpur gave and keeps on giving while in return it gets nothing but broken promise and stones.

After 50 years of losing its identity, its still necessary to reinstate Bahawalpur’s previous position. Bahawalpur is very much capable of being a sixth province of Pakistan as an equal or more than equal to other provinces in federal. Punjab being a province of more than 12 crore people is very hard for administration. Additionally, regions earning is not spent just on the region itself. Instead a larger sum of region’s income goes to north Punjab, with whom Bahawalpur shares little or nothing with. History, culture and language of Bahawalpur is more related to Sindh than to north Punjab. Bahawalpur is lagging in development. For the sake of its long-lost history and for the welfare of people of Bahawalpur it must be recognized as a separate province.

What’s stopping establishment to reinstate the position of Bahawalpur? The self-serving politicians and representatives elected from Bahawalpur are unable to address the demand strongly in assembly. They are mostly intimidated by national political parties, who’ll probably lose their grip on Punjab province if they divide the province. Bahawalpur province movement also lack strong leadership for their cause. Authorities and establishment are mostly comprised of people from North Punjab who are not capable of understanding the demands and problems of people from Bahawalpur.

From social, political, administrative and economic perspective, it’s crucial to restore Bahawalpur province. People of Bahawalpur have suffered long enough and been deprived enough of quality education, strong political representation, modern infrastructures and good administration. Government must recognize the potential of Bahawalpur state. 73 years ago, Muslim’s struggles were met with the independence of Pakistan, now people Of Bahawalpur want their demands to be met and taken seriously.

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