Saraiki People and Brief History
|Regions with significant populations|
|Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Saraiki people (Perso-Arabic: سرائيکی, Gurmukhi: ਸਰਾਇਕੀ) or Multani people (Perso-Arabic: ملتانی, Devanagari: मुल्तानी, Gurmukhi: ਮੁਲਤਾਨੀ) are an ethnic group from the south-eastern areas ofPakistan, especially in the area of the former princely state of Bahawalpur and the districts of Sukkur , Larkana, Dadu, Sehwan, Sanghar, Nawabshah, Hyderabad, Sindh, Mirpurkhas, Multan,Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzafar Garh, Layyah, Bhakkar, Mianwali, Dera Ismail Khan, Karachi. A significant number of Saraikis also reside in India, with most concentrated in the state of Punjab,Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Saraikis maintain that they have a separate language and culture, but their language is often viewed as a dialect of Sindhi or Punjabi. While the majority of Saraikis follow Islam, a few also follow Hinduism and Sikhism
At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, Muslims constituted between 90 to 75% of the population of Saraiki speaking region of West Pakistan. While the Hindus and Sikhs constituted between 10 and 25% of the population of the regions in West Punjab, nearly all Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India in 1947, while a substantial number remigrated later to the United Kingdom from India, among other countries. The Muslims ofEast Punjab were also around 45%, nearly all migrated to Pakistani and Saraiki areas. Sindh also had Hindus and Sikhs population of 25% at time of independence of West Pakistan, most of them migrated to India, many of them remigrated from India to the other parts of the world.
A Saraiki campaign (struggle) grew in the 1960s with the aims of establishing language rights and stopping what was seen as exploitation and repression by the traditionally Punjabi dominated government. Saraiki land has always been very fertile, producing much of Pakistan’s wheatand cotton. However little money has been re-invested, and this has led to impoverishment and underdevelopment. The current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani, is Saraiki native, and has initiated several projects to uplift the region particularly in and around Multan.
The campaign continued on into the 1970s, by which time political activists had drawn up a map of a proposed new province to be carved out of central Pakistan named Saraikistan, including most of southern Punjab and Dera Ismail Khan in the North-West Frontier Province(this excluded Sindhi and Baloch areas, possibly because of strong nationalist movements in those regions). The movement, however, was not an independence movement, but rather a movement for the establishment of a separate province within Pakistan.
In 1977 General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq took power in a coup of Pakistan. Under his strongly centralist rule the Saraiki movement went underground. The death of General Zia in a plane crash in 1988 gave the impetus for the Saraiki movement to re-emerge. By now the aims were to have a Saraiki nationality recognised, to have official documents printed in Saraiki, a Saraiki regiment in the army, employment quotas and more Saraiki language radio and television (recently one channel is working).
Ali-Al-Kufi 700 AD also in his book (Shash nama) about Sindh says that Seraiki is a dialect of Sindhi language. Ali-Al-Kufi was considered an authority on subject of Sindh and because of this reason he was invited by the Arab rulers several times to provide useful information about Sindh and its people. He explained in detail that there is one language spoken in country Sindh and its called Sindhi. He further said that ‘Sereki’ is one of Sindhis three dialects.
Multan is mother of all Seraiki areas, because in past they all were part of it and parted from it during long course of history. Today we find some Seraiki areas incorporated in Punjab, while others are part of NWFP, Baluchistan and Sindh. In past they were part of one single administrative entity called Multan. Multan in history existed as an indepedent state, a province, a division and now as a district. It is one of the few living cities of the world which have their origin in pre-historic times. There are countless references about Multan in ancient and medivial history. Medivial historian describe Multan as province of Sindh, during Ghaznavid period it was a separate province, it existed as independent state under Nasir-u-Din Qabacha. Then during Sultnate era it was a province which owed its allegiance to Dehli. It became independent state under Langhas, later on it became province of Mughal era. Although Multan was biggest and hence most important province of Mughal empire, but it is the period when question was put on its territorial integration. It lost it significance to great extent when Lahore gained importance. During the centuries which followed Mutan kept losing its territories and its grip on its pripherial areas became weak. It lost lot of area in south to Daudaputras when they established State of Bahawalpur. In west and north-west Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan came into existence and at a times remained independet of influence from Multan. Finally, the Sikh Invasions of 19th century snatched identity of Seraiki wasaib from it and labelled the whole wasaib as Punjab. However it is interesting to note that Multan remained a separate province in Mahara Ranjeet Singh’s Punjab.
Sikhs and British:
Punjab is phenomenun of yesterday. Although Punjabi speakers existed from time unknown but there was no Punjab, as there is no Seraiki Wasaib today, but that doesnot mean Seraikis never existed. It has its origin in early part of 19th century when short lived Sikh rule was established as a result of rise of Sikh Religious Nationalism and conquests made there after. The areas what now are called Pakistani Punjab and Indian Punjab were brought under Sikh domanian (there were some other territories which now are separate provinces of Hariana, Himachal, Some areas were incorporated into N-W.F.P in 1901). However Sikh rule proved to be short lived and after British takeover the Sikh domnian became part of British Empire. This is the point where Multan’s separate identity as an administrative unit was merged with thatÃ‚ of erst-while unknow Punjab. Before British take over Punjab was an independent state and Multan was its province. When Punjab became province of British empire, status of Multan was reduced to that of aÃ‚ division. The British Bereaucrats and Civil servants, who although did great a job of writing extensively about history, culture, geography, geology etc. of the areas under their control. But they overlooked some facts and considered Seraiki as a dialect of Punjabi. Although some Punjabi intellectuals of that time who wrote about Punjabi labguage, considered Seraiki as a separate language. Similarly, todayÃ‚ even, Sikhs do not include Seraiki areas in the definition of Punjab.
When both India and Pakistan gained independence, Indians keeping in mind the ground realities and in order to provide sound foiundations to the newly created country carved two states out of the over stretched East-Punjab in 1967 (A separate article, supported with authentic maps and historical facts will be uploaded to explain, how Indians managed over stretched province of East Punjab). Where as Pakistan fell in the hands of naive politicians, who grossly failed in managining the affairs of the state and couldnot draft a constitution for quite a long time. They lacked political accumen, sagacity and foresightedness. So not only the failed to realize ground realities, but took actions which proved fatal for Pakistan, one such action was declaring Urdu as a national language (India declared 14 languages as it national languages), the second blunder was keeping over streched Punjab intact, not only this they also merged State of Bahawalpur in it. Today all smaller provinces seem fed up with the politics of this big brother. Which in fact is not big, it derives its powers from Seraiki land and people included in it. If we listen to history and act according to what it tells us, we can get rid of lot of ominous political tensions, which are eroding very basis of federation of Pakistan.
The Rule of Punjab:
Today Seraikis are in control of Punjabis and reading history written either by Punjabis or by the people who don’t belong to this area. So we are told the we always were part of Punjab and Seraiki is just a dialect of Punjabi. It in fact is a political wickedness, by doing so they are userpingour economic and political rights. They want to deprive us of our history and identity, because only in this way they will be able to maintain their unholy dominance on us. Because who controls the past, controls the future.
- Imran Ajmal (Consultant Developer),Det Norske Veritas (DNV Middle East Kuwait
- Mumtaz Hussain Jai (Advocate Supreme Court), founder and president of Saraiki Sooba Movement Pakistan who devoted himself for the cause of Sarikistan Provience.
- Javed Hashmi from Multan, current Senior Vice President Muslim League and Member National Assembly from Multan City since 2008
- Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi Very successful singer, number 1 artist with most recorded album on the planet
- Yousaf Raza Gillani from Multan, current Prime Minister of Pakistan since 2008
- Shah Mehmood Qureshi from Multan, current Foreign Minister of Pakistan since 2008
- Khan Muhammad Hussain Aazd from Bahwalpur, current Deputy Attorney General of Pakistan since 2008
- Farooq Leghari from Dera Ghazi Khan, President of Pakistan (1993 – 1997)
- Aslam Khan Dahir from the village Bota Whan, Landlord, Majority of Contribution In The PPP Pakistan’s People Party (1951)
- Balakh Sher Mazari from Rajanpur, Prime Minister of Pakistan (1993)
- Nawab of Kalabagh Malik Amir Mohammad Khan from Mianwali, Governor of West Pakistan (1960 – 1966)
- Ghulam Mustafa Khar from Muzaffargarh, Governor of Punjab (1971 – 1973) and (1975) and Chief Minister of Punjab (1973 – 1974)
- Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani from Muzaffargarh, Governor of Punjab (1954 – 1955) and Governor of West Pakistan (1955 – 1957)
- Sadiq Hussain Qureshi from Multan, Governor of Punjab (1974 – 1975) and Chief Minister of Punjab (1975 – 1977)
- Mian Mumtaz Daultana from Multan, Chief Minister of Punjab (1951 – 1955)
- Sajjad Hussain Qureshi from Multan, Governor of Punjab (1985 – 1988)
- Dost Muhammad Khosa from Dera Ghazi Khan, Chief Minister of Punjab (2008)
- Imran Khan former cricketer and chief of PTI from Minawali
- Maulan Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi (Late)prominent religious scholar from Mianwali
- Taj Muhammad Khan Langah, founder and president of Pakistan Saraiki Party who devoted himself for the cause of Sarikistan
- Asif Ali Zardari from Dadu Nawbshah,Currint, President of Pakistan (2009 )
- ^ a b “Seraiki”. Ethnologue. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
- ^ Abstract of speakers’ strength of languages and mother tongues – 2001, Census of India (retrieved 19 March 2008)
- ^ PM’s mega uplift plan for hometown -DAWN – National; May 05, 2008