Wednesday 19 July 2017

Agony of Bahawalpur which financed Pakistan

Agony of Bahawalpur which financed Pakistan
The Nawab says, his grandfather was approached by Sardar Patel to accede to India
Dr. Hari Desai’s Column “Back to Roots” in Asian Voice, the Newsweekly published from London 22 July 2017
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The present Nawab of Bahawalpur, Salah-ud-Din Ahmed Abbasi, refused to meet the then President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, for two days in Bahawalpur despite repeated requests and the PPP supremo had to return empty-handed in 2013. This was despite the fact that President Zardari had increased many perks and privileges for Nawab Abbasi and his son. The Nawab boasted of getting himself and his nominees elected to the Punjab Assembly and the National Assembly of Pakistan as well. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s leaders Chaudhary Pervez Elahi and Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain also approached Nawab Abbasi, but did not end up striking a deal with him. Nawab Abbasi has occupied a National Assembly seat four times: 1998 as an independent candidate, in 1990 on the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad’s ticket and in 1993 and 1997 through the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The Nawab has been popular in all the three districts of the Bahawalpur division-Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and Rahim Yar Khan, which encompass 15 National Assembly and 31 Punjab Assembly constituencies. Yet, when he did not get the royal treatment from PML-N and was offered only one of the National Assembly seats, while also not backing him for a Senate seat, he was furious. He had his own party, Bahawalpur National Awami Party(BNAP), formed and ended up having tie-up with Imaran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf(PTI).He did not contest the National Assembly election, but the candidates he supported lost badly to Mian Nawaz Sharif’s candidates in his Bahawalpur State!
The Nawab is keen on his former State being restored as Bahawalpur Province. Even the Punjab Assembly and the National Assembly have given green signals but the popular demand is not met. In his first ever TV interview to Pakistan’s News-one channel on 8 March 2013, the Nawab of the first ever Princely State to join Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan was quite disturbed and furious as well. He pose the question repeatedly: “Kahan Gaye Khwab Mohammad Ali Jinnahke?”(Where are the dreams of Jinnah evaporated?). His grandfather, Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan V , had the option of joining hands with India since person none other than Sardar Patel had asked him to be with the Indian Union, but as most of his subjects were Muslims, he refused the golden offer. No, he does not repent for and does not expect a separatist movement for Bahawalpur as “ it was Bahawalpur which made Pakistan”. Pakistan was almost bankrupt at the time of her birth and tones of money and gold apart from bank guaranty was extended by the then Nawab of Bahawalpur. His State was “the largest and richest in India after Hyderabad Deccan”. The Pakistani Historian specialized in the history of the Princely States, Yaqoob Khan Bangash, records : “In 1947, Bahawalpur State was one of the two States from the Punjab States Agencies(the other being Khairpur), which acceded to Pakistan(fifty days after the independence of Pakistan). Bahawalpur State existed as a separate unit in Pakistan, with later the status of a province, till 1955 when it was merged in the One Unit. In 1970, as the One Unit unraveled, Bahawalpur State was not restored but merged into the Punjab province as a division.”
“Bahawalpur as a State came into existence in 1727 and Amir Sadiq Muhammad Khan I ( 1727-1746) was agreed upon as its first ruler, who belonged to the Abbasi Caliphs of Bagdad, the branch of Abbasi over a sufficient period of time”, Afatab Hussain Gillani of Islamia University of Bahawalpur presents the historical roots and adds: “Bahawalpur was a Princely State(1727-1947) established by Abbasis. They ruled over the State for more than 200 years. After the fall of Bagdad(1258) the Abbasids migrated to Egypt and then to Sindh. They have been gifted the region of “Chudhary” of Nawab of Multan Hayatullah Tareen on the recommendation of Gilant and Bukhari priests of Uch.” Uch, also known as Uch Sharif, is 73 KMs(45 miles) from Bahawalpur. Prof. Gillani, who teaches Pakistan Studies, concludes in his paper “History of Bahawalpur State and its Culture”: “This was the first State which merged with Pakistan unconditionally on 3 October 1947. As Hindu leadership had the pressure on Nawab of Bahawalpur, Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan V, to merged his State with India instead of Pakistan. Hindu leaders Nehru and Patel met the Nawab through Mustaq Ahmed Gurmani for annexation of his State with India, Nawab of Bahawalpur had shown his character and he said: the majority of the people of the State are Muslims. How can I merge the State with India? My front door opens in Pakistan and backdoor opens in India. Every gentleman may love to enter in his house from the front door!” The 21 gun salute State during the British regime, Bahawalpur contributed in the Pakistan movement too. After the death of Nawab Abbasi V in 1966, his elder son, Muhammed Abbas Ali Khan, became the Nawab. He died in 1988 and the present Nawab ascended to Gaddi. He draws the allowance(Privy Purse like) of Rs.4,00,000 per month from the Government of Pakistan, but the flame of his self-respect continues to burn !
Nawab says : “ I can’t see the agreement between Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah and my grandfather Nawab Sadiq being shredded into pieces. We have no objection to creation of a new province but we will not let anyone at any cost to include Bahawalpur in Seraiki province” He is prepared to cut off the water flowing downward from Bahawalpur dam or the railways running. “Bahawalpur was never the part of Punjab and was always an independent State but General Yahya Khan, without assigning any reasons or recording any note on files, merged Bahawalpur with Punjab.” The Nawab considers it a “sin” since the agreement with Jinnah has the provision to continue Bahawalpur as an independent entity so far as the internal affairs are concerned. He is pained to remember late Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel, offering to merge the Firozpur district of Indian Punjab with Bahawalpur State and to keep it as an autonomous region of India, if the then Nawab was to accede to India. “He (Nawab Abbasi V) was first approached by Sardar Patel and the Indian leader sent him a blank paper to write his terms.” One can understand the agony of a titular Nawab since his grandfather had his Rs.120 million at Jinnah’s disposal and even preferred to forgo due compensation of the properties at Delhi, Shimla and Mussoorie. And none can forget the late Nawab of Bahawalpur purchasing six Rolls Royce cars at a time and using them for garbage collection to teach the British company a lesson!

Next Column: The Zamorins of Calicut and Vasco Da Gama
(The writer is a Socio-political Historian. E-mail : )

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