Few days ago, I came across an article on Tribune’s blog page which in my opinion was poorly constructed. I respect the writer’s opinion since it talked about half-truth and I being someone who has seen and witnessed the life in Upper and Southern Punjab, feel the need to make my argument as well.
Firstly what is ‘Alien ethnicity’ according to writer? Punjabi is not an alien ethnicity. Punjabis are equally part of Pakistan the way others are. Second, How come Sikhs invaded Punjab? They are from Punjab. They are locals who grew strong and established their empire. Guru Nanak was not from any other place. Ranjeet Singh was not from somewhere else. They were from Punjab, they were Punjabis. No one should discredit his Muslim Punjabi brothers just because of Sikhs. The writer should know that Punjab, Seraiki belt and Sindh are remnants of age old Indus Valley Civilization. Seraiki is a different language but remember that it is influenced by Punjabi and Sindhi both. If any Seraiki is called Punjabi then it only takes a simple act of good etiquette to tell you’re not Punjabi but Seraiki. Punjabis are not some ‘untouchables’ of Pakistan. Every Pakistani no matter from any ethnic or religious background must be respected at all costs. I am a person who loves Southern Punjab and Lahore, also love Punjabi and seraiki equally. After all, I am a local lad from both places, having roots in Lahore as well in Khanewal with family in both places supporting ‘Seraiki Province’. Both places are my homes.
Now I have to discuss the ‘ethnic’ side of it since that is exactly the reason Seraiki Nationalists and PPP want new province for. Fact remains that the likes of Gillanis, Hashmis, Qureshis, Qaiseranis, Mazaris, Legharis etc who make up the heavy weights of Political arena in Seraiki belt were not here forever and they are the one’s who are pushing for Seraiki Province. Unlike Nationalist Punjabis and Sindhis who claim their land is at least 5000 years old and rightly so, are right when they claim that. Fact remains that Heavyweights mentioned earlier were NOT in seraiki belt for 5000 years but at most 500-1000 years, mostly after Islam came to Sub-continent. They either came from Arabia,Persia or Balochistan. The real people on the other hand, the actual Locals of this entire area, The descendents of people of original Indus Valley Civilization, the like of Rajputs, Jatts, Gujjars etc have been living in Southern, Central, Northern Punjab, Sindh and surrounding areas ever since the Aryans arrived in Sub-Continent and they have been living there a lot before when Gillanis,Hashmis etc came to live there.
Some of the Rajput,Jatt, Gujjar tribes in Seraiki belt are known as Khars,Hirajs, Berahs, ,Kanju,Kamboh, Toors, Daultana, Khichis, Rao etc and they are the original locals of the land and yes, many of them want Seraiki province as well and rightly so. But we must remember that they have been there since a lot longer. Not just this you will find them not just in Southern Punjab but Central and Upper Punjab as well. I would like to ask How are Rajputs and Jatts of Seraiki belt ethnically related to Qureshis,Gillanis etc ? How is a Kharal, Kanju, Berah, Rao any different to person of same tribe and caste residing in Upper and Central Punjab. What about the likes of Qaiseranis, Mazaris, Legharis etc who are Baloch tribes living in Seraiki belt? For me they are locals as well just like others and since most of them speak Seraiki as their mother tongue so they deserve equal rights. I would like to ask how many of the Baloch tribes would still like to mingle with Gillanis, Hashmis, Raos, Berahs etc who are not Balochs? Would they consider them equally as Seraikis? The point im trying to make is that Seraikis majorly are a linguistic group where many nations and different tribes resides.
I ask Seraiki Nationalists how they make a distinction. How will they guarantee Non-Seraiki speakers a safe life in new province when we know Punjabis and Urdu Speakers are brutally murdered in Balochistan just for their ethnicity? How will Seraiki-speaking areas in Sindh and Balochistan cope? I for one want an answer.
Punjabis and Seraikis must also be told the truth. Truth that Seraiki politicians like Ghulam Mustafa Khar , Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Sardar Latif Khosa, Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa, Sardar Farooq Leghari,Yousaf Raza Gilani and many more ruled Punjab as Governors, CM’s and even went on to become Presidents and PM. There is no doubt that more money is spent on Upper Punjab but why should onus lie all on upper Punjab? They must know that their leaders spend most of their time in Upper Punjab. Here in Lahore, they prefer to live in posh localities of DHA, Gulberg and Model Town while their own people suffer in Southern Punjab. Why they never did anything? Why Seraiki nationalists have chosen cursing Lahore as their solution? I have no idea. The people of Khanewal, DG Khan, Bahawalpur etc are equally slaves of “Takht e Multan” if they are of Lahore.
In the end, only Seraikis have the right to choose what is best for their land. I for one would love a new province carved from my beloved Khanewal to all the way to DG Khan but would not like it being named on Ethnic or linguistic basis. This in my opinion may lead to blood shed. Southern Punjab and perhaps divided Punjab must not become Balochistan or Bangladesh.