Saraikiis an ancient language having rich cultural heritage and literature. History is telling the world that Saraikilanguage is the flag bearer of indus valley civilisation and is spoken in the areas where Hakra river hadquenched the thirst of the land, Bias was the source of greenery, Sutluj and Ravi had produced gold, Love stories of Chenab emerged and up to now Sindh River isflourishing as source of life. This area is spread over Divisions of Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan and Sargodha, districts of Jhang, Okara and Sahiwal in Punjab,districts ofDeraIsmil Khan and Tonk in KPK, and in parts of the districts of Larkana, Sehwan, Nawabshah, and Karachi in Sindh Province. It is estimated that Saraiki is the mother tongue of over 60 million people in Pakistan.
It is the tale of centuries journey which Saraiki has to travel for her acceptance as a separate language literally and its speakers as a nation culturally, besides having rich vocabulary, idioms, idiomatic phrases, lullabies, folk stories, folk songs,folk literature, uniqueness, sweetness, versatile and lovely nature as a language, a large area of her speakers, totally separate culture and ancient heritage. Saraiki has beard the burnt of dominancy of Arabic during Arab invasions, Persian in Sultanate up to Mughals era as well as the gale of English literature and culture. After the creation of Pakistan, Saraikies accepted the dominancy of Urdu language in the name of patriotism. This patriotic wave in saraiki writers resulted in dominancy of Punjabi language. A time came when some Punjabi researchers declared saraiki as dialect of Punjabi which equals an adaje . Ironically another Punjabi thinker opined that Saraiki has originated from the word ‘’SARAE’’ (roadside accommodation place for travelers) and this is why it is called Saraiki. These overtures of Punjabi thinkers awoke the Saraiki writers from dream of patriotism and brotherhood. They researched day and night and wrote bundles of books proving separate identity of Saraiki as language. They have proved that Baluchki, Partake, Jagdali, Riasti, Bahawalpuri, Derewali, Multani, Western Punjabi, Lanhda, Uchi, Thallochi, and Shahpuri(Some researchers also includeHindko in this list) are different accents of Saraikilanguage being spoken in different areas. It has also been verified linguistically that Saraiki has come from the word Sauvira (Sauvira, a state name in Indus Valley Civilization, the meaning of Sau-virais the country of hundred brothers):Sauvira + Ki (an affix) = Sauviraiki. By dropping the consonant v and its surrounding vowels in Sauviraiki for the sake of simplification it became Saraiki. So Saraiki meaning becomes the language of the region which originally called Sauvirai.Now these are established facts that second elegy of the world and first of subcontinent was written in Multani accent of Saraiki in 7th Century, Noor Nama was written in Saraiki in 10th century,Multani was official Language of Soomra Dynasty of Multan in 14th century andMultaniwas mentioned in Aaeen-e-Akbari as separate in 16th century A.D.These efforts of Saraiki writers, thinkers and philosophers bear fruit and Saraikiwas declared as a separate language in 1981.
SaraikiWasaib has deep rooted vast culture with strong power of absorption. This is why all the invading cultures and languages eliminated with time and Saraiki culture re-emerged with vigor by absorbing the belligerentcultures.
On the other hand politically Saraikis are still struggling and being deprived of their identity as a separate entity within Pakistan. Historically Saraikies existed from time immemorial but the current consciousness has been shaped after the emergence of Pakistan and immigrants community influx.There is no SaraikiWasaib today, but that does not mean Saraikis never existed. Today we find some Saraiki areas incorporated in Punjab, while others are part of KPK, Baluchistan and Sindh. In pastSindhu and Sauvira were two states in the region of Indus ValleyCivilisation. The Sindhu now is called Sindh province and Sauvirathe land of Saraikistan is still to gain its identity. Later on these areas were part of one single administrative entity called Multan. Multan in history existed as an independent 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 medieval history. In Medieval history Multan maintained the status of province in one way or the other. During the centuries which followed Multan kept on losing its territories and grip on far-flung areas.AbbasiKalhorasestablished independent State of Bahawalpur in 1802. In west and north-west Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan came into existence and at times remained independent of influence from Multan. Finally, the Sikh Invasions of 1818 snatched identity of Saraikiwasaib from it and labeled the whole wasaib as Punjab. However it is interesting to note that Multan remained a separate province in MaharajaRanjeet Singh’s Punjab.The areas what now are called Pakistani Punjab and Indian Punjab were brought under Sikh rule. However Sikh rule proved to be short lived and after British takeover, the Sikh dominion became part of British Empire. This is the point where Multan’s separate identity as an administrative unit was merged with Punjab. Before British takeover, Punjab was an independent state and Multan was province. When Punjab became province of British empire, status of Multan was reduced to that of a division. Multan province was consisted of Multan, Jhang (Lyle pur as its tehsil) and Googera (spread uptoOkara) districts at the time of 1857 rebellion. British gave Lyle Pur to punjabies in the name of settlement.Central Punjab saw a massive mobilization of people at the time of the construction of canals under a scheme that the British started in 1886. A huge number of Punjabis from central Punjab were settled in the western parts of the Punjab province, mainly the present day Saraiki areas. When British felt danger from pathans and afghans, they reconciled with them by handing over Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar to them by forming a new province named NWFP in 1901.Later, the 1947 partition of India had a disharmonizing effect in the Saraiki region linguistically as the non-Saraiki speaking population replaced the Saraiki speaking population.The wasaibsagri-lands and city properties were awarded to migrants in lieu of their claims. Wasaib’s inhabitants beared all this in the name of patriotism.Even after the main migration of 1947, the internal migration of the people of Punjab to the Saraiki areas, which had already seen a large cultural and linguistic upheaval in the late 19th century, continued. In the 1950s, under the Thal irrigation scheme, hundreds of thousands of acres of barren land were allotted to Punjabi speaking migrants for cultivation. This too brought a feeling of deprivation among the Saraikis living in the districts of Muzaffargarh, Layyah and Bhakkar.As a result the migrants occupied most city areas of saraikiwasaib and got hold over all business activity.
On the other hand Pakistani politicians failed in managing the affairs of the newly created state and could not draft a constitution for quite a long time. They lacked political acumen, sagacity and foresightedness. They made the blunder of keeping over stretched Punjab intact, but also merged State of Bahawalpur in it.
In 1960s,Saraikies started efforts to revive their identity as a separate entity within Pakistan due to continuous deprivation from progress and prosperity, exploitation at the hands of ruling elite and refusal from accepting their very existence. One can see the government apathy for these areas from the fact that Indus river is running in between Thal and Daman areas and passes near Rohi area but these areas are still devoid of irrigation facilities while the waters of this river is being supplied to upper punjab 400 km to 600 km away from its flow area SaraikiWasaisb. On this apathy a poet writes:
Maidi dharti tarissi
Tarissi Rohi jaee
Maikoon aakh naan panj daryaee
Independent studies show a wide gulf between the development of infrastructure between the Saraiki districts and the rest of the Punjab. After Multan, the most developed Saraiki district Rahim Yar Khan is rated in terms of infrastructure at number twenty-seven, which is even lower than the lowest developed district among non-Saraiki districts which comes at number twenty-one. Several comparative studies carried out by independent economists of the development of districts place most of the districts of the Saraiki speaking areas lower on the basis of development indicators than those of the Punjabi speaking areas of the upper Punjab.The same is the case with opportunities for technical and professional education: in seventeen Saraiki districts there are only four medical colleges as opposed to fifteen in the fifteen districts of upper Punjab. Although predominantly an agricultural region, there is no Agricultural and Engineering University in the Saraiki belt. Agricultural, Engineering, Information, Medical, Naval, Textile, Veterinary and Women's universities have all been set up in the upper Punjab-the non-Saraiki region This sense of deprivation continues even today which is expressed from time to time at different forums. A poet writes;
Assan konr kithoon de waasrri
Assan kaeen dharti da jam
Hoon kehri zaat sadeendrre
Te kiahai saada naan
Koi naan nahin chhukdano krain
Naan banhnia chhak di zaat
Assan bewaaris, assan autray
Naan saadi koi auqat
Saraiki nationalists jokingly call Lahore, the capital of Punjab, laahore a Punjabi phrase which means bring more'. The tale of loot reached its peak in current times when whole of the Wasaib saw disastrous floods from 2010 to 2012 and Punjabi government was spending hundreds of billion rupees on metropolitan bus and lahore ring road schemes save to rehabilitate the dieing flood drowned Saraikis. This sense of injustice and deprivation led the Saraikisfor revival ofSaraiki language as the most powerful symbol to assert their separate identity, the basic reason was deprivation either economic or lack of identity'. The radical intellectuals wrote poems showing hatred to punjabimonopoly such as:
eindaymunhte pair punjab de
eendi rag ragsausau cheer
Saade hath karianvich band
In the beginning it was only a literary movement for linguistic rights. Later on it turned into a Saraiki Province Movement due to above mentioned reasons. First notion of Saraiki deprivation can be traced back to 1963 when SajjadQureshi spoke in national assembly and voiced concerns about the marginalisation of wasaib. The saraiki nationalist movement echoed time and again in 1960s and 70s. After the Zia’s takeover in 1977 it disappeared for some time. It reemerged after his death with clear cut goal to have Saraikistan Province as reality on the map of Pakistan.The services of Late Taj Muhammad Langah and AashiqBuzdar are worth mentioning here for Saraiki cause. The Saraiki Province Movement gained momentum in last era of PPPP led government from 2008-13, when PPP helped in passing resolutions in the favor of a Saraiki Province with name Bahawalpur JanubiPanjab. PML (n) government in punjabthwarted the adventure of PPP led federal government by passing a resolution in Punjab Assembly by favoring creation of two provinces in Wasaib area. This juncture of PML(N) was taken by Saraiki intelligentsia as:
Pehletu sab shareefthayhamighareebkay
Abtuijazulhaqbhisaf-e- dostaan main hai
Yarabbachana ham kopunjabikaypyar se
Rakhisskobadgumaanjokissikhushgumaan main hay
After the defeat of PPP in election 2013 it is taken for granted that Saraiki Province Movement is over. Saraikis arranged a successful conference in Multan in June 2013 in which they re-iterated their demand for province, and YousafRazaGillani’s participation was a peculiar thing. Later on PPP announced the creation of its Saraikiwasaib wing, changing from Janubi Punjab, in line with demand of conference.
Today all smaller provinces seem fed up with the politics of this big brother ‘’Punjab’’. Which in fact is not big, it derives its powers from Saraiki 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.
SaraikiWasaib can act as a link between all the provinces and will be a source of Strong prosperous Pakistan. Saraiki language is and will become a link language of all provinces. The drama of creation of two provinces by PML(n) has also been exposed as a conspiracy.Historically, Bahawalpur was a part of SaraikiWasaib. Its independent history is not too old compared to its lifespan in the Saraiki region. So only a unified Saraikistan looks a viable solution to make amends for the deprived SaraikiWasaib.
The propaganda for the creation of provinces on administrative base is also a gimmik to divert attention from the real issue of identity. Only to mention in Pakistan we have to bow down before Pakhtuns in changing their province name to KPK in place of colonial legacy NWFP after 65 years of independence. Also the acceptance of Saraiki identity will ease the administrative problems.
The aurora that creation of Saraiki province will lead to ethnic divide in Pakistan is another baseless drama just to maintain Punjabi exploitation and monaply. SaraikiWasaib has its own land, rich language and culture, resources and historical background which no other entity in Pakistan possesses. In addition SaraikiWasaib is being exploited at the hands of ruling elite. Saraikis are demanding province within pakistan peacefully which is constitutional as well as moral. Their demand is not suppressing any otherentity, also they are not usurping anyother entity’s land or resources. These facts make the Saraiki province a genuine demand, unique movement different and strong from others refuting the above conspiracy.
Saraikis are in control of Punjabis and reading history written either by Punjabis or by the people who don’t belong to this area. Sarakis are told that they always were part of Punjab and Saraiki is just a dialect of Punjabi or the language of Sarae. It, in fact, is a political wickedness; by doing so Punjabi ruling elite are usurpingour economic and political rights. They want to deprive Sarakis of their history and identity, because only in this way they will be able to maintain their unholy dominance on Sarakis. Because who controls the past, controls the future.
But it looks that the scenario is changing and this drama is not going to work anymore. Saraikiintelligentsia, political activists, civil society and especially literate youth has woke up for achievement of their goal. Only missing thing is the genuine leader, once they get the leader, they will be behind him and Punjabi monopoly will end in no time like ashes in air. One young man writes:
Maiday hath ich qalm, mayday zahn ich sojhla
Kia hunr v eda baghinsiawazmaidytaqattaylalach da bhala
Maikoonapreenqaum de soch, taikoonaprainraajkhasejanr da gham