The Dawn: September 27, 2006

Tareekh-i-Murad Gardezi on Bahawalpur

Shafqat Tanvir Mirza 

STORY of the areas now in Pakistan is the victim of our national negligence because the ruling elite somehow wanted that the assessment and critical evaluation of the past particularly the immediate past after the arrival of the British may tarnish their image and they may lose political ground in the newlyestablished country, which according to the Quaid was created for the “poor people” who had committed no betrayal to the country and the people. This hidden fear of the ruling feudal elite led them to discourage free probe of history of the soil and the people. One example will be enough to support this observation. Shahamat Ali was perhaps the first person who wrote a history of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur in English and it was published in 1848 in Britain. Dr Aftab Husain Gilani, an Assistant Professor of the history department at Sadiq Egerton College, Bahawalpur in an article, Tareekh Riasat Bahawalpur ki Ibtadaee Urdu Kutb ka Ja’iza (published in the latest issue of quarterly AzZubair, Bahawalpur) says that Shahamat Ali’s book was never referred by the local historians and the only reason was that Shahamat Ali did not agree that Bahawalpur rulers were from the Abbasis of Baghdad. Shahamat Ali was of the view that they (the rulers of Bahawalpur) were from the clan of Kalhorras of Sindh and they came from Shikarpur where is buried the founder of the state Sadiq Muhammad Khan, the first who had out rightly supported Nadir Shah (the invader).

According to Dr Aftab Husain Gilani (Muhammad Tahir) the first history of Bahawalpur state in Urdu was written by Syed Murad Shah Gardezi who was appointed native political agent to Bahawalpur state in October, 1865. He was from Multan and he also served as the chief justice of the state till his death. Murad Shah wrote this history in Urdu in five volumes, the fourth volume is about the state and covers the periods Nawab Bahawal Khan 111 (3rd) Nawab Bahawal Khan (4th) 1866-1825 to 1885. The Tareekh-i-Murad is in five volumes and is preserved in manuscript form with the Gardezi family of Multan.

Perhaps neither the Bahawalpur people nor the Gardezis are interested to make public this document which carries the most inner stories of the public figures of that period.

Gardezi writes that Nawab Bahawal Khan 3rd opened his inning with the murder of his two top bureaucrats Sheikh Maqbool Ahmad and Sheikh Noor Muhammad. The hidden hand behind this gory murder was of Nawab’s minister Yaqoob Khan and the reason was that both the Sheikh brothers insisted that Yaqoob must pay all the revenue dues with immediate effect. That annoyed the minister who was much more closer to the Nawab Bahawal Khan who later on came to know that the minister was not above board. He had embezzled a huge amount from the defense budget of the state.

Yaqoob Khan tried to win over the Nawab and he sent his wife and daughters to invite the Nawab Sahib and his family to the marriage of some relative. The beautiful wife Khair Qadam and daughters of Yaqoob Khan attracted the attention of the Nawab. After some time the Nawab ordered his officials Farid Haider Shah and Abdul Qadir Shah to detain Yaqoob Khan in Bagh Murad till further orders. All his movable and immovable property was confiscated and he was forced to have a poisonous drink sent by the Jan Bibi, the wife of the Nawab. Yaqoob was dead but the Nawab wanted to be more sure and he asked for his head which was presented to the Nawab by a soldier of Poyam Ram Platoon. Khair Qadam wife of Yaqoob Khan and his daughters were brought to the palace. Khair Qadam was at that time pregnant and after she gave birth to the third son of the late minister Yaqoob she was made part of the Haram. Not only the mother four daughters of Yaqoob, Ganman, Neimat, Hayat and Sahib Khatoon all became the legal wives of the Nawab.

It was the deteriorating rules of Mughal India, rise and fall of the Sikhs, invasions of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali which provided many local influential people all over India to establish themselves as the regional rulers and Bahawalpur Nawabs also belonged to that category. They who had no permanent loyalty with any centers of powers around them. They first clashed with their Kalhorra relatives and with the blessings of Nawab Hayatullah Khan, Mughal governor of Multan got a piece of land in Chaudhry (the area around Liaquatpur) and that was the humble beginning of the Bahawalpur state. The rulers had at a time extended their allegiance to Delhi and Kabul rulers. But ultimately they allied themselves permanently with the British in 1833. According to Tareekh-i-Murad it was intended to save the state from the expansionist Ranjeet Singh who was emerging as a danger for the British also who had reached the left bank of the river Sutlej at Ludhiana. This agreement allowed the Nawab some sovereignty but in the next agreement of 1838 the Nawab and his family was made subservient to the East India Company. They were not allowed to have any contact outside the state. Foreign affairs were taken over by the Company, which was so dominating the affairs of the state and at a very later stage great poet and Sufi Khwaja Farid wrote a poem for Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan who was his disciple, advising him that he should resist the hegemony of the British and look after his state independently.

Tareekh-i-Murad is perhaps not in the safe hands and it would be great service to the country if the Punjab government acquire the manuscript and publish it as a historical record.

Back to Shafqat Tanvir Mirza's  Page

Back to Column's Page