Location of Bahawalnagar District (highlighted in red) within Punjab.
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Bahawalnagar District (Urdu: ضِلع بہاولنگر), is a district of Punjab province in Pakistan. It is on the border. Before the independence of Pakistan, Bahawal Nagar was a part of Bahawalpur state governed by the Nawab of Bahawalpur. The city of Bahawalnagar is the capital of the district.
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As per national census of 1998 Punjabi (in Majhi and Malwi dialects) is the main language of Bahawalnagar district spoken by 1.3 million people which accounts for 95% of the total population of 1.37 million. Riasti (Saraiki) is spoken by 42,000 people (3%) of the district population. Urdu, the national language, is spoken widely while English spoken by the educated elite.
The old name of Bahawalnagar was "Rojhan Waali". Bahawalnagar once a fertile land irrigated with Ganga and Satluj rivers is the custodian of a centuries old civilization of the Hakrian complex which is even older than that of Mohenjo-daro and Harrapa. It was used as an alternate route by the invaders of the north for approaching Delshi (Indian Capital). The great conquerors of India. Alexander of Macedonia, Sultan Mahmood of Ghazni, Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghuri, Timur, Babur, Nadir Shah Durrani and Ahmed Shah Abdali coming from north towards central and southern India passed over this land.
Bahawalnagar was then known as Rojhan and was part of Punjab under the reign of Rai Sahasi II. The author of Chachnama writes that the subjects availed the full opportunity and blessing of peace, harmony and administrative talents. The Rai dynasty governed Sindh for 137 years. After the death of Rai Sahasi II, a Brahman named Chach married his widow and established himself on the throne after killing all rightful Rai heirs. His rule continued for 33 years. After the death of Chach his nephew Raja Dahir succeeded to the throne. His rule was a story of misfortunate tyranny, Dacoities and lawlessness.
The history of the district runs along the contemporary history of Rai dynasty’s downfall and the Muslim invasions of India. Certain incidents stand out as recorded facts disappear leaving faint traces of their existence to be untraced by the archaeological experts. In the absence of more satisfactory record, we have to generally accept stories, legends and tales of this part of the land.
The recorded history of Bahawalnagar starts from the Muslim invasion of India. Islam swept off the debris of a decaying system and replaced it with a civilization which still pulsates with vigour and vitality. In the sub-continent the Muslims brought a message of hope and peace. Islam came as a liberator for people who were living under the tyranny of social and political inequities. Most of them readily accepted the simple creed of Islam. Those who wanted to adhere to their own faith were generally well treated and were given full religious liberty.
In the period of Muhammad Shah(1719-1748) Nawab Hayat-Ullah Khan was governor of Multan and his principality included the area from Uch to Bhawalnagar. In 1739 Nadir Shah Durrani attacked Sindh and Uch and its suburb went under Sardar Tahmasap. Nadir Shah Durrani gave some areas including Sindh, Multan, Uch and Bahawalnagar in the charge of Muhammad Shah.
In 1732 Nadir Shah invaded the Derajat by the Bangash routes and all the chiefs on his way tendered allegiance to him. Amir Sadiq Muhammad went to meet him at Dera Ghazi Khan and was granted by him the title of nawab on the Shah’s invading the Sindh. Noor Mohammad Kalhoro alias Mian Sarfraz Kalhoro fled to Gujrat but was taken prisoner at Umerkot. Nadir Shah, however, released him. He divided Sindh among the following chiefs:
- Khuayar Khan late Abbasi Thatha and other Mohals of Sindh with the tile of Shah Quli Khan.
- Amir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Shikarpur, Faragana, Larkana, Suvistan, Chhota,[disambiguation needed] together with the Haqa of Chaudhary Derawar etc. now in the Bahawalpur Division.
- Muhabat Khan western part of Sindh adjoining Baluchistan.
Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan left three sons. Muhammad Bahawal Khan, Mubarak Khan and Fateh Khan of whom the first was elected by the tribe and placed on the throne. The author of Tajdaran-e-Riasat Bahawalpur, Muhammad Hafiz-ur-Rehman Hafeez (1924) states that Nawab Sadiq Muhammad nominated Bahawal Khan the eldest son as his successor in 1746 A.D. and during the same year he died. Thus Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan was the real founder of the Abbasi dynasty and of Bahawalpur State.
Nawab Bahawal Khan-1 as second nawab of Bahawalpur ascended the throne in 1746 A.D. He was successful to a great extent in organizing and repopulating both his old and new possessions, but his enemies Wadera Muhammad Khan Kehrani, Bahadur Halani and others were envious of his prosperity and bothered him continuously.
Muhammad Mubarik after ruling successfully for years died issueless in 1772 A.D. He was succeeded by nephew Sahibzada Jafar Khan alias Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan-II in 1772. This brave, kind-hearted and strong man ruled over this area for three years. His reign was full of restlessness, troubles and expeditions. Mian Abdul Nabi Kalhora of Sindh created troubles for him.
In 1805 A.D. Elphinstan passed through the state on his way to Kanul. Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan-II seized this opportunity to make the first treaty between Bahawalpur and the British government. With this opportunity to make the Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan developed most friendly relations with the British government and the state got security and became a peaceful territory. Nawab Bahawal Khan-II died in 1809 A.D. at the age of 57 years after a prosperous reign of 37 years. He left seven sons. Of these, Sahibzada Abdullah Khan (the second son) succeeded him and adopted the title of Sadiq Muhammad Khan-II. Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan-II helped Shah Shuja-ul-Malik in capturing Dera Ghazi Khan and got this area from Maharaja Ranjeet Singh on lease. He died in 1825 A.D.
On the death of Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan-II, his eldest son Sahibzada Rahimyar Khan ascended the throne at Derawar. He is known in the history of Bahawalpur state as Nawab Bahawal Khan-III. He ruled from 1825 to 1852 A.D. He was a wise and intelligent ruler. He strengthened his relations with the British government and secured his state from any foreign danger. He crushed rebellions and defeated his opponents. After the death of Nawab Bahawal Khan-III in 1852, his second son Sadaat Yar Khan succeeded him and adopted the name of Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan-III. But soon after his accession he imprisoned Prince Haji Khan, his elder brother, and his other brothers and treated them harshly. A large portion of the Bahawalpur army was demobilized. All the grants, aids, and claims of Daudpotras and other usual expenses were curtailed and abolished. Just a few months after his succession, Fateh Garh fort was attacked at night. Prince Haji Khan entered Ahmedpur East without any resistance and Sadiq Muhammad Khan-III was dethroned and put in the prison.
Prince Haji Khan assumed the title of Nawab Fateh Khan and ruled the state from 1853 to 1858 A.D. The main event of Nawab Fateh Khan’s reign was the occurrence of the war of independence of 1857 A.D. In this he proved his full loyalty with the British and betrayed the cause of Muslim particularly and independence generally. Thus Nawab Fateh Khan served the British government and proved his fealty and loyalty to it. Nawab Fateh Khan died in 1858 A.D. leaving two sons Rahimyar Khan and Muhabat Khan.
Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan-III elder son of Sahibzda Rahimyar Khan became ruler of the state with the title of Nawab Bahawal Khan-IV. On his accession to the throne a chain of revolts and disturbances started. He ruled from October 1858 to March 1866 A.D. and died in 1866 at the age of 29 years. On his death his only son Sadiq Muhammad Khan who was then 4 years old succeeded him on 25 March 1866 with the patronage of the British government. Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV was not installed until 1879 when he attained his maturity. In the interim period from 1866 to 1879 the state was looked after by British officers. This period is known as the Regency.
In 1879 young Nawab Sadiq Khan attained maturity and was installed by Sir Robert Agertan, taking the name of Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV. The Nawab ruled this state with the assistance of his counsel for another 19 years.
When Nawab Sadiq Muhammad IV died his only issue Muhammad Mubarak Khan was 15 years of age and studying in Aitchison College Lahore. He was called to Bahawalpur on 10 March 1899 A.D. for Destarbandi (succession ceremony). He took his grandfather’s name and assumed the title of Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan-V. After this he returned to his college and old State Counsel was made responsible for administration. Colonel Grey was made its head. In May 900 A.D. the Nawab left college and went under the supervision of Col. Grey and receiving training in administration for ruling the state.
In April 1903 A.D. Col. Grey retired and Nawab Bahawal Khan took over the full administrative duties of the state with the counsel as a legislative and advisory body. The young Amir organized the civil departments and gave priority to the welfare of the common people. He also wrote some religious stories and books and died in February 1907 A.D.
Crown Prince Amir Sadiq Muhammad Khan-V was three years old when his father died on 15 February 1907 A.D. He succeeded his father and his Destarbandi was performed at Dera Nawab in May 1907 A.D. The Political Agent looked after the affairs of the state. Political awakening had started in the subcontinent and the people began thinking in terms of freedom from the foreign yoke, restlessness had thus creped among the subjects. It was obvious that the British imperialist would have to modify their attitude if not their working.
Under the new policy, the ruler adopted the method of confining responsibilities to the natives. Thus on 17 August 1907 A.D. a council of regency was formed to run the administration of the state for the ruler. Sir Maulvi Rahim Bakhsh of district Bahawalnagar (Sub Division Fort Abbas) was appointed as the President of Council of Regency and six other members were local natives.
Amir Sadiq Muhammad Khan V was sent to England for special education. In November 1921 A.D. on seeing young Nawab’s interest in administrative matters the British government handed him over full control of the state on his 18th birth day. In 1924 he was enthroned in Bahawalpur Darbar and was conferred the title of Amir Sadiq Muhammad Khan V. The young ruler was a competent administrator and noble Muslim having the deep feelings of Muslim brother-hood. He prompted brotherly relations with his contemporary rulers and leaders of the subcontinent. Under the scheme for irrigation the barren land particularly in the district Bahawalnagar was brought under cultivation under the name of Satluj Valley Project. Two canals namely Sadiqis and Fordwah were cut from the Sulemanki Head Works and the areas of sub-divisions Fort Abbas, Haroonabad, Chishtian, Bahawalnagar and Minchinabad were developed and brought under cultivation by it and the rural economy of the state was established. The Satluj Valley Project was the great achievement of the Nawab’s period which started the year 1922 A.D. and ended in 1930 A.D.
The hope of the Muslims for establishing the biggest Muslim state of the world was fulfilled and Pakistan appeared on the globe on 14 August 1947 and according to the statement of the accession signed by the Amir on 14 October 1947. Bahawalpur state acceded to Pakistan.
The boundaries of Bahawalnagar in the east and south touches the Indian territory while Bahawalpur district lies on its west and river Sutlej flows on its northern side. District Bahawalnagar spreads over an area of 8878 square kilometers.
Population and literacy rate
The sub-campus of Islamia University is located here. Presently this sub campus is offering limited subjects for postgraduate education and graduation while there is only one post-graduation degree college for boys with an area nearly equal to 75 acres, formed in 1948, and one for girls. There is one commerce college for boys which offers M.Com, B.Com, D.Com, and CCA programmes. For girls, a separate college was built, but it offer only D.Com and few short courses which gives a sign of less interest in community development by local authority. Therefore, many students are shifting to urban areas like Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, Multan and Islamabad etc. for higher education and better opportunities.
Tribes and clans
Bahawal Nagar is an old district and even before independence it was the biggest district areawise in South Asia. People living here either before 1947 or after independence have a rich culture and heritage. Generally people are agriculturists and during Nawab of Bahawalpur rule the irrigation system was one of the largest fed by River Sutluj. The main tribes and subtribes are Arain the decadents of Umayyad Arab soldiers who arrived with Muhammad Bin Qasim, Rajput, Malik, Jatt, Cheema, Mahar,Lodhi(Pathan), Bhatti, Paracha, Hotiana, Wattoo, Gorgani, Johiya, Sukheras, Khakwani, Chishti and many other small clans. Most progressive are Arain, basically landlords, Cheema, Paracha, Wattoo and Gorgani. Arain tribe have a great contribution in the district. As Ijaz-ul-Haq, the son of former military president General Zia-ul-Haq and the founder of a political party Pakistan Muslim League (Zia-ul-Haq Shaheed) also belongs to Bahawalnagar District. 
Main towns are Mecload Gunj, harnwala Ratteka, Neza Jodheka, 240khokran wali, Kharajpura, Donga Bonga, Takhat Mehal, Mandi Sadiq Gunj, Mandi Gorgan, Faqirwali, Madrisa, Dahranwala, Yateemwala, Maroot, Qaziwala and Bukhshan Khan, Bala Arain, Fateh Kot, Maharwali, Nathywala(basti Mohallan),Panjkosi,Maqsood Abad (Basti Langah). Jenjeranwali, Togera Sharif and madina town, Korian Wali Village
The main crops are sugarcane, cotton, wheat, rice, tobacco and mustard seed.
Only textile mills on Arif Wala road, numerous Rice Mills scattered all over the city of Bahawal Nagar, Cotton Factory (ginning only) and there is only one Sugar mill in Chishtian city. Poultry industry is blooming nowadays.
Climate and vegetation
Bahawalnagar has a very hot and very dry climate in summer, with a maximum temperature reaching above 50°C. The climate in winter is very dry and cold. The minimum temperature recorded was below 11°C. Wind and storms are uncommon during the summer. The average annual rainfall is just below 99 mm.
The district may be divided into three parts: the riverain area, the canal irrigated plain and the desert area.
- The riverain area lies close to the Satluj river which flows in the northwest along its border with Okara, Pakpattan, Sahiwal and Vehari districts. The land in this area is irrigated by non-perennial canals. During the summer monsoons, it is generally inundated by the river water.
- The canal irrigated area is a plain which has been brought under cultivation by the canals. The main canal which is Sadqia canal irrigate almost all the tehsils except Chishtian. This canal travels in round with the border of Pakistan and India.
- The desert area is called the Cholistan. The surface of this desert consists of a succession of sand dunes, rising in places to a height of 150 metres. It is covered with the vegetation peculiar to the sandy tracts.
- Unions in Bahawalnagar Government of Pakistan. Nrb.gov.pk. Retrieved on 2011-12-04.
- Population[dead link]