Saraiki nationalism

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The Saraiki Nationalist Movement (Urdu:سرائیکی_تحریک)refers to the efforts to establish a Seraiki province in Pakistan, consisting of the southern regions of Punjab. Most Saraikis are clan of Baloch, Khans, Pathans, Syeds, Gailanis, Qureshis or Non Natives and outsiders living in Punjab who immigrated lately in the last 500 years.

The separate Seraiki identity stems from the fact that many Immigrant Baloch and Pukhtoon population who inhabited the lands of Punjab refused to integrate into the culture of Punjab and rather they tried to carve out their own identity different from the people of Punjab.For example Durranis, Rabbanis, Niazis and Tareen tribes were the part of Afghan Empire and later they looted, killed and took away most of the lands from local people of South Punjab. Still Tareens and Durranis are feudals of South Punjab on the same land which they captured and snatched from local population during Durrani empire time. Even tough Ranjit Singh later recaptured Multan and Bahawalpur regions and as a result many Baloch and Afghans ran away and they had taken their lost lands back but still some Baloch and Afghans remain behind. The same reason led to the strange phenomenon in Mianwali district where Niazi people called themselves Seraiki while they live in North Punjab and their dialect is pretty closer to Northern Dialects of Punjab but still they are adamant not to call themselves Punjabi at all.The movement advocates the collective identity for the Saraiki (Urdu: سراییکی‎) linguistic group in the Punjab province of Pakistan and to secure an official status for the Seraiki Dialect. As of 2002, there were approximately 14 million Saraiki people, who were speaking the Saraiki Dialect, in central Pakistan in the Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan provinces, mainly based in the former princely state of Bahawalpur.

Beginning in the 1960s, Riaz Hashmi Saraiki nationalists have sought to gain official language status and to create a new province out of southern Punjab.[1] This has led to a proposed separate province Saraikistan or Saraika, a region being drawn up by activists in the 1970s. The 1977 coup by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan, a centralist ruler, caused the movement to go underground. After his death in 1988, the Saraiki movement re-emerged with the goals to have a Saraiki language recognised, to have official documents printed in Saraiki, a Saraiki regiment in the Pakistan Army, employment quotas and more Saraiki-language radio and television.

Several parties are working on this mission like Pakistan Saraiki Qaumi Ittehad Party, Pakistan Saraiki Party, Siraikistan Qaumi Movement, and Saraiki National Party.vCol Abdul Jabbar Abbasi (Retd) Majid Kanjoo and Rana Muhammad Faraz Noon are few of the leaders of Saraiki speakerstan movement.

Aims of Saraiki Movement[edit]

The Saraiki movement was the combination of language planning and efforts to establish a collective identity to convince Saraiki speakers and others of the status of Saraiki as a separate language distinct from Punjabi.It also aimed to establish Saraiki as a separate language by invoking shared awareness of the local past among the people living across the Saraiki region speaking different dialects of the Saraiki language. Consensus on the name Saraiki for all the dialects spoken in the Saraiki region was a part of this reaction. Creation of a Saraiki identity in south-western Punjab involved the deliberate choice of a language called Saraiki, as a symbol of this identity. Language was chosen as a unifying symbol because a local language serves its speakers as an identity marker that can successfully separate them from other ethno-linguistic groups that share identity on another basis,such as culture,traditions and religion (in this case Islam).It was chosen also because it was an aspect the leaders thought will serve to unite the group and will be useful in promoting the interests of the group and ethno-politicians.

Like many such movements, the Saraiki movement also started in the name of cultural revival and promotion. (Siraiki nationalist Aslam Rasoolpuri endorsed this view and now he believes that Sariaki province will prospers siraiki people as well as save their language and culture.) What really lay behind it was the lack of development of South Punjab region which was not voiced in the first phase, ethno-nationalism is generally a response to perceived injustice. In general, the slogans and demands of the Saraiki nationalists have been coupled with linguistic rights and economic grievances, but in the late 1990s and the following decade, the linguistic issue has ceased to have much importance. This is evident in the charter of demands made at the end of a Saraiki conference held in December 2003, in which, out of twenty-one demands made, only one pertained to language. (Daily Khabrain, 2003)

But Asad Mehdi Dawana a student leader (MSF N Multan) has started a movement against this that separation of south Punjab should not be on the linguistic basis and should be on managerial unit basis. The stand point was that the fudels of the Multan and Bahawalpur will manipulate the resources of the Saraiki Waseb. And after that a huge amount of students of Punjab belonging to other languages are resisting against it.(Daily Jang 2011)

Creation of Saraiki identity[edit]

The Saraiki nationalist intellectuals, Taj Mohammad Langah, Aslam Rasoolpuri, Mazhar Arif and Shaheen Akhtar, reacted to a perceived threat to their language and identity and set out to develop an ethno-linguistic consciousness. The efforts towards this cause were directed towards creating a Saraiki identity. Initially this was done to counter the "misleading label of Punjabis". These endeavors have been termed as the Saraiki movement'. Attempts have been made to get the support of the Saraiki speaking middle-class using economic reasoning to support the partition of the Punjab on linguistic lines.

Outcome of the Saraiki Movement[edit]

The Saraiki movement has been successful at some levels. It is responsible for creating a sense of collective identity among the Saraiki speakers even if it has not been successful in forming a pressure group like that of the Awami League, Jeay Sindh Quomi Mahaz, MQM and Awami National Party. Now the Saraiki is counted as one of the many languages of Pakistan. Saraiki was also included in the question about languages in the censuses of 1981 and 1998. Despite all this, however, the symbol of language which came out as the most powerful symbol in this movement has not yet acquired much evocative power'. Saraiki speakers are still not as emotionally attached to their language as the speakers of some other regional languages of Pakistan are. The Saraiki movement helped to give a collective name Saraiki' to different dialects and made people embrace this name for their collective identity but it ultimately failed to influence ordinary Saraikis to take pride in their language or consciously increase its usage in different domains.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Saraiki Nationalism Movement". Retrieved 16 June 2013.