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Bahawalpur (princely state)

State of Bahawalpur
ریاستِ بہاولپور
Princely state in subsidiary alliance with British India 1833–1947
Princely state of Pakistan 1947–55

Flag Coat of arms
Bahawalpur State in the Imperial Gazetteer of India
Capital Bahawalpur
Languages Riasti Punjabi, Bagri (Choolistani) and Urdu
Religion Islam
Government Principality (1690–1955)
Nawab Amir of Bahawalpur His Highness Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan Abbasi (first)
 •  1907 to 1966 His Highness General Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V (last)
Prime Minister of Bahawalpur
 •  1942–1947 Sir Richard Marsh Crofton(first)
 •  1952 - 14 October 1955 A.R. Khan (last)
Historical era Mughal Empire (1802–1858) Indian British Empire (22 February 1858-1947) Princely state of Pakistan (1947-1955) Part of West Pakistan (1955-1970) Punjab, Pakistan (1970-present) Dividing between the Bahawalpur District, Bahawalnagar District and the Rahim Yar Khan District.
 •  Established 1802
 •  Merged into West Pakistan 14 October 1955
Currency Rupee, Pakistan Rupee (after 1947)
Today part of Pakistan, India
Subdivision of Pakistan
1947–14 October 1955

Flag of Bahawalpur


Location of Bahawalpur
Map of Pakistan with Bahawalpur highlighted
Capital Bahawalpur
 •  Established 1947
 •  Disestablished 14 October 1955
Area 45,911 km2 (17,726 sq mi)
Coat of arms of Pakistan
This article is part of the series
Former administrative units of Pakistan

Bahawalpur was a princely state, currently part of Punjab province, stretching along the southern bank of the Sutlej and Indus Rivers, with its capital city at Bahawalpur. The state was counted amongst the Punjab states. In 1941, it had a population of 1,341,209, living in an area of 45,911 km² (17,494 sq mi). The state was founded in 1802 by Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan Abbasi after the breakup of the Durrani Empire. His successor was Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan Abbasi III, a great devotee of Syed Mohammad Abdullah Shah Madni Jilani.[1] He signed the state's first subsidiary alliance with the British on 22 February 1833, guaranteeing the internal rule of the Nawab under British suzerainty. The alliance meant British control of Bahawalpur's external relations, but the state was never a British possession and until the Independence of Pakistan in 1947 was ruled by its own Nawabs. After one century of such relations, they were dissolved by the departure of the British, when the state opted to accede to the new dominion of Pakistan, with effect from 7 October 1947, becoming a princely state of Pakistan. It was merged into the province of West Pakistan on 14 October 1955.


  • History 1
  • Independence of Pakistan 2
  • Legacy 3
  • Royal House of Bahawalpur 4
  • Demography 5
  • Bahawalpur Province Movement 6
  • Rulers 7
  • Bahawalpur Province 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


Derawar Fort was a major fort for the Nawabs in the Cholistan Desert
The Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan Abbasi V Bahadur of Bahawalpur (1883–1907).
General Nawab Sadeq Mohammad Khan V, the last ruling and perhaps the most popular Nawab of Bahawalpur State

The Abbasi tribe from whom the ruling family of Bahawalpur belong, claim descent from the Abbasid Caliphs. The tribe came from Sindh to Bahawalpur and assumed independence during the decline of the Durrani Empire. Bahawalpur along with other Cis-Sutlej states were a group of states, lying between the Sutlej River on the north, the Himalayas on the east, the Yamuna River and Delhi District on the south, and Sirsa District on the west. These states were ruled by the Scindhia dynasty of the Maratha Empire, various Sikh sardars and other Rajas of the Cis-Sutlej states paid tributes to the Marathas, until the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803-1805, after which the Marathas lost this territory to the British.[2][3][4]

As part of the 1809 Treaty of Lahore, Ranjit Singh was confined to the right bank of the Sutlej. The first treaty with Bahawalpur was negotiated in 1833, the year after the treaty with Ranjit Singh for regulating traffic on the Indus. It secured the independence of the Nawab within his own territories, and opened up the traffic on the Indus and Sutlej. The political relations of Bahawalpur with the paramount power, as at present existing, are regulated by a treaty made in October, 1838, when arrangements were in progress for the restoration of Shah Shuja to the Kabul throne.

During the First Anglo-Afghan War, the Nawab assisted the British with supplies and allowing passage and in 1847-8 he co-operated actively with Sir Herbert Edwardes in the expedition against Multan. For these services he was rewarded by the grant of the districts of Sabzalkot and Bhung, together with a life-pension of a lakh. On his death a dispute arose regarding succession. He was succeeded by his third son, whom he had nominated in place of his eldest son. The new ruler was, however, deposed by his elder brother, and obtained asylum in British territory, with a pension from the Bahawalpur revenues; he broke his promise to abandon his claims, and was confined in the Lahore fort, where he died in 1862.

In 1863 and 1866 insurrections broke out against the Nawab who successfully crushed the rebellions; but in March 1866, the Nawab died suddenly, not without suspicion of having been poisoned, and was succeeded by his son, Nawab

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Rulers of Bahawalpur and some of their coinage details
  • Nawabs of Bahawalpur
  • Bahawalpur Information
  • TMA Bahawalpur City website

External links

  • Nazeer 'Ali Shah, The History of the Bahawalpur State. Lahore: Maktaba Jadeed, 1959.

Further reading

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Bahawalpur State - Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 6, p. 197
  6. ^ Bahawalpur - Royalark
  7. ^ a b


See also

 • Pakistan's first governor assassinated while in office

Name Took office Left office Affiliation
Choudhary Tabarak Ali 06 August 2015 Present Government Of Pakistan

Bahawalpur Province

Tenure Prime Minister of Bahawalpur[7]
1942–1947 Sir Richard Marsh Crofton
1948–1952 Sir Arthur John Dring
1952 - 14 October 1955 A.R. Khan
14 October 1955 State of Bahawalpur abolished
Tenure Nawab Amir of Bahawalpur[7]
1723 - 11 April 1746 Sadiq I (founder)
11 April 1746 – 12 June 1750 Bahawal I
12 June 1750 – 4 June 1772 Mubarak II
4 June 1772 – 13 August 1809 Bahawal II
13 August 1809 – 17 April 1826 Sadiq II
17 April 1826 – 19 October 1852 Bahawal III
19 October 1852 – 20 February 1853 Sadiq III
20 February 1853 – 3 October 1858 Fath Mohammad Khan
3 October 1858 – 25 March 1866 Bahawal IV
25 March 1866 – 14 February 1899 Sadiq IV
14 February 1899 – 15 February 1907 Bahawal V
15 February 1907 – 14 October 1955 Sadiq V
14 October 1955 State of Bahawalpur abolished

From 1942, the Nawabs were assisted by Prime Ministers.

The rulers of Bahawalpur were Abbasids who came from Shikarpur and Sukkur and captured the areas that became Bahawalpur State. They took the title of Amir until 1740, when the title changed to Nawab Amir. Although the title was abolished in 1955 by the Government of Pakistan, the current head of the House of Bahawalpur (Salah ud-Din Muhammad Khan) is referred to as the Amir.

Darbar Mahal, a former palace of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur


The economic and political deprivations became the major causes leading towards the demand of a separate province. The movement is led by several political figures with support from the current Nawab. The Movement demands the restoration of Bahawalpur on same equal level as any other province in Pakistan.

Bahawalpur Province Movement

Between 1916 and 1941, the population had almost doubled due to the Sutlej Valley Project when vast amounts of Bahawalpur territory were opened to irrigation. There was a migration of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs to Bahawalpur from other parts of Punjab. These colonists were labelled non-Riyasatis as opposed to locals or "Riyasatis" and were systematically discriminated against in government appointments.

The state was predominantly Muslim. According to the 1941 census, Muslims made up 91% of the state's population while Hindus numbered 190,000 (5.9 percent) and Sikhs numbered 50,000 (1.9 percent). While a majority of Muslims and Hindus had their origins in Bahawalpur, a considerable proportion of settlers were migrants from other parts of the Punjab. The Sikhs, on the other hand, were predominantly colonists who had migrated after the opening of canal colonies.

In 1941, Bahawalpur had a population of 1,341,209 of whom 737,474 (54.98 percent) were men and 603,735 (45.02%) were women. Bahawalpur had a literacy rate of 2.8 percnt (5.1 pcercent for males and 0.1 percent for females) in 1901. The bulk of the population (two-thirds) lived on the fertile Indus River banks with the eastern desert tract being sparsely populated.


Amir Muhammad Chani Khan Abbasi entered the imperial service and gained appointment as a Panchhazari in 1583. At his death, the leadership of the tribe was contested between two branches of the family, the Daudputras and the Kalhoras. Amir Bahadur Khan Abbasi abandoned Tarai and settled near Bhakkar, founding the town of Shikarpur in 1690. Daud Khan, the first of his family to rule Bahawalpur, originated from Scind where he had opposed the Afghan Governor of that province and was forced to flee.[6]

The Royal House of Bahawalpur is said to be of Arabic origin and claims descent from Abbas, progenitor of the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad and Cairo. Sultan Ahmad II, son of Shah Muzammil of Egypt left that country and arrived in Sind with a large following of Arabs ca. 1370. He married a daughter of Raja Rai Dhorang Sahta, receiving a third of the country I dowry. Amir Fathu'llah Khan Abbasi, is the recognized ancestor of the dynasty. He conquered the bhangar territory from Raja Dallu, of Alor and Bhamanabad, renaming it Qahir Bela.

Royal House of Bahawalpur

Even though with no power, the Nawabs of Bahawalpur and the noble family is still highly respected in the region. Nawab Salahud-Din Ahmed Abbasi the grand son of the last Nawab is one of the most important political figure in the region. Although the Nawabs were autocratic rulers, who did not allow or give political freedom, they did a lot for the development of the State, which benefited the people. The first Nawab laid the foundation of the State in 1727, with only a small locality, very soon the latter Movement for Bahawalpur Province. Nawabs started expanding the domain of the State. Not only did they gain a lot of land, they also made it one of the richest states of the sub-continent. A lot of development work was done in the State in all fields. Schools, colleges and later a university were opened. A number of scholarships were given to students even outside the State. Railway track was laid by the Nawabs in the State. Hospitals and dispensaries were established. Canals were dug and the Sultej Valley Project was completed to provide water to the lands of Bahawalpur region. The State had its own administrative and judicial system.


In 1953, the Nawab represented Pakistan at the installation of Faisal II of Iraq and at the coronation of Elizabeth II. In 1955 an accord was signed between Nawab Sadiq Muhammad and General Ghulam Muhammad Malik according to which Bahawalpur State became the part of the province of West Pakistan and de facto Nawab began to receive yearly stipend of 32 lakh rupees, maintained the title of Nawab and protocol inside and outside Pakistan. In May 1966 Nawab Sadiq, the last ruling Nawab of Bahawalpur died in London which ended his of 59 years long reign; his dead body was brought to Bahawalpur and was buried in his ancestral graveyard of Derawer Fort. His eldest son Haji Muhammad Abbas Khan Abbasi Bahadur did succeeded his title of Nawab of Bahawalpur, but with no administrative or political power. His Nephew Salah ud-Din Muhammad Khan currently holds the title of the Nawab.

The predominantly Muslim population supported Quaid-e-Azam acknowledged the valuable contribution of the Bahawalpur State for the rehabilitation of the refugees.

Independence of Pakistan

Bahawalpur House in Delhi is now home to the National School of Drama.


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