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Punjab, Pakistan

Province of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Top 10 Punjab, Pakistan related articles


Location of Punjab in Pakistan
Coordinates: 31°N 72°E / 31°N 72°E / 31; 72Coordinates: 31°N 72°E / 31°N 72°E / 31; 72
Country  Pakistan
Established1 July 1970
Largest cityLahore
 • TypeSelf-governing Province subject to the Federal Government
 • BodyGovernment of Punjab
 • GovernorChaudhry Mohammad Sarwar (PTI)
 • Chief MinisterSardar Usman Buzdar (PTI)
 • Chief SecretaryJawad Rafique Malik (PAS)
 • LegislatureProvincial Assembly
 • High CourtLahore High Court
 • Total205,344 km2 (79,284 sq mi)
Area rank2nd
 • Total110,012,442[1]
 • Rank1st
Time zoneUTC+05:00 (PST)
ISO 3166 codePK-PB
Main Language(s)
Notable sports teamsLahore Qalandars
Multan Sultans
Lahore Lions
Rawalpindi Rams
Sialkot Stallions
Bahawalpur Stags
Multan Tigers
Faisalabad Wolves
Central Punjab
Southern Punjab
Seats in National Assembly183
HDI (2018)0.567 [2]
Seats in Provincial Assembly371[3]
Union Councils7602

Punjab (Urdu & Punjabi: پنجاب, romanized: Panjāb (pronounced [pənˈdʒaːb]), listen ; lit.' "Five waters"') is Pakistan's most populous province, with a population of about 110,012,442 as of 2017.[1] Forming the bulk of the transnational Punjab region of Pakistan and India, it is bordered by the Pakistani provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the enclave of Islamabad, and Pakistan administered Azad Kashmir. It also shares borders with the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, and the Indian-administered territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The capital is Lahore, a cultural, historical, economic and cosmopolitan centre of Pakistan where the country's cinema industry, and much of its fashion industry, are based.[4][5] Punjab is also the world's fifth-most populous subnational entity, and the most populous outside China or India.

Punjab has been inhabited since ancient times. The Indus Valley Civilization, dating to 2600 BCE, was first discovered at Harappa.[6] Punjab features heavily in the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and is home to Taxila, site of what is considered by many to be the oldest university in the world.[7][8][9][10][11] In 326 BCE, Alexander the Great defeated King Porus at the Battle of the Hydaspes near Mong, Punjab. The Umayyad empire conquered Punjab in the 8th century CE. In the subsequent centuries, Punjab was invaded and conquered by the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Delhi Sultanate, Mughals, Durranis and the Sikhs. Punjab reached the height of its splendour during the reign of the Mughal Empire, which for a time ruled from Lahore. During the 18th century, Nader Shah's invasion of the Mughal Empire caused Mughal authority in the Punjab to fall apart and it thus fell into chaos. The Durrani Afghans under Ahmad Shah Durrani wrested control of Punjab but lost it to the Sikhs after a successful rebellion which allowed Sikh armies to claim Lahore in 1759. The Sikh Empire was established in 1799 under the rule of Ranjit Singh with his capital based in Lahore, until its defeat by the British. Punjab was central to the independence movements of both India and Pakistan, with Lahore being site of both the Declaration of Indian Independence, and the resolution calling for the establishment of Pakistan. The province was formed when the Punjab province of British India was divided along religious boundaries in 1947 by the Radcliffe Line after Partition.[12]

Punjab is Pakistan's most industrialised province with the industrial sector making up 24% of the province's gross domestic product.[13] Punjab is known in Pakistan for its relative prosperity,[14] and has the lowest rate of poverty amongst all Pakistani provinces.[15][16] A clear divide is present between the northern and southern portions of the province;[14] with poverty rates in prosperous northern Punjab amongst the lowest in Pakistan,[17] while some in south Punjab are amongst the most impoverished.[18] Punjab is also one of South Asia's most urbanised regions with approximately 40% of people living in urban areas.[19] Its human development index rankings are high relative to the rest of Pakistan.

The province has been strongly influenced by Sufism, with numerous Sufi shrines spread across Punjab which attract millions of devotees annually.[20] The founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak, was born in the Punjab town of Nankana Sahib near Lahore.[21][22][23] Punjab is also the site of the Katasraj Temple, which features prominently in Hindu mythology.[24] Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located in Punjab, including the Shalimar Gardens, the Lahore Fort, the archaeological excavations at Taxila, and the Rohtas Fort.[25]

Punjab, Pakistan Intro articles: 52


Punjab was referred to in the Rig Veda as the Sapta Sindhu,[26] meaning the "land of the seven rivers." The region was known to the ancient Greeks as Pentapotamia, meaning the "region of five rivers,"[27] while the Sanskrit name for the region, as mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, was Panchanada which means "Land of the Five Rivers."[28] The Persians later referred to the region as Punjab after the Muslim conquests, which also means "Land of the five rivers."[29] The word Punjab was formally introduced in the early 17th century CE as an elision of the Persian words panj (five) and āb (water), thus meaning the (land of) five rivers, similar in meaning to the Sanskrit and Greek name for the region.[30] The five rivers, namely Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, flow via the Panjnad River into the Indus River and eventually into the Arabian Sea. Of the five great rivers of Punjab, four course through Pakistan's Punjab province.

Punjab, Pakistan Etymology articles: 15


Due to its location, the Punjab region came under constant attack and witnessed centuries of foreign invasions by the Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Turkic peoples and Afghans. The northwestern part of South Asia, including Punjab, was repeatedly invaded or conquered by various mighty foreign armies throughout history, including those of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Timur, Nadir Shah and others.

Ancient history

Location of Punjab, Pakistan and the extent of the Indus Valley Civilisation sites in and around it

The oldest evidence of life in Pakistan has been found in Soan River valley. It was here that some of the earliest signs of humans have been discovered during the excavations of prehistoric mounds.[31] Tools up to two million years old have been recovered in the Potohar plateau. In the Soan River, many fossil bearing rocks are exposed on the surface.

Punjab was part of the Indus Valley Civilization, more than 4000 years ago.[32]

The main site in Punjab was the city of Harrapa. The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of what is today Pakistan and eventually evolved into the Indo-Aryan civilisation. The Vedic civilisation flourished along the length of the Indus River. Punjab during the Mahabharata times was known as Panchanada.[33][34] Although the archaeological site at Harappa was partially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artefacts have nevertheless been found. Punjab was part of both classical Western Eurasian empires including the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Kushan, Greco-Bactrian, Indo-Greek and Hindu Shahi empires, as well as Indo-Gangetic (North Indian) empires such as the Maurya and Gupta empires.[35][36][37] Agriculture flourished and trading cities (such as Multan and Lahore) grew in wealth.

Punjab was part of the Vedic Civilization

The city of Taxila, founded around 1000 BCE,[38] was reputed to house one of the earliest universities in the world. One of its instructors was the Mauryan statesman and philosopher Chanakya. Taxila was a major centre of political control, intellectual discourse and trade between the Hellenistic kingdoms and the Maurya Empire. Taxila is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, valued for its archaeological and religious history.

Gandhara civilisation (750 BC-518 BC)

Gandhāra was an ancient kingdom situated in the northwestern region of Pakistan, in the Peshawar valley and Potohar plateau with its capital at Taxila in modern northwestern Pakistan. Gandhara existed since the time of the Rigveda (c. 1500–1200 BC),[39][40] as well as the Zoroastrian Avesta, which mentions it as Vaēkərəta, the sixth most beautiful place on earth, created by Ahura Mazda. Gandhara was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC. Later it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 327 BC, it subsequently became part of the Maurya Empire and then the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The name of the Gandhāris is attested in the Rigveda (RV 1.126.7[39]) and in ancient inscriptions dating back to Achaemenid Persia. The primary cities of Gandhara were Puruṣapura (Peshawar), Takṣaśilā (Taxila), and Pushkalavati (Charsadda). Gandhara's language was a Prakrit or "Middle Indo-Aryan" dialect, usually called Gāndhārī. The language used the Kharosthi script, which died out about the 4th century.

Achaemenid Persian and Macedonian Greek Empires

The Achaemenid Persian empire included Gandhara and western Punjab, administered through the satrapies of Gandāra, Hindush and Sattagydia.

Alexander's Indian Campaign

Having conquered Drangiana, Arachosia, Gedrosia and Seistan in ten days, Alexander the Great (known in Urdu as 'Sikander-e-Azam') crossed the Hindu Kush and was thus fully informed of the magnificence of the country and its riches in gold, gems and pearls. However, Alexander had to encounter and reduce the tribes on the border of Punjab before entering the luxuriant plains. Having taken a northeasterly direction, he marched against the Aspii (mountaineers), who offered vigorous resistance, but were subdued. Alexander then marched through Ghazni, blockaded Magassa, and then marched to Ora and Bazira. Turning to the northeast, Alexander marched to Pucela, the capital of the district now known as Pakhli. He entered Western Punjab, where the ancient city of Nysa (at the site of modern-day Mong) was situated. A coalition was formed against Alexander by the Cathians, the people of Multan, who were very skilful in war. Alexander invested many troops, eventually killing 17,000 Cathians in this battle, and the city of Sagala (present-day Sialkot) was razed to the ground. The Battle of the Hydaspes was fought astride the Jhelum River in western Punjab against the regional chieftain Porus, and the Siege of the Malli Tribe which occurred at the confluence of the Indus and Hydaspes Rivers near modern Multan (during which Alexander suffered a near-fatal arrow wound). Alexander left Punjab in 326 B.C. and continued to campaign down the course of the Indus River in modern-day Sindh and Baluchistan.

Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC-10 AD)

The Indo-Greek Kingdom or Graeco-Indian Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom covering most of the Punjab. The kingdom was founded when the Graeco-Bactrian king Demetrius invaded the subcontinent early in the 2nd century BC. The city of Sirkap founded by Demetrius combines Greek and Indian influences without signs of segregation between the two cultures. The most famous Indo-Greek ruler was Menander (Milinda). He had his capital at Sagala in the Punjab (present-day Sialkot). The Indo-Greeks were involved with local faiths, particularly with Buddhism, but also with Hinduism'. Buddhism flourished under the Indo-Greek kings, and their rule, especially that of Menander, has been remembered as benevolent.

Indo-Scythian Kingdom (150 BC-400 AD)

The Indo-Scythian king Maues invaded Indo-Greek territories in Punjab and established an Indo-Scythian empire. Maues first conquered Gandhara and Taxila around 80 BCE, but his kingdom disintegrated after his death. The Indo-Scythians ultimately established a kingdom in the northwest south Asia, based near Taxila, with two great Satraps, one in Mathura in the east, and one in Surastrene (Gujarat) in the southwest. The Indo-Scythians seem to have been followers of Buddhism, and many of their practices apparently continued those of the Indo-Greeks.

Indo-Parthian Kingdom (19 AD-226 AD)

The Indo-Parthian Kingdom was ruled by the Gondopharid dynasty with its capital at Taxila, Punjab. Gondophares, founder of the Indo-Parthian kingdom, was a ruler of Seistan in what is today eastern Iran, probably a vassal or relative of the Apracarajas. Around 20–10 BCE, he made conquests in the former Indo-Scythian kingdom, perhaps after the death of the important ruler Azes. Gondophares became the ruler of areas comprising Arachosia, Seistan, Sindh, Punjab, and the Kabul valley. The temple of Jandial, Taxila is usually interpreted as a Zoroastrian fire temple from the period of the Indo-Parthians.

Kushan Empire (30 AD-375 AD)

The Kushan Empire was a syncretic empire, formed by the Yuezhi, in the Bactrian territories in the early 1st century. Around 75 CE under the leadership of Kujula Kadphises they gained control of Gandhara and other parts of what is now Pakistan. The Kushan period is considered the Golden Period of Gandhara. Gandhara's culture peaked during the reign of the Kushan ruler Kanishka the Great (128–151). The cities of Taxila (Takṣaśilā) at Sirsukh and Peshawar were built. Kanishka was a great patron of the Buddhist faith; Buddhism spread to Central Asia and the Far East across Bactria and Sogdia, where his empire met the Han Empire of China. Buddhist art spread from Gandhara to other parts of Asia. Under Kanishka, Gandhara became a holy land of Buddhism and attracted Chinese pilgrims eager to view the monuments associated with many Jatakas.

Hephthalite Empire

The Hephthalite Huns captured Gandhara around 451, and did not adopt Buddhism, but in fact "perpetrated frightful massacres." Mihirakula became a "terrible persecutor" of the Buddhist religion.[41] During their rule, Hinduism revived itself and the Buddhist civilisation in Gandhara declined.

Islamic Empires (Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Delhi Sultanate and Mughals)

Arrival of Islam

Persian miniature of Mahmud of Ghazni (orange robe) shaking a Muslim Shaykh's hand. Mahmud was the first Muslim ruler to take Punjab in its entirety.
Modern painting of Bulleh Shah (1680–1757), a Punjabi Muslim Sufi poet who has hugely impacted the region

The Punjabis followed different faiths throughout history, mainly a non-Brahmanical form of Hinduism and Buddhism,[42] however Islam had the biggest impact on the region culturally.

Parts of Punjab first came into contact with Islam after the Umayyad Caliphate commander Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Raja Dahir in 711 and expanded into southern Punjab.

The first incursion into Northern Punjab occurred in the 11th century by the Ghaznavid ruler Mahmud of Ghazni who was the first Muslim ruler to conquer the Punjab in its entirety.

The Punjab region thereafter became an important region of learning and culture in the eastern Islamic world attracting scholars, artisans and poets.

Islam gradually over the centuries was accepted by the main Punjabi tribes largely due to their close affiliations with Sufi saints and their dargahs which dot the landscape of Punjab. One such saint was Data Ganj Baksh, an 11th-century Iranian Sayyid mystic from Ghazni now buried at Data Darbar in Lahore. Another equally important saint for Punjabis was the Punjabi Muslim Fariduddin Ganjshakar also known reverentially as Bābā Farīd or Shaikh Farīd. He is widely considered to be one of the earliest proponents of Punjabi as the language of poetry. Farīd laid the basis for a vernacular Punjabi literature and ultimately a Punjabi identity.

After the Ghaznavids, Punjab became a part of different Muslim Empires like the Ghurids and later the various Delhi Sultanates which consisted mostly of Turkic peoples, Persians and Afghans as the leading elites in co-operation with some local Punjabi tribes and others.[43] The area finally became part of the Mughal Empire when the Turco-Mongol ruler Babur invaded in 1524.

Mughal Empire

The Punjab region rose to significance in the Mughal Empire when Lahore became the capital for the royal family in 1585,[44] the legacy of which is seen today in its rich display of Mughal architecture all over modern day Punjab, Pakistan.

The Mughals left an indelible mark on the landscape of Punjab from 1556 to 1739 by commissioning the construction of great gardens, forts, tombs, baths and mosques such as the Shalimar Gardens,[45] Lahore Fort, Tomb of Jahangir, Tomb of Nur Jahan, Shahi Hammam, Akbari Sarai, Wazir Khan Mosque, and the Badshahi Mosque, all situated in Lahore, as well as Hiran Minar and others elsewhere in Punjab. Akbar established two of his original twelve subahs (imperial top-level provinces) in Punjab:

  • (northern) Lahore Subah, bordering Kabul (Afghanistan), (later) split-off Kashmir, (Old) Delhi and Multan subahs
  • (southern) Multan Subah, bordering Kabul, Lahore, (Old) Delhi, Ajmer, Thatta (Sindh) subahs, the Persian Safavid empire and shortly Qandahar subah.

Later Mughals

After the death of the last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, in 1707, Mughal authority significantly weakened but didn't totally vanish despite Nadir Shah's invasion in 1739. The centralised authority that had existed during Aurangzeb's rule and the rule of his predecessors was now largely in the hands of governors and Nawabs (semi autonomous rulers) who gave their nominal allegiance to the Mughal emperor at Delhi.

This would change however in 1752, when Nader Shah's general Ahmad Shah Durrani who was ruler of the Durrani Afghans, defeated Mir Mannu, the last Mughal governor of Punjab. The Mughal emperor ceded control of the subahs that constituted Punjab namely the Lahore and Multan subahs over to Ahmad Shah Durrani.

Maratha conquest and Afghan reconquest

In 1758 Raghunath Rao, a general of the Hindu Maratha Empire, conquered Lahore and Attock. Timur Shah Durrani, the son and viceroy of Ahmad Shah Durrani, was driven out of Punjab. Lahore, Multan and Kashmir provinces were under Maratha rule for the most part.[46] In Punjab and Kashmir, the Marathas were now major players.[47][48]

The Third Battle of Panipat took place in 1761, Ahmad Shah Abdali defeated the Marathas and reversed their gains in the regions of Punjab and Kashmir by re-consolidating control over them.[49]

Sikh Empire

Badshahi Mosque with damaged minarets during Sikh rule
The Sikh Empire (Sarkar-e-Khalsa)

In the mid-fifteenth century, the religion of Sikhism was born. During the Mughal empire, many Hindus increasingly adopted Sikhism. The Sikhs became a formidable military force after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 and challenged the Mughals and later the Durrani Afghans for power in Punjab. After fighting Ahmad Shah Durrani in the later eighteenth century, the Sikh Misls took control of Punjab and its capital Lahore was captured by the Bhangi Misl. In 1799 Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Sukerchakia Misl, defeated the Bhangi Misl and captured Lahore thereby proclaiming himself as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at the age of 21. Ranjit Singh made Lahore his capital and formed a sophisticated Sikh Empire which lasted from 1799 to 1849. Ranjit Singh modernized his Sikh Khalsa army by using Franco-British principles and by employing veterans of the Napoleonic Wars to train the infantry in European style. Ranjit Singh expanded his empire so that by his death in 1839 his empire included most of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Kashmir.

Ranjit Singh was not without opponents who challenged his authority in the regions he had conquered. He faced huge opposition from Nawab Muzaffar Khan, Azim Khan, Syed Ahmad Barelvi and Mir Painda Khan. In 1818 Nawab Muzaffar Khan was killed by the Sikhs at the Battle of Multan after putting up stout resistance for many years. Azim Khan was the governor of Kashmir from 1812 until 1819 when Ranjit Singh captured it for himself. In 1823 Azim Khan took control of Peshawar and with support from Pashtun tribesmen faced off against the encroaching Khalsa army in the Battle of Nowshera. He abandoned his troops whilst they regrouped to continue fighting until they were defeated. Azim Khan retreated to Kabul where he died shortly thereafter due to grief. Syed Ahmad Barelvi was an Indian Muslim who declared Jihad against the Sikhs by garnering support from local Pashtun tribesmen and attempted to create an Islamic state with strict enforcement of Sharia.[50] In 1821 Syed Ahmad Barelvi spent two years organizing popular and material support for his Punjab campaign. In December 1826 Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi and his followers clashed with Sikh troops at Akora Khattak, with no decisive result. Barelvi's movement weakened after there was infighting with his Pashtun followers and in a major battle near the town of Balakot in 1831, Syed Ahmad Barelvi and Shah Ismail Shaheed with volunteer Muslims were defeated and killed by the Sikh Army.[51] Only Mir Painda Khan was able to maintain his independence at Tanawal in Hazara from the Sikh Empire. From about 1813 he began a series of rebellions against the Sikhs which continued throughout his lifetime inflicting defeats on the Sikhs whilst also losing territory to them before being poisoned in 1844. James Abbott, British officer and deputy commissioner at Hazara in 1851, described Mir Painda Khan as "a chief renowned on the border, a wild and energetic man who was never subjugated by the Sikhs".[52]

British Empire

The Faisalabad Clock Tower was built during the rule of the British Empire

Maharaja Ranjit Singh's death in the summer of 1839 brought political chaos and the subsequent battles of succession and the bloody infighting between the factions at court weakened the state. Relationships with neighbouring British territories then broke down, starting the First Anglo-Sikh War; this led to a British official being resident in Lahore and the annexation in 1849 of territory south of the Satluj to British India. After the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, the Sikh Empire became the last territory to be merged into British India. In Jhelum 35 British soldiers of the HM XXIV regiment were killed by the local resistance during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.[53]

Pakistani Independence

In 1947 the Punjab province of British India was divided along religious lines into West Punjab and East Punjab. Western Punjab was assimilated into the new country of Pakistan, while East Punjab became a part of modern-day India. This led to massive rioting as both sides committed atrocities against fleeing refugees.

The part of the Punjab now in Pakistan once formed a major region of British Punjab, and was home to a large minority population of Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs up to 1947 apart from the Muslim majority.[54]

Migration between Eastern and Western Punjab was continuous before independence. By the 1900s Western Punjab was predominantly Muslim and supported the Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After independence, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while Muslim refugees from India settled in the Western Punjab and across Pakistan, having fled pogroms that almost entirely depopulated Eastern Punjab of its Muslim population.[55]

Recent history

Since the 1950s, Punjab industrialised rapidly. New factories were established in Lahore, Sargodha, Multan, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Wah and Rawalpindi.

Agriculture continues to be the largest sector of Punjab's economy. The province is the breadbasket of the country as well as home to the largest ethnic group in Pakistan, the Punjabis. Unlike neighbouring India, there was no large-scale redistribution of agricultural land. As a result, most rural areas are dominated by a small set of feudalistic land-owning families.

In the 1950s there was tension between the eastern and western halves of Pakistan. To address the situation, a new formula resulted in the abolition of the province status for Punjab in 1955. It was merged into a single province West Pakistan. In 1972, after East Pakistan seceded and became Bangladesh, Punjab again became a province.

Punjab witnessed major battles between the armies of India and Pakistan in the wars of 1965 and 1971. Since the 1990s Punjab hosted several key sites of Pakistan's nuclear program such as Kahuta. It also hosts major military bases such as at Sargodha and Rawalpindi. The peace process between India and Pakistan, which began in earnest in 2004, has helped pacify the situation. Trade and people-to-people contacts through the Wagah border are now starting to become common. Indian Sikh pilgrims visit holy sites such as Nankana Sahib.

Starting in the 1980s, large numbers of Punjabis migrated to the Middle East, Britain, Spain, Canada and the United States for economic opportunities, forming the large Punjabi diaspora, resulting in growing economic ties between Punjab and these countries.

Punjab, Pakistan History articles: 164