Seraikistan is our right
Seraikis are not ‘south Punjabis’, just like Pathans aren’t ‘north Punjabis’. Stop calling them southern Punjabis; it’s in bad taste. Having one’s cultural identity reduced to a geographical variant of an alien ethnicity is unpleasant.
People should realise how incredibly offensive it is when they claim that Seraiki is just a dialect of Punjabi and not a different language. Seraiki is an ancient language, rich with heritage that represents its people. Some even argue that linguistically, Punjabi may be a relatively recent relic of the Sikh invasion, while Seraiki, with its original Sanskrit script, might be significantly older.
It’s ironic how a breakaway country for Muslims that denied a breakaway country for Bangladesh is now denying a breakaway province for Seraiki people. However, it’s refreshing to see that this rigid perspective might be changing.
Very simplistically, East Pakistan wanted out because their profits were being diverted to West Pakistan, and they weren’t getting their fair share of control. This is the same reason that Seraikis want out. Sentiment shows that the people are tired of their money being given to Lahore and the infrastructure costs of the industrial magnates of the Punjabi north.
People love talking about how divisions along linguistic lines should not be entertained. However, the proponents of ‘one big Punjab’ manage to blur over the economic benefits of north Punjab having its very own sweatshop down south.
Moreover, the incredible political strength that Punjab derives is mainly from the extra representational power given by the large Seraiki speaking areas forcefully appended to the province. The Seraiki district of Bahawalpur was forcefully attached to Punjab after the one unit scheme.
Remove the Seraiki speaking areas and you break Punjab’s vote bank, and take away its power to oppress other ethnic minorities and peoples. I’m tired of my vote being misused. If we had a separate province and more autonomous division, my vote wouldn’t be misused by my Punjabi overlords to oppress Balochis and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
South Punjab is the bread basket of the country; it generates a significant proportion of the country’s food from wheat, and the cloth from cotton. Despite knowing this, we managed to sell the Sutlej river – the main water body that catered to the area’s irrigation needs. The resulting decrease in water levels caused water-logging, salinity, flooding, and quite a few agricultural troubles that resulted in large chunks of lands becoming infertile and uncultivable.
Is it so wrong to ask for some money to be spent on south Punjab? Hardly any funding is diverted to the region. This might be a significant reason for the radicalisation of south Punjab where terrorists are breeding.
Pakistan manages to efficiently discriminate against less powerful ethnicities, religions, and people. Muslims got Pakistan to stop living as second class citizens in their own land. Sadly, Seraikis are still second class citizens because of the way the way the province has been forcefully constructed.
Everyone deserves a haven where they can be autonomous to teach their own language, and practice their own culture. Most importantly, they should be able to spend their money on their own cities instead of having it spent on the cities of their northern political leaders. Saying that religious divisions are fine but linguistic divisions aren’t, is just plain hypocritical.
If Pakistan continues down this path, I fear the country will be victimised by the very divisive logic that created it. Bangladesh down, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Seraikistan to go.
The British ruled pre-partition India like a colony. Pakistan did the same with Bangladesh. Pakistan was the British mistake, Bangladesh was Pakistan’s. Let’s not make the same mistakes over and over again.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.