State of Bahawalpur
بہاولپور دی ریاست
Princely state in subsidiary alliance with British India 1833–1947
Princely state of Pakistan 1947–55
Flag of Bahawalpur
Coat of arms of Bahawalpur
Coat of arms

Bahawalpur State in the Imperial Gazetteer of India
 • TypePrincipality (1748–1955)
 • Motto"Dost Sadiq"
(Faithful Friend )
Prime Minister of Bahawalpur 
• 1942–1947
Sir Richard Marsh Crofton
• 1948–1952
Sir John Dring
• 1952 – 14 October 1955
A.R. Khan
Historical eraEarly Modern Period
• Established
• Merged into West Pakistan
14 October 1955
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Mughal Empire
West Pakistan
Today part ofPakistan
Subdivision of Pakistan
1748–14 October 1955
Flag of Bahawalpur

Map of Pakistan with Bahawalpur highlighted
45,911 km2 (17,726 sq mi)
• Established
• Disestablished
14 October 1955

Bahawalpur (Urdu, Punjabi: بہاولپُور) was a princely state in subsidiary alliance with British Raj and later Dominion of Pakistan, that was a part of the Punjab States Agency. The state covered an area of 45,911 km2 (17,726 sq mi) and had a population of 1,341,209 in 1941. The capital of the state was the town of Bahawalpur.[1]

The state was founded in 1748 by Nawab Bahawal Khan Abbasi. On 22 February 1833, Abbasi III entered into a subsidiary alliance with the British, by which Bahawalpur was admitted as a princely state. When British rule ended in 1947 and British Raj was partitioned into India and Pakistan, Bahawalpur joined the Dominion of Pakistan. Bahawalpur remained an autonomous entity until 14 October 1955, when it was merged with the province of West Pakistan.[1]


The Kingdom of Bahawalpur was established by Bahawal Khan, who belonged to the Daudpotra tribe and had migrated from Shikarpur, Sindh in 1748.[2] By the 18th century, Nawabs of Bahawalpur had consolidated power by settling his Daudpotra kinsmen on new canal lands along Sutlej.[2]

Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan, founder of the Bahawalpur state

As part of the 1809 Treaty of Amritsar, 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 British Raj were regulated by a treaty made in October 1838, when arrangements were in progress for the restoration of Shah Shuja to the Kabul throne.[3]

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 Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV, a boy of four. After several endeavors to arrange for the administration of the country without active interference on the part of the Government, it was found necessary, on account of disorganization and disaffection, to place the principality in British hands. In 1879, the Nawab was invested with full powers, with the advice and assistance of a council of six members. During the Afghan campaigns (1878–80) the Nawab placed the entire resources of his State at the disposal of the British Indian Government, and a contingent of his troops was employed in keeping open communications, and in guarding the Dera Ghazi Khan frontier. On his death in 1899 he was succeeded by Muhammad Bahawal Khan V, who attained his majority in 1900, and was invested with full powers in 1903. The Nawab of Bahawalpur was entitled to a salute of 17 guns.[4]

Independence of Pakistan

Noor Mahal palace, constructed in 1872 by Sadeq Mohammad Khan IV

The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslim refugees from India settled in the Bahawalpur state. After the independence of Pakistan, the Nawab of Bahawalpur Sadeq Mohammad Khan V proved to be very helpful and generous to the government of Pakistan. He gave seventy million rupees to the government and the salaries of all the government departments for a couple of months were also drawn from the treasury of Bahawalpur state. He donated his private property to the University of the Punjab, King Edward Medical College and the Mosque of Aitchison College, Lahore. At the time of independence, all the princely states of the British India were given a choice to join either Pakistan or India or to remain independent, outside both.[5] On 5 October 1947 the Nawab signed an agreement with the government of Pakistan according to which Bahawalpur State acceded to Pakistan, and the accession was accepted on 9 October. Thus the State of Bahawalpur was the first state to accede to Pakistan.[6]


Historical population
1871 —    
1881 573,494—    
1891 650,042+13.3%
1901 720,877+10.9%

In 1941, Bahawalpur had a population of 1,341,209 of whom 737,474 (54.98%) were men and 603,735 (45.02%) were women. Bahawalpur had a literacy rate of 2.8% (5.1% for males and 0.1% 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.

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 81.9% (1,098,814) of the state's population while Hindus numbered 174,408 (13%) and Sikhs numbered 46,945 (1.84%). 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. The largest Muslim castes were Khokhar, Gujjar, Jat and Baloch. The Syeds were also prominent. Most Hindus were Aroras and Khatris with a minority of Jats and Bishnois in Minchinabad and Haroonabad. Half of the Sikhs were Jatt Sikhs and half were Labanas and Rai Sikhs.

Religious groups in Bahawalpur State (British Punjab province era)
1901[7] 1911[8][9] 1921[10] 1931[11] 1941[12]
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Islam 598,139 82.97% 654,247 83.81% 647,207 82.85% 799,176 81.17% 1,098,814 81.93%
Hinduism [a] 114,670 15.91% 109,548 14.03% 114,621 14.67% 149,454 15.18% 174,408 13%
Sikhism 7,985 1.11% 16,630 2.13% 19,071 2.44% 34,896 3.54% 46,945 3.5%
Christianity 83 0.01% 199 0.03% 283 0.04% 1,054 0.11% 3,048 0.23%
Jainism 0 0% 15 0% 1 0% 12 0% 351 0.03%
Zoroastrianism 0 0% 2 0% 8 0% 20 0% 0 0%
Buddhism 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
Judaism 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
Others 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 0 0% 17,643 1.32%
Total population 720,877 100% 780,641 100% 781,191 100% 984,612 100% 1,341,209 100%
Note: British Punjab province era district borders are not an exact match in the present-day due to various bifurcations to district borders — which since created new districts — throughout the historic Punjab Province region during the post-independence era that have taken into account population increases.


Derawar Fort was a major fort for the Nawabs in the Cholistan Desert

The Nawabs gifted portions of their land in Lahore to Punjab University, while the mosque at Aitchison College was also gifted by the Nawab. The Bahawalpur Block of the King Edward Medical College was also donated by the Nawab.[13][need quotation to verify]


Darbar Mahal palace, constructed in 1905 by Bahawal Khan V

The rulers of Bahawalpur 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. From 1942, the Nawabs were assisted by Prime Ministers.

One Rupee gold coin of Sadeq Mohammad Khan V

20th century onwards, Sadeq Muhammad Khan V was the Nawab and later Emir of Bahawalpur State from 1907 to 1966. He became the Nawab on the death of his father, when he was only three years old. In 1955 he signed an agreement with the Governor-General of Pakistan, Malik Ghulam Muhammad, under which Bahawalpur became part of the province of West Pakistan, with effect from 14 October 1955, and the Ameer received a yearly privy purse of 32 lakhs of rupees, keeping his titles.[14] Other members of the present day form of the royal family include: HH Nawab Brig. Muhammad Abbas Khan Abbasi (Last Nawab of Bahawalpur, former Governor of Punjab); Nawab Salahuddin Ahmed Abbasi (Urdu: نواب صلاح الدین عباسی) who is a member of parliament in Pakistan.[15] He is also the grandson of Sadeq Mohammad Khan V, who was the last ruling Nawab of the Princely State Bahawalpur.[16][17] Prince Muhammad Bahawal (who studied at Aitchison College in Lahore, and graduated from King's College London with a degree in International Political Economy and joined PTI), Prince Falahuddin Abbasi (who died in London in April 2016 from cancer), Begum of Bahawalpur, Princess Aiysha Yasmien Abbasi and Princess Safia Nausheen Abbasi.[18][19][20]

Nawab Amir of Bahawalpur Tenure
Muhammad Bahadur Khan 1689 – 1702
Muhammad Mubarak Khan I 1702 – 1723
Sadeq Muhammad Khan I 1723 – 1743
After Formation of Princely State
Muhammad Bahawal Khan I 1743 – 1749
Muhammad Mubarak Khan II 1749 – 1772
Muhammad Bahawal Khan II 1772 – 1809
Sadeq Muhammad Khan II 1809 – 1827
Muhammad Bahawal Khan III 1827 – 1852
Sadeq Muhammad Khan III 1852 – 1853
Haji Fath Muhammad Khan 1853 – 1858
Rahim Yaar Khan Abbasi 1858 – 1866
Sadeq Mohammad Khan IV 1866 – 1899
Mohammad Bahawal Khan V 1899 – 1907
Sadeq Mohammad Khan V 1907 – 1955
State Abolished
Sadeq Mohammad Khan V 1955 – 1965
Abbas Khan Abbasi 1965 – 1988
Salahuddin Ahmed Abbasi 1988 – present
Tenure Prime Minister of Bahawalpur[21]
1942 – 1947 Richard Marsh Crofton
1948 – 1952 John Dring
1952 – 14 October 1955 A.R. Khan
14 October 1955 State of Bahawalpur abolished

See also


  1. ^ a b "History of Bahawalpur State and its Culture" (PDF). Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences (PJSS).
  2. ^ a b Gilmartin, David (14 April 2020). Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History. University of California Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-520-35553-8.
  3. ^ Treaty concluded between the East India Company, and Nawab Ruk-uddaulah of Bahawalpur (Original in Persian, with English translation) (in Persian). Delhi: Foreign Department, Government of India. 1838. Retrieved 21 August 2022 – via National Archives of India.
  4. ^ "Imperial Gazetteer2 of India, Volume 6, page 197 -- Imperial Gazetteer of India -- Digital South Asia Library".
  5. ^ Bhargava, R. P. (1991). The Chamber of Princes. Northern Book Centre. p. 313. ISBN 978-81-7211-005-5.
  6. ^ Long, Roger D.; Singh, Gurharpal; Samad, Yunas; Talbot, Ian (8 October 2015). State and Nation-Building in Pakistan: Beyond Islam and Security. Routledge. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-317-44820-4.
  7. ^ "Census of India 1901. [Vol. 17A]. Imperial tables, I-VIII, X-XV, XVII and XVIII for the Punjab, with the native states under the political control of the Punjab Government, and for the North-west Frontier Province". 1901. p. 34. JSTOR saoa.crl.25363739. Retrieved 30 March 2024.
  8. ^ "Census of India 1911. Vol. 14, Punjab. Pt. 2, Tables". 1911. p. 27. JSTOR saoa.crl.25393788. Retrieved 30 March 2024.
  9. ^ Kaul, Harikishan (1911). "Census Of India 1911 Punjab Vol XIV Part II". p. 27. Retrieved 30 March 2024.
  10. ^ "Census of India 1921. Vol. 15, Punjab and Delhi. Pt. 2, Tables". 1921. p. 29. JSTOR saoa.crl.25430165. Retrieved 30 March 2024.
  11. ^ "Census of India 1931. Vol. 17, Punjab. Pt. 2, Tables". 1931. p. 277. JSTOR saoa.crl.25793242. Retrieved 30 March 2024.
  12. ^ India Census Commissioner (1941). "Census of India, 1941. Vol. 6, Punjab". p. 42. JSTOR saoa.crl.28215541. Retrieved 30 March 2024.
  13. ^ Burma, D. P.; Chakravorty, Maharani (2011). From Physiology and Chemistry to Biochemistry. Pearson Education India. p. 159. ISBN 978-81-317-3220-5.
  14. ^ "The Role of Islam in the Legal System of Pakistan from 1947 to 1977", The Role of Islam in the Legal System of Pakistan, Brill, 2005, pp. 5–30, doi:10.1163/ej.9789004149274.i-250.5, ISBN 9789004149274
  15. ^ "Bahawalpur, Hh Muhammad Bahawal Khan Abbasi, Nawab of, (23 Oct. 1883–1907)", Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, 1 December 2007, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u183391
  16. ^ Hawkins, Cynthia; Croul, Sidney (3 October 2011). "Viruses and human brain tumors: cytomegalovirus enters the fray". Journal of Clinical Investigation. 121 (10): 3831–3833. doi:10.1172/jci60005. ISSN 0021-9738. PMC 3195487. PMID 21968105.
  17. ^ McKeith, Eimear (2008). "Defining Space, Eimear McKeith, Original Print Gallery, Dublin, February – March 2008". Circa (124): 73–75. doi:10.2307/25564927. ISSN 0263-9475. JSTOR 25564927.
  18. ^ "Prince Bahawal Abbas Khan Abbasi joins PTI". 24 May 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Prince Bahawal graduates from King's College". The Nation. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  20. ^ Correspondent, A (10 April 2016). "Falahuddin Abbasi dies". Dawn. Pakistan. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  21. ^ "UK National Archives". Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  1. ^ 1931-1941: Including Ad-Dharmis

Further reading

28°50′N 71°43′E / 28.833°N 71.717°E / 28.833; 71.717