Bahawalpur was a princely state of the Punjab in what is now Pakistan, stretching along the southern bank of the Sutlej and Indus Rivers, with its capital city at Bahawalpur. The state was counted amongst the Rajputana states (now Rajasthan) to the southeast. After two centuries of varying degrees of independence, the state became part of Pakistan in 1947. In 1941, the state had a population of 1,341,209 living in an area of 45,911 km² (17,494 sq mi). It was divided into three districts: Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalnagar.
The state was founded in 1802 by Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan II after the break up of Durrani Empire. Nawab Mohammad Bahawal Khan III signed the state’s first treaty with the British on 22 February 1833, guaranteeing the independence of the Nawab. The state acceded to Pakistan on 7 October 1947 and was merged into the province of West Pakistan on 14 October 1955.
The Abbasi-Daudpotas, the Sindhi 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, the mint at Bahawalpur was opened in 1802 by Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan II with the permission of Shah Mahmud of Kabul. On the rise of Ranjit Singh, the Nawab, Muhammad Bahawal Khan III, made several unsuccessful appeals to the British for protection. However 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 Afghan War, the Nawab assisted the British with supplies and allowing passage and in1847-8 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 the succession. He was succeeded by his third son, whom he had nominated for the throne 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 endeavours to arrange for the administration of the country without active interference on the part of Government, it was found necessary, on account of disorganization and disaffection, to place the principality in British hands during his minority. The Nawab attained his majority in 1879, and 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 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.
Postage stamps of Bahawalpur
Bahawalpur used the postage stamps of British India until 1945. On 1 January 1945, it issued its own stamps, for official use only, a set of pictorials inscribed entirely in Arabic script.
On 1 December 1947 the state issued its first regular stamp, a commemorative stamp for the 200th anniversary of the ruling family, depicting Mohammad Bahawal Khan I, and inscribed “BAHAWALPUR”. A series of 14 values appeared 1 April 1948, depicting various Nawabs and buildings. A handful of additional commemoratives ended with an October 1949 issue commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union. After this the state adopted Pakistani stamps for all uses.
Seraiki is the main language but English and Urdu are official languages. Punjabi is also a minor language.
Rulers of Bahawalpur
The rulers were Sindhi Abbasids of Shikarpur and Sukkur who captured these areas. Because of this fact, people of upper Sindh who afterwords became state Bahawalpur did not dislike the rulers. They took the title of Amir until 1740, when the title changed to Nawab Amir. Although the title was abolished in 1955, the current head of the House of Bahawalpur (Salah ud-Din Muhammad Khan) uses the title of Amir informally. From 1942, the Nawabs were assisted by Prime Ministers.
Tenure Nawab Amir of Bahawalpur
1690 – 1702 Bahadur Khan II
1702 – 1723 Mobarak Khan I
1723 – 11 April 1746 Sadeq Mohammad Khan I
11 April 1746 – 12 June 1750 Mohammad Bahawal Khan I
12 June 1750 – 4 June 1772 Mobarak Khan II
4 June 1772 – 13 August 1809 Mohammad Bahawal Khan II
13 August 1809 – 17 April 1826 Sadeq Mohammad Khan II
17 April 1826 – 19 October 1852 Mohammad Bahawal Khan III
19 October 1852 – 20 February 1853 Sadeq Mohammad Khan III
20 February 1853 – 3 October 1858 Fath Mohammad Khan
3 October 1858 – 25 March 1866 Mohammad Bahawal Khan IV
25 March 1866 – 14 February 1899 Sadeq Mohammad Khan IV
14 February 1899 – 15 February 1907 Mohammad Bahawal Khan V
15 February 1907 – 14 October 1955 Sadeq Mohammad Khan V
14 October 1955 State of Bahawalpur abolished
Tenure Prime Minister of Bahawalpur
1942 – 1947 Sir Richard Marsh Crofton
1948 – 1952 John Dring
1952 – 14 October 1955 A.R. Khan
14 October 1955