TheGreeksreferred toPunjabasPentapotamia, an inland delta of five converging rivers.InAvesta, the sacred text ofZoroastrians, thePunjabregion is associated with the ancienthapta hənduorSapta Sindhu, the Land of Seven Rivers.The British used to callPunjab"OurPrussia."
The wordPunjabis a combination of theIndo-Iranianwordspanj(five) andāb(water), thus the (land of)five rivers.The five rivers are theBeas,Chenab,Jhelum,RaviandSutlej. Sometimes, in English, there can be a definite article before the name i.e.thePunjab.The name is also sometimes spelt asPanjaborPanjaaborPunjaab.
The province is a mainly a fertile region along theriver valleys, while sparsedesertscan be found near the border with Rajasthan and theSulaimanRange. The region contains theTharandCholistandeserts. TheIndus Riverand its many tributaries traverse thePunjabfrom north to south. The landscape is amongst the most heavily irrigated on earth andcanalscan be found throughout the province. Weather extremes are notable from the hot and barren south to the cool hills of the north. The foothills of theHimalayasare found in the extreme north as well.
Tilla Jogian,sacred andscenic peak in Punjab
Sunset inPunjab, during summers
Most areas inPunjabexperience fairly cool winters, often accompanied by rain. By mid-February the temperature begins to rise;springtimeweather continues until mid-April, when the summer heat sets in.
The onset of the southwestmonsoonis anticipated to reachPunjabby May, but since the early 1970s the weather pattern has been irregular. The spring monsoon has either skipped over the area or has caused it to rain so hard that floods have resulted. June and July are oppressively hot. Although official estimates rarely place the temperature above 46°C, newspaper sources claim that it reaches 51°C and regularly carry reports about people who have succumbed to the heat. Heat records were broken inMultanin June 1993, when themercurywas reported to have risen to 54°C. In August the oppressive heat is punctuated by therainy season, referred to asbarsat, which brings relief in its wake. The hardest part of the summer is then over, but cooler weather does not come until late October.
Recently the province experienced one of the coldest winters in the last 70 years. Experts are suggesting that this is due to global climate change.
Punjab region temperature range from-2° to 40°C(MIN/MAX), but can reach47°C (117°F)in summer and can touch down to-5°Cin winter.
Climatically,Punjabhas three major seasons as under:
§Hot weather(April to June)when temperature rises as high as110F.
§Rainy season(July to September). Average rainfall annual ranges between96 cmssub-mountain region and46 cmsin the plains.
§Cold weather(October to March). Temperature goes down as low as40F.
Thedialectsspoken in different regions of the land have a commonvocabularyand a sharedheritage. The people of Punjab have also a sharedspiritualexperience, which has been disseminated byTasawwafand can be witnessed on the occasion of the remembrance-fairs held on theUrsofSufiSaints.
Punjabwas the cradle of theIndus Valley Civilization, more than 4000 years old.The main site of theIndus Valley CivilizationinPunjabwas the city ofHarrapa. The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of what is todayPakistanand eventually evolved into theIndo-Aryancivilization. The arrival of the Indo-Aryans led to the flourishing of theVedic civilizationalong the length of theIndus River. This civilization shaped subsequent cultures inSouth AsiaandAfghanistan. Although the archaeological site atHarappawas partially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from theHarapparuins for track ballast, an abundance of artifacts have nevertheless been found.Punjabwas part of the great ancient empires including theGandharaMahajanapadas,Mauryas,KushansandHindu Shahi. Agriculture flourished and trading cities (such asMultanandLahore) grew in wealth. TheAryansinvadedPunjabbetween 1500 B.C. and 500 B.C.; they called PunjabArya-Varta, or thelandofArya. TheRig Vedasare also supposed to have been written inPunjab.
Egyptwas known as Misrasthan by Indians, from its being inhabited by Misraim, the son ofHam. King Osiris ofEgypteventually marched towardsPunjab; the locals offered little resistance andPunjabfell into the hands of the Egyptians. After a stay of three years the Egyptians leftPunjab. AfterNinus, King ofAssyriadied in the ninth century B.C, QueenSemiramisbecame the monarch ofAssyria. Seduced by the famed affluence ofIndia, she undertook an expedition to invadePunjab. TheAssyrianswon the first battle, but due to stiff resistance offered by the locals the Assyrians were routed with immense loss and Queen Semiramis leftPunjabforAssyria. KingSesostrisofEgyptalso invadedPunjaband extended his sway as far as theGanges; he erected pillars inscribed with symbols describing his conquest and glory.
Greeks, Central Asians, and Persians
Mahmud and Ayaz The Sultan is to the right, shaking the hand of the sheykh, with Ayaz standing behind him. Mahmud of Ghazni appointed Malik Ayaz as the ruler ofLahore,Punjabduring the Ghaznavid era.
Unique to Pakistani Punjab was that this area was repeatedly conquered into various Persian, Central Asian, and Greek empires, such as those ofTamerlane,Alexander the GreatandGenghis Khan. Having conqueredDrangiana,Arachosia,GedrosiaandSeistanin ten days, Alexander crossed theHindu Kushand 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 ofPunjabbefore 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 throughGhazni, 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 enteredWestern Punjab, where the ancient city ofNysawas situated. A coalition was formed against Alexander by the Cathians, the people ofMultan, who were very skillful in war. Alexander invested heavy troops; eventually seventeen thousand Cathians fell in this battle, and the city ofSagala(present-daySialkot) was razed to the ground. Alexander leftPunjabin 326 B.C. and took his army toPersiaandSusa.
Of particular importance were the periods of contact betweenPunjaband various Persian Empires when the region either became a part of the empire itself, or was an autonomous region which paid taxes to the Persian king. In later centuries, when Persian was the language of the Mughal government, Persian architecture, poetry, art and music were an integral part of the region's culture. The official language ofPunjabremainedPersianuntil the arrival of the British in the mid-19th century, when the administrative language was changed to English. After 1947, Urdu, which has Persian and Sanskrit roots, becamePakistan's national language (Qaumi Zubaan).
The founder ofAfghanistan,Ahmad Shah Durrani, an ethnicPashtun(Afghan), was born on the outskirts ofMultan, souther Panjab where many of his descendants live to this day. After cementing his authority over various Afghan tribes, he went about to establish the first unitedAfghanKingdom(Greater Afghanistan) that during its greatest extent included modern-dayAfghanistan,Pakistanand northeasternIran. ThePunjabwas a cultural reservoir for the Afghans, and many where attracted to its lush fertile lands, a process that continues to this very day. It has been said that with the loss of the breadbasket regions of thePunjaband Sindh,Afghanistanhas never been able to achieve a stable state ever since. Many ethnic Afghan or Pashtun tribes have madePakistan'sPunjabtheir home over the centuries. These tribes include theKhugyanisknown asKhakwanis,Alizais,Tareens,Durranis,Mullazais,Niazis,Khattaks,yousafzais,sadozais,tahirkheli,utmanzais,bangash,mashwani,Lodhis,Kakars,Kakazais, andBarakzais, to name a few.
Ranjit Singh's Empire
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the religion ofSikhismwas born, and during the Mughal period gradually emerged as a formidable military force until subjugated and assimilated by the later rising and expanding Sikh Empire. After fightingAhmad Shah Durrani, the Sikhs wrested control of thePunjabfrom his descendants and ruled in aconfederacy, which later became theSikh Empireof thePunjabunderMaharaja Ranjit Singh. A denizen of the city ofGujranwala, the capital of Ranjit Singh's empire wasLahore.
The Maharaja'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 theFirst Anglo-Sikh War; this led to a British official being resident inLahoreand the annexation of territory south of the Satluj toBritish India.
Some parts of Pakistani Punjab also served as the centre of resistance in theIndian Rebellion of 1857. Sikhs were the first people of thePunjabto rule their own land since Prithviraj Chauhan's defeat.
Independenceand its aftermath
In 1947 thePunjabprovinceofBritish Indiawas divided along religious lines intoWest PunjabandEast Punjab. The westernPunjabwas assimilated into new country ofPakistanwhile the eastPunjabstayed inIndia. This led to massive rioting as both sides committed atrocities against fleeing refugees.
The undividedPunjab, of whichPunjab(Pakistan) forms a major region today, was home to a large minority population ofPunjabiSikhsandHindusunto 1947 apart from the Muslim majority.
At the time of independence in 1947 and due to the ensuing horrendous exchange of populations, the Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus migrated toIndia.Punjabi Muslims were uprooted similarly from their homes inEast Punjabwhich now forms part ofIndia.Approximately 7 million plus who moved toPakistan, over 6 million settled inPunjab.
Agriculturecontinues to be the largest sector ofPunjab's economy. The province is the breadbasket of the country as well as home to the largest ethnic group inPakistan, thePunjabis. Unlike neighbouringIndia, there was no large-scale redistribution of agricultural land. As a result most rural areas are dominated by a small set of feudalisticland-owning families.
Old style Punjabi home in a village near Khansar Bhakkar
In the 1950s there was tension between the eastern and western halves ofPakistan. In order to address the situation, a new formula resulted in the abolition of the province status forPunjabin 1955. It was merged into a single provinceWest Pakistan. In 1972, afterEast Pakistanseceded and becameBangladesh,Punjabagain became a province.
Punjabwitnessed major battles between the armies ofIndiaandPakistanin the wars of1965and1971. Since the 1990sPunjabhosted several key sites ofPakistan's nuclear program such asKahuta. It also hosts major military bases such as atSargodhaandRawalpindi. The peace process betweenIndiaandPakistan, which began in earnest in 2004, has helped pacify the situation. Trade and people-to-people contacts through theWagahborder are now starting to become common. Indian Sikh pilgrims visit holy sites such asNankana Sahib.
Punjabhas always contributed the most to the national economy ofPakistan.Punjab's economy has quadrupled since 1972. Its share ofPakistan's GDP was 54.7% in 2000 and 59% as of 2010. It is especially dominant in the Service & Agriculture sectors of the Pakistan Economy. With its contribution ranging from 52.1% to 64.5% in the Service Sector and 56.1% to 61.5% in the Agriculture Sector. It is also major manpower contributor because it has largest pool of professionals and highly skilled (Technically trained) manpower inPakistan. It is also dominant in the Manufacturing sector, though the dominance is not as huge, with historical contributions raging from a low of 44% to a high of 52.6%.In 2007,Punjabachieved a growth rate of 7.8%and during the period 2002-03 to 2007-08, its economy grew at a rate of between 7% to 8% per year.and during 2008-09 grew at 6% against the total GDP growth ofPakistanat 4%.
Despite lack of a coastline, Punjab is the most industrialized province of Pakistan; its manufacturing industries produce textiles, sports goods, Heavy machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, Cement, Vehicles, Auto Parts, I.T, metals, Sugar mill plants, Cement Plants, Agriculture Machinery, bicycles and rickshaws, floor coverings, and processed foods. In 2003, the province manufactured 90% of the paper and paper boards, 71% of the fertilizers, 69% of the sugar and 40% of the cement ofPakistan.
Industrial ZonesPunjab, Source:
Former Administrative Divisions ofPunjab
Despite its dryclimate, extensive irrigation makes it a rich agricultural region. Its canal-irrigation system established by the British is the largest in the world.Wheatandcottonare the largest crops. Other crops includerice,sugarcane,millet,corn,oilseeds,pulses,vegetables, andfruitssuch askinoo.Livestockandpoultryproduction are also important. Despite past animosities, the rural masses inPunjab's farms continue to use the Hindu calendar for planting and harvesting.
Punjabcontributes about 76% to annual food grain production in the country. 51 million acres (210,000 km2) is cultivated and another 9.05 million acres (36,600 km2) are lying as cultivable waste in different parts of the province.
Cotton and rice are important crops. They are thecash cropsthat contribute substantially to the national exchequer. Attaining self-sufficiency in agriculture has shifted the focus of the strategies towards small and medium farming, stress on barani areas, farms-to-market roads, electrification for tube-wells and control of water logging and salinity.
Punjabhas also more than 68 thousand industrial units. The small and cottage industries are in abundance. There are 39,033 small and cottage industrial units. The number of textile units is 14,820. The ginning industries are 6,778. There are 7,355 units for processing of agricultural raw materials including food and feed industries.
Lahoreand Gujranwala Divisions have the largest concentration of small light engineering units. The district of Sialkot excels in sports goods, surgical instruments and cutlery goods.
Punjab is also a mineral rich province with extensive mineral deposits ofCoal,Gas,Petrol,Rock salt(with the second largest salt mine in the world),Dolomite,gypsum, and silica-sand. The Punjab Mineral Development Corporation is running over a hundreds economically viable projects. Manufacturing includes machine products, cement, plastics, and various other goods.
The literacy rate has increased greatly since independence.Punjabhas the highestHuman Development Indexout of all ofPakistan's provinces at 0.670.
This is a chart of the education market ofPunjabestimatedby the government in 1998.
Punjabhas been the cradle of civilization since times immemorial. The ruins ofHarappashow an advanced urban culture that flourished over 8000 years ago.Taxila, another historic landmark also stands out as a proof of the achievements of the area in learning, arts and crafts. The ancient HinduKatasraj templeand theSalt Range templesare regaining attention and much-needed repair.
The structure of a mosque is simple and it expresses openness. Calligraphic inscriptions from the Koran decorate mosques and mausoleums inPunjab. The inscriptions on bricks and tiles of the mausoleum of Shah Rukn-e-Alam (1320 AD) atMultanare outstanding specimens of architectural calligraphy. The earliest existing building inSouth Asiawith enamelled tile-work is the tomb of Shah Yusuf Gardezi (1150 AD) atMultan. A specimen of the sixteenth century tile-work atLahoreis the tomb of Sheikh Musa Ahangar, with its brilliant blue dome. The tile-work of EmperorShah Jahanis of a richer and more elaborate nature. The pictured wall of Lahore Fort is the last line in the tile-work in the entire world.
Fairs and festivals
The culture ofPunjabderives its basis from the institution ofSufi saints. The Sufi saints spread Islam and preached and lived the Muslim way of life. People have festivities to commemorate these traditions. The fairs and festivals ofPunjabreflect the entire gamut of its folk life and cultural traditions. These mainly fall in following categories:
Exhibitions and Annual Horse Shows in all Districts and National Horse and Cattle Show atLahoreare held with the official patronage. National Horse and Cattle Show atLahoreis the biggest festival where sports, exhibitions, and livestock competitions are held. It not only encourages and patronizes agricultural products and livestock through the exhibitions of agricultural products and cattle but is also a colourful documentary on the rich cultural heritage of the Province with its strong rural roots.
In addition to the religious festivals, Punjabis celebrate seasonal and harvest festivals which includeLohri,Basant,BaisakhiandTeej.
Arts and crafts
The crafts in thePunjabare of two types: the crafts produced in the rural areas and the royal crafts that flourished in the urban centres particularly inLahore. The former include cotton textiles, basketry, embroidery etc. while the latter are tile and woodwork skills, ivory, silver and gold work, naqqashi and architectural crafts.
Hand knottedcarpetsof fine quality are made inPunjabsince the Mughal period.Emperor Akbarin the 15th century established the first factory inLahore. While carpets were made for the wealthy, rough rugs (known as namdas) were made by the common people for their own use.Lahoreis the centre of hand-made carpets.
Since ancient times the weavers of the region have produced colourful fabrics of silk and cotton. The hand-woven cotton cloth like khaddar of Kamalia, are popular. The cloth woven on handlooms is either block printed or beautifully embroidered.Multanis famous for beautiful hand-woven bed covers.
Classical music forms are an important part of the cultural wealth of thePunjab. The Muslim musicians have contributed a large number of ragas to the repository of classical music. The most common instruments used are theTablaandHarmonium.
Among the Punjabi poets, the names ofSultan Bahu,Bulleh Shah,Mian Muhammad Baksh, andWaris Shahand folk singers likeInayat Hussain Bhattiand Tufail Niazi, Alam Lohar, Sain Marna,Mansoor Malangi,Allah Ditta Lona wala, Talib Hussain Dard,Attaullah Khan Essa Khailwi, Gamoo Tahliwala, Mamzoo Gha-lla, Akbar Jat, Arif Lohar, Ahmad Nawaz Cheena and Hamid Ali Bela are well-known. In the composition of classical ragas, there are such masters asMalika-i-Mauseequi(Queen of Music) Roshan Ara Begum, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Salamat Ali Khan and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan. Alam Lohar has made significant contributions to folklore and Punjabi literature, by being a very influential Punjabi folk singer from 1930 until 1979.
For the popular taste however, light music, particularly Ghazals and folk songs, which have an appeal of their own, the names ofMehdi Hasan,Ghulam Ali,Nur Jehan,Malika Pukhraj,Farida Khanum, Roshen Ara Begum, andNusrat Fateh Ali Khanare well-known. Folk songs and dances of thePunjabreflect a wide range of moods: the rains, sowing and harvesting seasons. Luddi, Bhangra and Sammi depict the joy of living. Love legends of Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiban, Sohni Mahenwal and Saiful Mulk are sung in different styles.
The folk heritage of thePunjabis the traditional urge of thousands of years of its history. While Urdu is the official language of the province, there are a number of local dialects through which the people communicate. These includeMajhi,Jhangochi,Pothohari,Saraiki,Jatki,Hindko,Chhachhi,Doabi, andDerewali. The songs, ballads, epics and romances are generally written and sung in these dialects.
One social/educational issue is the status of Punjabi language. According to Dr. Manzur Ejaz, "In Central Punjab, Punjabi is neither an official language of the province nor it is used as medium of education at any level. There are only two daily newspapers published in Punjabi in the Central areas ofPunjab. Only a few monthly literary magazines constitute Punjabi press inPakistan". Many have called for the Punjabi language to be given recognition as it has inIndia.
Punjabis are prominent in business, agriculture, industry, government, and the military to the point that there is resentment from other ethnic groups. The smaller provinces often voice concern at Punjabi domination of key institutions such as the Army.A newer generation of upper class Panjabis is re-affirming their maternal language and have begun requesting the government for official patronage not just of their languages (Punjabi,Potohari and Seraiki) but those of other major ethnic groups in Pakistan such as thePashtunsandBalochi