Recent news is telling us our rivers are rapidly drying up. A serious concern for the country, seeing as rivers also make up our water supply – but honestly, do we even really understand just how important a role our rivers have been playing in Pakistan? Starting from the Indus Water Treaty in 1960 when the six rivers were divided up between the two countries – with Pakistan getting Indus, Ravi and Sutlej – these waterways have been paving a path for the birth of not only civilization but ideas, movements, and political reforms.
Here are 5 cities that sprung up at or around the site of a river – each giving us something of value in Pakistan.
1) Kasur, the City of Sufi Saint Baba Bulleh Shah
Archaeologists were of the opinion the mosque dug up in Kasur, a city which formed at the mouth of the Sutlej, had been destroyed six times before during natural disasters. Therefore, it’s safe to say this one was a pretty ancient discovery – especially seeing as the city itself is said to perhaps date back to the time of Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great.
2) Lahore, the City of Lights
Lahore – a hotbed of long-forgotten culture and tradition – formed in the wake of the river Ravi. The city is a veritable treasure of culture and history. It has seen almost everything – starting from the partition to the modern hub we live in now. Tragedies, wars, art, emperors, music – Lahore has been through it all.
3) Multan, the City of Saints
Known as a center for Sufism, Multan, situated on the bed of the Chenab, has also witnessed some of the greatest political movements the country has ever seen. Political greats such as Ahmad Shah Durrani and Alamgir II who made their mark during the 18th-century hailed from Multan. What’s more, Multan was where Benazir Bhutto was welcomed back by approximately 3 million Pakistanis.
4) Gujrat, Gateway to Jammu
1849 saw the historic battle of Gujrat, an event which resulted in the surrender of Punjab to the British – this too happened in a city situated right on the banks of the river Chenab. Thought by many to be a symbol of the struggle against imperialism, this city is also integral to our country’s past.
5) Pakpattan, Home to the Shrine of Baba Farid Ganjshakar
A rapidly growing city that formed on the bed of the Sutlej, around the shrine of the highly revered mystic hailing from the 12th century – Pakpattan. And recently, it is being lauded as the city which played a great role in the victory of soon-to-be Prime Minister Imran Khan – owing to his wife Bushra Maneka who hails from Pakpattan and whose knowledge of Sufism is said to have influenced Khan’s latest ideologies.
As you can see, without these cities and without the history they have nurtured, Pakistan would not be where it is today. So what are willing to do about our rivers that have been paving our way for centuries? How can we save them?