So everyone in my madrisa hated Khanewal (Khanewal Pakistan). And they had started directing their emotions towards me already. My friends were reluctant to sit with me during madrasa recess. Imagining that they were jealous relieved me. But why would they be! Moving out of Kabirwala meant I could not attend the annual Mela Moveshian (Cattle festival). I loved Mela Moveshian, even more than Eid! I’d begin the next mela countdown right after the last one. There! The decision was made. No matter what happens, I am not leaving Kabirwala. After returning home from madrasa that day I made it known to my mom in the most authoritative a child can sound at the age of 10… She tried to talk to me about it but I showed her my seriousness by not having lunch that day.
My father returned at night and he realized that something is wrong when I was eating at dinner. He inquired and my mom replied on my behalf half sad half tired, while I continued to stare firmly on my steel plate. My father ordered me to eat and that he would take up this with me after that. This is the time I was waiting for. It was hard to resist hunger and the aroma of my mom’s curry pakora.
After dinner my father lay down on his stomach on the charpai and asked me in pain, to press his legs. I wouldn’t call it a massage as pressing legs meant to press them hard enough for the blood to stop moving in the part being pressed. This process relieved leg ache for many people in the village, and as I later on learnt, in the rest of the Punjab. This was also a way for parents to connect with their children as it would mean the kids could talk and the parents were peaceful enough to listen. They couldn’t send the child away if they did not like the conversation as their child was relieving them for a few minutes from their day’s hard work. This is also how our grandmothers would choose to narrate a story before bedtime to the kids in the family…
I became sleepy after the amazing food I just devoured. He asked me what the problem was. I told him everything that happened at the madrasa. And I made sure I mention the mela moveshian. He called me stupid. As soon as he called me stupid, I actually realized my ridiculousness in that moment. I wanted to burst out in tears but held back. He turned around, indicated me to massage his arms now and with his eyes closed, he started telling me why I don’t need to worry.
In my father’s opinion, Khanewal was not going to be just another small town. He said there have been certain developments because of which Khanewal was now going to become a more prominent regional city as compared to Kabirwala. He mentioned various factors but all I remember is that it is because of a new office that has been established in Khanewal. He told me that a lot of people from nearby cities are moving to Khanewal and with time Khanewal (Khanewal Pakistan) would start having a bigger mela moveshian than Kabirwala.
The thought of this excited me and my father knew he bought me there judging by the extra pressure I was putting on pressing his arms. The kids in madrasa couldn’t foresee what we could foresee. He stated in his matter-of-factly way that Khanewal (Khanewal Pakistan) is more structured than Kabirwala and is a well-planned new city. I knew I wanted to know more and asked him
“Is this is how every city is built? I mean with a new office and people move in there?”
“No”, he replied before snoring off.
Khanewal might be getting developed now but people have been living in this area for long. No one knows for sure how people first started dwelling in this area. However, there are four famous theories about it:
Theory 1 – Khan Tribe
The land where Khanewal is currently situated was barren originally and was called Gunji Bar or Kabirwala Bar. Bar is a geographical term used to describe elevated land on sides of rivers. Initially this area used to be Southern shore of river Ravi. At that time Ravi used to flow from East to West of Multan city. With the passage of time, the river kept changing its flow, the river soil turned this piece of land into a vegetated land. With ample trees in the area, a tribe called the Khan tribe moved to this place.
Khan Tribe is said to be originated from Ahmedzai or Lodhi tribes of India. After moving here, the tribe realized that most of the other tribes around this region consisted of robbers who used to rob caravans that were travelling between Multan and Lahore. More prominent robbers of that era belonged to Makhdompur and Abdulhakim. These robbers started looting the Khan tribe every now and then. They gradually became stronger and made it a habit. If they missed a caravan that was passing, they would simply go and rob the Khan Tribe. As a consequence, in 1712, most of the Khan tribe moved out of Khanewal (Khanewal Pakistan). Historians argue that they moved to Balochistan and relate them to Mir Ahmed Khan II (Khan of Kalat). The ones who stayed served as informants to the bandit of robbers.
Theory 2 – The pond of Khanewal Pakistan
According to this theory, in the past there used to be a big pond to the west of the current railway station. The pond would fill up with rain or whenever the river Ravi overflowed. With sand dunes all over the area, this pond gradually became a central gathering point for people in the neighboring regions. Different caravans and cattle herders started stopping over at this pond. Gradually these cattle herders started spending more time in this area. Its said that finally a person named Khana built his permanent hut near the pond.
Gradually people started referring to the pond as Khanawala Pond. With a lot of shepherds coming to this pond to feed and bathe their cattle, the government decided to post a tax collecting officer in the area. An elder man from the Daha family was finally appointed by the government to collect taxes in this area. He started living in the area and that’s how the population gradually increased in Khanewal Pakistan.
Theory 3 – Khani Mai
This theory originated from an internationally acclaimed short story named Anandi written by Ghulam Abbas (to read more about Ghulam Abbas, click here). To summarize without spoilers, this theory says that an old woman named Khani Mai (some say her name was Khanin Mai) used to live in this area. She had a small hut shaped hotel where travelers used to stay during their journey. The area of Khanewal (Khanewal Pakistan) was situated between north-eastern cities like Talamba, Abdul Hakim and Sarai Sadhu and northern cities like Garha mor and Melsi.
Since travelling from one area to another used to take more than a day and the area was characterized with hot sun and heated sand dunes, travelers used to prefer leaving their town in evening, stopping at Khani Mai motel at night, and then departing for the other city early morning. As per this theory, initially this area was named Khani Toya because of Khani Mai’s hut. Subsequently it was name Khani Wala. Anandi, the story from which this theory is originated, can be read below (click on the images to increase size). The story brought lot of national and international attention to Khanewal. English translation of the story can be read by clicking here.
Theory 4 – Zayadat Khan or Sangar Khan
As per the forth theory, this area was populated by Zayadat Khan, the forefather of Daha family. It is said that he was originally from Dharwar but then migrated to Bahawalpur. After trying his luck in Bahawalpur, he moved to Pak Pattan. Then in 1820s, he moved to this region after getting employment under Dewan Sawan Mall. As an employee, he was made responsible for collection and payments from Talamba, Kamalia and Laden. He got famous in the region as Khan and thus this area was named Khanewala. This theory is also supported by old book name Raesa e Punjab (Source: Page 531, Raesa e Punjab, 2nd Edition, Sangmeel Publishers, Lahore). As per that document, the first person to populate this region was Sangar Khan.
Sangar Khan was the 34th decendant of Tikkey Khan, the first muslim in Daha family. Sangar Khan is said to have moved to Khanewal (Khanewal Pakistan) from Pak Pattan. It is said that he built a castle in the area. The family lived here for long and Hasan Khan, 37th decendent of Tikkey Khan, became one of the most prominent business man of the region. Hasan Khan was awarded Sanad from Pathan Governments in 1768. According to this book, Khanewal was first populated in 1050 AD.
What do you think? Which theory about earliest dwellers in Khanewal Pakistan do you want to believe…