Punjab without Punj-Aab – Daily Times

A eulogy to the dying rivers along the highway through the plains of Punjab. Often fascinated by how the hills of Margallas give way to the red, rocky, unwoven Pothohar which then turns into an endless expanse of agricultural fields with the notable exception of the lush orchards of Sargodha. In this attic of perspectives, I see the three rivers flow in silence, caged by bridges and tamed by dams on their journey to join the Indus and finally fall into the Arabian Sea.

They experienced this for millions of years long before the first humans arrived, but the protracted struggle for its futuristic coexistence is what shakes people’s minds today.

A region whose identity is based on the rivers, but which still behaves with such insolence, such cruelty towards them. The region, which we now call Punjab, has always been fed by the five rivers. Every grain of fertile soil, which he prides himself on being fertile, comes from these rivers. These rivers are the lifeline of Punjab and Pakistan. Vibrant culture, rich history, ancient cities, beautiful Punjabi, the largest network of canals in the world, the most fertile soils, all we are proud of is a boon from the rivers. But seeing the rotting corpse of Sutlej, the twisted body of Ravi, the declining Chenab, the dying Jhelum and the shrunken Indus, the only thought in my head is why? Why such injustice towards the rivers? Why such rudeness? Why such cruelty? A hypophor of events, which call for answers.

All of us, not just governments, are guilty of parricide, of murdering our own parents.

Sutlej once known to native tribes as “Neeli”, the blue water river is now just a dry river bed. Known in Vedic times as the Sutudri, the river of a hundred courses, today it lacks the slightest idea of ​​flowing in its lower course. Once famous for its rapid flow, it is now only dead in every respect, even its tomb is now overrun with the approaching and ever-increasing population. Sutlej was once the border between the desert of Cholistan and the fertile lands of Punjab, acting as a guardian. But now this protector of the country has breathed her last in a totally dishonoring way.

And if this literary imagery may seem

Although this is a universal struggle for justice, the idea that minimalist policies derive from these increasingly catastrophic conditions of the question is acceptable. The Indian government, through a series of what it calls “agricultural policies”, has humiliated and destroyed all hope for the rivers and their recovery. Although posthumously maimed by Pakistan, the blame game is an endless game, stopping at the potential for the future.

Here on its shores is the city of Kasur, said to have been founded by Kusha, the son of Rama and Sita, as well as the burial place of Baba Bulleh Shah. Irrigating the plains of Dipalpur, it flows into Pakpattan, the city of Baba Farid. The name Pakpattan literally translates to “holy/pure dock”, but today neither the river remains nor its purity. Downstream, it joined the Chenab River before falling together into the Indus. Ravi, the wayward river, should never be trusted. Such is Ravi’s reputation among his natives for his flash floods, as obviously now legends of days gone by. The birthplace of Harappa and also the burial places of such a majestic civilization are the shores of Ravi. Hiding many remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization, this river is now breathing its last breath. The Ravi River or Iravati as it was known to the Vedic people, was named after the elephant of Indra, the king of the gods in Hindu mythology. Rich in history, the banks of Ravi are also the place where the Rigveda, the oldest existing text in an Indo-European language, was written or rather composed around 1500 BC. AD Rising in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, it flows into Pakistan near Lahore.

There, on its shores, Lahore flourished, the provincial capital of Punjab and the heart of Punjabi identity as a whole. Downstream from Lahore, Ravi irrigates Nankana Sahib where it is reputed that Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism practiced agriculture on its banks for 14 years. On its way, it passes through the ancient cities of Kamalia and Tulamba, which existed long before Alexander the Great’s invasion before eventually merging with Chenab. Chenab, the river of love. Known in ancient times as Asikni, the Dark Water River, Chenab gave birth to the cities of Sialkot, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sargodha and Jhang. Multan, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Pakistan and believed to have been founded by a grandson of the Prophet Noah, also arose on an island in the Chenab River before the river flowed away from the city.

Known to locals as “the river of love”, its role in many of the region’s folk tales is extraordinarily important. Ranjha from Takht Hazara on the banks of the Chenab descended the river to the town of Jhang where he fell in love with Heer, thus giving rise to the greatest epic of the Punjabi language immortalized by Waris Shah. While here the river served as a bond between the two lovers, it also served as an antagonist in another tale, the tale of Sohni Mahiwal. Drowning them in its tumultuous waves, it became the tomb of two lovers who united in their death.

The only silver lining, being the fact that one day a Sohni might walk barefoot on Chenab’s dry bed to meet her Mahiwal, but she will never be eternalized as a symbol of love for what is love without tragedy Jhelum, the river of living waters. Known in ancient times as Vitastas, he is said to be the manifestation of Goddess Parvati, consort of Shiva after cleansing Kashmir of all evil.

Although it is not traditionally considered one of the five rivers of Punjab, fifth place being given to the Beas River, after partition when Beas went completely to India, the Indus became the fifth river in the country of the five rivers. Known historically as Sindhu, it is the namesake of the province of Sind, Hindus, Hinduism and Hindustan. Starting from Lake Manasarovar, a sacred lake for Hindus, at the foot of Mount Kailash, it shares the same source basin as the Brahmaputra, the Sutlej River and a tributary of the Ganges. Pakistan’s longest river, with untapped hydropower potential, is losing its waning glory days with the ever-melting snows of Tibet. Absorbed in laments over the fate of these rivers, the many secrets buried beneath them, recalling the history and evident fate of the five rivers, I wonder: were we truly worthy of this pure land? Do we really deserve the benefits of rivers?

There must be policies in place, there must be laws enacted to ensure that prejudice against the environment does not rot with the impending advancement of rivers.

All of us, not just governments, are guilty of parricide, of murdering our own parents. This conversation needs to be taken to more places, above the media and into politics! We have to do something before we lose Punjab because what is Punjab without Punj-Aab.

The writer is an environmental activist.


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