Pakistan

Pakistan prime ministers’ links with Basti Danishmanda in Jalandhar and Jati Umra in Amritsar

The Hush Post: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is set to take over the reins of Pakistan. He has been visiting India in the past as a cricketer and on personal visits.

Just like former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has his ancestral links in Jati Umra village in Amritsar district of Punjab whose family migrated to Pakistan from here before Partition, Prime Minister-to-be Imran Khan has his maternal home in Basti Nau and Basti Danishmanda area of Jalandhar in Punjab.

So, while the General Elections in Pakistan were being keenly watched by the Indian government, these two villages in India too were glued to TV sets to know the outcome. While one village was overjoyed, the other sighed. Pakistan's PMs roots in India  “Imran Khan’s maternal family was based here. Shaukat Khanum, Imran’s mother, belonged to this place. They were instrumental in setting up Islamia College here in the early 1940s,” a village elder said, while talking to a national daily.

The ramparts of the “peeli kothi” where Imran’s mother was born have crumbled but it is a kind of a landmark of the area. “Our elders had told us that Imran’s mother was born here. Imran’s paternal family too had properties in the area which they abandoned during Partition,” claims 65-yr-old Fakir Chand, who was an employee of the evening college that ran from one of the ancestral houses of Imran’s family.

Imran had last visited the area around four years ago, while his close relatives visited their ancestral houses about two years ago.

While speaking about his Jalandhar roots in 2004 on his visit to India, Imran Khan had said his family was based here for over 600 years. “It was a real trauma for them to relocate to Lahore. We had several relatives in Jalandhar, all of them were uprooted,” Imran had said.

Khan is a descendant of the Sufi warrior-poet Pir Roshan who belonged to the Burki Pashtun tribe born in Jalandhar but hailed from Kaniguram, a tribal area of north-west Pakistan. According to a Burki historian, the Burkis emigrated from Kaniguram after a severe drought hit the region. The tribe elders decided that some people would have to leave so that others could survive with the meagre resources. So, 40 families bade farewell to Kaniguram which included Imran Khaan’s ancestors. These forty caravans would eventually arrive in Jalandhar, 40 km from Lahore. The Burkis were already acquainted with the area as it fell on the trading route to India via the Grand Trunk Road. Burkis established fortified villages known as ‘bastis’ , like Basti Nau and Basti Danishmanda where Khan’s maternal family settled down. They lived in twelve such fortresses in Jalandhar. Khan’s maternal grandfather, Ahmed Hasan Khan, was a civil servant had even hosted the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnahat at Basti Pathan.

On the other hand, the Sharifs had migrated to Pakistan before the 1947 Partition. Their ancestral home in Jati Umra was converted into a gurudwara in the village after they left but the tomb of Nawaz Sharif’s grandfather, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, is still reminiscent of the glorious days that the Sharifs would have spent in the land which once was their own country.  Interestingly, the Sharif family’s palatial estate near Lahore also is named ‘Jati Umra’, a kind of a tribute to the place which has their roots. Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif had earlier visited the place in 2013.

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