Bhakkar, a city located in the Punjab province of Pakistan, has a rich and diverse history that spans several centuries. Situated on the eastern bank of the Indus River, Bhakkar has been influenced by its unique geographic location and the ever-changing political environment of the region.
To understand the history of Bhakkar, we must first explore its population dynamics. As of the latest available data in 2021, Bhakkar has an estimated population of around 350,000 people. The majority of the population consists of Punjabi-speaking Muslims, with a small presence of other ethnic groups such as Balochis and Sindhis. The city's demographics have evolved over time, influenced by various historical events and migrations.
Bhakkar's history can be traced back to ancient times. The region was once part of the Gandhara civilization, which flourished in the area from around 1500 BCE to 500 BCE. The Gandhara civilization, known for its distinctive art and culture, left a lasting impact on the region. Many Buddhist relics and archaeological sites, including the famous Kanishka Stupa, can be found in the vicinity of Bhakkar, attesting to its ancient past.
Throughout the centuries, Bhakkar was situated at the crossroads of different empires and dynasties, which shaped its destiny. The city came under the influence of the Maurya Empire, the Gupta Empire, and the Kushan Empire, among others. In the 7th century CE, the Arab Muslim armies led by Muhammad bin Qasim conquered the region, bringing Islam to Bhakkar and establishing Muslim rule.
During the medieval period, Bhakkar remained a significant center of power and trade. It was part of various dynasties, including the Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Delhi Sultanate, and the Mughal Empire. The Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great incorporated the region into his empire, and Bhakkar thrived under Mughal rule. The city became a hub of trade and commerce, attracting merchants from far and wide.
However, the political landscape of Bhakkar took a dramatic turn with the decline of the Mughal Empire. The region fell into the hands of local chieftains and became a battleground for power struggles. During the 18th century, Bhakkar witnessed the rise of the Durrani Empire, founded by Ahmad Shah Durrani. The Durranis controlled the region and maintained their authority until the British arrived.
With the arrival of the British in the 19th century, Bhakkar became part of the British Raj. The British introduced administrative reforms, built infrastructure, and established law and order in the region. Bhakkar served as a tehsil headquarters within the larger Multan District. The agricultural economy of the region flourished, and the construction of canals, such as the Lower Chenab Canal, further enhanced agricultural productivity.
The partition of India in 1947 and the creation of Pakistan had a profound impact on Bhakkar. The city became part of the newly formed Pakistan, and a large-scale migration took place as Hindus and Sikhs left for India, while Muslims from India settled in Bhakkar. The demographic shift reshaped the social fabric of the city and brought new cultural influences.