Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan V: An Administrator of Bahawalpur State (Pakistan)


Fakhar Bilal*

Abstract: This article has attempted to explain the administrative set up of Bahawalpur State under the last Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan V. The aim was to provide an insight into the administration of Bahawalpur State. The administration was a mixture of local, regional, foreigner in shape of British official at the State apparatus. The State was initially run by the British official with the help of Council of Regency which worked for almost fifteen years till the time Nawab was transferred and given full powers in 1924. The State flourished and seen such glorious and magnificent growth that it became an attraction for the British officers for appointments and as well as for settlers and migrants at the time of partition in 1947.

Keywords: Politics of Pakistan, Bahawalpur State, British, Administration, Colonialism.

Article III. As regards the internal administration of his government, and the exercise of his sovereign right over his subjects, the Nawab shall be entirely independent as heretofore (Ali 1848:220).


Taken in their original spirit, the term “system” and “administration” have different connotations even though they both aim at the same goal to be achieved at the end of the day. Administration defines the overall sense of responsibility for which someone is designated to exercise authority. The administrative models have numerous examples in the world such as the concept of Islam about the Islamic administration including Prophet’s (PBUH), Pious Caliphate, House of Ummayads and Abbas, Sultanate, Mughals and eventually the colonial system of administration can be counted in this regard.

Bahawalpur was an independent state till the emergence of One Unit in 1955. The town of Bahawalpur was built in about 1780 on an old site near the desert (Javaid 2004: 59). It was Nawab Bahawal Khan I (1746-1749) who laid the foundations of Baghdad-ul-Jadidin in 1748 and made it his capital. Historical records show the before Sikh rule in the Punjab, the area of Bahawalpur was quite large. Apart from the entire Dera Ghazi Khan district, some parts of Sukkur, Multan, Sahiwal and Muzaffargarh districts were also included in it.

During its prime, Bahawalpur patronized many notable Islamic institutions of the Indian subcontinent including the Aligarh Muslim University, Darul Uloom Nadwa and Darul Uloom Deoband (Javaid 2004: 82). The state’s contribution was not confined to the field of learning alone. During the decline of Mughal rule, the state also served as Abul Wark or protector against the inroads of Sikhs and Rajputs. It was Bahawalpur which became the refuge for Muslims.

Life Sketch of Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan V

Nawab Sadiq was the only son of the Late Nawab Muhammad Bahawal Khan and was born in 1904 and succeeded his late father in 1907 (Javaid 2004: 81). He was a child of three years when he was taken to the holy Kabba for pilgrimage at the tender age (Shah 1959: 74). He received his education at the Aitchison Chief’s College Lahore, from 1915-1920 and later on administrative training as well as course of military instructions at Quetta (Javaid 2004: 81). In 1913, he was sent to England for higher studies and at Porlock, a village in the south of England, arrangement for his stay were being made (Shah 1959: 74). In 1922, he received the honorary rank Lieutenant and was attached to 21st King George’s Own Central India Horse by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (Javaid 2004: 81).

In 1924, he was made a Captain, in 1923; he was promoted to the Major, in 1940 to that of Lieutenant-Colonel and in 1946 to Major General (Javaid 2004: 81).  In 1935, Nawab went on pilgrimage with a gathering of about 400 people whose expenditure was being borne by Nawab’s pocket (Shah 1959: 75). In 1937, Nawab of Bahawalpur was officially invited to take part in the coronation of George VI, King-Emperor of India and only 6 out of 600 ruling chiefs of various states were being invited. Nawab of Bahawalpur was one of 6 invited rulers who officially represented the princely India at the coronation ceremony (Shah 1959: 75). On May 1966, Nawab Sadiq V died in London and his body was brought to Bahawalpur where he was buried in his ancestral graveyard of Derawar Fort (Javaid 2004: 95).

The Council of Regency (1907-1924)

The Council of Regency came to existence on August 17, 1907 under the presidency of Maulvi Sir Rahim Bakhsh (Tahir 2010: 266). Maulvi Sir Rahim Bakhsh was also taken as one of the members to the Montague-Chelmsford Commission by the British government (Shah 1959: 73). The Council has the duties to be performed on behalf of the younger Nawab. The Council remained intact for almost 17 years till 1924 (Tahir 2010: 264). The rest of the members of Council were: Mirza Sultan Ahmed- Revenue Member; Khan Bahadur Maulvi Abdul Rehman- Military Member; and Diwan Asa Nand- Finance Member (Shah 1959: 72).

Mr. Renouf and Colonel Eliot served as political agents and Colonel Rawlins as military advisors assisted the Council in civil and military matters (Shah 1959: 72). Chaudhry Bahadur Ali as an Accountant General, Chaudhry GHulam Mohiuddin as Kaptan Police, Syed Mir Sirajuddin and Mehta Udho Das as Judges, Colonel Mohammad Afzal Khan as military commandant and Dr. Shaikh Mohammad Din remained civil surgeon to the Council of Regency (Shah 1959: 72). These loyal members of the Council were the counselors and advisors of the late Nawab Muhammad Bahawl Khan V and served his son with diligent efforts for the purpose of the welfare of the State.

In 1923, Nawab Sadiq was made president of the Council by the sheer dint of his merit and administrative capacity and performance (Javaid 2004: 82). In 1924, Lord Reading, Governor General and Viceroy of India came to Bahawalpur for the installation and coronation ceremony of the Nawab Sadiq V (Shah 1959: 74). This coronation of the Nawab was the opening of a new epoch in the history of Bahawalpur State. Nawab Sadiq V proved himself as kind administrator and political master.

Administrative Model under the Nawab

The concept of administration is known to everyone since the modern as well as classical ages. Before moving towards the original understanding of the topic, the concept of administration must be clear to us. The term administration can be employed in two connotations, in its broader spectrum it transpires the work involved in the actual conduct of governmental affairs and in its narrow scope it expresses the operation of the specific administrative branch only (Raja: 1). System and administration are two different things having different connotation in their original spirit. System and administration both aims at the same goal to be achieved at the end of the day. Administration overall defines the sense of responsibility which is designated to someone for performing in letter and spirit.  As Dwight Waldo rightly said in this context that

Administration as an applied, interdisciplinary field of professional practice; regards history and philosophy as essential to an understanding of the field; and connects citizenship and culture to public administration. (Raja: 10)

The total concept of administration consists of the following ingredients and elements in pecking order which can be utilize the competence and ability of the ruler to provide proper administrative measures (Raja: 3):

i) Problem             ii) Solution           iii) Planning                         iv) Organization

v) Manpower        vi) Leadership      vii) Supervision                   viii) The end or aim

The project under study investigates the model of last Nawab’s administration which includes political administration, revenue system, irrigation setup, public works, communication, educational ventures and judicial system one after the other.

Political Administration

Nawab Sadiq assume the powers on March 8, 1924 and Lord Reading who was the viceroy of India handed over the powers to Nawab (Tahir 2010: 259). In 1925, Nawab adopted a new cabinet on the modern lines and left the redundant system which was prevalent previously. In the new cabinet, chief ministers, revenue ministers, ministers, chief judges, general officers commanding and speakers of the majlis were inducted (Shah 1959: 78-81). The two powers of the cabinet members were:

a)       All the ministers were sole responsible for maintaining their respective ministries and departments.

b)       The ministers have the right for appointment, termination, transfer and providing leave to the employees of their ministries who has salary ceiling of Rs. 150. If some matter is beyond the ministers reach, it would be addressed and sent to Nawab for personal hearing.

The chief minister has duty to convene the session for ministers whenever it is required and needed. The quorum was only of 2 members but if matter is of severe importance then all the ministers were being called to Bahawalpur. The chief minister’s vote was decisive one and it was casted only in the situation when there was a tie between equal numerical strength of the votes by ministers on any particular issue (Tahir 2010: 260). In absence of chief minister, the session was convened by a senior minister (Tahir 2010: 260).

The Council of ministers has the right for reviewing the decisions and verdicts of Supreme Court of the state. For the implementation of verdicts and decisions, a prior permission was sought from the Nawab (Tahir 2010: 260). Nawab use to meet his ministers once a week and ministers were duty bound to bring a weekly report of their ministries performance to present to Nawab. Each minister and ministry was responsible for finalizing all fiscal matters during the month of February each year with chief minister and then summary was sent to Nawab for final approval (Tahir 2010: 260).

Table 1: The Bahawalpur State Cabinet (Shah 1959: 79-81)

Chief Ministers Revenue Ministers Ministers Chief Judges General Officers Commanding Speakers of the Majlis
Malik Sir Khuda Bakhsh Tiwana Mirza Sultan Ahmad Maulvi Ghulam Hussain Syed Mir Siraj –ud-Din Major General Muhammad Afzal Khan Syed Enayat Hussain Shah
Nawab Talib Mehdi Khan Nawab Talib Mehdi Khan Colonel M. H. Qureshi Mehta Udho Dass General Sahibzada M. Dilawar Khan Abbasi Sheikh Abdul Haq
Nawab Maula Bakhsh Malik Sir Khuda Bakhsh Major Shams-ud-Din Munshi Muhammad Akbar General J. H. Marden  


Sir Sikandar Hayat Nawab Muhammad Din Mehta Udho Dass Maulvi Fazl Hussain Major General H. L. C. Robertson  


K. B. Nabi Bakhsh Muhammad Hussain Colonel O’Brien Diwan Sukha Nand Sir Abdul Qadir Major General S. Greeves  


Sir Richard Crofton Sir James Fitzpatrick Sardar M. Amir Khan K. B. Din Muhammad  




Nawab Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani Mr. Barron General Sahibzada M. Dilawar Khan Abbasi K. B. Sheikh Abdul Aziz  






Colonel Sir John Dring Mr. Townsend Sheikh Muhammad Abdul Ghani K. B. Sheikh Faiz Muhammad  






Colonel Bacon Sir Fredick Anderson Colonel Syed Saeed Ahmad Hashmi  









Makhdoomzada Syed Hassan Mahmood K. B. Abdul Qayoom Diwan Fateh Chand  









A. R. Khan (Chief Advisor) K. B. Bunyad Hussain Major Sheikh Hafeez Ullah  











Mr. Moon Syed Ghulam Murtaza Shah  











K. B. Syed Ahmad Maulvi Karamat Ullah  











Sardar M. Afzal Khan Leghari Mian Fateh Muhammad Laleka  











Sardar M. Ayub Khan Dahir Rao Hafiz-ur-Rehman  















Syed Ahmad Nawaz Shah Gardezi  









Source: Shah 1959:79-81

Revenue System and Irrigation

The revenue system of the state was one of the superb and efficient systems under Nawab Sadiq. The major structure of administration includes performance, organisation and induction of the officers (Tahir 2010: 276). The major introduction of district, tehsil, and sub-tehsils were introduced by Nawab Sadiq (Tahir 2010: 227). The major sources of the revenue were agricultural tax, desert land, state land, gardens, Waqf and inamat, irrigated tax (Tahir 2010: 290-97). In addition to these taxes, the state started contracts and lease agreements with contractors (Tahir 2010: 302-304). The procedure for contractors has five categories (Tahir 2010: 304-305):

Table 2:

Type of Land Date of Fixation
Canal irrigation January 20-27
Mines/Salts March 20-27
Gardens April 20-27
Agriculture July 20-27
State Gardens and Land October 20-27

Nawab Muhammad Sadiq V also continued the Sutlaj Valley project which began in 1921under the Council of Regency (Javaid 2004: 83). The project brought great prosperity to the land of Bahawalpur. The agricultural capacity increased, a proper irrigation system began and a new settlement of barren land into fertile land was started (Javaid 2004: 83).

In addition to revenue, the following were used for irrigation of land:

(a)     With rainfall

The average of the rainfall was 6” in the state. Therefore, this was one of the sources for the irrigation of land. The 1/4th production of land from the south part of the state was blessing of the rain (Tahir 2010: 354).

(b)     With wells

After rainfall and canals, the wells were the second source for the irrigation. The depth of water was 10 to 16 feet down. In 1900, the numerical strength was 12476. In 1903, it arouses to 17220 and finally in 1943, it reached 29003 (Tahir 2010: 355).

(c)     With rivers

It was the third source of irrigation. The river water was the source for fertility of land. Satluj River was the major source for irrigation through canals.

(d)     With lakes (reservoirs)

There were many natural and artificial lakes in the state where water was being restored and these reservoirs served for the irrigation (Tahir 2010: 357).

(e)     With Persian wheel

Another important traditional source that was being copied from the River Neil. This was the Persian wheel that was being fixed on rivers, lakes and canals for providing water to the land (Tahir 2010: 358). This was the cheapest source. It has only consumption of wood for making wheels and popularized in the small territories of south.

Educational Ventures

The Bahawalpur state under the last Nawab focused on the education of the state residents. The education was divided into four categorized:

(a)     Primary

(b)     Middle

(c)     High and;

(d)     College

Table 3: Average/Ratio of registered students in various categories (Tahir 2010: 565-66)

Category Muslim Students Hindu Students Non-State Resident Students

















Besides this normal categorization, state focused on the religious education as well. The religious education was divided into two categories:

(a)     Arabic Schools (Madaris)

(b)     Indigenous Schools (Makatib)

The formal and religious education was the two aspects of state policies towards education. Nawab Sadiq initiated teacher’s training schools, medical education, Islamic education and agricultural and commercial education throughout the state. Nawab established school for the blind which was providing all types of education to the blind children and people.

Judicial System

The judicial system of state has three clear dissections through which it can be studied (Tahir 2010: 751)

a)       Initial Stage (1727-1866)

b)       Middle Stage (1866-1870)

c)       Modern Justice System (1870-1947)

The focus is on the last Nawab’s administrative set of connections under judiciary. The supreme authority in the judicial system was with the Nawab himself. The Cabinet or ministerial council at the centre use to preserve the decisions of the supreme court of the state. The Chief Minister was convener for all the verdicts and against any decision of the court, only three appeals can be entertained. The appeals for death sentence were only presented to Nawab through Chief Minister and judicial secretary. During the last days of state, Nawab constituted a Judicial committee which was given the total right for operating as court in the State. The members of the judicial committee consist of Sheikh Din Muhammad, Diwan Fateh Chand and Maulvi Fazl Hussain (Tahir 2010: 770)

The appointment of judges was made beyond their caste, colour, creed and religion. The judicial system of state was the only department where Muslims and Hindus had equal opportunities for employment. The appointment of judges was made on honorary basis without any regular salary. It was more a matter of steam and respect to be appointed as judge in Bahawalpur. Each appointee must be a law graduate. After the appointment of a judge, he has to undergo a written examination of law. Those who were able to qualify that test were provided permanent service and those who were unable to appear or had any excuse for appearing in an exam were dismissed from the services. The state was divided into two administrative divisions for providing justice to the citizens and this was the personal interest of Nawab that judicial system was much efficient than his predecessors (Tahir 2010: 775).


Objectives of any idea, scheme and reform are always progressive and evolving. The phenomena of administration have same accomplishments. As there is no end to problems of life and state, so the unending series of objectives must be achieved and targeted. The Bahawalpur state was changed from desert to the pastoral life by Nawab Muhammad Sadiq V. The last Nawab altered the discourse of politics, administration, revenue, education and justice system of state through innovative ideas. The history of 228 years by the Abbasi Nawab’s essentially provided the perfect ground for progress and prosperity of the natal citizens of state.

Till its merger in One Unit in 1955, Nawab remembered the problems, issues and wellbeing of the people. Nawab Sadiq educated the ordinary masses and made them leaders of new nation state; Pakistan. The Nawab’s of Bahawalpur developed close ties with the British authorities and nearly 14 treaties were signed by both sides for serving their respective interests and purposes by ensuring full internal sovereignty over the state. Therefore, in a nutshell, Nawab Sadiq V proved himself as an administrator with capacity to rule the people of state with objectives, ideas, and purpose and profound a permanent zeal for serving his nation.  To close, objectives are always visualized at the end of the plan, which work as a solution to the problem, with the help of organized man power and supervision of prompt leadership provides the outcome and Nawab Muhammad Sadiq V was the same example.

Appendix A: The Rulers of Bahawalpur State

  1. Amir Muhammad Mubarik Khan I Abbasi                                           1702-1723
  2. Amir Sadiq Muhammad Khan I Abbasi                                                                1723-1746
  3. Amir Muhammad Bahawal Khan I Abbasi                                          1746-1749
  4. Amir Muhammad Mubarik Khan II Abbasi                                         1749-1772
  5. Amir Muhammad Bahawal Khan II Abbasi                                         1772-1809
  6. Amir Sadiq Muhammad Khan II Abbasi                                                               1809-1825
  7. Amir Muhammad Bahawal Khan III Abbasi                                       1825-1852
  8. Amir Sadiq Muhammad Khan III Abbasi                                             1852-1853
  9. Amir Fateh Khan Abbasi                                                                           1853-1858
  10. Amir Muhammad Bahawal Khan IV Abbasi                                       1858-1866
  11. Amir Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV Abbasi                                        1866-1899
  12. Mudakhalat: The Agency                                                                          1866-1879
  13. Amir Alhaj Muhammad Bahawal Khan V Abbasi                              1899-1907
  14. Amir Alhaj Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan V Abbasi                              1907-1966
  15. The Council of Regency                                                                            1907-1924

Source: Nazeer Ali Shah, Sadiqnamah: The History of Bahawalpur State (Lahore: Maktaba Jadieed, 1959), 38.

Appendix B: States and their dates of Accession to Pakistan

S. No

Name of the State

Name of the Ruler

Date of Accession


Bahawalpur State

Sadiq Muhammad Khan

5th October, 1947


Khairpur State

Ghulam Hussain

9th October, 1947


Swat State

Abdul Wadood

27th November, 1947


Amb State

Muhammad Farid Khan

31st December, 1947


Dir State

Muhammad Shah Jahan

18th February, 1948


Chitral State


18th February, 1948


Lasbella State

Mir Ghulam Qadir Khan

17th March, 1948


Makran State

Bai Khan

17th March, 1948


Kharan State

Muhammad Habibullah Khan

17th March, 1948


Kalat State

Ahmed Yar Khan

31st March, 1948

Source: Riaz Hashmi, Brief For Bahawalpur Province (Karachi, Bahawalpur Subah Mahaz, 1972), 85.


Ali, Shahamet (1848) The History of Bahawalpur. London: James Madden, 8, Leadenhall Street.

Hashmi, Riaz (1972) Brief For Bahawalpur Province. Karachi: Bahawalpur Subah Mahaz.

Irfan-ur-Rehman Raja (n.d.) Administration: Its Theory, History and Practice. Lahore: Catapult Publishers.

Javaid, Umbreen (2004) Politics of Bahawalpur: From State to Region (1947-2000). Lahore: Classic Publishers.

Shah, Nazeer Ali (1959) Sadiqnamah: The History of Bahawalpur State. Lahore: Maktaba Jadeed.

Tahir, Muhammad (2010) Riyasat Bahawalpur Ka Nazm-e-Mumlikat 1866-1947 (Urdu). Multan: Bazm-e-Saqafat.

* Lecturer in History, Department of History, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad (Pakistan)


One thought on “Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan V: An Administrator of Bahawalpur State (Pakistan)”

  1. I greatly respect and honour the earstwhile rulers of Bahawalpur. They did enormous good deeds for Pakistan. I wish the princely state was still independent and was saved from the indiscriminate plundering by civilian burecraucts and corrupt system.

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