Khairpur: Believe it or not, the residents of Khairpur were once lucky enough to get basic needs free of cost and at their doorsteps and were earning four times more than the others across Pakistan. It was the rule of royal Talpurs, who endeavoured hard to keep their people happy and prosperous.
Everything came to an abrupt end when the government of Pakistan revoked the status of Khairpur state in 1955. The last heir of royal Talpur family of Khairpur state, Mir Mehdi Raza Talpur, says that Talpurs have ruled Sindh from 1783 to 1955.
“When my ancestors were in power, they worked tirelessly and made sincere efforts to provide every possible facility to their people,” said the prince.
“Under their rule, the people of Sindh led a prosperous life compared to those in the rest of the sub-continent.” It was the ruler’s prime responsibility to provide their people with even the basic necessities.
The Talpurs started ruling Sindh after defeating Kalhoro rulers back in 1783. The first Talpur ruler was Mir Sohrab Khan Talpur, followed by Mir Rustam Khan Talpur, Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur, Mir Faiz Mohammad Khan Talpur, Mir Iman Bux Khan Talpur, Mir Ali Nawaz Khan (Naz) Talpur, Mir Faiz Mohammad Khan-II Talpur and His Highness Mir Ali Murad Khan-II Talpur, who have two sons Mir Abbas Raza Khan Talpur and Mir Mehdi Raza Khan Talpur. According to Prince Mehdi Raza Talpur, his ancestors were pro-education and literature and therefore providing education to the underprivileged was their first priority. Being an industrial state, Khairpur was blessed with enormous resources, which were spent on the people, he told.
Prince Mir says Khairpur was the first state with its own industrial zone, which had around 52 industrial units.
“The industrial zone played a vital role in not just providing people with employment opportunities within the state but also provided resources for structural development,” he said. “They [Prince Mir’s ancestors] planned to set up eight more industrial zones in the state but time didn’t allow them to do so. Education, according to the prince, was something the Talpur family was very strict about. They wanted to make sure that every boy and girl in the state had basic education. They established a large network of schools from primary to higher secondary throughout the state.”
Talpurs were so dedicated towards education that the parents who refused to send their children to school, were kept behind bars till they agreed to send their children to school.
“Interestingly, parents had to pay fine, if their children fail to show up in the school without any concrete reason,” he added.
Those coming from other parts of Sindh to seek education were provided free lodging and boarding irrespective of their family status, he informed.
Interestingly, right after Partition, the prince claimed that the government of Pakistan was allocating only one per cent of the budget on education, while the Talpurs were, however, spending more than 22 per cent of their budget on education and health unlike the Pakistani government. Giving an example of how the state used to deal tuberculosis (TB) in the state, the Prince says, “The disease was thought to be fatal at the time, so the state of Khairpur not only provided free medical care to people suffering from TB but also granted them a stipend of Rs30 per month.”
This was not all. Every resident of Khairpur was eligible for free medical care; even animals were treated free of charge at veterinary hospitals.
“You can imagine the prosperity of the state with the example that, at that time, per capita income of the people of Khairpur was Rs67 as compared to Rs20 in the rest of the country,” says the prince.
Prince Mehdi Raza Talpur takes special pride while narrating the story of his ancestors and their state and says that Khairpur was the first state in undivided India that had established air-conditioned textile mills, besides importing air-conditioned buses for its people from the United Kingdom. “The Talpurs were the first to get a resolution approved to establish a university for Muslims in India,” he said. Prince said for their love of education the Talpurs, besides establishing many primary and secondary schools, also constructed the Sindh Madrassatul Islam (Now Sindh Madrassatul Islam University) and took care of the staff’s salary and other expenses.” He added that his forefathers had taken on a mission to provide basic rights and services to all their subjects.
According to Prince Mir Mehdi, his ancestors and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had made an agreement on October 3, 1947 and it was agreed that the state of Khairpur would cooperate with the Government of Pakistan in defence, communications and foreign affairs. It was also agreed that changes in the country’s constitution would not affect the status or state of Khairpur. After that agreement my ancestors agreed to surrender 16,000 square-km to Pakistan.
“Unfortunately, after Jinnah’s death things started to change,” said the prince. “The state’s status changed and it was snatched by the government in 1955.”
He added that this was how the state lost its independence and prosperity.
One can only remember those days.