Vehari District (Urdu: ضِلع وِہاڑى), is a district in the Punjab province of Pakistan – the city of Vehari is the capital of the district.
The district is located between 29°36′N 71°44′E and 30°22′N 72°53′E and borders with Bahawalnagar and Bahawalpur on the southern side, with Pakpattan on the eastern, with Khanewal and Lodhran on western and with Sahiwal and Khanewal on northern side.
The total area of the district is 4,364 square kilometres (1,685 sq mi). It is about 93 kilometres (58 mi) in length and approximately 47 kilometres (29 mi) in breadth and it is sloping gently from northeast to southwest.
The district consists of plain area with fertile land. It is a part of Indus plain. It has the best cultivated land which is suitable for cotton, wheat and other agricultural crops. Vehari district lies Nili Bar which is between Ravi and Bias and Sutlej rivers. Its land is irrigated with the fertile water of Chenab and Ravi rivers. Vehari District has a big canal system with two canals namely Pakpatan and Mailsi canal. The total number of canals including their minors in the district are 19 with a total length of about 1,380.
Vehari District was agricultural region with forests during the Indus Valley Civilization. The Vedic period is characterized by Indo-Aryan culture that invaded from Central Asia and settled in Punjab region. The Kambojas, Daradas, Kaikayas, Madras, Pauravas, Yaudheyas, Malavas and Kurus invaded, settled and ruled ancient Punjab region. After overunning the Achaemenid Empire in 331 BCE, Alexander marched into present-day Punjab region with an army of 50,000. The Vehari was ruled by Maurya Empire, Indo-Greek kingdom, Kushan Empire, Gupta Empire, White Huns,Kushano-Hephthalites and Shahi kingdoms.
In 997 CE, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, took over the Ghaznavid dynasty empire established by his father, Sultan Sebuktegin, In 1005 he conquered the Shahis in Kabul in 1005, and followed it by the conquests of Punjab region. The Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire ruled the region. The Punjab region became predominantly Muslim due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Punjab region.
After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the Sikh invaded and occupied Vehari District. The Muslims faced severe restrictions during the Sikh rule. During the period of British rule, Vehari district increased in population and importance.
Vehari District is the result of construction of the Pakpattan canal from Sulemanki Head Works on the Sutlej and the institution of Nili Bar colony project in 1925, so called because of the hints of blue in the water of the Sutlej. The ancient history of the district is obscure. The populated areas in ancient times was restricted to the banks of the river Sutlej where seasonal inundation permitted some cultivation. The rest of the area was a vast sandy scrap-land at best affording pastures itinerant herdsmen. The riparian tract formed the state of Fatehpur during the time of Akbar the Great. This was ruled by Fateh Khan of Joya family who founded and gave his name to the town of Fatehpur. Fatehpur is still in existence about 15 kilometres to the south of Mailsi and is the oldest town of Mailsi subdivision. It has some remains of archaeological value.
The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while theMuslim refugees from India settled in the Vehari District.
In May 2002, Vehari District was the scene of a shootout between members of the Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and local Shia villagers. LeJ members had come to a local village to stage an attack on a prominent local Shia, but were met with local armed resistance. In the ensuing shootout, all four LeJ members were killed, including their leader, Riaz Basra.
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