Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Foundations of Talpur Power in Sindh

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Foundations of Talpur Power in Sindh

Article excerpt

The Talpurs ruled Sindh for more than sixty years, beginning from 1782 A.D. to February 1843 when Sindh was forcibly occupied by the British. The colonial rulers, as everywhere else, painted a dark picture of their predecessors: during more than one hundred years (1843-1947 A.D.) of their occupation of Sindh, they in their writings and record tarnished the image of the Talpurs. The same colonial record of the British period has been subsequently used as source material for writing the history of the pre-British eras, to discredit all that was native, including the Talpurs and their rule in Sindh. An objective and authentic history of the Talpur period based on the more reliable local sources is yet to be written.

The Talpur rule in Sindh was unique in many ways. They not only recovered the parts of Sindh which were alienated by their predecessors, but further extended their borders all around. A council of four sovereigns, ruled from Hyderabad and they together with two other collateral sovereigns, the one from Khairpur and the other from Mirpür, became the supreme consultative council to take united decisions and act together in time of external aggression. They governed by consent, and everywhere the local community consensus (räjan ja faisald) became the decisive factor. They extended agriculture and advanced trade and commerce by land and sea. They conserved resources and created a network of irrigation canals surpassing the previous record. They constructed a long line of forts and fortresses and made borders safe and secure. The main interior fort of Runnikot was constructed on such a grand scale that, even as it stands today, it is a symbol of Sindh's power and prosperity during the Talpur rule. Kot Diji was another fort unique in construction with its ramparts resting along a winding ridge line of a high hill, a marvel of military architecture. Talpurs held the learned in high esteem, valued education and promoted educational establishments. Most of the sovereign Mirs were highly educated, some of them authors and poets of repute. They established their library collections and fondly aquired manuscripts of great value.1 Their rule heralded an era of peace and prosperity, and of cultural development.

All this is writ large in the record, the books and other materials and monuments of the period, and all this was known to the British colonial administrators as can be gleaned from their occasional observations and inadvertent confessions in their reports and writings. And yet they decided to blame and descredit the native and the vanquished. An example may be cited of the views expressed by the learned Dr. H. T. Sorely who was known to be fair minded amongst the colonial bureaucrats. Writing in the Gazetteer of Sindh in 1954, long after the eclipse of the Talpurs, while he pays compliments to them occasionally he discredits them more frequently. After complimenting that in 1795 the Talpurs recovered Karachi from the Khan of Kalat, in 1813 they wrested Umarkot from Jodhpur, and in 1 804 took back Shikarpur from the Afghans, he further said:

By the possession of "Shikarpur and Sukkur and the neighbouring territory, the Mirs completed their design of making Sindh one single unit under their control. Thereafter they maintained their authority in a manner which Sindh had not known for centuries".2

And yet he continues to refer to the 'Baloch-Sindhi' differential, even though it was created by the colonial rulers to divide the hitherto integrated Sindhian society for strengthening their own hold on the country. According to Sorely, the Talpurs being Baloches they can hardly be called "indigenous Sindhis" though he recognized that the Baloches were "settled in Sindh for centuries" (p. 171). Also according to him, the Talpurs being Baloches they had destroyed "the Sindhi ruling family" of the Kalhoras (p. 166), even though he confirmed that both the Kalhoras and the Talpurs were "Sera 'is, belonging to the upper part of the country" (p. …

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