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

Portuguese Relations with Sindh

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

Portuguese Relations with Sindh

Article excerpt

The end of the 15th century and beginning of the 16th witnessed tremendous changes. In Asia it saw the demise of the Timürids in Central Asia, rise of Uzbegs, the foundation of the Safawid dynasty in Iran with its confrontation with the Ottomans in Iraq and the establishment of the Tïmurids (also known as Chaghatä'is or Mughuls) ih South Asia. At the same time far greater changes in the maritime world saw the rise of the future colonial nations. Sindh due to its geo-strategic situation serving as a link between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East was bound to be affected with what was happening in Afghanistan or in the littoral regions of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Ousted by the Uzbegs from their ancestral dominions, remnant of the Timürids led by Bäbur managed to hold a precarious and perilous hold, in the shadow of Uzbeg-Safawid threat in Kabul and Qandahär regions for nearly two decades (1504-1525). Finding Kabul dominions insufficient, he pressurized the Arghüns (Dhül Nun and his son Shäh Beg) governing Qandahär as semi-independent Chiefs on behalf of the Timurid Bä'iqarahs of Herat. Finally the Arghüns surrendered Qandahär to Bäbur and moved out to Shiäl (Quetta) and Sïwï (Sibbi) area. They were already making exploratory raids into Sindh.2

Sindh was being ruled by Jám Firüz, the last of the Sammah rulers (1 508-1 520). A weak ruler, he was facing opposition from other claimants for the throne (like Jam Salâh al-Dïn) and from Mubarak Khan and his sons Mahmud and Miân Matan. It is reported that mother of Jäm Firüz, Madïnah Mächhäni (also Dawlat Rani) invited Shäh Beg Arghün against the stranglehold of Mubarak Khan. The Arghün chiefs threat had forced Mubarak Khan to send his sons with the army towards Siwistän (Sehwan). Shäh Beg was informed about an alternate route to Thatta. Avoiding the main local armies he, helped by some informant, rapidly crossed the Kohistan (present Dadu area), and reached Mughul Mari a fertile land (still extant), two farsakh from Thatta, and camped at the Khänäb Canal just north east of Thatta, crossing of which even by boats was not easy. Facing no opposition, after a few days the Arghüns were able to locate a place for crossing at Hälah Käkar nearly two farsakh between Thatta and the qariyah Hälah.* Mubarak came out with a large army including Mankalüsl (Bengali) elephants. He was defeated, captured and killed (926 H/1520 A.D.). The Arghüns entered the city and the their soldiers, leading a harsh life for nearly two years were allowed to gather ghanîmah to their hearts' content. Shäh Beg, realizing his numerical weakness made peace with Firüz. He was allowed to remain as a vassal at Thatta but had to cede Bhakkar to the Arghüns who made it their capital.4

Jam Salâh ai-Din (s/o Jam Sanjar) whose sister was married to Sultan Muzaffar ? of Gujerat (1511-1525) was claiming the throne of Thatta. Defeated earlier, he again attacked and captured Thatta and besieged Siwistän. Firüz appealed to the Arghüns who controlled Qandahär, Quetta, Sibbi and Bhakkar regions. Salâh al-Din's forces could not capture Siwistän.5 Shäh Beg's son, Shäh Hasan was sent against Salâh al-Dïn. He crossed into Chächkän and defeated Salâh al-Din at Ahari Hälah. Salâh al-Dïn, his son and commander Häji Wazïr were killed. Firüz was restored in Thatta.6 Chächkän or eastern Sindh bordering Gujerat remained disturbed and caused subsequent troubles leading to a confrontation with the Portuguese.

Shäh Beg's sudden death (1528) at Bhakkar, perhaps, led Jam Firüz to show signs of independence, neither attending the coronation of Shäh Hasan nor sending any representative or gifts. For these reasons Shäh Hasan moved on Thatta. Jäm Firüz, now facing reprisals sent Miän Hamid and Qädi Häji. The last named persuaded the Arghün Chief to remove Firüz. As Shäh Hasan approached, Firüz move out to Pir Patho but was defeated and fled towards eastern Sindh.7 He was able to get the support of 'Umar 'Umaräni, the Järejah chief of Cutch, who assembled a force of. …

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