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The reality of Talpur rule

March 05, 2009

THIS is apropos of Manzoor H. Kureshi's letter, 'Research on Hur Movement” . The writer's bracketing Talpurs in the same category of aliens as the British is not only historically incorrect but also an injustice to those who gave Sindh peace and prosperity.

The Talpurs, sons of Mir Sulaiman Kako Talpur, arrived in Sindh circa 1680. Mir Fateh Ali Khan, the first Talpur ruler, was the fourth generation Talpur in Sindh. Certainly Talpurs were a lot less alien than the Arabs, Arghuns and, of course, those who came after 1947 to rule here.

Mir Shahdad Khan Talpur, great grandfather of the first Talpur ruler, was an influential nobleman long before the Talpur rule began. In a Sanad issued under the seal of Mir Muhammad Mahdi, the revenue commissioner, under the seal of Mughal governor of Thatta Ahmadyar Khan on 19th Rajab 1116 AH (1704), he was addressed as 'his eminence', i.e. 'raf'at panah', and granted remission of land revenue arrears to him.

He established Shahdadpur circa 1713 after having had the 'Marik Wah', a natural inundation canal dug all the way from Sakrand to Rokun Bur'ra' in Sanghar, making that entire area cultivable.

Moreover, numerous canals, which still carry their names, were dug during the Talpur rule and belie the claim that they did nothing for agriculture or people of Sindh. I advise Mr Kureshi to read the paper, 'Foundations of Talpur Power in Sindh', presented by historian Dr N.A. Baloch at Pakistan History Conference, Golden Jubilee Session, Oct 20-22, 2001 at Hakim Mohammad Said Memorial Lecture.

Mr Kureshi says that “the Talpurs turned Sindh as their personal fief which they divided into various branches of their families.”

Dividing a large territory into administrative divisions was a necessity which led to peace and tranquillity. The Talpurs, unlike the Mughals and Kalhoras, were not addicted to fratricide or brutality.

The Kalhoras were plagued by internal dissensions and faced 81 uprisings in their 82 years of rule while Talpurs only two in their 60 years of rule.

He also says “Almost all fertile lands were either converted into royal hunting meadows or doled out to loyal clans serving in the state army.” What would he say about the present-day DHAs and cantonments? Distributing lands to those serving the state then was an established custom in the East.

He says “The Talpurs were a Baloch tribe from Balochistan, soldiering in the native Kalhoras' armed forces,” implying that Talpurs were mercenaries which they were not.

He adds that they overthrew their masters without even bothering to mention the successive brutal assassinations of Talpur leaders beginning with Mir Bahram and his son Mir Sobdar Khan (father of Mir Fateh Ali) in 1775, of Mir Bijar Khan, son of Mir Bahram Khan in 1781 and then of Mir Abdullah, son of Mir Bijar, and Mir Fateh Khan, son of Mir Tharra Khan of Mirpur in 1783, which proved to be the last straw leading to the battle of Halani, forcing them to put an end to the Kalhora rule.

The Talpurs wrested Karachi from Khan of Kalat in 1795, Shikarpur from Afghans in 1804 and Umarkot from Jodhpur in 1813. Even a biased historian like Dr H. T. Sorely says “By the possession of Shikarpur and Sukkur and the neighboring 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.”

Mr Kureshi like many other misinformed historians attributes “even developing the alphabet of the modern Sindhi language” to Bartle Frere. How were books being written before that?

I have a Sindhi manuscript dated 1190 AH. The alphabet used in it varies only a little from the one used today. I send along with letter the alphabet used in that 1190 AH manuscript. In fact, it was found in it. Minor changes do not amount to development.

It would be of interest to readers that Talpurs were patrons of arts and literature. Mir Fateh Ali, Mir Karam Ali, Mir Murad Ali, Mir Sobdar, Mir Naseer Khan and others were poets who wrote in Persian as well as in Urdu. Dr Safia Bano in her treatise, 'Ameeran Talpur — Siyasi aur Adabi Tareekh', has given the details.

I hope these facts will help in clearing up the misconceptions and misinformation about the Talpur rule.

MIR MOHAMMAD ALI TALPUR

Tando Mir Mahmood