History of Sindh

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Sindh (Sind) (Sindhi: سنڌ, Urdu: سندھ, Hindi: सिन्ध) is one of the provinces of Pakistan. Sindh had one of the world's oldest civilizations, the Indus Valley civilization.

Historical eras

Ancient era

Sindh has been known by various names in the past, the name Sindh comes from the Indo-Aryans whose legends claimed that the Indus River flowed from the mouth of a lion or Sinh-ka-bab. In Sanskrit, the province was dubbed Sindhu meaning an ocean. The Assyrians (as early as the seventh century BCE) knew the region as Sinda, the Persians Abisind, the Greeks Sinthus, the Romans Sindus, the Chinese Sintow, while the Arabs dubbed it Sind. Also, in ancient times, the territory of the modern Sindh province was sometimes known as Sovira (or Souveera) and also as Sindhudesh, Sindhu being the original name for Indus river and the suffix 'desh' roughly corresponding to country or territory.

The first known village settlements date as far back as 7000 BCE. Permanent settlements at Mehrgarh to the west expanded into Sindh. The original inhabitants of ancient Sindh, and other regions of the Indian Subcontinent, were the aborigine tribes speaking languages related to Munda languages. The Dravidians migrated from the Iranian plateau and settled in the Indus valley around 4000 BCE. The Dravidian culture blossomed over the centuries and gave rise to the Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 BCE. The Indus Valley Civilization rivalled the contemporary civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in both size and scope numbering nearly half a million inhabitants at its height with well-planned grid cities and sewer systems. Speculation remains as to how and why the civilization declined and may have been a combination of natural disasters such as flooding and internecine conflicts. The Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of what is today Pakistan and Northwestern India, but suddenly went into decline just prior to the rise of Indo-Iranians. A branch of these tribes called the Indo-Aryans are believed to have founded the Vedic Civilization that have existed between Sarasvati River and Ganges river around 1500 BCE. This civilization helped shape subsequent cultures in the Indian subcontinent.

Sindh was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BCE, and became part of the Persian satrapy (province) of Hindush centred in the Punjab to the north. Persian speech had a tendency to replace 'S' with an 'H' resulting in 'Sindu' being pronounced and written as 'Hindu'. They introduced the Kharoshti script and links to the west in the region. Subsequently conquered by Greeks led by Alexander the Great, the region came under loose Greek control for a few decades until Alexander's death and brief Seleucid rule and then was conquered by the Mauryans led by Chandragupta in 305 BCE. Later, during the reign of the Buddhist king Ashoka the region would solidly become a Buddhist domain. Following a century of Mauryan rule which ended by 232 BCE, the region came under the Greco-Bactrians based in what is today Afghanistan and these rulers would also convert to and proliferate Buddhism in the region. The Buddhist city of Siraj-ji-Takri is located along the western limestone terraces of the Rohri Hills in the Khairpur district of Upper Sindh, along the road that leads to Sorah. Its ruins are still visible on the top of three different mesas, in the form of stone and mud-brick walls and small mounds, whilst other architectural remains were observed along the slopes of the hills in the 1980s. This city is not mentioned from any text dealing with the history of the Buddhist period of Sindh.

The Scythians shattered the Greco-Bactrians fledgling empire and then the Tocharian Kushan Empire annexed Sindh by the 1st century CE. The Kushans under Kanishka adopted Buddhism and sponsored many building projects for local beliefs. The Kushan Empire was defeated in the mid 3rd century AD by the Sassanid Empire of Persia, who installed vassals known as the Kushanshahs in these far eastern territories. These rulers were defeated by the Kidarites in the late 4th century. It then came under the Gupta Empire after dealing with the Kidarites. By the late 5th century, attacks by Hephthalite tribes known as the Indo-Hephthalites or Hunas (Huns) broke through the Gupta Empire's northwestern borders and overran much of northwestern India. Concurrently, Ror dynasty ruled parts of the region for several centuries. Afterwards, Sindh came under the rule of Emperor Harshavardhan, then the Rai Dynasty around 478. The Rais were overthrown by Chachar of Alor around 632. The Brahman dynasty ruled a vast territory that stretched from Multan in the north to the Rann of Kutch, Alor was their capital.

Medieval era

The book Chach Nama chronicles the Chacha Dynasty's period, following the demise of the Rai Dynasty and the ascent of Chach of Alor to the throne, down to the Arab conquest by Muhammad bin Qasim in the early 8th century AD, by defeating the last Hindu monarch of Sindh, Raja Dahir.

Conquered by Syrian Arabs led by Muhammad bin Qasim, Sindh became the easternmost province of the Umayyad Caliphate. The Arab province of Sindh is modern Pakistan. While the lands of modern India further east were known to the Arabs as Hind. The defeat of the Brahmin ruler Dahir was made easier due to the tension between the Buddhist majority and the ruling Brahmins' fragile base of control. The Arabs redefined the region and adopted the term budd to refer to the numerous Buddhist idols they encountered, a word that remains in use today. The city of Mansura was established as a regional capital and Arab rule lasted for nearly 3 centuries and a fusion of cultures produced much of what is today modern Sindhi society. Arab geographers, historians and travellers also sometimes called the entire area from the Arabian Sea to the Hindu Kush, Sindh. The meaning of the word Sindhu being water (or ocean) appears to refer to the Indus river. In addition, there is a mythological belief among Muslims that four rivers had sprung from Heaven: Neel (Nile), Furat (Euphrates), Jehoon (Jaxartes) and Sehoon (Sind or in modern times the Indus).

Arab rule ended with the ascension of the indigenous Soomro dynasty. Later, in the mid-13th century the Soomros were replaced by the Muslim Rajput Samma dynasty.[citation needed]

Turkic invaders sent expeditions to the area from the 9th century; and part of the region loosely became part of the Ghaznavid Empire and then the Delhi Sultanate which lasted until 1524. The Mughals seized the region and their rule lasted for another two centuries, while the local Sindhi Muslim Rajput tribe, the Samma, challenged Mughal rule from their base at Thatta. The Muslim Sufi played a pivotal role in converting the millions of native people to Islam. Sindh, though part of larger empires, continued to enjoy certain autonomy as a loyal Muslim domain and came under the rule of the Arghun Dynasty and Turkhan or Tarkhan dynasty from 1519 to 1625. Sind became a vassal-state of the Afghan Durrani Empire by 1747. It was then ruled by Kalhora rulers and later the Baluchi Talpurs [1] from 1783.

Colonial era

The British conquered Sindh in 1843. General Charles Napier is said to have reported victory to the Governor General with a one-word telegram, namely "Peccavi" – or "I have sinned" (Latin). In fact, this pun first appeared as a cartoon in Punch magazine.

The first Aga Khan helped the British in the conquest of Sindh and was granted a pension as a result. Sind was made part of British India's Bombay Presidency, and became a separate province in 1936.[2] The British ruled the area for a century and Sindh was home to many prominent Muslim leaders including Muhammad Ali Jinnah who agitated for greater Muslim autonomy.

Following World War II, Britain withdrew from British India and Sindh voted to join Pakistan in 1947 during partition as the largely Hindu educated elites were replaced by Muslim immigrants from India. Later local Sindhis have resented the influx of Pashtun and Punjabi immigrants to Karachi. Nonetheless, traditional Sindhi families remain prominent in Pakistani politics, especially the Bhutto dynasty. In recent years Sindhi dissatisfaction has grown over issues such as the construction of large dams, perceived discrimination in military/government jobs, provincial autonomy, and overall revenue shares.

All India Muslim League branch in Sindh was established by Ghulam Muhammad Bhurgari in 1918. All India Muslim League and Congress party of Sindh held their annual sessions at the same place simultaneously and passed similar resolution. Abdullah Haroon, who joined it in 1918 was elected the president of the province at Muslim League in 1920.

References

  1. ^ Unofficial website on the Talpurs, retrieved 2006-03-04
  2. ^ Sindh Government history page, retrieved 2006-12-02