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Old Friday, April 18, 2008
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Post Ethnicity and Provincialism in Pakistan

Ethnicity and Provincialism in Pakistan


Ethnocentrism is wrong, but what is worse is denial of ethnic identity/differences. As different ethnic groups, we have more than enough commonality to be a strong nation. Differences between sub-cultures/ethnicities exists in most countries, but what holds a nation together is basic cultural, linguistic, religious, historical, and/or geographic commonalities. We should accept and respect our ethnic differences, after all Pakistan is a federation of such, and be united as a nation based on our commonality in being linguistically/culturally Indo-Iranian, racially mostly Caucasian, geographically based on Indus Valley, having a common history, and following the religion/culture of Islam. All of these common factors among the different Pakistani ethnic groups makes them close to each other, yet very different from the Indians. These common factors defines the Pakistani nationhood, not just religion as many Pakistanis are made to believe in.

The present-day provincial setup of Pakistan has its origins from the British era. The British rulers drew boundaries of provinces not based on ethnic demographics, but the politics of that era for their interersts. As has always been the case, the ethnic demographics have also evolved since 1947. In reality, the current provincial setup of Pakistan is artificial. The large southern region of "Punjab" is Seraiki, its southwest is Baluchi, and northwest Hindkowi. The huge northeast part of "NWFP" is Hindkowi, and the north is Khowari/Shina/etc. Almost half of "Baluchistan" is Pakhtun (northern part), with pockets of Brauhis the central region and Jats/etc. in the southeast. Almost half of "Sindh" is Urdu-speaking (urban areas). Not to mention the countless Afghan, Central Asian, Iranian, Bengalee, etc. refugees, and inter-ethnic migrations in various parts of the country. Though outdated and slightly flawed, here is an article of interest on this subject by Ahmed Abdalla published in 1973:

For the last few years the question of Pakistan's "nationalities" is being debated, propagated, supported and contested at various levels and in different quarters. Unfortunately, in these lively discourses some basic issues have been ignored. We shall make an attempt here to discuss and analyse two most salient aspects of the problem.

Firstly, are the nationalities, so often spoken of , located in clearly demarcated and distinct areas to division on regional basis?

Secondly, have the nationalities, whatever regions they are living in, settled down permanently or, is the population pattern still fluid and changing, yet to assume a final shape and a stable character?

Let us address ourselves to the first question province-wise:

NWFP


The province known as NWFP has an area of 39,283 sq. miles with a population of one crore ten lacs. Its most populous district called Hazara on the eastern bank of river Indus is inhabited, from Manshera downward, by non-Pakhtuns, mostly Gujjars and Hindko speaking Pathans of mixed blood. In the regions west of river Indus starting from the north, the people of the (former) state of Chitral are non-Pakhtuns belonging to the racial stock of Chinese Turkestan akin to the people of Gilgit, Skardu, Hunza, Yasin and Nagar.

Next, the majority of the people of the province’s biggest city, peshawar, belong to various Iranian and Central Asian stocks and are not Pakhtuns. In the southern region, half the people od D.I. Khan district are, again, non-Pakhtuns mostly Awans, Jats, Rajputs and Baluchis.

In this context how would an advocate of four nationalities determine the exact boundaries of Pakhtunistan which, if scrupulously adhered to on racial and linguistic considerations, may shrink to very unpalatable proportions. This
population complex also Explains the limited success in NWFP of Wali Khan (a protagonist of Pakhtunistan) in the general elections of December 1970.


BALUCHISTAN


The province called Baluchistan has an area of 134,000 sq. miles with a population of about 24 lacs. Of the ten districts of Baluchistan province, three districts viz Quetta-Pishin, Zhob and Loralai are overwhelmingly Pathan; two districts viz Kachchi and Lasbela are inhabited by Rajputs, Jats and their allied tribes while the remaining five viz Sibi, Chagi,Kalat, Mahran and Kharan are largely Brohi-Baluchi. Even in some of the tehsils of these five districts non-Baluchis are in majority. For instance, Sharigh Tehsil ( Harnai ) of Sibi distric has a fairly large percentage of Pathans. Population-wise about seven lacs are Pathans; over four lac Rajputs and Jats and about one lac Punjabis, Muhajirs and Gilgiti labour taking the total of non-Baluchis to 12 lacs leaving only 12 lac Baluchi and Brohi tribes in a population of 24 lacs. In this state of affairs how much area and what percentage of population of Baluchistan will accrue to a province based on Baluchi-Brohi nationality? Out of ten districts they will, at best, get five.

If the Baluchis/Brohis seriously think of having particular areas of Baluchistan marked on the basis of nationality, they may indeed come to grief.

SIND


Sind has an area of over 54,000 sq. miles and a population of one crore 40 lacs. Of this about 55 lacs are Muhajars, Pathans and Punjabis. Of the remaining 85 lacs, about 25 lacs are of Baluchi/Brohi origin ( Sindhi-speaking
), leaving barely 60 lac old Sindhis in a total of 140 lacs.

Most of the regions west of Indus from Jacobabad to Dadu are inhabited by Baluchi and Brohi tribes since long before partition. After partition the population pattern of the province has drastically and basically altered due to the influx of refugees from India and immigrants from other provinces of Pakistan. These refugees and immigrants, are of different origins. Any
attempt to re-demarcate the boundaries of the province of Sind on the basis of nationality may diminish the size of the Sindhi nationality province to a disagreeable size.

PUNJAB


Punjab has an area of 79,542 sq. miles with a population of 3 crores 75 lacs. It may be pointed out that the present boundaries of Punjab were determined by the British more on the basis of political considerations than on racial or cultural grounds. For instance, the D. G. Khan and Muzaffargarh districts are overwhelmingly Baluchi, while Multan and Bahawalpur have, all through history, had closer affinities with Sind than with Punjab. Multan was the capital of Sind for a long time so much so that in western India Sindhis were usually called Multanis.

Even today the spiritual home of the Sindhis is the tomb of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria in Multan. Sindhis have such great veneration for this Saint that they make it a point to visit his Mazar by walking bare-footed. If the Punjabis think of basing their provincial boundaries on nationality, they may not be able to retain all the areas that today constitute Punjab.

In view of this background, if the four nationalities concept is accepted, it would become essential and unavoidable to re-demarcate the present provincial boundaries which have neither racial nor linguistic basis. In case of re-demarcation of provincial boundaries major portions of Hazara and D. I. Khan districts of NWFP will go to Punjab; whole of D. G. Khan and part of Muzaffargarh districts of the Punjab will go to Baluchistan; Three districts of Baluchistan will go to NWFP and two to Sind while Jacobabad and parts of a few districts of Sind west of Indus will go to Baluchistan.

If this exercise is resorted to, two problems will crop up: Firstly, several sub-nationalities with strong historical claims will put up their own demands for separate provinces which would be difficult to refuse. Whatever the claims and pretensions of four nationalities, the rights and merits of the sub-nationalities are much more strong and have a more cogent and powerful
historical backing. As such, further vivisection will become inevitable.

What is more important is that there is hardly an instance of these so-called nationalities having a separate, distinct existence in history, Pakhtuns have never presented a united front. Khushal Khan Khattak bemoans this weakness of the Pakhtuns throughout his poetry and hurls the most bitter invectives on them for their failure to forge unity. In fact the most outstanding aspect of the Pakhtun history has been their refusal to act as one nation or nationality.

As regards Baluchistan, its entire history is replete with struggles, wars and rivalries between Baluchi and Brohi tribes not to speak of intertribal conflicts among Baluchis and Brohis themselves. Northern Punjab being the route of the invading armies from Central Asia into Gangetic valley, never had any opportunity to have separate nationality.

As for Sind, it has been expanding and shrinking in size depending upon both internal and external situations, particularly on the conditions prevailing in Iran, Central Asia and India. At one time it embraced the whole of the present-day Pakistan, plus vast portions of Rajputana in the east and Qandharin the west. And at another it was confined only of lower Sind with Thatta as its capital. In this process it has been absorbing and shedding the nationalities living to its north, east and west.

Moreover, even if it is decided to re-demarcate the present provincial boundaries on the basis of nationalities, will the people living in one province for generations agree to become part of another? Will the Sindhi- speaking and Punjabi-speaking Baluchis, playing such important role in the politics of the provinces of their adoption, consent to join Baluchistan? Similarly, would the non-Pushtu-speaking people of D.I. Khan and Hazara wish to be absorbed by Punjab? Same applies to Quetta Division, Lasbela, Kachchi, etc., etc.

Adoption of four nationalities basis and consequent re-drawing of boundaries will necessitate holding of referendum in various regions of each province. The result of such a referendum is anybody’s guess. Instead of solving the problem it will open up a pandora’s box and lead to further vivisection.

For instance, once the four nationalities get their provinces strictly on the basis of regrouping of nationalities, further rivalries inherent in those nationalities will come up to surface. Clash between Baluchi-Brohi groups in Baluchistan, between northern-southern Pathans in Pakhtunistan, between Punjabis-Seraikis in Punjab and between Sindhis-Muhajirs in Sind, will become
inevitable. On what basis will the protagonists of four nationalities theory deny the sub-nationalities their right to have separate status when the latter have both history and language to back their stand.

Another important factor in this context cannot be overlooked. Each one of the present provinces is multi-lingual. Pushtu, Hindko and Punjabi are the major languages spoken in the NWFP; Punjabi, Seraiki, Urdu and Baluchi in the Punjab; Baluchi, Brohi , Lasi, Kurd and Pushtu in Baluchistan; Sindhi, Urdu and Baluchi in Sind.

PROBLEM OF MIGRATION


Next we shall discuss the second factor relating to the concept of nationality which is as important as the previous one. Unlike India where people are living a settled life in clearly demarcated regions based on various languages in vogue there, the conditions in Pakistan are quite different, its population being yet in a fluid state.

Large groups of people living in all the four provinces are still mobile, constantly migrating from one province to another. There has been a regularflow of Pathans and Baluchis into the Punjab and Sind which continues even today. Lakhs of Pathans are employed in Karachi and other industrial cities of Sind and Punjab such as Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Multan, Lyallpur, Daudkhel, Rawalpindi, etc. Similarly, the flow of Baluch tribes into Sind has not yet stopped.

The people of Punjab are also flowing out in small numbers into Sind, Baluchistan and NWFP. They have either acquired lands or doing business in other provinces.

Baluchistan and NWFP, in turn, are not free from influx from further west—there being a constant flow of Powindas and others from Afghanistan.

It is generally believed that the Powindas go back after winter season. But this is not so; several of them remain behind. It would be of interest to note that many of our distinguished personalities are Powindas and recent immigrants from Iran and Afghanistan. Maulana Mufti Mahmud, a leader of Jamiat-ul-ulamai Islam comes from the Naaser tribe of Powindas. Gandapurs of D. I. Khan are Powindas. From his mother’s side, Mr. Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, a leader of National Awmi Party is an Iranian Powinda. Some of his maternal relations are still in Iran. General Mohammad Musa, former C-in-C of the Pakistan Army belong to the Hazara tribe of Afghanistan; his father had migrated from Afghanistan and settled in Quetta. General Yahya Khan, former President of Pakistan is a Qizilbash from northern Iran whose family had settled in Peshawar.

That the process of the settlement of Powinda families has not yet stopped in NWFP and Baluchistan is proved by the fact that in 1972 the NAP Government of Baluchistan put restrictions on their permanent settlement in the Quetta Division. This measure was strongly resented by the Pakhtoon leader, Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai on the ground that it was aimed at the Pakhtun elements of Baluchistan's population.

A special personality who deserves mention in this context is the First Lady of Pakistan, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, wife of President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. She is a 'Kurd' from Kirmanshah in Iran and belongs to the tribe which produced the illustrious Muslim general and monarch Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi. Pakistan is indeed fortunate to have its first lady from the kith and kin of a soldier of whom the entire Muslim world is proud.

There are many other groups and individuals in Pakistan who have recently arrived from Iran and Afghanistan and the process continues.

In this fluid situation, would the protagonists of four nationalities theory agree to have the provincial boundaries re-demarcated, with resulting restrictions on the flow of population from one province to another? It would not only be impractical but outrageous and harmful to each one of the so-called nationalities, spelling their economic ruin.

With the process of migration still in progress and the final population pattern yet to take definite shape and form; with the so-called nationalities inter-mingled with each other in every province; and with each nationality carrying within its fold district sub-nationalities. It has neither historical background nor geographical roots nor racial or linguistic basis. The idea is irrational, illogical and anomalous. Its implementation would be politically tragic and economically disastrous for all the four.

Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world whose provincial boundaries cannot be demarcated on the basis of nationalities because of the intermingling of various racial and linguistic groups with each other. In fact nationalities in the true sense of the word do not exist in Pakistan in clearly demarcated areas as they do in India, USSR, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Canada, etc.

From Karakoram to Karachi, Pakistan is a solid land mass with distinct geographical boundaries; inhabited by people of same racial stock, having a common history, heritage, dress and diet; pursuing the same religion, with Urdu understood by all and regional languages having a common script. Very few nations in the world possess such strong uniting factors as the people of
Pakistan. Centrifugal and separatist tendencies that are at present being highlighted by outside powers in collaboration with a few so-called leaders, have hardly any roots in the masses.

The people of Pakistan, irrespective of the province they belong to, think and act alike. Separatist tendencies have not even touched them; they are simple, religious-minded, hard-working innocent folk. They regard themselves firstly Muslims, secondly, Pakistanis and thirdly, their allegiance is to the tribe they belong to. Four nationalities concept does not form part of their thought-pattern.
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  #32  
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Post Qutb-ud-din Aibak [1150-1210] Slave Dynasty

Qutb-ud-din Aibak
[1150-1210]

Born to a Central Asia Turk family, Qutb-ud-din Aibak was captured and sold as a slave when he was a child. He was lucky to be purchased by the chief Qazi of Nishapur, who treated him like one of his own sons. Aibak received good education and was trained in the field of archery and horsemanship. However, when the master died, his sons, who were jealous of Aibak, sold him to a slave merchant. Fortune once again favored him and Muhammad Ghuri bought him.

Out of Ghuri's thousands of slaves, Aibak, because of his character and qualities, became one of his master's favorite. Aibak steadily rose through the ranks and eventually became a General. Like his owner Ghuri, Aibak performed his greatest deeds while still a subordinate. He was responsible for most of the conquests of Northern India and was appointed as Ghuri's Viceroy to Delhi. When Ghuri died in 1206, the Turkish Amirs and Generals elected Aibak as the new Sultan. It was he who shifted the capital first from Ghazni to Lahore, and then from Lahore to Delhi, and thus is considered as the first Muslim ruler of South Asia.

Aibak could not rule for long and died in 1210 after falling from a horse while playing polo. He is buried near the Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore, where a new tomb was constructed over his grave around 1970. Though his tenure as a ruler was only four years, and most of them were spend in dealing with the revolts of nobles like Taj-ud-din Ildiz, Nasir-ud-din Qubachah and a few Hindu chiefs, yet he established a firm administrative system. He restored peace and prosperity in the area under him and roads were free from thieves and robbers. He started the construction of Quwaat-al-Islam Mosque at Delhi. He also laid the foundation of the Qutb Minar, which was completed by his successor Iltutmush. Aibak was known as Lakh Baksh because of his generosity. He was also a pious Muslim. Historians have praised his evenhanded justice. He patronized Nizami and Fakh-i-Mudabbir, both of whom dedicated their works to Aibak.

His successors, who ruled India till 1290, were also slaves like him and the dynasty is known as the Slave Dynasty.
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Post Shams-ud-din Iltutmush [1180-1236] Sultanate of Delhi.

Shams-ud-din Iltutmush
[1180-1236]

Iltutmush belonged to a noble family of the Ilbari Turks. His brothers became jealous of his intelligence and good looks and sold him to a slave dealer. After being sold and purchased a few times, he was bought by Sadr Jahn, the Qazi of Bukhara. It was there that he got good training and education. Later he was brought to Delhi where Aibak purchased him. Aibak, who realized the young slave's potential, treated him with kindness and appointed him as Sar-Jandar (Chief of Guards). Due to his hard work, he was first promoted as Amir-i-Shikar and then was promoted to the position of Amir of Gwalior. He also remained in-charge of the Bada'um. Aibak married his daughter to Iltutmush. When Aibak's son, Aram Shah, proved incompetent, the Turkish nobles chose Iltutmush as Sultan.

Iltutmush was a sensible and competent ruler. He welcomed the scholars, administrators and generals who had to leave their countries due to the Mongol invasions, and with their help he established a sound administration. He was a deeply religious man and had great respect for the saints. Qutb-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki was a famous saint of his period. Men like Fakh-i-Mudabbir and Minhaj-i-Siraj are considered as great historians of his time, while Taj-ul-Mulk earned great fame in the field of poetry. Iltutmush completed the construction of the Qutb Minar, which had been started by Aibak. He also constructed a mosque at Ajmer that is considered a masterpiece of architecture.

He was the first Muslim ruler of South Asia who introduced Arabic coinage and issued silver, the Tankah. He received a deed of investiture from the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad, Mustansir Billah, in 1229. This increased his prestige. Iltutmush was a great monarch. He created a stable empire out of the newly conquered territories and protected it from internal opposition and external attacks. Nasir-ud-din Qubachah, one of the nobles of Ghuri, refused to recognize Iltutmush as Sultan and declared his independence. He occupied Uch, Multan and Lahore. Similarly, another Turkish noble Taj-ud-din Ildiz declared his independence in Ghazni. Iltutmush took immediate action and defeated both of them. In 1225 he conquered Bengal, where the Khalji ruler Husam-ud-din Iwaz had declared his independence. He also recaptured Rajputana, where many Hindu rulers had revolted against the central government.

Chengez Khan, following Jalal-ud-din Khwarizm, reached the Indus near Attock. Jalal-ud-din asked Iltutmush to allow him to take refuge in Delhi. By giving him refuge, Iltutmush did not want to annoy Chengez Khan. He politely refused Jalal-ud-din's request by writing him that the climate of Delhi would not suit him. So Jalal-ud-din left for Iran via Sindh. Thus Iltutmush saved the newly established Muslim State from the Mongols.

Iltutmush was also a great general and he extended the borders of the Muslim rule in South Asia. Following Qubachah, Iltutmush's forces entered the territories of Uch and captured them. He also defeated the Sumra, rulers of lower Sindh, and made the area part of his empire. In 1231, Iltutmush besieged the fortress of Gwalior. After a resistance of almost a year, Mangal Dev, the ruler of Gwalior, ran away from the battlefield and the Muslim forces occupied the city. In 1234, Iltutmush conquered Malwa, Bhilsa and Ujjain and managed to extend the southern limits of his empire to Narbad.

The real founder of the Sultanate of Delhi, Iltutmush, died a natural death in April 1236, after ruling for about 26 years.
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Post Razia Sultana [1205-1240]

Razia Sultana
[1205-1240]

Daughter of Iltutmush, Razia Sultana was the first female Muslim ruler of South Asia. She was a talented, wise, just and generous woman. She was a great administrator and was well versed in governmental affairs. She was not only a good leader in the battlefield but herself was also an excellent fighter. As the most capable son of Iltutmush died during his own life, and the rest were incompetent to govern, Iltutmush nominated his daughter, Razia Sultana, as his successor on the throne of Delhi. Whenever Iltutmush had to leave his capital, he used to leave Razia Sultana in charge of the affairs in Delhi. But when Iltutmush died, Rukn-ud-din Firuz, one of his sons, occupied the throne and ruled for about seven months. Razia Sultana, with the support of the people of Delhi, secured the throne after defeating her brother in 1236.

Razia Sultana established complete law and order in her country. To rule the country, she abandoned her femininity and adopted a masculine getup. She used to dress as a man when appearing in public, be it in court or on the battlefield. She made an Ethiopian slave named Jalal-ud-din Yaqut her personal attendant and started trusting him the most. This challenged the monopoly of power claimed by the Turkish nobles.

The Turkish nobles resented having a woman as their ruler, especially when she started challenging their power. They began conspiring against her. In 1239, the Turkish governor of Lahore rebelled against Razia Sultana. However, when she marched against him, he first fled and then apologized. Then the governor of Bhatinda revolted. When Razia Sultana was trying to suppress the rebellion in Bhatinda, her own Turkish officers deposed her from the throne of Delhi and made her brother Bahram the Sultan. Razia Sultana married the governor of Bhatinda, Malik Altunia, and with his help tried to reoccupy the throne. She was defeated by the Turkish nobles and was compelled to flee away. A peasant who had offered her food and shelter while fleeing from an encounter killed her in her sleep. She died in 1240.
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Post Ghiyas-ud-din Balban [1200-1287]

Ghiyas-ud-din Balban
[1200-1287]

Ghiyas-ud-din Balban was born in a well-to-do Turk family of the Ilbari tribe. The Mongols captured him when he was a child. They sold him to Khwajah Jamal-ud-din Basri in Baghdad. Later he was brought to Delhi where Iltutmush purchased him. From the beginning he was in the good books of his master and eventually became one of the Chalgan, a group of the forty most important nobles of the court. During the rule of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, he became the most powerful amongst the Chalgan. While Nasir-ud-din spent most of his time engrossed in religious affairs, Balban was the real ruler. Nasir-ud-din married Balban's daughter, which made the latter even more powerful. After the death of Nasir-ud-din, Balban became the Sultan in early 1266.

Balban considered himself, the king, as the deputy of God on earth. He believed that the king should be very powerful so as to frighten everyone around him. He organized his court on the pattern of the courts of Irani kings. Nobody could even dare smile in his court. Smartly dressed well-built soldiers armed with unsheathed swords marched along beside him wherever he went. A number of rulers and princes who had taken refuge in his court were supposed to stand obediently in the court. Some ambassadors even used to faint when he entered his court. Balban established the department of intelligence. He spread his spies throughout the country and used them to gather information about all political developments and conspiracies. This helped him in taking action to stop trouble before it started.

As a Sultan, Balban adopted a blood and iron policy. He knew that during the twenty-year rule of Nasir-ud-din, the Chalgan had become very strong. Each one of them started to consider himself as a second to the Sultan. They did not like the growing power of Balban and were jealous of his ascent. After becoming Sultan, Balban decided to crush the power of the Chalgan. He had some murdered while others were banished to far off places.

When Balban ascended the throne, the Mewatis, Jats and Rajputs had become strong and often revolted against the government. The Mewatis lived near Delhi and had become so bold that they used to plunder the people living right outside the four walls of Delhi. When the royal forces were sent against them they took refuge in the jungles. Balban ordered his forces to crush them even if they had to completely destroy the forests.

During Nasir-ud-din's rule, the Mongols had advanced many times and plundered Lahore. In order to check the Mongol invasion, Balban built new forts and ordered the repair of the old ones between the river Indus and Delhi. He deployed the best of his troops on the northern borders to check the Mongols. His policies paid off, as he managed to stop the Mongol threat from advancing into his territories.

In the last days of Balban, Tughral Baig, the governor of Bengal, revolted against him. Bengal was far away from Delhi and the Sultan was very old. An army sent by Balban was defeated. In spite of his old age, Balban decided to lead an attack against the rebellion leader. He re-conquered Bengal and hanged thousands who took part in the revolt. He appointed his son Bughra Khan as the governor of Bengal and warned him that he would meet the same fate if he ever revolted against him.

The greatest setback for Balban in his entire life was the death of his favorite son, Prince Muhammad, during the war against the Mongols. He realized that without his son, the centralized monarchy that had been built up with such care was bound to dissolve again, as it had at the death of Iltutmush. This realization broke him. He never recovered from the death of Prince Muhammad and died in 1287.

In short Balban put the Muslim rule on firm footings. He completed the task started by Iltutmush. He made the Muslim rule in India so strong that it lasted in one form or the other till 1857.
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Post Alauddin Khalji [1255-1316]

Alauddin Khalji
[1255-1316]

Alauddin Khalji was the son of Shahab-ud-din Khalji, and nephew and son-in-law of Jalal-ud-din Khalji, the founder of the Khalji rule in South Asia. When Jalal-ud-din ascended the throne, Alauddin was made Amir-i-Tuzk and later on Ariz-i-Mumalik. He was the most important general in the Sultan's army.

In 1292, with Jalal-ud-din's blessings, he invaded Malwa and captured the town of Bhilsa. He then planned to conquer the South without the knowledge of Jalal-ud-din. He took his campaign to Deogir and Deccan. He captured the area and brought back enormous booty. When Jalal-ud-din heard of his nephew's success, he came out of Delhi to receive him. When the two of them were embracing each other, Alauddin killed his uncle and declared himself as the Sultan of Delhi in 1296. The picture of Alauddin Khalji that emerged from contemporary literature, i.e. the writings of Burni and Amir Khusraw, is that of a great monarch, the defender of the Muslim people and a brilliant general and administrator.

Alauddin was a great general and had planned on conquering the entire world like Alexander. But due to certain reasons, he did not manage to achieve his goal. However, he showed his capability as a general on many occasions. He collected a big army and enrolled all his soldiers and horses. The soldiers were given handsome salaries during his regime. The Mongol army of around one hundred thousand troops threatened the security of his empire from the north but he managed to deal with the problem and defeated the otherwise undefeatable Mongols. To do so he repaired the old forts and constructed new ones. He was also the first Muslim ruler of the Sub-continent to enter the southern part of India. No other Muslim ruler managed to penetrate the south as deeply as was done in the reign of Alauddin.

Alauddin considered his nobles to be the biggest hurdle in putting the administration of the country on firm footing. To check the rising powers of the nobles, he put many restrictions on them. This kept them occupied with their own problems and thus did not have the time or the means to revolt against him.

To put the economy of the country on the right track, Alauddin introduced land reforms. He withdrew all grants of land that could not be justified on the basis of service rendered to the state. Tax was increased on agricultural produce. He took steps to see that the peasants were justly treated and to reduce the role of middlemen. Alauddin introduced a four-point agenda to control prices of the items of daily use and to make the life of the common man more comfortable. He fixed the prices of all items, guaranteed the continued supply of all commodities, regulated distribution so that the needs of the people were met while stamping out monopoly, and lastly, established an efficient administration to ensure the smooth running of the system.

Anybody found going against the system was severely punished. Alauddin died after a long illness on January 5, 1316. During his tenure, Delhi became a center of Muslim culture. Great poets such as Amir Khusraw and Amir Hasan Sijzi flourished during his era.
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Post Muhammad bin Tughluq [1300-1351]

Muhammad bin Tughluq
[1300-1351]

Born in a well-to-do family of Tughluq nobles, Fakhr-ud-din Muhammad Junna Khan, popularly known as Muhammad bin Tughluq, received the best education available. At a very young age he made an impression on Alauddin Khalji, who gave him the title of Akhur Baig in his court. Muhammad supported his father during his campaign against Khusraw and when the father became Sultan, he helped him in administrative affairs of the state. He became the Sultan in February/March 1325 after his father's accidental death.

Muhammad was without any doubt the most educated of all Muslim rulers who ruled Delhi. He had complete command over Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Sanskrit and could comprehend, speak and write all these languages. He was an authority on the subjects like Philosophy, Logic and Mathematics. He also had a good knowledge of Medicine. He started a number of hospitals in Delhi, where the patients were thoroughly looked after.

Muhammad was a deeply religious man and had learnt the Holy Quran by heart. He used to quote verses of the Quran during his conversations. He was a practicing Muslim who never missed his prayers and fasted regularly. During his regime, those who missed their prayers were severely punished. Besides being a pious man, he was also a just ruler. He was popularly known as Adil Sultan. One of the forts he constructed near Delhi was known as Adilabad. He used to listen to the complaints of his people twice a week and tried his best to remove them.

Muhammad was a genius and had a knack of making original plans. He issued copper coins instead of silver and golden coins. Introduction of token currency in those days was an excellent idea but some people started making fake coins in their homes. According to Burni, every house belonging to a Hindu was converted into a coin mint. The market was flooded with fake coins, which the merchants refused to take. In this situation, Sultan withdrew all copper coins and issued silver ones in their place. This caused a huge loss to the royal treasury.

It is generally believed that Muhammad made Deogir his capital instead of Delhi, and changed its name to Daullatabad. It is believed said that the Sultan ordered all the people of Delhi to shift to the new capital. But reliable sources of history prove that he only made Daullatabad his second metropolis so he could look after his southern provinces. He also transferred only a few of his government servants to the southern capital. Unfortunately for him, the government servants who were ordered to shift to the new city sabotaged his plans and created circumstances that compelled the Sultan to reverse his decision.

Muhammad also planned an expedition towards Khorasan. He raised an army of about 370,000 men. The political situation changed and due to his friendship with the new Iranian ruler Abu Said, he had to cancel his plan. This plan also caused heavy loss to the royal treasury. Sultan's idea of sending an expedition to Qarachal also failed due to heavy rainfall in the area. Communication of Tughluq troops was disrupted and thus majority of the soldiers sent by the Sultan lost their lives in the expedition.

To increase the revenue of his country, Muhammad increased taxes in the fertile land of the Doab. Bad luck was once again waiting for him, as the area had no rainfall that year. He did not make any reduction in the land revenue and the farmers revolted. They left their land and took refuge in the jungles. The fertile land became barren. When Muhammad came to know about the real situation, he compensated the farmers and gave them large amounts to rehabilitate their land. All of this resulted in further losses to the royal treasury.

Unfortunately many of his plans failed and resulted in the loss of money and decline in his popularity. Some historians believe that his plans were not impracticable, and his schemes failed due to misunderstandings and unfavorable conditions. They believe that he was born before his time. However, many of schemes were unpopular his subjects did not appreciate them.

Muhammad became sick at Thatta and passed away on March 20 1351. The most famous historian of his time, Zia-ud-din Burni had differences with him and many accounts of his rule based on Burni's work mostly present the negative picture of an important ruler in history.
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Post Firuz Shah Tughluq [1300-1388]

Firuz Shah Tughluq
[1300-1388]

Firuz Shah was the son of Rajab and cousin of Muhammad bin Tughluq. He spent his entire life under the supervision of Muhammad and Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq. When Muhammad bin Tughluq died, the nobles asked Firuz to take charge of the government affairs. Firuz hesitated and asked them to select somebody else but they insisted. His coronation as Sultan took place on March 23, 1351.

Firuz was least interested in war affairs. The death of Muhammad encouraged the rebels in Sindh, who started attacking the royal army. Instead of giving the rebels a fight, Firuz ordered his army to withdraw and come back to Delhi. The territory of Deccan also became independent during his reign. However, he conquered Jaj Nagar and Nagar Kot and annexed them to his kingdom.

Firuz is remembered as a Sultan who was most interested in the welfare of his people. He was of the view that a man can conquer by love and not by sword, and molded his actions to the same theory. In kindness and love, he was second to none amongst the Sultans of Delhi. He took a keen interest in training his 175,000 slaves. He was also interested in social reforms. He maintained an extensive system of poor relief, patronized learning and administered impartial justice. He constructed 40 mosques, 30 buildings for educational institutions, 100 hospitals, 100 public baths, 10 monumental pillars, 10 public wells, and 150 bridges. New cities like Hissar Firuza, Jaunpur and Firuzaba were also built during his reign.

For agriculture, Firuz dug canals from the rivers Jumna and Sutluj. These canals irrigated a large area of land. He dug new tanks to store water for agriculture purposes, and repaired older tanks prepared by Iltutmush and Alauddin Khalji. He took a special interest in gardening. He opened cloth factories in important cities that produced very fine quality cloth.

Firuz was a deeply religious man and had great respect for saints. He withdrew 22 taxes that were deemed to be against the spirit of Islam. He organized the distribution of booty according to Islamic laws. During his regime, men who claimed to be god, prophet or the mehdi were severely punished. He prohibited women from visiting the tombs of holy saints. He removed all pictures from the walls of the palaces and the court. He started eating in ordinary utensils instead of gold and silver.

In the last days of Firuz, his elder son Fateh Khan died. His son's death caused him to lose all interest in his own life. He retired from his job and handed over the reigns of power to his son, Muhammad Shan in 1387. He died of old age in 1388.
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Post Amir Timur [1336-1405]

Amir Timur
[1336-1405]

Timur was born in 1336, at a small town called Kesh, 50 miles south of Samarkand. A Chengezi Turk, he was the son of a minor chief who due to hard work and focused aims was able to become the ruler of a vast empire consisting of Transoxiana, a part of Turkistan, Afghanistan, Persia, Syria, Kurdistan and a major part of Asia Minor. The areas he conquered in his lifetime were only second to the conquests of Alexander.

As a young man he received a serious leg wound while stealing sheep, that resulted in a permanent limp. He was nicknamed Timur Leng (the lame), which ultimately became "Tamerlane". This handicap never hampered his ambitions. His aim was to become a conqueror of the caliber of Chengez Khan.

Timur's career was a combination of destruction and construction. On one hand he organized his army on the line of Mongols but on the other hand he left his administration in the hands of trained Muslim administrators. He would punish rebellions like Chengez Khan but would show a lot of respect for Muslim men of learning. Before destroying a beautiful peace of architecture, he would order sketches drawn, so that he could build its replica in his capital city of Samarkand.

After destroying the powers of Persia and Russia, Timur decided to invade India. His army initially entered India under the leadership of his grandson, Pir Muhammad Jehangir, in November 1397. This army managed to conquer Uch and Multan. In September of the following year, Timur himself came with a huge army 92,000 cavalrymen. He stormed though the areas that came in his way; Bhatnir, Sarsuti, Kaithal, Samana, Tughluqpur and Panipat. He finally reached Delhi. A weak Tughluq ruler, Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, ruled Delhi at that time. Mahmud ran away after being defeated by Timur.

After conquering Delhi, Timur announced general amnesty. It was only after the murder of a few of the Timur's soldiers at the hands of the local people, that he ordered a general massacre of locals and the plundering of Delhi. After looting Delhi for several days, Timur decided to go back. On his way back, he captured Jammu and Punjab. He made Khizar Khan his governor of Multan, Lahore and Dipalpur and left the area before the arrival of summer in March 1399. The booty acquired by Timur's soldiers included rubies, diamonds, garnets, pearls, vessels of gold and silver, silk, brocade and ornaments.

Against advise, he embarked on a grand conquest of China in January 1405. His age caught up with him and he became seriously ill. He was carried back to Samarkand, where he died in February, the same year.
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Post Sir Syed Ahmad Khan [1817-1898]

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
[1817-1898]

The greatest Muslim reformer and statesman of the 19th Century, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was born in Delhi on October 17, 1817. His family on the maternal and paternal side had close contacts with the Mughal court. His maternal grandfather, Khwajah Farid was a Wazir in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a mansab and the title of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. His father, Mir Muttaqi, had been close to Akbar Shah since the days of his prince-hood. Syed Ahmad's mother, Aziz-un-Nisa, took a great deal of interest in the education and upbringing of her son. She imposed a rigid discipline on him and Sir Syed himself admitted that her supervision counted for much in the formation of his character.

The early years of Sir Syed's life were spent in the atmosphere of the family of a Mughal noble. There was nothing in young Syed's habits or behavior to suggest that he was different from other boys, though he was distinguished on account of his extraordinary physique. As a boy he learnt swimming and archery, which were favorite sports of the well-to-do class in those days.

Sir Syed received his education under the old system. He learnt to read the Quran under a female teacher at his home. After this, he was put in the charge of Maulvi Hamid-ud-Din, the first of his private tutors. Having completed a course in Persian and Arabic, he took to the study of mathematics, which was a favorite subject of the maternal side of his family. He later became interested in medicine and studied some well-known books on the subject. However, he soon gave it up without completing the full course. At the age of 18 or 19 his formal education came to an end but he continued his studies privately. He started taking a keen interest in the literary gatherings and cultural activities of the city.

The death of his father in 1838 left the family in difficulties. Thus young Syed was compelled at the early age of 21 to look for a career. He decided to enter the service of the East India Company. He started his career as Sarishtedar in a court of law. He became Naib Munshi in 1839 and Munshi in 1841. In 1858 he was promoted and appointed as Sadar-us-Sadur at Muradabad. In 1867 he was promoted and posted as the judge of the Small Causes Court. He retired in 1876. He spent the rest of his life for Aligarh College and the Muslims of South Asia.

Sir Syed's greatest achievement was his Aligarh Movement, which was primarily an educational venture. He established Gulshan School at Muradabad in 1859, Victoria School at Ghazipur in 1863, and a scientific society in 1864. When Sir Syed was posted at Aligarh in 1867, he started the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental School in the city. Sir Syed got the opportunity to visit England in 1869-70. During his stay, he studied the British educational system and appreciated it. On his return home he decided to make M. A. O. High School on the pattern of British boarding schools. The School later became a college in 1875. The status of University was given to the college after the death of Sir Syed in 1920. M. A. O. High School, College and University played a big role in the awareness of the Muslims of South Asia.

Unlike other Muslim leaders of his time, Sir Syed was of the view that Muslims should have friendship with the British if they want to take their due rights. To achieve this he did a lot to convince the British that Muslims were not against them. On the other hand, he tried his best to convince the Muslims that if they did not befriend the British, they could not achieve their goals. Sir Syed wrote many books and journals to remove the misunderstandings between Muslims and the British. The most significant of his literary works were his pamphlets "Loyal Muhammadans of India" and "Cause of Indian Revolt". He also wrote a commentary on the Bible, in which he attempted to prove that Islam is the closest religion to Christianity.

Sir Syed asked the Muslims of his time not to participate in politics unless and until they got modern education. He was of the view that Muslims could not succeed in the field of western politics without knowing the system. He was invited to attend the first session of the Indian National Congress and to join the organization but he refused to accept the offer. He also asked the Muslims to keep themselves away from the Congress and predicted that the party would prove to be a pure Hindu party in the times to come. By establishing the Muhammadan Educational Conference, he provided Muslims with a platform on which he could discuss their political problems. Sir Syed is known as the founder of Two-Nation Theory in the modern era.

In the beginning of 1898 he started keeping abnormally quiet. For hours he would not utter a word to friends who visited him. Medical aid proved ineffective. His condition became critical on 24th of March. On the morning of March 27, a severe headache further worsened it. He expired the same evening in the house of Haji Ismail Khan, where he had been shifted 10 or 12 days earlier. He was buried the following afternoon in the compound of the Mosque of Aligarh College. He was mourned by a large number of friends and admirers both within and outside South Asia.
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