Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A Short History of Punjab

The word 'Punjab’ appeared for the first time in the Book "Tarikh-e-Sher Shah” (1580). It describes the construction of a fort by 'Sher Khan of Punjab’. A reference to the word 'Punjab’ can be found in "Ain-e-Akbari” Part 1 as well, which describes that the territory can be divided into provinces of Lahore and Multan. Even the second volume of 'Ain-e-Akbari’ contains the word 'Punjab’ in it. The word also occurs in the book of the Mughal King Jahangir, under the name 'Tuzk-i-Janhageeri’. However, the first mentioning of Punjab as a place occurs in the Great Hindu epic Mahabharata, where it is described as Pancha-Nanda means 'the country of five rivers’.

Let we now delve into the origin and history of Punjab. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of life in the Punjab region as early as 7000 B.C. By around 3000 BC, life grew in and around the Indus Valley, which gave rise to the Indus Valley Civilization. Then, there was the evolution of historic cities like Harappa (near Sahiwal in West Punjab) and Mohenjo Daro (near Sindh). After 19th century BC, there was the sudden decline of these civilizations. Next thousand years saw the dominance of Aryans, who migrated from the North-West (1500-100 BC), over the Indus region. The oldest book of human history, Rig Veda, is supposed to be written only in the region, during the Aryan period.

Punjab was continuously attacked by the Persian kings, as it was lying just at the outskirt of the Persian Empire. The Persian king, King Gustasp conquered the region in 516 BC. Consequently, Punjab became the wealthiest satrapy i.e. a province of the Persian kingdom. The Greeks, the strong competitors of the Persians also had a lure for Punjab territory. In 321 BC, the Great Greek King Alexander invaded Punjab, breaking the authority of the Persian kings. He invited all the chieftains of the Persian Satrapy to come and surrender to him.

After the stretch of time, the Greek empire in the east was disrupted by the ascendancy of the Bacterians. In the second century BC, Bacterian King Demetrius, I added Punjab to his kingdom. During the same period, the Northern Sakas successfully wrestled the power of the area from the Indo-Greeks. The White Huns established their rule over the state in the late 3rd century AD. Now, it was the turn of the Arabs to get attracted to the land. They conquered the area of Multan in 8th century AD. Meanwhile, Mahmud Ghaznavi, the ruler of Ghazni, attacked Punjab 17 times during his reign. However, the Ghaznavids were uprooted by the Ghauris, who spreader as far as Delhi. Then, there were subsequent short-term rules of the Mamluk’s, Khilji’s, Tughluq’s, Sayyid’s and Lodhi’s.

In 1160, Muhammad Ghori, a Turkic ruler, conquered Ghazni from the Ghaznavids and became its governor in 1173. In 1186–87, he conquered Punjab, bringing the last of Ghaznavid territory under his control and ending the Ghaznavid Empire.

Muhammad Ghori's successors established the Delhi Sultanate. The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived kingdoms or sultanates of Turkic origin rules from Delhi between 1206 and 1526 when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty.

The five Turkic dynasties ruled their empires from Delhi:
The Mamluk (1211–90),
The Khalji (1290–1320),
The Tughlaq (1320–1413),
The Sayyid (1414–51)
The Lodhi (1451–1526).

The Turkic origin Mamluk Dynasty, (Mamluk means "Owned" and referred to the Turkic youths bought and trained as soldiers who became rulers throughout the Islamic world), seized the throne of the Sultanate in 1211.

The sultans eventually lost Afghanistan, Punjab, and Delhi to the Mongols. The Sultanate declined after the invasion of Emperor Timur, who founded the Timurid Dynasty and was eventually conquered in 1526 by the Mughal king Babar.

Punjab had a picture of chaos and disorder as Ahmad Shah Abdali's empire in Punjab had crumbled Punjab. Punjab had been under the Afghan rule since 1757. Adina Beg Khan had political influence in Jalandhar Doab. Afghans appointed him Administrator (Nazim) of the Jalandhar Doab. During Taimur Shah`s governorship (1757-58), Adina Beg Khan began to look around for allies with a view to expelling the Afghans from Jalandhar Doab. The Sikhs and Adina Beg Khan`s troops joined hands and defeated the Afghans at Mahalpur, in Hoshiarpur district.

By 1758, Adina Beg Khan met the Sikhs and requested their help to throw out the Afghans representative from Lahore. Soon Hari Singh Bhangi along with his son Jhanda Singh, Gujjar Singh, Lehna Singh built a combined front with Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Jai Singh Kanahiya, Charat Singh Sukerchakia and other Sikh Sardars.

Keeping up appearances with the Sikh Sardars, Adina Beg Khan wished to weaken the power of Afghans in Punjab and invited to this end Marathas who had taken Delhi to come to Punjab, offering them one lakh of rupees a day on the march.

He also persuaded Sikhs to help the Marathas against the Afghans. The Marathas led by Raghunath Rao and accompanied by the forces of the Sikhs and those of Adina Beg Khan entered Lahore in April 1758. Timur Shah fled to Afghanistan and they captured the city of Lahore without any great effort.

Adina Beg Khan got the Subahdar of Punjab at 75 lakh of rupees a year to be paid to the Marathas. Punjab had now three masters: the Mughals, the Afghans, and the Marathas, but in reality only two Adina Beg Khan and the Sikhs.

Adina Beg Khan succumbed to an attack of colic in Batala on 10 September 1758. He died at age of 48. If Adina Beg Khan had not died at the age of 48 and had a life for a decade or two then the Secular Empire of Punjab was presumed in 1760’s under Kingship of Adina Beg Khan and liberated Punjab from the invasion of
 Mughal would not have been plundered by the Afghans and due to Muslim Punjabi and Sikh Punjabi harmony with political strategies and political maneuvering skills of Adina Beg Khan along with the physical power of Sikh armed forces Punjab would have been a powerful state of South Asia.

Adina Beg Khan was a bridging and binding force to unite the Muslim Punjabis and Sikh Punjabis to liberate Punjab from Mughal invaders, to control the Afghans, to maneuver the Marathas by smartly managing the Afghans to deteriorate the Mughal invaders in Punjab and handling the Marathas to throw out Afghans from Punjab. But after his death, the defenders of Punjab were the only Sikhs.

Sikhs joined hands to overthrow Taimur Shah and his Chief, Jalal Khan. Afghans had to return and Lahore came under the Sikhs in 1758. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia became the head of the Sikh sovereignty. Under his rule, the domain of Sikhs considerably grew over Punjab. After the death of Jassa Singh, Afghans started gaining power again. However, that was short term, as Maharaja Ranjit Singh built up a strong force to counteract them.

One of the main rivals to be defeated by Ranjit Singh was Shah Zaman. Shah Zaman, despite his previous defeats, attacked Lahore and surrounded Sikhs from all the sides. The Afghans now planned to attack Amritsar, which was well answered by the forces of Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh won the hearts of everyone in Punjab, irrespective of religion and status. It was on July 7, 1799, that the victorious Ranjit Singh entered Lahore.

Almost 777 years of foreign rule, starting from the Turkish invader Mahmud of Ghazni in 1022 after ousting the Hindu Shahi ruler Raja Tarnochalpal, until the time Maharajah Ranjit Singh entered the gates of Lahore on July 7, 1799; Punjabis had not ruled their own land. He finally acquired a kingdom in the Punjab, which stretched from the Sutlej River in the east to Peshawar in the west, and from the junction of the Sutlej and the Indus in the south to Ladakh in the north. Ranjit Singh died in 1839 and struggle of succession followed his death.

The British entered the province of Punjab with 32,000 troops by 1845 and moved to the Sutlej frontier. British and Sikh troops engaged in the First Anglo-Sikh War near Ferozepur, in late 1845. The war ended the following year and the territory between the Sutlej and the Beas fell into the hands of the British rule, along with Kashmir. As per the Peace Treaty and the Treaty of Lahore, Punjab was totally annexed by the British East India Company and Dalip Singh, the minor Sikh ruler, was pensioned off.

The black day of the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre occurred in Amritsar in 1919. It agitated the Punjabis to revolt against the tyranny of the colonial rule. The 1940 Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League made Punjab the center of a bloodier struggle but, communal tensions erupted in 1947 between the majority of Muslim Punjabis and the minorities of Hindu Punjabis and Sikh Punjabis. As the result of the independence of British India with partition into India and Pakistan on 14th August 1947, the British Punjab province was partitioned as Punjab province of Pakistan and the Punjab province of India on 17th August 1947. Since both have never seen back after independence but grown ever in the economic and moral matters.