Home Interview The Chronicles of Silence: An Interview with Dr. Hamida Khuhro, a renowned historian – Part-IV

The Chronicles of Silence: An Interview with Dr. Hamida Khuhro, a renowned historian – Part-IV

The Chronicles of Silence: An Interview with Dr. Hamida Khuhro, a renowned historian – Part-IV

I strongly disagree with a viewpoint that Sindh has no history of resistance – Dr. Hamida Khuhro

[Translator’s note: This is a translation of renowned historian Dr. Hamida Khuhro’s comprehensive interview, originally published in the Sindhi magazine Nao Niapo, Karachi in May, 1986. The interview panel consisted of Advocate Masood Noorani, Journalist Nasir Aijaz and Faqir Muhammad Lashari, with Mansoor Qadir Junjo’s assistance to the interviewers. Masood Noorani also contributed observation notes from his initial meeting with Dr. Khuhro, which were used as a preamble to the interview. The interview was later included in an anthology that contained interviews of Dr. Khuhro, published in various Sindhi newspapers and magazines.
In 2021, Dr. Hamida Khuhro Foundation, Sindh (Karachi-Hyderabad) published Nao Napo magazine’s interview as a separate booklet with a title of ‘Tareekh Ji Amhon Samhon’ (Face-to-Face with History). The booklet includes a preface by Mansoor Qadir Junejo. This is the first part of the English translation of her interview. The subsequent parts will also be published in Sindh Courier – Zaffar Junejo]

MN: If we examine the history of Sindh and consider the various invasions, it becomes apparent that Sindhis have often been defeated. In a sense, it seems that we have not fully resisted, which may be why Sindh has generally been conquered. How do you view this situation, especially in light of Richard Burton’s phrase ‘Unhappy Valley,’ which historians have used to depict Sindh as ‘oppressed and helpless’? What is your opinion?

British Gen. Charles Napier

HK: It is absurd to suggest that Sindhis have been oppressed in a unique manner or that we have not resisted in a particular way. When we look at history from a broader perspective, extending it to the Indian subcontinent, we realize that none of the kings or princes were able to successfully resist or defeat invaders, or even expel them. While Delhi was well protected in terms of military strategy, these defensive measures failed to sustain attacks. However, Punjab has distinct characteristics in this regard, as it often allowed invaders to pass through its territory. I strongly disagree with your viewpoint that we have no history of resistance. Let me provide a few examples. If we consider Alexander the Great, he encountered resistance when crossing northern Sindh and again when crossing Sindh towards Baluchistan. So, one could argue that he faced resistance twice. Another example is Khan Khanan, who was sent by Emperor Akbar. He was defeated twice. Yes, Sindh was eventually conquered, but not without considerable difficulties and challenges. And let us not forget the Tughlaq period in Sindh’s history, where resistance was also evident. We should also take into account that every invader brings with them new war strategies and weapons. Look at Babur and his advanced warfare techniques when he came to India. He possessed superior firepower, and his cavalry was highly trained and efficient. On the other hand, the local warfare technology was outdated and not up to par. Additionally, we must consider our own war-related resources, including human resources. These factors contribute to our defeats or failures, despite displaying bravery and valor.

Punjab has distinct characteristics, as it often allowed invaders to pass through its territory

In more recent times, particularly in the 19th century, guerrilla warfare was initiated in Sindh. However, during that period, the only notable example of guerrilla warfare was seen in Algeria, where Abdul Karim led a resistance against France. In Sindh, the Hur community launched guerrilla warfare. Hence, I find it difficult to accept your viewpoint that Sindh has not fully resisted or that we are helpless.

NA: Arabs attacked Sindh many times, but they were defeated.

HK: I am not sure how many times Sindhis defeated Arabs, but let us assume they were defeated.

NA: Madam, the history of Sindh, in particular, is distorted intentionally. Now, the question is, how can we stop this distortion? Another question pertains to Muhammad Bin Qasim. In historical records, he is portrayed as a pious man, but even in those fabricated histories, there are apparent contradictions that vividly show his personality and character were quite the opposite of what is presented in approved and official histories. Given that, I would like to know what steps you have taken as a historian and researcher to counter such distortion and present a true picture?

HK: Yes, historical distortion or the twisting of facts does occur, but it is mostly at a lower level. In many cases, it is done by amateur historians, or journalist writings, and these articles are published in newspapers or non-serious and academically substandard books. I strongly believe that such distortion or twisting can only be halted when there is a new generation of trained historians. These skilled historians would explore and systematically present true facts, along with footnotes, showing their sources and the authenticity of the books they refer to or consult, along with their critical analysis.

MN: Does this principle apply to lower class or upper class?

HK: It is not limited to any particular class; it is a principle of writing history. Regardless of what you write or which subject or class you are writing about, write with authenticity and provide a comprehensive range of references. Even today, we can find evidence from old times. For example, we can find a lot of evidence about the history of Sindh from poetry, particularly the poems of Shah Latif. However, the question lies in the analysis, context, and sources. These are some avenues to gather facts about Sindh’s social history, and it is one way to write social history. In this regard, record-keeping in Europe is far ahead of us. In Europe, birth and death registers are maintained in every village to this day. In our case, we have family trees (Shajras), and some families record their histories. I believe these two things can contribute to our social history writing project (HK ended sentence while looking at NA). However, Chachnama or Tuhfatulkiram requires critical reading and deep academic analysis. There are many mismatched or illogical pieces of evidence regarding the portrayed characters, and even Raja Dahir’s portrayal needs review in the light of evidence. But even the authors of these books have categorized him as brave and someone who fought with valor and commitment. Let me suggest one thing: if you are a historian or a research reader, don’t ask others for opinions on your questions. Instead, read sources, interpret facts, and contextualize the entire affair within the specific time period of history. It should be a principle to look at the sources. For example, it is repeatedly mentioned that Muhammad Bin Qasim was a young boy of 12 years who made all the war decisions and fought according to his own will and wishes. Interestingly, in the same books or sources, authors contradict themselves by stating that he was instructed by Hajjaj Bin Yusuf and consulted him before making any decisions. So, the facts cannot be hidden.

Arab Gen. Muhammad Bin Qasim

FM: If we compare Sindh’s nation-building process with that of European countries, we can observe some similar trends. For instance, in Europe, feudalism failed, states emerged, bourgeoisie surfaced, and eventually, nations emerged. Similarly, in Sindh, Shah Latif’s poetry provides clues that the nation-building process took roots six or seven centuries ago. I say this because there was a trading class and skilled laborers. During Sama’s period, there is evidence of home industry, maritime trade, and a diverse range of skills. However, despite having these characteristics, we have failed to become a modern nation. I believe the nation-building process has been halted at some point.

HK: When do you think it was halted?

FM: In those times, there was a flourishing home industry. I refer to Shah Latif’s vocabulary regarding maritime trade, skilled labor, and related phrases. All of this suggests that the nation-building process had taken roots. I think such progress towards nation-building has halted at some point.

Chachnama – A book on history of Sindh

I don’t agree with the statement that Sindh’s nation-building process has halted

HK: I don’t agree with your statement that the nation-building process has halted. I say this because the halt or stoppage of a social process, whatever it may be, goes against the principles of history. The same principle applies to other subjects. For example, if we consider dialectical materialism and analyze your statement within the parameters of this discipline, even a preliminary analysis within the scope of thesis and antithesis can provide insights into the societal or nation-building process and contradict with your claim. Therefore, once a process is initiated, regardless of its motives or factors, it gradually continues. Hence, I would state that the foundation for Sindhi nation-building is not two or three centuries old, but rather ancient. Even during Mahmood Ghaznavi’s time, Sindh existed as an entity, and the Soomra dynasty ruled over it. During that period, there was a socialist experiment that was opposed and destroyed on the pretext of being un-Islamic. However, Sindh continued to exist as an entity, and the basic building blocks of the Sindhi nation persisted, leading to its ongoing advancement. Therefore, we cannot say that the process has halted; it is still ongoing. It is a continuous and ever-changing process, simply put, it is evolution. To summarize, during Shah Latif’s time, Sindhis were considerably a modern nation. When we were liberated from Mughal oppression, the Kalhora state was founded, followed by the Talpur era. Later, we were conquered by the British, and we became slaves to English rule. I consider it one of the biggest challenges for Sindhi society, as we were immediately exposed to the fruits of the industrial revolution and a modern advanced political system. I call it a challenge because in all aspects of life and economy, we were employing medieval techniques, technology, and systems. The English came and broke these old traditions, leading to social development in Sindh. Now, the question for us is how we can handle ourselves and what measures we need to take to become a sovereign nation and state. It is a long and arduous process. We must not forget that we are also fighting our inner struggle within these boundaries, which started in the 19th century and is still ongoing. We have remained disoriented for a considerable time, but then we took measures to stabilize and reorient ourselves. This phenomenon has not ended; it is still continuing. (Continues)

Click here for Part-I and Part-II (Preamble) – Part-!II 


Dr. Zaffar Junejo- Sindh CourierDr. Zaffar Junejo is a historian and a writer, having earned Doctorate from the Department of History University of Malaya, Malaysia. Presently, Mr. Junejo is associated with the European University Institute, Florence, Italy. Apart from scholarly contribution, he also writes for popular media. He could be accessed at: Email junejozi@gmail.com, Cell/WhatsApp +92 334 045 5333 Skype Zaffar.Junejo Facebook facebook.com/zaffar.junejo



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