By Mir Atta Muhammad Talpur
Of all the Talpurs, who ruled the Sindh, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur was unquestionably the ablest of all. This great son of the motherland Sindh was sworn in after the sad demise of his father Aadel-i-Jang Mir Ali Murad Khan. All rulers of the neighboring states, tribal chieftains, Talpur leaders from all over Sindh, religious leaders (Pirs and Sajadah Nasheen), Arbabs,Sardars, and Patels (Hindu chieftains) from far and wide participated in the Dastarbandi (coronation ceremony). 
The seat on which he was sworn in was not a bed of roses. Except Sindh, almost whole of the India including Balochistan and Punjab had come under the sway of the British. Being a sagacious person and a man of foresight, he, soon after becoming the head of the Mirpurkhas Sarkar, warned the Talpur rulers of Hyderabad to remain vigilant of the nefarious designs of the British. He advised them to do away with the devious deals and ‘understandings’ reached with the British. However they did not pay any heed to his forewarnings and continued to enmesh themselves in pacts and treaties with the British. 
In light of the conditions and circumstances of his times, he was no less in valor and audacity than that of Sultan Fateh Ali Tipu of Meysor. However, we neither offer gratitude due to him nor we put in writing his great triumphs. Had he been born in Europe or elsewhere, hundreds of books would have been written and thousands of commemorative plaques, cenotaphs and memorials would have been erected for him. Sindh has a rich galaxy of valiant pearls. It includes the names like Dodo Soomro, Mai Marvi, Jam Babino, Dolah Darya Khan, Noor Muhammad Kalhoro, Shah Inayat Sufi, Mir Fateh Khan Shaheed, Mir Tharo Khan Talpur, Hoshu Sheedi. However, the name of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan is brilliant of all. Since he, the only name, which could be included in that galaxy, is that of Shaheed Hadrat Sabghatullah Shah, the 2nd, Pir Pagaro. 
Sher-i-Sindh Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur was born in 1810 AD at Mirpurkhas. He got his education from Sanwani Mullahs and military training under guidance and instructions of his grandfather His Highness Mir Tharo Khan (d.1828). Balochi, Sindhi and Siraiki were his mother tongues, however, he also learnt Persian and Arabic very well.
At the time of death his grandfather, Sarkar wala humum Sitara-i-jung Sarbuland Mir Tharo Khan, he was 18 years old. At that time he was appointed the Governor of Laarr, Wangi and Thatta provinces. During his tenure as Governor of these provinces, he successfully persuaded the Sardar of the Legharis of Sindh, Sardar Muhammad Leghari, to stay there in his province. Sardar Muhammad Leghari had decided to migrate to Kutch following his differences with Shahdadani Talpurs of Hyderabad. Sardar Muhammad Leghari was awarded title of Nawab and jagirs were granted to him at the tail of Gaja canal. His son Nawab Umed Ali Khan Leghari was hero of Battle of Narejas. 
During his tenure as governor of Laarr, he concentrated on reforms and betterment of the people of the area. It was due to his efforts that Sherwah and Manakwah canals were dug. Due to digging of these canals, lot of barren land was brought under cultivation, which improved the economic condition of the people of the area. 
When Lord Auckland ordered the British Army to go to Afghanistan to help Shah Shuja in establishing his rule over there, they had little choice other then passing through the territory of Sindh.  Colonel Potinger was dispatched to the Court of [Shahdadani] Talpurs at Hyderabad in order to get such permission and negotiate terms and conditions. According to Mirza Kaleech Beg, Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur was a wise man. He though that they don't have capacity to deal with the British Army in the field so the only sensible option would be to allow the British forces to pass through the territory of Sindh. Other Talpurs were, however, not happy with the decision and collected Baloch forces to counter the British forces in a camp near the present day Tando Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur near Hyderabad. Some enraged Balochs could not tolerate the very sight of the British envoy Colonel Potinger and in a skirmish pelted stones over him. Mirza Kaleech Beg, however, calls this action of other Talpurs to gather Baloch forces in a camp just outside Hyderabad in opposition of the British forces as an 'unwise' act and supports the decision of Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur. "If this stance of Mirza Kaleech Beg is accepted", writes Mir Haji Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur, "then either the decision of Mir Naseer Khan Talpur to fight the battle of Miani was incorrect or Mirza Kaleech beg has favored the British and Mir Noor Muhammad Khan's decision to cooperate with them only because he (Mirza Kaleech Beg) was employee of the British government and could not afford to oppose them in his writings." 
"Whatever the opinion of this worthy writer may be, what transpires from his writings is the fact that the common Balochs and 'other' Talpurs were not happy with the decision to cooperate with the British", writes Mir Haji Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur. According to him, these 'other' Talpurs were none else then Mir Sobdar Khan Talpur and Mir Mir Muhammad Khan Talpur, who had tacit approval of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur to oppose the British forces. 
When British forces reached Karachi and Thatta, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur took his Baloch forces to counter and fight the British forces, writes Munshi Atta Muhammad Shikarpuri. Mir Sobdar Khan Talpur (Shahdadani) and Mir Mir Muhammad Khan Talpur also took their men to join Mir Sher Muhammad Khan in his opposition to foreign intruders. The Baloch forces were fully capable and ready to stop the advancing British army but Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur granted permission to them and restrained the Baloch army from fighting with them. 
It is strange that Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur took his able Balochi forces from Mirpurkhas to Hyderabad to counter the advancing English Army, but the very rulers of Hyderabad, the Shahdadani Talpurs, for whose support he took that trouble found it more wise and convenient to allow the British to pass through the territory of Sindh. 
The basic reason for granting permission to British forces by Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur and Mir Naseer Khan Talpur was their rivalry with Mir Sobdar Khan Talpur who, like Mir Sher Muhammad Khan [Mankani] Talpur of Mirpurkhas, was opposed to the passage of British forces from Sindh en route for Afghanistan. Mir Sobdar Khan Talpur was son of the eldest of the first 'Chaoyari' (rule by four brothers) of the Shahdadani Talpurs of Hyderabad. Mir Murad Ali Khan Talpur, the youngest of the ruler of the first 'Chaoyari' had groomed his own sons, Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur and Mir Naseer Khan Talpur, to become rulers of the Hyderabad House, ignoring Mir Sobdar Khan Talpur, who being the son of the eldest of the Talpur rulers of the first 'Chaoyari' had right to become ruler in accordance with Baloch traditions. In fact he, after attaining the age of majority had demanded his right denied to him by his uncle and cousins. This created mistrust among the opposing Talpurs of the Hyderabad House and they started to oppose each and every move of the other, including the issue of whether to grant permission to the British forces or not. Professor Chetan Marriwalla gives detailed and almost impartial account of the internal strife of the Talpurs of Hyderabad House, in his article in tri-monthly Sindhi magazine 'Mehran'.  Nonetheless he has mostly relied on the English books, it is the most useful source on the topic. This amply corroborates the view that it was, the antagonism to and, the non-approval of the policies of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur, by the Shahdadani Talpurs of Hyderabad, which proved to be the main cause of the fall of Talpur's rule in Sindh.
As pressure and demands from Mir Sobdar Khan [Shahdadani] Talpur increased, Mir Noor Muhammad Khan [Shahdadani] Talpur, found it more useful to have better relations with Englishmen. He even allowed them to station their envoy at Hyderabad. Mir Noor Muhammad Khan [Shahdadani] Talpur asked Col Potinger to persuade his masters to include a condition in their next pact that Englishmen would interfere in Sindh if it was attacked by Sikhs, Afghans or ‘anyone else’ (referring to their cousins). When Englishmen’s envoy was stationed in Sindh, Mir Sobdar Khan Talpur too accepted the terms and conditions of Talpur’s pact with Englishmen. 
Had Mir Murad Ali Khan and his sons, Mir Noor Muhammad Khan and Mir Naseer Khan accepted the sons of their elder brothers as leaders of the later Chauyari or at least had not deprived them of their due right and kept brotherly and friendly relations with rulers of Khairpur and Mirpurkhas and continued consultations with them, they could have effortlessly retained their supremacy and prestige.  They however preferred to fall in the lap of the strangers and relied on them and their power. Resultantly, Sindh passed into the shadow of subjugation. It would be clear that Mir Sobdar Khan Talpur and Mir Muhammad Khan Talpur were in fact not conspirators but oppressed. They were treated unfairly. Had they wanted, they could have easily obtained the support of Englishmen or Sikhs against the ruling Shahdadani Talpurs of Hyderabad, nevertheless they did not do so. Instead they were supported by large number of local people, tribes and sardars.
Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur was very popular among general public, writes Lutfullah, a Muslim accountant employed with Englishmen.  He narrates a number of accounts of ordinary people’s tête-à-tête in which he heard them praising the Sher-i-Sindh, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur. In one such account he writes, “…they [Sindhis] commonly discussed topics like government affairs; once a group [of Sindhis] said: “soon Englishmen will occupy the country. Talpurs are themselves responsible for it. They still continue friendly relations with ravenous Englishmen. They have occupied whole of India. Likewise, they will occupy Sindh too”. A person from another group replied: “Mirs of Hyderabad may become Christians [referring to their friendly relations with Englishmen], but until we have support of Mir Sher Muhammad we need not fear.” These words of a common fisherman are meaningful and evocative of the esteem, regard and recognition of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur among the ordinary populace.
In spite of the permission granted by the Shahdadani Talpur rulers of Hyderabad to Englishmen for passing their troops from Sindh, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur could not remain quiescent. Operating from the territory he controlled, he resisted Englishmen’s passage in many ways. It has been pointed out in the ‘Sindh Correspondence’ that: “People of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan did not allow their camels to pass from their territory.” They especially disallowed camels from crossing the river.  Not only Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur disallowed the passage of English troops from their territory but also barred hauling of their supplies from his territory. For this he raised number of obstacle, created barriers and enforced blockages. Col Potinger complained this fact to the Governor General on 20th October 1828. He wrote, “Regrettably, I have to report that the attitude of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan, the ruler of Mirpurkhas is unfriendly and indecent.”  After such remarks by the enemy of the country, who can dispute him as the greatest leader of the Sindh? Writes Mir Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur. 
While Talpur Amirs of Hyderabad were inclined to befriend or even surrender before Englishmen, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur wanted to resist and fight, points out A. P. Nicholson. 
There was great anxiety in the Englishmen’s camp after rumors spread on 20th December 1838 that Mir Sher Muhammad Khan may attack them anytime. “5th January: There are again rumors of attack on our camp tonight”, writes Lutufullah. A group of 25 Sindhis assaulted the English troops who were “coming behind us”, Lutufullah further writes. He continues to point out that at Jherruk (February 1839) the English army kept itself confined to fear of attack at night. According to him a cop of Bombay Infantry, Chandi Din, who fled from captivity of Mir Sher Muhammad revealed that he would soon join the Talpur Amirs of Hyderabad. 
While writing about attack on food storehouse of the English army, Lutufullah points out that there were 10,000 soldiers and 30 cannons in the army out of which 7,000 soldiers and 12 cannons belonged to Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur alone who was more than prepared to extend his help to the Talpur Amirs of Hyderabad against Englishmen. 
According to Nicholson  English officers met with Mir Noor Muhammad Khan Talpur on 22nd January 1839 and expressed their apprehension that the attitude of common men was against their military. These papers further point out that Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur with his 12000 soldiers and 16000 other Baloch forces had assembled in the vicinity of Hyderabad to attack Englishmen. They defiled and despoiled the English cantonment on January 31st.
The intention of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur and other Balochis to assault the English army and resist their passage from Sindh en route for Afghanistan is also confirmed by Aitkon and Outoram. It was Mir Sobdar Khan [Shahdadani] Talpur, who after his relentless efforts persuaded Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur to defer any attack on the passing English army. Mirza Kaleech Beg  and Seth Naunmal,  have also confirmed the desecration of the English cantonment by the Baloch forces under the instigation of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur. According to Naunmal, Mir Shah Muhammad Khan Talpur (brother of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur) attacked the Englishmen and ‘plundered’ their possessions from Giddu Bandar.
Munshi Atta Muhammad  also recounts the confrontation of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur with Shahdadani Talpurs of Hyderabad over the issue and resistance offered by him to impede the march of passing English army. The Shahdadani Talpur Amirs of Hyderabad not only refused to accept the help extended by Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur, they started to gather forces loyal to them to settle scores with their own estranged Shahdadani cousins as well as Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur!  The condition quickly deteriorated to the verge of a civil war. Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur, sensing needless bloodshed and civil strife, opted to return to Mirpurkhas along with his victorious army and decided to wait until a more appropriate occasion came up for him to fight his English enemy.
Mir Muhammad Bukhsh Talpur  criticizes Mirza Kaleech Beg for his censure of Balochis’ attack on the English enemy. “Instead of appreciating the Baloch freedom fighters, Mirza Kaleech Beg dubs them as ‘savage Balochis’.” Mirza Kaleech Beg further writes that Mir Noor Muhammad Khan [Shahdadani] Talpur had to make enormous efforts to halt their [Balochis’] ‘agitation’. “Heads and beards of some were shaved and ears of others were resected in punishment.” 
Sher-i-Sindh Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur was not only popular in his own country for his extraordinary competence, honesty, chivalry, hospitality and for helping poor but was also very popular and influential abroad.
Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur offered to send 5000 strong men to support Dombkis in case they attacked the Bolan Pass. This was primarily because the Dombkis were at loggerheads with English. The Englishmen had supported Kaheri Balochs against the Dombkis.  This amply testifies the efforts of Sher-i-Sindh Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur to create obstacles in way of English advances in Sindh.
Surprise attacks of Balochs resulted in capturing of 20,000 camels of English Army’ all loaded with goods, writes Mir Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur quoting Molai Sheedai.
Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, the ruler of Punjab had established warm relations with Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur [Mankani], the illustrious father of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan. Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur nurtured these friendly relations with Ranjit Singh for promoting the cause of combating their common enemy, the English invaders. Anxiety of English officers is reflected in a report appearing in July 21, 1839 issue of the ‘Political Proceedings’. Special instructions were issued by the English high-ups to “keep eye on developing relations of Mirpurkhas and Lahore Darbars”. 
The basic reason for development of differences between Mir Naseer Khan Talpur Shahdadani, the ruler of Hyderabad and Sher-i-Sindh, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur Mankani, the ruler of Mirpurkhas Sarkar was the ‘divide and rule’ policy of English invaders. Mir Naseer Khan Talpur had entered into some friendly alliances with English, whereas Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur opposed the English interference in the internal affairs of Sindh.
“In fact”, writes Mir Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur, “the territories of Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas Sarkar were not sharply delineated.”  According to him, traditionally both Sarkars used each other’s territory for passage of commercial caravans, troops, and excavations of canals and for drainage of floodwater, etc. without any prior permission. Kutchh was in possession of Englishmen and their army was stationed over there. The Hyderabad Sarkar had also allowed establishment of their cantonment in Parker area. Due to presence of English army in Kutchh, the Badin and Diplo areas of Mirpurkhas Sarkar remained under the constant threat of Englishmen’s attack. Taking cognizance of this fact Mir Sher Muhammad Khan renovated many forts and fortresses in the border areas and stationed his troops their for defense of the region. These included forts of Diplo, Bbulhiari, and Naokot. Some of these forts were constructed during the time of the first chaoyari of Hyderabad Sarkar. These included, forts of Khaddi, Islamkot, Mithi, Chelhar, etc. Sher-i-Sindh Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur had occupied, renovated and strengthened these forts and stationed his troops there. 
The act of occupying, renovating, strengthening of forts and stationing of troops in them was not liked by Mir Naseer Khan Shahdadani, the ruler of Hyderabad Sarkar. Therefore, when Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur collected people to dig ‘Sangro’ canal from the Indus River to Mirpurkhas, Mir Naseer Khan opposed the move and started preparing for a battle with Sher-i-Sindh. At that time Mirpurkhas, happened to be arid region in sharp contrast to the Larr region (Badin area) of Mankani Sarkar of Mirpurkhas (where Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur had already established the network of canals for irrigation).
Other rulers and Sardars of the area, including Sohrabani Talpurs of Khairpur advised Mir Naseer Khan to refrain from fighting battle with the Sher-i-Sindh or else they would take side of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur. The Tobkhana (artillery) of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur was best in the region. Seth Naunmal, while presenting comparison with that of Hyderabad Sarkar praises the Tobkhana of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur. 
When English saw that they cannot succeed in their intrigue to suppress Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur and that in case of a battle, their worst enemy, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur will surely win, they jumped in. Colonel Outram offered arbitration. At Tando Allahyar, two representatives of Col. Outram, Mr Whitlock and Seth Naunmal, Nawab Ahmed Khan Laghari and Muhammad Yousuf, and two representatives of Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur, Mir Ali Khan (his father in law) and Jaffar Nizamani, met and deliberated for fourteen days and finally agreed. .
“Had our gullible rulers maintained their unity and dealt with one another directly, instead of playing in the hands of foreign traitors these would have never found opportunity play their stratagems.
“Every government, ruler, leader of movement, religious leaders have to sign pacts [under certain conditions]; sometimes with friends and at other times with foes. Sher-i-Meysore, Sultan Fateh Ali Tipu had also signed such pacts with Englishmen” writes Mir Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur. He continues, “ Our Amirs of Hyderabad had also signed eight or so trade and military pacts with Englishmen between 1808 and 1842. Some historians have mentioned one pact agreed between Englishmen and Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur.” However, other Englishmen do not mention any such agreement. 
The author of ‘Tareekh-i-Taza Nawai Mu’arik’ quotes Mohan Lal’s Urdu book ‘Muahidaat-i-Hind’ wherein the said pact is mentioned. Mir Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur calls Mohan Lal as a famous spy of Englishmen who traveled Afghanistan, Balkh, and Bukhara for his clandestine operations. Mohan Lal has mentioned 14 points on which the said agreement was made.
“As the pact of friendship already exists between Talpur Amirs of Hyderabad therefore a pact is being agreed upon between the company government and Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur on the following terms and conditions:”
Pact agreed on 16th April 1841. 
Mir Muhammad Bukhsh Khan Talpur mentions several reasons on the basis of which one can say that the pact never existed. Even if it existed, it was never implemented. 
However, Eastwick notes down that Sir Charles Napier wrote a similar letter to the Governor General about the “Sardar of Mirpur” with whom an agreement was signed in June 1941 (Official Book, page 296). “Sir Charles Napier is completely unaware about the truce and reassured the Governor General that Mirpur’s sardar is not mentioned in any of the pact. He doesn’t know anything about the said sardar. However Lieutenant Brown has told to my satisfaction that he has always been our deadly enemy”. 
When Sir Charles Napier wrote a letter to Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur before the battle of Miani, he clearly pointed out: “Neither I have information about any aggressive act from your side towards us nor is your name mentioned in any pact, nor even we intend to dispossess you from your territory” 
He is also called as pioneer of the freedom struggle of Sindh because after the fall of Hyderabad at Meeanee, Sindh, it was he who tried to liberate Sindh from the occupation of East India Company forces at the battleground of Dubbo. Hence the Pioneer of the Freedom Struggle of Sindh.
(to be continued...)
[Note: This is unedited & incomplete draft of the first part of the article on His Highness, Sher-i-Sindh Mir Sher Muhammad Khan Talpur. Remaining part / edited version will be web-posted shortly, subject to availability of time and resources – Mir Atta Muhammad Talpur]