Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

A Sindhi Trojan Horse

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Sreman was the celebrated chief of the Chandio clan of the hill country west of Larkana. Large of heart with matching physical stature and courage, he ruled over his country with and equal measure of benevolence and firmness. It was in his time that Zunnu Pathan, the upstart ruler of Kandahar, came down to plunder Sindh. His thirteenth attack being one too many, Sreman resolved to avenge this wrong.

And so he prepared five hundred camels; each to carry two wooden boxes and each box to conceal a fully accoutred warrior. Sreman Chandio then set out for Kandahar in the guise of dealer of musk. As his convoy of camels drew up outside the walls of that distant city, it was nearing dusk and the customs officials were in a hurry to call it off for the day. In order to verify that Sreman really was a musk-seller, they ran a knife through the narrow slits of random boxes. The far-sighted Sreman had prepared for just such a chance: the warriors within were poised with musk-scented kerchiefs with which they wiped the blade leaving it heavily fragrant.
The caravan was permitted to pass within the gates of Kandahar. And long after the sun had set and even the dogs of the city had tired of their arguments and fallen asleep, Sreman let out his warriors. Within minutes one thousand Chandio braves had spread across the city. The following dawn no man, neither boy child nor grown-up nor elderly, not even Zunnu Pathan in the security of his palace, left the bed: every single Kandahar male had been slaughtered in his sleep. Sindh was avenged and the stout Sreman returned home with his one thousand braves. Such then is the legend.

A look at the genealogical chart of the family of the Chandio nawab shows that the patriarch Sreman would have lived in the second half of the 15th century. Now, in Sindhi literature and folklore all invaders from the northwest, regardless of their origin, were considered Pathans. Although in the 15th century there were no Pathan attacks from Afghanistan, there is one name that matches Zunnu.

Tuzk e Babri, the diaries of Babur, founder of the Mughal empire, tells us that in the year 1480 Zunnun Beg Arghun, a descendent of Chengez Khan, acting on behalf of the Mongol ruler of Badakhshan, annexed Quetta and the surrounding districts. Thereafter he raided in Sindh. This may have brought him into confrontation with the Chandios of Larkana.

Sreman, audacious as he was, may have been rankled by these attacks and he may indeed have thought of mounting a guerrilla type assault the outsiders. But before Sreman could actuate his plans, Zunnun Beg was killed by the Uzbeks in a battle outside Herat in the year 1507. Even if the stout Sreman had planned an assault on Kandahar and even if his warriors had said ‘Aye’ to his call to arms, the event never took place. Yet that is the light his descendents wish to see him in: as the great redeemer of the honour of Sindh.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 09:10,


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days