Written by Javeria Noman 12:36 pm Pakistan Unveiled

The Hurs of Sanghar

Located in the Sindh province, the district of Sanghar has been a remarkable element of Pakistan’s history. Javeria Noman notes that with more than 77% of its population residing in rural areas, Sanghar relies heavily on agriculture and livestock. Though the district has a strong Sindhi influence on its culture, its distinguishing factor is the presence of the Hur community in the region. The Hurs played a notable role in the 1965 India-Pakistan war. Their involvement in the war severely impacted India’s advances in Sindh.
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Ms. Javeria Noman holds a BSS in International Relations from Bahria University. She has previously worked as an intern in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad and as an Assistant Junior Expert at NAB.


District Sanghar, the home of the Hurs, has been a significant administrative unit with a vital role in the economy, trade work, and history of eastern Sindh in Pakistan. Alexander attacked India in 326 BCE and the remains of the Greek conquest can be found in this area at present. The Arab conquest, driven by Muhammad Bin Qasim in 711 A.D, made Sindh part of the Umayyad Caliphate. Later on, this district was governed by various lines, including the Arghuns, the Soomras, the Talpurs, and the Kalhoras.

At the point when Britain took over the subcontinent, General Charles Napier – a commander in British Army – crushed the Talpur administration and vanquished Sindh in 1843. General Charles Napier was designated as the first governor-general of Sindh. The Britains contributed in various manners towards the improvement of Sindh. The province was split into various regulatory units and appointed landlords to gather taxes for the British government.

The British government advanced these areas as metropolitan centers. Thus, many people also moved from different areas and provinces and began to reside here. The British named these small flourished territories “Talukas.” After World War II, the people of Sanghar began an armed struggle under the leadership of their profound chief, Syed Sibghatullah Shah Shaheed (Pir Saab Pagaro), in order to get independence from the British.

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The freedom movement was widely known as the “Hur Tehreek”. Pir Pagaro announced his community as the Sufi Muslim community “Hur” (liberated from British subjugation). The British attempted to pulverize the uprisings that resulted in severe armed hostility on part of the Hurs. The British government had passed the “Hur Act” and the whole Hur community was categorized as criminals and instructed to be shot dead without hesitation.

To squash the Hur Tehreek, the British government had set up Sanghar as district headquarters. Pir Pagaro was hanged in 1943. The Hurs proceeded with their battle even after the demise of  Pir Sahab, straight up to the hour of the freedom of Pakistan. When the British left the subcontinent, Sanghar was conflated with Mirpur Khas and some portions were merged with Nawabshah in 1953. By keeping regulatory and political grounds in view, Sanghar was pronounced a district again in 1954 and its main office was at last settled in Sanghar city.

Hurs in 1965 War

The Hurs had not joined the Pakistan Army, but thousands volunteered to compete against the Indians. The Hurs were, due to fewer funds and time constraints, given just essential training and equipped with light weapons like attack rifles and machine guns. These fighters were put under Pakistan’s military and para-military forces working in the area (referred to as “Desert Force”). The Hur fighters were under the command of Faqeer Jamal Mangrio.

The war started on September 6th, 1965, and the threats in the Rajasthan area were initiated on 8th September. At first, the Desert Force and the Hurs were set in a defensive job, for which they were suitable as it turned out. The Hurs knew about the territory and locality and had numerous basic skills to survive the desert which surely their adversaries did not possess. Battling as primarily light infantry, the Hurs perpetrated numerous setbacks on the Indian forces when they entered Sindh.

The Hurs were likewise deployed as combatants, hassling the Indian LOC, a task which they usually tackled on camels. As the fight wore on the Hurs and the Desert Force were progressively used to assault and catch Indian towns inside Rajasthan. An attack was launched on Kishangarh Fort. The assault astonished the Indians and the fort was handed over following a few days of severe battling.

1965 Indo-Pakistan War
Pakistani infantry and M4A1E6 tanks advance during the 1965 war

The desert sector was just a sideshow in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War. The two sides had very little experience with desert battling at that time. Moreover, the chief industries, and economic hubs of Pakistan and India were towards the north. Accordingly, when the war started, the Indians’ principal target would be Sialkot and Lahore in Punjab.

The Indians left a few forces in the region with an intention of organizing nearby offensives. Pakistani armed force troops in the district were extremely extended at that time, protecting an area almost 1,000 km long. To neutralize this effort, the commander of the Pakistan Army approached the locals for help.

Culture of Sanghar

People of Sanghar are primarily Sindhi speaking—almost 72% of the total populace according to the 1998 census. Punjabi (15%), Urdu (5%), and Balochi (4%) are also spoken. The major religion of this district is Islam and is widely followed by approximately 79.15% of the population. Hindus constitute 20.15% while Christians are 0.49% of the Sanghar population. Sanghar has a rich history of Sindhi culture. Women mostly wear shalwar kameez, but they often follow their traditional attires like ghagra or parro with bangles. Men wear shalwar kameez and broader bottoms with a traditional Sindhi cap.

Sanghar is home to numerous political parties, although Pir Pagaro Saab has a vibrant hold over local politics. Mainly Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are major parties in the district and the area has a significant influence of these parties. In the general elections of 2013, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional secured 2 seats in the National Assembly and 3 seats in Sindh’s provincial assembly. On the other hand, PPP won 1 National Assembly seat and 3 provincial assembly seats.

Main Sources of Livelihood

The Sanghar district has an agro-based income where almost 77% populace resides in rural areas. The sources of income are not diversified. Agriculture and livestock are the main sources of employment in rural areas. While in urban areas, people are engaged in several other economic activities, for instance, trade and services, personal businesses, and private as well as public sector jobs.

Tando and Sanghar are chief trading centers in Sindh. These districts have textile industries, cotton factories, and sugar mills. Manufacturing industries’ 2001 census reported that 39 industrial units are working in the Sanghara district. These industries provide working opportunities to almost 3,628 people on average. Small industries also provide a livelihood to the residents.

The Agricultural Census of 2000 classifies rural domestic living under three wide categories—agricultural households that run land as owner-cultivators, livestock owners, and non-agricultural households. The share of non-agricultural households in rural areas is 29.4 percent. Agricultural households make up 41.8 percent and livestock owners constitute 28.8 percent.

Food Security

Food security can be divided into four tenets—availability, access, utilization, and stability. The overall crop-based food production like wheat, maize, and sugarcane is sufficient in the district. The availability of food per capita is not a reliable indicator of food security. If the available food and resources are not accessible socio-economically to the masses, it cannot develop a food secure society. The income level of households reflects access to food. Monthly income in the Sanghar district is between Rs.10,000/- to Rs. 15,000/- which is very low.

Measures Can Be Taken

Stockpiling of basic food items should be done through awareness programs. Availability of food should be ensured by the civil administration. Numerous food distribution points should be launched to give easy access to the needy. Livestock owners should be motivated to ensure their cattle heads.

Salinity and flood control projects can be initiated to make extra land available for more cultivation. NGOs should organize training, advocacy seminars, and awareness sessions for improved agricultural activities. Health facilities must be ensured by the health departments. Robust policies and measures are needed for the better livelihood of the people of Sanghar.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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