The wars between Panni Pashtuns and Mughals (1576–1617)

In the second half of 16th century, Panni Pashtuns were in possession of the Siwi fort (located in modern Balochistan province of Pakistan). In 1576 the Mughal governor of Bakkar (old name of Sukkar in Sindh) led the first campaign to wrest Siwi fort from the Pashtuns. Pannis made a brave defence but they were defeated after a fierce battle and Mughals occupied the Siwi fort. However, after his departure, the Panni Pashtuns ousted the Mughal garrison and re-occupied the fort. 

In 1587 AD, the Mughal forces once again made an attempt to conquer Siwi. The governor of Bakkar sent his son with a big force against Panni Pashtuns. In a pitch battle, the Mughals suffered a crushing defeat and suffered heavy losses. Great number of those Mughal soldiers who took to flight, perished of thirst through the excessive heat. 

In December 1594 AD, Mughals made third attempt to wrest Siwi fort from Panni Pashtuns. This time they succeeded. Abu Fazal (court historian of Akbar) writes:

“They (the Mughal commanders) were instructed, if possible, by entering into some agreement with the Pannis, to make peaceful possession of the town; in case Pannis did not listen to advice, the town was to be taken by force. The negotiations having failed, on 23rd December, the imperial forces assaulted the town. Darya Khan and Daud, the Baloch chiefs of Gandava, also supported the Imperialists. About 5000 Pannis faced the attack, but were defeated and retired within the place, which was then invested. After it had been closely invested for some days, the defenders agreed to capitulate, and the keys were delivered up. Through this success, the country as far as Kandahar, and Kich and Makran, came into possession of the servants of the state.”


The newly conquered Siwi area remained turbulent, and Panni Pashtuns were only lightly taxed by the Mughals during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar. They merely paid a nominal tribute of sixty sheep even though they were assessed to be able to furnish 1,000 horsemen and 1,000 foot for militia purposes. 

In 1610s, the Mughal governor of Siwi fort killed more than one thousand Pashtuns by boiling them alive in large cauldrons to create awe and terror in the hearts of the unruly population. The name of that Mughal officer was Quch Ali and and he was a Turkmen by race. He kept two big cauldrons of boiling water perpetually ready. However, he could not subdue the Panni tribe of Pashtuns through terror. He was perpetually engaged in wars with Panni Pashtuns until he was recalled to India. His successor, Shaikh Bol, was killed by Panni Pashtuns in 1617. The sons of the latter avenged the death of their father by inflicting defeat on Panni Pashtuns whose chief was taken as prisoner to the Bakkar fort.

Book References:

1- “Afghans of the Frontier Passes” by A.Aziz Luni , pp-124-127
2- “Notes on Afghanistan and Baluchistan” by H.G.Raverty, p-596-7
3- “History of the Pathans”, Vol-III, by Haroon Rashid, pp-149-152
4- Tarikh-i-Sind or Tarikh-I-Masumi (as translated by Elliot in Indian history, Vol-1, p-246)

5- Zakhiratul Khawanin by Shaikh Farid Bukhari, Eng.trans, p-141


Minaret of Mir Masum in Sukkar ,Sindh.


Ruins of Sibi fort…
Map of Sibi



Late 16th century portrait of Akbar by Manohar




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