Karachi, whose historical appellations have included Koratchey, Kurrachee, Currachee, Crotchey, Krotchey Bay and Karáchí, was occupied by British troops in 1839 and conquered as part of Sind in 1843. Karáchí, then is official name – according to the Imperial Gazetteer of India – only periodically interested the British, in relation to their troubles in the 1838 Afghan war for its use as a suitable port for the disembarkation of troops and storing a military arsenal. In his book Kurrachee (1890) Alexander Baillie describes the first impressions recorded of Kurrachee by a British serving officer: ‘The town is excessively dirty, and the inhabitants are generally a most squalid looking set of wretches [.] The suburbs are extensive and in their vicinity are several tanpits, the stench from which is most disgusting and overpowering.’ After four years of war during which the British battled with the ‘brave Balochis’ and Pathans who traversed the surrounding Khirthar hills to bolster the riposte of the Sindhis, described unflatteringly by Sir Richard Burton (1846) as ‘notoriously cowardly and dishonourable’, the Imperial army prevailed. Under the fostering hand of Charles Napier, conqueror and first governor of Sind, Baillie describes how Kurrachee leapt from a ‘miserable native fortress into a civil town of considerable size with adjoining military cantonments’, forcing the ancient capital and chief city Hyderabad to abdicate its position. Sind’s burgeoning trade with Muscat and the African coast in slavery gave way to a large trade in shipping and the transport of cotton, dates, fruits, vegetables, silks, tobacco, muslins, chintzes and opium, that levied impressive gains. Whilst the British found the Sindhi Hindu mercantile class active, intelli-

gent and law abiding, the Muslim converts were considered, by Burton at least, ‘idle, apathetic, notoriously cowardly and dishonourable, addicted to intoxication, unclean and immoral in the extreme’. In order to counter the diseases and epidemics that prevailed, the Karachi Municipal Corporation, the first municipality of India, was established in 1932. Despite the high-handed attitudes of the British towards their colonised subjects, trade prospered. Sind’s annexation had other, domestic, benefits relating to the treatment of women. Alarmed by the numbers of women murdered by their spouses, Napier decreed severe punishments quite worthy, Baillie suggests, of the man who had dispatched the message – upon his conquest of Sind – ‘Peccavi’ ‘I have Sind (sinned)’. These issues of violence, trade, immigration, urbanisation, ethnic-racial and religious hostility and stereotyping that characterised the Imperial conquest of Sind have re-emerged throughout Kurrachee’s growth from a sleepy town of around 8,000 in 1839 to its status as a leading world trading centre for fruit and vegetables rival by the late nineteenth century to its present status as Pakistan’s commercial capital, housing over 15 million. When they re-emerged dramatically in the events surrounding Partition, and in MQM’s violent articulation of ethnic grievances, historians may feasibly have drawn older lines of continuity.