The regions west of the Jhelum had come firmly under Afghan rule and the inhabitants, whether Pashtun or non-Pashtun, were robbed and ruled with harshness. The local powers thus joined in the campaigns of their new overlords just as their forefathers had joined the Mughal army and administration---even though most of them would have preferred to remain free. Abdus Samad of the Mohmand Pashtun tribe, an inhabitant of Peshawar, acted as Abdali's governor of Sarhind before he was unseated by the Marathas and Adina Beg. In Multan Ahmad Shah settled a large number of Sadduzai Afghans who kept the local rebels in check. The numerous petty states from Hazara to Rajauri aided the Afghan conquest of Kashmir in 1752---Raja Sukh Jiwan, a former Mughal officer, became the Afghan governor of that pristine valley. When Ahmad Shah was involved in the contest with the Marathas this Sukh Jiwan declared his independence. In 1762 Ahmad Shah again had to conquer Kashmir---in this expedition military aid came from the state of Jammu.
Raja Ranjit Dev of Jammu considered it wise to maintain good relations with Ahmad Shah because by that time Jammu had become the richest state in that war-devastated region. In fact the states lying in the eastern hills had all become wealthy and militarily strong---this came about due to two reasons. Firstly with the foreign invasions and the plundering of the Sikh bands the traditional trade route between India and Asia had become unsafe---traders, envoys, travelers now preferred to pass through the hill states of Jammu and Kangra where they paid custom duties and taxes. Secondly merchant families from Punjab and Delhi settled down in these states with all their wealth, while in times of danger powerful chiefs (Mughals, Afghans, and Sikhs) in the plains would entrust their property and children to the care of the Rajputs.
Some of this wealth was spent in building palaces, forts, and temples but these were after all warlike states and an increase in military resources and power projection was a natural consequence of increased prosperity. As explained above these Rajput states had always been deficient in artillery, but now they hired mercenaries from the plains to bolster their traditional clan-armies. These mercenaries were Mughalias, Afghans, and Purbias, formerly of the Delhi and Nadir Shah armies left unemployed by the death or defeat of their patrons---they had been offering their services to any local chief who could pay them. Some had been hired by Safdar Jang and others by Muin-ul-mulk and his deputy Adina Beg; Ranjit Dev of Jammu also had such men in his pay while Ghammand Chand Katoch of Kangra had hired about 4000 such mercenaries---with all their guns and munitions.
These two Rajas thus acquired dominance in their respective regions and their power was recognized by Ahmad Shah Abdali after he had annexed Punjab. The Afghan monarch considered it politic to maintain these Rajas as allies instead of attacking them because his more immediate enemies were on the plains.
After the execution of Banda Bahadur in 1714 the Sikhs did not have the resources or the leadership to make an impact on the geo-politics of the Punjab. The original followers of the Gurus, men and women from all castes, clustered around the numerous holy places of their religion but a new element was injected into this body---these were the Jat headmen of the Punjab villages and their followers. Some had been initiated as Sikhs by Guru Govind and Banda while others embraced Sikhism to seek allies against the oppressions of Mir Mannu.
As explained above Punjab was a poor province in the medieval era and was covered with jungle and scrub. Sturdy horses were bred in these tracts and the local tribes began their careers by raiding and robbing on horseback---as described earlier successful chiefs attracted more mercenaries around them and became a threat to the government, which would either induct such chiefs into their administration or would crush them outright. Unlike these chieftains the Jat Sikhs had been given a sense of direction and unity by their Gurus---which in a delicious irony were unknowingly strengthened by the Mughal governor of Lahore!
The position of Guru and the institution of the masands were utilized by the Mughal government to control the Sikhs---these had been wisely abolished by Govind Singh. However, Zakariya Khan the Lahore governor ennobled one Kapur Singh with the title of Nawab, granted him an estate, and bade him to act as the leader of the Sikhs. In 1727 Nawab Kapur Singh persuaded the different Sikh bands (misl) to gather as a united group (dal) at Amritsar and pay taxes for their villages---this annual gathering came to be called the Dal Khalsa. When the Persian and Afghan invasions shook Mughal authority in Punjab the Dal Khalsa began planning military campaigns and plundering raids at these very gatherings! Jassa Singh of the Ahluwalia misl emerged as the head of the Dal Khalsa.
 One such tract from the Sutlej River south up to Karnal was called the Lakhi Jangal, forest of hundred thousand trees and brush, even in the 18th Century. It was a center for horse breeding until canals were dug and the land was opened for cultivation under the British.
As already pointed out, the Sarhind region was not part of Punjab, but here too there were some small Sikh bands controlling a few villages. In 1741 the Mughal faujdar of Sarhind was challenged by the growing power of the Muslim landlord of Raikot---the Sikh chief Ala Singh of Patiala fought loyally under the Mughal banners and was rewarded with an estate and a title. Other Phulkian Sikh chiefs came into some prominence at this time but none of these were counted among the leading powers of that time. In fact the Sikhs and Jats of the region were still classed as small-time rebels. In 1740, a year after Nadir Shah's army had devastated the Sarhind region on their way home, the Sikhs and Jats gathered together under a chief named Daranat Shah and tried to capture Sarhind but were defeated by a Mughal army sent up from Delhi.
In 1757, Ala Singh and other Sikh warriors looted the baggage train of Abdali's son Timur, but dispersed to their hiding places when Ahmad Shah with the main army passed through Sarhind. Later that year Abdus Samad Mohmand, governor of Sarhind, attacked Ala Singh and forced him to pay a fine. The next year the Marathas, allied with the Sikhs and Adina Beg, attacked Sarhind with the results described above---Ala Singh and other Phulkia chiefs utilized this period to further increase their power. Foreign invasions had enabled the Sikhs to come into prominence and it would be continuing foreign invasions, and consequent Maratha weakness, which would elevate their power over all others.
 So named because they were descendants of Baba Phul Singh
Figure 4 The old fort of PatialaRead More......