A possible alternate for Bhau to crush Abdali, by breaking his support –
1. Marathas hold the Sanad for collecting Chauth in Sindh and the Kalhoros are still loyal to the tottering edifice of the Mughals. As Gujarat is under Damaji, send a feudatory force under him into Sindh to collect Chauth and through it, to Qalat. This would have forced Nasir Khan Baloch to scurry home to save his lands.
2. Surajmal has got at least 20000 Marathas with him and Imad’s force. Ask him to make a token stand against Abdali making him busy.
3. Finish off Bhopal and then moves towards Awadh for taking sides with the Afghans. This will force Shuja’s hands but no quarter should be given.
4. Send Govind Pant, hanging around with at least 10000 to Rohillakhand and attack Najib in his own lands. If he doesn’t turn back, there will be nothing left for him when he comes back, and if he turns back, he will be facing the main Maratha force under Bhau.
5. Rope in the Sikhs to block Abdali’s way back.
6. Since Najib was also trying to instigate the Nizam to join their banner, let the southern expedition continue and finish him off for good to avoid a backstab.
7. When it is seen that Abdali is in an alien territory without any support, send a part of Bhau’s force to Surajmal and launch the main attack on Abdali. If Abdali wins, there are atleast three Maratha forces in the North and he needs to deal with them and the Sikhs blocking the path.
This will serve many purposes –
1. Since Marathas are present in Sindh and Punjab, Rajputs will be surrounded from all sides and will not try for any mischief.
2. The Nizam, an eternal thorn, is gone.
3. A force is created to guard the passes into India from Afghanistan for good. A beaten Abdali is not liable to succeed for long in Afghanistan
4. Najib, the turncoat of the decade will be finished off for good. Added bonuses are Bhopal and Awadh.
And with Abdali gone, the next act of the Marathas is just mopping up of the Muslim kingdoms and the rest. Anyways, the campaign had a secondary objective, which is conquest of Bengal. That single act would have cut down the European aggression to size. The main thorns for the Marathas to pick will be Carnatic, Mysore and Janjira. Pushing the Sikhs to the other side of Khyber and supporting them actively will ensure that all Sind and Baluchistan will be permanently pacified. And Sikhs, in a hostile territory, will act as eternal guardians of the pass.
The Angres are crushed. This tells two things – the leader at the top shouldn’t be vindictive and that the Marathas knew about the importance of navy. If, a united India under Marathas will create a navy again, it will have the potential to challenge the complete European forces in the Indian Ocean territory. There can be islands of non Maratha rule in the extremes, say, Ladakh, Simla Hill States, Ahom and Cachar, Calicut and Travancore but, their position and cultural affinities will force them to act as extra depth for the Maratha Empire.