Listen to article
Balochistan today is one of the most neglected and exploited places on earth with a history of brutalities, massacres, and bloodshed. All this is because of political leaders like Jinnah and Nehru who betrayed the Balochi tribals and are the reason why Balochistan continues to be a part of Pakistan against the wishes of its people.
The British tried every trick of the trade to tame the gutsy Baloch tribals for nearly 40 years but failed. So, they changed their strategy and signed a Treaty of Kalat (reaffirmed in 1876) to position British troops in Quetta and other strategic points – for a price (subsidy). As per the Treaty, the British Government recognized the Sirdars and Khan as the tribal chiefs and offered to defend them from external threats. To make all this seem like icing on the cake, the British offered to pay a ‘subsidy’ of Rs. 50,000 to the Khan. It was later raised to 1 lakh in 1876. Soon a new British cantonment came up at Quetta and gradually took over the administration.
It is pertinent to note that at the time division of British India in 1947 Balochistan wasn’t a part of Pakistan as there was no entity called Pakistan till 14 August 1947.
In a memorandum to the Cabinet Mission in 1946, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan Baloch the Khan of Kalat and ruler of Balochistan made it clear that Balochistan did not wish to be a part of Pakistan. Reiterating his stand, he sent a letter to Sir John Rupert Colville a British civil servant and the Crown Representative insisting on a sovereign independent status for Balochistan. Ironically, Jinnah a practicing lawyer on the payroll of the Khan prepared the case in favor of independence of the Kalat state. Lord Mountbatten, Khan of Kalat, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah a lawyer who fought and won a legal case on behalf of Khan of Kalat met several times to discuss the issue.
All kinds of bribes, allurements and threats were offered to the Khan of Kalat who refused to ‘buckle down’. The Khan wanted “complete Independence” and hence vowed to “continue the struggle” till these conditions were met and there was “no interference” in Balochistan’s internal affairs. The Khan chose to be called ‘Shah’ instead of being known as King of Balochistan.
Finally, even Jinnah accepted the status of Balochistan as an independent country – separate from India and Pakistan. As a result, the British declared Balochistan’s independence as a sovereign nation – even before India and Pakistan – on August 11, 1947— with the same territorial and administrative freedom that it enjoyed in 1838.
As part of the understanding, Pakistan was to accept Kalat as an independent state and provide security in case of foreign invasion, but refrain from interference in its internal affairs and settle all disputes amicably. The Khan was willing to accept Pakistan as a friendly Islamic nation and prepared to follow a common defense, foreign affairs and communications policy.
In a meeting between a delegation from Kalat and officials of the Pakistan States Department, presided over by the Crown Representative it was agreed that:1. The Government of Pakistan would recognize Kalat as an independent sovereign state with a status different from that of Indian states.2. Legal opinion will be sought as to whether or not agreements of leases made between the British government and Kalat will be inherited by the Pakistan government.
Accordingly, Balochistan was officially allowed to post an Ambassador in Karachi (the first capital of Pakistan) and hoist the Balochi National flag– with Red (“Sword or Jihad” sign of revolution) and green (the holy book “Quran” peace) just like other countries do. Accordingly, the first-ever general elections in Balochistan’s history were held in 1947. National Party swept the elections and Nawabzada Aslam was sworn in as Prime Minister of Kalat. The Kalat parliament and ruler started functioning independently and laws were being drafted. Balochi was recognized as the “official and national language”.
In October 1947 when the Khan of Kalat visited Pakistan, he was given due recognition as head of a sovereign state and was received like the King of Balochistan in Karachi.
By 1948 both houses of the Kalat Assembly had rejected accession with Pakistan, while even the Muslim League acknowledged the independence of Kalat.
This is when the British are understood to have played a part and advised Pakistan to takeover Kalat in 1948. According to reports, the British were initially in favor of honoring their commitments regarding Kalat’s independence under the 1876 treaty and using an independent Balochistan as a base for their activities in the region. Accordingly, Maj. Gen. R C Money in charge of strategic planning in India drew up a plan in 1944 in which Balochistan could serve as a strategic military base for the defense of the Persian Gulf. However, by 1946 when it was decided to partition India, the British felt that instead of locating a base in a weak Balochistan, such a base could be established in Pakistan which was more than willing to accommodate the British. Hence, it was in the British interests to ensure that Balochistan did not become an independent entity and remained a part of Pakistan.
Secretary of State Lord Listowell is understood to have informed Lord Mountbatten that an independent Kalat would be too risky and dangerous to be allowed to be free. Hence the British High Commissioner in Pakistan was asked to somehow strike a deal and do everything possible to ensure that Kalat (present-day Balochistan) is a part of Pakistan.
Realising the need of the hour, Jinnah wrote to the Khan of Kalat, “I advise you to join Pakistan without further delay…and let me have your final reply which you promised to do after your stay with me in Karachi when we fully discussed the whole question in all its aspects”.
The Khan went to Karachi, Pakistan to discuss details but Jinnah did not meet him and simply conveyed that he had no alternative but to accede to Pakistan. The Khan refused to accept the deal and returned – using the plea that as per the tribal customs he had to seek the consent of his people before concluding a deal.
The issue of accession with Pakistan came up for hearing in the lower house of the Balochi Parliament where Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo — a prominent Baloch politician known as “Baba i Balochistan” or “The Father of Balochistan” said, “if the mere fact that we are Muslims required us to amalgamate with Pakistan, then Afghanistan and Iran should also be amalgamated with Pakistan… They say we Baloch can’t defend ourselves in the atomic age. Well, is Afghanistan, Iran and even Pakistan capable of defending themselves against the superpowers? If we cannot defend ourselves, a lot of others cannot do so either.”
“They say we must join Pakistan for economic reasons. Yet we have minerals, we have petroleum and we have ports. The question is what would Pakistan be without us? … This means signing the death warrant for 15 million Balochs in Asia. We cannot be guilty of this major crime to humiliate the Baloch nation through a merger with a non-Baloch nation” he added. This stand was ratified by the Upper house.
At that time Balochistan was a wealthy nation compared to many Middle Eastern (Arab Countries) but eight months after its independence, Balochistan was occupied and forcefully annexed by Pakistan under the orders of Mohd Ali Jinnah on 27th March 1948. Jinnah reportedly asked Prince Yar Mohammad — the ruler of Balochistan to join Pakistan in the name of Religion. The Khan refused saying that he needed to discuss this with the Kalat Parliament. Jinnah’s offer was discussed in both houses of the Baloch parliament and rejected it by a majority vote.
The Balochistan Assembly had outrightly rejected any change in the independence of Balochistan under any circumstances and categorically asked the Khan not to sign any document at gun-point.
Today the British have left but Pakistan retains the same divide and rule mindset and keeps making false promises.
The Indian Position
As soon as the possibility of the British leaving India became apparent, the Khan of Kalat (as most of Balochistan was then known) Mir Ahmed Yar Khan made it clear that he sought independence. His arguments were based on the fact that Kalat had a status different than the 560-odd Indian princely states.
The Khan sent Samad Khan (a member of the AICC) to plead Kalat’s case with the Congress leadership but Nehru categorically rejected this contention and refused to discuss the matter. Presumably, this was due to the Congress’s hostility towards the princely states without making a distinction between the state of affairs in Kalat and the other princely states.
Subsequently, Ghaus Bux Bizenjo, President of the Kalat State National Party went to Delhi and met Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, President of the Congress. Azad agreed with Bizenjo’s contention that Balochistan had never been a part of India and had its own independent status governed by the Treaty of 1876. However, Azad argued that the Baloch would never be able to survive as a sovereign state. Azad reportedly admitted that the demands of the Baloch were genuine but expressed his inability to ensure Balochistan’s independence.
Meanwhile, an All India Radio (AIR) broadcast on March 27, 1948, during a press conference by V P Menon sealed Baluchistan’s fate. Addressing the press conference, V P Menon stated that the Khan of Kalat had been pressing India to make Kalat a part of India and had sent an ambassador to India to merge Kalat with India. The Khan who had the habit of listening to the 9 o’clock AIR news was so very upset at the manner in which his request had been treated that he is reported to have called up Jinnah to discuss Kalat’s accession to Pakistan. Significantly, the minutes of a Cabinet meeting held on March 29, 1948 state that V P Menon had, in fact, made no such comments and that it was a reporting error by AIR. On 30 March 1948 Prime Minister Nehru apologized for the false news in a speech before the parliament. But by then the damage had already been done. The Khan of Kalat had been silenced and Balochistan had been captured by force.
Curiously while the Indian political leadership turned a blind eye, Jinnah ordered the Pakistani military to forcibly seize Balochistan on the pretext that they were colluding with Pakistan’s enemies. On March 22, 1948, Pakistan Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan presided over a meeting of the three services Chiefs. On 27th March 1948, Lt Colonel Gulzar of the 7th Baluch Regiment under GOC Major General Mohammad Akbar Khan invaded Kalat and escorted the Khan to Karachi while Pakistan Navy’s destroyers reached Pasni and Jiwani.
The Khan was arrested, and forced to sign the instrument of accession. His brother prince Karim Khan hid in the mountains and steadfastly fought the Pakistani Army which not only occupied Balochistan but also killed millions of Baloch women, children and aged and burnt their homes and villages.
Prince Karim fought bravely for one year before Pakistani parliamentary leaders called him for a roundtable to peacefully discuss Balochistan’s demands. The Pakistani leader swore by the Holy Quran and assured him that he would not be harmed if he came to the negotiating table. But as soon as he came for negotiations the Pakistan forces attacked them and Prince Karim as well as several other Baloch fighters were imprisoned. Prince Agha Abdul Karim spent most of his life in a Punjab prison. Prince Karim thought that Pakistan being a Muslim country would respect the holy Quran but he was wrong. No one talked to him. Clearly, the mess in which Balochistan is today has been created by the political leaders from both India and Pakistan. The Baloch rightly say that Pakistan needs Balochistan but without the Baloch people.
Looking at the events in hindsight even Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, or Maulana Azad, the then president of India’s Congress Party are equally to be blamed for the situation in Balochistan. Clearly, Nehru and others failed to comprehend the strategic significance of an independent Balochistan. They presumed that a strong and stable Pakistan would ensure peace and stability on India’s western flank – this proved to be their greatest miscalculation. Historical developments have proved them wrong.
But in the process, the sovereign Baloch state— lasted only 227 days.
Balochistan in history, https://balochistaninhistory.blogspot.com/