By: Dr. Naseer Dashti

The fall of the Baloch state in 1948 as a consequence of the creation of Pakistan is a unique phenomenon in the world’s political history. It is an amazing episode reminding us how the rivalry of great powers can cause collateral damage and far-reaching consequences. The division of India and the creation of Pakistan, which caused the demise of the newly independent Baloch state, is tragic to the Baloch. Still, it will be a great addition to interesting events in the annals of history.

Creation of Pakistan in context

During the 19th century, in the face of the continued advances of Russia in Central Asia and the presumed threat to India from the north, safeguarding Indian possessions became the obsession of policy planners in London and New Delhi. Afghanistan and Persia were vulnerable spots for them, and if they (Russians) successfully gained control of these countries, the next Russian target would undoubtedly be India. A “great game” of espionage and subversion began in regions bordering Russia, the Middle East and British India. To make a physical barrier around the north and west of India was postulated, popularly known as the “Forward Policy”.

The players of the great game changed when Czarist Russia became the Soviet Union in 1917. A socialist Russia was considered to be more dangerous than Czarist Russia with its open support for national liberation struggles and with the ideology of exporting socialist revolutions all over the world. The emerging phenomenon of socialism in China under the leadership of Mao Tze Tung and an untrustworthy Congress Party [1], which was supposed to take over from the colonial administration in an eventual withdrawal from India, forced the British policymakers to formulate counter strategies. They decided to adopt a three-pronged approach. First, the great game of the 19th century should continue. Second, Islam should be used again as a tool in countering the socialist menace in Asia; third, India should be divided and use religious affiliations of a people to create a client state for the protection of the Western interests in the region.

The use of Islam for political gains by the British Empire has a history. Following the mutiny or rebellion of 1857 (where followers of different religions joined against the rule of East India Company), the colonial administration made concerted efforts to disrupt the communal unity of Indian society. Although Pakistan was created in a hurry in 1947 from a post-second world war perspective, the seeds of the division had already been sown. From 1857, the colonial administration in India had been fomenting religious divisions by encouraging the theory of Muslims being a separate national entity in India. Indians belonging to two nations (Hindus and Muslims) thought to be the most accepted theory for dividing the country on religious grounds. To establish the religious differences of Indians as the basis for the ‘two-nation theory’, writers were commissioned. Their task was to present Indian history, pointing to the religious beliefs of the dynastic rulers of India. The British colonial authorities helped establish various religious schools in different parts of India. In 1888, Syed Ahmad Khan, a retired clerk and spy of the East India Company, was financed to open the famous religious school in Aligarh. Syed Ahmad was awarded the title of Sir by the Empire and was officially portrayed as a great Muslim intellectual. Later, the colonial administration assembled all its loyal persons among the Muslims in an ‘All India Muslim Conference’. The network of religious schools and the All-India Muslim Conference were the institutions from where the ideology of Pakistan[2] was propagated. From religious schools and the All-India Muslim Conference, the future activists and leaders of the religious party- the Muslim League- were recruited. The party was later tasked with demanding a Muslim state out of India.

Initially, it was not India where the British needed Islam as a political tool, but the phenomenon of using Islam as a tool began in Central Asia in the early 19th century. Alarmed by fast-reaching Russian moves towards the Indian borders, plans were made to stop the menace before it reached the precious colonial possession. As the population of Central Asian Khanates was Muslims by religion, the colonial administration planned to use their religious sentiments to encourage the people to oppose Russians or seek support for the British cause. In this context, all efforts were made to politically mobilize Muslims of Central and South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa to fight the infidels (Russian Christians)[3]. The slogan of Pan-Islamism was created, and the terminology of Islamic Umma[4] was re-manufactured to create a transnational Islamic movement which could serve the British colonial interests. Writers from different parts of Asia were commissioned for that purpose, and political activists were hired from India, Turkey, and Egypt to propagate Pan-Islamism. The colonial administration handsomely financed them in India and Egypt. One of the British agents was Jamaluddin Afghani. There is much controversy regarding his origin; born in Kabul or Asadabad in 1839, Afghani was the son of an East India Company representative in Afghanistan. There were also many controversies regarding his social background, whether he had Jewish or Persian Shi’ite connections. Afghani became a powerful tool for spreading Islamic fundamentalism and, in many ways, was the founder of political Islam in the contemporary world.

Controlled by the British experts on affairs of the East, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and Edward G. Browne, Afghani was given different assignments and appointed to various vital positions in Afghanistan, Turkey and Iran with active British scheming. He was installed as the Prime Minister of Afghanistan in 1866 for some time. In 1869, he was sent to India to coordinate intellectual efforts on the “two-nation theory” with other British agents like Syed Ahmad Khan. However, Afghani was withdrawn from India as he developed severe personal differences with Syed Ahmad Khan and his group. In 1870, Afghani became a member of the Board of Education in Istanbul through British officials’ active manipulations in the Istanbul court circles. Later, after his expulsion from Turkey, while based in Cairo, he intensified his efforts to form a network of activists under the slogan of Pan-Islamism. Using his important position at Al-Azhar University, he recruited young students for his cause[5]. During 1879, Afghani became overtly involved in the British and French efforts to depose Khedive Ismail of Egypt; however, instead of rewarding Afghani, the newly installed Khedive of Egypt, Taufiq, suddenly ordered him to leave Egypt. This was either because of inflammatory speeches or the unwanted political intrigues of Afghani. Afghani was now installed in Paris, where he established an Arabic journal called Al-Urwah al-Wuthkah, besides one in French. Among his Pan-Islamist circles in Paris were Egyptians, Indians, Turks, Syrians, and North African propagandists, recruited mainly by the British military establishment in Egypt and India. Afghani was soon found to help deal with the crumbling Qajar Dynasty in Persia. In 1885, with British connivance, the King of Persia, Naseer ad-Din Qajar, appointed Afghani as the Prime Minister of his Kingdom. But he was expelled from Iran for plotting to kill the monarch. He was now installed in London. He destabilized the Qajar Dynasty from his London headquarters by recruiting and handsomely financing Ayatollahs[6] and other religious personalities. The immediate objective of his endeavours was to build up an uprising in Persia led by his recruited Ayatollahs to blackmail the Qajar Dynasty to gain commercial favours for British companies, curtailing Russian influence in Persia and accepting British demands of strategic importance. From his London base, Afghani also campaigned vigorously for forming a military pact between Britain, Turkey, Persia, and Afghanistan against Russia. The use of Islam as a political tool by an infidel power against another infidel power (Russia and Britain were both infidels according to Islamic teachings) was a unique phenomenon.

Afghani’s clandestine web of writers and religious leaders played an important role in consolidating British efforts to divide India on religious grounds. Indian “two-nation theory” was an offshoot of the “Pan-Islamic Movement”. This was effectively used by strategic planners in London and New Delhi for the division of India in 1947. The Muslim League party formed by the colonial administration was tasked with demanding a state out of India on religious grounds. The party was mainly composed of loyal Muslims, spies of the British administration in India and personalities whose families had been on the payroll of East India Company for many years.

In the changing political scenario where the Soviet Union emerged as the second superpower after Second World War, China and an independent India were eventually to be ruled by communists and nationalists; creating a client state was thought to be imperative for safeguarding British political, strategic and economic interests in the Middle East with its newly found vast oil reserves. The eventual creation of Pakistan was to establish a British base in the region after the withdrawal.

As the British authorities failed to muster enough support for the Muslim League party among the Muslims of India on its manifesto of division on religious grounds in elections held in 1937, they decided to impose the partition and to do it fast. After World War II, the British hurriedly put into action their well-chalked-out plan of dividing India and then quitting. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in 1940, in Cairo, discussed the unfolding events regarding India with the famous British Indian protégé Sir Skindar Hayat.

During the meeting, Winston Churchill praised the loyalties of Indian Muslims towards the British Empire during the war by saying that the Indian Muslims had shown their loyalty; their help in this critical moment proved that they would be loyal after the independence of India. He declared that the British Government had decided to divide India and hand some of it to loyal Muslims. He emphasized that a government loyal to Britain in the Muslim part of divided India would help create a group of countries friendly to the British. Moreover, by leading the Muslim countries in the Middle East, the Muslim leaders in India loyal to the British would get the position of future leaders of Muslim states.

Meanwhile, the most valuable British asset among its Indian agents, Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was asked to increase the campaign for the division of India. In this regard, officials of the India Office in London drafted a resolution to be passed during the 1940 Lahore convention of the Muslim League. Lord Zetland, the then secretary of state for India, discussed thoroughly and endorsed the resolution when Muslim League leader Choudhry Khaliquzaman met him in London to deliberate on the Lahore meeting of the Muslim League. As a result, the resolution was passed, demanding the partition of India and creating a state for Muslims.

The British objectives in the creation of Pakistan were summarized in a memorandum to the Prime Minister by the military establishment of Great Britain as follows:

  1. We will obtain important strategic facilities [such as] the port of Karachiand air bases in North West India and the support of Muslim manpower.
  2. We should be able to ensure the continued independence and integrity [of] Afghanistan.
  3. We should increase our prestige, improve our position throughout the Muslim world, and demonstrate the advantages of links with the British Commonwealth through the assistance Pakistan would receive.
  4. Our links with Pakistan might have a stabilizing effect on India since an attack by Hindustan on Pakistan would involve Hindustan in war, not with Pakistan alone, but [also] with the British Commonwealth.
  5. The position on the Frontier might well become more settled since relations between the tribes and Pakistan would be easier than they could be with a united India.

Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, in an unsigned memorandum, summarized the crux of the British view for the creation of Pakistan:

“The Indus Valley, western Punjab and Baluchistan [the northwest] are vital to any strategic plans for the defence of [the] all-important Muslim belt…the oil supplies of the Middle East. Therefore, if one looks upon this area as a strategic wall (against Soviet expansionism), the five most important bricks in the wall are: Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Only through the open ocean port of Karachi could the opponents of the Soviet Union take immediate and effective countermeasures. The sea approaches to all other countries will entail navigation in enclosed waters directly menaced by Russian air fleets…not only of the sea lanes of approach, but also the ports of disembarkation.

If the British Commonwealth and the United States of America are to be in a position to defend their vital interests in the Middle East, then the best and most stable area from which to conduct this defence is from Pakistan territory.

Pakistan is the keystone of the strategic arch of the wide and vulnerable waters of the Indian Ocean.”

On June 3 1947, Viscount Louis Mountbatten, the last British Governor General of India, announced the partitioning of British India into India and Pakistan. With the speedy passage through the British Parliament of the Indian Independence Act 1947, two provinces of Punjab and Bengal were divided. With the merger of Sindh and North-Western Frontier Province, Pakistan was created out of India on August 14 1947. In a controversial referendum, British Balochistan[7] was also merged with Pakistan.

There are many unique features of this ‘Allah-given, British-created’ state of Pakistan. The speed at which the creation of Pakistan was finalized is unprecedented in the history of colonialism. In 1940, a resolution was passed at the meeting of a pro-colonialist party demanding the division of their country on religious grounds. Within six years, they achieved what they requested. It was also unique in the history of political science that a country was created without any movement on behalf of the general population and without even a nosebleed in the struggle to liberate a people from a mighty colonial power. It was unique that this newly independent state’s rulers came from elsewhere. It was unique that the colonial power created its ideology. It was unique that its national language was not the language of any national entity of the country. It was unique that the population of regions, which comprised the newly independent country, was overwhelmingly against its creation. With the baggage of its artificial creation, superfluous and fallacious founding philosophy and later developments in international polity, Pakistan was bound to become a satellite state subservient to the wishes of the Western Bloc throughout the Cold War era.

The creation of Pakistan undoubtedly shows the brilliance of a colonial administration. However, creating an Islamic state by a Christian colonial power shocked the region’s people. The British decision to partition India and create a religious state was the culmination of a long-standing and unrelenting policy of the colonial administration in India and policy planners in London for the Middle East and Central Asia. The rivalry of Czarist Russia with Britain in Central Asia, the emergence of the Soviet Union on the horizon of world politics, and the discovery of oil reserves in the Middle East were causative factors in the creation of Pakistan. Pakistan is a unique case of exploiting a people’s religious or mythological beliefs in dividing a country by powerful forces in the world’s political history.

Creation of Pakistan and the fall of the Baloch state

With the British announcement of their withdrawal from India, the Baloch state of the Khanate of Kalat prepared for independence after a prolonged British occupation. Efforts were made to regain territories incorporated in the province of British Balochistan. A group of lawyers was hired by the Khan (ruler of the Baloch state) to plead his case on the sovereignty of these areas once the British had gone. The Baloch state itself proclaimed its independence on August 12, 1947. Elections were held for a bi-cameral parliament. However, it became a short-lived independence, and Pakistan occupied the Baloch state only nine months following the declaration of its independence.

When preparations were made for the creation of Pakistan and the eventual British withdrawal from India, Balochistan under British control was divided into British Balochistan and the Khanate of Kalat. British Balochistan comprised Afghan areas ceded to the British under the Treaty of Gandamak in 1880 and areas of the Khanate of Kalat, including Quetta, Marri-Bugti Agency, Sibi and Chagai, which the Khan of Kalat leased out to the Government of British India with the signing of various accords in 1883, 1899, and 1903. Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan regions of Balochistan were already included in the province of Punjab. British Balochistan was part of British India and ruled by an Agent to Governor General, while the Khanate was in a treaty relationship directly with Whitehall.

During the 1930s, the Baloch state struggled to convince the British authorities that they should implement the treaty obligations signed with the Baloch state of Kalat following its occupation in 1839. However, a new development in the Indian political scene adversely affected the Khan’s endeavours to regain some autonomy for the Khanate. In 1935, a Government of India Act was promulgated, introducing far-reaching constitutional and administrative changes in British India. As a result, besides formally establishing the province of British Balochistan under the Government of India Act, the Khanate of Kalat itself was declared as part of British India. This clearly violated the Treaty of 1876, which committed the British to recognize and respect the independence of Kalat under its various Articles. The treaty was signed between the Khan, and the Viceroy of India, Lord Lytton, at Jacobabad in July 1876, which was the renewal and reaffirmation of the treaty concluded on May 14 1854, between the British Government and Khan Naseer Khan 11. 1876 treaty affirmed the eternal friendship between the British Government and the Khan of Kalat, his heirs and successors. Article 3 of the treaty explicitly mentioned that: “whilst on his part, Meer Khodadad Khan, Khan of Khelat, binds himself, his heirs, successors, and Sirdars, to observe faithfully the provisions of Article 3 of the Treaty of 1854, the British Government on its part engages to respect the independence of Khelat and to aid the Khan, in case of need, in the maintenance of a just authority and the protection of his territories from external attack, by such means as the British Government may at the moment deem expedient”.

However, the Treaty of 1876 appeared only on paper, and the British never fully honoured its treaty obligations with the Khanate of Kalat. With the promulgation of the Government of India Act 1935, the Khanate was reduced to the rank of an Indian princely state, at least de facto if not de jure. Mir Gous Bux Bizenjo, the leader of the Kalat State National Party, who became the leader of the house in the newly elected lower house of Balochistan Assembly, later commented that Khan did realize the importance of settling the issue of the status of his state with the British authorities in the wake of developing changes; however, he was not strong enough to take a robust and workable attitude toward the issue. He hired a known protégé of the British authorities, Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as the lawyer to represent the interests of the Khanate in New Delhi, a move which later became an important factor in the demise of the Baloch state. Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah, when appointed as the first Governor-General of Pakistan in 1947, played a crucial role in the occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan. The Khan had neither grasped the reality that Great Britain planned to create a country by dividing India nor was he able to realize that his state, by its geographical location and contiguity with the proposed new country, would be vulnerable.

Oblivious of important events happening in the region, in preparation for independence after an imminent British withdrawal, the Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, in 1939, called a Consultative Jirga (Assembly) of all tribal chiefs and elders from all over the state in which he announced the establishment of a cabinet and a Council of State without prior consultation with British officials. The Cabinet comprised twelve independent ministerial members of equal importance, and the Wazir-e-Azam (prime minister) was to be responsible to the Council of State. The British became irritated and alarmed by the unilateral actions of the Khan.

When the Baloch state was expecting that, upon the cessation of British power in India, its pre-1876 full independent status would be restored, and it would regain sovereign rights over all its territories held or leased to Britain, things were moving fast towards the creation of Pakistan. A three-member Cabinet Mission was sent from London in 1946 to devise India’s power transfer methodology. The Khan decided to raise the status of his state and presented a memorandum to the Cabinet Mission. The salient features of the memorandum were as follows:

  • The Kalat is an independent and sovereign state, and its relationship with the British Government is based on various mutual agreements and treaties.
  • The Kalat is not an Indian state, its relations with India being of only a formal nature by virtue of Kalat’s agreements with the British.
  • With the cessation of the agreement of 1876 with the Kalat Government, the Khanate of Kalat should regain its complete independence as it existed before 1876.
  • All such regions, as were given under the control of the British in consequence of any treaty, would return to the sovereignty of the Kalat state and resume their original status as parts of the Kalat state.
  • On the lapse of British sovereignty, the agreements regarding the parts under their control should cease to have any legal binding; the rights hitherto vested in the British shall automatically be transferred to the Kalat

On April 11, 1946, the Khan, during his meeting with Indian Viceroy Lord Wavell, also explained the Khanate position after the British withdrawal from India. After the announcement of the plan for partitioning British India into India and Pakistan on June 3, 1947, the Kalat Government had a series of meetings and presentations with representatives of the Viceroy and officials of the future Government of Pakistan in Delhi. On August 4, 1947, a tripartite meeting was held in Delhi, chaired by Viceroy Lord Mountbatten and attended by his legal advisor Lord Ismay. On the Baloch side, Khan Ahmad Yar Khan and his Prime Minister, Barrister Sultan Ahmad, were present. Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan represented Pakistan. In the meeting, a consensus was reached regarding the future of Balochistan. It was agreed that the Baloch state of Kalat would be independent, enjoying the same status as it held initially in 1839 before the British occupation. It was also decided that in case relations of Kalat with any future government of divided India become strained, Kalat would exercise its right of self-determination, and the British Government should take preventive measures to help the Khanate of Kalat in the matter as per various treaties signed between the Khan and the British Government. A “Standstill Agreement” was signed by Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan on behalf of the future state of Pakistan and Mr. Sultan Ahmad on behalf of the Khanate of Kalat on August 4, 1947. In the agreement, the Government of Pakistan recognizes the Khanate as an independent sovereign State, in a treaty relationship with the British Government, with a status different from that of an Indian princely state. It was also agreed that regarding areas of the Khanate leased out to the British in the 19th century, the legal opinion would be sought on whether or not the agreements of leases made between the British Government and the Khanate of Kalat would be inherited by the Pakistan Government.

After the formal declaration of Balochistan as an independent state on August 12, 1947, the Khan appointed Nawabzada Muhammad Aslam Khan as the first Prime Minister of the independent state and Mr. Douglas Fell as the Foreign Minister. The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Balochistan visited Karachi to negotiate with the Government of Pakistan on modalities for concluding a treaty of friendship based on August 4, 1947, Standstill Agreement, including matters relating to the areas held under lease with British authorities. However, Pakistani authorities’ response to a friendship treaty was not promising, which later proved their malicious designs towards the Baloch state.

With the promulgation of the Government of Kalat State Act 1947, the newly independent Baloch state’s new constitution established some representative governance system. According to the constitution, a council of ministers was headed by a Prime Minister. The ministers were appointed by the Khan and held their office at the discretion of the Khan. The council’s function was to aid and advise the Khan of the Baloch in exercising the state’s executive authority. A bi-cameral legislature was enacted composed of an upper and a lower house. The Upper House (Darul Umara) comprised tribal chiefs from Jhalawan and Sarawan. It had forty-six members, ten of whom were appointed by the Khan. Eight of these ten members were to be selected from the Lower House as well as from the Council of Ministers, and the other two members were to be selected from the minority groups. The members of the Cabinet were allowed to participate in debates in the house but were not allowed to vote. The Lower House (Darul Awam) comprised fifty-five members, of whom fifty were to be elected and the Khan to nominate the remainder. Elections were held for both houses of the parliament under the Government of Kalat Act 1947. Most of the House of Commons members were elected from candidates nominated by the nationalist organization, the Kalat State National Party (KSNP). The first session of the Darul Awam was held at Shahi Camp, Dhadar, on December 12, 1947.

Soon after the declaration of independence of the Baloch state, unexpected events began to unfold. After the occupation of Kalat in 1839, the newly independent Baloch state once again faced another occupation in 1948.

The Khan could not take any positive steps to regain the possession of the Baloch areas of British Balochistan as the British, in collaboration with the new administration of Pakistan, had other plans for the future of Balochistan. The first blow to the newly independent Balochistan came with the merger of British Balochistan with Pakistan, using unfair means by the British authorities in Quetta. In a sham referendum, colonial officials pressurized members of Shahi Jirga of Quetta Municipality, who were the nominees of the colonial administration, to vote for the merger of British Balochistan with Pakistan. However, despite their efforts, they could not muster the support of most members of the Jirga. The referendum date was brought a day earlier, and without voting, it was announced on All India Radio that members of Shahi Jirga voted for the annexation with Pakistan. Earlier, the British authorities rejected the demands of the Baloch tribal chiefs in Mari, Bugti, and Derajat regions to rejoin the Khanate of Kalat after the British withdrawal. The Baloch state was powerless to do anything about losing its precious territories.

Sensing the real intentions of the Pakistani state, which was basking in the glow of all-out British support, the Government of Kalat invited the Indian Government to agree to a friendship treaty. A request was also made by the representative of the Khan, Sir Sultan Ahmad, for permission to establish a trade agency in New Delhi. The Congress government in New Dehli was not interested (for unknown reasons), and the Khanate’s representative was informed that the request could not be considered. It appears that the refusal of Pakistan and perhaps also of India to conclude friendship treaties with Balochistan was consistent with the British designs of drawing a new map of the region after their formal withdrawal. The British aimed for a viable Pakistan; without Balochistan, it wasn’t easy to give it proper geographical and strategic viability as a country. Therefore, the British authorities impressed upon the Pakistani leaders the need to take practical action to incorporate the Baloch state into the newly created religious state. Mr Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the hired and handsomely paid legal hand by the Khan of the Baloch to represent the case of the leased areas of the Baloch state before the colonial administration in New Delhi, was now playing the role of Brutus. To the astonishment of the Baloch, Mr Jinnah and the Pakistani authorities were encouraged by the British administration in India to deal with (the danger of) an independent Balochistan. An extract from a secret memorandum prepared by the British Minister of State for The Commonwealth Relations Office on September 12, 1947, is clearly indicative of the master-mind role of the British Government in the future development of events leading to the occupation of the Baloch state by Pakistan in 1948:

“Pakistan has entered into negotiations with Kalat on the basis of recognizing the state’s claim to independence and of treating the previous agreements between the crown and Kalat providing for the Lease of Quetta and other areas, which would otherwise lapse under section 7 (I) (6) of the Indian Independence Act, as international agreements untouched by the termination of paramountcy. The Khan of Kalat, whose territory marches with Persia, is, of course, in no position to undertake the international responsibilities of an independent state, and Lord Mountbatten, who, before the transfer of power, was warned of the dangers of such a development, doubtless passed on this warning to the Pakistan Government. The United Kingdom High Commissioner in Pakistan is being informed of the position and asked to do what he can to guide the Pakistan Government away from making any agreement with Kalat which would involve recognition of the state as a separate international entity”.

Pakistan began pressurizing the Khan of the Baloch to merge his state with the religious state. In October 1947, Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Governor General of Pakistan, menacingly proposed the accession of the Khanate of Kalat to Pakistan. The Khan summoned his parliament in December 1947, during which the Darul Awam (House of Commons) debated the Khanate relationship with Pakistan and the consequences of any move by Pakistan against the Baloch state. The House of Commons rejected any form of a merger with Pakistan. It resolved to protect the sovereignty of the Baloch state at any cost, unanimously rejecting the proposal for the accession of the Baloch state to Pakistan. The Darul Umarah (House of Lords), during its session on January 2–4, 1948, endorsing the decision of the Darul Awam, also rejected the accession proposal. Both houses of Kalat Parliament once again dismissed any merger proposal with Pakistan during their sessions held on the last week of February 1948.

After failing to pressurize the Baloch parliament, the Pakistani authorities openly adopted an aggressive policy towards the Baloch state. They successfully manipulated Kharan and Lasbela — the two subordinate regions of the Khanate — for their “merger” with Pakistan directly. Similarly, Makuran, another province of the Khanate, was forced to declare its “independence” from the Baloch state on March 17, 1948, and a day later announced its merger with Pakistan. Lacking resources to counter the Pakistani moves, the Government of Kalat could only issue a press statement declaring Kharan, Lasbela, and Makuran inalienable parts of Balochistan. In a press interview, Khan expressed his desire for an amicable settlement of the dispute with Pakistan over the accession of three constituent units of his state. The Pakistani Government did not bother to respond. In his memoirs, the Khan lamented the loss of territories by stating that the Pakistani Cabinet was working on a scheme to break up the centuries-old Baloch state. The taking over of the Khanate provinces of Makuran, Kharan, and Las Bela, was tantamount to the political castration and geographical strangulation of the Khanate of Kalat.

Attempts to put up any meaningful resistance against the Pakistani aggression came to an end when the British Government flatly refused to supply any arms and ammunition to Balochistan when the Commander-in-Chief of the Khanate forces, Brigadier General Purvez, approached the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Ministry of Supply during his visit to England in December 1947. On February 2, 1948, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the former hired attorney of the Khan and now the Governor General of Pakistan, forcefully repeated the Pakistani demand for a merger in a letter to the Khan. The parliament of the Khanate was then finally informed by the Prime Minister of the Baloch state that Pakistan had refused to enter into any treaty relationship and had extended an ultimatum for unconditional accession. The Baloch state was helpless against Pakistani aggression, and the Khan of the Baloch could only threaten to appeal to the International Court of Justice and the United Nations. After gaining possession of the Khanate provinces of Makuran, Las Bela, and Kharan, the Pakistani authorities were now openly threatening the use of force against the capital of the Baloch state. The tribal chiefs and various political parties and groups, including Kalat State National Party (KSNP), advised the Khan that since it was not possible to face the might of the Pakistan Army in a head-on confrontation in the given situation, the only option to defend the country was to wage a defensive guerrilla war. The Khan was advised to proceed to Afghanistan and, from there, to approach the United Nations while Baloch fighters engaged the invaders. However, the Khan could not muster enough personal courage. Under the influence of his Foreign Minister and advisor Mr. Douglas Fell, he handed the Baloch state to Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, after hearing the news that the Pakistani troops had moved into the southern coastal towns of Pasni and Jiwani, eventually succumbed and affixed his signature to the Agreement of Accession on March 27, 1948, terming his action as a “dictate of history”:

“I confess, I knew I was exceeding the scope of my mandate . . . [but] had I not taken the immediate step of signing Kalat’s merger, the . . . British Agent to the Governor-General could have played havoc by leading Pakistan into a fratricide war against the Baluches.”

Pakistan’s occupation of their country was unexpected and came out of the blue for the Baloch. Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, leader of the House of Commons in the Baloch parliament at the time of occupation, lamented that in taking such a step—in gross violation of the will of Baloch people as expressed unanimously by members of both Houses of Parliament—the Khan rendered himself guilty of an act of great injustice to them by his act of cowardly submission to invaders. Bizenjo was disgusted by the mediocrity of the Baloch ruler of that time as he lamented that at the crossroads of history, Balochistan was unfortunately without any robust leadership; leadership was needed to consolidate the newly achieved independence after a long and dark period of colonial rule. At this crucial period of Baloch history, the Khan of the Baloch was a broken man, and the grit and conviction to defend the independence of the Baloch state were no longer in him.

The annexation of Balochistan into Pakistan was unacceptable for the Baloch, but they could not offer any meaningful resistance. On the one side, there was the might of the Pakistan army, and on the other side, the Baloch were unarmed and disorganized, whose symbol of unity and strength – the Khan of the Baloch– had betrayed them. A short-lived and ineffective resistance against the occupation led by the younger brother of Khan was crushed by Pakistan, political activities were banned, KSNP was declared illegal, and its leaders were arrested. The Baloch’s dreams of an independent and honourable status were shattered by the grand designs of an imperialist power safeguarding its interests in the region, disregarding all its treaty obligations with one of its colonial protectorates.

The occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan is a typical example of collateral damage to a people orchestrated by external political developments and having nothing to do with the Baloch. Unfortunately, the Baloch leadership was caught unawares by the fast-moving developments of international politics. As a result, they could not formulate robust policies to safeguard their independence. As a result, in making the client state of Pakistan viable, their land was taken away from them, and a protracted and bloody conflict ensued between the Baloch and Pakistan.

[1] Although, Congress under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were pursuing a democratic and peaceful line of struggle, the rhetoric of the majority of Congress leadership was progressive and anti-western.  One of the presidents of Congress Party, Subhas Chandra Bose began an armed struggle against the British rule in India during the World War Second with the help of Japan.

[2] ideology of Pakistan is the official doctrine of Pakistani State, which states that followers of Islamic faith in India form a separate nation so they have the right of having a separate state

[3] Later on, after the advent of socialism in Russia, the target became the atheist socialists.

[4] The Umma is an ancient Arabic terminology meaning a group of people who follow a particular person or ideology. The early Muslims used this for the followers of Prophet Muhammad. The term was abandoned after the creation of the state of Medina. However, after the period of Rightly Guided Four Caliphs, the fundamentalist Muslims used the terminology for pure or pious Muslims against the corrupted ones.   The term was altogether forgotten for many centuries until it was revived in 18th by Wahhabis and in 19th century by Jamaluddin Afghani and his group.  In contemporary terminology it represents true followers of Prophet Muhammad, ruled by an Ameer ul Momineen or a Caliph in accordance with Qur’an and Sunnah.

[5] Famous among the recruited persons of Afghani included Muhammad Abduh—who later became the founding ideologue of Muslim Brotherhood Movement. A majority of radical movements in today’s Middle East is the direct offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement.

[6] Some of the powerful Ayatollahs and religious leaders ruling Iran since 1979 are the direct descendants of Afghani’s recruited people.

[7] British Balochistan consisted of leased areas of the Baloch state of Kalat and some regions of southern Afghanistan which were ceded to the British India with the drawing of Durand line during last decades of 19thcentury.


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