Balochistan: Accession at gunpoint
by ALTAF Waseem
Mir Ghaus Buksh Bizenjo while addressing the Dar-ul-Awam said ‘Although we are Muslims, this does not mean we should be a part of Pakistan, If only being Muslim is the solitary reason for our being part of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan should also merge into Pakistan’.
During British Raj Baluchistan did not enjoy the status of a province but comprised four princely states namely: Makran, Kharan, Lasbela and Kalat. The Khan of Kalat was the Head of the confederacy, also known as the Baluchistan States Union. The northern areas of Balochistan including Bolan Pass, Quetta, Nushki and Naseerabad were leased out to Britain, which were later, named as British Balochistan. In 1876 Sir Robert Sandeman Chief Commissioner of Balochistan concluded a treaty with the Khan of Kalat and brought his territories which included all four princely states under British suzerainty. The treaty between the Khan of Kalat and Robert Sandeman accepted the independence of Kalat as an allied state with British military outposts in the region. The British interest in the region was to use it as a land mass bulwark against Central Asian encroachments. Around 1830’s Balochi nationalist parties emerged to contest for freedom from British rule. The princely state of Kalat was the focal point of a free and united Balochistan. The Khan of Kalat never acknowledged the larger paradigm of a federation arguing that Kalat had special Treaty powers.
In the partition plan of June 3rd 1947, while discussing the future of Kalat, Lord Mountbatten said that he would meet the representatives of the other princely states and suggest to them that they should adhere to one or the other of the Dominions as the Union of India had reduced its demand for adherence to the states only to the subjects of Defense, Communications and Foreign Affairs. He further said that since there were only few such States in the case of Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah was willing to discuss the question of the method and degree of adherence with each individually. He went on to argue that paramountcy would lapse with the transfer of power, and states would become independent de jure, but de facto very few were likely to benefit from it. He said that adherence to a Dominion was the only way of maintaining some form of relationship between the Crown and the states. He advised Kalat that although it had liberty of choice, it should associate with Pakistan on some terms. The Prime Minister of Kalat, Aslam Khan responded that the Khan of Kalat wanted to come to an amicable settlement with Pakistan, which would be of mutual benefit. On June 17th 1947 Mr. Jinnah announced that while the British depart all Indian states would become independent and free to decide their future course of action.
On 15th of July 1947 Sir Geoffrey Prior wrote letters to Jam Sahab Lasbela and Nawab Sahab of Kharan communicating their subordinate status to the Khan of Kalat. Prior to this through Mastung Treaty dated 13th july1876 all tribal chiefs of Sarawaan, Jhalawan and Lasbela had accepted the suzerainty of Khan of Kalat. Earlier, on 1st April 1936 the Khan of Kalat issued a memorandum which was also enforced in Makran which showed that Makran was under the administrative control of Kalat.
The Khan of Kalat claimed that Jinnah had asked him whether he would be willing to send representatives to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, to which he responded in the negative, saying it would not be possible because of Kalat’s independent status. However, more importantly, the Khan had agreed with Jinnah that an understanding must be reached between Kalat and Pakistan on Defense, Foreign Affairs and Communications. The Viceroy opined that agreement on these subjects was essential. A series of meetings between the Viceroy, as the Crown’s Representative, Mr. Jinnah and the Khan of Kalat followed, which resulted in a communiqué on August 11, 1947. The communiqué stated that:
a. The Government of Pakistan recognizes Kalat as an independent sovereign state in treaty relations with the British Government with a status different from that of Indian states.
b. Legal opinion will be sought as to whether or not agreements of leases will be inherited by the Pakistan Government.
c. Meanwhile, a Standstill Agreement has been made between Pakistan and Kalat.
d. Discussions will take place between Pakistan and Kalat at Karachi at an early date with a view to reaching decisions on Defense, External Affairs and Communications.
The communiqué was signed by Lord Mountbatten, Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, Lord Ismay,(Chief Commissioner) Mr. Ahmed Yar Khan (Khan of Kalat), Mr. Muhammad Aslam Khan (The PM of Kalat), Sir Sultan Ahmed (Legal Counsel).
The New York Times in its publication dated 12th August 1947 flashed the following news “Under the agreement, Pakistan recognizes Kalat as an independent sovereign state with a status different from that of the Indian state. An announcement from new Delhi said that Kalat, a Muslim state in Balochistan, has reached an agreement with Pakistan for free flow of Communications and Commerce and would negotiate for decision on Defense Foreign Affairs and Communications.” On 13th August 1947 the New York Times published a world map wherein Balochistan was shown as a free and independent state.
On 12th August 1947 the Khan of Kalat proclaimed independence and the flag of Kalat was hoisted. The upper & lower houses of the legislative were constituted and their first session was summoned for Sep 1947. Earlier, on the 15th of July 1947 the political Agent to Governor General wrote a letter to Jam Sahab Lasbela and Khan Sahab Kharan intimating them of the fact that the administrative control of their respective states was handed back to the state of Kalat.
On August 15, 1947 when the British withdrew from India, the Khan of Kalat said in his speech: “I thank God that one aspiration, that is independence, has been achieved, but the other two, the enforcement of Shariah-i-Muhammadi and unification of Baloch people, remain to be fulfilled. He also expressed the sense of incompleteness of the process of unification and independence, and appeared to be referring to the leased areas, which Pakistan had inherited from British India. The British, on the eve of departure, had played a neat trick with the Baloch people, as they proclaimed that the future of British Balochistan (Northern areas of Balochistan including Bolan Pass, Quetta, Nushki and Naseerabad) were to be determined by a voting college comprising the Shahi Jirga (excluding the representatives of the Balochistan States) and the elected members of the Quetta Municipality. The plan virtually limited the voting exercise to certain loyal clients of the British and the Muslim League.
By October 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah had a change of heart on the recognition of Kalat as an “Independent and a Sovereign State”, and wanted the Khan to sign the same form of instrument of accession as the other states, which had joined Pakistan. The Khan was unwilling to abandon the nominally achieved independent status but ready to concede on Defense, Foreign Affairs and Communications. However, he was unwilling to sign either a treaty or an Instrument, until and unless he had got a satisfactory agreement on the leased areas. Fears were also being voiced that officials of the Government of Pakistan might start dealing with the two feudatories of Lasbela and Kharan, and accept their de facto accession, as these two feudatories “were recognized by the Crown Representative as separate States” prior to July 15th 1947.
The Khan summoned both the houses of the legislative and a joint session was held on 14th December 1947 in Dhadar. The issue of accession to Pakistan was presented before the lower house (Dar-ul_Awam) by Mr. Douglas Y. Fell, the foreign minister of Kalat. Mr. Fell told the house that the Government of Pakistan wanted the state of Kalat to announce accession with Pakistan and subsequent to this the fate of leased areas, Kharan and Lasbela would be decided. He further told that the Khan categorically told Jinnah that Kalat was not prepared for accession with Pakistan. Mir Ghaus Buksh Bizenjo while addressing the Dar-ul-Awam said ‘Although we are Muslims, this does not mean we should be a part of Pakistan, If only being Muslim is the solitary reason for our being part of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan should also merge into Pakistan. It is impossible for Balochistan to be a part of Pakistan. Before the creation of Pakistan our Khan accommodated Muslim League within its jurisdiction while Pakistan is not willing to return our leased areas and the feudatories (Kharan and Lasbela) back to us. We can take care of our Defense, Foreign policy and Communications. We also have natural resources, ports, oil and gas. If Pakistan extends the hand of friendship we would welcome it, however, any undemocratic and coercive action would not be tolerated and we are prepared for any sacrifice to preserve our freedom and independence. Similar speeches were made by other members of the house. The Dar-ul-Awam unanimously rejected accession to Pakistan. On 3rd and 4th Jan 1948, the session of Dar-ul-Umara was held in Dhadar. The house unanimously rejected any call for accession to Pakistan arguing that it would lead to cessation of Baloch Identity. The Khan then sent the unanimous decision of both the houses to Pakistan’s Foreign Office through Prime Minister of Kalat.
By February 1948, the discussions between Kalat and the Government of Pakistan were coming to a head. Mr. 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 replied that he was not in a position to take a final decision on his own without consulting the legislative. On February 14, 1948, Mr. Jinnah visited Sibi, Balochistan and addressed a Royal Durbar, where he announced that until the Pakistan constitution is finally written in about two years time, he would govern the province with the help of an advisory council that he would nominate. However, the main reason for his visit to Balochistan was to persuade the Khan of Kalat to accede to Pakistan. As it transpired, the Khan failed to turn up for the final meeting with him, pleading illness. In his letter to Mr. Jinnah he said that he had summoned both Houses of the Parliament, Dar-ul-Umara and Dar-ul-Awam, for their opinion about the future relations with the Dominion of Pakistan, and he would inform him about their opinion by the end of the month. When the Dar-ul-Awam met on February 21, 1948, it decided not to accede, but to negotiate a treaty to determine Kalat’s future relations with Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat also called a meeting of the Dar-ul-Umara to consider Mr. Jinnah’s request for Kalat to accede to Pakistan. The Dar-ul-Umara asked the Khan to seek three months to consider this request. The Khan of Kalat, made a brief speech in which he emphasized the need to have friendly relations with Pakistan, and also said that the intentions of Mr. Jinnah towards Kalat were good. The Prime Minister of Kalat spoke next, and said that since this House had voted for Kalat’s independence, the only way forward for Kalat was to accede to Pakistan in the matters of Defense, Communications and Foreign Affairs. The Prime Minister argued that with accession in respect of the three subjects, the internal independence of Kalat would not be affected. But Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizanjo spoke against accession to Pakistan, and he argued that if Pakistan wanted friendship with Kalat, it should restore its leased territories as well as Kharan and Las Bela. The House dispersed without any intention of meeting again. Dar-ul-Umara asked for three months to study the terms of accession in order to understand its implications. On March 9, 1948 the Khan received communication from Mr. Jinnah announcing that he had decided not to deal personally with the Kalat state negotiations, which would henceforth be dealt with by the Pakistan Government.
On 17th March 1948 the Government of Pakistan announced accession of Kharan and Lasbela. Similarly Makran which was part of Kalat for 300 years was declared a separate state and annexed. All these actions generated unrest and strong negative sentiments among the people of Balochistan.
On 27 March 1948, Lt.Colonel Gulzar of the 7th Baluch Regiment under GOC Major General Mohammad Akbar Khan invaded the Khanate of Kalat. General Akbar escorted the Khan of Kalat to Karachi and forced him to sign on the instrument of accession, as reported by Selig Harrison in his book “On the Shadows of Afghanistan”, while Pakistan Navy’s destroyers reached Pasni and Jiwani. The Khan of Kalat signed the accession papers on 28th March 1948. Mr. Jinnah signed them on 31st March 1948.The Khan was then detained, his cabinet dissolved, a large number of Baloch “dissidents” arrested and the army assumed full control of the province.
1. Bravhi, Abdur Rehman. “Balochistan and Pakistan” Gosh-e-Adab Quetta.(2006)
2. Selig, Harrison. “In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baluch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations”, Washington D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (1980)
3. Syed,Dushka.”The Accession of Kalat: Myth and Reality”. (2008)
* From VIEWPOINT ONLINE ISSUE NO. 32, JANUARY 7, 2011 :
* Waseem Altaf is a human rights activist