Author: Noman Arbab Baloch
Baluchistan has a complex history with conflicting narratives surrounding the annexation of Kalat state by Pakistan in 1947-48. Baloch nationalists and the Pakistani state have differing perspectives on this issue, leading to confusion among Baluchistan’s youth. To better understand the matter, it us crucial to explore the historical context.
Baluchistan has primarily existed as an independent state throughout history, except for a brief period during the British treaty in 1872. The treaty allowed British occupation of Baluchistan with the condition that Kalat’s independence and the sovereignty of its supreme court were maintained on behalf of Great Britain. However, approximately a year after Pakistan’s inception, the Pakistani Army launched an assault on Kalat to capture it. The Khan of Kalat was coerced into signing the treaty of accession, which sparked a rebellion led by Prince Abdul Kareem and fueled by the resistance of Nawab Noroz Khan and Sher Muhammad Marri, continuing to this day.
Baloch nationalists argue against the legitimacy of this merger, considering it illegal and unreliable. They point to historical evidence showing that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the President of the Muslim League and legal advisor to the Khan of Kalat, advocated for an independent Baluchistan during the adoption of the Lahore Resolution. Although Baluchistan was not represented at the historic conference in Lahore, it is evident that Jinnah sought to grant autonomous status to Kalat.
In August 1947, a round table conference was held to determine the future of Kalat. The participants included the Khan of Kalat, Lord Mountbatten, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan, Sir Sultan Ahmad, and the Chief Minister of Kalat. The conference concluded with a significant outcome: Kalat would regain its independence by August 1947, with its status restored to that of 1938. An agreement was signed between Kalat and Pakistan, acknowledging the autonomous status of Kalat as an independent state. The establishment of the Kalat Assembly and subsequent elections reflected the aspirations of the people, with nationalist forces playing a prominent role.
However, Muhammad Ali Jinnah later changed his stance and requested the Khan of Kalat to join Pakistan. Khan Kalat convened a meeting of the upper and lower houses of Dar-ul-Awam and Daril-Amra Parliament to discuss the proposal, but both Houses unanimously declared it a violation of the compromise reached in August 1947 and the Indian Independence Act of 1947. Ghaus Bakhsh Bezanjo delivered a compelling speech opposing the two-nation theory in December 1947, highlighting the cultural differences and potential implications of joining Pakistan. He emphasized Baluchistan’s distinct culture and questioned Pakistan’s significance in defending against world powers if the Baloch themselves were deemed incapable of defending their territory. Economic reasons, such as Baluchistan’s resources, were also brought into consideration. The House of Commons strongly protested against the two-nation theory, as it violated the previous agreement. In a meeting of the Dar-ul-Awam and Dar-ul-Amra, it was unanimously declared that the integration proposal contradicted the agreed terms from August 1947.
Baloch nationalists firmly assert the authority of the Khan of Kalat over significant regions of Baluchistan, including Makkaran, West Baluchistan, Derajat, Seistan, and Las Bela. The Khan is widely recognized as the supreme leader within the Baloch community and advocates for independence, considering himself the rightful heir to the legacy of Baloch nationalism. This belief stems from the distinctive status of Nepal and Kalat, which maintained direct connections with London instead of dealing with the British government in New Delhi.
The Baloch nationalists also argue that Baloch society has historically been secular, influenced by non-theological tribal ideologies. They reject the idea that the annexation of Baloch states was a pre-planned conspiracy and refute the Pakistani government’s attempt to justify the accession of the Khan of Kalat based on religious grounds.
In 1947-48, when Khan Azam proposed the merger with the Pakistani government, the cabinet decided to carve out Kharan and Lasbela from Kalat, treating them as separate entities with unequal status. Additionally, Makkaran, which had been part of Kalat for centuries, was declared independent and placed under the rule of an appointed Sardar, becoming part of Pakistan. Khan Kalat argues that these measures were politically unwise, unlawful, and oppressive, leading to grievances among the Baloch people and their turn to violence.
Under the order to advance in April 1948, the Pakistani army filled the legal void, leaving the Khan with no choice but to accept the annexation. Baloch leaders were captured or dismissed, and the region experienced a vengeful process. The Governor General’s agent arrived in Baluchistan with an order from the Quaid-i-Azam just fifteen days after the merger, restoring Kalat to the conditions of the previous British regime. A Political Agent was appointed to administer the State, effectively ending Khan Azam’s authority. Ministers of the Kalat government were arrested or expelled shortly after.
In the wake of the annexation, spearheaded by the resilient Prince Abdul Kareem and persisting to this day, the Baloch freedom fighters have witnessed a remarkable surge in their arsenal and amplified their strategic maneuvers. It is imperative for the state to proactively initiate dialogue among Baloch nationalists, aiming to quell the escalating violence and reduce the overwhelming militarization in the province. Furthermore, empowering and amplifying the voices of Baloch activists and civilians who have long championed for a fair distribution of resources and economic autonomy will pave the way for comprehensive and sustainable development in the region, unlocking its true potential.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Balochistan Post or any of its editors.