An academic history of Balochistan’s ‘accession’ with Pakistan

Brahumdagh Bugti’s refusal to accept March 27 as the day of occupation of Balochistan by Pakistan has opened a pandora’s box with nationalist leaders across the board asking the Baloch Republican Party leader to take back his statement.

In all this noise, however, historical facts are being ignored. Neither Brahumdagh nor his critics are offering any historical background of their claims. Therefore, we felt the need to offer some academic insight into the historical happenings that led to March 27, 1948.

Balochistan Times presents an excerpt from The Problem of Greater Baluchistan: A study of Baloch Nationalism by Inayatullah Baloch. This book presents an academic history of Baloch nationalism and is respected by all for its authentic narrative. Here is the excerpt:

 

Col. S.B. Shah was assigned (by Jinnah) to deal with the Khanate’s affairs, with the help of Aslam, who knew the internal conflicts and rivalries among the Khan and his chiefs, including two feudatory chiefs, Ghulam Qadir, Jam of Las Bela, and Mir Habibullah Nusherwani, Nawab of Kharan.

Jam Lasbela had been a feudatory of the Khanate since the time of Mir Nasir Khan the Great and was related to the Khan’s family through marriages. Before the lapse of paramountcy, Jam tried to refuse a status as a subordinate ruler. Jam wrote a letter, dated July 6, 1947, to the A.G.G. (Agent to the Governor General) in Baluchistan requesting him to recognize Las Bela as an independent state. In the same month, he was informed by the A.G.G that Jam was a subordinate ruler of the Khanate. The A.G.G wrote further that in 1939, when Sir Metcalf informed Jam about Las Bela’s constitutional status as a feudatory state of the Khanate, this status had been accepted by Jam. In case of disobedience, the Khan was entitled to establish his authority by all means. The same message was conveyed to the chief of Kharan. Both chiefs were not satisfied with their status.

They tried at the end of February 1948, to accede to Pakistan, but Jinnah had refused them. Now the refusal by the Khanate to accede gave Pakistan the opportunity to deal directly with the feudatory chiefs of Kharan and Las Bela, and the chiefs of Las Bela and Kharan were invited by the Pakistan Government. Apart from the feudatory chiefs, Sardar Bai Khan Gichki, brother in law of the Khan and member of the Upper House of the Khanate, who opposed the accession to Pakistan, went to Karachi. The ruler of Kalat wrote:

“I had permitted Nawab Bai Khan to go to Karachi for his treatment and stressed to him at the same time to return by 25 March or least by 30 March (1948) to participate in the forthcoming meeting of the State Council of the Sardars.”

Sardar Bai Khan had some financial problems with the Khanate as he was reluctant to pay half of the revenue of the district of Kech (Makran Province) to the Khanate’s authorities.

Sardar Bai Khan had been trying to contact the authorities of Pakistan secretly through his son, Sheh Umar, since August 1947. On his arrival at Karachi, he joined the feudatory chiefs of the Khanate. They met Jinnah on 17 March 1948, and informed him that “if Pakistan was not prepared to accept their offer of accession immediately they would be compelled to take other steps for their protection against the Khan of Kalat’s aggressive actions”. They accused the Khan of:

1) attempting to win over Chagai and the Makran Levy Corps,

2) inciting people of Kharan against the chief,

3) sending his younger brother to Makran with instructions to stir up people against Bai Khan,

4) attempting to control traffic in the Bolan Pass,

) spreading false and malicious propaganda against Jinnah in Baluchistan.

After their meeting with Jinnah, Pakistan’s Cabinet met in an emergency session to discuss the request of the chiefs of Baluchistan. The Cabinet decided to accept the offer in order to put pressure on the Khan for accession. On 17 March, an unconstitutional measure was adopted by the Government of Pakistan, and Jinnah accepted the accession of the feudatory chiefs as well as Sardar Bai Khan, one of the chiefs of Makran. On this occasion, Jinnah expressed his admiration of the role of Bai Khan: “Bai Khan! The present chiefs of Las Bela and Kharan are the product of the British while you are created by Pakistan!”

On 18 March, the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press statement, announcing that Pakistan had accepted the accession of Makran, Kharan, and Las Bela. With the “accession” of the areas, Kalat lost half of its territory and its connection with Iran and Afghanistan and was left without any outlet to the sea. The Pakistan Government justified its unconstitutional act and aggression on the following grounds:

1) The Khan was offering through an agent (most probably Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, a pro-Congress leader from British Afghanistan) accession to India and was ready to provide facilities for the use of Kalat airfields.

2) The Khan offered Afghanistan the use of the seaports on the Makran coast.

3) The Khan was seeking British protections, when the news of the “accession” of the areas of the Khanate reached Kalat.

The Khanate protested and demanded a denial. Pakistan refused to accept the protest and accused the Khan of plotting against the interests of Pakistan. The Khan denied this allegation and threatened to approach the International Court of Justice and the United Nations. The Khan also warned the Pakistan Government and Jinnah from betraying him and the Baluch nation. He said, “If Kalat is to be forced into accession, this accession will not be a voluntary one.”

After the “accession” of the vassal states of Kalat, the Pakistan Government adopted a policy of dividing Kalat. The Joint Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Col. S.B. Shah, approached the Baluch chiefs Wadera Bangulzai, Sardar Shahwani, and Sardar Sanjrani in order to bribe them. He offered them an autonomous status if they acceded to Pakistan. Meanwhile, Sardar Raisani offered his cooperation to Col. Shah.