Aug 11, 1947: The day Balochistan attained independence from British colonial rule

News Intervention Special Report

The Baloch community is present in Iranian Balochistan spreading across Kerman, Elam and Gilan to Afghanistan-administered areas including Rabat, Helmund, Nimroz and Farah and in Pakistan-occupied Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab.

The region is also called Greater Balochistan, which was mapped by the erstwhile great Baloch ruler Naseer Khan Noori. Later, Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd and other Baloch historians such as Sardar Khan, Farooq Baloch and Dr. Inayatullah Baloch agreed on it. If we look at the archaeological artefacts discovered in India, we also find an element of Baloch culture in them, so it would not be wrong to say that the ethnic lineage of the Baloch nation has historic roots. And Balochistan is one of the oldest civilizations.

Greater Balochistan—the beginning of Baloch rule

The Qambrani Baloch Surab and other Baloch tribes living in its suburbs and in the year 1410 laid the foundation of the government by making Nagaar, an area in Sorab as the base of the throne. In order to expand the government, Qambrani Baloch gradually defeated the Baloch tribes living in Jhalawan and made the whole of Jhalawan a part of this new Baloch state. This was much needed as it brought all the Baloch areas under one umbrella. The Baloch, therefore, initiated the process of uniting the scattered forces of their tribes. They first began incorporating those areas into their state where large resistance was not expected, which also strengthened the Baloch government to some extent.

After ruling Surab and Jhalawan for 120 years, the Baloch invaded Kalat in 1530 under the leadership of Mir Umar Mirwani. Kalat was ruled by Arghoons during those days. After the conquest of Kalat, Mir Umar Mirwani attained the status of King and sat on the throne. After 1666, the state of Kalat passed from the Mirwanis to another branch of the Qambrani Baloch whose first ruler was Mir Ahmad Khan I.

Mir Ahmad Khan I is the ancestor of the Ahmadzai family and that is why all the inheritors of Mir Ahmad Khan are called Ahmadzai.

After the death of Mir Hassan Khan Mirwani in 1666, the sovereignty of the Baloch state was handed over to Ahmad Khan I. Ahmad Khan I soon realized that if the military strength of Baloch nation was not strengthened, then Shah Jahan, the then Mughal ruler at Delhi would try to invade and conquer Kalat.

Ahmad Khan I made active efforts to strengthen the Baloch military and when Baloch military was satisfactorily strengthened, he started the struggle to bring all Baloch areas under the control of a single state. That is why we see the 29 year regime of Ahmad Khan I as full of wars, wherein he fought 18 battles against the Barozais to make Sibi and its suburbs a part of the Baloch nation, after which the Barozais never dared to fight. He also fought against the Jats and Mughals.

Most significant was the battle against Mughals at Khad Mastung in which Mughals suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Ahamd Khan I. After this defeat the Mughals never ever tried to capture Balochistan.

Mir Ahmadyar Khan during his reign brought Kalat under Baloch umbrella, and Ahmad Khan I included the entire area up to Karkh and Dara Mulla under the administration of the state of Kalat in Balochistan. When Mir Ahmad Khan died in 1695 the Baloch state had spread over a vast area, but there were still some Baloch areas, which had to be brought under one state.

Map of Balochistan during earlier times.
Map of Balochistan during earlier times.

After the death of Mir Ahmad Khan, Mir Mehrab Khan I, the eldest son and crown prince of Mir Ahmad Khan was entrusted with the responsibility of Balochistan. Mir Mehrab Khan’s reign was very short as he was wounded in a battle against the Kalhoras at Karkh and passed away three days later. This battle was actually fought over a Baroze girl who had been abducted by the Kalhora rulers. Since the area of ​​the Barozais was now part of the Baloch state so when a girl from Barzoi family was abducted by the Kalhoras, Mir Mehrab Khan fought against the Kalhoras and defeated them at Karkh. After defeat, the Kalhora leaders were imprisoned. However Mir Mehrab Khan was injured and soon passed away.

After the martyrdom of Mir Mehrab Khan, the Mughal rulers, acting as mediators during the reign of Mir Samandar Khan, gave the administration of the port of Karachi to the state of Balochistan.

Mir Abdullah Khan

After Mir Samandar Khan, Mir Ahmad Khan became the ruler of the second state, but he was soon killed by his younger brother Mir Abdullah Khan after which Mir Abdullah Khan became the ruler of the state of Kalat. The reign of Mir Abdullah Khan is a shining chapter in Baloch history who made the Baloch nation a leading force in martial arts and made valiant efforts to further expand the Baloch state. He was engaged in several wars. Abdullah Khan’s militant nature kept him engaged in adventures from Kachhi, Kandahar and Dera Jat to Bandar Abbas. One of the other reasons for these wars was also to meet the economic needs of state.

It would not be wrong to say that it was the Baloch King Abdullah Khan who played a pivotal role in making Greater Balochistan a reality.

Abdullah Khan is remembered by the people of Sindh as the mountain eagle, and the British call him as ‘Abdullah Khan– the Conqueror’, which is enough to indicate his greatness and valour.

During his tenure Abdullah Khan focused on strengthening Baloch areas. However, in order to establish his dominance in the border areas of the state, he also fought battles against the Afghan and Sindh rulers. Abdullah Khan’s goal was to include all those areas in the state of Kalat where the Baloch lived. Abdullah Khan could not realise his dream during his life, and in the last battle which was fought against the Kalhora rulers, he attained martyrdom. After his martyrdom the whole area was given to the state of Kalat under an agreement, and Kalhora became a part of Balochistan. So with his blood Abdullah Khan finalized the border line of the Baloch state with Sindh.

Ironically, for eighteen years after the martyrdom of Abdullah Khan, the Baloch state suffered from several issues due to incompetent rulers until Naseer Khan Noori ascended the throne.

Naseer Khan Noori

During the reign of Naseer Khan Noori, the Baloch areas such as Bandar Abbas in the west, Dera Ghazi Khan and some areas of Dera Ismail Khan in the east, and Jalugir (located on the outskirts of Kuchlak) in the north, Jacobabad in the southeast, and Sahil Makran in the south and west were brought under the Baloch rule.

Naseer Khan Noori’s era is of key importance in Baloch history where he expanded the Baloch state on the one hand while on the other, kept Baloch independence on the basis of Balochistan’s policies under the 1758 agreement. Noori Naseer Khan’s tenure is the brightest chapter in Baloch history as this great ruler not only brought all the areas inhabited by Baloch under one rule but also asserted his power with neighbouring powers that looked Balochistan with lustful eyes.

Naseer Khan Noori defeats Ahmad Shah Abdali

Noori Naseer Khan had ascended the throne in 1749. Naseer Khan’s determination led him to revolt against the tyranny of others, which we see in the history of wars between Noori Naseer Khan and Ahmad Shah Abdali. After two battles Ahmad Shah Abdali realized that it was not possible for him to include Balochistan into his conquests, and so after the second war, Ahmad Shah Abdali lost heart and agreed to the 1758 agreement with the state of Kalat. This is known as the Agreement of Kalat and the Agreement of Non-Interference.

The complete independence of the Baloch state is also acknowledged by the Indian author Ganda Singh in his book “Ahmad Shah Abdali” wherein he describes Balochistan as an independent country while describing the Battle of Panipat. Ahmad Shah Abdali thanked the brave and determined Baloch ally Naseer Khan Hakim Kalat for his military cooperation. But Naseer Khan laid down some conditions which included the annexation of Quetta to the state which was immediately accepted. Besides, Ahmad Shah handed over Chenab, Multan Jhang and the entire Dera Jat to Naseer Khan but Naseer Khan and his army flatly refused to include these areas in his state, writes Ganda Singh in his book while describing the Battle of Panipat.

Naseer Khan and his followers were clear that the Baloch state should cover only Baloch areas, and he told Ahmad Shah Abdali, “The borders of Balochistan exist till the place Balochi is spoken.”

This region is the map on which Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd, Dr. Inayatullah Baloch, Prof. Dr. Farooq Baloch and most Baloch intellectuals and political leaders agree.

Naseer Khan expanded the Baloch nation-state to such an extent that it still reflects Naseer Khan’s political vision. This is the map presented by Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd in 1942, on which most Baloch historians and political leaders agree.

British stratagems in Balochistan

Sixteen years after Naseer Khan’s death, British spies turned towards Balochistan. The British started their conspiracies to dismember Balochistan that Naseer Khan had so painstakingly brought together. British sent a man named Sarwar to find out the situation in Balochistan. Sarwar reported about the then weak Baloch government and an atmosphere of mutual distrust. Since the objectives of British were of military in nature, therefore they selected Lieutenant Henry Pottinger, Captain Christie, Captain Grant and other such soldiers who had successfully led British military campaigns.

Prof. Dr. Farooq Baloch narrates these incidents in his book “Balochistan and British Historians” as follows: “In the days to come, Britain would have to formulate its own strategy based on the information provided by these spies.”

Unfortunately, due to the incompetence of Baloch rulers during this era, the whole Baloch nation seemed to be in disarray. The nation that Naseer Khan cared for and sewed together was in serious disarray. Issues began to crop up about social aspects as well.

During the reign of Khan Mehrab Khan, the British were trying to set foot in Afghanistan using a route through Balochistan, but they feared that stepping in Balochistan without the permission of the Baloch would be a threat to their forces. In 1838, Sir Alexander Burns entered into a treaty with Khan Mehrab Khan. Immediately after this agreement, the British invaded Afghanistan.

But in the days to come, the fear that British caravans were not safe in Balochistan, proved to be absolutely right. Suddenly the Murree warriors attacked the British troops. The attack was so severe that it uprooted the British. Due to these losses in Balochistan, the British were defeated in the first Afghan Anglo War in 1838. The main reason for their loss being the Murree warriors against the British and the resistance of Baloch.

This Baloch resistance caused the British to retreat on Afghan soil and also forced them to think about the conquest of Kalat because the British now knew that the conquest of Kalat was the first condition for their success in Afghan war.

The other important reason for the British conquest of Kalat was the threat to their rule from France, Germany and Russia as these powers might get a chance to set foot in Kalat.

And so in 1839, the British army, led by General Wilshire attacked the central city of Kalat. Khan Mehrab Khan, the ruler of the state, and his allies resisted the British invasion, but the British army, armed with modern weapons could not be stopped. The British colonialists succeed in capturing Kalat. At the time of the fall of Kalat, it was Henry Pottinger the commander of the Indus sector of the British army who sent a message to General Wilshire to attack Kalat. This further reinforces the fact that in any case, the British had to occupy Balochistan and block the passage of other powers to the South Asian region.

The importance of the Baloch region was also pointed out by many other British officials, including the then British Commissioner Sir William Marie Weathers, who wrote a letter in 1872 to Colonel Ferry, the political superintendent of Upper Sindh. “The Baloch own a region whose geographical importance is of great importance to the British government. The region can be secured by the British government only if there are friendly relations with the local people,” he said. If the British government succeeds in its plan, the path of other world powers including France, Germany and other major powers can be easily blocked. Besides, the region is not only an excellent corridor to India but also to Peshawar and as far as Afghanistan is concerned, our interests are in that region.

After the martyrdom of Shaheed Khan Mehrab Khan on 13 November 1839, the Balochs fought wars in different periods in defense of the Baloch homeland. Even after the fall of Kalat, they succeeded in getting the British out of Kalat very soon, but these successes did not prevent the Baloch from falling prey to the insidious policies of British.

During this time there were various treaties between the Baloch and British, including the Non-Intervention Treaty of 1854. From a political point of view, all such treaties were bits of paper because the occupying forces sign such kinds of agreements only to capture newer territories.

Similarly, despite numerous agreements by the British colonialists with the Baloch state in different time periods and their recognition of the independent status of Balochistan, the Pakistani regime forcefully occupied Balochistan.

After the fall of Kalat, historical resistance began in Kohistan-e-Marri, Makran, Jhalawan, Sarawan and Rakhshan, Dera Bugti and adjoining areas.

Baloch victory against British

The Baloch succeeded in defeating the British by invading Kalat for the second time in 1840 under the leadership of Khan Naseer Khan II and regained control of Kalat. Sovereignty did not last long. But his rule over Kalat lasted for a few months and on November 3, 1840, when the British received military aid from Afghanistan, they recaptured Kalat and appointed Colonel Stacey as their political agent.

The British did recapture Kalat but there were periodic revolts against them across Balochistan. After this the British signed the Treaty of Mastung. The Treaty of Mastung signed on 13 July 1876 dealt a major blow to the independence of Baloch state. After this agreement, the British became the masters in Balochistan and this strategy of the British came to be known as Forward Policy.

British conquest of Balochistan

Balochistan thus came into the hands of the British. Along with Kalat, many Baloch areas including Sibi, Murree, Bugti, Khetran, and Quetta were incorporated into British India by the British through a resolution on 18 November 1887, establishing a new province called British Balochistan.

The first geographical division of the Baloch state was made possible under the Forward Policy. After the intervention in these areas of Balochistan, Sandeman turned to Makran in 1890 and also deployed a contingent of British troops in Makran under Major Mayer. Thus the practical intervention of the British government became possible till Makran and thus British began exploiting the whole region.

The twentieth century is called the century of the modern political system. By the turn of the century, the thinking of political parties had become ingrained in Baloch society, so for the first time in Balochistan, in 1920, Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd formed a secret organization called “Young Baloch” which became a party in 1931. Anjuman-e-Ittehad also came to the fore in the form of Baloch, which later emerged in the form of the Kalat State National Party.

The Baloch nation adopted modern politics during this period in which they achieved success at the grassroots level but the geographical importance of Balochistan intensified after the First World War. The Russian, German and French threats increased. In addition, the mineral-rich region became a matter of life and death for the world powers.

Jinnah’s devious games with the Khan of Kalat

Jinnah recognized Khan of Kalat as the national ruler of independent nation Balochistan. Your country is one of the most important regions not only in India but also in Asia from a political, geographical and economic point of view, Jinnah told Khan of Kalat.

Jinnah’s words send a clear message that how can Pakistani regime ignore such an important region. And so Jinnah’s desire to take over Balochistan has been existing since day one. Jinnah also played the Islmaic card and said, “I am going to tell you in clear words that the time is coming when all Islamic countries will unite in the form of a federation according to Islamic principles. The most important position will be for Baloch and Balochistan.”

In order to further develop this thinking, Jinnah asked the Khan of Kalat to organize Muslim League in Balochistan.

What was the need of Muslim League for an independent Baloch state? It was clearly a devious move by Jinnah to somehow capture Balochistan.

Lord Azme, Legal Adviser to the Viceroy of India, Khan Kalat, Liaquat Ali Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Prime Minister Kalat Muhammad Aslam Khan and Legal Adviser Sultan Ahmed were also present. “The government of Pakistan recognizes the state of Kalat as an independent state, which has had relations with the British government and its status is different from the rest of the Indian states,” it said.

Consultations were being held as to whether the agreements made between the British government and the government of Kalat on all occupied territories can be inherited by Pakistan. Under Article 7 of the British Government’s Freedom Act, all treaties were automatically terminated and the occupied territories were to be restored to their former status.

However, attempts are being made to implement this illegal act, which is a black spot on the British government. The important thing to understand is that the British did not physically occupy Balochistan but their occupation was through certain agreements.

This, of course, reinforces the fact that the British government not only wanted to divide India, but also provided the means to divide Afghanistan and enslave Pakistan along with the Baloch homeland.

It’s due to these nefarious British policies that even after the declaration of Balochistan’s independence on August 11, 1947 by the British government it could last for only seven months and fifteen days. The Pakistani regime invaded Balochistan and occupied it on March 27, 1948, which continues till date. The Baloch resistance that started since the moment Pakistani forces entered Balochistan continues till this time. Balochistan’s independence struggle shows that the Baloch will rest only after winning their freedom from illegal Pakistani occupation.

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