Home Global Village The myth of Greater Baluchistan Debunked: Part I

The myth of Greater Baluchistan Debunked: Part I

Baluchistan
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Zara Ali |

One of the comments in the thread that followed my earlier article on GVS “The U.S. Deep State Recklessly Edging towards Balkanization of Pakistan” regrettably hinted at an awfully sad reality: the extent of ignorance as well as that of deliberate disinformation prevalent in regards to the case of Baluchistan, not to mention the intensity of bitterness among a section of the Baluch.

The said comment not only reflected as to how uninformed and/or misinformed sections of our general population may be regarding the matter, it also revealed how naïve humans can be, even in this time and age, so as to actually believe that global tyrants of modern history, who have unceasingly contributed to precipitating and propagating unrest in the region for over a century, could become their savior.

The Sardari system remained a keystone of British rule in Baluchistan although the British did have to crush centrifugal tendencies among the Baluch in order to keep the Khanate intact so it could continue to serve their interest

Undoubtedly the propaganda machinery employed by global powers with long term vested interest in the region has effectively influenced the meek and gullible. And parallel to this, history has also witnessed a handful of turncoats among the Baluch elite who have been way too eager to play in the hands of global war mongers for the sake of self-centered interest.

Nonetheless, the saddest of facts pertaining to the matter under discussion is that Jinnah’s vision for Baluchistan was purposefully and/or imprudently put aside by the succeeding rulers of Pakistan. None of them had the vision to fathom the long term Geo-political game already in the works at the time nor could they ever measure up to Jinnah’s noble and earnest concern for the Baluch people or for that matter the new-born state of Pakistan.

Read more: The U.S. deep state recklessly edging its way towards balkanization of…

Hence the bitter resentment harbored by sections of Baluch population over the course of past seven decades that has been exploited and manipulated as a much welcome catalyst to further the agenda of the Great Game in the region.

Geo-strategic Significance of Baluchistan

The Khan was bypassed while Sandman established direct links with Sardars who relished the financial assistance and political patronage of the British since it impressively elevated their eminence

The Geo-strategic significance of Baluchistan was keenly understood by the British during their colonization of the Indian Sub-Continent.  To begin with perhaps their interest was chiefly fixated on establishment of buffer states in the extreme northwest of Baluchistan so as to block off any perceived Russian intervention, however it would be an understatement to say the British were not highly mindful of Baluchistan’s multidimensional geographical placement that had the potential of playing a highly significant role in the ever evolving Great Game.

Baluchistan not only provides an access point to South Asia via deep waters but is also situated on crossroads of land routes between South and South-western Asia. Concurrently, it forms a rather safe passageway to the territories farther to its northwest namely the mineral-rich Afghanistan and still further the energy-rich Central Asia.  Not to mention, Baluchistan’s deep water ports are naturally positioned in close proximity to the oil-rich Middle East while this huge mass of mineral-rich arid land also makes for a safe passageway to the Chinese territory via the North-western Frontier region of Pakistan.

The British Administration was bent upon securing the line of communication with Afghanistan via Baluchistan and this strategic goal could not be achieved without turning the Khanate of Kalat into a vassal state

In a nutshell, the Baluchistan region can be undoubtedly termed as a ‘Geo-strategic gem’ hence the British did not want to lose covert control of it even after they were forced to concede to the demand of independence in 1947.  Prior to their reluctant departure, the British did everything in their power to plant and nurture seeds of discord that would allow them to continue their clandestine effort aimed at exercising covert dominion over this region for times to come.

Read more: A master-plan to balkanize Pakistan – Part III

Who controlled Baluchistan and why?

Historically speaking, the control of Baluchistan has remained divided between the Empires to its East and West.  In the 1500s, Baluchistan was under the control of Safavid Empire in Persia to its west and Mogul Empire in India to its east.  In the middle of 17th century, the Brahui Ahmedzai tribe founded the Khanate of Kalat however, the early Khans were never fully independent and it was always of paramount significance as to who they were subject to.

In the middle of 17th century, the Brahui Ahmedzai tribe founded the Khanate of Kalat however, the early Khans were never fully independent and it was always of paramount significance as to who they were subject to

They bowed to the Mogul Emperors in Delhi and/or the Afghan rulers in Kandahar. After the collapse of the Safavid and Mogul Empires as well as that of Nader Shah’s, Baluchistan basically reverted to a collection of princedoms some of which fell under the rule of Afghanistan though most remained independent. The Khanate of Kalat asserted its independence flatteringly and ushered an era of territorial expansionism.

Starting from the middle of 18th century the Khanate enjoyed its most glorious age right until the death of Nasir Khan. Nasir Khan’s demise set in a period of great crisis. During this period the Qajar Dynasty established itself in Persia while the British Empire continued to colonize the Indian Sub-Continent, hence the two commenced to squeeze the Baluch once again.

It served the interest of the empires both in the East and West to keep the Baluch territory and its people contained.  There were even instances of Anglo-Persian cooperation in suppressing the Baluch. However, it is worth observing external stimulus was not the sole cause of chaos and anarchy within the Khanate.  Among other reasons, it is said Khans favored a feudal system whereas Sardars, the tribal leaders, were adamant upon replacing it with a decentralized confederation hence an in-house tussle.

Read more: The US is trying to “control the damage” in ties with…

Concurrently, the British Administration was bent upon securing the line of communication with Afghanistan via Baluchistan and this strategic goal could not be achieved without turning the Khanate of Kalat into a vassal state. Although the British troops had been facilitated with a safe passage to Afghanistan during the first Anglo-Afghan war (1839-42), after withdrawal from Kandahar, the British invaded Kalat. The Khan of Kalat was accused of betrayal and not enforcing the treaty signed with the British. Mehrab Khan was killed when he refused to give in to the British Administration’s whims.

Nonetheless, the saddest of facts pertaining to the matter under discussion is that Jinnah’s vision for Baluchistan was purposefully and/or imprudently put aside by the succeeding rulers of Pakistan

From here onwards the British Administration ensured Khanate of Kalat remained under their indirect dominion although the treaty of 1854 formally acknowledged its independent status.  The innovative yet experimental system of tribal pacification introduced by Colonel Sir Robert Groves Sandman, who was appointed as the agent to the Governor General in Baluchistan and was assigned the task to consolidate indirect British influence, changed the purely tribal system that had existed in Baluchistan for centuries and used institution as a weapon against rebellion.

The Khan was bypassed while Sandman established direct links with Sardars who relished the financial assistance and political patronage of the British since it impressively elevated their eminence.  This decentralized system gradually led to reduced dependence of Sardars on tribal support and increased distance between the Sardars and the Khan.  It also furnished a perfect excuse for the British to get away with minimal administrative and developmental intervention in the region since under this decentralized system Sardars were the custodians and guardians of their land and people.

Read more: A master-plan to balkanize Pakistan – Part II

After the second Anglo-Afghan war (1878-80), British Baluchistan was brought into existence by combining areas ceded to the British Administration by the Afghans and areas leased to the British by the Khanate of Kalat.  The Sardari system remained a keystone of British rule in Baluchistan although the British did have to crush centrifugal tendencies among the Baluch in order to keep the Khanate intact so it could continue to serve their interest.

It must therefore be noted the split of Baluch territory did not occur abruptly nor were the Baluch severed arbitrarily rather tampering of frontiers under mutual agreements between Empires in its east and west over the course of more than one century led to the modern frontiers of Baluch territory.

Zara Ali has been a teacher for over 24 years now. She also has an experience in marketing. She writes on various domestic and international issues. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy. 


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7 COMMENTS

  1. Zara Ali, the Sardari system is still remained in all Balochistan except Makran Division. Why Pakistan still could not demolish Sardari system in Balochistan being an Islamic and Democratic or a secular country in the world?

  2. Thanks ma’am for elucidating on the much-contentious Balochistan question. It is indeed ironic that the people of Balochistan, in spite of their grave concerns pertaining to current underdevelopment and grievances about Centre’s discrimination, are the ones most ignorant of their past. I hope that your writings will serve to educate them about the ignominious role of Sardari system in keeping them deprived for several decades, if not centuries (sic).

  3. Balochistan accession needs to be explained in detail by Islamabad. But in Pakistan nobody is concerned with proper research thus giving away the ground to Baloch separatists and Indian R&AW on the perceptions front.

    Balochistan consisted of 5 regions.  British Balochistan acceded to Pakistan on 30 June 1947 – 45 days before the transfer of power.

    Kharan, Lasbela and Makran acceded to Pakistan on 18th March 1948 – 9 days before 27th March 1948.  Kalat claimed ownership over these feudetories but the rulers of Kharan & Lasbela outrightly rejected any claims by Khan of Kalat. Habibullah Nosherwani of Kharan and Jam of Lasbela wrote letters to Jinnah to accept their respective principalities accession to Pakistan, and, under no circumstances they would accept the hegemony of Kalat over them. Kharan & Lasbela had a long history resisting the control from Kalat stretching back to the times of Naseer Khan Noori (Khan of Kalat from 1748-94). This was the same Naseer Khan who on many occasions ventured into Punjab and India with Abdali, including the historic battle of Panipat in 1761 against Marathas.

    Kalat wanted to remain Independent and Mir Ahmed Yar Khan had an ambition to be the king of all Balochistan.  However in the 4th August 1947 (10 days before transfer of power) agreement where Kalat had its independence recognised in article 1, but the article 4 of the same agreement states that Pakistan as a successor state will inherit all the treaties Kalat had with the British. That meant maintaining the status quo and Kalat’s foreign policy was in Pakistan’s control right from 14th August 1947. I think this information is important to use counter the Baloch separatists harping about illegal occupation of Balochistan on 27th March 1948.

    Martin Axmann in his book,  BACK TO THE FUTURE (Khanate of Kalat and genesis of Baloch nationalism 1915-55), has written extensively on this subject. The book was released in 2009

    Khanate of Kalat ceased to exist as a state in 1955, when Mir Ahmed Yar Khan accepted privy purse of 6 lakh rupees annaully. Kharan Lasbela & Makran rulers were treated separately with their own privy purses. Technically speaking Kalat is now a defunct principality.

    The current Khan of Kalat Mir Suleiman Dawood is grandson of Mir Ahmed Yar Khan. His claims extend not only to Iranian Balochistan but also to Derajat regions of Punjab, which became part of Punjab during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Dawood is unknown amongst separatist ideologues. Mehran Marri, Brahamdagh Bugti & Allah Nazar don’t recognise him. Late Khair Baksh Marri also had a dim view of this defunct titular head who has nothing in his hands. Malik Siraj Akbar, a journalist, has termed Dawood a “daydreamer”.

    The real agreement was signed on 4th Aug 1947 , and it had 5 articles it. Baloch separatists & Indian propagandists always latch on to article 1, they completely ignore the article 4 which exposes the true nature of the agreement between Kalat & Pakistan, and, the real status of Kalat. Dera ghazi Khan regions were given a choice by Pakistan in 1949 to choose between Kalat & Punjab, and they chose Punjab. Out of 7 heads 4 of them voted for Punjab.

  4. A good artilcal. However two different identities i.e Brahui Kalat State and Balochistan have been mixed up. The fact is Balochistan has never existed as any state till Britishers created Balochistan Agency consisting of the pieces of land taken from Brahui rulers of Kalat on lease and some Afghan districts. Both British Balochistan and Kalat state had different historical realities. We brahuis are a separate nationality and dont consider ourself as Baloch. Brahuis are in fact son of soil while Baloch migrated from Seistan and Kirman.

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