The Government of Balochistan in Exile

Monday, May 22, 2006

Balochistan’s Status at Independence

After WW II, the Labour government in Britain, after considerable debate, decided to send a three-member Cabinet Mission to India in a final bid to devise a methodology for the transfer of power in India. The Mission arrived in India on March 24, 1946. The Khan of Kalat, on the advice of the Quaid-e-Azam, the legal advisor to the Kalat State at the time, approached the Mission on behalf of his government to discuss the future status of his State in the scheme of independence for India. The Mission advised the Khan to have his case prepared by legal experts. Eminent lawyers were hired to prepare the case for the Kalat State, which after vetting by the Quaid himself, was submitted to the Mission in the form of a Memorandum. This Memorandum, briefly, re-stressed the following major points:

That Kalat is an independent and sovereign State, its relations with the British Government being based on various mutual Agreements and Treaties.

That Kalat is not an Indian State, its relations with India being of only a formal nature by virtue of Kalat’s agreements with the British and that with the ceasing of the Agreement of 1876 with the Kalat Government, Kalat would regain its complete independence, as it existed prior to 1876, and that the Kalat Government would then be free to choose its own way without interference by others.

All such regions as were given under the control of the British in consequence of any treaty will be returned to the sovereignty of the Kalat State, and resume their original status as parts of the Kalat State.

On the lapse of British sovereignty, the agreements in respect of the areas under the direct control of the British shall cease to have any legal binding; and the rights hitherto vested in the British shall automatically be transferred back to the Kalat Government.

Other Baloch regions like Kharan, Lasbela and the Marri, Bugti areas were part and parcel of the Kalat State as acknowledged by the British, and must, therefore, go back to it when the latter vacates.

The Marri and Bugti Tumandars also added their application to the Memorandum, submitted in 1946, demanding that their tribal regions be included in a “federation” with Kalat.

The final Partition plan of June 3, 1947 stated in respect of transfer of power in India vis-à-vis the States:

“All the rights surrendered by the States to the paramount power will return to the States. Political arrangements between the States on the one side, and the British Crown and British India on the other will thus be brought to an end. The void will have to be filled either by the States entering into a federal relationship with the successor Government or Governments in British India; or failing this, entering into particular political arrangements.”

Mr. Gandhi said that the declarations of independence by Indian Princes “were tantamount to declaration of war against the free millions of India”. On the other hand the Quaid-e-Azam hailed this statement and on June 18, 1947, issued the following statement to the press:

“The Indian States will be fully independent, legally and constitutionally, as soon as the supremacy of the British ceases; and as such, the States will be free to act as per their wish whether to join the Indian Legislature or the Pakistan Legislative Assembly. In case of their decision to join either of the two, they can adjust their relations and arrangements anew as per their wish in the new setup.”

“The All India Muslim League’s policy has been quite unambiguous from the very beginning that we would not interfere in the internal affairs of any State, and such problems must primarily be discussed and solved between the people of the State concerned…In case a State desiring to retain its independence by cooperating with Pakistan in trade and economic affairs only, we welcome them to have political talks on the same to arrive at any solution agreed upon for mutual good.”

“I am of the firm opinion that the Memorandum of the Cabinet Mission of May 12, 1946, clearly lays down the policy of His Majesty’s Government in respect of the position of the Indian States. It nowhere makes it obligatory upon them to merge themselves with any Legislative Assembly, be it Indian or Pakistani. It is my personal belief that if any State wants to remain aloof, it may do so without any pressure from any quarter, whether it be the British Parliament or any political organisation in the country. The British Government has clearly informed them (the States) that sovereignty is not transferable. It can be brought to an end, thus making the States attain their independence automatically.”

The Quaid-e-Azam also wrote to the Khan of Kalat that since the position of the Kalat State was different from other Indian States, representation on behalf of the State should be made directly to the Viceroy in Delhi to discuss the future position of Kalat and the return of Baloch regions hitherto under the control of the British Government. Accordingly, the Chief Secretary of Kalat State was sent to Delhi with a draft of the new position of Kalat as prepared by legal experts. This resulted in a round table conference, held on August 4, 1947, in which Lord Mountbatten, the Quaid-e-Azam, Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan, Chief Minister of Kalat, Sir Sultan Ahmed, the legal Advisor of Kalat State and the Khan of Kalat took part in the deliberations. The following points were agreed upon:

Kalat State will be independent on August 15, 1947, enjoying the same status as it originally held in 1838, having friendly relations with its neighbours.

In case the relations of Kalat with any future government got strained, Kalat will exercise its right of self-determination, and the British Government should take precautionary measures to help Kalat in the matter as per the Treaties of 1839 and 1841.

The Khan of Kalat, mentioning his services and those of the Baloch in the creation of Pakistan, expressed his full confidence in the Quaid-e-Azam and the ‘Government of Pakistan’ to be established under his leadership.

As a corollary to the round table conference at Delhi, another agreement was signed between Kalat and Pakistan on August 4, 1947. The points agreed upon were broadcast on August 11, 1947, as under:

The Government of Pakistan agrees that Kalat is an independent State, being quite different in Status from other States of India, and commits to its relations with the British Government as manifested in several agreements.

Legal opinion will be obtained to find out whether Pakistan Government is legally bound by the agreements and treaties that already exist between Kalat and the British Government.

Further talks will be held between the nominees of Pakistan and Kalat after obtaining the legal opinion on the above points.

In the meantime, a Standstill Agreement will be made between Pakistan and Kalat by which Pakistan shall stand committed to all the responsibilities and agreements signed by Kalat and the British Government from 1839 to 1947 and by this, Pakistan shall be the legal, constitutional and political successor of the British.

In order to discuss finally the relations between Kalat and Pakistan on matters of Defence, Foreign Relations and Communications, deliberations will be held in the near future in Karachi.

A few weeks after the agreement, the Agent to the Governor-General informed the rulers of Kharan and Lasbela that the control of their regions had been transferred to the Kalat State. The Marri and Bugti tribal region was also returned into the Kalat fold soon after. Thus the whole of Balochistan came under the suzerainty of the Khan of Kalat in the same confederacy of Baloch tribes that Nasir Khan I created in 1666-67.

The Kalat Government made a formal declaration of its independence on August 15, 1947, soon after the end of British supremacy, and a day after Pakistan’s coming into being on the map of the Subcontinent. Immediately a delegation comprising the Kalat Prime Minister and Foreign Minister was sent to Karachi for discussions and an honourable settlement vis-à-vis relations with Pakistan in the light of the mutually endorsed Standstill Agreement of August 11, 1947.


Sheikh Asad Rahman
Freelance Columnist
http://www.thepost.com.pk/OpinionNews.aspx?dtlid=40657&catid=11

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