The Government of Balochistan in Exile

Monday, May 29, 2006

Merger or Annexation of Balochistan

We will begin to discuss the merger of Balochistan into Pakistan and the treatment that the Khan and the people of Balochistan received at the hands of the new, inexperienced, incompetent, but already representing their class interests, politicians who held the reigns of power. It must be made clear here that the Quaid-e-Azam immediately after independence became too ill to be able to oversee the daily running of government and left this to his trusted lieutenants. At the same time negotiations for the merger of Balochistan with Pakistan also devolved onto the shoulders of these very people. The subsequent problems in the merger and the maltreatment of Balochistan by the federal government began from this time onwards, leading to civil unrest in Balochistan for decades and culminating in the bloody civil war of 1973 to 1977.

Even after the armed resistance of 1948, 1958, 1960 to 1968, and the civil war of 1973-77, the attitude of all federal governments, civilian or military, has not changed in the least towards Balochistan. Herein lies the genesis of the so-called ‘Balochistan Problem’.

Following the preliminary talks between the nominees of the Kalat Government and the Government of Pakistan, the Quaid-e-Azam invited the Khan of Kalat to Karachi for discussions on the future status of Kalat. These discussions took place in October 1947. The Quaid-e-Azam advised the Khan to expedite the merger in view of the developing dangers from the neighbouring countries like Afghanistan and potential threat from the Soviet Union to the newborn State of Pakistan. He said, “I would sincerely advise you to merge your State with Pakistan. Both the States will benefit by this measure and as far as the demands and other problems of Kalat are concerned, these will be finally decided in a spirit of mutual friendship.” The Khan replied, “I have great respect for your advice and it is my considered opinion that Kalat’s merger is necessary in order to make Pakistan stronger. In this connection, I would suggest Balochistan, being a land of numerous tribes, the people there must be duly consulted in the matter prior to any decision I take, for, according to the prevalent tribal convention, no decision can be binding upon them unless they are taken into confidence beforehand by their Khan.”

With this provisional agreement the Khan returned to Kalat and promptly summoned the Kalat State Houses of Parliament, the Dar-ul-Awam and Dar-ul-Umra, and proposed to the House to accord him a mandate on the matter of Kalat’s merger with Pakistan. Both the Houses, however, contended unanimously that the proposal of Kalat’s merger militated against the spirit of the earlier agreement arrived at between the Kalat Government and the spokesmen of Pakistan on August 4, 1947, as also against the Independence Act of 1947. In view of this contention, the members proposed further talks with the Government of Pakistan on the basis of the agreements referred to. This decision of Kalat’s Parliament was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, for necessary processing.

Shortly afterwards, the Quaid-e-Azam visited Sibi and during his stay there insisted upon the Khan to sign the merger documents in his personal capacity. Trivializing his own Houses of Parliament, the Khan affirmed to the Quaid that on his individual persuasion, the members of both Houses of Kalat’s State Parliament had signified their consent for merger, subject to such inconsequential conditions:

No laws will be enacted without the prior consent of the Baloch tribes as might affect their traditional customs and traditions.

The presence of all tribal Sardars is necessary at the ceremony of Kalat’s merger, if and when it takes place, and the Khan of Kalat and the Quaid-e-Azam should sign the merger documents before them.

The Quaid and Government of Pakistan should issue a statement eulogizing the role of the Baloch people in the cause of the historic culmination in the establishment of the sovereign Muslim State of Pakistan.

Lastly, the Quaid-e-Azam should personally address the traditional gathering of tribal Sardars, appreciating and acknowledging their sincere services in the cause of Islam and Pakistan.

The Khan by putting these conditions forward was trying to use the Quaid’s personal influence and persuasiveness to get the members of his Parliament to agree to merge Balochistan with Pakistan without preconditions. He further suggested that the Quaid should instruct the Agent to the Governor General (who was an Englishman at the time) to guide the Baloch tribal leaders into accepting the merger of their State without any hesitation. These manipulative measures undertaken by the Khan make it abundantly clear that the Baloch leaders were not in favour of the merger without first thrashing out crucial issues like constitutional status, provincial autonomy, judicial system, resource allocations, taxation, socio-economic development programmes, and all other governance subjects of vital importance in the life of a nation.

The Khan agreed to merge Kalat State with Pakistan in his subsequent discussions with S. B. Shah who confirmed the same in a letter to the Khan with these points:

“That you (the Khan) have at last acquiesced to merge Kalat State with Pakistan for the benefit of the people of Kalat.”

“That you have summoned the Dar-ul-Awam and Dar-ul-Umra on the 21st of this month, and that you would let us know the decision arrived at by them.”

Accordingly the Quaid handed over the matter to his newly formed cabinet. The members of the cabinet were new entrants to such high office and lacked the requisite experience of handling sensitive matters like the ethnological, historical, cultural and traditional background of the Baloch and the peculiar status of Kalat State vis-à-vis the agreements made between Kalat, the British, and subsequently Pakistan. The Quaid himself was by now very sick and weak in health and therefore unable to take part in governance or negotiations in any meaningful manner. His deputies were not of the same calibre and therefore it is no surprise that the affairs of Balochistan were mishandled from the very beginning. The Cabinet approached the merger of Balochistan with Pakistan in an atmosphere of apprehension and animosity.

The Khan still went ahead with his plans for the merger and informed the Government of Pakistan that:

My Government will get the merger of Kalat State finalized within three months.

In pursuance of Baloch traditions, the Khan of Kalat will proceed to Karachi along with his advisors to sign the merger documents as soon as these are finally drafted.

The federal cabinet, in the meantime, basing their policy formulations on absurd assumptions, was working on a scheme to break up the 500-year old State. The nature of their scheme, as it turned out subsequently, was tantamount to a political castration of the Baloch people. The cabinet decided to cut off Kharan and Lasbela by giving them an equal status to Kalat and obtaining their ‘mergers’ with Pakistan directly. Makran, which had been a part of the Kalat State for the last 300 years, was made independent of Kalat on March 17, 1948, and one of the three Sardars made its ruler. Thus Makran too was made a part of Pakistan. These hasty, illogical, irrational and politically illegal and oppressive steps naturally disillusioned the Baloch people. They rightly felt that all their erstwhile services and sacrifices in the cause of Pakistan were now forgotten. So deep was their despair and frustration that several of them wanted to revolt, and some did take to the hills making no secret of their intentions.

The neighbouring countries were quick to take notice of this vulnerable situation in Pakistan just a year after its birth. Reaction to this situation was particularly sharp in Afghanistan, India and Kashmir, resulting in:

The government and the people of Afghanistan becoming increasingly suspicious and adopting a hostile attitude towards Pakistan over the Durand Line.

Finding Pakistan in trouble, India annexed Hyderabad State on September 9, 1948, and militarily subdued it by September 17.

Capitalising on the situation, the Maharaja of Kashmir also merged his State with India.



Sheikh Asad Rahman
Freelance Columnist

http://www.thepost.com.pk/OpinionNews.aspx?dtlid=41752&catid=11

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