Back to the future (The Khanate of Kalat and the Genesis of Baloch Nationalism 1915-1955)
Writer: Martin Axmann
Review by: Asif Baloch
Wind of change: – Kalat between the world wars
During World War 1 (1914-1918) Balochistan remained out of scenario because of inaccessibility of modern communication tools and deprivation of facilities by British government. Before war Germany made strong ties with Ottoman Empire in order to use it as a card in case of any war. So, Germany kept the policy of keeping Ottoman Empire together and roads were made, joint military trainings were set and similarly advisors both countries were set. When Anglo-Russian imperial powers made an alliance against highly powerful German empire, Germany took the opportunity to use Ottoman card. On October 29, 1914 German used its Turkish card and asked Enver Pasha to attack “Black Sea ports of Oddessa”. So, seeing Ottoman polarity toward German, alliance of British, Russia, France declared war on Ottoman empire on Nov 3,5 and on Nov 11 respectively. German provoked Sultan Abdul Hamid and he declared Jihad against imperial powers. Muslims of Afghanistan, Iran, Subcontinent and Balochistan were called to fight against infidel British. Berlin translated the proclamation of Jihad, letters were smuggled to British India, Central Asia and Caucasus. Muslims of Caucases, Central Asia were called to fight against Russia, British and France. Propaganda of Germans turned muslims and German policy was to use Caliph for declaring jihad when time has ripe and propagate this declaration to formant rebellion in colonies of enemies. Sultan has to call for jihad and German supplies expert’s resources and money. Leaflets were made in many languages and agents were sent and spread throughout the colonies. So, in 1914 envoys were deployed in Iranian Balochistan and Afghanistan. Baloch remained immune to the German propaganda. In 1916 German envoy met with Mir Behram Khan Irfshani in western Balochistan who was fighting against British colonialism. Both parties were unable to make an agreement and at the end of 1916 German delegation was caught and prisoned by British.
German propaganda for Jihad ignited a flame of resistance in British India. Muslims of India started “Khilafat Movement” to secure the last Ottoman empire. Movement was supported by Gandhi and congress. Movement declared British India as Dar-ul-Haram and called Muslims to choose Jihad or Hijrat. So, thousands of Muslims migrated to Afghanistan. Delegations of Khilafat Movement visited MarriBugti and Dera Ghazi Khan tribal areas and called Baloch people to start Hijrat. Baloch remained deaf to any such call and rejected movement offer to either Jihad or Hijrat. So, during that period Baloch never took part in any religious upheaval but during that period Baloch fought against British for their land.
Jhalawan and Marri-Khetran Resistance
In 1915, three Baloch chiefs Noor-ul-Din Mengal, Shehbaz Khan Gurganari, Nawab Muhammad Khan Zarkzai from Jhalawan belt started resistance against British government. After making several attacks on British forces sardars made their way to Iranian Balochistan through Makran. A group of insurgents in the leadership of NuraMengal remained on ground and carried out fighting against British forces. Sardars crossed the border and met with Behram Khan Irfshani and asked for his support against British government. Irfshani at that time already made an agreement with british and surrendered. So, he rejected the proposal of support and Sardars made their way back to Balochistan. They fought against British but due to scarcity of modern weapons and tribal support. They were captured and prisoned in treason case on august 1916.
Similar Marri and Khetran started an uprising against British colonialism in early 1918. At the time when British was trying to recruit armed personals to fight in World War 1, Marri areas remained center of focus because Marri tribe was renowned for its war-like nature and valor. British government pressurized Marrisardar to recruit personals in British forces but MarriSardar rejected the recruitment of armed personals in British forces. British threatened Marri tribe to use of force but tribal people didn’t pay heed to any outsiders war. Marri called on other tribes to fight against British forces. Khetran along with Marri fought against British forces and several ambushes were made in Kohlu, Barkhan, Loralai, Dukki, FortMinroo and Dera Ghazi Khan. Soon, British made an agreement with tribal people and British forces were driven out from the area.
Mir Ahmad yar Khan and Royalist Revival
After Mir KhudaDad Khan (1857-93), Mahmud Khan (1893-1931) and Azam Jan Khan (1931-33), Mir Ahmad Yar Khan became Khan of Kalat on September 10, 1933 and in 1934 Edward Wakefield was allocated as PM of Khanate. Mir Ahmad Yar Khan was supported as Khan of Kalat by “AnjumanItehad e Balochan” a political association working throughout Balochistan. Soon after his nomination as Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan started demanding transfer of power. British was not agree to transfer power in hands of Khan of Kalat according to the treaty of 1876. Due to a deadly earthquake in Quetta in 1935 all discussions regarding transfer of power were closed. In 1938 Khan again demanded transfer of of power but British didn’t pay any heed to such demand. So, Khan by support of sardars announced reforms in Kalat state without the consent of British government. British opposed the reforms and asked Khan to send a memorandum regarding transfer of. So, Khan sent a memorandum to British government and demanded the transfer of power in hands of Khan according to 1876 treaty. On June 3, 1939 power were restored but all were meaningless. Discussion regarding this matter ended in 1939 after the breakup of war in 1939.
After Morley Minto reforms in 1909 which was later considered as government of India act 1921, diarchy system was brought into action. After failure of this act and bycott of congress in General Elections, a new act “Government of India Act 1935”was brought in action. The sole purpose of this act was to make a federating body of British India. According to this act British India shall have a council and legislative assembly. In this act a single seat in council and two seats in legislative assembly were allocated to Balochistan and only hurdle was to annex Kalat because Kalat was somewhat totally different from other princely states of India. So, till 1945 problem remained unsolved as government couldn’t make any decision regarding nomination or election of members for legislative assembly from Balochistan. So, till 1945 overall Balochistan remained out of British India affairs till 1945. NawabAsadullah Khan Raisani was first time nominated from Shahi Jirga in Sibbi for legislative assembly. Kalat remained out of scenario throughout these nominations.
Second World War and Post War Dreams
During World War II Balochistan got more importance as a strategically important area. British Decided to make Balochistan a base to command military operations in Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan and Soviet Union. So, British decided to make a “Council of War” in 1940 to recruit armed personals and strategic support. Khan of Kalat refused to join council lamenting “Balochistan have totally different status than all princely Indian states”. Later Khan made some demands to be the part council, they are:
- Position of Kalat as treaty of 1876.
- Khan is not bound to attend councils meeting personally but his representative may become the part of any meeting.
- Representative of Khan of Kalat shall be present in all meetings throughout the year (According to British each state representative can take part in two meetings throughout the year).
So, British refused to reject the demands of Khan of Kalat and excluded Kalat from the councils list. In the same years Imperial Service Troop plan was also brought into action and British tried to recruit troops from princely states. Khan of Kalat refused to become the part any imperial plan of recruitment of armed personals. On May 12, 1946 Cabinet mission decided that all treaties with British will end with its exist from the region. Muhammad Ali Jinnah has supported the independence of states in these days while Nehru refused to accept their independence. It is an evident that Kalats memorandum to cabinet mission was represented by Muhammad Ali Jinah.
The Birth of a Nation: Balochistan and Kalat at the Dawn of Independence
British since the day of being a colonial power undertaken all measures solely on military purposes. Sandeman rule has strengthened tribal allegiance and political activities were banned throughout the Baloch territory. First Baloch organization with the name “Young Baloch” was formed in 1920 by Abdul Aziz Kurd. Organization remained underground till 1929 when leadership of Young Baloch met with Yousaf Aziz Magsi and formed “Anjuman- E-Ittehad-E-Balochan”. Anjuman arranged its first “All India Baloch Conference” in 1932 in JackobAbad. Delegations from throughout Baloch dominated areas attended the conference and several resolutions such as its first resolution stated that “Balochistan, be constituted into a governors province with the same regular constitutional reforms, with full provincial autonomy as enjoyed by other provinces; and Dera Ghazi Khan and upper Sindh districts as being primarily inherited by Baloch be amalgamatedin the province of Balochistan”. Anjuman arranged it second conference in 1933 and same resolutions with some amendments were passed. With Mir Ahmad Yar Khan’s nomination as Khan Anjuman got his support and tried to make its root as strong as possible. Yousaf Aziz Magsi tried to make party stronger on radical basis and after his death in 1935’s earthquake progress this matter were paused. After his death Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd tried to continue his legacy and during a meeting in February 1937, a new party named Kalat State National Party was formed.
Kalat State National Party with stalwart leaders such as Abdul Aziz Kurd, Gul Khan Naseer and Muhmmad Husain Anqa got fame in a short span of time. Being supported by Khan of Kalat KSNP entitled Mir Ahmad Yar Khan as “Khan-e-Muazim”. With the demand of KSNP, Khan announced reforms in Balochistan. KSNP started opposing British colonization and sardari system. Soon after the party’s first yearly meeting, Sardars and British started demanded ban on KSNP and on July 10, 1939 KSNP was banned in the premises of Kalat so party shifted its headquarter to Quetta. KSNP opposed the lease of Jewni port to British during the World War II and British couldn’t get port from Khan.
When Baloch leaders indulged in radical politics and tried to refurnish Anjuman on radical basis Abdul SamadAchakzai parted his ways and a new Part Anjuman-E-Watan was formed. Anjuman-E-Watan party got fame in Pashtun areas and in 1939 Balochistan Muslim League was also formed with QaziIssa as its president. Balochistan Muslim League at the day of its formation was just a minor party having support of non-local Muslims. Balochistan Muslim League got some support from Pashtun areas but never remained active in the premises of Kalat.
Khan’s of Kalat totally signed four treaty with British from 1839-1947. Treaties were signed in 1839, 1841, 1854 and 1876 respectively. Article 1 of 1839 with Mir Mehrab Khan stated that, “ Nasir Khan(The Great) and his descendants, as well as his tribe and sons, held possession of the country of Kalat, Kachhi, Khorstan, Makran, Kech, Bela and the port of Soumiani…. And will in future be the master of their country”. And according to second article “British will never interfere between the Khan, his dependents, and his subjects”. In treaty of 1841 with Mir Nasir Khan II, Kalats status was changed and state was made the vassal of Afghanistan. In treaty of 1854 again with Mir Nasir Khan II, Kalat’s status as a sovereign state was again revived and was stated that British and Kalat state shall have perpetual friendly relation. According to this treaty Kalat was bound to have subordinate co-operation with British government. 1876,s treaty remained almost same as the treaty of 1854 but with little differences.
Kalat state remained bound to British government with Treaty of 1876 till the day of its independence. As previously stated Khan many time urged British government to transfer power according to the treaty made in 1876. Khan of Kalat kept his struggle for independence till the last days of British exit. For this purpose Khan of Kalat submitted a memorandum before cabinet mission in 1946. Memorandum was prepared by Sir Syed Sultan Ahmad and was submitted by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. According to that memorandum, “On the transfer of power in British India, the subsisting treaties between the Kan of Kalat and British government will come to an end, and whatever obligations have been imposed on the Khan by these treaties will ipso facto terminate. The consequences will be that the state of Kalat will become fully sovereign and independent in respect of both external and internal matters, and will be free to conclude treaties with any other government or state”. According to the cabinet mission Balochistan have its right to choose either with any state or retain its independence.