Balochistan: What are the facts?

Dr Maqsudul Hasan Nuri & Dr Noor ul Haq


The resolution of Rohrabacher referred to the Committee of US Foreign Affairs in February last is misleading as it is based on incorrect facts. It says that “the Baloch Khanate of Kalat was founded which functioned as an independent, sovereign country.” The history of the rulers of Kalat begins with Mir Ahmad with approximate date of accession being 1666-7 and continued till the independence of the subcontinent in 1947 when Ahmed Yar Khan was the ruler. In fact, they were never a sovereign country. According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India:
“The rulers of Kalat were never fully independent. There was always, as there is still, a paramount power to whom they were subject. In the earliest times they were merely petty chiefs; later they bowed to the orders of the Mughal emperors of Delhi and to the rulers of Kandahar, and supplied men-at-arms on demand. Most peremptory orders from the Afghan rulers to their vassals of Kalat are still extant, and the pre-dominance of the Sadozais and Barakzais was acknowledged so late as 1838. It was not until the time of Nasir Khan I [1750-1] that the titles of Beglar Begi (Chief of Chiefs) and Wali-i-Kalat (Governor of Kalat) were conferred on the Kalat ruler by the Afghan kings.”
From historical records, it appears that not only Kalat but the whole region of Balochistan was always under the paramountcy of Persia, Afghanistan or India. For almost eleven centuries (5th century BC � 6th century AD), with some breaks, was the outpost of Persia. Initially it was under the control of the Persian King Darius I (522-486 B.C.). Alexander also marched through Mekran on his way back from India (now Pakistan) and this region came under the political influence of Emperor Seleucus Nicator and thereafter under Chandragupta Mauriya (305 B.C.), followed by Indo-Greeks (3rd century B.C.), Parthians (2nd century B.C.), Scythians (100 B.C. to 200 A.D.), and Sassanids (3rd to 7th century A.D.). Subsequently, Arabs and Persians (7th to 16th centuries), Mughals of Delhi (16th to 18th centuries), Afghanistan (18th to 19th centuries), and British (19th to 20th centuries) exercised their supremacy in the region.
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, while addressing Sibi Darbar (i.e. Sibi Court) in Balochistan on February 14, 1948, expressed the desire “of improving the lot of our people in this Province and of enabling them to secure for themselves the same position and the same political status within the polity of Pakistan, which are open to their brethren in other provinces”. Earlier, on June 3, 1947, the British Government held a referendum in Balochistan. They convened “Shahi Jirga, excluding the Sardars nominated by the Kalat State, and the non-official members of Quetta Municipality” to decide the future of Balochistan. “Fifty four members of the Shahi Jirga and Quetta Municipality voted en bloc to join Pakistan. The eight non-Muslim members of the Quetta Municipality and the Shahi Jirga (seven Hindus and one Parsi) did not attend the meeting.” The then member of the Indian Central Assembly from British Balochistan, Nawab Muhammad Khan Jogazai, therefore, joined the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and not of India.
The British rulers of the subcontinent had divided the Indian subcontinent into British India which was under their direct rule and Princely India consisting of about 565 states with whom the British had treaty relations. The largest state in terms of population and GNP was that of Hyderabad Deccan which had its own currency, army, official language, judiciary with a High Court, Railways, Airline, postal service, Radio Broadcasting Network and was given the title “Faithful Ally of the King Emperor”. But all these states were subordinated to the British government, their foreign policy was with the British and they could not enter into a treaty relation with any other power on their own. After independence the treaties entered into with the British were terminated, but they were asked to accede to either India or Pakistan, keeping in view their geographical location and the wishes of their people.
Out of a total of 565 Indian princely states, a few such as Hyderabad, Junagadh, Mysore, Bahawalpur, Jammu and Kashmir, Bhopal, Kalat and Travancore desired to become independent but none of them was allowed to do so. Kalat had also declared independence on August 15, 1947. This was not acceptable and led to employment of security forces. The state had become landlocked surrounded by Pakistan administered Balochistan, and the three peripheral Baloch States, Kharan, Makran and Las Bela which had acceded to Pakistan. Finally, the Khan of Kalat Mir Ahmed Yar Khan decided to accede unconditionally and the Instrument of Accession was signed on 27th March 1948. A decade later, in 1958, Gwadar was purchased by Pakistan from the Emirate of Oman which is now being developed into a state of the art deep sea port.
Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of area, but lowest in population and the poorest in per capita income. The underlying reason for its backwardness seems to be the feudal system and illiteracy of its human resource. According to the first census in the country held in 1951, the literacy rate in Balochistan was 3.9 per cent, which had later increased to 24.8 per cent as per the last census held in 1998 and 37 per cent in 2004. Economically, Balochistan has always remained an underdeveloped region.
The reasons are: (1) It is a rain deficit area; (2) the region was away from centres of power and thus attracted lesser attention; (3) British were only interested in peace and own safety; (4) the mineral wealth could not be exploited due to lack of interest and absence of modern technology; (5) whenever and whatever mineral wealth was exploited, such as the discovery of gas in Sui, the people of Balochistan were generally neglected, except for the sardar (chief) of the area who received certain benefits; (6) Pakistan’s policy to continue with the British colonial system has been in the interest of sardars, but not of the masses; (7) the resultant poor representation of the province in the civil and military bureaucracy further increased their economic deprivation; (8) the lack of infrastructure of roads, water, electricity, education, healthcare, etc., added to their miseries; (9) Pakistan’s economy has remained dependent on assistance from international agencies, and there have always been complaints for paucity of funds; (11) there is no middle class. Certain tribal sardars, instead of demanding development work, jobs, schools, hospitals, roads, water, etc., exploited the illiteracy, poverty and loyalty of their followers; and (12) last but not the least reason “for slow pace of development in Balochistan is non-proper utilization of government funds besides inability of [government] departments” to deliver. Balochistan has, thus, remained the poorest province, with lowest literacy and per capita income, as compared to other provinces in Pakistan. This accounts largely for the feeling of resentment of the people.
Balochistan, like the rest of Pakistan, is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural. It is a geographical expression given to a region, inhabited by Balochis, Brahuis, Pushtuns, and others. Towards the end of the first Anglo-Afghan War (1838-42) the demographic state of this region was 300,000 Brahuis, 200,000 Pushtuns and only 80,000 Baluchis. [8] As per the last census of 1998, the province has a population of about 6.566 million. According to an earlier 1981 Census Report, linguistically, there were 38.28 percent Balochis, 25.15 percent Pushtuns and 22.02 percent Brahuis and the remainder 14.55 percent spoke other languages. [10] The latest Census Report of Balochistan Province of 1998, has grouped together Balochis and Brahuis, making a total of 54.76 percent besides 45.24 per cent Pushtuns and others, who speak Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, Urdu, etc. The recent population movement from Afghanistan into Pakistan due to war on terror has somewhat affected the demography, which will be exactly ascertained in the next census.
Administratively, the British did not grant the status of a province to Balochistan but divided it into British Balochistan and Agencies as follows:
1) British Balochistan included districts obtained by treaty or conquered or obtained on lease from the Khan of Kalat.
2) Balochistan Agency included the native states of Kalat, Las Bela, Kharan and the Tribal Areas of Marris, Bugtis, Mengals and others. The British Political Agent dealt with these states and tribes.

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