Photo: Inter Press Service (IPS)
By R. I. Baloch
Two distinctive characters of history are:
- By the time it is written the dramatis personae are not around to explain their point of view – some of them aren’t alive;
- The winning side decides what is right or wrong and its tainted view determines what is written, if at all…
This is the reason why the real story of Pakistan’s Great betrayal in Balochistan and the real facts may never come out…
The fact of the matter is that Khan of Kallat Mir Ahmad Yar Khan hired Muhammad Ali Jinnah a leading advocate of his time to fight the case for Balochistan’s Independence. It was under Jinnah’s legal guidance that a final agreement was reached and Balochistan was to be declared independent on 5th August 1947 — with the same territorial and administrative freedom that it enjoyed in 1838. Accordingly, Balochistan was officially allowed to post an ambassador in Karachi (the first capital of Pakistan) and hoist the Baloch flag, just like most different countries do.
Accordingly, the first-ever general elections in Balochistan’s history were held in 1947. The Kallat parliament and ruler started functioning independently and laws were being drafted. Balochi was recognized as the “official and national language”.
In October 1947 when the Khan of Kallat visited Pakistan, he was given due recognition as head of a sovereign state and was received like the King of Balochistan in Karachi.
Why is Balochistan important for Pakistan?
Balochistan is a huge, sparsely populated landmass rich in oil, and natural gas reserves, gold, coal, copper, iron ore, lead-zinc, titanium, and uranium. It connects Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; and has a 600-mile coastline providing easy access to the Persian Gulf, the world’s oil shipping center.
According to the Oil & Gas Journal, Pakistan has about 300 million barrels of proven oil reserves mostly found in Balochistan. Balochistan holds the key to the highly controversial $1.5 billion 1,930 kilometer-long Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline which may deliver 750 million – 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day mostly through the Baloch territory. Apart from this Balochistan holds the key to the Gwadar port a key oil shipping hub between the Strait of Hormuz and the Far East Asia that Islamabad is developing with the help of China. These are the reasons why Pakistan does not wish to let the goose that lays golden eggs go. Ironically Balochistan is one of the poorest regions of Pakistan – without even basic amenities like schools, electricity, or clean drinking water. Why? Pakistan wants them to be ignorant so that they are politically, socially, or economically dependent on Pakistan.
The Great betrayal
As already discussed in the first part of this story, at the time of partition following a series of meetings between the Viceroy, Jinnah, and the Khan of Kallat a signed communique on August 11, 1947, declaring Balochistan as a sovereign nation. However, by October 1947, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had a change of heart and simply did not wish to recognize Kallat as an “Independent and a Sovereign State”
The Khan of Kallat and his sons
Jinnah tried every trick of the trade to persuade, win over, or threaten the Khan to sign the same format of the instrument of accession that other states had signed at the time of joining Pakistan.“Balochistan is a land of numerous tribes who need to be consulted before taking any decision. According to the common tribal customs no decision can be binding upon them unless it has been taken with their consent,” the Khan argued.
Instead of waiting indefinitely, Jinnah visited Sibi or Siwei city in Balochistan on February 15, 1948. His main motive was to persuade Khan to agree to be a part of Pakistan. But Khan did not turn up for the final meeting on the pretext of illness and instead sent a letter mentioning that he had summoned both houses of the Parliament: Darul Umra (Upper House) and Darul Awam (lower House) and would convey their decision to Jinnah before the end of the month.
A few days later the two houses of Balochi parliament met and not only rejected Pakistan’s merger proposal but also opined that it was against the spirit of the earlier agreement arrived between Kallat Government and Pakistan on August 4, 1947, as well as against the Independence Act of 1947.
The newly formed constituent assembly refused to sign an agreement with Pakistan and also warned the Khan not to sign any instrument of accession without its knowledge.
Around this time the first Indo-Pak war started on 27th October 1947 under the leadership of Lt Gen Sir Frank Messervy a British Indian Army officer as the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) Pakistan Army and Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck the last Commander in Chief of British India. Jinnah used the war to put pressure on the Khan to join Pakistan.
When the Balochi refused, the Pakistani authorities threatened to take coercive action against them for “anti-national activities against Pakistan.” To prepare the base on for the same on February 10, 1948, Governor-General Jinnah replaced Lt Gen Sir Frank Messervy by Gen Sir Douglas Gracey as Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of Pakistan Army.
The Khan reciprocated by ordering his troops to be prepared and procure weapons and ammunition but the British refused to supply arms without Pakistan Government’s approval.
Sensing the trouble, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan approached India and Afghanistan for help. On 20th March 1948 AIR, Delhi broadcast an interview with VP Menon a prominent Indian civil servant who was Sardar Patel’s right-hand man dealing with the merger of the 565 princely states with the union of India.
Surprisingly the government of India did not confirm or deny what was said in the interview or whether it had any interest in the accession of the Khanate.
However, the premature discloser rattled the Khan of Kallat who desperately sent a mail to Jinnah on 27 March in which he denied any attempts to poison the minds of his subjects against joining Pakistan as well as any move to negotiate with India or Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Jinnah, who happened to be tuned-in, heard the broadcast and took immediate action to ensure that the mistakes committed in Kashmir were not repeated.
Nehru was still in two minds about what to do next. Meanwhile, within a month of taking over as the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Pakistan Army — one of the first tasks given to Gen Gracey was to pulverize Balochistan and make sure they didn’t dare to speak up. Gen Gracey did not let them down.
On March 28, 1948, Balochistan’s independence came to an end and few things happened almost at the same time:
- Mir Ahmad Yar Khan signed to document acceding to Pakistan almost at gunpoint,
- The legal entity of the Khan was abolished
- The Balochistan became a part of Pakistan.
- All members of the Constituent assembly were arrested.
- Balochistan became an integral territory— under the direct rule of the federal government of Pakistan till 1970.
- The younger brother of Khan escaped to Afghanistan and launched first Balochistan’s war for independence.
Meanwhile, Chaudhari Rehmat Ali, a self-styled Islamic scholar published a pamphlet called ‘Now or Never’ on 28 January 1933 in which he for the first time coined the word PAKISTAN as the homeland for thirty million Muslims inhabiting Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iran, Sind, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and BalochistaN. His logic was that Muslims had a distinct – religion, culture, history, tradition, social and economic system, as well as fundamentally different laws of inheritance, succession, and marriage as compared to others. Even the diet, customs, calendars, and dress are different and there is no inter-marriage. Moving a step further he mooted the concept behind several other Muslim states like Bangistan and Osmanistan.
Choudhary Rahmat Ali an inconspicuous Islamic ideologue wanted to be known as the founding father of the ‘Pakistan National Movement’. The “Pakistan Declaration” drafted by him was circulated for the first time at the Third Round Table Conference in 1932.
But this is where his luck ran out as Jinnah high-jacked (picked and chose) portions of his proposal behind the two-nation theory and dumped him into the dustbin for oblivion. Rahmat Ali was heartbroken when the Muslim League accepted the British partition plan on 3 June 1947. He was particularly hurt at how no credit was given to him and a pruned version of his concept of Pakistan was going to take shape. Condemning Jinnah for accepting a smaller Pakistan, he called him “Quisling-e-Azam”. But by then the damage had already been done.
After partition, Rahmat Ali came to be treated like a persona non–grata in the very Pakistan which he conceptualised (for the first time in 1933) as a separate homeland for Muslims. In 1947 after the creation of Pakistan, Ali wanted to settle down in Lahore, but his belongings were confiscated and he was expelled out of Pakistan empty-handed on the orders of the then Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan. He left for England in October 1948 and died on 3 February 1951 in Cambridge as a penniless, lonely and deserted person at the time of his death. He could never even set foot in Pakistan and died like a pauper in a foreign country.
(To be concluded)