Kalat Accession: Allegory and Actuality – 1

29 Mar

By Aasef Chauhdry

There was a kind of tug of war between Kalat and Pakistan in the early days, however, making the accession controversial, doing propaganda and celebrating so-called Black Day every year on its basis is not acceptable. Many journalists would unashamedly lie that Kalat joined Pakistan by vigor but they can’t give any historic proof to this claim. If taking over of Kalat state was a myth, why would people like Mir Ghauos Bakhsh Bizenjo, President of the Kalat State National Party, who were against Kalat state acceding to Pakistan later on became the Governor of the Balochistan province? Another most vital truth is that why Kalat is termed as whole Balochistan province? Why people forget the reality that by the time of Accession of Kalat, most of Balochistan was already part of Pakistan but propagandists and planted agents would only talk about Kalat as if it was entire Balochistan. What is now called Balochistan had many Pashtun dominated districts which along with Quetta and other districts readily became part of Pakistan by August 1947 excluding Gwadar which belonged to Oman at that time and was later sold to Pakistan. Just to clear these misconceptions it was felt mandatory to take the help of authentic and well researched material to clear the doubts lurking in general public’s minds.

Baluchistan that Pakistan inherited consisted of three types of territory. First, there was a long strip of land separating Baluchistan from Afghanistan and the Northwest Frontier Province, which was directly administered by the British. Chiefs, who had treaty relationships with the British, controlled the rest of Baluchistan. They had internal independence but the Government of India controlled their external relations. The Khan of Kalat was the most important of these chiefs, whose territories were divided amongst a number of feudatories with different levels of independence. Kalat did not feature large in the competition between India and Pakistan for the accession of princely states at the time of the partition. Since it was on the periphery of the Indian sub-continent, it did not hold the same importance as Kashmir, Hyderabad, or even Junagadh. Nor did it have the disagreement of the ruler belonging to one faith while its people belonged to another, as both were Muslim. However, the Quaid-i-Azam had promised Kalat and other princely states independence, if they acceded to Pakistan. Independence in this environment meant that foreign affairs, defence and communications would be handled by Pakistan.

As the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, sought to settle the question of accession of all princely states, Kalat was the subject of a meeting on July 19, 1947. While discussing the future of Kalat, Lord Mountbatten said that he would meet the representatives of the other princely states and suggest to them that they should adhere to one or the other of the Dominions. The minutes of the same meeting revealed that the Khan of Kalat claimed that Jinnah had asked him whether he would be willing to send representatives to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, but he had responded in the negative, saying it would not be possible because of Kalat’s independent status. However, more importantly, the Khan had agreed with Jinnah that an understanding must be reached between Kalat and Pakistan on defence, external affairs and communications. A series of meetings between the Viceroy, as the Crown’s Representative, the Quaid and the Khan of Kalat followed, which resulted in a communiqué on August 11, 1947. The communiqué stated that, “The Government of Pakistan recognizes Kalat as an independent sovereign state in treaty relations with the British Government with a status different from that of Indian States. Legal opinion will be sought as to whether or not agreements of leases will be inherited by the Pakistan Government. Meanwhile, a Standstill Agreement has been made between Pakistan and Kalat. Discussions will take place between Pakistan and Kalat at Karachi at an early date with a view to reaching decisions on Defence, External Affairs and Communications”.

While the Quaid on behalf of the Government of Pakistan agreed to recognize Kalat as an independent and a sovereign State, the Khan of Kalat tried to get the Crown Representative to do so as well. The Crown Agent refused on the basis of an advice from his political adviser. It is clear from the draft communiqué and the UK High Commissioner’s letter discussing it that not only was the British Government unhappy with Pakistan’s recognition of Kalat as an independent and a sovereign State, but it also did not want it to become a precedent.
Grafftey Smith mentions in his memo of September 24, 1947 to the Commonwealth Relations Office that a draft Instrument of Accession has been sent to the Khan of Kalat, and it is in the same form as the Junagadh Instrument, but that the Khan is unlikely to accept it. He further said that Jinnah has had second thoughts regarding the recognition of Kalat as an independent sovereign state, and is now desirous of obtaining its accession in the same form as was accepted by other rulers who joined Pakistan. The same note mentions that an interesting situation is developing as Pakistan might accept the accession of Kalat’s two feudatories, Las Bela and Kharan, and points out that this is like Junagadh, where India is negotiating directly with Mangrol. However, it says, the significant difference between the two situations is that the Crown Representative recognised Kharan and Las Bela as independent states prior to August 15, 1947, which was not the case with Mangrol. The note also mentions that the Khan has assured Jinnah of having no intention of opening negotiations with Iran, Afghanistan or India, but observed that the situation would become very difficult if the Khan attempted to open negotiations with New Delhi.
On August 15, 1947 when the British withdrew from India, the Khan of Kalat said in his speech, “I thank God that one aspiration, that is independence, has been achieved, but the other two, the enforcement of Shariah-i-Muhammadi and unification of Baloch people, remain to be fulfilled”. The speech was delivered in the Balochi language, with promises to work towards the unfulfilled aspirations. He also expressed the sense of incompleteness of the process of unification and independence, and appeared to be referring to the leased areas, which Pakistan had inherited from British India.

What complicated the situation was the desire of Kharan and Las Bela, two feudatories of Kalat, to accede to Pakistan, irrespective of Kalat’s decision. Moreover, Mekran, which was a district of Kalat, wanted to do the same. There are a plethora of letters from the rulers of Kharan and Las Bela entreating the Quaid to accept the accession of their states to Pakistan, irrespective of Kalat’s decision. Mir Mohammed Habibullah Khan, the ruler of Kharan, wrote to the Quaid on August 21, 1947, “I announce on behalf of myself and my subjects; and joins Pakistan Dominion as its suzerain and promises to serve Pakistan up to its extent”. In each successive letter, Habibullah Khan makes it apparent that the supremacy of Kalat is unacceptable to him. He wrote to the Quaid in November 1947, by then the Governor-General of Pakistan, “My State will never submit to the dictates of the Kalat State and will continue to oppose any moves aimed at an interference of the State’s freedom to act. A few days later writing again to the Governor-General, he argued that it is not possible any longer for Kharan to bear the undue interference from the Kalat state, and described the legal status of Kharan in these words, “Following the lapse of the British paramountcy, Kharan repudiated the supremacy of Kalat and acceded to Pakistan; Kharan also complained that Kalat was arming the mischief mongers in Kharan with the purpose of creating law and order situation in Pakistan-controlled areas.
By October 1947, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had a change of heart on the recognition of Kalat as an Independent and a Sovereign State, and wanted the Khan to sign the same form of instrument of accession as the other states which had joined Pakistan. The Khan was unwilling to abandon the nominally achieved independent status but ready to concede on defence, foreign affairs and communications. However, he was unwilling to sign either a treaty or an Instrument, until and unless he had got a satisfactory agreement on the leased areas. Fears were also being voiced that officials of the Government of Pakistan might start dealing with the two feudatories of Las Bela and Kharan, and accept their de facto accession, as these two feudatories were recognized by the Crown Representative as separate States prior to August 15, 1947.
Mir Mohammad Habibullah Khan, the ruler of Kharan, wrote to the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah in December 1947 and explained why Kharan did not accept the suzerainty of Kalat. He said that before the advent of the British, Kharan was under the influence of Afghanistan, and that it was in 1883 that it accepted the supremacy of Britain. Kharan, he said, received an allowance of Rs. 6,000 per year from the British until August 15, 1947 in lieu of the allowance it used to get from Afghanistan. He argued that Kharan was an independent state under the supremacy of the British. Kalat, he said, has always wanted to subjugate Kharan, and even launched an armed attack against Kharan in 1939 to force it to accept Kalat’s hegemony. Habibullah Khan then declared, “After August 15, 1947, Kharan is absolutely an independent State. It has decided to accede to Pakistan. However, whether Kharan joins Pakistan or remains outside, this much is clear that it will never, in any way, accept Kalat’s hegemony. His position about the Brohi Confederacy was that Sardar Azad Khan, the ruler of Kharan, had not recognized the Khan of Kalat as his Sardar during Sir Robert Sandeman’s tenure of office. The ruler of Kharan in Baluchistan, while visiting Karachi in October 1947, issued a statement, saying, “Kharan was equal to Kalat and would never suffer subordination to her; Kharan would live and, if necessary, die for Pakistan. Kalat continued to deny that either of the two feudatories could be regarded as separate states.
(To be concluded)


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