WAS BALOCHISTAN’S ACCESSION TO PAKISTAN LAWFUL?

On Thursday 23 February, a seminar hosted by The Democracy Forum will be held in a committee room of Britain’s House of Lords to discuss the hotly debated subject of Balochistan’s accession to Pakistan in 1948.

The seminar, entitled “Balochistan Re-visited”, will throw up views of a spectrum of people from academics to Baloch nationalists, not to mention the present Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Khan Ahmedzai, whose ancestors were once rulers of much of Balochistan.

Ahmedzai’s views will include what he describes as the “1948 occupation of Balochistan”. He has informed organisers of the seminar he will produce documentary evidence to present his case.

Hyrbyair Marri, a Baloch nationalist and a former education minister in the Balochistan government, will emphasise “Britain did not honour its treaties” with Balochistan and that Pakistan “attacked” Balochistan.

Haider Baloch, a human rights activists, will deal with “human rights violations in Balochistan”. He believes it is now at “a critical juncture in the region’s history”.

Professor Sabir Badal Khan of Naples University is slated to speak on Britain’s arbitrary role in the merger of Balochistan with Pakistan. His opinion is Britain took the Baloch part of the territory on lease from the government of Balochistan in Kalat and were supposed to return it back to Balochistan before they left the region”.

The facts are as follows:

In the months following the announcement on 3rd June 1947 of India’s Partition Plan, the Kalat Government made a series of moves including meetings/talks with representatives of the Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten and the future Government of Pakistan in Delhi. These talks led to certain preparatory steps towards a formal re-affirmation of the suzerainty of the Khan of Kalat over the whole of Balochistan.

One such meeting was held on 4th of August 1947 in Delhi. It was chaired by Mountbatten and attended by his legal advisor Lord Ismay. Kalat State was presented by Khan of Kalat Ahmed Yar Khan and Prime Minister Sultan Ahmed. Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan represented Pakistan.

It resulted in the signing of a 3-point agreement. Jinnah and Liaquat Ali signed for Pakistan and Ahmed for Kalat.

The Agreement stated:

  1. Government of Pakistan recognises the independent and sovereign status of the State of Kalat, which has treaty relations with the British Government and whose status and position is different from the other princely states of India.
  2. Legal opinion will be obtained to decide whether Pakistan can be the successor to those treaties and to the ones on leased areas.
  3. After obtaining the legal opinion, there will be further talks between the representatives of Pakistan and Kalat. In the interim period, there shall be a standstill agreement between Pakistan and Kalat in relation to the areas under lease to the British Government.

On 12th August 1947, Khan of Kalat formally proclaimed the independence of Kalat State effective from 15th August 1947.

On 27th March 1948, Khan of Kalat acceded to Pakistan under duress and in gross violation of the will of the people of Kalat-Balochistan as expressed unanimously by members of both houses of the Kalat parliament.

It is perhaps not to well known that the coastal area of Gwadar in Balochistan, where China has now built a modern port and leased the land up to 2059 from Pakistan, was owned for 200 years by Oman. It was sold to Pakistan in 1958 for a mere $3 million. In this transaction, too, Britain played a role.

Gwadar is a deep sea port on the Arabian Sea, strategically located between South Asia and West Asia. It will be an exit and entry point for the north to south China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), now under construction.

People in Balochistan have held protests against CPEC, which they feel will not benefit Balochistan.