The Father’s Bow | Liaqat Baloch


The Father’s Bow

by Ricardo Redaelli

Review By: Liaqat Baloch

The book Got its title from a famous Balochi Proverb “If you inherit your father’s bow, buy new Arrows “and depicts how Khan of Kalat state inherited father’s bow but due to insufficient arrows got it lost.

The book demonstrates the importance of Balochistan geo-strategically getting attention of main imperialists of World to capture it, the establishment of khanate of Kalat in the mid-17th century, its dynamics of power and form of government and its colonization by British in the mid-19th century, tactics used by the British to gain administrative control of Balochistan in late 19th and Early 20th century and the forceful annexation of khanate of kalat to newly formed state Pakistan in 1948 after the British departure from subcontinent.

Balochistan occupies a very crucial geographical location between central Asian plateau and Iranian plateau making it a region of line between West and East. Thus, an unerringly vital for colonial powers to siege it for their interests. The area of Balochistan is 340000 square miles. According to the census of 1931 the population of Balochistan was 867,617.

The major ethnic groups living in Balochistan include the Baloch/Brahuis and Pasthuns while non-Baloch minorities include Gichki, Kurds and Hindus who never played a political role in the history of the khanate of Kalat and were limited to commerce and trading.

The central Balochistan has a large brahui Speaking Baloch Majority whose military strength made possible the formation of the khanate of kalat. The two main Brahui tribes who ruled the khanate till the forceful annexation were Ahmadzai and Qambrani. At the beginning the khan of kalat Conquested many fertile lands near the region of kalat and these lands got distributed between khan and the chiefs of various lineages and tribal Groups which made the basis of territorial expansion of khanate of kalat.

The North of Balochistan is inhabited by those Baloch groups including Marri/Bugtis who are the most loyal to tribal structure which on one hand made it possible for these groups to be more compact and on the other hand facilitated British Indirect Rule policy.

The South of Balochistan mainly lasbela and Makran region was chiefly linked to hydraulic agriculture of oases. According to modern anthropological literature, the traditional society of this part of Balochistan was divided into three stratified social groups, the Hakims being elite class, the Baloch being middle one and the Hizmatgar being the low strata of the society. The main families ruling the Makran and Lasbela region were Gichkis and Jammots respectively. As far as the importance of Balochistan is concerned in the context of worldwide imperial policy, various politicians and officials put forward two antithetical policies; the Close Border policy and the Forward Policy.

The Close border policy was adopted by the British after its defeat in the first Anglo Afghan war (1838-42). This policy was also called as non-interference policy that British should not interfere in the tribal dynamics and limit itself on the other side of border and just provide aid to khan of kalat to reorganize its army and stabilize his region thinking this policy would develop their trade in central Asia and also they can easily check non-British excursion in the Balochistan as indicated in Treaty of 1854.

But soon British observed that this non-interference policy is not giving any fruitful result because of its limitations and also Russia was advancing toward region of Iranian plateau by occupying Tashkent, Samarkand and Khiva, it was following the suggestion of Robert Sandeman who was at that time the DC (Deputy commissioner) of Dera ghazi khan put forward another policy named as Forward Policy which involved the extension of british influence into the tribes gradually and use of peaceful means and occupation of tribal territory upto durand line.

During the forward policy Balochistan was dissected into many parts by divide and rule

Policy. Pishin, Chaman, Dukhi areas were included in British Balochistan controlled by the Agent to Governor General (AGG). Areas of Quetta, Sibi, Bolan, Naseerabad and Naushki were given on lease to the British by khan in the last decades of 19th century. Tribal Areas were also dismembered and many important geostrategic areas of Balochistan were given to Iran and Afghanistan including Seestan and Nimroz. This divide and rule policy was adopted by the British to gain its interest in the vast region of Balochistan by dividing its masses in the names of lines the so-called Durand line and Goldsmith line drawn by the British in 1890s.

The Khanate of Kalat was established in 1666 and Mir Ahmad khan was the first ruler, the Khan of Kalat.

For Decades he kept on sending troops and tributes to various leaders of Durrani tribe in

Afghanistan, but after the death of Nadir shah durrani in 1747, Noori Nasir khan-l ousted the rule of his elder brother Mir Muhabbat Khan the puppet of Nadir Shah Durrani in 1749 and became Khan of Kalat. Naseer khan Claimed independence from the Pasthun government of Afghanistan in 1758. In Reaction Ahmad Shah invaded and seized the fort of kalat but due to matrimonial relation, they both signed a treaty in which Ahmad Shah recognised independence of khanate of kalat from afghanistan government but in exchange he warned Khan that he will not send any aid to khan during retalliations or any other foreign armed threat. Noori Nasir khan was a brave and wise leader of the khanate who conquered a vast region and included Kharan, Lasbela, Makran and Northern areas of Balochistan in the khanate unifying various regions of Baloch land.

He had two Ministers to look after the control of his vast region; Wazir whose work was to do  justice and settle inter tribal disputes and Mustaufi  who had to look after the tax collection process and khan’s treasury.

The Army of khan had two Dastas named Dasta-E-Sarawan and Dasta-E-Jhalawan which had effective control over the regions under the khanate of kalat.

After Death of Nasir khan-I the khanate weakened due to internal tribal conflicts and less interest of Muhabbat khan-I in the state affairs. During his reign by 1810 Afghans occupied Derajat and many tribal chiefs of southern Balochistan and refused to pay taxes.

After the death of Muhabbat khan-I Mir Mehrab khan came into power. He tried to consolidate his authority and re-unite the state. In this regard, He tried to remove Sikh of Punjabis from Dera Jats but failed in his attempt. He was martyred in 1839 in a battle with the British.

Shah Nawaz was made khan of kalat by british in 1840, But he died soon in 1841 and Nasir Khan-II was appointed as khan of kalat. He was against the tribal chiefs and sardars who were backed and favored by british. He signed the treaty of 1854 with the British in which the Khanate of kalat was declared an independent state by the British But soon khan died of Poisoning in 1857 due to his conflicts with sardars. After His death Mir Khuda Dad was made the Khan of Kalat. It was his throne during which the British Implemented the Forward policy and supported sardars silently by giving them allowances and Jagirs as pointed out by duta simanti that “At that time the attitude of tribal chiefs showed the End of Tribal confederate system in Balochistan.”

Mir khuda Dad signed the treaty of 1876 with the British in Jacobabad in which Sandeman was the British Representative. This treaty declared the Khanate of kalat as an independent state and also allowed the British representatives to settle the disputes between Khan and Sardars and these officials afterward administratively controlled all areas under the khanate of kalat.

Robert Sandeman after becoming AGG (Agent to Governor General) in 1877 introduced the Jirga system led by the tribal chiefs and so-called sardars. There were two Jirga systems; First at local level the so-called Local Jirga system led by local sardars and second one was at Royal level the so-called Shahi Jirga system led by main sardars of the Khanate of Kalat. Sardars were also allowed to make their private jails and punish the culprits by imprisoning them. He intentionally escalated their status so that his indirect rule policy gets too successful and puts khan aside. Sandeman introduced the Levy system in 1867 when he was deputy commissioner of Dera Ghazi Khan for the protection of tribal chiefs, By doing such favors, Sandeman got the support of Tribal sardars.

In 1893, Mir khuda Dad was removed by newly appointed AGG Browne on the basis of an allegation of martyrdom of his Mustaufi and appointed Mohabbat khan-II the khan of Kalat. He was a weak khan and had less interest in the affairs of states. That is why his tenure is called the decline period initiated from 1893 and ended in 1931.

During his reign Political agent Armine Dew and Agent to governor general Ramsay created a new council of state made up of sardars and civilians list of state treasurer for Khan. They Changed political advisor’s post to the Wazir-E-Azam post and also abolished the Thana system introduced by Sandeman. Shah Shams became Wazir-E-Azam. He was a cruel, autocratic personality who used his authorities to suppress the oppressed nation.

In 1931 when Muhabbat khan-II died, Azam khan became the Khan of Kalat. Due to his poor health, he ruled kalat only for two years and died in 1933. His successor Mir Ahmad Yar khan became khan of kalat.

By the End of 19th century the British classed the areas of Makran, Kharan and Lasbela as the Feudatory states. Lasbela was a small tribal Proto-state having fertile land and was proximal to important trading centers. That is why its population density was more than any other area of the khanate of Kalat. It was ruled by Jammots and Jam of lasbela which only provided troops in case of any armed threat to khan and had not to pay 50% of his fiscals to khan like Kharan and

Makran. Kharan was less populous and was ruled  mainly by Naushervanis who regarded themselves as True Balochs. Observing the support of British, Mir Azad khan nausherwani, the Nawab of kharan started struggle to free his state from rule of khanate, In this Regard a Panjgur mission was held in which Sandeman obtained formal recognition from Mir Azad khan the sovereignty of Brahui

Rule in exchange for de facto autonomy of Kharan state. As he was one of the sardars of

Khanate, he was not in position to sign a treaty with a foreign agent without informing the khan of Kalat. It is obvious from these events that Sandeman knew how to use these nawabs and sardars to control territory without being involved. Another incident occurred, in February 1913  power was transferred from Kalat to Chagi which led to further loss of prestige of Brahui Court of kalat. Makran, having an area of 2500 square miles, was one of the feudatory states and was inhabited by 68000 people according to the census of 1931. It was administered by three sardars and one Naib of Khan. Gichkis being the political elite of makran had matrimonial alliances with the Ahmadzai family, Azam khan being from Gichki family. Thus it created a strong bond factor between Makran and Kalat.

The khanate of Kalat was one of the poorest and the most backward states of Entire British Empire in india. Most of its funds went in Court expenses, purchase of Arms and many tribal chiefs in the form of allowances. Throughout the History Khan of kalat never managed to bring in line the duties on goods or tolls on caravans in transit. The khan of Kalat received nothing of revenue obtained because of non-interference since each sardar had  autonomy in his territory. The khanate was made up of six elements including Niabats, Sarawan/ Jhalwan, lasbela, Kharan, Makran and Marri/Bugti areas.

So the British introduced the posts of Political Agent , AGG, political advisor, wazir-E-Azam, Nazim and Naib  to  Further weaken the authority of Khan of Kalat. In the reign of Mahmud khan-II, political agents even took the control of monthly allowances of Sardars, general control over sardars and became incharge of thanas. The Political agent and AGG which came in khanate to resolve the disputes according to the treaty of 1876 became so powerful that in 1925 AGG johnson suggested the British to End up this treaty and colonize the khanate fully.

Regarding the Islam factor, the Baloch Regard religion as an individual's private affairs and are not orthodox like others. According to the census of 1931 , 90% of the population are sunni Muslims. There also exist Ismaeli Nizaris, Parsus and Zikris.

In 1933 when mir ahmad yar khan came into power, He was concerned to consolidate his position and to convert that position of relative superiority to Ultimate supremacy. But Officials of the Government of India knew that Khan was weak politically and could be easily influenced and also he had a sense of loyalty toward the British.

At that Time Wazir-E-Azam  was only answerable to AGG and khan had no power over him. So Khan raised the Question regarding the position of Wazir E Azam. Khan one day wrote a letter to wazir E azam to visit the plain of kacci and he obeyed his order. After that event his prestige increased. In 1935 He demanded the transfer of powers  from Political Agent to khan of kalat. These powers include the military postings, judiciary control, monthly allowances and the general control over sardars and tribal chiefs. But due to the 1935 Earthquake incident Khan visited AGG Carter in ziarat to postpone the matter of transfer of power. After its formation, Khan started to Support Kalat State National Party as it was against the feudal sardari System. In 1938 After a surprised meeting with khan, Some sardars of Khan excluding that  of Lasbela and kharan went to Political agent for transfer of powers But British accepted only the partial transfer of powers so some demands were accepted but they were meaningless as the control of khan over sardars was limited and Bolan Pass was under  the British Control.

The enclave of Gwadar was given by Nasir Khan I to the sultan of muscat (Omen) when he took refuge in khanate. In the years of 1861, 1883, 1928 khan suggested the Government of india to return the port to khan But the British government rejected his requests. The Government discovered oil in Jiwani so it sent oil companies like india oil company limited and formed a boundary commission to capture the region But khan resisted and due to ongoing second world war this matter got asided. The Baloch Nationalism made  its root from two young brains named Yousaf Aziz magsi and Abdul Aziz Kurd. Kurd made young baloch in 1920s, Yousaf Aziz magsi  is considered as the thinktank personality in Baloch History wrote an article named “Faryad E Balochistan” in  1929 which depicted anti-British Sentiments so he was  jailed for a year in Quetta. After his bail these both men made “Anjuman Ittehad E Balochan". It was the first political movement that was based on the National sentiments with Anti-British and Anti-Sardar ideology. It conducted 2 Balochistan and all India conferences in 1932 and 1933 in which demands of constitutional government formation in Balochistan, Establishment of parliamentary assembly, Abolition of Sardari system and unification of Baloch Lands were presented. Yousaf aziz magsi died in an Earthquake in Quetta in 1935 and Abdul aziz Kurd was jailed. After his detention the Anjuman got into internal conflicts and it was divided into Maximalists and moderate Nationalists. Maximalists formed the Kalat State National Party .

The other political movement which was active in Balochistan in last years of English rule in

India was Muslim League. Its provincial body was formed in Balochistan in 1939 by a pashtun lawyer Qazi Muhammad Esa but it got suspended during world war and got legalized after the war. The Question arises how a foreign political movement can work in another independent state. It clearly depicts the political immaturity of the khan of Kalat who not only allowed that party but also financially Supported it not knowing its intentions.

The installment of Land, Naval and Air bases during the second world war in various areas of Balochistan made the Baloch region of interest for british to stabilize it But khan showed his bitterness on British Policies saying That British Regarded treaty of 1876 as dead letter and this situation was further jeopardized by Armed Conflicts between khan of kalat and Nawab of Kharan Habib ullah khan Nawsherwan who invaded the Niabats of khan in Mashkay. In Reaction the brothers of Khan Abdul karim and Rahim invaded Kharan and Sieged  Nawroz Kalat. After all events the British declared Kharan an independent in 1940 and stood on its decision making the protests of Khan and Baloch Nationalists Useless.

According to British Officials , Anti British feelings were super headed by Abdul Karim and sardar who persuaded khan to spend money to collect arms to protect khanate against any future retalliations whether from the English or from Muslim League.

In 1940 ,Viceroy Lord Lilithgow promised to invite princes of indian states to  serve his council of defense during world  war. Khan was also invited but he rejected it referring to himself as a prince of an independent state not a native state and treatment given to khuda Dad khan in 1877 darbar. After quite time In  a letter to metcalfe Mir ahmad khan accepted the invitation with three demands containing that his involvement will not affect his position, he cannot be forced to attend its meeting and he can send his representative and he can attend its all sessions. Certainly these demands were unacceptable to the British so they threw Khan out of Council. After that, Many British officials regarded Khan as an indecisive, Untrustworthy and backward looking leader. According to the files regarding those years, English regarded khan as an independent step but due to weakness of many khans it had to intervene in it reducing its rank to a princely state. In 1935 ,an Indian act was passed which was contradictory to article III of Treaty of 1876 so khan put the demand to change this act. In reply British replied that British respect khanate as an independent state but it also commits that khan cannot enter in negotiation with other states without its consent.

On one Hand he confirmed his position in relation to the British and his disagreement with it and on the other hand postponed any further decision until a more propitious time thus preventing the British from solving the matter once and all.

At the end of war, Khan, sensing the imminent English departure from the Sub-continent presented two memoranda to the British. The first memoranda contained the future position of

kalat ,labela,kharan and marri/bugti areas and second memoranda consisted of transfer of Leased areas from British to khanate of Kalat. The surprising fact is that these memoranda were presented by Jinnah on behalf of khan who was shrewd enough to achieve his goals by increasing his personal relations with khan. But the British Failed to settle any of the matters provided by khan because of loss of its authority and opposition done by Muslim League. So it was in their interest to safeguard their economic links with the jewel of the Empire by favoring the new state of Pakistan rather than a khanate ruled by a politically immature leader.

The British preferred direct negotiations between khanate and representatives of Future state of pakistan leading to an agreement that after British Departure khanate would be independent which pakistan itself pledged to recognize. Representatives of the future state of pakistan recognized khanate as an independent state officially on 2 August 1947.

On 15th August Khan claimed his state independence and formed two Houses; the Upper House and the Lower House consisting of 55 members; 50 elected and 5 by Khan himself.

But this independence did not last enough. On March 19, 1948 Nawabs of Kharan, Makran and Lasbela requested Pakistan to include them in it, Pakistan accepted it and the khan of Kalat was accused of giving support to Nehru which raised much pressure on him. On March 27, Under military Pressure He annexed his independent state  khanate of Kalat to a newly formed state pakistan.

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