The cohesive bases of the Baloch Nationalism

The subject has been taken from book of Taj Mohammad Breseeg “Baloch Nationalism, its origin and development”.

The Khanate of Balochistan:

Continued from previous……..

In 1816, describing Nasir Khan’s personality, the British traveller, Hery Pottinger who visited the country soon after the death of Nasir Khan, wrote, “If we contemplate the character of Nusseer [Nasir] Khan, whether as a soldier, a statesman, or prince, and call to mind the people among whom he was placed, we shall find in him a most extraordinary combination of all the virtues attached to those sations and duties. Possibly the most interesting aspect of the long reign of Nasir Khan was his skillful internal policy, directed towards strengthening the powrs and figure of the “Khan”, though without destroying traditional political mechanisms of a society that was still eminently tribal and pastoral in nature. The Khanate under Nasir Khan, as observed by Janmahmad, was an improved version of the Rind-Lashari tribal union. It did not bring any changes to the general tribal set-up. The tribal alliance was broad-based with tremendous power allowed to the tribal chiefs, who recognized the Khanate as the paramount power and contributed nominal revenue to him as well as a fixed contingent of men in time of war. The tribal area of responsibility was fixed and allowed to continue. A council of advisors representing the major tribes and allied people assisted the Khan, with a Wazir (Prime Ministr) usually selected from the Tajik or Hindu immigrants of Kalat. Like the Afghan King, Ahmad Shah Abdali, in important affairs, Nasir consulted the Ulama.

The most important innovation of Nasir Khan I was a tribal army, traditionally known as the Lashkar. Having spent some time in the courts of the Afghan and Persian, he had watched techniques of warfare, and realized the necessity of maintaining a well-organized army in his Khanate. Accordingly, he chose and stationed a permanent army unit, called Dasta-e-Khas (Special Division) in his capital numbering 1200 men. In emergencies Dasta-e-Khas increased to 10860 men. Furthermore, he had created two additional Divisions, which used to be called the “Sarawan Lashkar” (Sarawan Division) and the “Jhalawan Lashakar” (Jhalawan Division). Nasir Khan was the Supreme Commander of this whole body of the State army.

Nasir Khan’s most notable achievement was the creation of a unified Baloch army of some 25,000 men and 1,000 camels, an impressive force by eighteenth-century southwest Asian standards. For the first time in their history, most of the major Balochi tribes were rallied under the banner of an agreed system of military organization and recruitment.

The main revenue was from land produce and collections from the port of Karachi and goods passing through the Bolan Pass. Taxation was unequal and depended on many factors including the distance of the area from the capital. Taxation on sea-borne trade from Makkoran coast was also nominal. Generally, the Sarawan and Jhalawan tribes who provided the bulk of the Khan’s troops and other important factions in the area were exempted from land revenue. In Makkoran one-tenth of the land produce was the state share while the Jatt of Kacch-Gandhawa paid one half and the indigenous and Dehwar cultivators of Kalat, Mastung and Shal (Quetta) paid one-third to the Khan.

Nasir Khan-I was the greatest and most powerful Khan among all the rulers of the Khanate. As a result of his successful reformist policies, he is sometime compared to “Peter the Greate” of Russia, in the Baloch nationalist circles. Nasir Khan-I sought to build a kingdom in which all tribes, including those in Kacchi, would be voluntarily united. In doing so, he was largely successful. The constituency of tribal chiefs, who willingly subordinated themselves, moderated his rule. The Khan stood at the head of a large tribal confederacy and went methodically about building the Khanate. So, the Khanate was loose confederacy. Nasir Khan-I augmented the union by an enlightened policy. He succeeded in evolving the most effective and strong union of tribes in the history of the region. In a grand gesture of political farsightedness, he never interfered with internal tribal issues. The Rind and Magasis of Kacch-Gandhava and a few others in Sistan had complete independence, without paying any land revenue. Their political allegiance was considered sufficient.

The reunification of the vast Baloch territory into a single political entity encouraged trade. Possession of the ports of Makkoran made the Khanate an important trading center between the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, India, the Indian Ocean and the region that gave on to it, also attracting numerous communities of Hindu and Ismaili merchants, with beneficial results for the Khanate’s fiscal revenue. Moreover Nasir Khan encouraged trade by reducing taxes and induced Hindu traders, bookkeepers and moneylenders to return by paying for the upkeep of the Hindu temple at Kalat. These measures strengthened the Khanate and the Khan. “Furthermore”, M. H. Hossenbor argues, “Nasir Khan strengthened the economic infrastructure of the state by constructing an extensive network of roads, caravanserais, and forts, expanding the irrigation system, and improving the state treasury by reorganizing the collection system for taxes and other revenues”. Accordingly, the 44 years’ rule of Nasir Khan-I, known to the Baloch as the “great”, and the hero of Baloch history, was the years of strenuous administration and organization interspersed with military expeditions.

While having a loose feudal relationship with the Afghan king, Ahmad Shah, Nasir Khan-I never regarded himself a tributary to the Durranis but rather a junior participator in the division of the Persian Empire after the death of Nadir Shah Afshar in 1747. However, the Afghan attitude towards the Khan provoked Mir Nasir Khan to declare the complete independence of Kalat in 1758. As a result, the Afghan forces under the command of Ahmad Shah himself invaded Balochistan and bsieged the Kalat fortress for forty days. Ultimately they came to an amicable agreement and the Afghan troops were withdrawn. The agreement known as the “Treaty of Kalat” (1758), recognized the sovereign status of Balochistan. The Afghan monarch promised not to interfere in the internal and external affairs of the Baloch confederacy. The Khan in turn promised to help Afghanistan in the case of external aggression against it or in its foreign expeditions. Both the countries agreed not to give asylum to rebels within their states. The agreement provided the basis for the Khanate’s subsequent relations with Afghanistan.

To be continued…..

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Posted on November 7, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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