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 British Superiority:

Modern Baloch nationalism is rooted in the anti-colonial struggle from the mid-19 century. The big-power rivalry in central Asia that resulted in the British invasion of Afghanistan also brought British forces into the Baloch region. The Khanate of Balochistan forces into the Baloch region. The Khanate of Balochistan during the British Afghan war did not want to be involved in the foreign aggression against the Afghan people. The Baloch confederacy had treaty obligation from the time of Mir Nasir Khan with Afghanistan. The British supply routes to Afghanistan could not be safeguarded without securing Balochistan, which had by now gathered much importance in British central Asian policy. In his notes in Indian history wrote Karl Marx, “March 10,1893, the column reached Dadar, at the mouth of the pass; cotton rested a few days, found that Mehrab Khan of Khelat (Kalat), was hostile; no supplies to be obtained. The British forces were therefore ordered to subjugate Kalat. A detachment from Quetta attacked Kalat on 13 1839. The Khan Mir Mehrab Khan refused to surrender and fought back against the invaders. Along with four hundred of his men he was killed in the battle. The British installed Shahnawaz Khan, a fourteen-year old distant relative of the deceased Khan, as the new ruler with a Lieutenant Loveday as regent and started the dismemberment of the Baloch country. Quetta and Mastung were given to Shah Shuja of Afghanistan and Kacchi was annexed into Sindh. However, as soon as the British army left Kalat, Baloch tribes revolted and Mehrab Khan’s sons, Nasir Khan II, was enthroned as the new Khan.

Nasir Khan II (1830-1857) was recognized by British in 1841 and 13 years later (1854) Kalat signed its first twenty year treaty. British political agents were assigned to the Khan and an annual subsidy was paid in exchange for loyalty, and also Quetta was returned to the Khanate. In a new treaty with Kalat, this was returned to the Khanate. In a new treaty with Kalat, which was ratified at the end of 1876, it was arranged that British troops might be stationed in Kalat territory. The establishment of the Balochistan Agency with its headquarters at Quetta followed early in 1877. In the same year, Robert Sandeman was appointed Agent to the Governor General (A.G.G), Chief Commissioner and put in charge of the Agency for Balochistan.

With Sandeman’s appointment as the Agent to the Governor General in Balochistan a new chapter was opened up in relations between the colonial power and the Baloch. Robert Sandeman was born in 1835 in Perth, Scotland. His father retired as a General from the army of the East India Company. In 1856, Sandeman was offered an infantry Commission and proceeded to India. After briefly serving on active duty during the Great Mutiny (1857-58), he was transferred to civil post in 1859 as Assistant Commissioner in Punjab. He served as District Officer in Dera Ghazi Khan (1866-1877), before being transferred to Balochistan in 1877. It must be born in mind that the British tactics indirect rule reached its most progressive and least clinical from in the 1870 through the so-called forward policy of Sandeman. In this respect, he is considered as the real “conqueror of Balochistan” by the British chroniclers.

As mentioned in chapter two changing the traditional character of the old Jirgas altogether, Saneman managed to have his way, and earned the loyalty of the Sardars by granting them allowances; his personals charisma enabled him to establish a whole network of close personal relations, undermining the prestige and sovereignty of the Baloch central powers. The “Sandeman system” gave the British a powerful weapon to control rebellions against themselves and broke the last remaining institution of a purely tribal character.

 Although, the Baloch people did not like under a foreign rule, soon after the martyrdom of Mehrab Khan in 1839, the hostility spread throughout the Baloch tribes in the Eastern Balochistan. In order to break down the Baloch resistance power, first the British detached “Derajat” and Khangarh’ (Jecobabad) from Balochistan and annexed these regions to British India. In the late 1870, the British occupied the Afghan territory of Pishin and the Thal Chotialri district under the Gandamak Treaty. The also occupied the Afghan tribal areas of Zhob and Loralai and consolidated the British authority there. Under an agreement with the Khan of Kalat in 1883, the British leased Quetta, Bolan Pass, Nasirabad, Chagai, Marri-Bugti and certain other Baloch areas and attached those with the Pashtun regions to rename “British Balochistan”.

The Khan at the top was traditionally bound to consult the Jirga (the Council of the main tribal Sardars) on social and political affairs. Only a limited number of Sardars, however, closer to the center, participated in the decision making process. The Khan also appointed a Wazir-e-Azam (Chief Ministers) and other Wazirs (Minister) and Naib Wazirs (Deputy Minister) for the administration. The Darbar, the Jirga, the Indigenous Cabinet of Ministers, and the Diwans of Khanate were overshadowed and overpowered by the parallel British administration backed by their political and military power. Thus, in general the AGG at Quetta and the Political Agents at district levels, aided by their staff, ruled the County.


Posted on January 21, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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