The cohesive bases of the Baloch Nationalism

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

Continued from previous

The Persian Occupation:

In 1947, in the thick of the independent movement, Sardar Khan Baloch, the former director of education balochistan-mapand secretary-e-khas (principal secretary) to the Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, wrote: “Baloch race indeed cannot afford to forget that what is now Iranian Balochistan, has, through the greater part of its history, been Western Makuran; and that it has always been ruled from the heart of Makuran either by native or foreign governors as a part of Balochistan.’’

Historically, western Balochistan is the cradle of Baloch history and the focus of their ancient heroic ballads and popular poetry. It was from here that their ancestors began to spread to and consolidate their power in eastern Balochistan from the 13th century. The territory, as earlier mentioned, was the center of the first Baloch confederacy under Mir Jalal Han in the 12th century. It may also be of some interest to note that Western Balochistan is not only the cradle of Baloch history, but also according to the most prominent authority on the subject, Selig Harrison, the cradle of Baloch nationalism as well.

Separated by the disintegration of the Khanate in the early 19th century, western Balochistan maintained its independence until the mid-19th century. Describing the state of affairs in Bampur, the major Hakommate (principality) of western Balochistan, in 1810, a British spy, Henry Pottinger, wrote, “Shah Mihrab Khan is the most powerful chief in these quarters; his regular troops, or at least those that he can muster at a few days notices, are six thousands, and he is acknowledge to be the paramount authority from Dizuk [Dezzak] to Basman’’. His revenue, according to Pottinge, was computed at four Lacs and a half of repees annually. Noticing a deep hatred between the Baloch and the Persians, Pottinger Pointed out:

Having explained these particulars as far as I supposed would be comprehensible, he begged to be informed why we firingees, or European, did not root out the Persians (whom he styled Kafir Sheeas), saying, “I have understood, both from Grant and yourself, that the English government is eminently powerful; and if that is really the case, it will find no difficulty in exterminating that abominable race, for I myself can dispatch two hundred horsemen and ravage a whole district, even bringing off their very dogs.

Pottinger enquired if the intercourse was frequent between him and the government of Kerman, or if any species of trade was carried on between the two countries.

“Intercourse!’’ rejoined he, laughing, “No! We have had none for these last two years, nor is it likely to be again renewed”. In 1838, another traveller, Hajee Abdun Nabee, an Afghan sent by the British for collecting intelligence on the political conditions of the country, also found that the rulers of Bampur held the Persian authority in contempt.

As in early 19th century the Persians were deprived of their northern provinces to the Russians, in order to compensate for lost areas, they pursued a policy of expansion towards Balochistan. During the two Russian wars, ending the treaties of “Gulistan” (1813) and “Turkmanchai” (1826), Persia lost all her territory on the west cost of the Caspian. By the terms of “Gulistan” peace treaty, Persia lost the Caucasian province of Qarabagh, Ganja, Shirvan, Baku, Georgia and parts of Talish. In 1826, the treaty of Turkmanchai not only deprived Persia of further provinces of Erivan and Nakhchivan, but also it affirmed Russia’s exclusive rights in the Caspian Sea.

In Goldmid’s view, since Persia had lost a large portion of her territory to Russai in the North, and was checked by the Ottaman empire in the west, and by the British in Afghanistan, the only avenue for her expansion was in western Balochistan where the constant feuds between the petty chiefs and made the land an easy prey to their designs. In one of his reports prepared for the Government of Bombay and the Secretary of State for India on 27th April 1864, he had underlined the basic historical argument for recognizing the Persian claims to their latest conquests in western Balochistan. General Goldsmid wrote in the final report of his proceedings to the Secretary of State for India on 9th November 1871 that “these tracts, had they power to be independent, they are as fair prey to the strongest neighbor”. Thereafter the name “Persian Balochistan” replaced “Western Balochistan” in official colonial documents.

Persian expansionism was furthermore stimulated by the extension of the British interest westward through Makkoran in the mid-19th century. In 1861, after the British intervention for the extension of the Indo-European telegraph line from Karachi to Gwader in the domains of Kalat and then up to Jask on the coast of western Balochistan, the Persian military expeditions were extended up to Bampur-Pahra (Iranshahr) the major Hakomate in western Balochistan. It should be noted that the British telegraph project added to the geopolitical importance of the area, During the course of the British investigation for the construction of the telegraph line in 1862-68, they were confronted by conflicting territorial claims to western Balcohistan by the Sultan of Oman, the Shah of Persia and the Khan of Kalat.

As observed by M. H. Hosseinbor, at the beginning the British took a neutral stand by avoiding accepting pretentions of sovereignty by any side, but finally they changed their position in favor of the Persians. In 1849, one decade after the British occupation of Kalat (1839), the Persian forces headed by Ibrahim Khan Taqizada occupied the major Hakomate of western Balochistan, Bampur. From 1850 onward, the Persian governor of Kerman on several occasions led attacks on the neighboring district of western Balochistan and committed acts of unprecedented. Cruelty upon the helpless population. The Persian government continued its policy of playing off the local ruler’s one against another with the aim of reducing their authority and establishing its own as far as possible.

By the time the line was completed in 1869-70 the Persian forces had advanced as far as Sarbaz, between the coast and Bampur. Up to the late 1870s the lesser Hakomates of Dezzak, Sarbaz, Geh and Kaserkand (Qasr-Qand) also were invaded and subdued. In 1863, as the construction of the telegraph line began, Ibrahim Khan the Persian governor in Bampur threatened the Omani representatives in the ports of Balochistan. In 1869, Mir Din-Mohammad, ruler of Dastiari, occupied Charhbar (Chabahar) and it was never recovered by Oman. But a period of struggled and negotiation ensued between Oman, Mir Din-Mohammad and Persia, in the course of which the Persian governor-general appeared in Kaserkand. But from this time, the ruler of the Arabs of Muscat ended in Chahbar, after eighty years. In 1872, the Persian general, Ibrahim Khan, occupied Chahbar and annexed it to Persia. Two years later, in 1874, Bashkard then independent under Saif Ali Khan was also brought under subjection.

Up to the late 1860s, the Khan of Kalat was claiming sovereignty over the whole of Balochistan. While contrary to this claim, the British and Persian imposed the Goldsmid Line on the Khanate. In 1869 the king of Persia suggested a demarcation of the Perso-Baloch Frontier. In the same year the Persian delegation, led by Ibrhim Khan, Governor of Bamm, and the Khanate delegation, led by Faqir Mohammad Bizenjo, met under the supervision of General Goldsmid, the British Chief Commissioner of joint Perso-Baloch Boundary Commission at Bampur. This meeting is known as the “Bampur Conference”, and was held on 1st December 1969. The Baloch delegates not only opposed the proposed border demarcation, but also demanded the withdrawal of Persians from western Balochistan. They argued that this region is an integral part of the Baloch country, the Khanate. After two years of persistence Baloch resistance, however, in 1871, with the help of the British, the Iranians succeeded in dividing Balochistan.

In the 1870, a division of influence between Kalat, Afghanistan and Persia had been worked out and legitimized for the time being by the boundary commissions. But the Persians (working through Khan) both pre-empted and disputed some details of the commission’s findings. They took Pisshin in 1870, and Esfandak and Kuhak in 1871 directly after the commission had afterward these tracts to the Khanate. In the north Ibrahim Khan also defeated Syed Khan Kurd, known as Sardar of the Sarhadd, in Khash. From then on Ibrahim Khan controlled most of the western Balochistan up the present border by a combination of force, threats, and the posting of minor officials, but he was not able to control the tribes of the Sarhadd.

The Khan of Kalat, Khudadad Khan was not appointed to the border commission that divided Balochistan, nor was he even consulted. As mentioned earlier, at the time of demarcation in 1871, western Balochistan was already under the Persian occupation. However, in 1860, the Khan of Kalat, Khudadad Khan, decided to recapture Geh (Nikshahr) and Kaserkand by force, but he was warned off by British authorities. Moreover, on 20th February, 1863, when the British decided to build the telegraph line from Jask to Karachi, they signed a treaty with Khan of Kalat, Khudadad Khan, and the local Baloch Sardars of western Balochistan, not the Persian Government. This action itself, according to Baloch Nationalists, were a justification of the Khan’s sovereignty claim over western Balochistan. It is important to note that despite the border demarcation and British recognition of Persian sovereignty over western Balochistan, their rule was nominal. In fact it was the modern army of Reza Shah that finally defeated Mir Dost Mohammad Khan and occupied western Balochistan (Iranian Balochistan) in 1928, as will be discussed in the following section.

to be continued….


Posted on April 9, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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