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Balochistan, a resource-rich province in southwestern Pakistan, has a long history of discontent and conflict with the Pakistani state. But the cause of this conflict isn’t a recent affair but dates back to 1947 when India and Pakistan gained their independence. Amidst the conviviality of independence in both nations, the tale of the occupation of Balochistan somewhere lost its voice. Today, insurgency-hit Balochistan was once a free state, though that freedom was short-lived. Balochistan’s occupation is a tale of betrayal and resistance to regain its lost freedom and dignity. The scoundrel behind the occupation of Balochistan was none other than Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Jinnah’s treachery, aided by the British, resulted in turning a free Balochistan into a Pakistan-occupied Balochistan. Let’s rewind the clock to learn how Kalat, a princely state in modern-day Balochistan, came to be free, lost it, and was ‘forced’ to join Pakistan.

BALOCHISTAN INDEPENDENCE: FREEDOM THAT WAS NUMBERED

Balochistan, which today is the epitome of desolation and oppression, was once a land of free souls and minds. In 1947, present-day Balochistan was divided into four princely states: Kalat, Kharan, Las Bela, and Makaran. Among these, Kalat held a unique position due to the Treaty of 1876. This treaty granted Kalat internal autonomy and freedom from British interference. Consequently, Kalat was not obligated to join either India or Pakistan. Furthermore, it wasn’t a member of the Chamber of Princely States. Thus, the then ruler of Kalat, also known as Khan of Kalat, opted to stay independent like Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir.

KHAN OF KALAT (RIGHT) WITH JINNAH (LEFT).

khan of kalat with jinnah

A conference was called in Delhi on August 4, 1947. This meeting was attended by Jawaharlal Nehru, Jinnah, the Khan of Kalat, and Viceroy Lord Mountbatten. Jinnah endorsed Khan of Kalat’s desire to pursue independence during this meeting. As a result, it was decided that Kalat would become independent on August 5, 1947, and Kharan and Las Bela were to unite with Kalat to establish a single Balochistan. The Muslim League, led by Jinnah and Kalat, signed a pact on August 11, 1947, recognising Kalat’s independence and pledging Muslim League support for Balochistan’s independence. In 1947, Kalat declared its independence on August 15, the same day that India became independent. The traditional flag was raised, and the Khan of Kalat, Khan Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, was proclaimed as an independent monarch.

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ANNEXATION OF BALOCHISTAN: JINNAH’S BETRAYAL

On August 14 and 15, three nations gained their independence: Pakistan, India, and Balochistan. However, the free spirit of Balochistan was caged through deceit and force, which were contrived by Jinnah and abetted by the British. After gaining independence, the Khan of Kalat demanded that the territories acquired by Britain be returned to him. However, despite acknowledging Kalat’s status as an independent sovereign state, the British issued a memorandum on September 12, stating that the Khan of Kalat was unfit to undertake the international obligations of an independent state. This memorandum provided a cover for Jinnah’s intentions to merge Balochistan into Pakistan. These intentions surfaced during a meeting between Jinnah and the Khan of Kalat in Karachi in October 1947. In this meeting, Jinnah pushed Khan to merge with Pakistan, which Khan profusely declined.


In opposition to Jinnah’s demand, Khan of Kalat called a legislative meeting of both houses of parliament and passed a unanimous resolution denouncing the merger of Balochistan and Pakistan. The rationale behind this resolution was that Jinnah’s demand was in contravention of previous agreements acknowledging Balochistan’s independent status. On the other hand, Khan also started reorganising his forces through his commander-in-chief, Brigadier General Purves.

Due to the disproportionate balance of power between the Pakistani army and Kalat’s forces, General Purves sought assistance from the British to provide arms and ammunition. However, the British denied any help and stated that help would be given only after the Pakistani government’s approval. Upon finding Kalat weak and isolated, Jinnah ordered a ground offensive. The Pakistan Army entered the Baloch coastal areas of Pasni, Jiwani, and Turbat on March 26. Khan was forced to accede to Jinnah’s demands. Consequently, Balochistan was annexed into Pakistan following a brief 227-day spell of independence, through force and deception.

BALOCHISTAN UP IN ARMS: A BATTLE FOR DIGNITY

The treacherous and forceful annexation of Balochistan resulted in the Baloch uprising against Pakistan. The first Baloch insurgence was led by Prince Abdul Karim, the brother of Khan Kalat, in 1948. This marked a chain of clashes between Baloch tribesmen and Pakistani forces. The insurgency was eventually suppressed, but it laid the groundwork for future resistance movements. During 1970–1980, Baloch nationalist sentiment resurged, fueled by grievances over economic exploitation, political marginalisation, and cultural suppression. During this period, around 55,000 Balochi rebels and 80,000 government troops engaged in military hostilities. The Balochi People’s Liberation Front (BPLF) was established by Mir Hazar Ramkhani in 1976. This marked a series of bloody encounters that resulted in some 12,000 casualties, including 5,300 rebels and 3,300 Pakistani soldiers. However, eventually, this phase of insurgence was quelled by the Pakistani forces.

NAWAB AKBAR BUGTI

The period between 1980 and 2000 was the period of negotiations. Despite the ongoing conflict, there were periods of negotiation and reconciliation between Baloch nationalists and the Pakistani government. However, these attempts often failed to address the root causes of the conflict, leading to renewed violence. By this time, Nawab Akbar Bugti had emerged as a prominent leader of the Baloch insurgence. However, he was later assassinated by the Pakistan Army, which sparked the Second Baloch Insurgency. Following the assassination, Baloch nationalist groups, including the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), intensified their armed struggle against the Pakistani state. The Balochistan freedom struggle continues to this day, with frequent clashes between Baloch freedom fighters and the occupying forces of Pakistan.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Human rights violations in Balochistan have been a significant concern for decades. State-sponsored rights violations in Balochistan have been documented by various international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the United Nations. Despite calls for accountability and justice, the situation remains precarious, with ongoing violence and impunity exacerbating the suffering of the Baloch people. Some of the most commonly reported violations include:

Enforced Disappearances: Thousands of Baloch activists, students, journalists, and political opponents have been subjected to enforced disappearances by Pakistani security forces. They are often detained without charge or trial, with their whereabouts remaining unknown for extended periods. Many victims are subjected to torture and extrajudicial killings while in custody.

BALOCH WOMEN PROTESTING AGAINST THE FORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF FAMILY MEMBERS.

Extrajudicial Killings: Balochistan has witnessed numerous cases of extrajudicial killings, where individuals are killed by security forces without due process of law. These killings are often carried out under the pretext of counterinsurgency operations or anti-terrorism measures. Baloch activists, intellectuals, and civilians are among those targeted.

Censorship and Intimidation of Media: Journalists and media organizations in Balochistan face censorship, harassment, and intimidation by both state and non-state actors. Reporters covering sensitive issues such as human rights abuses or the Balochistan independence movement are often targeted. The Pakistani government imposes restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and association in Balochistan. Even, Political dissent and peaceful protests are often met with repression and violence.

CONCLUSION

The Annexation of Balochistan revealed the true evil intentions of Pakistan since its inception. It is also pertinent to note the correlation between Balochistan and Kashmir. Pakistan tried to use deceit and force to occupy both of these independent states. While it succeeded in Balochistan, it was defeated in Kashmir because of the Indian Army. The Balochistan freedom struggle has been marked by cycles of violence and repression. Baloch nationalists demand self-determination, greater political representation, and control over their resources. The conflict has attracted international attention, with human rights organisations condemning alleged abuses by Pakistani security forces. However, it is high time to bring forth the nefarious designs of Pakistan in Balochistan and expose its hypocrisy in Kashmir when its own hands are tainted with the blood of the native Baloch population.


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