Baluchistan – Occupied by Pakistan since 1948 – Part 1 -- By markulyseas
Here is a brief outline of the history of Baluchistan. The picture below is the front page of The New York Times, August 15, 1947. It clearly shows Baluchistan as an independent country!
The strategic importance of Balochistan has had, and still has, a positive and negative effect on Baluch nationalism. Because of its strategic location in the Perso-Oman Gulf, with 700 miles long seacoast, the area has been important to the trade of the West since the rise of the imperialism. Its strategic importance provides an opportunity to the Baluch nationalists to deal with big or superpowers in order to liberate the country. During the “Great Game”, the major reason for the occupation of Baluchistan by British was to check the advance of the Russians towards the Baluch coast in the Arabian Sea. During the two World Wars, Britain did not share the occupation of Western Baluchistan with the Russians because of the fear of Russian access to warm waters. In 1928, Britain refuse to recognize the regime of Mir Dost Mohammad Baranzai in Western Baluchistan. because he was alleged to be in contact with the Soviets. In 1944, General Money, after studying the constitutional position of Baluchistan, favoured its independence. In 1947, Britain opposed the independence of Baluchistan and urged Pakistan to occupy Baluchistan in order to crush the nationalists and anti-imperialist or pro-Soviet forces
Durand Line: the line of Evil
Baluchistan, along with the North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P) are the victims of an imaginary line, called Durand Line, which was described by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president as the “line of Evil”. In deed that line signifies both the British and Pakistani imperialism that have subjugated the Baluchs and the Pushtuns.
In 1893, the Afghan and British governments agreed to demark a 2,450-kilometer (1,519 miles) long border dividing British India and Afghanistan. The signatory of the document, known as The Durand Line Agreement, were Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, ruler of Afghanistan, and Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of the British Indian government. After a series of battles and false treaties signed by the British, ‘The Durand Line Agreement’ of 1893 divides boundaries between three sovereign countries, namely Afghanistan, Baluchistan and British India. According to that agreement Britain had taken a lease of the area in N.W.F.P and Baluchistan, without the knowledge of Baluchistan. Sir Durand gave verbal assurance to Afghanistan that the lease will last until 1993, but in the written agreement there is no mention of it. Otherwise just like Hong Kong, N.W.F.P would have gone back to Afghanistan in 1993.
The Durand Line Agreement should be a trilateral agreement and it legally required the participation and signatures of all three countries. However, the British had drawn the agreement bilaterally between Afghanistan and British India only, and it intentionally excluded Baluchistan.
Thus, Baluchistan has never accepted the validity of the Durand Line. The British, under false pretenses, assured the Afghan rulers that Baluchistan was part of British India, and therefore, they were not required to have the consent of anyone from Baluchistan to agree on demarking borders. Meanwhile, the British kept the Baluchi rulers in the dark about the Durand Line Agreement to avoid any complications. According to International Law, all affected parties are required to agree to any changes in demarking their common borders. Hence, under the rules of demarking boundaries of the International Law, the Agreement of Durand Line was in error, and thus, it was null and void as soon as it was signed.
Also, International Law states that boundary changes must be made among all concerned parties; and a unilateral declaration by one party has no effect. However, the British government disregarding the objection of Afghanistan gave away the N.W.F.P to Pakistan after a fraud plebiscite. However, it never gave Baluchistan to Pakistan in the same way the British never gave away Jammu & Kashmir to India.
When in 1949, Afghanistan’s “Loya Jirga” (Grand Council) declared the Durand Line Agreement invalid and also raised objections in the United Nations against the creation of Pakistan and its boundary declared by the British alone, the so-called world body had ignored the plea of a small nation.
Pakistani Invasion of Independent Baluchistan, 1948:
On August 11, 1947, the British acceded control of Baluchistan to the ruler of Baluchistan, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan – the Khan of Kalat. The Khan immediately declared the independence of Baluchistan, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah signed the proclamation of Baluchistan’s sovereignty under the Khan.
The New York Times reported on August 12, 1947: “Under the agreement, Pakistan recognizes Kalat as an independent sovereign state with a status different from that of the Indian States. An announcement from New Delhi said that Kalat, Moslem State in Baluchistan, has reached an agreement with Pakistan for free flow of communications and commerce, and would negotiate for decisions on defense, external affairs and communications.” The next day, the NY Times even printed a map of the world showing Baluchistan as a fully independent country.
On August 15, 1947 the Khan of Kalat addressed a large gathering in Kalat and formally declared the full independence of Baluchistan, and proclaimed the 15th day of August a day of celebration. The Khan formed the lower and upper house of Kalat Assembly, and during the first meeting of the Lower House in early September 1947, the Assembly confirmed the independence of Baluchistan. Jinnah tried to persuade the Khan to join Pakistan, but the Khan and both Houses of the Kalat Assembly refused. The Pakistani army then invaded Baluchistan on April 15th, 1948, and imprisoned all members of the Kalat Assembly. India stood by silently. Lord Mountbatten, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru or Maulana Azad, then the president of India’s Congress Party said nothing about the rape of Baluchistan or later of N.W.F.P.
Throughout the period of British rule of India, the British never occupied Baluchistan. There were treaties and lease agreements between the two sovereign states, but neither state invaded the other. Although the treaties signed between British India and Baluchistan provided many concessions to the British, but none of the treaties permitted the British to demark the boundaries of Baluchistan without the consent of the Baluch rulers. Once Baluchistan was secured through invasion, the Pakistanis deceptively used the law of uti possidetis juris to their advantage and continued occupation of territories belonging to Afghanistan, the N.W.F.P with the full approval of the British Army in India and their supreme commander Lord.Mountbatten.
Liberation Movement in Baluchistan:
Mir Azaad Khan Baluchi, the General Secretary, The Government of Baluchistan in Exile in Jerusalem decalared recently, “Afghanistan and Baluchistan should form a legal team to challenge the illegal occupation of Afghan territories and Baluchistan by Pakistan in the International Court of Justice. Once the Durand Line Agreement is declared illegal, it will result in the return of Pakistan-occupied territories back to Afghanistan. Also, Baluchistan will be declared a country that was forcibly invaded through use of force by the Pakistanis; and with international assistance, Baluchistan can regain its independence.”
The Baluchi freedom movement is not new but failed to draw the attention of the world. A very serious crisis lasted from September 1961 to June 1963, when diplomatic, trade, transit, and consular relations between Baluchistan and Pakistan were suspended. Another insurgency erupted in Baluchistan in 1973 into an insurgency that lasted four years and became increasingly bitter. The insurgency was put down by the Pakistan Army, which employed brutal methods and equipment, including helicopter gunship, provided by Iran and flown by Iranian pilots. The shah of Iran, who feared a spread of the insurrection among the Iranian Baluchi, generously gave external assistance to Bhutto. By early 1974, an armed revolt was underway in Baluchistan. By 2004 Baluchistan was up in arms against the federal government, with the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), Baluchistan Liberation Front, and People’s Liberation Army conducting operations. Rocket attacks and bomb blasts have been a regular feature in the provincial capital, particularly its cantonment areas, Kohlu and Sui town, since 2000, and had claimed many lives by mid-2004.
The Gwadar Port project employed close to 500 Chinese nationals by 2004. On 03 May 2004, the BLA killed three Chinese engineers working on the Port. Rockets were fired at the Gwadar airport at midnight on 21 May 2004. On 09 October 2004, two Chinese engineers were kidnapped in South Waziristan in the northwest of Pakistan, one of whom was killed later on October 14 in a botched rescue operation. Violence reached a crescendo in March of 2005 when the Pakistani government attempting to target Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a seventy-year-old Sardar (tribal leader) who had fought against the government for decades, shelled the town of Dera Bugti. The fighting that erupted between the tribal militia and government soldiers resulted in the deaths of 67 people. Ultimately Nawab Bugti also became a martyr in the cause of the liberation of Baluchistan.
The Durand Line and N.W.F.P
To this date, the relations between Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Pakistan are characterized by rivalry, suspicion and resentment. The primary cause of this hostility rests in the debate about the validity of the Durand Line Agreement. Dubbing Durand line as a line of hatred Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he does not accept this line as it has raised a wall between the two brothers, and slices a part of Afghanistan from the motherland. Afghanistan always vigorously protested the inclusion of Pashtun and Baluch areas within Pakistan without providing the inhabitants with an opportunity for self-determination.
A grand Pakhtoon-Baluchi tribal convention was held in Pesawar on 11 February 2006 where prominent Pakhtoon and Baluchi leaders endorsed a call for the elimination of the infamous and imaginary British-made Durand Line with the objective of creating a Greater Baluchistan. Awami National Party (ANP) leader Asfandyar Wali Khan said that the Pakhtoon nation was passing through a critical phase of its history, and therefore, the ANP had convened the tribal convention to devise a strategy to counter the ongoing Pakistan military operations in Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Pakhtoon Milli Wahdat revolves around the elimination of the Durand Line, dividing Pakistan and Afghanistan, so that Pakhtoons living in NWFP, Baluchistan and tribal areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan could form a state of their own.
A New Map for the Middle East:
Ralph Peter, in The Armed Forces Journal of the U.S, in June 2006, suggested that there has to be major changes in the map of the Middle East, including Pakistan and Afghanistan to do justice to the ethnic groups who were forced to live under alien governments because the British and the French after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 have arbitrarily divided up the Middle East without thinking about the consequences of their actions on various nationalities who used to live under the Turkish Empire. According to this “New Map of the Middle East”, Iran, “a state with madcap boundaries”, would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today”s Afghanistan — a region with a historical and linguistic affinity for Iran. Iran would, in effect, become an ethnic Persian state again.
Note: These are excerpts from articles written by Dr.Dipak Basu, Professor in International Economics in Nagasaki University, Japan. Published October 12, 2006: And The Problem of Greater Balochistan, written be Innayatullah Baloch.)