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Baluchistan Under the British

Baluchistan Under the BritishIn 1839, when the British army advanced through the Bolan Pass towards Afghanistan, the conduct of Mehrab Khan, the ruler of Baluchistan, was considered so treacherous and dangerous as to require " the exaction of retribution from that chieftain," and " the execution of such arrangements as would establish future security in that quarter." General Wilshire was accordingly detached from the army of the Indus with 1050 men to assault Kalat. A gate was knocked in by the field-pieces, and the town and citadel were stormed in a few minutes. Above 400 Baluches were slain, among them Mehrab Khan himself; and 2000 prisoners were taken. His son, Mir Nasir Khan II was later raised to the masnad by the tribesmen and regained possession of Kalat.

In 1842, consequent upon the British withdrawal from Afghanistan, the occupied districts were returned to the Khan of Kalat. From the conquest of Sind by the British troops under the command of General Sir Charles Napier in 1843 up to 1854 no diplomatic intercourse occurred worthy of note between the British and Baluch states. In the latter year, however, under the governor-generalship of the marquess of Dalhousie, General John Jacob, C.B., at the time political superintendent and commandant on the Sind frontier, was deputed to arrange and conclude a treaty between the Kalat state, then under the chieftainship of Nasir Khan. The British negotiated with the Kalat State in 1854 and according to the terms of the treaty, British political agents were deputed to Kalat during the next twenty years. British expeditions passed through the Bolan on their way to Kandahar and Afghanistan, but up to 1876 the country was considered independent.

In 1875 Sir Robert Sandeman, the founder of the Baluchistan Province, first entered the country. The relations of Kalat with the British Government were governed by two treaties, those of 1854 and 1876. The treaty of 1876 reaffirmed the treaty of 1854. The treaty of 1854 was a treaty of alliance offensive and defensive. The treaty of 1854 was renewed in 1876 by Lord Lytton (under Sandeman's advice). The treaty of 1876 renewed these terms, but utterly changed the policy of non-intervention which was maintained by the former, by the recognition of the sirdars as well as the khan, and by the appointment of the British government as referee in cases of dispute between them. British troops were to be located in the khan's country; Quetta was founded; telegraphs and railways were projected; roads were made; and the reign of law and order established. Under the terms of the earlier treaty a subsidy of Rs. 50,000 was payable to the Khan, which was raised to 1 lakh in 1876. At the same time the Khan agreed to act in subordinate co-operation with the British Government; a British Agency was re-established at the Khan's court with certain powers of arbitration; and the presence of British troops in Kalat was permitted. The construction of railways and telegraphs and freedom of trade were also provided for. There are further agreements with Kalat in connexion with the construction of the Indo-European Telegraph, the cession of jurisdiction on the railways and in the Bolan Pass, and the permanent lease of Quetta, Nushki, and Nas1rabad.

In 1877 the cantonment of Quetta, which became the head-quarters of the Administration, was occupied by British troops, and in 1879 the administration of the district was taken over on behalf of the Khan of Kalat. The nebulous claims of Afghanistan to Sibi and Pishin were disposed of by the treaty of Gandamak in the spring of 1879. After the Afghan war, 1878-81, the districts of Pisbin, Shorariid, Duki, Sibi, and Shahrig were assigned to the British and in November, 1887, were formally constituted as British Baluchistan.

The final consolidation of the existing form of Kalat administration was effected by Sandeman's expedition to Kharan in 1883, and the reconciliation of Azad Khan, the great Naushirwani chief, with the khan of Kalat.In 1883, the districts of Quetta and Bolan were made over by the Khan to the British on aquit-rent of 25,000 rupees and 30,000 rupees respectively. In 1886, the Bori valley, in which is now the cantonment of Loralai, was occupied. In 1887, the Khetran country, now known as the Barkhan tahsil, was brought under British control; in 1889 British authority was established in the Zhob valley and Kakar Khurasan; in 1896 Chagai and Western Sinjrani were included in administered territory ; in 1899, the Nuskhi Niabat was made over by the Khan of KalAt on an annual quit-rent of 9,000 rupees ; and in 1903 the Nasirabad tahsil was acquired from the Khan on an annual quit-rent of 117,500 rupees.

The Kalat State consisted of a confederacy of tribal groups headed by the Khan of Kalat. These groups were originally organized into three great divisions; (1) the Khan's ulus, or following, which was scattered throughout the country; (2) the Sarawan tribesmen living to the north of Kalat under their hereditary chief, the Raisani Sardar; and (3) the Jhalawan tribesmen living to the south of Kalat under the Zahri Sardar. All were liable to the Khan for military service. Succession to the masnad of Kalat appears to have been by inheritance, subject to the approval of the chiefs and of the paramount power. Gross incompetence might exclude. In external affairs the Khan was supreme and absolute. Internally each of the Sarawan and Jhalawan tribes retained the fullest rights of self- government, but by the unwritten rule of the constitution there was a general right of interference by the Khan. The Khan, through his naibs or deputy-governors, managed the affairs of those people from whom he collected revenue. Kharan was quasi-independent. These arrangements had, however, been modified by lapse of time.

Even a casual perusal of Rudyard Kippling's writings would show how heavily were the development in Afghanistan and other Central Asian Khanate weighing on the minds of the British of those days. The Indian Lowlands could not fail to register the tremors in the neighbouring Highlands Consequently, the British considered the situation as it then obtained, and in the light of conclusions thus formed, the Viceroys in Calcutta gave shape to a policy towards Baluchistan which in its more prominent form was called the "Forward Policy". It aimed at subjugating the Baluch and other native tribes to the British will. For this purpose they established a string of garrisons deep in Baluch and Pathan territories.

Sir Robert Sandeman, a Scotsman, is considered to be the founder of British Baluchistan. Sandeman was singularly successful in his dealings with the Baloch and Brahuis. He understood the tribes better than his peers, possibly because he himself was a highlander. He found it easier and cheaper to control a handful of tribal chiefs rather than try to control the tribes directly. lie was against flouting time honoured traditions and practices. Instead, he used them to advance British interests. He found that the Sardars needed authority and the means --- guns, money, horses --- to hold that authority. The British had these means. He bartered guns, money and horses for the Sardars' allegiance. In the bargain the Sardars guaranteed local law and order. Sandeman encouraged the Sardars to raise own Lashkars or Levies. These armed men were paid from British treasury and were controlled by the District officers. The Levies were tribal paramilitary troops organised on tribal authority to maintain law and order in their own territories. Those who opposed British authority were labelled ruffians and scoundrels. Sandeman never hesitated from using brute physical force where-ever he thought it was required.

A Political Agent was permanently reappointed to Kalat in 1884, to keep touch with the Khan and to exercise the right of arbitration. The Khan had a powerful constituency among the Brahui section of the population and many Baluch Sardar owed allegiance to him. He called the Nawabs of Makran and Kharan and the Jam of Las Bela as his feudatories. The Khan was entitled to a salute of nineteen guns.

In 1890 and 1891 were carried out that series of politico-military expeditions which resulted in the occupation of the Zhob valley, the foundation of the central cantonment of Fort Sandeman, and the extension of a line of outposts which, commencing at Quetta, may be said to rest on Wana north of the Gomal. The effect of these expeditions, and of this extension of military occupation, was to reduce the independent Pathan tribes of the Suliman mountains to effective order, and to put a stop to border raiding on the Indus plains south of the Gomal. Regular British troops were cantoned at Quetta, Chaman, Fort Sandeman, anil Loralai, and detachments were stationed at different places, principally in the Zhob and Loralai Districts, for the preservation of law and order. There was also a police force, supplemented by levies and the Zhob, Makrau and Chagai Levy Corps. The latter were recruited from the local tribes, and have their own leading men as officers.

In 1893 serious differences arose between the khan of Kalat and Sir James Browne, who succeeded Sir Robert Sandeman as agent to the governor-general in Baluchistan, arising out of Mir Khodadad Khan's outrageous conduct in the management of his own court, and the treatment of his officials. Finally, Mir Khudadad Khan was deposed, and his son Sir Mir Mahmud Khan, G.C.I.E., Beglar Eegi Khan of Kalat, succeeded on the abdication of his father, in March [November ?] 1893. Mir Nasir Khan I., was the first to take the title of Khan. The districts of Quetta and Mastung were granted to him by Ahmad Shah, the Durrani King of Afghanistan. Nasir Khan's grandson, Mehrab Khan, was killed in the storming of Kalat by a British force in 1839. His son, Nasir Khan II., was acknowledged by the British Government in 1840 ; and in 1864 a treaty was executed with him, under the terms of which he received a yearly subsidy of 50,000 rupees. In 1857 Nasir Khan was succeeded by his brother, Klmdddad Khan, with whom a fresh treaty was concluded in December, 1876, by which the subsidy was raised to 100,000 rupees a year. Owing to the state of anarchy which prevailed in the State, and which reacted on British interests in India, it became essential that a settlement should be effected, and Major (afterwards Sir Robert) Sandeman was deputed to Kalat for this purpose, in 1876, with most successful results. Mir Khudadad Khan died in May, 1909.

The Khan of Kalat was the head of a confederacy of chiefs, but by 1910 the extent of his control had been considerably reduced. In all important matters he is amenable to the advice of the Agent to the Governor-General in Baluchistan, who also arbitrates in disputes between the Khan and minor chiefs. The area of Kalat State, was 73,278 square miles, and the population 354,095 (1911 census.) The Khan's revenue including the subsidies and rents for the leased areas paid by the British Government amounts to 8,00,000 rupees annually. The Khan has an irregular force of 496 cavalry and artillery with 29 guns, of which 9 were serviceable as of 1911. The chief towns in the State are Kalat, Mastung, Bhag, Gaudawa and Dadhar.

The area of British and administered territory was 46,960 sq. miles, and the population (1911) 414,000. The head of the civil administration was the Chief Commissioner and Agent to the Governor-General. Next in authority was the Revenue Commissioner, who is also the Judicial Commissioner, and as such exercises the power of a High Court, except in cases of Europeans for whom the Chief Court of the Punjab is a High Court. The area under the direct administration of the Chief Commissioner and Agent to the Governor-General, was divided into 6 districts, each iu charge of a Political Agent as follows: Quetta-Pishin, Sibi, Zhob, Loralai, Rolan Pass, Chagai. The Political Agents are also the Collectors, District Magistrates, and Sessions Judges, and are assisted by European Assistant-Political Agents and either native or European Extra-Assistant Commissioners and a staff of subordinate revenue and judicial officials. The Political Agent in charge of the Bolan Pass is also Political Agent for Kalat and Las Bela.

The Kalat State National Party or National Party was formed in 1920. It was influenced by the Bolshevik Revolution led by Lenin in Russia and the Afghan revolution of Amanullah. It remained underground and operated clandestinely for ten years before surfacing in 1931 in Kalat. The party definitely was against the British Raj. In 1939 it vehemently opposed British efforts to secure on lease the port of Jewani from the Khan of Kalat. The port is located in the Gwadar Bay right on the Iranian border and very close to the Gulf. It was considered the next best alternative to the port of Gwadar in that area. It was important to British stretched lines of communication and also to British India's security, serving as the farthest forward post on the Makran Coast in the Arabian Sea. The British had been trying to obtain its lease as the Sultan of Muscat and Oman had withdrawn refueling facilities provided to the British at the port of Gwadar. Mainly due to opposition from the National Party, the British failed to acquire the lease of Jewan from Khan of Kalat. Not unnaturally, the British were antagonized.

Whereas some other parts of British India progressed, this predominently Muslim province remained backward educationally, economically and politically. British policies were harsh and hostile to the Muslinrs. In Baluchistan the thumb rule was to keep the Muslims backward and isolated. It will be noted that in an over-whelmingly Muslim majority area non-Muslims aliens, mostly Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Parsis, dominated business and trade and services.

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Page last modified: 22-02-2018 14:07:35 ZULU