Anti-Baloch clique? — I —Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
The Khan affirmed his intention to build Balochistan as a prosperous sovereign country in which the Baloch could retain their identity and live in accordance with their traditions and establish relations through treaties of friendship with neighbouring states
The secret, if it ever was, is eventually out that there is in fact an anti-Baloch clique with its own agenda and powerful enough to threaten even the highest office of the land. No, this not the surmise of a pro-Baloch columnist but comes direct from the horse's mouth, well at least a horse lover's mouth: yes, the president himself.
At the ground breaking ceremony of the Winder Dam project he said that espousal of the rights of Balochistan by him had angered "certain elements" and they were now out to remove him; some journalists termed these elements as the 'anti Baloch clique'. He said, "The Aghaz-e-Huqooq-i-Balochistan package is the right of the people of Balochistan and we have to implement it. But they do not want this to happen. Therefore, they want to remove me." So now we know that this powerful clique does not even tolerate an ineffective and largely useless Balochistan package.
The president, as constrained and curbed as his authority and movement may be, still has the entire resources of the state at his disposal to learn and be informed about matters that common citizens or for that matter out-of-power politicians do not even get a whiff of. With his wherewithal he certainly knows that this anti-Baloch clique has the clout to threaten his tenure if he is overtly pro-Baloch or even seems to be patronising them.
This clique definitely has to be anti-democratic and paranoid as who else would remove an elected head of state simply for perceived misdeeds; because certainly the president has done nothing to curb the injustices against the Baloch or redress their grievances in the nearly two years that his party has been in power. Empty apologies do nothing to heal grievous wounds.
This clique certainly has not come into being all of a sudden or only after Zardari became the president. It must have existed long before and must be having a few achievements to its credit. It must also have the power to even threaten someone who has the entire — maybe minus that certain clique — state machinery at his disposal. Presumably this 'clique' is as powerful as the rest of the state apparatus. Little wonder that people keep disappearing without a trace and some turning up dead as the Baloch leaders did in Turbat.
Let us dispassionately examine the evidence if there really exists an anti-Baloch clique or it is just a figment of the imagination of a beleaguered president. To do this we will have to go way back to 1947.
In June 1947, the British government announced plans for the partition of India. The fate of British Afghanistan and the Baloch Tribal Areas, which included the Marri-Bugti, Khetran and Baloch Tribal Areas of Dera Ghazi Khan, was to be decided by a referendum. It was decided to hold a jirga on June 30th but was deviously held on the 29th without informing all the members. With this referendum as its basis, British Balochistan, including the leased and tribal areas that were constitutionally part of the Khanate were quite illegally acceded to Pakistan on August 15, 1947.
It is interesting to note that after partition the chiefs of Derajat were given the choice to relinquish their privileges by joining Balochistan or retain them by joining Punjab. This British Administered Baloch area of DG Khan was misappropriated by Punjab in 1950. The Tumandars signed the agreement under threat of forsaking their large land holdings if they did not opt for Punjab. A monument to that injustice stands at Fort Munro, 6,470 feet above sea level.
On August 4, 1947, a tripartite agreement was signed between Pakistan, the British and Balochistan, called The Standstill Agreement, in which the sovereign status of Balochistan was accepted. The Khan declared Balochistan independent on August 11, 1947, three days before the independence of Pakistan. The Khan affirmed his intention to build Balochistan as a prosperous sovereign country in which the Baloch could retain their identity, live in accordance with their traditions and establish relations through treaties of friendship with the neighbouring states of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan as well as with India and the outside world.
Soon after independence, elections were held to the Diwan, Balochistan's bi-cameral legislature, and a period of tranquillity and peace was ensured in the country. The Assembly held sessions in September and December 1947 and most favoured alliance and not accession with Pakistan. On December 14, 1947, Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo made a landmark speech and it is still considered as a valid argument for the independence of Balochistan.
He said, "We have a distinct civilisation and a separate culture like that of Iran and Afghanistan. We are Muslims but it is not necessary that by virtue of being Muslims we should lose our freedom and merge with others. If the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to join Pakistan, then Afghanistan and Iran, both Muslim countries, should also amalgamate with Pakistan.
"We were never a part of India before the British rule. Pakistan's unpleasant and loathsome desire that our national homeland, Balochistan should merge with it is impossible to consider. We are ready to have friendship with that country on the basis of sovereign equality but by no means ready to merge with Pakistan. We can survive without Pakistan. But the question is, what would Pakistan be without us?
"I do not propose to create hurdles for the newly created Pakistan in the matters of defence and external communication. But we want an honourable relationship, not a humiliating one. If Pakistan wants to treat us as a sovereign people, we are ready to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation. If Pakistan does not agree to do so, flying in the face of democratic principles, such an attitude will be totally unacceptable to us, and if we are forced to accept this fate then every Baloch son will sacrifice his life in defence of his national freedom."
His speech moved the Baloch and strengthened their desire for independence and their will to maintain their new-found independence. But in the meantime Pakistan began to pressurise the newly independent Kalat state to join Pakistan and an uneasy calm appeared in relations between Kalat and Pakistan. Talks between Pakistan and Kalat dragged on. Pakistan continued to harass the Khan and Baloch state machinery on various pretexts and was engaged in conspiracies and underhand tactics to compel the Khan to join Pakistan.
When Pakistan was convinced that the Khan would not accede, separate instruments of accession by the states of Lasbela and Kharan, which were feudatories of the Khan, and of Makran, which was never more than a district of the state of Kalat, were announced on March 18. Accession of Makran, Kharan and Lasbela robbed Kalat of more than half its territory and its access to the sea.
The following day the Khan of Kalat issued a statement refusing to believe that Pakistan as a champion of Muslim rights in the world would infringe upon the rights of small Muslim neighbours, pointing out that Makran as a district of Kalat had no separate status and that the foreign policy of Lasbela and Kharan was placed under Kalat by the Standstill Agreement.
On March 26, 1948, the Pakistan Army was ordered to move into the Baloch coastal region of Pasni, Jiwani and Turbat. This was the first act of aggression prior to the march on Kalat by a Pakistani military detachment on April 1, 1948. The Khan capitulated on March 27 after the army moved into the coastal region and it was announced in Karachi that the Khan of Kalat has agreed to merge his state with Pakistan. Under the Constitution of Kalat, the Khan was not authorised to take such a basic decision. The Balochistan Assembly had already rejected any suggestion of forfeiting the independence of Balochistan on any pretext. The sovereign Baloch state after British withdrawal from India lasted only 227 days.
The evidence certainly leads one to conclude that this clique has had the influence and power to thwart the Baloch people's rightful struggle to be independent as they were for 227 days after partition and use their resources without even partly sharing with them.