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May 26, 2013

Provincial Politics and the Pakistan Movement


May 26, 2013

A banker by profession, Salim Ansar has a passion for history and historic books. His personal library already boasts a treasure trove of over 7,000 rare and unique books.
Every week, we shall take a leaf from one such book and treat you to a little taste of history.
BOOK NAME: Provincial Politics and the Pakistan Movement
AUTHOR: Ian Talbot
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press - Karachi
The following excerpt has been taken from Pages: 117 — 119
“Mr. Ahmed Abdulla in his book ‘The Historical Background of Pakistan and Its People’ writes on Page No.72:
“According to historians this high and dry region was once a thickly populated country watered by a large number of perennial rivers. Its original name was Gedrosia. Later it came to be known as Maka which, in the course of time, begin to be called Makaran. Some consider this name a corruption of the Persian word ‘mahi-khuran’ (fish eaters). According to J. J. Modi it is a corruption of Mah Keran. Abu Ubaidullah Yakut bin Abdulla says in ‘Mujmaul Buldan’ that it is plural of ‘makr’ meaning deceit. Major Sykes holds the view that ‘ran’ is from Sansktir ‘irinya’ which means waste or swamp; Maka ran is ‘waste of Maka’. In the old Persian inscription there are references to the country and the people of Maka. In the Behistun inscription of Darius I (522-488 B.C.) Maka is mentioned among the countries under his sway and also that Maka is a branch of the Saka tribe. According to some authors, Rustam, the great hero of Firdausi’s epic, Shah-Nama, was born at Mastung in Maka.
“When the Arabs entered Makran in the middle of the 7th century A.D. they had to settle scores with Jats who were very unruly, pugnacious and bellicose. Ibn-e-Mufara sent by Caliph Osman to explore eastern extremes of Iran wrote about Makran: ‘The water is brackish, fruits unsavoury, if the army is small it would be destroyed, and if large would die of

“According to Tibri this report was given to Hazrat Omar but according to Balhaduri to Hazrat Osman. Tibri’s version is: ‘During Caliph Osman’s reign Hakam ibn Omar Al-Taghlabi conquered Makran by defeating its rulers in 644 A.D. (923 hijri).’ Hazrat Omar enquired from Sahar Abdi, the messenger of the news of victory, about particulars. He replied:
“‘It is a land where plains are stony, and the water is scanty;
Where fruits are unsavoury and the enemy noted for their bravery;
Where good is small and evil is all in all;
And where showers of plenty scarcely fall.’
“After Muslim rule was established in Makran (i.e. present day Baluchistan) Arabs were usually reluctant to come here.
“During the governorship of Umran Barmak in Sind when the Jats of Baluchistan revolted, he came to Kalat with a big forces, quelled the rising and went back. Later, Makran was successively conquered by the Irani dynasties of Saffarids, Samanids and Buwahids, and then by the Turkish dynasties of Ghaznavids, Seljuqs, and Ghorids. For six hundred years from the middle of the 7th century A.D. when Arabs conquered it till the middle of the 13th century A.D. the population complexion remained constant with Jats constituting the overwhelming lower strata and the Arabs and Turanis forming a thin upper layer. Baluchis began to immigrate and settle here from the middle of the 12th century A.D. and it was only during the Mughal period (16th century) that this region began to be called Baluchistan. According to another version it was Nader Shah who named this region Baluchistan in early 18th century A.D. But Ahmad Yar Khan, the former Khan of Kalat in book ‘Qaum-e-Baluch’ says that it was the Kalat ruler Mir Naseer Khan the great (1750-95 A.D.) that named the country Baluchistan.
“Baluchistan was the most backward region of Muslim India. As late as 1944 it had only four Government High Schools and a literacy rate of under 2 per cent. Its Muslim population was overwhelmingly rural. Quetta, the largest town, had under 35,000 inhabitants, half of which were non-Muslim. The province was unable to sustain itself and relied heavily on Central Government loans of around 60 lakh rupees by the early 1940s. Political backwardness went hand-in-hand with its low level of economic and social development. Electoral politics were restricted to Quetta Municipality right down to Independence. Baluchistan’s decision to join Pakistan was decided by just 54 members of the Shahi Jirga and five members of the Quetta Municipality (The Council of Tribal Leaders). Despite this backwardness, the Muslim League attached considerable importance to the region. Baluchistan was included in all Pakistan Schemes from Iqbal’s December 1930 All-India Muslim League Presidential Address onwards. Jinnah included democratic reforms for Baluchistan in his famous ‘fourteen points’ of 1928. He visited Quetta on two occasions during the final stages of the Pakistan campaign, in June 1943 and October 1945.
“The son of the Sardar of the Magsi Tribe, Yusuf Ali Khan Magsi, began the first stirrings of political organization in Baluchistan during the early 1930s. Significantly, the centre of his attention was not a national issue, but over who should succeed as the ruler of Kalat State. Yusuf founded a number of newspapers which were devoted to Baluchi affairs, although they were published in Karachi and Lahore. He joined a political organization, the Anjuman-i-Ittehad-i-Baluchen, became its President and organized the First All-India Baluch Conference at Jacobabad in December 1932. Yusuf’s growing political influence was tragically cut short, by his death in the 1935 Quetta earthquake. The Anjuman-i-Ittehad-i-Baluchen and its successor, the Kalat State National Party, collaborated during the late 1930s with Baluchistan’s other political organization, the Anjuman-i-Watan. This was founded by a Pathan, Abdus Samad Achakzai, who also ran the Istiqlal newspaper. The Anjuman-i-Watan virtually functioned as the Baluchistan branch of the Congress. The Muslim League, as in the other majority areas, was a latecomer. Its creation in June 1939 was the result of the single-handed efforts of a Quetta lawyer, Qazi Mohammad Isa.
“Qazi Mohammad Isa established the Baluchistan Muslim League at a meeting in a mosque held in Pishin. He wanted to dispose with the creation of a Working Committee and other office holders because once these office holders are announced. I would at once create an opposition, which would not be an opposition to the cause, but the personage so appointed. The fact that the League was a one-man band would not reduce the spread of its influence, for when a district or village I want to tour, I (shall) pick up persons who are very influential there and through them make these people understand. The All-India Muslim League Council at Delhi, however, would not permit the affiliation of the Baluchistan League, until it had properly constituted itself. Isa duly produced a 25-page constitution with provision for a popularly elected League organization down to the village level. This remained, however, a paper organization.
“Isa was rewarded for his efforts by becoming a member of the new All-India Muslim League Working Committee, set up after the passing of the Lahore Resolution. He was later to serve as a member of the Committee of Action, and Central Parliamentary Board. The First Annual Session of the Baluchistan Provincial Muslim League was held in July 1940 under the Presidentship of Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan. It reiterated the demand for the introduction of political reforms within the province. Two years elapsed, before a second session was held under the presidentship of the Nawab of Mamdot. During this time propaganda was confined to the columns of Isa’s Al-Islam newspaper, as the League became virtually moribund. No subscriptions were collected from members from 1940 onwards, and no new members were enrolled; local branches were non-existent. Jinnah’s visit to Baluchistan in June 1943, however, temporarily galvanized the League back into life. The Quaid was borne through Quetta city like a ‘royal potentate’ in a large procession estimated to number 50,000 persons. The entire route was decorated with welcome arches and gateways named after Muslim heroes. On 3 July, Jinnah addressed the Annual Session of the Baluchistan League which was attended by a large number of tribal Sardars and Nawabs. He then went on to stay as the guest of the ruler of Kalat, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan. One by-product of Jinnah’s visit was the establishment of the Baluchistan Muslim Students Federation in October.
“After the excitements of 1943, the League settled down to its usual torpor when Khair Mohammad of the Students Federation attempted to stir it to life. He ‘created a bad impression’ and new student office bearers and a touring party were selected by the gentry of Quetta at a tea-party held by Mohammad Azam Khan Kasi. A further row was caused early in 1944, over Isa’s ‘domination’ of the Baluchistan League. By this date he was out of the Province for much of the time on All-India Muslim League business. While he was absent, a number of tribal leaders began to question his right to represent Baluchistan when he was neither a Baluchi nor a Sardar. They also objected to the fact that almost the entire Provincial League Council came from Quetta and was Mohammad Qazi Isa’s nominees. Although Liaquat Ali Khan backed Isa’s side of the argument in 1944, the discontent lingered and Isa was forced to waive his claim to be Baluchistan’s representative in the proposed B Grouping of Provinces of the Cabinet Mission plan.
“The Muslim League stepped up its activities in Baluchistan, as else-where in India, following the collapse of the Simla Conference. The Quetta city Muslim League held a conference in late September 1945 which was addressed by the Punjabi leader Firoz Khan Noon. Although it only attracted 3,000 persons, this was much larger than the attendances at Anjuman-i-Watan public meetings. In October, Jinnah made another successful visit to the province. He once again called for further political reform and highlighted the League’s championing of this cause. Although there was no election campaign to be fought in Baluchistan in 1946, the League kept up its efforts to counteract the Congress and persuade the Sardars that their future lay with Pakistan. Early in 1947 the League held meetings at Quetta, Fort Sandeman and Nushki, where a new branch organization was formed. An ‘almost complete’ hartal (strike) was held in Quetta on 29 January to protest about the arrest of Muslim League leaders during the direct action campaign in Lahore. Regular drilling of Muslim League National Guards took place in Quetta.
“All this was a dress rehearsal for the popular pressure the League exerted on the members of the Shahi Jirga which met, along with the Quetta Municipality, on 30 June 1947, to decide whether Baluchistan should join Pakistan. The Congress had played on the fear that Pakistan would be too poor to support the deficit province, its delegation had also attempted to set Baluchis off against Pathans, whilst holding out the hope of eventual independence. The League counteracted this ‘bitter’ propaganda by taking out a huge procession in Quetta on 23 June. To further impress the tribal elders of the Shahi Jirga who were in the city, the League persuaded Nawab Jogezai, the scion of a former ruling family of Baluchistan, to place himself at its head. On the day on which the vote was to take place, the League gathered a huge crowd outside the Town Hall. Inside it all the 54 members present voted to join the Pakistan Constituent Assembly ‘mindful of the emotions and feelings of the people of Baluchistan’.”
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