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Default The restoration of Pashtun province in Balochistan - 07-23-2012, 10:39 PM

VIEW : The restoration of Pashtun province in Balochistan — Barkat Shah Kakar

In the wake of the overwhelming identity crisis and growing sense of alienation from the state, the restoration of old and creation of new federating units in Pakistan has become inevitable

The response of the Punjab provincial assembly and the stance of the former prime minister, Mr Gilani and President Zardari on the creation of a Seraiki province has resurrected the discourse on the formation of new provinces in Pakistan. It is a good sign that the case of a Seraiki province is finally recorded as a matter of high political and administrative impetus. Both the opposition and the ruling coalition have principally sensed that the uneven situation in the province could not be sustained for a long time. The reformulation of the existing administrative and federating composition in Pakistan is the need of the time. If the need for the creation of the new province is analysed beyond symptomatic levels and short-term political point scoring, the genuine case like the restoration of the Pashtun province in Balochistan will emerge automatically.

The case for the restoration of British Balochistan, the predominantly Pashtun province in Balochistan, has long resonated but least heard in the corridors of power. After Punjab, British Balochistan was the second oldest province that was established in 1887, hence its history stretches over more than a century and it is older than the other provinces of British India including Bihar, Orissa, Aden, Sindh, Assam, Bengal, NWFP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Delhi.

During the British colonial era, the existing province of Balochistan was administered in two exclusive separate units, i.e. British Balochistan or the Chief Commissioner’s Province and the Kalat States Union. Most of the territory that constituted the province was ceded during the era of the great game when these areas were sliced off from Afghanistan because of the Gandamak Treaty in 1879. Other Pashtun territories were occupied while some of the areas were leased from Khanate of Kalat that include the Marri-Bugti Agency, Chaghai and Quetta.

One of the main confusions that arise in the minds of readers is the controversy of the name of the Pashtun province with the title of British Balochistan. It is important to note that naming a Pashtun-occupied territory as British Balochistan was an extension of the British ‘divide and rule’ strategy. It has been confessed by orientalists like Sir Olaf Caroe that British Balochistan was a sheer misnomer for the Pashtun areas.

Since inception (1887), the Shahi Jirga, ‘a council of tribal and political notables’, chaired by a Pashtun Nawab (Jogezai) was functioning as a legislative, judicial and executive house for the province of British Balochistan.

There was a flat consensus among the British government, the Shahi Jirga, Khan of Kalat and all political parties and personalities that the Chief Commissioner’s Province and the Kalat State have altogether separate national, socio-economic, linguistic, cultural, political and constitutional status.

The history of struggle for the constitutional rights and freedom of India from the British Empire witnessed the consistent efforts of the people of this province. It is highly worthy to note that the term Balochistan in different historical documents like Jinnah’s 14 points (1929), the Resolution of Pakistan (1940), the Cabinet Mission Plan (1946), the Congress Working committee resolution (1946) and the Independence Act of (1947) was referred to as British Balochistan.

On June 30, 1947, the Shahi Jirga overwhelmingly voted in favour of entering the Pakistan constituent assembly. It is important to note that the Shahi Jirga was the representative of British Balochistan whose 38 out of 42 members were Pashtuns.

The affiliation of the Kalat States Union with Pakistan was not in accordance with the free will of the Baloch-Brahuis. The states of Kharan, Lasbela and Makran joined Pakistan immediately and the Khan of Kalat was forced to join on March 30, 1948.

Since 1947, in all the constitutional formulas, up to the forced establishment of one unit (1955), British Balochistan had the status of one of the five equal provinces, i.e. Bengal, Punjab, NWFP and Sindh.

In the proposed second and third formulas respectively in December 1952 and October 1953 for the representation of the units in the upper and lower houses, the chief commissioner’s province was given an equivalent representation to that of the Kalat States Union, Bahawalpur and other administrative units of the British colonial era. Additionally, even during one unit, British Balochistan and the Kalat Sates Union were dealt as equals as dividing the two halves in the Quetta and Kalat units.

However, the destiny of the second oldest province, British Balochistan, was conversely dissolved in a state, while in the rest of East and West Pakistan the states were annexed to the provinces. Since the merger, the Pashtun in Balochistan live with a sheer sense of alienation and deprivation that has rendered several violent conflicts between the two majority ethnicities, i.e. the Baloch and Pashtun. The controversies on the demography, formulation of constituencies, merit and quota formulas and implementation of development plans have been witnessed in the period of five decades of the uneven and arbitrary mergers. The Baloch feel deprived in the federation while Pashtuns feel deprived within the deprived province of Balochistan that subjects them to dual exploitation.

In the wake of the overwhelming identity crisis and growing sense of alienation from the state, the restoration of old and creation of new federating units in Pakistan has become inevitable. It is important to note that societies living with a sense of alienation and deprivation can never pull their states towards attaining the high goals of integrity, sustainability and self-sufficiency in all fields. Pakistan can only become a strong and prosperous federation if it values and respects the social, political, cultural, linguistic and legal rights of the people that are living on their land for centuries.

The writer is a faculty member, Department of Pashto, University of Balochistan, Quetta and the head of a research based organisation IDRAK-For Change. He can be reached at bshahkakar@yahoo.com
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Default 07-24-2012, 10:52 AM

I hate those people who propose "Kakaristan".


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