Prince Karim Khan

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Prince Agha Abdul Karim Khan Ahmedzai was the younger brother of Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmedyar Khan, the last ruler of Balochistan. After the British left Balochistan on 13 August 1947. It's alleged that the Khan was forced to join Pakistan.

On the night of May 16, 1948 Prince Abdul Karim Khan,in defiance of his brother, decided to lead a separatist movement against the Pakistan government,so as to preserve his life of privilege as the Khan's governor in Makran.

The Prince invited the leading members of Baloch nationalist political parties—the Kalat State National Party, the Baloch League, and the Baloch National Workers Party — to join him in the struggle for the creation of an independent "Greater Balochistan". Apart from his political motives, the Prince was a member of the royal family and the former governor of the Makran province; he was upset by Pakistan's recognition of Sardar Bay Khan Gichki as Makran's ruler.

Origins and allies of the movement[edit]

Prince Karim decided to migrate to Afghanistan in order to get help and to organise his movement. He wrote to the Khan on June 28, 1948 explaining the causes of his migration.

Some of the prominent political leaders who joined him were Mohammed Hussein Anka (the secretary of the Baloch League and the editor of Weekly Bolan Mastung), Malik Saeed Dehwar (the secretary of the Kalat State National Party), Qadir Bakhsh Nizamami (a member of the Baloch League), Maulwi Mohd Afzal (a member of Jamiat-Ulm-e-Balochistan), and prominent members of the Sind-Balochistan branch of the Communist Party.

Plan of action[edit]

The Baloch Mujahedeen (Baloch Holy Warriors), as they called themselves, entered Afghanistan and encamped at Sarlath in the province of Kandahar. During their stay, the Baloch freedom fighters adopted the following measures to achieve their goal:

  • Sending messages to the Baloch chiefs of Eastern and Western Balochistan, asking them to join in the armed struggle;

Messages were sent to Mir Ghulam Faruq of the Rudini tribe, Sardar Mehrab Khan, Sardar Mir Jumma and Mir Wazir Khan Sanjrani of Chagai, and several other chiefs. The propaganda campaign was to be carried out on two fronts:

(A) The national cultural front

(B) The religious front

Armed struggle[edit]

The Prince issued an appeal to individuals to help with the recruitment. A person recruiting 100 men was offered the rank of major, and a person recruiting 50 men was entitled to the rank of captain. The Baloch liberation army had a secret agency called Jannisar (devotee), whose duty was to provide information, destroy the communication system, and watch the activities of traitors. There was also a secret unit called Janbaz (darer), whose job was to kill all traitors. The Janbaz were subordinate to the Jannisar. The headquarters of the agency was known as Bab-i-Aali (secret war office) and was headed by Prince Karim. The total strength of the Jannisar was recorded as 30; nothing is known about the strength of the Janbaz.

Soviets and Afghans[edit]

The Prince did not start a war because of Afghanistan's refusal and the Soviet Union's unwillingness to offer assistance. During his stay in Sarlath, Prince Karim appointed Malik Saeed and Qadir Bakhsh Nizamani as his emissaries to contact the Afghan government and approach other embassies in order to get moral and material support. According to Nizamani, the Afghan authorities refused to provide any sort of help and told them either to remain in Kandahar as political refugees or to return to Balochistan. The Afghan authorities also refused to permit the rebel group to operate on Afghan soil. Nizamani informed the Iranian Embassy of the Baloch demands as well. Iranian diplomats showed their concern but did not offer any assistance, though they were willing to provide asylum to the rebel group in Iran. The last hope of the Prince's representative was the Soviet Embassy. The Soviet diplomats listened to Nizamami carefully. Though they did not give any assurances, they did promise to inform Moscow.

In the 19th century, Afghan rulers like Shuja Shah and Abdur Rahman Khan wanted to occupy Balochistan. In 1947, the Afghan government demanded the creation of Pashtunistan, a region stretching from Chitral and Gilgit to the Baloch coast in the Arabian Sea. The Afghan government called Balochistan "South Pashtunistan" in statements and publications. The Afghan expansionist policy reflected the economic considerations of a landlocked state. At the same time, it was impossible for the Afghan government to neglect its own national interests and to support the movement of an independent Greater Balochistan, which claimed the Baloch region in Afghanistan.

Joseph Stalin did not pursue Vladimir Lenin's policy in the East. Moreover, the Soviet government was unwilling to annoy the Afghans or the British, both of whom opposed the creation of an independent Balochistan.

Delegitimisation[edit]

Meanwhile, a Farman Royal Order issued by the Khan on May 24, 1948 stated that the Prince and his party were to be regarded as a rebel group; no connection of any sort with the Prince and his party should be maintained, nor should they be given rations; further, if any member of the rebel group committed an offence, he would be punished. The Government of Pakistan moved the army to the military posts of Punjab, Chaman Chashme, and Rastri near the Afghan border, attempting to control the rebels' rations which were being sent by pro-separatist elements, and to control their activities or stop any attempt at invasion. The Pakistani authorities confirmed two clashes between the army and the rebels.

To avoid popular unrest in Balochistan, the Khan sent his maternal uncles Hajji Ibrahim Khan and Hajji Taj Mohammed from Sarlath to bring Prince Karim back to Kalat. Khan made his return conditional.

The Prince and the separatist movement failed to achieve internal and external support. Moreover, the Baloch nationalists were divided into two groups. Anqa and Malik Saeed favoured armed struggle in the form of guerilla war, while Mir Ghous Bux Bizenjo and other prominent leaders wished to resolve all issues by negotiation.

Return and capture[edit]

The Prince was forced to return to the Khanate and negotiate for his demands peacefully. On July 8, 1948, when the news of the Prince's arrival reached Kalat, the Prime Minister and a Kalat State Force went to meet the Prince at Earboi to deliver the Khan's message.

With Afghan aid, Abdul Karim entered Balochistan and organised a rebellion against Pakistan in the Jhalawan area. He received assistance from Mir Gohar Khan Zehri, an influential tribal leader of the Zarkzai clan. Major General Akbar Khan, who was in charge of the Pakistani army's Seventh Regiment, was ordered to attack the insurgents and force them to surrender. Prince Karim and his 142 followers were arrested and imprisoned in the Machh and Quetta jails.

A detailed and interesting statement comes from General Akbar Khan, in his article published in the daily Dawn, dated August 14, 1960, under the title "Early reminiscences of a soldier." In this article, General Akbar confirms that there was a plan to invade the Khanate and describes the clash between the Pakistani army and the separatist force headed by Prince Karim. Akbar claims that Jinnah had issued instructions that this news should not be published in the Pakistani press.Jinnah was dead by then.

Trial and sentencing[edit]

After the arrest of the Prince and his party, the Attorney Governor General gave an order for an inquiry, to be conducted by Khan Sahib Abdullah Khan, the Additional District Magistrate of Quetta. He submitted his report on September 12, 1948. His report was based on the Prince's activities and upon the letters and documents published by the separatist force. After the inquiry, R. K. Saker, the District Magistrate of Quetta, appointed a special Jirga (official council of elders) consisting of the following persons:

1. Khan Bahador Sahibzada, M.Ayub Khan Isakhel, Pashtoon from Pishin; 2. K.B. Baz Mohd Khan. Jogezai, Pashtoon from Loralai; 3. Abdul Ghaffar Khan Achakzai, Pashtoon from Pishin; 4. S.B. Wadera Noor Muhammad Khan, a Baloch Chief from Kalat; 5. Syed Aurang Shah from Kalat; 6. Sheikh Baz Gul Khan Mandokhail. Pashtoon from Zhob; 7. Wahab Khan Panezai, Pashtoon from Sibi; 8. Sardar Doda Khan Marri, Baloch from Sibi.

This Jirga was instructed to study the circumstances and events which led to the revolt and was asked to give its recommendations to the District Magistrate. On November 10, 1948, the Jirga heard the testimony of the accused and gave its recommendations to the D.M. on November 17, 1948, suggesting the delivery of the Prince to Loralai at the pleasure of the Government of Pakistan and various other penalties. The D.M., in his order dated November 27, 1948, differed with the opinion of the Jirga and sentenced the Prince to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 5000 rupees. Other members of his party were given various sentences and fines.

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