A seminar titled “History of Balochistan Revisited”, was held in the British House of Lords, London, on February 23, 2017. Hosted by The Democracy Forum, the deliberations centred around Britain’s historical links with the confederacy of Balochistan in the 19th century, and the legality of the subsequent accession of Balochistan to Pakistan in 1948. Dr William Crawley of the Institute for Commonwealth Studies, chaired the seminar.
The keynote speaker was HH Suleman Dawood Jan Ahmedzai, the Khan of Kalat. In his address, the Khan questioned the legality of Balochistan’s accession to Pakistan, and in his support, quoted various treaties signed by the British government with the Baloch rulers, in which Balochistan’s sovereignty and independence had been repeatedly affirmed. The Khan argued that Pakistan’s founding father, Md. Ali Jinnah, who was the attorney for Kalat in all negotiations prior to its annexation by Pakistan, was himself aware that representatives of the British Crown had recognised Kalat as an independent country. He stated that Britain colluded with Jinnah in betraying the Baloch people, and illegally occupying the country. Describing Pakistan today as the cradle of terrorism, the Khan called on the international community to assist the Baloch regain their independence. Later, addressing a press conference, the Khan reiterated that he would even approach western countries and India for assistance in getting his country back, asserting that the people of Balochistan had a right to win back their independence by all means necessary.
Other speakers at the seminar included Professor Sabir Badal Khan, a researcher on Baloch history at the Oriental University of Naples, Maxwell Downman, Parliament Researcher in the service of the House of Lords and Jamal Nasser Baloch, a member of the Free Balochistan Movement. Haider K B Baloch, a lawyer and human rights activist from Balochistan’s Turbat district, who was also scheduled to speak, was unable to attend, as he was disallowed from boarding his flight to London by the Pakistani immigration authorities. Another speaker, Dr Yaqoob Bangash, who was also scheduled to speak, could not attend after he was ‘warned’ by Pakistani security officials not to attend the event.
In his presentation, Maxwell Downman contended that it was the British, who despite the 1876 Treaty with Kalat, constantly undermined the position of the Khan of Kalat, and discouraged Pakistan from recognising Kalat’s status as a sovereign independent State. Similarly in his remarks, Prof Badal Khan provided instances from Balochistan’s history when the British clearly recognised its independence. Jamal Nasser Baloch, who represented Hyrbyair Marri, leader of the Free Baloch Movement, maintained that the sanctity of the Balochistan Accession Treaty of 1948 was questionable, since it was signed by the then Khan under duress.
There was general agreement among the panellists that the then Khan of Kalat agreed to the accession of Balochistan to Pakistan in 1948 under pressure, and as a result of manipulation by the British government, in conjunction with the Pakistani government.
The seminar was attended, among others, by Members of the British Parliament, including Nigel Huddleston MP and Chairman of The Democracy Forum, academics, diplomats from various embassies including Pakis