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The British period, 1839-1947

07 Apr

By: Brian Spooner

The next hundred years saw an explosion of publications on the Baluch and Baluchistan. The information was produced through the interest of the neighboring powers, who finally achieved a definitive division of the area into three separate provinces of the adjacent nation-states.
Early in the 19th century the British set about gathering and organizing information on the whole of India, which they eventually published in the form of district gazetteers. The district gazetteer series for Baluchistan (1906-08) comprises eight volumes. Each gazetteer deals with an administrative district or group of districts and is organized into four chapters: basic geographical description, including an historical review of the social situation; a statement on the economic condition (agriculture, rents, labor and prices, weights and measures, forests and other natural resources, trade and transportation); an account of the administration (revenue, justice, police, public works); and finally miniature gazetteers describing individual settlements. The Baluchistan series is an extraordinary compendium of information, and ranks among the best of all the Indian gazetteers (Scholberg, p. 49) as well as other literature of the same type. This section is based on information taken from the gazetteers, the Persian syntheses by Taqīzāda and Jahānbānī, and the author’s unpublished ethnohistorical research except where otherwise noted.
The extension of British interest westward through Makrān stimulated Persian interest in pursuing ancient claims to the area. As they sought to reestablish their authority the Persians also began to gather information. Early efforts resulted from the interest of governors-general of Kermān under Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah (see Farmānfarmā, Wazīrī, Sepehr). Later and more detailed efforts followed on the pacification of the area under Reżā Shah (see Jahānbānī, Kayhān, Razmārā, Taqīzāda). The Russians began to explore Persian Baluchistan around the turn of the century (see Rittikh, Zarudnyĭ). Other Europeans, especially Germans, also took an interest (e.g., the Austrian Gasteiger), though they published little new information.
From 1839 to 1947 the greater part of Baluchistan was—formally or informally—under the British Empire, whose interest was essentially in securing and protecting its North-West Frontier Province from both Afghanistan and Iran. At a particular stage in this endeavor the British negotiated formal international borders through the territories of Baluch tribes with both Iran and Afghanistan, roughly according to the effective sphere of influence of the khan of Kalat, but with some attention to the interests of local leaders. They then sought to control the administration of the state of Kalat, at first through the khan, later in the name of the khan, and they gradually took on the direct administration of buffer areas between them and Afghanistan as well as some other especially troublesome areas such as the eastern districts of the Marī and Būgṭī tribes. The British intervened in the life of the Baluch mainly in order to bolster the authority of the khan and the subsidiary rulers in Makrān, as a means of maintaining peace and internal security, to establish the frontier, to lay the telegraph line, and (after some delay) finally to abolish the slave trade. The government of Afghanistan paid little attention to its Baluch population. But the Persian government sought to control as much as possible of Baluchistan by exploiting the ambitions and animosities of the local rulers; it did not establish a functioning administrative structure for the area until later.
The agreement between the British and Mīr Meḥrāb Khan in 1839 soon ran into trouble. Many of the sardars opposed it, and some of them sabotaged it by waylaying Burnes on his way back from Quetta, stealing the document and making out that they were acting on the instructions of the khan. The British were deceived, and resolved to punish the khan. In November of the same year they invaded Baluchistan and attacked Kalat. Mīr Meḥrāb Khan was killed in the action. Determined to control the route into Afghanistan, the British then installed in Kalat a great grandson of Mīr Moḥabbat Khan, the fourteen-year-old Mīr Šahnavāz Khan, with a Lieutenant Loveday as regent, and dismembered the khan’s dominions. Mastung and Quetta were given to Shah Šojāʿ, though the British continued to control them in his name. Kacchi was placed under the political agent for Western Sind. However, Meḥrāb’s son, whom he had named Mīr Naṣīr Khan II, was able to rally the tribes and retake Kalat in the following year (Rooman, pp. 41-43). Benefiting from a wave of popular support Naṣīr was able soon after to regain Quetta, Mastung, and Kacchi. Local skirmishes continued till 1842, when the British retired from Baluchistan because of more pressing problems in Afghanistan and elsewhere. As a condition of their withdrawal, Sibi remained under the British and Pishin was reoccupied by the Afghans, though Quetta remained with Kalat. The British undertook to help Naṣīr in case of outside attack, while Naṣīr accepted Shah Šojāʿ and the East India Company as suzerain powers who could station their forces anywhere in Kalat in emergency. The khan further agreed to act under British advice, refrain from any engagement without their previous sanction and to fix a pension for Mīr Šahnavāz and his family (Aitchison, XI, pp. 210-11). Essentially, the khan had secured British support for local Baluch autonomy under conditions similar to his historical relationship to the Afghans. The new ingredient was the role the British now played in Afghan interests. Shortly afterward the British also contrived to control the Marī through the khan, though the relationship did not last. The British annexed Sind in 1843, and Punjab in 1849. In 1854 the situation was formalized by a treaty in Khangarh (later Jacobabad) which included an annual subsidy to the khan of Rs 50,000 (Rooman, p. 44).
The state of Kalat was now incorporated into the British colonial system. Even the Baluch who were not controlled by Kalat were deeply influenced by the British connection. The khan was essentially a paid official, an intermediary between the British and the sardars (who continued until recently to hold real authority with the tribes). As a result the khan gradually lost his authority with the sardars (N. Swidler, p. 49), and the British were obliged to an increasing extent to work directly with, and to subsidize, each sardar. This practice was later extended into western Baluchistan (Iran) with the construction of the telegraph in the 1860s.
Naṣīr was succeeded in 1857, on his death, by his stepbrother Mīr Ḵodādād Khan, aged sixteen. Ḵodādād ruled until 1893—a period marked by serious conflicts with the sardars. Ḵodādād appears not to have understood the significance of the colonial power, which continually frustrated his efforts to rule, while not only he but many of the sardars were dependent on British subsidies. For a while the British were content simply to contain events through diplomacy and subsidies. But in 1875 in response to the Russian advance into Turkestan they decided to construct a railway and a telegraph link to Baluchistan. They sent Captain Robert Sandeman to Kalat to develop the basis for a more positive “forward” policy. Sandeman succeeded in composing outstanding disputes between the khan and the sardars, and designed a way of administering the tribes through their own chiefs in accordance with tribal custom but under British supervision, which later became well known as the Sandeman system of indirect rule (Thornton). In the following year Sandeman concluded the Mastung Settlement, according to which the Treaty of 1854 was renewed and enhanced: the khan was to have no independent foreign relations, a permanent British garrison was to be posted in Kalat, the khan was to send a representative to the government of India, the British were to be the sole arbiters in disputes between the khan and the sardars, and the projected railway and telegraph were to be protected in the interests of both parties. The khan’s annuity was raised to Rs 100,000, beside Rs 25,000 for the construction of more outposts and for ensuring the security of transport and communications. The trade rights of the khan with Afghanistan and India were also transferred to the British for another Rs 30,000 per year (Aitchison, XI, pp. 215-18).
The subsidies paid to the sardars were contingent upon their loyalty to the khan and the maintenance of internal peace. The sardars were still encouraged to settle disputes by traditional procedures, through sardar circles for intratribal cases, and jirgas when disputes were intertribal. However, all jirga decisions were subject to review by the British political agent. In general, the British system seemed to fit the tribal system well (N. Swidler, p. 53). The sardars and the British agents understood each other’s conception of authority and were able to work together. But in the long term the British system had the effect of dividing the Baluch into numerous personal fiefdoms based on individual sardars, and elevated the khan to an exclusively ceremonial status.
In 1877 Sandeman occupied Quetta, and with the khan’s consent established the administrative center of the Baluchistan Agency. Quetta was used as a base for the second Afghan War (q.v.) in 1878 (brought on by increasing British fear of Russian influence in Afghanistan). The war was concluded by the Treaty of Gandamak in 1879, which ceded Pishin to the British. One after another all the districts along the border with Afghanistan were leased to the British in return for an annual payment and incorporated into the province of British Baluchistan. Kalat was sealed off from all territories that were of strategic interest to the British. The Quetta cantonment soon surpassed Kalat and Mastung both as an administrative and as a commercial center. Although Baluchistan remained a relatively isolated area, peripheral to the Indian economy, the social effects of British investment should not be underestimated. Gash crops were introduced close to the major routes. A certain amount of sedentarization took place as new villages were built. Some sardars were knighted, and British Indian dress and pomp began to appear in Baluchistan (N. Swidler, p. 51).
Mīr Ḵodādād Khan did not accommodate to the changing situation. Gradually his position became untenable, and in 1893 he was forced to abdicate. He was succeeded by Mīr Maḥmūd Khan II, who ruled until 1931. Maḥmūd identified himself with British interests and received strong British support, but at the price of continued erosion of the power of the khanate. In 1899 a treaty was signed which leased out Nushki in perpetuity for Rs 9,000 per year (Aitchison, XI, pp. 224-25). Another treaty in 1903 added the perpetual lease of Nasirabad for Rs 115,000. In 1912, as one of a series of bureaucratic reforms, a state treasury was established with branches at Mastung, Khuzdar, and other provincial centers. A veterinary hospital was opened at Kalat. A road was built to Wad and to Panjgur, and some schools were opened. The khan also made a nominal contribution to the British war effort, but the sardars were beginning to react to his subservience and the British were forced to intervene more than once to put down a revolt.
After the death of Maḥmūd in 1931, Mīr Aʿẓam Jān, the third son of Ḵodādād, who ruled for two years, showed some sympathy for local anti-British sentiments. He was succeeded in 1933 by Mīr Aḥmad-Yār Khan, who ruled for the remainder of the British period. On the accession of Mīr Aḥmad-Yār Khan the state of Kalat was comprised of Sarawan and Jahlawan, Kacchi, with Kharan, Las Bela, and Makrān as client principalities. Chagai, Nushki, Nasirabad, Zhob and Loralai and the Mari-Bugti district constituted the British province of Baluchistan under British political agents; Dera Ghazi Khan was part of Punjab, and Jacobabad was in Sind.
Although not entirely unaffected by British influences from the east, the western Baluch had fared very differently. After the death of Nāder Shah in 1160/1747, what is now Persian Baluchistan had for a time been under the Dorrānī rulers of Afghanistan, but after 1795 it was divided among local rulers. Although for a short time the khans of Kalat, and especially Mīr Naṣīr Khan I, were able to extend their hegemony into parts of it, the rulers of the small agricultural settlements scattered throughout the area, and of the nomadic groups, continually rebelled against any imposition of taxes or other exaction, and even relationships based on marriage alliance were never reliable for long. There was always a tendency to play off one leader against another, and Qandahār competed with Kalat for the allegiance of local leaders.
Persian interest was re-aroused in 1838 when the Āqā Khan (q.v.), head of the Ismaʿili sect, fled to India after rebelling against Tehran. In 1843 he was given asylum by the British in Karachi, which they had recently occupied. At the end of the same year, his brother, Sardār Khan, took 200 horsemen with him by land to Čāhbahār, where the small Ismaʿili community provided a base from which he was able by intrigue to gain possession of Bampūr. He was soon defeated by the governor-general of Kermān on orders from Tehran. But from then on the Persians took a more serious interest in Makrān, and began to pursue a policy of encouraging the local rulers to compete for formal titles in return for the obligation to levy and remit annual taxes (Lorimer, I/2, p. 2157). A garrison was established at Bampūr (which has always been the major agricultural district in western Baluchistan) and military expeditions were mounted periodically toward the east and southeast. Bampūr was occupied on a permanent basis in 1850, and one by one the local rulers of Dezak, Sarbāz, Geh, and Qaṣr-e Qand acknowledged the obligation to pay taxes to the governor, Ebrāhīm Khan (Taqīzāda). In 1856 Moḥammadšāh Khan of Sīb rebelled, trusting in the impregnability of his fort, which (judging by the almost contemporary description given by Sepehr, and what could still be seen in 1965) was probably at least as high and strong, if not as large as the Bampūr fort. But the Sīb fort was taken by a force from Kermān.
The British telegraph project changed the geopolitical balance of relations in the area (Saldanha). A report to Bombay in 1861 by a Rev. G. P. Badger (who had experience as British chaplain and interpreter in Persia and the Persian Gulf) explained clearly the British problem of having to deal with both the local chiefs, the sultan of Oman, and the Persian government. They dealt with the problem by respecting the authority of each wherever they found it in force, and resolving conflicts among them as and when they arose. They made agreements for the passage and protection of the line with Kalat, Las Bela, Pasni, and Kech. When construction began in 1863 Ebrāhīm Khan, the governor in Bampūr, threatened the Omani representatives in the ports, and incited Rind tribesmen to harass communities on the outskirts of Gwadar, though he did not molest the telegraph working parties. Tehran actually repudiated his efforts, though official communications continued to emphasize that both Gwadar and Čāhbahār were part of Persia. British plans to build the telegraph had reawakened in the Persians their ancient territorial consciousness and determined them initially to claim the whole of Makrān up to the British frontier in Sind. At the same time they desired the security of a formal agreement. They therefore bargained hard and actively from a position of relative weakness. The Persian envoy who visited Kalat in 1862 declared that Persia had no designs on Kech or Makrān, and requested negotiation of the boundary. Similarly, Ebrāhīm Khan, the governor of Bampūr, wrote to the political agent at Muscat in April, 1863, saying that Gwadar was not under his authority. The British meditated on the problem for two years and finally demurred; they had nothing to gain, and they stood to lose the good will of the local rulers without gaining the protection of the Persian government (Lorimer, I/2, p. 2163). The Persian government continued its policy of playing off the local rulers one against another with the aim of reducing their authority and establishing its own as far as possible, and gave out that they were planning an attack on Kech (ibid., p. 2157). During this period the principal rulers in western Makrān were Mīr ʿAbd-Allāh Bulēdī of Geh who controlled the coast from Jāsk to Čāhbahār, and Dīn-Moḥammad Sardārzay in Bāhū who beside Daštīārī controlled the coast from Čāhbahār to Gwadar. They were related by marriage, but they were potential rivals, since both accepted payment from the sultan of Oman to protect the ports. (Protection was essential both against local disorder and against the claims of Kalat: In 1847 Faqīr Moḥammad, the khan’s nāʾeb in Kech and the principal power in eastern Makrān, had attacked Gwadar with 1,000 men in order to extort from Saʿīd Ṯowaynī, the regent of Oman, a supposedly customary annual present which had been withheld for two years in succession, but was unsuccessful. The khan of Kalat continued to claim Gwadar, and periodically sent similar expeditions.) ʿAbd-Allāh and Dīn-Moḥammad had both acknowledged Persian suzerainty, but now that the telegraph was coming they let it be known that they would work with the British. Around 1866 Shaikh ʿAbd-Allāh who ruled Qaṣr-e Qand and Sarbāz had recently been murdered, and the Persians had recognized his son as ruler of Qaṣr-e Qand, but had given Sarbāz to the head of another family, who was devoted to the Persian interest.
The telegraph line was finally continued in 1869 to Jāsk and Hanjām Island, and in 1870 the British were obliged to set up a tripartite commission (with representatives of Persia, Kalat, and Britain) for the definition of the frontier (Lorimer, I/2, p. 2034). From 1863 a British assistant political agent was stationed at Gwadar, and from 1879 a native agent took his place. They reported to the director of Persian Gulf Telegraphs in Karachi. Beginning in the 1870s yearly subsidies for the protection of the Indo-European Telegraph line were paid by the British to the khan of Geh (Rs 1,000), to eleven elders of the Baluch communities of the oasis of Geh (Rs 1,600), to the leader of the Nārūʾī tribe (Rs 600), to the sardar of Daštīārī (Rs 600), to three elders of Baluch communities of the oasis of Daštīārī (Rs 400 each), to the sardar of Bāhū Kalāt (Rs 100), among others (Pikulin, p. 123). The subsidy to the ruler of Geh was reduced from Rs 3,000 to Rs 1,000 in 1899, the remainder being distributed among minor chiefs along the line; Daštīārī and Bāhū then received Rs 1,000 each. In 1864 the protection of Čāhbahār devolved upon two local chiefs, Dīn-Moḥammad Jaḍgāl of Daštīārī, and Mīr ʿAbd-Allāh of Geh, who received Rs 900 and 200 respectively per year from the revenue of 7,000. In 1868 or 1869 Dīn-Moḥammad quietly occupied it, and it was never recovered for Oman. But a period of struggle and negotiation ensued between Oman, Dīn-Moḥammad, and Persia, in the course of which the Persian governor-general of Kermān appeared in Qaṣr-e Qand. In 1869 Ebrāhīm Khan occupied Čāhbahār, but in 1871 the Persians waived all claim to Gwadar (ibid.). In 1872 Ebrāhīm Khan annexed Čāhbahār permanently to Persia, initially under the protection of Ḥosayn Khan of Geh. Its thriving commercial community soon dispersed apparently with the encouragement of Ebrāhīm Khan, much of it to Gwadar (Lorimer, loc. cit.; Goldsmid, p. lii). Despite Ebrāhīm Khan’s efforts the British Sandeman system of indirect rule with the aid of subsidies had extended into western Makrān, and when he died it was the major power in the area.
In the meantime, a division of influence between Kalat, Afghanistan, and Persia had been worked out and legitimized for the time being by the boundary commissions. But the Persians (working through Ebrāhīm Khan) both preempted and disputed some details of the commission’s findings. They took Pīšīn (east of Rāsk; not to be confused with Pishin north of Quetta) in 1870, and Esfandak and Kūhak in 1871—directly after the commission had awarded it to Kalat. In the north Ebrāhīm Khan also defeated Sayyed Khan Kord, known as sardar of the Sarḥadd, in Ḵāš (Sykes, 1902, p. 106). From then on Ebrāhīm controlled most of the settlements of the Sarḥadd and Makrān up to the present border by a combination of force, threats, and the posting of minor officials, but he was not able to control the tribes of the Sarḥadd (see Pikulin, p. 122; Zarudnyĭ, p. 164; Galindo, p. 251), and Baluch raiding remained a problem on both sides of the Iran-Afghanistan border (Ferrier). Ebrāhīm Khan was the son of a baker from Bam, and had achieved almost total subjugation of western Baluchistan. He died in 1884, after three decades in the position. His son died a few months later, and Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn, his son-in-law, became governor, but in 1887 he was replaced by Abu’l-Fatḥ Khan, a Turk. Abu’l-Fatḥ Khan was, however, dismissed, and Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn Khan reappointed.
During the remainder of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah’s reign the pattern of Persian exactions continued unchanged, with consequent hostilities between competing chiefs. Around 1883 ʿAbdī Khan Sardārzay, son of Mīr Dīn-Moḥammad was put in charge of Gwatar. In 1886 the population of Gwatar moved across the frontier to avoid his exactions, but returned in 1887 on the death of Mīr Hōtī in Geh. In 1896 it was reported that 2,000 people had emigrated from the district, and the British Indian traders of Čāhbahār who had reestablished themselves complained that their trade was ruined. Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah agreed to a new Perso-Baluch boundary commission because of unrest on the border (Sykes, 1902, p. 225). Minor revisions were made to both the Persian and the Afghan borders in the mid-1890s.
During this period the Bampūr governors had been encouraged in their aggressive treatment of the local Baluch rulers by the governors-general in Kermān who made frequent winter visits to Bampūr. In 1891, after an absence of two years, the governor-general revisited the district, making solemn promises that he would imprison nobody, but the promises were broken, and several Baluch leaders were seized and detained for several years (Sykes, 1902, p. 106).
After the death of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah in 1313/1896, the Baluch thought there was no new shah, and the absence of a Persian force fostered this delusion. Because of fear of the Kermān governor-general (Farmānfarmā) there was no rebellion until he left Kermān. But in 1897 the Acting Superintendent in the Indo-European Telegraph Department at Jāsk was robbed and murdered while camping on an annual tour of inspection near the Rāpč river east of Jāsk. In the same year Sardār Ḥosayn Khan attacked Fahraj (Sykes, p. 132; Zarudnyĭ, p. 200) and led a general rebellion against the Persian government in the Sarḥadd, Sarāvān, and Bampūr, demanding reduction of taxes. This was refused and the revolt spread to Sarbāz, Dezak, Lāšār, and Bampošt. Ḥosayn Khan occupied Bampūr, Fahraj, and Bazmān and other places which had small Iranian garrisons, and controlled most of the northern part of the province, and several Baluch groups which had hitherto remained neutral in troubles between ruling families and the “Qajars” (as the Baluch now called Persians) joined him. A large Persian force sent from Kermān to restore order in 1897 was defeated. The uprising lasted about three years and finished only when Ḥosayn Khan was given the governorship—a major precedent. Now a Baluch leader, the head of a principal family, officially had the right and duty to collect the taxes of the whole of Baluchistan within Iran. In return for the added legitimacy of the title the Baluch leader had acknowledged all Persia’s claims. Up to this time the Baluch seem not to have acknowledged such claims, though they expected to have to deal continually with the claims of outside powers, including Persia, Oman, Qandahār, and Delhi. On the other hand, in this new arrangement the Persian government appeared to acknowledge the local autonomy of the Baluch. It might be expected that in this situation unless there was a strong governor in Kermān no taxes would leave Baluchistan, and in fact from this time until 1928 Persian control of Baluchistan was once again only nominal (Pikulin, pp. 123-26).
In January, 1898, in consequence of the murder of Graves and the generally unsettled state of the country, 150 rifles of the Bombay Marine Battalion under two British officers, of whom 100 were to be located at Čāhbahār and 50 at Jāsk, were dispatched from India. No objection was made by the Persian government. In April the Čāhbahār detachment was reduced to 50 rifles and Indian officers replaced the British. As the presence of these guards had an excellent effect in giving confidence at both places, they were maintained after the troubles subsided, and permanent barracks were built at Jāsk and Čāhbahār. However, away from the ports there were other difficulties. In 1903 two despised communities, one of Mēds (fishermen) on the coast and another of Lattis (mixed farmers) inland, were driven out of Bāhū. They moved across the border to Jiwanri and Paleri. Around the same time Moḥammad Khan Gīčkī of Kech had fled across the border in the other direction when his uncle, Shaikh ʿOmar, was expelled from the fort of Turbat by the khan of Kalat’s nāʾeb in Kech. Increasing disorder in Makrān, along with Russian and French activity in the Persian Gulf, caused anxiety among the British, who by now were concerned to protect Indian trade interests in the Persian Gulf, as well as the telegraph, beside their general interest in border security. The Persian government was unable or unwilling to meet the British halfway by matching British power on their side of the border. The British, therefore, tried to protect their interests unilaterally. In 1901 they asked permission to set up a vice-consulate at Bampūr for the protection of British subjects. Persia opposed it, but allowed them to set one up in Bam instead. Later Persia allowed the British to lead a punitive expedition against Magas and Ērafšān.
On the death of Ḥosayn Khan, Saʿīd Khan, his son, succeeded to the forts of Geh, Bent, and the ports. He also inherited Qaṣr-e Qand from his mother. He decided to expand, and took Sarbāz. Next, he joined up with Bahrām Khan Bārānzay (from a tribal group also known as Bārakzay, apparently from the Afghan Bārakzay [see bārakzī], who had entered the area from Afghanistan early in the 19th century, though by this time they were fully assimilated as a Baluch and Baluchi-speaking) who ruled Dezak, and they took over Bampūr and Fahraj in 1907 when there was no governor in residence. An army was sent against them from Kermān in 1910. Saʿīd submitted. But Bahrām resisted. Saʿīd was made governor of Baluchistan, but the real power in the province remained with Bahrām Khan (Jahānbānī, pp. 35-38).
Early in 1916 German agents extended their activities to the Sarḥadd and endeavored to raise the tribes there against the British. Seeing their supply lines in danger, the British sent a Colonel R. E. H. Dyer to organize the Chagai levies. At this time the Gamšādzay under Halīl (Ḵalīl) Khan held the area around Jālq and Safēdkoh. West of them were the Yār-Moḥammadzay under Jīānd Khan (an elderly man who had been informal overlord of the Sarḥadd for many years). West of Ḵāš were the Esmāʿīlzay under Jomʿa Khan. Each tribe had around a thousand families, or one to two thousand fighting men each. Dyer succeeded in his task with the help of a small local tribe, the Rīgī, and the conventional British strategy of subsidizing the local leaders for their efforts to enforce order.
Mīr Bahrām Khan died in Bampūr in 1921. Having no son, he was succeeded by his nephew, Dūst-Moḥammad Khan. The Bārakzay family had become the most powerful government in Persian Baluchistan, by virtue of personal control over both Fahraj-Bampūr and Saravan and marriage alliances with the rulers of the major settlements of Makrān. Dūst-Moḥammad made considerable progress in consolidating the power of his predecessor, mainly through more strategic marriage alliances.
In March, 1924, the control of the tribes of the Sarḥadd district of Persian Baluchistan (who had enjoyed conventional British subsidies since the occupation of the country in 1915-16 under Dyer) was formally surrendered by the British to the Persian government, which undertook to continue the payments. Not surprisingly, the Persians failed to keep this undertaking, and disturbances broke out in the Sarḥadd during the summer of 1925 and again in 1926, owing partly to the high-handed methods of certain of the military officials and partly to discontent due to loss of the subsidies. The disturbances were quelled, without serious fighting, after further assurances had been given by the Persian government (Aitchison, XIII, p. 37; cf. Pikulin, p. 200).
In 1928, however, the new Pahlavī government of Iran was sufficiently well established to turn its attention to Baluchistan. Dūst-Moḥammad Khan refused to submit, trusting in the network of alliances he had built up over the whole of the province south of the Sarḥadd. However, as soon as Reżā Shah’s army under General Amīr Amān-Allāh Jahānbānī arrived in the area, the alliances dissolved. Dūst-Moḥammad Khan was left with a relatively small force and few allies of any consequence. The Persian army had little difficulty in defeating him. Once again Baluch political unity proved highly brittle. Dūst-Moḥammad eventually surrendered and was pardoned on condition he live in Tehran. After a year, he escaped while on a hunting trip. In due course he was recaptured, and having killed his guard in the escape was hanged for murder. In the meantime the rest of the Bārakzay family sought refuge in British territory, and the leading members of the family were given allowances there so long as they remained. The Persians continued to govern through local rulers. They recognized Jān-Moḥammad Bulēdī as sardar of Qaṣr-e Qand; Meḥrāb Khan Bozorgzāda as sardar of Jālq, returning to him the property which he had lost to Dūst-Moḥammad Khan; Moḥammadšāh Mīr-Morādzay as sardar of Sīb; and Šahbāz Khan Bozorgzāda as sardar of Dezak (Baluchistan, pp. 30-33).
Intermittent outbreaks of disorder continued in Baluchistan throughout the remainder of Reżā Shah’s reign. They were due to a number of factors, including the zealousness or corruption of Persian officials, and Baluch inability to understand why the Persian officials should be interfering in their affairs. Major examples were the rebellion of Jomʿa Khan Esmāʿīlzay in the Sarḥadd in 1931, who was subdued and exiled to Shiraz; and a rebellion of a number of tribes in Kūhak in 1938, demanding reduction of customs duty on livestock, in which 74 were shot under orders from General Alborz (Jahānbānī; Pikulin, p. 140).
No account of this period would be complete without some mention of slavery (see bardadārī), which was allowed to continue in Baluchistan (as in other parts of the Persian Gulf) long after it had been prohibited internationally. In the mid-13th/19th century along the Makrān coast there appears to have been both an export trade and an import trade in slaves. Unsuspecting Baluch tribesmen (probably from the despised groups such as the Mēd) were picked up in raids along the coast and sold to merchants, who shipped them from isolated western coastal settlements, such as Galag and Sadēč. It is not clear how late African slaves were still arriving in Makrān. Gwadar and Čāhbahār were excluded from the British agreement with Oman for limiting the slave trade in 1839, when Pasni was set as the western limit of prohibition. Baluch tribesmen were still indignant in the 1960s about the prohibition on slavery. On several occasions between the 1880s and 1930s groups of Rind tribesmen at Mand caused trouble over British attempts to restrict their use of slaves (Lorimer, I/2, p. 2475). Slavery was abolished officially in Persian Baluchistan in 1929 (Pikulin, p. 144), but the status of black slaves in western Makrān barely changed until well into the second half of this century.

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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Balochistan

 

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