Throughout history, colonial powers have been a major hindrance to cultural progression worldwide, as their drive for land and resources has fueled violent cycles, leading to the development of increasingly advanced weaponry and armies. Today, the presence of 12,512 nuclear weapons globally is alarming, and it only takes between ten to a hundred such atomic bombs to bring destructive devastation to the entire world. This implies that only Pakistan, with 170 atomic bombs in its possession, possesses the power to obliterate the entire world.
The British Empire’s quest to acquire global resources also impacted Balochistan. In 1839, the British monarchy exploited its dominance over a vulnerable nation and subjected it to centuries of enslavement. This was because the nation in question refused to employ its land against its neighboring country.
When considering the state of Balochistan in the year 1839, one would likely imagine a picture of complete backwardness. However, historical records reflect quite the -opposite. King Lal Shaheed Mehrab Khan of Balochistan took the throne in 1816 as the 26th Khan-e-Baloch. Through their united efforts, the Baloch tribes succeeded in establishing the first formal Baloch state in history. The Baloch rulers referred to their government as the ‘ Balochi Government’ to convey their independence during the colonial scrambling and great powers of the region, signifying that the Baloch people were the guarantors of supreme authority within the state. Balochistan was administratively divided into five provinces: Sarawan, Kach Gandwah, Jhalawan, Las, and Makuran, with districts created for sub-administration purposes. Instead of appointing chiefs to manage ministries, educated individuals were entrusted with these tasks, thus demonstrating the political and administrative maturity that came with generations of rule.
Khanate of Baloch’s progressive attitude was reflected in his dress and political tact. They possessed a clear vision for the formation of a nation-state, as revealed through his slogans. As such, Balochistan’s future looked bright under their leadership. However, changes in the region and British interests in neighboring countries brought trouble to Balochistan. It is worth noting that like other kingdoms, the court of Khan-e-Baloch was prone to palace conspiracies. Some foreign ministers were accused of weakening the Balochi government. Still, the internal threats to the stability of the Balochi government were not significant enough to cause Khan-e-Baloch difficulties in handling them.
In 1834, the British decided to aid Shah Shuja of Afghanistan in reclaiming his empire. For the British, Afghanistan was crucial for keeping other colonial powers at bay from India’s borders. To achieve their goal, they needed the support of the rulers of Balochistan, and thus, Baloch land was required. The British sent Lt. Leach to Kalat to solicit aid from Khan-e-Baloch, but he declined to relinquish his land for the invasion of Afghanistan. He preferred Shah Shuja to gain power without the British or external assistance. Therefore, the negotiations between Lech and Khan-e-Baloch failed. Additionally, the British encountered fierce resistance from the Baloch in Balochistan.
The British attempted to broker a reconciliation once again. Sir Alexander Burns visited Kalat to negotiate an agreement that would convince Khan-e-Baloch to meet with Shah Shuja at Shaal. Burns asked Khan-e-Baloch to recognize Shah Shuja’s rightful sovereignty over Afghanistan by paying him tribute at the meeting. This demand was considered an insult to the sovereignty of the Balochi government. Khan-e-Baloch immediately rejected this proposal. The British viewed this decision as treacherous and assumed that Khan-e-Baloch had ill intentions towards them. Consequently, they decided to punish Khan-e-Baloch as an enemy of the British.
Before this incident, the British had been conspiring against the independence and sovereignty of Balochistan through various missions. They had been searching for a reason to overthrow Khan-e-Baloch and install their loyal ruler. As luck would have it, Sir Thomas Wilshire’s brigade was on their way back to India from Kabul when a detachment received orders to attack Kalat.
On November 13, the British army besieged Kalat. They demolished the walls of the city with cannons. Khan-e-Baloch, along with 700 soldiers, engaged in battles with the enemy. Despite receiving 35 wounds on his body, Khan-e-Baloch fought with courage and continued striking the enemy with his sword. Unfortunately, Sir Thomas Wilshire aimed at him and fired his gun. On 13 November 1839, at noon, Khan-e-Baloch Mehrab Khan was killed in action and his blood caused the red and green flag of Balochistan to turn red.
During the battle, numerous Baloch fighters lost their lives, including Abdul Karim Raisani, Sardar Wali Muhammad Shahi Zahi Mengal, Mir Taj Muhammad Shahi Zhahi Mengal, Mir Muhammad Ali Shahi Zhai Mengal, Mir Fazal Muhammad, Sardar Zaman Khan Pindarani, Mir Dad Karim Chando Zahi Shahwani, Mir Shahbaz Khan Nichaari, Mir Badal Khan Nichaari, Khan Muhammad Dehwar Arbab of the city of Kalat, Mir Nabi Bakhsh Jatoi from the Narmak Kalat area, Mir Qaisar Khan Bizenjo, Mir Shah Dost Bizenjo, Muhammad Raza Wazir Khel, Noor Muhammad Shahi (son of Paulaat Sagaar Sarmastani and in charge of the armory), Taj Muhammad Shaghasi, Dewan Bachamal (Minister of Finance), Dewan Khem Chand, Dewan Aasardas Mukhi (representing the Hindu Panchayat of Kalat) and 400 other Baloch fighters. They all became martyrs in the battle.
The Baloch lost the war and a long period of slavery in Balochistan began. But today, despite the passage of 193 years, Baloch remember Lal Shaheed Mehrab Khan with honor and respect that He had a small army to defend a country that was scattered and sparsely populated at the time۔Although the superpower won the war and punished the Baloch for not submitting, Lal Shaheed Mehrab Khan’s sacrifice is remembered throughout history.
We pay tribute to all the Baloch martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the defense and freedom of the country on the occasion of his Martyrdom Day.
Baloch National Movement (BNM )