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Kalat

Kalat princely state was situated in the province of Baluchistan and bound on the west by Persia, on the east by the Bolan Pass, the Marrii and Bugti hills, and on the south by Las Bela and Arabian Sea. Traversed by the armies of Alexander the Great, occupied by the Arabs, Afghans and Persians, conducting its foreign trade through Omani-held port of Gwadar, Kalat, together with its vassal states of Kharan, Makran and Lasbela entered the modern era by the way of contacts with Britishers of various quality. The political connection of the British with Kalat commences from the outbreak of the First Afghan War in 1839, when this area was traversed by a British army from Sind and afterwards occupied.

The entire Western Baluchistan had been consolidated into an organized state under the Ahmadzai Khans of Kalat. According to traditions, the former rulers of Kalat were Hindus (Sewas by name). As Muhammadan dynasties held Baluchistan from about the seventh century, it becomes imperative to look into an earlier period. The Mirwaris from whom the Ahmadzai were descended claim Arab origin. In their earlier legends we find them living at Surab near Kalat and extending their power thence in wars with the Jats or Jadgals. They then fell under the power of the Mongols but one of the chief, Mir Hasan regained the capital from the Mongol governor. He and his successor then held Kalat for fifteen generation till the rise of Mir Ahmad in 1666-67. It is from Mir Ahmad that the eponym Ahmadzai is derived.

The rulers of Kalat were never fully independent. They were always a paramount power to whom they were subject. In the earliest times they were merely petty chiefs. Later they bowed to the orders of the Mughal emperors of Delhi and to the rulers of Kandahar, and supplied men-at-arms on demand. They were the vassal of the Afghan rulers, and the predominance of the Sadozais and Barakzais was acknowledged only in 1838. It was not until the time of Nasir Khan I that the titles of Beglar Begi (Chief of Chiefs) and Wali-i-Kalat (Governor of Kalat) were conferred on the Kalat rulers by the Afghan kings.

Gibbon’s description of the history of Oriental dynasties as ‘one unceasing round of valour, greatness, discord, degeneracy and decay,’ applies well to the Ahmadzais. For the first 150 years, up to the death of Mir Mahmad Khan I a gradual extension of power took place and the building up of a constitution which, looking at the condition of the country was a marvel of political sagacity and practical statesmanship. A period of social ferment, anarchy and rebellion succeeded in which sanguinary revolts rapidly alternated with the restoration of a power ruthless in retaliation until at length the British Government was forced to intervene.

As the Mughal power decayed, the Ahmmadzais chiefs found themselves freed in some degree from external interference. The first problem that presented itself was to secure mutual cohesion and co-operation in the loose tribal organization of the state. This was affected by adopting a policy of parceling out a portion of all conquests among the poverty-stricken highlanders. Thus all gained a vested interest in the welfare of the community while receiving provision for their maintenance. A period of expansion then commenced. Mir Ahmad made successive descents on the plains of Sibi. Mir Samadar extended his raids to Zhob, Bori and Thal-Chotiali and leived an annual sum from the Kalhoras of Sindh. Mir Abdullah, the greatest conqueror of the dynasty, turned his attention westward to Makran while in the north-east he captured Pishin and Shorawak from the Ghilzai rulers of Kandahar. He was eventually slain in fight with the Kalhoras at Jandrihar near Sanni in Kacchi.

During the reign of Mir Muhabbat, Nadir Shah rose to power. The Ahmadzais ruler obtained through him in 1740 the cession of Kacchi in compensation for the blood of Mir Abdullah and then men who had fallen with him. The Brahuis had now gained what highlanders must always – covet good cultivable land. By the wisdom of Muhabbat Khan and of his brother Nasir Khan, certain tracts were distributed among the tribesmen on the condition of finding so many men-at-arms for the Khan’s body of irregular troops. At the same time much of the revenue-paying land was retained by the Khan himself.

The 44 years of the rule of Nasir Khan I, know to the Brahuis as ‘The Great’ and hero of their history, were years of strenuous administration and organization interspersed with military expeditions. He accompanied Ahmad Shah in his expeditions to Persia and India while at home he was continuously engaged in the reduction of Makran. After none expeditions to that country he obtained from the Gichkis the right to the collection of half the revenues. A wise and able minister Nasir Khan was distinguished for his prudence, activity and enterprise. He was essentially a warrior and a conqueror and his spare time was spent in hunting. At the same time he was most attentive to religion and enjoyed on his people strict attention to the precepts of the Muhammadan law. His reign was free from those internecine conflicts of which the subsequent story of Kalat offers so sad a record.

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