Khairpur then and now – a page from history
Written by Murad El Mushtaque Ahmed in 1997 and edited by Arsalan R. Kazi in 2005/6
A few years after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan (1951), facing a brutishly aggressive government of Pakistan, the Mir, now at the age of 22, was forced to merge Khairpur with the One-Unit of West Pakistan, a political reorganization designed to support dictatorship. Khairpur and Bahawalpur were the first states to be annexed in 1955 through a Merger Agreement which their rulers were forced to sign in 1954 on the threat of military invasion. This threat was made by General Iskander Mirza (Dictator-Governor General 1955-1958) while his right-hand man, General Ayub (Dictator-President 1958-1969) was the chief of the armed forces at the time. The Khan of Kalat who had simultaneously received this threat refused to accept any such illegal agreement and this lead to a military invasion in 1958 causing a massacre in Kalat city along with various other human rights violations and atrocities throughout Balochistan.
In 1947, on the 15th of August, British paramountcy over the foreign affairs of the Princely States of India came to an end, leaving them fully independent but also surprised and unprepared. All sovereign rulers had the choice of remaining fully independent or accede to either dominions of India and Pakistan. The States were misled into believing that they would continue to exist in the same relations with the newly formed dominions as they did with the British Empire if they acceded to either dominion. This they believed until the very last days before independence for India and Pakistan. It was this erroneous belief that led the vast majority of rulers to reject the proposal of a union of princely states such as the United Arab Emirates today, as put forward by the Nawab of Bhopal. After Accession however, the states lost everything except the Ex-Rulers’ titles, privileges and a privy purse which was promised to them by an agreement. As India failed as a large centralized state in maintaining the higher quality of life that the former subjects of the princely states were used to, there came a great resurgence in the popularity of the princes and they began to participate in politics. In 1972 foreseeing certain defeat in the upcoming elections, Indhira Gandhi violated the agreement made with the princes and treacherously canceled all the privileges and privy purses that were promised by her own father Nehru, the first prime minister of India. The princes were financially destroyed as most of them had not invested abroad during their reign. Suffering great economic hardships they were forced to abandon politics. In Pakistan too, in the same year, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did the same to the rulers even though they had mostly stayed away from politics. In 1947 accession was the only feasible option because the states were given absolutely no opportunity to organize their independence and while many had excellent military forces; their defenses had been completely crippled due to fighting the powerful armies of Hitler and the axis-powers, in alliance with the British in the Second World War. Ironically, it was the British, under Labor Party control, that was arm-twisting the rulers to surrender to the new successor empires of Pakistan and India. (The Kingdom of Bhutan is the only Princely State that survives to this day). The Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had publicly declared that Pakistan was not going to coerce, intimidate or put any pressure on any State making its choice. But those States which wish to join the Pakistan Constituent Assembly will find us ready and willing to negotiate with them an agreement for the mutual advantage of both the parties. When India usurped the states Mr. Jinnah did not, although he did take over those functions of these states that might possibly have posed a threat to Pakistan in the future. These functions were foreign affairs, defense, and communications to some degree. It was a treaty called an “instrument of accession” signed by the rulers and Mr. Jinnah that permitted Pakistan to manage the above-mentioned functions on the rulers’ behalf. However, the rulers were guaranteed sovereignty over all other matters. The instrument specifically promised no coercion to enter into any other agreement with or recognition of any constitution of Pakistan. Furthermore, by taking over the function of Defense from Khairpur for the sake of Pakistan’s security it became incumbent on Pakistan to protect the sovereignty of Khairpur. The States that successfully acceded to Pakistan were; Khairpur, Bahawalpur, Swat, Dir, Amb, Chitral, and Kalat with its sub-states, while Junagarh and Manavadar were forcefully taken over by India on the grounds that the majority of their population was Hindu. Together, these states (not including Junagarh and Manavadar) contributed one-third of Pakistan’s area. (After Junagarh, Khairpur, and Bahawalpur were the first States to accede simultaneously to Pakistan on the 3rd of October 1947. Khairpur was essential for Pakistan because 1) The State bordered India; 2) Khairpur lay on the Indus River and India could easily nullify the Sukker Barrage had the State acceded to It. (The boundary of Khairpur lies just 40 yards from the Barrage gates.) ; 3) The canals Nara and Rohri, that water southern Sindh pass through Khairpur; 4) The Railway and the Grand Trunk Road which connected the capital of that time (Karachi) with the military base in the north, passed through Khairpur).
The Eighth Sovereign of Khairpur, Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur II (the present Ex-Ruler) acceded to Pakistan on the 3rd of October 1947 while in his minority through his Regent. Even before accession, Pakistan Day (14th August) was celebrated by Khairpur to discourage its considerable Hindu Minority. From 1947 till mid-1955, Pakistan was a soft amalgam of the paramount State with that of the dependent Sovereign States of the Princes who enjoyed the full support and friendship of the illustrious founders of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and Liaquat Ali Khan. The States were part of Pakistan, although autonomous and sovereign. In other words they were not administered from the federal capital of Pakistan as the provinces are today. A few years after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan (1951), facing a brutishly aggressive government of Pakistan, the Mir, now at the age of 22, was forced to “merge” Khairpur with the “One Unit” of West Pakistan, a political reorganization designed to support dictatorship. Khairpur and Bahawalpur were the first states to be annexed in 1955 through a Merger Agreement which their rulers were forced to sign in 1954 on the threat of military invasion. This threat was made by General Iskander Mirza (Dictator-Governor General 1955-1958) while his right-hand man, General Ayub (Dictator-President 1958-1969) was the chief of the armed forces at the time. The Khan of Kalat who had simultaneously received this threat refused to accept any such illegal agreement and this lead to a military invasion in 1958 causing a massacre in Kalat city along with various other human rights violations and atrocities throughout Balochistan. Curiously enough, none of the other states, which had not introduced democracy, were asked to merge and surrender their sovereignty to the ‘One Unit’. A fact about which most historians are unaware.
It should be noted that like the other Princely States, Khairpur had also surpassed Pakistan in practically all fields of social development. Khairpur had made it its goal to match the economic development of the West and it had made more than sufficient advances towards this goal in the period after Partition, for example:
- The State had the first democratic elections based on universal adult franchise in Nov.1950 before they were held in Pakistan. Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, and a personal friend of the Mir of Khairpur inaugurated the Khairpur Legislative Assembly. The Mir protected this fledgling democracy from dominance by feudal forces. It was his support of Mr. Kizilbash a non-Sindhi yet progressive administrator that allowed for his election as chief minister. The young monarch even forced his own relatives to wholly follow the policies of Kizilbash. Soon afterward, following Khairpur’s example, the rulers of Bahawalpur and Kalat introduced democracy in their countries as well.
- The State provided better quality free health care for its citizens, far superior to that provided in Pakistan. Eminent foreign doctors were invited to train local doctors by performing operations with them.
- It had the highest per capita expenditure on education of all units that joined Pakistan. The state spent 22% of its budget on education. European teachers were employed to train local teachers of primary and high schools. The best and most qualified teachers were concentrated in Khairpur for college education. Primary education was compulsory while it was genuinely free up till metric, to all who came. The poorest students were provided with free books, housing, clothing, and even food. After the metric, scholarships were given generously. Many of these very students attained prominence not just in Khairpur but in Sindh, and Pakistan, and abroad. Indeed, some of these very students that received free clothing and food later became ministers, chief ministers, justices and chief justices. (Free education of dubious quality is just now being provided in Punjab and still remains to become a reality in Sindh – 50 years later!). After the merger with Pakistan, this education came to an end and the children had no choice but to join the oppressive child labor force of Pakistan. Adult education was given attention as well with the setting up of schools for grown-ups. An industrial school for women was set up with a German lady as principal.
- Khairpur had a post-partition (1947-1955) revenue growth of 310%. The highest of any area in Pakistan was Punjab at 40%, while Sindh had only 13%.
- Despite having negligible taxes, its budget per capita was more than double that of the highest found in Pakistan.
- It had an extremely low crime rate due to the expeditious disposal of criminal and civil cases, while there were widespread complaints about such in adjoining regions.
- The State had a swiftly growing industrial base, which formed the main part of its revenue. It was the state’s heavy investment in its human resources through education that provided it with a concentration of skilled labor force technicians and engineers. This allowed for its industrial development as private enterprises began to invest in Khairpur as it provided the necessary workforce. Perhaps the greatest testimony of Khairpur’s economic success was that there were negligible agricultural taxes such as dhull etc. despite it being deep in the rural interior of Sindh! Mir Ali Murad had personally toured Europe and chosen the machinery for industry. Khairpur had only built one industrial zone that had led to so much economic growth and welfare. It had developed a new 5-year program to build eight more industrial zones for which roads and powerhouses were already being built. Loans were being provided to private industry to set up in the new zones, plots of land were already taken over by private firms. God only knows what was in store for the next five-year plan after that. But alas it was not to be.
With the merger of the State, all these developments were brought to an end, retarded into non-existence. To the corrupt military-controlled government of Pakistan of that time, the social and economic development of these states was seen as a threat, particularly because the development of the provinces bordering the states was pathetic and this eventually would have led to unrest. Inside Pakistan, Khairpur was relegated to the backwaters. Virtually every promise of the merger agreement was broken. During the regime of General Ayub Khan, dictator of Pakistan, practically all the industrial units were shut down as soldiers marched into factories and stole their assets. The suddenly unemployed workforce, under great duress, fled to Karachi and Lahore, while many were reduced to starvation and begging. The Khairpur Welfare Trust was usurped and ruined. By 1985 the real income of this area fell to a 50th of what it was!! After the failure and end of the devastating “one unit” fiasco (July 1st, 1970) that led to the genocide of a million Pakistanis of Bengal, the break up of Pakistan and the formation of Bangladesh, the provinces were allowed a mock existence. However, the States were not even permitted that. **
(Retrieved by talpur.org from http://www.khairpursindh.org/historyContent.asp?ChapterID=3 )
They reveal an important phase in the history of Sindh, which had been almost erased due to propaganda or the ‘official’ version of history that has clouded the truth soon after the Khairpur State (which was at the time an independent & sovereign unit of Pakistan) was annexed by Pakistan in 1955 in violation of the agreement that Khairpur had with the state of Pakistan. The owners & contributors of this site permit the free use of information and contents of the first three chapters to all especially for articles about Khairpur which may be published or broadcast without any charge. Friday, 03 March 2006 Last Updated Wednesday, 08 March 2006