Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why did Jinnah recognize Kalat as an independent state?

The British position in Lord Wavell/Lord Mountbatten's time was that Kalat was like any other Indian princely state.  Nevertheless, Lord Mountbatten mediated negotiations between M.A. Jinnah and the Khan of Kalat and Jinnah, on behalf of Pakistan, recognized Kalat as a sovereign, independent state.  The question is - why did Jinnah adopt that position?

The answer has to do with the legal position of the Indian princely states.   Under the Indian Independence Act, British paramountcy would lapse, and all treaties between the princely states and Great Britain would cease to have effect.   However, all British Indian treaties with sovereign states would continue to be in effect, and be inherited by the newly independent India and Pakistan.

The British had obtained a perpetual lease of Quetta and surrounding areas from the Khan of Kalat.  If Kalat was a sovereign state, then Pakistan would inherit that lease.   If Kalat was a princely state of British India, the lease would lapse, and  Quetta would revert to Kalat. Pakistan's claim on it would depend on whether the Khan of Kalat acceded to Pakistan or not.

Some of the evidence for this answer is presented below. It is in reverse chronological order.

(Ultimate source - Transfer of Power Papers, proximate source: Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Papers, Volume VIII, The States: Historical and Policy Perspectives and Accession to Pakistan, Edited by Z.H. Zaidi)
Excerpt from Z.H. Zaidi
Annexure to Annex 1 to PS-66
Memorandum by the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations (Arthur Henderson)

Commonwealth Relations Office,
King Charles Street, London S.W 1,
12 September 1947

9. Pakistan has entered into negotiations with Kalat on the basis of recognizing the State's claim to independence and of treating the previous agreements between the Crown and Kalat providing for the lease of Quetta and other areas, which would otherwise lapse under Section 7(1)(b) of the Indian Independence Act, as international agreements untouched by the termination of Paramountcy.  The Khan of Kalat, whose territory marches with Persia, is of course in no position to undertake the international responsibilities of an independent State, and Lord Mountbatten, who before the transfer of power, was warned of the dangers of such a development doubtless passed on this warning to the Pakistan Government.  The United Kingdom High Commissioner in Pakistan is being informed of the position and asked to do what he can to guide the Pakistan Government away from making any agreement with Kalat which would involve recognition of the State as a separate international entity. 


Excerpt from Z.H. Zaidi
M.A. Jinnah to Louis Mountbatten

9 August 1947

Dear Lord Mountbatten,
  Many thanks for your letter dated the 8th of August along with a letter from Lord Ismay.

  I have accepted the draft agreement between Pakistan and Kalat, and you may now issue the communique {Annex I} accordingly.


Annex I to PS-66
Press Communique on Situation between Pakistan and Kalat State
11 August 1947
As a result of a meeting held between a delegation from Kalat and officials of the Pakistan States Department, presided over by the Crown Representative, and of a series of meetings between the Crown Representative, His Highness of Kalat, and Mr Jinnah, the following is the situation:

1. The Government of Pakistan recognizes Kalat as an independent sovereign State in treaty relations with the British Government, with a status different from that of Indian States.

2. Legal opinion will be sought as to whether or not agreements of leases between the British Government and Kalat will be inherited by the Pakistan Government.

3. When this opinion has been received, further meetings will take place between representatives of Pakistan and the Khan of Kalat at Karachi.

4. Meanwhile a Standstill Agreement has been made between Pakistan and Kalat.

5. Discussions will take place between Pakistan and Kalat at Karachi at an early date with a view to reaching decisions on Defence, External Affairs and Communications.

Excerpt from Transfer of Power Papers, Volume XII, #384

 Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma to Earl of Listowel
Mountbatten Papers. Letters to and from the Secretary of State
8 August 1947 
3. I was invited by the Khan of Kalat to add to the communique that I also recognised he was an independent sovereign ruler.  I replied that so far as H.M.G. was concerned they considered Kalat to be an Indian State, but since the two interested parties both agree I did not propose to interfere with the agreement.

Excerpt from Transfer of Power Papers, Volume XII, #330.
From a footnote to
Minutes of the Viceroy's Twenty Fifth Miscellaneous Meeting, 4 August 1947
Footnote 4: On the eve of Lord Mountbatten's meeting with the Kalat delegation, Sir G. Abell minuted as follows: 'States Dept. (Pakistan) are advising on the legal issue but I discussed it last night with the British Joint Secretary concerned and he said he was clear that Pakistan would inherit the treaty obligations and rights of HMG vis à vis Kalat unless Kalat repudiated the treaty.  The question really is, what can HMG do for Kalat if they do want to repudiate the treaty and take back the leased areas, and the answer, I fear, is 'very little'.  They cannot avoid the necessity of negotiating with Pakistan.' R/3/1/166: f 42


Excerpt from Z.H. Zaidi, PS-58
(Also Transfer of Power Papers, XII, #317)
William Francis Listowel to Louis Mountbatten
Mountbatten Papers

2 August 1947

6. I must confess to having some doubts about the line which you took at your meeting with the delegation from Kalat on 19th July.   The treaties of 1854 and 1876 do not lead to the inference that Kalat is an independent and sovereign state and it has, in fact, always been regarded as an Indian state.  It figures as such in Part II of the First Schedule of the Government of India Act, 1935, and I have no doubt that, as a matter of law, Section 7(I)(b) of the Indian Independence Act applies to our treaties with it.  Consequently, the Leased Areas' lapse to Kalat and the future is a matter for negotiation between the State and Pakistan. We have been at pains in Parliament to discourage claims by States to be regarded as separate international entities and to accept such a claim by Kalat will surely encourage other States to press similar claims.. There is, moreover,  particular danger in admitting such claims by Frontier States since it is easier for them to make their independence effective.   Apart from the risk to the integrity of India and Pakistan, the emergence of new weak international entities is undesirable. It seems to me, therefore, that any possible simplification of the problem of the areas leased by Kalat is outweighed by the general considerations set out above.



7.  Consequences of the setting up of the new Dominions.
(1)As from the appointed day—
(a)His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have no responsibility as respects the government of any of the territories which, immediately before that day, were included in British India;
(b)the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses, and with it, all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian States, all functions exercisable by His Majesty at that date with respect to Indian States, all obligations of His Majesty existing at that date towards Indian States or the rulers thereof, and all powers, rights, authority or jurisdiction exercisable by His Majesty at that date in or in relation to Indian States by treaty, grant, usage, sufferance or otherwise; and


Excerpt from Transfer of Power Papers, Volume XII, #258
Record of Interview between Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and the Khan of Kalat
Mountbatten Papers, Viceroy's Interview No. 171

28 July 1947, 12.35 pm

...{His Highness said}  But the main bone of contention was the leased territories.

I explained to H.H. that this was a legal question which could be settled by getting an agreed legal opinion; but that it appeared to me as though the Pakistan Government would inherit the leases in the same way as they would inherit the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1921.

I also pointed out that the British and Indian governments has sunk a lot of money in Quetta and Wazirabad, and that even if the legal opinion was that the leased territories reverted to Kalat there still was the problem of how immensely valuable fixtures were to be paid for.

Excerpt from Transfer of Power Papers, Volume XII, #228
Viceroy's Personal Report No. 14
25 July 1947
15.  On the 19th of July I received a delegation from the Kalat State to discuss the return of the leased areas together with the Member and Secretary of the Pakistan States Department.   The Kalat State's representatives claimed that they were an independent sovereign State in treaty relations with the British Government.  The Pakistan States Department readily agreed t o this view since, in their opinion, the successor authorities in India would inherit any treaty obligations with foreign States on behalf of India, whereas of course the Indian Independence Bill renounces all treaties entered into with Indian States.   The matter has now been referred for legal opinion, and it looks as though if the Khan of Kalat insists on his independent status it will cost him the leased territories including Quetta—a high price to pay for vanity.  Finally I instructed the Kalat representatives to come and see me and Jinnah in person so as to settle all outstanding details together, and he arrives tomorrow.

 Excerpt Z.H. Zaidi, PS-54
Minutes of the Viceroy's Twentieth Miscellaneous Meeting

19 July 1947, 3.30 pm

His Excellency asked whether it was considered that Kalat's status in relation to the Crown was that of an Indian State or different.

Nawabzada Mohammed Aslam Khan said that Kalat's position was, in his opinion, defined in the treaty of 1876 according to which Kalat was an independent sovereign State in treaty relations with the British Government, and did not rank as an Indian State.

His Excellency said that he was willing to accept that position for purposes of negotiation.  Mr. Nishtar said that he also would not contest it.

His Excellency said that he understood that the four Leased Areas of Quetta, Nushki, Nasirabad and Bolan were to be the main subjects of the present discussion.

He explained that the claim that these should be returned to Kalat after the transfer of power was resisted by the representatives of the future Pakistan Government.   Their opinion was based on the grounds that the successor authorities in India would, in relation to foreign States, inherit all treaty obligations incurred on behalf of India; and that the Pakistan Government would be heir to the obligations (both burdens and benefits) arising out of treaties made with Kalat—as they would be, for example, to the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1921.

.....{Kalat took the stand that the treaty was between the British Government and Kalat alone, there was no provision for transfer or inheritance of the leases from the British Government.}....

His Excellency said that he himself had also been advised that, according to international law, treaties such as this were not invalidated by a transfer of power, but were inherited by the successor authorities.  Treaties with States over which the Crown had exercised paramountcy, on the other hand, lapsed.  Particular provision was made for this in the Indian Independence Bill.

His Excellency suggested that if, after further discussion, there was no agreement between the interested parties on the legal position, the case might eventually be put before the Arbitral Tribunal.  Sir Sultan Ahmed suggested, and it was agreed, that the Khan of Kalat should first talk over the matter with Mr Jinnah....


 Excerpt from Transfer of Power Papers, Volume XII, #159

Record of Interview between Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and Sardar Nishtar and Mr Akhtar Hussain

Mountbatten Papers, Viceroy's Interview No. 167

18 July 1947

7.  In regard to Kalat, Sardar Nishtar explained that the Pakistan Government would claim to succeed to the treaty obligations and rights of HMG. Otherwise if Kalat claimed like the Indian States to be independent, it could also claim the retrocession of leased areas over which in fact complete sovereignty had been ceded to Great Britain by the terms of the leases.




  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. [ However, all British Indian treaties with sovereign states would continue to be in effect, and be inherited by the newly independent India and Pakistan.]

    Can you show us the reference for the above in the India Independence Act of 1947?

    1. In the main text I provided a link, which I repeat here:

      This goes to a government of Great Britain website that has the text of the Indian Independence Act of 1947.