A Project of
SAHE-logo-high brown cqe-logo final

Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

Birth of Political Consciousness

Urdu Version

Baloch nationalism is a contentious issue in the current affairs of Pakistan, its history can be traced back to before Independence in 1947.

Last Updated: 7 Dec. 2013


In the 20th century, what is now known as Pakistani Balochistan was in fact split into three: the Khanate of Kalat, British Balochistan (ruled directly under the Governor General) and the tribal areas leased by the Khan to the British. As the departure of the British became imminent, and the winds of Indian nationalism began blowing, the younger generation of educated elite, though hailing mostly from Sardar backgrounds, saw that despite the vast differences between Baloch and Indian identity, the region had been absorbed into Hindustani affairs. The Government of India Act of 1935 implicitly incorporated the Khanate of Kalat as part of the Indian princely states, reneging on previous constitutional promises of Kalat’s sovereignty.

First political party

The tenuous position of Kalat, British Balochistan and the leased areas caused the birth of political consciousness in the form of nationalism. In the 1920, leaders such as Mir Yusuf Ali Magsi and Abdul Aziz Kurd founded the first political party, Anjuman-e Ittehad-e Balochan wa Balochistan, that united Balochis and Pathans both in the demand for constitutional reforms and an autonomous united Balochistan. Amongst the Anjuman’s achievements was the non-communal All India Baloch and Balochistan Conferences starting in 1932 and the successful accession of Azam Jan in 1931 and then Ahmad Yar in 1933 as the rightful heirs of Kalat. The Khan of Kalat became a symbol for this early nationalism.


After the death of Mir Yusuf Ali Magsi and the passing of the Government of India Act in 1935, rifts within the party formed, with one faction aiming to participate as a member of the new federal India and the Khan striving to gain sovereign status for his kingdom. Those that were willing to cooperate with the British were seen as traitors, and the radicalization also resulted in a communal split.

The Kalat State National Party (KSNP) was formed in 1937 from the radical wing of the Anjuman, and aimed at unifying Balochistan around the figure of the Khan. Yet this alliance with the Khan repeatedly failed due to the conflicting interests of the KSNP to establish representative government, and despite initial support by Ahmad Yar, the party was outlawed within Kalat in 1939.

The Anjuman-e Watan was founded by Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai in 1937 as a vanguard of Pashtun nationalism in Balochistan, with an aim to bring about administrative and constitutional reforms within British Balochistan, home to the largest Pathan community in the region.

Find out more

Books & Articles

Axmann, Martin. Back to the Future: The Khanate of Kalat and the Genesis of Baloch Nationalism, 1915-1955. Karachi: Oxford UP, 2008.