Merger of Swat State with Pakistan

Merger of Swat State with Pakistan Caues and Effects, Dr. Sultan-I-Rome, MARC Occasional Papers, No. 14-April 1999.IUED, The University of Geneva

Though Swat State became a model of peace, tranquility and progress in a tribal society, the rulers were autocrats. The vices of autocracy were present to the larger extent from the very outset. Peter Mayne may be justified for his remarks that "in fact Swat State is an example of how very benevolent an autocracy can be. However, he himself admits that the Wali was "... a complete autocrat and could, if he wished, cut off a subject's head without a by-your-leave, or even a second thought".

Miangul Jahanzeb became the Wali (Ruler) of Swat on December 12, 1949 with the abdication of his father, Abdul Wadud, in his favour. He carried on the developmental works and schemes. Priority was given to roads, schools and hospitals. Great success was made. Free education and health services were provided. However he changed some of the policies of his father. He started persecution and alienation of the old supporters and allies of his father and brought new elements from various quarters to the fore. The old loyal supporters were made aggrieved and dissatisfied.

Some modern educated people were not happy with the autocracy and mode of ruling. They wanted rights, freedom and reforms. The first to ask for reforms was Sirajuddin Khan. He presented his proposed reforms to Miangul Jahanzeb, in his office two days prior to his becoming the Wali of Swat in December 1949. There were thirteen/fourteen points. Inter alia it was stated that the Princely States are blots on the country after the emergence of Pakistan. However, the blot can be removed either by introducing democracy or by the enforcement of Islamic System in the Swat State. Democracy would not work because the masses were illiterate, so Islamic system will be better for the ruler and the masses as well. The proposed reforms were not honoured. Next was the attempt of the Khans against the Wali in 1950. These were the men who had made Abdul Wadud the ruler of Swat. However, to safeguard his power and position he either won or suppressed and subdued or removed from the scene the powerful of them and brought some new elements to the fore. It aggravated a section of them. The policy of "divide and rule" was felt and resented by most of the Khans. So the leading Khans from both sides, who were not happy with the policy and arrogance of the new ruler, held secret meetings at various places and pledged to undo the Wali and bring a change in the policy and mode of ruling in Swat. The plot was disclosed. Consequently some of the Khans left Swat in 1951 and became exiled. While other did not. Most of those who did not left Swat remained due to their dallas (factions) stratagem. Though all of them wanted to leave Swat some remained behind, because their respective dallas asked them secretly to do so in order to provide financial support, in case of distress to those who had left. It was also to maintain their dallas position among the masses and to safeguard their dallas interest in the State circles.

Affair of the Khans created troubles and unrest for the Wali. Sirajuddin Khan wrote a letter to Liaqat Ali Khan (Prime Minister of Pakistan) wherein it was stated that India had merged all the States. The people of Swat had great expectations of merger, but they were astonished that instead of merging the State the Prime Minister once more kept the turban on the Wali's head. It was required of the Wali to honour his benevolence and had to give relief to the people while he had compelled his subjects to leave their homes.

The Sirajuddin Khan's letter got published in a daily from Lahore. Letters writing were continued to dailies. Consequently the Wali, who was very allergic to such type of letters and statements, approached the Khans by various means and persons. At last the Khans returned by 1953. The Wali admits that "It was a fairly big and powerful group - not so much in the amount of land and villages that they controlled personally, as in the influence they wielded".

The Khans failed to achieve their objectives at the time but their motives did not subside. On the other hand the affairs and the developments compelled the Pakistani Government to do something. So in 1953 the Government asked the Wali to "sign some sort of constitution". Thus he signed the "Supplementary Instrument of Accession" on 12th February 1954. Wherein, inter alia, the Wali was made bound to constitute a State Council with 15 elected members and 10 members nominated by him. However, he was President of the Council, Chief Minister and Ruler. The Council had no real power. The members were collected twice a year but they did nothing. They would just praise the Wali and tell him he was doing well. The Pakistani Government did not interfere in the internal affairs.

As has already been stated a section of the modern educated people was not content with the autocracy about which the Soviet news agency APN latter opined "... that no single human being has wielded more power in the 20th century than the ex-ruler of Swat". And that he .had control even over the people's private lives to the extent that no State official could grow a beard or moustache without his permission".

The movers were educated and in services of the Wali. Their main concerns or objectives were to undo the autocracy, to press the Wali for reforms and to introduce rules, regulations and democratic form of government and to safeguard honour, prestige and rights of the people. The movement was extended to all parts and villages of the State with great success and people from all walks of life became its members. Though the Khans failed at that time, their motives did not subside. So the movement also won them gradually.

Innumerable letters and telegrams were sent to Yahya Khan against the Wali, not only from Swat but also from other corners of the country even in forged names and in dozens by single individuals. However, the Wali was not ready to give concession, introduce reforms and give up even a minor portion of his powers and authority. He was stubborn and arrogant and his stand was that either he himself will rule with absolute powers and authority or there will be no State at all.

The Wali detained Fateh Muhammad Khan, his brothers and Sardar Khan of Sijbanr on charges of their would-be attack on him. He terminated services of Prof. Abdul Wahid Khan, one of the early members of the "Malki Rurwali", and member of its Executive Committee, as well as various other persons. Later arrest of Amanullah Khan and Malik Sher Muhammad Khan, a former Revenue Minister of the Swat State, was ordered. The Wali's militia attempted to arrest both of them and in an incident of firing a servant of Malik Sher Muhammad Khan lost his life.

At this, some of the leaders rushed to meet Yahya Khan to apprise him of the critical situation in Swat. But he was out of Rawalpindi to entertain President Nixon who was on his visit to Pakistan.So instead Lt. Col. Arif (later General Arif) who was Military Secretary to Yahya Khan was contacted. He ordered the authorities to direct the Wali to abstain from such acts. Ajmal Khattak, Afzal Bangash, Arbab Sikandar Khan Khalil, Pir Fazle Khaliq, father of General Fazle Haq, a brother of Yahya Khan and some other politicians were already co-operating with the movements. Then some of the leaders called on Mahmud Ali Qasuri and Z.A. Bhutto and sought their cooperation. Bhutto assured them of his help.

Thus due to the aforementioned developments and causes, the stage for the drama was set. Yahya Khan was not in favour of the merger because of the developments in East Pakistan, the proximity of the States (Chitral, Dir and Swat) with USSR, and due to the would-be administrative burden. However, it is generally said and believed that Pirzada included announcement of the merger of the States in Yahya Khan's speech, which was not included in the original draft. Yahya Khan announced thus merger of Swat State with Pakistan, along with the States of Dir and Chitral, in a proclamation on July 28, 1969.

It should be noted that from the very outset Pakistan's policy towards the Princely States was not in interest of the States. SJ. Olver reports, in a secret letter on 15th July, 1948 from the Office of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, Karachi, that "in order to put pressure on Kalat itself to accede to Pakistan, offer of accession from these feudatories (i.e. Lass Bela, Kharan and Makran who were the former feudatories of the State of Kalat) were engineered and accepted by Pakistan. The legal validity of the accession in these three cases is not altogether free from doubt...".

After seeking accession of the Princely States Pakistan, too, embarked on the policy of their merger. Liaqat Ali Khan expressed his will "that the time has come for us to merge these States". But he was assassinated before materializing his decision. So all other States were merged save the three States of Swat, Dir and Chitral. It was the geo-strategic location of these States and some other factors that their merger took such a time. However powers of the rulers of the States of Dir and Chitral had been curtailed many years before their formal merger by appointing Political officers there who practically wielded all the powers of the rulers. While the Wali of Swat wielded all the powers up till the merger. So effects of the merger did not prove the same in all the three States and, in fact, it was Swat State that was merged by Yahya Khan.

It is worth mentioning that most of those who worked against the autocracy were in services at the time and associated with the underground movement. They remained in services after the merger as well. They did not come open and remained in background. So the credit was cashed by those who remained loyal to the Wali throughout their life but became aggrieved in the last days due to their own causes or by those who were not in the services. This was probably the only instance in history where only two lives were the price paid for winning against autocracy.

Effects of the Merger

Merger of Swat State with Pakistan brought an end of autocracy, solace for a section of the people, political freedom for all, open competition, equal opportunities in all services and all fields, security of services and promotions under a certain policy. However many servants of the State in different departments and in different ranks were forcedly retired by the Deputy Commissioner of Swat citing Pakistani law. But they were deprived of their pensions and other benefits, permissible under the Pakistani rules, on the plea of status quo. Some were dismissed. All these were contrary to the assurances of the Pakistani President given to the State servants after the merger.87 That was why an "All Swat Employees Association" was formed by the ex-State servants for safeguarding their rights and interests.

The immediate response of the merger of Swat State was resentment of the pro-Wali group in Swat and that of the Government of Afghanistan. The pro-Wali group in Saidu Sharif and Mingawara agitated and plundered property of Mahmud ul Hasan Butt. However Humayun Khan, Political Agent Malakand and who was made Deputy Commissioner of Swat as well after three days, pacified the anti - merger agitation with a stratagem. Giving the bureaucratic assurance of his full support, he asked the anti-merger lobby to stop agitation in order to avert army action against the Wali and the agitators themselves. And instead a campaign of letter writing and getting signatures against the merger be initiated so that to be sent and forwarded to Yahya Khan. The Wali himself, too, was not in favour of agitation due to his own causes. The agitation ended. The letters and signatures, double of the total number of the population (they were of course forged), did not reach Yahya Khan but were burnt.

On the other hand, conducting the routine work of the State by the Wali, though virtually he ceased practicing his powers and authority, and the anti-merger agitation and campaign of letters and signatures worried those who had worked against the Wali. They proceeded and contacted the political leaders, who had already co-operated with them and some officials so that the proclamation may not be abrogated.

A spokesman of the Afghan Government, bitterly protesting, stated that the merger of the States would have no validity unless Yahya got the consent of the Pukhtun people. Responding the statement, a spokesman of the Pakistan Foreign Office said that the measure was entirely within the domestic jurisdiction of Pakistan and that the step had been taken in compliance with the persistent demand of the people of these States voiced for long, through public meetings, press statements, telegrams and petitions to the government.

The merger was proclaimed in the aforementioned manner. Neither proper planning for materialisation of the plan of the merger had been done, nor the would-be problems and consequences were properly assessed. This became the bone of all the adverse effects and consequences. Announcement of the merger was made on July 28, 1969 and the Gazette notification, wherein Regulation 3 tided "Rulers shall cease to exercise administrative functions etc", had been done on 15,thAugust 1969. There too no "officer, person, authority" had been appointed or empowered to exercise and perform the powers and functions of the Rulers. It was in a secret notification dated Lahore the 16th August 1969 that the Commissioner of Malakand Division was empowered " exercise and perform subject to the general supervision and direction of the Government all the powers and functions which immediately before the commencement of the said Regulation were being exercised and performed by the Rulers of the specified territories".

So, proclamation of the merger created total confusion in Swat. In fact Swat became a land of lawlessness and uncertainty. A sort of anarchy prevailed. It should be mentioned here that though the State was merged, legally the Wali yet possessed all powers and authority. He looked after the routine works but practically ceased to exercise his powers and perform all his functions. Because in his own words "... people know that the State has been merged, so I have no authority". On the other hand no one possessed legal authority to exercise and perform the Wali's powers and functions. Administrative officers of the State were also confused due to the uncertain situation.The Swatis faced a unique situation with the merger of the State due to the new administrative setup and change in the mode of administration. Since then, in the new bureaucratic set-up, no one acknowledges himself responsible. Each one excuses that it is neither his jurisdiction nor his responsibility. Though practically they have certain limitations, the new mode and policy of administration is to pass the time better not to solve the problems. That is why mass mismanagement and insecurity of life and property and comparatively more corruption, injustice, plunder of natural resources and so forth are the further clear and visible signs of the new set-up. It should be admitted in all fairness that though autocrat the Walis were excellent administrators and they ruled efficiently for most of the period.

Previously there was no red-tapism. Every thing was done quickly. The developmental projects were completed very well and in quite a short period but with the merger, the new administrators turned deaf ears to the development of Swat. Commissioner of Malakand Division, Sayyad Munir Hussain, wrote a note "further developmental works are no more needed in Swat. They are more than sufficient (emphasis added); we should have only to maintain them. Consequently, developmental works came to a standstill. Proper maintenance of roads and other existed works faded away. Free of cost facilities of health and education was withdrawn. Inverse development took place and instead of climbing to zenith the Swatis fell into abyss with the introduction of "Pakistanism". The situation deteriorated in all respects.

The social set-up shook at once, because the change came all of a sudden and the previous strict control did not remain intact. Previously the non-Swatis were bound to give a surety bond for residing in Swat, that they will not indulge in unwanted acts and activities. They were not allowed to purchase land in Swat but with the permission of the Wali, which he had granted in some special cases. Even to run business and industry they had to provide surety bonds and so forth.

But as a corollary of the merger all those sanctions and restrictions faded away. Influx of non-Swatis came and settled in Swat. It created problems of the rapid growth of the population of Swat. Rapid and unplanned expansion of the city of Mingawara and the adjoining settlements took place, which caused various problems for the people of Swat and the Municipal Committee as well. Prices of land went up due to the influx and pressure from all over the country. River Swat became polluted and the Swati Society is being engulfed by various vices.

Disputes of the ownership of land emerged on a large scale. Because those whose lands were occupied forcibly, or on some other reasons, by the ruling family and the powerful Khans, either attempted to regain their lands or filed writs for them. While the Gujars, who were mostly tenants and possessed no land by virtue of their descent," took advantage of the new set-up and of the Pakistan Peoples Party announcements and claimed ownership of the land, which they occupied. Even those who had sold their land reclaimed them on the plea that these had been confiscated, and some age-old land disputes were also renewed. All these disputes aggravated the situation and caused some unwanted incidents and losses. A "Land Commission" was appointed but of no avail.

Mass deforestation occurred. Because forests were ruthlessly destroyed by contractors on one hand, for squeezing more wealth, and on the other by the people themselves which were previously kept under pressure and strict control and got freedom all of a sudden. There was no check, neither on the contractors nor on the people, so the unbounded freedom was highly misused.

Before the merger, whether just or unjust, decisions were quick and chief. The litigants did not bear undue expenditures and the prolonged procedures. Not only this but the decisions were properly executed and implemented. With the merger, the position took a U-turn. Regulation No I of 1969 merged the State with this much change only that powers and functions of the Rulers were ceased and these were delegated to a person, officer or authority appointed or empowered by the Provincial Government. All the old laws including Regulations, orders, rules, notification and customs, having the force of law, were kept continued in force. This status quo created confusion and uncertainty. There were no clear cut laws, rules and regulations and the administrative cum judicial officers used to define and pronounce the riwaj according to their own will. That was why an association was formed which was named "Justice League".

On 31st December 1970 Gazette Notification of 'Tribal Areas (Application of Laws) Regulation 1970" was done. This introduced Criminal Courts with the enforcement of these laws: The Police Act, 1861; The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898; The Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860); and The Evidence Act, 1872. Thus the old laws were repealed to that extent. On April 17, 1974 Regulation I of 1974 was enforced which established Civil and Revenue Courts by extending these laws: The West Pakistan Civil Courts Ordinance, 1962; The Code of Civil Procedures, 1908; and The West Pakistan Land Revenue Act, 1967. Off and on laws were extending replacing the old laws. However the major change was the promulgation of Regulation No I of 1975, Regulation No II of 1975 and Regulation No IV of 1976, commonly known as PATA Regulations, which led the prevailing conditions from bad to worse.

With the merger confusion and chaos prevailed in Swat. The litigants did not know where to turn for justice. Quick and chief trial and decisions, whether just or unjust, and their proper execution and implementation came to an end. The prolonged procedures, undue delay, great expenditures, high bribes, misuse of riwaj and the further deterioration by PATA Regulations highly aggravated almost all the people of Swat, and resulted the momentum of the movement 'Tanzim Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi" (TNSM) in Swat, and the demand for the enforcement of Shariat.

These were the main effects and consequences of the merger of Swat State with Pakistan. A spokesman of the Foreign Office of Pakistan responding to the statement of the Afghan Government spokesman against the merger, himself had pointed out on August 6, 1969 that the people felt that the merger "... would accelerate the pace of their development". President Yahya Khan too had promised that the existing facilities and privileges will be kept intact and the rights denied by the ex-rulers will be granted.1" However instead of the acceleration of the "pace of development" inverse development took place. Most of the hopes, expectations and promises proved futile, and most of the effects and consequences of the merger did not prove good and favourable for Swat and the people of Swat.

It is noteworthy that those who have worked against the Wali were not unanimous in their designs. Most of them were not against the State. Their main concern was not the merger but reforms, constitutional government with a powerful Consultative Council and freedom from autocracy within the State. But, as has already been stated, the Wali's stand was that either he will rule with absolute powers and authority or there will be no State at all.

The aforementioned were the main blessings and curses of the new set-up. They were also the consequences of the transfer of authority and responsibility in decision making from a small and local to a larger and wider national and provincial centralization. Thus the model of Swat State could be studied to show how a constitutional localized system could work within the broader framework of a national State in a changing socio-political scenario.