AGG Balochistan Records

Records of the Agent to the Governor General in Balochistan



These records deal with the activities of the Agent to the Governor General in Balochistan in the newly created Balochistan Agency. The Agency was established in1877 and its jurisdiction comprised the formerKhanate of Kalat (1655-1948) and its dependencies. British relations with the Khanate of Kalat, however,had started well before 1877 in the wake of the First Afghan War 1839. These relationswere managed by the Commissioner in Sindh and their record can be found in Sindh Archives as part of the Commissioner in Sindh Office Records. The most significant officer in this connection was the Political Superintendent on the Upper Sindh Frontier, a position held by John Jacob, C.B. (1812-1858) who was based at Khan Garh(Jacobabad). Subsequently, a British Political Agent was stationed at the court of the Khan of Kalatin 1858. The Political Agent at Kalat reported to the Commissioner in Sindh and acted in close cooperation with the Political Superintendent on the Upper Sindh Frontier. Major Henry Green was the first Political Agent in Kalat and resided in Kalat Town, the capital of the Kalat Khanate.


Balochistan Agency was created in the wake of the Treaty of Mastung (1876) and comprised the Khanate of Kalat and its dependencies including Kharan, Mekran, and Lasbela. By signing the Treaty of Mastung, the Khan of Kalat and Baloch Sardars accepted the British Government as sole arbitrator in disputes involving the Khan and the Baloch Sardars (tribal chiefs). Robert Groves Sandeman, KCSI (1835-1892) was appointed the first AGG in Balochistan by the Viceroy in India, Lord Lytton (1831-91). This treaty and the events surrounding this marked a clear change in British colonial policy towards the management of British India's Northwest Frontier. The earlier policy of non-interference or 'masterly inactivity' pursued by Viceroy Lord Lawrence was set aside by Lord Lytton in favor of a policy of active engagement and management of frontier affairs. This new approach towards frontier management was termed as the Forward Policy and Robert Sandeman was one of its chief architects and advocates. The AGG was the head of colonial administration in Balochistan Agency. He exercised judicial powers under the Frontier Crimes Regulation and conducted political administration of the Agency. He was also the ex-officio Inspector General of the Police and Levies Forces. The AGG reported to the Viceroy through the Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign Department. The office of AGG was held by Col. Robert Sandeman (1877), Maj. Gen. James Browne (1892), Mr. Hugh Barnes (1896), and Col. C.E. Yate (1900), among others.


Sandeman established his administrative headquarters in Quetta instead of Kalat and set up a military garrison or cantonment to support the political administration. At that time, Quetta was a small town near the Kalat-Afghanistan boundary at a distance of 100 miles from Kalat. Initially, the AGG's staff comprised an Assistant to the Agent to the Governor General (AAG) and a Personal Assistant. Mr. Richard Isaac Brucewas the first AAG in Balochistan and R.B. Hittu Ram was the first Personal Assistant to the AGG.


The AGG was supported by Political Agents appointed to the principal seats of administration in Balochistan Agency such as Kalatin carrying out administrative work. After the Second Afghan War (1878-79), the Afghan territories north of Quetta were ceded by the Amir of Afghanistan to the British Government by virtue of the Treaty of Gandamak (1879). The colonial administration designated these areas as British Balochistanand the AGG in Balochistan assumed jurisdiction over them as the Chief Commissioner in British Balochistan. In addition, certain territories in Kalat State such as Nasirababd, Chagai, and Bolan were made over by the Khan of Kalat to the British Government as leased territories that were administered directly by the AGG in Balochistan. In the map on the following page, the areas in yellow color indicate the Kalat State territory while the areas in Red/Pink color indicate British Balochistan territory.


Readers should bear in mind that the demarcations on the map indicate political and administrative boundariesonly. The concerned states that were signatories to various treaties and conventions with British India had not relinquished their sovereign rights to those territories.



Map of Balochistan Agency 1897


The records of the Agent to the Governor General are further divided into Essential Records (1862-1945) and General Records (1831-1947) according to the nature of official activities. It seems probable that these designations were roughly equivalent to the categories of Part A (for important policy materials) and Part B (for more routine materials) respectively. This was the practice adopted from the late 19th century in most other provincial governments within British India. Both these series seem to deal mainly with the Khanate of Kalat and its feudatory states of Kharan and Las Bela. Like most princely states in India, these territories were ruled indirectly by the British through the Political Agents. In addition, a small collection of important documents have been classified as AGG Very Important Records. Moreover, potential researchers should bear in mind that the Records of the Chief Commissionerin Balochistan, although dealing with a different jurisdiction, should be considered part of the AGG's records since the AGG was, ex officio, the Chief Commissioner.Since the files were found in large containers (or Basta), the Balochistan Archives applied a progressive numerical ordering of the Basta, and then cataloguing the files in each Basta according to chronological order. Details of the contents of this collection such as the number of records, their subject matter, and the types of manuscripts can be found under the subheadings of Essential Records and General Records.


AGG Essential Records
AGG General Records