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A Baloch Cultural Tradition as Depicted in Modern Balochi Poetry

25 Feb

Jan Muhammad Dashti

Jan Muhammad Dashti,
Chairman of the Balochi Academy,
Quetta, Balochistan

Introduction

The love of a Baloch for his homeland has been phenomenal. “Although barren, the fatherland is worth anything”, goes the saying, and folk traditions refer to the presence of the finest and costliest things in places once inhabited by the Baloch.

     According to tradition, Bebagr, a folk hero of the 16th century, while bringing the daughter of one of the Afghan nobles from Kandahar very proudly describes the land of the Baloch to his Afghan sweetheart. “Let us go to the land that is of the Baloch, the town of Sibi is pleasing to our heart”, he says. This reflects a deep sense of pride and lasting regard not only for the country but for everything attached to it.[1]

     Another great national hero, Mīr Chākar of the Rind tribe, bewails the factors causing the migration of the Baloch from Sibi with great sorrow, which shows his love for the land and his reluctance to give up that place.

Sibi is amidst the storms of wars

May the pearl-like Gawhar[2] be cursed.

From the seven hundred grand youths

Who used to tie their turbans with grace and pride,

Who raced their horses without reins,

None of them can be shown to be alive,

All fell prey to the powerful strokes of the Indian swords,

All of them were devoured by the misfortunes of Gawhar.

(Moh. Sardar Khan, A Literary History of the Baluchis, I, pp. 128-129)

The Baloch who moved out of Kirman and Sistan centuries ago in the early era of their migration eastwards always kept the memory of the area fresh in their folk tales. They talked of the mountains and rivers of their lands with a feeling of profound love which is strongly felt even by a casual observer. We come across many stories which indicate a sentimental regard for those regions where the Baloch once lived.

     This paper is compiled to show how similar feelings are expressed in Balochi poetry of the second half of the 20th century. Before we do so, it is necessary to give a brief account of this period, since the patriotic elements of the Balochi poetry of this period are very much relevant to the Baloch history of this era.

Social and political changes in Balochistan in the 20th century

Beginning from the early 20th century and due to the gradual spread of literacy and improvement of means of communications, leading Baloch intellectuals became aware, more than before, of their past and the changing realities of the presentday world. Direct and indirect intra-Baloch contacts made them more and more conscious of the fact that, although divided between three countries and different administrative divisions within each country, they formed one single nation with a common past, a common culture, and, in most cases, a common language.

     The rise of nationalism in South Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia and Africa had tremendous influence on Baloch leadership and intellectuals, who now began to develop (and propagate) the idea that they deserved to have a separate sovereign state. They believed that given the natural resources of the Baloch land and its geo-strategic position, such a country was not only viable, but was also potentially likely to be one of the developed modern countries.

     The political reality was, however, quite different. The land and nation of the Baloch had been divided against their will into three parts, and each part was annexed to a country dominated by non-Baloch ethnic groups. The Baloch were deprived of democratic rights and the right to self-determination.

     It was during this period that specific events took place. For the first time in the history of Western (Iranian) Balochistan, Dost Muhammad Khān, a traditional Baloch ruler, declared himself “the Shah”, i.e. the king of that part of Balochistan. This was a declaration of Baloch sovereignty, upon which Reza Shah Pahlavi, the shah of Iran, sent his armed forces and crushed the newly established Western Balochi Kingdom without mercy. Since then Iranian governments in succession have been pursuing policies aimed at frustrating Baloch political and cultural aspirations.[3]

     Eastern Balochistan with its capital at Kalat, known as the Baloch Confederacy of Kalat, was a sovereign state before the British extended their indirect domination of this part of Balochistan. Under forced treaties, the Khān, i.e. the ruler of Balochistan was obliged to hand over the defence and foreign affairs of the Baloch Confederacy to the British. In principle, the British recognized the sovereignty of the Baloch state. In practice, however, all affairs of the Baloch Confederacy were controlled by the British so-called “Political Agent”, who was supposed to be the British Crown’s diplomatic representative in the Khān’s court, and by the Political Agent’s ever expanding civil and military establishment. The personnel of this establishment was recruited almost exclusively among non-Baloch Indians, particularly Punjabis.

     When the British left the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, the Khān, the House of Commons and the House of Lords of the Baloch Confederacy almost unanimously reaffirmed the independence and sovereignty of the Baloch State. Nevertheless the two clauses of the earlier treaties with the British which stated that the British would be responsible for the defence and foreign affairs of the Baloch state came to haunt the Baloch Confederacy. These imposed clauses implied that the Baloch Confederacy would not have an organized defence force nor would it be allowed to have direct diplomatic relations with other countries; that is to say that it would not be allowed to seek recognition as a sovereign state from the world beyond the British Crown. Pakistan, on the other hand, which had inherited not less than a fourth of the formidable British Indian armed forces and bureaucratic machinery crushed Baloch resistance and annexed the Confederacy by force in March 1948, eight months after its independence.

     The Baloch resistance against Pakistani domination, however, continued in different forms with at least three uprisings. The first started with an immediate revolt against annexation of the Baloch Confederacy in 1948. The second took place in 1958 and the third in 1973. During the 1960s and the 1970s some responsible elements of the Baloch leadership offered to recognize Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan within the existing de-facto international boundaries if the three states agreed constitutionally, that they were multi-national confederal or federal states. This “revisionism” not only became controversial within Baloch circles, but also weakened the Baloch national struggle. The rejectionists argued that it was futile to expect that the three states would become democratic in a real sense, accepting the principles of multi-national confederalism or true federalism.

     The aspirations of the Baloch federalists remained unfulfilled, because until very recently the military-bureaucratic complex and reactionary Islamic forces intervened repeatedly in constitutional politics of Pakistan. Constitutions were abrogated by the military or military-supported regimes, thus frustrating the hopes for the establishment of a truly multi-national federal democratic state. Iran and Afghanistan also continued their policy, rejecting the idea of federalism and multi-nationalism.

     Aspirations for freedom or federalism, and demands for the recognition of their cultural, linguistic and other basic human rights, particularly the right to self-determination, were costly for the Baloch. Baloch leaders and activists who identified with these aspirations were oppressed severely. Their parties and publications were banned repeatedly. Several military and paramilitary operations were launched. Numerous Baloch leaders, activists and their sympathizers were imprisoned for years. Towns, villages and farms were bombarded and people were killed. Most of the imprisoned were humiliated and tortured. Many were put to death after show trials by military courts. Particularly beginning from the late 1950s, an increasing number of Baloch activists and sympathizers of the Baloch movement fled Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan in order to avoid harassment, imprisonment, torture and death.

     The following random selections from the Balochi poems of this period refer to the events, trends, and developments briefly mentioned above. My selections are based on the material published before September 1985. Except for brief biographical remarks about Gul Khān Nasīr, Sayyid Hāshimī and ‘Atā Shād, I have simply mentioned some poems by other poets as examples.[4]

Gul Khān Nasīr, Sayyid Hāshimī and ‘Atā Shād

Mīr Gul Khān Nasīr (1914-1983), the poet-politician, gave a new meaning and form to Balochi poetry. The concept of freedom and sovereignty was beautifully portrayed. It was his nationalistic poetry that brought the ideals of the leaders of the Baloch movement close to the hearts of the Baloch masses and intellectuals.

     Gul Khān Nasīr’s poetry is the greatest manifestation and the most profound expression of the Balochi political and social approach since the early thirties. His exhortation to the Baloch to uphold their traditions is a clear sign of the deep-rooted hatred felt towards the new rulers and strong disapproval of the new political dispensation.

     Gul Khān Nasīr’s work embraced some fifty years of his life. He participated in the Baloch struggle for national independence and remained behind bars for several years between 1945 and 1979. He was a socialist by inclination and opposed the tribal system and its attendant injustices.

     Gul Khān Nasīr considered himself destined to guide the people towards social awareness and the achievement of their political rights. He assigned himself the task of educating the youth for the great cause for which he suffered immensely during his lifetime. He was uncompromising, honest and commanded respect. As far back as November 1936 he composed a poem praying that he might have the courage and strength to awaken the people from ignorance, so that they would be able to find a proper place among world nations once again. The poem, which is in Urdu, shows his determination to conduct a lifelong struggle in a cause which was very close to his heart.[5]

     Gul Khān Nasīr had a prolific pen and a philosophical mind. His treatment of the Baloch social and traditional ethos depicts a high sense of history and culture. Gul Kh®n was the product of agonizing socio-political conditions. He saw the British Raj in Balochistan, a brief period of Baloch sovereignty and ultimately Balochistan losing its independence and merging into the new-born state of Pakistan.

     Gul Khān Nasīr’s message is impressive. It circles round the Baloch and their history. His works portray a deep hatred for those countries which have occupied the Baloch land, and for their institutions, which he regarded as corrupting and degenerating in substance and nature.

     The new generation of revolutionary poets have been greatly influenced by his philosophy. I have not attempted any translation of his work for the simple reason that none of his poems can be singled out for the purposes of this paper. A separate treatment would be required if Gul Khān Nasīr’s poetry were to be analyzed in the context of the Baloch national struggle and its impact on the Baloch youth.[6]

     Sayyid Zahūr Shāh Hāshimī (1926-1978) is undoubtedly one of the “Big Three” of modern Balochi literature, the other two being Gul Khān Nasīr and ‘Atā Shād. Given his thorough knowledge of the Balochi language and the fact that he concentrated throughout his life on language-related work avoiding active involvement in political and social activities makes him the best of the three according to some analysts.

     On patriotism and other political and social subjects, Sayyid Hāshimī is more subtle than Gul Khān Nasīr and less abstract than ‘Atā Shād. The patriotic elements in Sayyid Hāshimī’s works are less known than e.g. those of Gul Khān Nasīr among the activists and general readers and listeners of the Balochi for the following reasons. As a prominent political leader and, eventually, as a Provincial Cabinet Minister, Gul Khān Nasīr was widely known to activists and opinion leaders. Unlike Sayyid, Gul Khān Nasīr could not be ignored by official, semi-official and non-official media and institutions, particularly in Quetta and Karachi, the two main centres for the propagation of Balochi literature.

     ‘Atā Shād, (1938-1997) a great poet and a lovable human being was also based in Quetta, beginning his career as a radio programme producer and reaching the high cadres of bureaucracy. Those familiar with our norms know well that a poet and a Secretary of Information stationed in Quetta, like ‘Atā Shād, is more likely to get coverage than an unemployed poverty stricken and politically unaffiliated intellectual and poet of even Sayyid Hāshimī’s calibre.

     There is more patriotic and nationalistic material in Sayyid Hāshimī’s multi-volume poetry than might be expected. Let us content ourselves here with a few pieces. Sayyid is deeply shocked to see the Baloch losing their national sovereignty. In his Sistageñ dastunk he remarks:

My heart bleeds

to wet the barren land of my miserable people

In the hope that one day these lands will turn green

and there will grow red flowers

I will gather the seeds of those flowers

because these are from my blood.

(Sayyid Zahūr Shāh Hāshimī, Sistageñ dastunk, p. 28)

I am like those brave youths

Who have been ambushed by the enemy.

Injured by sword, they are lying hopeless

in a vast desert without water.

Hungry wolves are waiting to eat their flesh

after they breathe their last breath.

But I tell them[7] not to be off guard:

Revered mothers will bear

such invincible sons again.

(Ibid., p. 63)

The one, whose hands are red

with my blood, says he is pure;

The other, like a jackal who has stolen my pouch,

boasts of being a tiger;

The third who has snatched a portion of my shawl,

and has an eye on my shirt,

says: “I am your brother”;

The fourth one is so courteous

that I am frightened.

(Ibid., p. 64)

We[8] do not want your buildings

do not set our huts on fire;

We do not require your forts,

do not surround our hills;

We do not need your stores,

do not ravage our fields;

We do not demand your ships,

do not destroy our boats;

We do not desire your crafts

do not snatch our camels;

We do not aspire to your armours,

do not break our arms;

Do not oppose us lest you may be oppressed by a superior spirit.

(Ibid., p. 66)

In another poem, Yā diga suhreñ mādineñ, Sayyid expresses in very lucid language the Baloch’s determination to fight his way through to emancipation and freedom. The Baloch will crush the enemy, shedding his blood and drinking it in revenge, the poem says.[9] In Sarjam butagant he tells them that the enemy wishes their oblivion. Weakness is the last link between strength and misery. Wake up and do something for your survival, he exhorts them.[10] In Samoskār nabāñ, Sayyid Hāshimī says he cannot forget the Baloch country the vast barren land, its valleys, mountains and rivers. The people and their history, their bravery and courage and the hardship they suffer, cannot be erased from his memory.[11]

     ‘Atā Shād was one of the greatest Balochi poets of our time. After the mid 1960s he made a conscious effort to identify himself with progressive trends, particularly with the Baloch movement against tyranny, and stood up for national rights and for social justice within Baloch society. Referring to the tyranny and to the events of 1968 in which some Baloch leaders and activists were imprisoned and some were put to death, ‘Atā Shād in his poem Sāh kandin says:[12]

Efforts to put a curb

on the peoples’ consciousness

in an exercise in futility.

Consciousness cannot be snatched away by death;

it is everlasting, ever vigorous,

like overwhelming love and affection.

The poem chastises the rulers for their victory over helplessness and their control over the “forcibly snatched” land, about the inhabitants of which the poet maintains:

A people’s spirit cannot be destroyed by killings;

they remain restless, ever resentful.

This restlessness and resentment lead the people to their ultimate goal,

freedom.

In his Yalīen sarmačār and Deh makkaheñ[13] ‘Atā Shād speaks of a people and its invincible fighters who give their lives to uphold national pride. The poem refers to degrading dependence and asks the Baloch to change the course of events through force and determination. The poet eulogizes the Baloch motherland and vows to fight for it.

     ‘Atā Shād dedicated a poem to the memory of Hamīd Baloch, a young victim of tyranny who was executed in 1981, saying that a cause will never die along with the bodily death. “If I am a tree, set me on fire; but a mountain cannot be destroyed by a mere flash of lightning.”

Other Baloch poets

Muhammad Husayn ‘Anqā (1907-1977), a political activist and poet, writes in a poem entitled Āzātī[14] that freedom is the highest ideal of mankind. In a clear reference to Baloch desire for independence, ‘Anqā exhorts the people to fight for their liberty. In another poem, Ġazal,[15] ‘Anqā refers figuratively to the Baloch, who are in slavery and their country under alien domination. The poem, which is one of ‘Anqā’s masterpieces, reflects a deep sense of frustration.

     Bashīr Bedār regrets in his poem Pandal[16] that the people are being oppressed and expressed his profound opinion that killing cannot destroy human instincts. Every drop of blood shed will help the tree of freedom and emancipation to grow. In a similar piece, Kušindahe nāmā,[17] Bashir Bed®r expresses the hope that the enemy will become exhausted and the people will fight through to freedom. The poet thinks that the Baloch will take revenge and the enemy will be brought to account for the cruelties he has committed. In his poem Zorākī,[18] Bashīr Bedār draws a parallel between the situation in Balochistan and that in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Palestine. He maintains that the enemy cannot defeat the inspiring spirit of a man through bullets. In the poem Hambalāñ the poet portrays the miserable conditions in which the Baloch are living and calls upon the people to change their lives through an armed struggle, and in another poem, Gwānk, he says that a motherland mortgaged with the enemy can be restituted only through blood.[19]

     Ghulām Rasūl Mullā (b. 1939) believes in his destiny as the poet of a subjugated people whose rights have been snatched away and whose vast land has been put under alien hegemony. In one of his poems he says:

Balochistan is my heart, my soul,

a cure for all conceivable pains of life.

Why should I not sacrifice,

or hesitate to suffer indignities of confinement,

when my motherland is facing poisonous bullets.

(G. R. Mullā, Bazn, p. 37)

Ghaws Bakhsh Sābir in his poem Ājjū’īe sogind vows to preserve Balochistan from the clutches of the enemy through sacrifices in blood. In Honā zamīn hamrang bīt he refers to Baloch traditional military and political insight, warning the enemy that war with the Baloch will prove disastrous for them.[20]

     Mubārak Qāzī in his poem Čušeñ sar man kanāñ kurbān hazārāñ[21] paying tribute to Balochistan believes that the motherland is to be watered in blood to make it green and release it from the drought of centuries. In the poem Junz u āšobānī hazzām bibāt the poet wishes for a drastic change through war. He visualizes the clashes of sword and singing of war music which should bring the defeat of the oppressors, and freedom and emancipation for the masses.[22] In Watan[23] he says that he is writing history in blood to remain as a witness to the truth that the motherland is the only indestructible, envigorating, inspiring and ever-lasting reality through which the individual can achieve perfection. In Siken[24] he proclaims that the subjugation of a people cannot end without a fight and a firm stand against the enemy backed by force. In Manī honānī trinzuk[25] Mubārak Qāzī figuratively refers to the alien rulers, asking them to stop their oppression, because the bloodshed will stain their hands and make them notorious for their misdeeds.

     Siddīq Āzāt describes the grinding poverty and hopelessness of a beloved, a personification of Balochistan. The lover promises to improve her life and fight for her cause. In a poem written in Beirut, entitled Taw har kasī māten watan,[26] Siddīq Āzāt addresses the motherland with reverence, saying “I am staying away from you not for the sake of any personal pleasure, but to seek support in order to free you from subjugation. I am in exile because I want to redeem the pledge which I made to you, a promise I want to fulfil. In spite of immense comforts, I am not happy in the alien land. Things, objects and images from you keep coming to my mind in wonderful dreams. I cannot detach myself from your sweet memories”, the poet writes.

 Āzāt Jamāldīnī (1918-1981) born in Noskhe, Pakistani Balochistan, was the person to start the periodical Māhtāk baločī (Balochi monthly), one of the few Balochi periodicals being published at present. In his poetry he expresses determination to achieve the independence of Balochistan. He holds the opinion that a great change will be brought about when everyone in the nation will fight for the freedom of his country.[27]

     Jazmī hails the Baloch for his resolution to fight for his emancipation. He expresses the hope that Balochistan will be created through the warm blood of his people.[28]

     Ākhirdād Husaynburr[29] maintains in Mātīen watan Baločistān[30] that the day is not far off when our beloved land will get its independence. In Sarmačār[31] he exhorts the Baloch to fight for a separate state of their own. The poet stresses that the time has come for the unavoidable battle against the enemy.

     Bahrām Mengal pictures Balochistan as a “mother” in his poem Guptār[32] and writes that her sons have forgotten her. No one seems to be aware of her condition. “Balochistan” mournfully replies that her sons were those glorious Baloch of the past times who fought to uphold her honour. She advises the Baloch to learn from these heroes and to struggle for a better future.

     The poet Ulfat Nasīm writes in his poem Gwānk[33] that although the Baloch is oppressed he will follow the banner of freedom and fight the enemy with renewed determination, because freedom can only be purchased with blood.

     Mansūr Baloch portrays a fisherman who through his constant crying is mistakenly thought to be mad, but the fact is that he weeps for a cause. He weeps because he thinks of Balochistan, its helplessness and servitude. He even imagines that everything is weeping, including the deep impassable sea, which is filled with his tears of blood. But he has not given up hope, because although he has lost his way, he sees in the dark the lights of martyrs like Mīr Namroz, Safar, Lawāng Khān, Rashīd and Asad. He imagines that the darkness will eventually be replaced by a gleaming light.[34] In Yāgī[35] he vows to fight for the country. The poet identifies himself as a true Baloch who rejects every comfort and works to achieve the desired objectives.

     M. H. Khalīl Apsarī compares in Man u taw[36] the Baloch with the enemy, who is powerful, cunning and cruel, but at the same time unaware of the changing mood of the Baloch. A Baloch, the poet says, is enduring the malaise because he is born in misery and hardship. He is perfected in grief. He is mature and brave. The enemy is given the warning that now he cannot sit at ease any longer.

     MuΩammad Ashraf Sarbāzī in Pirband[37] urges the Baloch to be united, since it is only through unity that they can get their rights. In the poem O Brikstane burzeñ cināl[38] Sarbāzī addresses the cypress, seeking advice from this ever-green tree in a nicely composed poem in dialogue form. Since this tree has “a long lasting life of centuries experiencing many upheavals” the poet supposes that it is “in touch with a high God”. He therefore asks the tree to inquire from God in confidence why the Baloch are shackled, living a tormented life plagued by outrageous poverty? Why are they being tyrannized? Can they not become sovereign and free? Are these miseries and this ill-fate ordained by God? The tree rejects the notion with dejection and fury that such a fate should be ordained by God, and remarks tauntingly that unless the Baloch decide to live in liberty and offer sacrifices to achieve that freedom, conditions will remain unchanged.

     Dīn Muhammadburr asks in his poem Zrumbište tawār[39] for unity among the people. The poem says that the Baloch are treading in the dark without anybody to lead. The miseries and hunger can be countered through the determined efforts and unity of the masses.

     Muhammad Beg Begal claims in his poem Kohāñ manīg ant that although the Baloch are now miserably poor and helpless the situation will change because they are the inheritors of a great land and they descend from a great and ancient nation.[40] In Čākare obādag he writes that the national desire for freedom cannot be gagged through oppression and killings. The poet is convinced that the Baloch will take revenge.[41]

     Akbar Bārakza’ī in Med u tūpān[42] figuratively mentions the loss of direction of his boat in the stormy waves of high seas. The inference is that the Baloch people are being led astray. The poem wishes for a safe coming ashore, which may bring happiness and compensate the pains endured during the troublesome times.

     In Bārīg[43] ‘Abdul Majīd Suhrābī addresses the Baloch, saying that the red sun of hope is rising in the east, which will bring comfort all over the motherland. He visualizes the asupicious occasion when freedom is achieved and everyone is jubilant.

     Fidā Ahmad Baloch in his poem Salām sar bāt namīrānāñ[44] pays his tributes to those who are behind bars. The people are oppressed and there is no hope of any change in their painful conditions.

     Khālid Suhayl urges in Belāñ manī[45] the people to take up arms for a change from the dark night to a bright dawn.

     Master ‘Abdul Majīd Gwādarī expresses in Ružne mistāg[46] the hope that the days of frightful tyranny will end and there will emerge happiness and freedom out of a long dark night of slavery. The poet believes that the Baloch youth will surely fulfil their pledge to redeem the motherland from its enemy. In another poem, Taw namirān ay[47] the poet eulogizes the youth and the martyrs seeing them as the only hope of a glorious people.

     Ibrāhīm ‘Ābid asks in Zorā guleñ bāskā biday[48] why grinding poverty and ill-fate has seized the Baloch. Come out, he exhorts, ready to lay down your life for your rights. This is the only way to get a place of honour among the nations.

     Nabī Bakhsh Buzdār believes that the Baloch have lost their country, their honour and their sweet language. He holds the Baloch themselves responsible for such subjugation to the alien.[49]

     Anwar Sāhibkhān writes in Zubānā āhineñ sānkal nadārant[50] that the people will fight for their national cause and that oppressive exploitation will no longer be tolerated. In another poem, Mātīen watan,[51] he praises the motherland and expresses his determination to offer sacrifices to vindicate its honour.

Conclusions

A literary analysis of the poetry referred to above, and a critical evaluation of the movement for armed struggle, its causes and consequences, are beyond the scope of this paper. However, we have dealt with certain recurring themes of the patriotic poetry of the period, some of the most important of which call for a summary.

     Almost all of our poets consider the Baloch land to be under tyranny, suffering from its consequences and deprived of the right to self-determination. For Sayyid Hāshimī none of the three occupying states is a lesser evil. All are guilty of suppressing the Baloch. Among the four states he mentions in one of the poems quoted above “the third” is most probably the Pashtun-dominated Afghanistan which supports the Baloch only to make Balochistan a part of a greater Pashtunistan.

     The “too courteous fourth” could be any outside power, such as the Soviet Union (now Russia) or the USA or the UK. which has occasionally flirted with the Baloch cause, only to abuse it for their own ends according to the poet. Sayyid perhaps also has the history of the Kurds in mind when he talks about the “too courteous fourth” power.

     Sayyid Hāshimī summarizes a history of cruelties by others on the Baloch when he says that they have set our huts on fire, surrounded our hills, ravaged our fields, destroyed our camels, broken our arms, and wished our annihilation.

     The love for the land is expressed in a typical Eastern passionate, even sometimes exaggerated manner by the majority of the poets. For G. R. Mullā Balochistan is his “heart”, his “soul” and “a cure for all conceivable pains of life. Khalil Apsari is proud of the land, its “great”, “innocent” and “simple” people the Baloch. For Mubārak Qāzī, the land of Balochistan is “an inspiring, invigorating reality through which (he) can achieve perfection”. “Things, objects and images” of Balochistan “keep coming to the mind” of

Siddīq Āzāt in “wonderful dreams” though in exile. He cannot detach himself from the “sweet memories” of the land he was forced to leave. He renews his pledge to “redeem” the motherland. ‘Anqā, as well as all the rest, consider this beloved land to be under “alien domination”.

     Regardless of difficulties, our poets are optimistic. “We are not hopeless”, Sayyid declares. He is sure that the “day of freedom” will come. The enemy may massacre a generation or more, but Sayyid is certain that “revered mothers again will bear invincible sons” and that ultimately “the superior spirit” of the Baloch will overcome.

     ‘Atā Shād is sure that tyranny will reinforce the Baloch resentment, and this “resentment will lead the people to freedom and emancipation”. He is convinced that the people “will give their lives to uphold national freedom”.

     Mubārak Qāzī is sure that “a revolutionary dawn, a bright future” will come, and that the “motherland is indestructible”, and Bashīr Bedār maintains that “killing cannot destroy human instincts” but rather “every drop of bloodshed will help the tree of freedom to grow”. ‘Abdul Majīd Suhrābi, like many others, visualizes “auspicious occasion when freedom is achieved and everyone is jubilant.

     Representing the rejectionist point of view, most of our poets talked of the necessity for an armed struggle in order to achieve freedom. As I have already mentioned the poems belong mainly to the pre-1985 period. It was a time when most of the Baloch leaders and activists had rejected the idea of reconciliation with the Central Governments. “Only through blood” will emancipation come, Bashīr Bedār proclaims. “The motherland is to be watered in blood” and freedom is to be gained “through war and revolution”. “Subjugation cannot end without a fight and a firm response to the enemy backed by force” is Mubārak Qāzī’s message, followed by a call to the Baloch to take up their arms. Anwar —Sāhibkhān and Ulfat Nasim find that the only way to get freedom is through “the force of the sword” and “bloodshed”. During the late 1980s and the 1990s, however, the confrontationist attitude has given way to a  somewhat more reconciliatory tone among the Baloch poets.


[1] See Moh. Sardar Khan, A Literary History of the Baluchis, I, p. 131.

[2] Gawhar M?her? was a beautiful and wealthy Baloch woman, who had migrated from Bampur, Western (now Iranian) Balochistan, and, along with her numerous flocks and camel herds, had settled in Sibi under the protection of the Baloch chief M?r Ch?kar (d. 1555 A.D.) M?r Gwahr?m, another Baloch chief of the period was Ch?kar’s rival. M?r Gwahr?m encouraged his men to steal and harm the flocks and camels of Gawhar. Obliged to protect Gawhar, Ch?kar declared war on Gwahr?m. The result was the famous war at Nali, in which hundreds of the nobles of both sides were killed. See also Moh Sardar Khan, A Literary History of the Baluchis, I, pp. 70-86.

[3] Selig S. Harrisons’s book In Afghanistan’s Shadow, is still the best succinct account and provides a thorough understanding of the events referred to here and below. See also Spooner, “Baluchistan, pp. 610-621.

[4] For further treatment of the relation between poetry and politics, see also Jahani, “Poetry and politics: Nationalism and Language Standardization in the Balochi Literary Movement”.

[5] Gul Kh?n Nas?r, “Du‘?” (composed on 10 Nov. 1936), published in Balo?? duny?, Multan December 1984, p. 2.

[6] For an example of Gul Kh?n Nas?r’s poetry, see e.g. Jahani, “By? o balo?….

[7] Them = the enemy.

[8] We = the Baloch

[9] Sayyid Zah?r Sh?h H?shim?, Tr?mpkaneñ tramp, pp. 33-34.

[10] Ibid., pp. 55-56.

[11] Sayyid Zah?r Sh?h H?shim?, Angar u tr?ngal, pp. 20-22.

[12]‘At? Sh?d, S?h kandin, published in several journals and leaflets during the late 1960s, now in ‘At? Sh?d, Ro?gir, pp. 28-30.

[13] Published in Pirband, pp. 87-89.

[14] Published in Om?n, August 1955, p. 27.

[15] Published in Om?n, March 1956, pp. 11-13.

[16] Published in Sanj, pp. 441.

[17] Published in Girok, p. 31.

[18] Published in Zam?na balo?? , December 1972.

[19] Bash?r Bed?r, Gwarb?m, pp. 50-52.

[20] Published in Pirband, pp. 94-95.

[21] Ibid., p. 170.

[22] Ibid., p. 17.

[23] Ibid., p. 452.

[24] Ibid., p. 39.

[25] Ibid., p. 31.

[26] Ibid., pp. 439-440.

[27] ?z?t Jam?ld?n?, Kawl, published in M?ht?k balo??, May 1957, pp. 44-45.

[28] Jazm?, Balo?ist?ne gw?nk, ibid., September 1957, p. 11.

[29] It may be of interest to note that this poet nowadays lives in Sweden, and was one of the participants in the investigation presented in Carina Jahani’s article in the present volume.

[30] Published in M?ht?k balo??, March-April 1979, p. 25.

[31] Ibid., April 1981, p. 24.

[32] Ibid., July-August 1979, p. 39.

[33] Ibid., pp. 27-28.

[34] Mans?r Baloch, L?ko, ibid., February 1981, pp. 28-29. M?r Namroz, a renowned Baloch leader, died in prison during the Ayub Khan regime; Safar, Law?ng Kh?n, and Rash?d were among those who were killed during the time of Bhutto and Zia ul-Haqq. Also Asad Mengal, the son of the first elected Chief Minister of Balochistan, ‘At?ull?h Mengal, and the brother of the present elected Chief Minister of Balochistan, Akhtar Mengal, was tortured to death during the Bhutto regime.

[35] Published in Bram?, pp. 261-262.

[36] Published in Sanj, p. 460.

[37] Published in Zam?na balo??, February 1982, p. 17.

[38] Published in Sanj, pp. 444-447.

[39] Not officially published poem.

[40] Muhammad Beg Begal, Koh?ñ man?g ant, published in Saw??t, March-April 1978, p. 71.

[41] Published in M?ht?k balo??, January 1981, p. 45.

[42] Ibid.,p. 29.

[43] Published in Sanj, p. 442.

[44] Published in M?ht?k balo??, February 1981, pp. 47-48.

[45] Ibid., p. 40.

[46] Published in Sanj, p. 402.

[47] Ibid., p. 448.

[48] Published in M?ht?k balo??, May-June 1980, p 14.

[49] This poem was published in Balo?? duny?, October 1984, p. 35.

[50] Published in Saw??t, September 1979, p. 32.

[51] Ibid., March-April 1978, p. 72.

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