Monthly Archives: September 2011

West Balochistan

Iran regions map

Report by UNPO

West Balochistan is an occupied territory, annexed in 1928 to Iran in the Reza Shah Pahlavi era.
Since many parts of Balochistan land after occupation has been partitioned into neighbouring Persian Provinces of Kerman, Khorasaan and Hormozgaan, Baloch population inclusively is about 4.8 million.
Capital of Province: Zahidan
Total Baloch inhabited landscape is 690,000 km², of which 280,000 km² is occupied by Iran, 350,000 km² occupied by Pakistan and 60,000 km² by Afghanistan.
Balochi, Brahvi
The majority of Baloch are Hanafi Sunnis. There is also a community of zikri Baloch and a small population of Shia.


The Baloch people in Western Balochistan are represented at the UNPO by Balochistan People’s Party (BPP).They became a member of the UNPO on 26 June 2005


Twenty percent of the Baloch population lives in southeastern Iran in the area known as ‘West Balochistan’ the majority live in East Balochistan (Pakistan) and a small number are located in Afghanistan. The Balochistan People’s Party represents only the Baloch’s in Iran and not the larger Baloch community that resides in Pakistan and Afghanistan also known as ‘Greater Balochistan. Parts of West Balochistan have been partitioned to three neighboring provinces in the south east of Iran: Khorasan, Kerman and Hormozgan. There has been some migration of Baloch throughout in Iran as they seek employment opportunities particularly in Tehran The Baloch population in Iran consists of approximately 4 million people although there are no independent census figures. While the CIA Factbook estimates that they account for 2% of Iran’s population (total 66,429,284 July 2009 estimate) in reality this represents an underestimation. The majority of Iran’s Baloch are Sunni Muslims with small minorities of Shia and Zekri. The national language is Balochi and the second-most commonly spoken language is Brahui, a language of unknown origins with Iranic loanwords.


The British and Persian Empires divided Balochistan into spheres of influence when Balochistan was partitioned during the 19th century. In 1928 West Balochistan was annexed into Iran by Reza shah Pahlavi, who took over the power from Qajar dynasty through a British backed military coup soon after the famous historical “constitutional revolution” in the early 20th century. The Pahlavi dynasty in Iran marked the beginning of a centralized state based on Persian national features, where the Persian language and Shiite religion were given prominence leaving Baloch people struggling to defend their rights under Iranian Rule. Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was forced into exile. The new regime outlawed political organizations and in 1981, began a major assault on political activists in the form of persecution, imprisonment, torture, execution and assassination.
Baloch people in Iran are deprived of their cultural, social and economic rights leaving them feeling like third class citizens. They face discrimination, particularly with regard to political participation and the job market. The punishment for dissemination of Baloch culture and language is a declared act of treason against the state and assimilation policies carried out by the Persian state mean that the Baloch are rapidly losing their identity. Baloch people face systematic intimidation, harassment arrests, and torture.


UNPO condemns the unwarranted military operation against Baloch people which has resulted in mass displacement, killings, disappearances and mass imprisonment in Balochistan.
UNPO deplores the discrimination against Balochs, particularly in economic and political sphere. In addition, UNPO condemns the denial of linguistic rights to speak and be educated in their mother tongue.
UNPO supports the Balochistan Peoples Party in their campaign to develop Baloch culture and promote the organization of people on the basis of a national Baloch identity.


The Balochistan Peoples Party is a national democratic movement which is struggling to achieve sovereignty for the Baloch people within a secular, federal and democratic republic in Iran. BPP is one of the founding and most active members of “The Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran” (CNFI). The CNFI consists of parties and organizations representing Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Balochs, Kurds and Turkmen. CNFI seeks to establish a secular, democratic republic with a federal structure based on parity of its constituent parts.


Early History

Balochistan is the location of some of the earliest human civilizations and the Baloch were mentioned in Arabic chronicles from 10th century AD. Mehrgar the earliest civilization known to mankind is located in Eastern Balochistan and the Kech civilization in central Makuran dates back to 4000 BC.
The Arab invasion of Balochistan in the seventh century AD was amongst the most significant incursions in terms of the extensive social, religious, economic and political impacts. The Arab army controlled by Hakam, defeated the combined forces of Makuran and Sindh in 644 AD. During the anarchic and chaotic last phases of Arab rule, the Baloch tribes established their own semi-independent tribal confederacies, which were frequently threatened and overwhelmed by the stronger forces and dynasties of surrounding areas. This period brought Islam to the area which was gradually embraced by Baloch tribes.
The Selijuq suppression of the Baloch was epitomized with the invasion of Kerman in 11th century AD which stimulated the eastward migration of the Baloch. The Selijuq ruler, Qaward, also sent an expedition against the Kufichis. The Safavid rule ran from 1501-1736.
The British occupation of Kalat state was a turning point which had had severe consequences for the Baloch who suffered the partition of their land and perpetual occupation by foreign forces. By the 18th century, Kalat was the dominant power in Balochistan and the Khan of Kalat was the ruler of Balochistan. The British first came to Balochistan in 1839 when they sought safe passage and they signed a treaty with Kalat state in 1841. The British annexed Sindh in 1843 from the Talpur Mirs, a Baloch dynasty. Another treaty was imposed on the Baloch in 1876 when the British forced the Khan of Kalat to lease Quetta city to them. The Khan’s authority over Balochistan still applied but under the watchful eye of a British minister. In 1849, an Iranian army defeated Baloch forces in Kerman and captured Bumpur. The Baloch people became further marginalized during the Anglo-Afghan wars and subsequent events in Persia, particularly in light of “the great game” between Tsarist Russia and the British Empire.
West Balochistan was conquered by Iran in the 19th century and the partition of Balochistan by British and Persian Empires dramatically changed Balochistan’s political status as it was divided into spheres of influence. The border that splits Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan was fixed in 1872 by a British colonial official, ceding territory to Iran’s rulers in a bid to win Tehran’s support against Czarist Russia.
Baloch rebellions against dominations occurred throughout the 19th century, including the revolt of Jask in 1873, the revolt of Sarhad in 1888 and the general uprising in 1889. A major uprising under Baloch chieftain Sardar Hussein Narui in 1896 provoked a joint Anglo-Persian expeditionary force to crush the struggle of Baloch. Baloch resistance was defeated after two years.
The reign of the Pahlavi dynasty in Iran was the beginning of a centralized state with Persian national identity based features which ruled Iran from the crowning of Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1925. Western Balochistan was annexed by Iran in 1928 after the defeat of Baloch forces by Reza Shah’s Army. Reza Shah Pahlavi was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in September 1941 when his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, became the emperor of Iran.

Recent History

During the 1970s the Iranian government began to assist settlement and economic development by building dams and power plants but these efforts ceased abruptly following political changes at the end of the decade. The Baloch Nationalist Movement in Iran was a relatively insignificant force compared to the movement in Eastern or Pakistani Balochistan until the overthrow of the Shah in the Iranian Revolution 1979 when there was resurgence of nationalist activities. Iraq attempted to destroy the Revolution in its infancy and invaded Iran marking the beginning of a bloody, indecisive war between 1980 and 88.
The death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 marked a shift in Iran foreign policy from the idealistic post-revolutionary hardline during the Iran-Iraq. Iran became more pragmatic and improved relations with its non-revolutionary Muslim neighbours, particularly Saudi Arabia.
After the destruction of a Sunni mosque, there were a series of riots in 1994 in Zahidan which were quelled when Revolutionary Guards fired live ammunition into the crowd. In response to popular dissatisfaction, political reform was initiated following the election of reformer Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohammad Khatami in 1997. In the 1990s Baloch political activists set about founding a new political party, facilitated by the post cold war climate which favored oppressed nations struggle for self-determination and sovereignty.
Conservatives were able to regain power during municipal elections in 2003 and Majles elections in 2004, which culminated in the August 2005 inauguration of hardliner Mahmud Ahmadinejad as president who returned Iranian policy to reflect Islamic revolutionary policies. The president was re-elected in the controversial elections in June 2009.


1. Human Rights Violations

There are serious allegations about Iran’s military operation including mass arrests, harassment of Baloch people and the execution of innocent Baloch civilians in Zahidan.
The recent escalation in the number military exercises conducted in Balochistan has resulted in an increasing death toll. In most cases however there is little or no investigation into the incidents, and consequently little in the way of justice for the victims. Despite being prohibited from entering Iran, Amnesty International has received reports of gross human rights violations at the hands of security forces (see their 2007 report) During 2006-7, numerous Baloch were shot dead in the street, including an 11 year old on 16 May 2007 killed by the Law Enforcement Force. There are examples of forced disappearances, such as Vahid Mir Baluchzahi, aged 23, who went missing in February 2007 and was found dead in June later that year. In June 2009, 17 young Baloch were killed in street clashes with security forces and over 500 arrested after a demostration in the streets of Zahidan.
There is a heavy military presence in the east of the country, the base for the branch of the military called Mersad is located in Zahidan. One of the leaders is reported to have said, “We have not been given orders to arrest and hand over those who carry weapons. On the basis of a directive we have received, we will execute any bandits, wherever we capture them.”
The use of the death penalty represents a major concern, particularly since there is sparse information available about the trials of some Balochs who are often arrested, tried and executed within days. It is unclear how many Baloch have been executed over the years, but in 2006 it is known the number rose dramatically when at least 32 and possibly 50 Balochs were executed. In 2007, the Ayyaran newspaper reported that 700 people were awaiting execution in Sistan Balochistan. In the aftermath of the presidential election in May 2009 19 Baloch prisoners were executed after short trials in closed-door court rooms without having access to defence lawyers.
The system of trying suspected criminals in Iran is inherently unfair. Defendants only have access to lawyer after investigations have been completed and they have been formally charged. Lawyers can be imprisoned if they protest unfair proceedings. Judges have powers to refuse a public trial if the case is incompatible with ‘morality or public order’ and they have discretionary powers to exclude lawyers in sensitive cases. The lack of separation of powers of investigator prosecutor and judge mean that their functions remain merged, making an impartial hearing impossible. Confessions to certain crimes may be used as sole means of proving defense under Islamic penal code. Amnesty International has expressed concern about torture and ill treatment in pre trial detention, particularly the allowing confessions extracted under duress to be used.
Members of civil society organisations face oppression and are prevented from carrying out their activities. A Baloch youth group were only granted permission after much difficulty to stage first cultural music conference in 2005 and permission to stage a similar concert by another group refused in 2006. Six members of Voice of Justice Youth Association were arrested for their activities in 2007. The following year, the head of the organisation, Mr. Mehrnehad was subjected torture and executed.

2. Political Representation and Discrimination

The Baloch are unrepresented at the central government in Tehran which has led to marginalization of Balochi people. There is a lack of meaningful dialogue on a domestic scale between interstate and state leaders about the desire for greater autonomy and self-determination.
In Iran, there is an ideological selection procedure called gozinesh which requires state officials and employees to demonstrate allegiance to Islam and the Islamic republic of Iran including velayat-e faqih (Rule of Jurisconsult). This is in conflict with Sunni beliefs meaning that equality of opportunity in employment both in the public, parastatal sector (e.g. Bonyads or Foundations) and sometimes in the private sector is severely impaired. Gozinesh excludes non-Shi’a from certain state positions such as the President and restricts access to higher education.

3. Governmental dismissal of Baloch Culture

Baloch people have been reduced to a minority in their own homeland by demographic manipulations at the hands of a succession of Iranian governments and systematic assimilation policy severely threatens the continuation of Baloch identity. For instance non-Baloch are able to purchase land at reduced prices enabling them to set up businesses. On June 30 2005, a community of Baloch were reportedly forcibly evicted from homes in Chabhar when their huts were demolished by security forces. Protesters were injured and no compensation or re-housing was offered.
Despite provisions in Iran’s constitution under article 15 that ‘the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media as well as for teaching of their literature in schools is allowed in addition to Farsi’ the Baloch’s language is subject to elimination and assimilation by Iranian rulers. Although Balochi publications were allowed for the first time after 1979, the following year the government closed down 3 Balochi publications (Mahtak, Graand and Roshanal) and today Balochi publications are banned. There is a state radio station with a few Balochi programmes, but no Balochi appears on television. Balochi is forbidden in formal and public places and Baloch children are deprived of using their mother tongue as the medium of instruction at schools.

4. Socio-economic Rights

According to UN 2003 indicators, Balochistan is the poorest region in Iran with the worst indicators for life expectancy, adult literacy, primary school enrolment and access to improve water and sanitation and infant and child mortality. This is despite the region’s natural wealth: Balochistan produces 40% of Iran’s energy, yet only 5-6% population have a gas connection. After the election of President Ahmadinejad in 2005, many Balochs were reportedly forced from their jobs.

Does Balochistan seek autonomy?
The Balochistan Peoples Party believes in non-violent and peaceful means of seeking national self-determination and popular sovereignty for Baloch people within Iran. It is campaigning to achieve this sovereignty within a federal Democratic Republic of Iran based on parity of its constituent parts. It seeks to create a liberal democratic system based on political pluralism, secularism and social welfare free from discrimination.
BPP seeks to work in co-operation with Iranian nations in a peaceful co-existence based on parity and mutual respect. It also seeks to develop peaceful relations with neighbouring countries. BPP aims to support and guide grassroots Baloch organisations which are emerging in civil society inside Balochistan in Iran.

Does West Balochistan want to unite with Balochistan in Pakistan and Afghanistan?
Iranian Baloch identify with their kin in neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan where communities are also engaged in their own struggle for greater rights and self determination. Baloch regions are referred to in their entirety as “Greater Balochistan” and are united by historic persecution at the hands of imperial powers. The circumstance of a nation divided without a state of its own pervades the Baloch national consciousness. The truth of the Baloch National question is the existence of a unified Baloch nation with one homeland.

Why is a wall being built dividing Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan?
Iran has started constructing a 700km concrete wall along the border that has divided Baloch people into Pakistan and Iran from Taftan to Mand. The Iranian government claims that 3 feet thick and 10 feet high concrete wall is being constructed to stop illegal border crossings and stem the flow of drugs.
The BPP strongly believe that construction of the wall serves political goals of the Iranian regime which is to divide the Baloch people and to suppress opposition voices claiming a unified Baloch nation. Close relatives live on both sides on the border and the wall will divide community politically and socially and seriously impede trade and social activities of the Baloch.

Language and Culture
Iranian Baloch see themselves as the heirs of an ancient and proud tradition distinct from Iran’s ethnic Persian population. They have a distinct language one of the oldest living languages of the Indo-Iranian group of the Indo-European languages, which is among the oldest and constructive in the region. They prefer to use the Nastaliq script which is a variant of Arabic.
The Baloch have close ties with populations in Pakistan and Afghanistan because of family or tribal links. Baloch live in a stratified society and historically have administered themselves as a loose tribal confederacy. Each tribe (tuman) consists of several clans and acknowledge one Sardar or hakim (leader) who has traditional social ties with his retinue (who include pastoralists, farmers, lower level leaders and hizmatkar).

The Baloch are traditionally nomads but increasingly they are converting their farming practices to settled agriculture. In the coastal area, fishing represents a major income source. Although Balochistan is rich in gas, oil, gold and other minerals and marine resources occupation of their land and lack of trust from occupant regimes means that the people of Balochistan do not benefiting from their vast resources. Hence Baloch live in some of the poorest conditions in South East Asia.

The majority of Baloch are Sunni Muslims whereas approximately 90% of the Iranian population are Shi’a. There is also a community of zikri Baloch and a small population of Shia.

Nature & Environment
The dry season in Balochistan runs for 8 months of the year, Sistan Balochistan being the driest region in Iran. Seasonal winds visit the province including the 120-day wind of Sistan known as Levar. Erosion is a serious problem as precipitation is scarce but mostly falls in violent rainstorms which cause heavy flooding. In the centre of the region there is abundant groundwater and streams, such as the Māshkīd and the Konārī rivers. Storms in 2007 causing widespread flooding and damage to property killed 23 people and threatened the health of thousands. The iconic Mudy Mountain towers over Chahbahar, Balochistan, Iran and the unique Mudy volcano is located in northwestern Chabahar city. Each eruption involves a loud gunshot sound with an explosion of gas and mud. Sistan Baluchistan Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Department has proposed mud volcano be registered on UNESCO World Heritage List.

Amnesty International 2007 Report: ‘Iran: Human Rights Abuses Against The Baluchi Minority’
Amnesty International 2009 Report on Iran
Balochistan Peoples Party
Baloch Unity

Selig S. Harrison, ‘In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baloch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations, Carnegie Endowment for Peace’ New York 1981.

Shahid Fiaz, ‘Peace Audit Report 3: The Peace Question in Balochistan’ South Asia Forum for Human Rights Katmandu 2003.

Inayatullah Baloch, ‘The Problem of Greater Balochistan’ Stener Verlag Wiesbaden GMBH Stuttgart 1987

Khan, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan ‘Inside Balochsitan’ Maaref Printers Karachi, 1975.

‘Farhang- e Iran Zamin’ compiled and edited by: Iraj Afshar, Tehran 1990.

Dr Naseer Dashti, ‘Baloch in Iran: What Option they have’

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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Balochistan


The Baloch Tribes of the Seraiki Region

Map of Saraiki Region

By: Farooq Miana

Baloch people form a large portion of the whole population of Seraiki wasaib. They are found in considerable numbers in all Seraiki districts. They dwell both in cities and villages. All though some are big landlords and occupy large areas through out Seraiki Wasaib. But they no longer hold compact territories exclusively as their own. They have lost their language and speak Seraiki as a native language, they have been settled and assimilated in Seraiki culture and has little to do with Baloch tribes of Balochistan. Balochs of Seraiki wasaib can hardly be distinguished from other people of Seraiki Wasaib. One would not know about their caste unless revealed by themselves. These Balochs own no allegiance to any tribal Chief, are altogether external to political organization of the tribes of Baluchistan and don’t hold any dominant position among their neighbors which is enjoyed by the organized tribes of Dera Ghazi Khan. However Baloch tribes residing in Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur and Rojhan still have lot of Baloch traditions and some of them still speak Balochi language.

The Balochs of Dera Ismail Khan, Bhakkar, Layyah

The Balochs started settling in Seraiki wasaib about the middle of 15th century. Prior to this they had spread as north as the Bolan, but had not yet encroached upon the Suleman range which lay east to them and which was held by the Pathans, while a Jat population occupied the valley of Indus and the country between the Suleman and the river. The area was called Makalwad but later on this term went out of usage and Daman was used which still is used for this area.
By the middle of 15th century the Brahoi, a tribe believed to be of Dravidian origin, drove the Balochs out of the fertile valley of Kelat and established supremacy over their northern tribes. These Baloch tribes moved east ward into lower Sulemans driving the Pathans before them along the range. Many of these latter took service with the Langah rulers of Multan and were granted lands along the river. About 1480 A.D Ismail Khan and Fateh Khan two sons of Malik Sohrab Khan and Ghazi Khan son of Haji Khan all Dodais of Rind extraction founded three Deras, Namely Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Fatah Khan.
The tribal name of Dodai disappeared, because leaders were of different tribe from their followers, the representatives and tribesmen of Ghazi Khan were locally called Mihrani, those of Ismail Khan as Hot and those of Fatah Khan as Kulachi.
With Ghazi Khan came the Jiskani Balochs, who occupied Cis-Indus tract above Bakkar, while with Hots came Korai. At the zenith of their power the Hot, Korai, Mirani, and Jiskani held sway over almost the whole Damaan and Thal. During the later half of 16th century Daud Khan a Jiskani and descendants of one Ghazi Khan Followers moved southwards and captured the greater part of Layyah. Emperor Akbar dispersed his tribe, but early in 17th century the independence of the Jiskani under Baloch Khan was recognized and it is from Baloch Khan that the Jiskani, Mandrani, Mamdani, Sargani, Kandani and Muliani, who still live in Bhakkar and Layyah Districts, trace their descent. In about 1750-1770 A.D Mihrani (people of Ghazi Khan) who sided with the Kalhoras or Sarais of Sindh in their struggle against Ahmed Shah Durrani, were driven out of Dera Ghazi Khan by Jiskani. (About the same time the Hots were over thrown after a desperate struggle by the Gandapur Pathans.
The Balochs of Dera Ismail Khan are scattered through out the Districts and its tehsils of Paharpur, Kulachi and Darabun, they don’t have any political or administrative unity the tribal tie is merely that of common descent and these tribes possess no corporate coherence. None of these tribes speaks Balochi language nor has any life style similarity with Baloch tribes of Balochistan. The Baloch tribes of Layyah, Bhakkar and Dera Ismail Khan have been absorbed in local culture; they intermingle and intermarry with Jats and other castes. The principal Baloch tribes of Dera Ismail Khan, Layyah and Bhakkar are Lashari, Kulachi and Jiskani, after them come the Rind, the Laghari, the Jatoi, the Korai, the Chandia, the Hot, the Gurmani, the Petafi, the Gashkori and the Mirani. The Petafis are found only in Dera Ismail Khan, they are confined to Parao area and the principal village in which they are in majority is Hazara.

(The most Balochs in Layyah and Bhakkar as Jiskan, Mamdanis are Rind)

Organized Baloch Tribes of Dera Ghazi Khan, Rojhan and Rajanpur Region

The Balochs of Dera Ghazi Khan, Rohjan and Rajanpur region are the only Seraiki Balochs which have retained distinct tribal and political organization. The Dera Ghazi Khan tribes are in the main of Rind origin. They include, beginning from south Mazari, Drishak, Gurchani, Tibbi Lund, Laghari, Khetran, Khosa, Sori Lund, Bozdar, Qasarani and Nutkani.

The Mazaris
The Mazaris are practically found only in Rajanpur. This city is the Capital Seat of the Mazari Baloch tribe who has held this territory since 1632 A.D. Prior to this the Mazari Tribe was settled in the Bambhore Hills of present day Kahan in Balochistan. The original city of Rojhan, situated a few kilometers from the present city, was burnt by the Sikh invaders under the command of Raja Kharak Singh. The Present City was constructed during the reign of the famous Mazari Chief, Nawab Sir Imam Buksh Khan Mazari during the early and middle part of the 1800s. The word ‘rojhan’ traces its roots back to the ancient Babalonyian and Caspatic languages of the Indo-European language family, meaning the ‘City of Tents’. The City is a site to many ancient yet beautiful tombs of the Mazari Nawabs and Sardars dating as back as the 17th Century.

The Drishak
They came down to land towards The Drishaks are the most scattered of all the Dera Ghazi Khan their villages are surrounded by villages of Jats and other indigenous people. They own no portion of the hills and are practically confined to Dera Ghazi Khan District. Its principal sections are Kirmani, Mingwani, Gulfaz, Sargani, and. Arbani.

The Gurchani
They own Mari and Darugal Hills, They are divided into Eleven Clans, of which chief are the Durkani, Shekhani, Lashari, Petafi, Jiskani, and Sibzani.

The Tibbi Lund
They are confined to Dera Ghazi Khan district, where they occupy small area in the midst of Gurchani country.

The Laghari
The Leghari Baloch tribe is one of the largest of Baloch tribes. The Leghari baloch are pure “Rind Baloch”. They are divided into four clans, the Haddiani, Aliani, Bughlani and Haibatani. Their headquarters are at Choti Zerin, where they are said to have settled after their return from accompanying with Hamayun, expelling the Ahmadanis who then held the present Laghari country.
The Legharis are also found in Dera Ismail Khan and Muzaffargarh but don’t owe alligeance to the tribe. The Talpur dynasty of Sindh belonged to this tribe and there still is a considerable population of Laghari tribe in Sindh.

The Khetran
The Khetran hold territory on the back of Laghari, Khosa and Lund country. Their original settlemet was at Vahoa, where many of them still live and hold land between the Qasarani and the River.
Khetrans are certainly not pure Baloch, and held by many to be Pathans, descended from Miana, brother of Tarin. Where as other think them to be a remunant of the original Jat population all of them speak Seraiki. However they confessdly resemble the Balochs in features, habits and general appearance, the name of their septs end in the Baloch patronymie termination “dni”. They are the least warlike of all the Baloch tribes of this region, capital cultivatorsa and in consequence exceedingly wealthy.

The Khosas
Major Pullock “It is rare to find a Khosa who has not been in prison for cattle-stealing or deserved to be and a Khosa who has not committed a murder or debauched his neighbor’s wife or destroyed his neighbor’s landmark is decidedly a creditable specimen”.
They occupy the country between the Laghari and the Qasrani, their territory being divided into northern and southern portion by the territory of Lunds In Seraiki Wasaib, outside Dera Ghazi Khan they are found in Bahawalpur. They hold extensive lands in Sindh, which were granted to them by Empror Humayun for military service. Khosas are admitted to be among the bravest of the Balochs. They are true Rind and are divided into six clans, namely Babelani, Isani, Jaggel, Jaudani, Jarwar and Mahrwani.

The Sori Lund
This is a small tribe. Their territory divides that of Khosas into to two parts and extends to the bank of River Indus. They are not pure Baloches and are divided into five clans the Hadarani, Bakrani, Zariana, Garzwani, Nuhani.

The Buzdars
These live in scattered villages about Rajanpur and among Laghari tribe. The Buzdars are of Rind extraction and are divided into Dulani, Ghulamani, Chakrani, Sihani, Shahwani, Jalalani and Rustamani clan.

The Qasarani
They are settled on the territory lying on either side of the boundary between Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan. The tribe is poor one and is divided into seven clans the Lashkarani, Khubdin, Budhani, Vaswani, Jarwar and Rustamani. They are of Rind origin and found in Seraiki wasaib in the area mentioned above.

The Nutkani
This is tribe peculiar to Dera Ghazi Khan; it holds a territory stretching east ward to the Indus and between the Northern Khosa and the Qasrani. This tribe was brutally crushed out of tribal existence in early days of Ranjit Singh’s rule.
Other Less Important Baloch Tribes of Dera Ghazi Khan Include Gopang, Lashari, Gurmani, Mastoi, Hahani, Sanjraniand Ahmadani. These all lie scattered along the edge of the Indus and spoeak Seraiki and have been completely assimilated to Seraiki culture.

The Balochs of Multan and Muzaffargarh Region

Like Balochs of Dera Ismail Khan, Bakhar and Layyah, Balochs in Multan and Muzzafargarh have adopted the local culture and language and have lost their Baloch habits and characteristics long ago. The reason doubtless is that this is the centre of Seraiki power and assimilating forces here are more potent then any where else. The important Baloch tribes of this region are the Gopang, the Chandia, the Rind, the Jatoi, the Korai, the Laghari, Lashari, and the Hot, the Chandias, the Khosas and the Dasti.

The Balochs of Bahawalpur, Rahimyarkhan and Sadiqabad Region

The Balochs of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Sadiqabad have been assimilated to Seraiki culture by all means and show now resemblance with Balochs. These tribes include Gopang, the Chandias, the Khosas, the Dasti, the Lashari, the Laghari, the Jataoi and the Mazari.
The Gopnags are mostly found in Khanpur, Khosas in Allahabad and Rahimyar Khan. Dashti Balochs mostly live in Sadiqabad and Khanpur. The Jatois settled in Bahawalpur during the times of Nawab Bahawal Khan III. They showed lot of bravery during wars and thus Nawab gave away huge land to them in Uch. The Mazaris settled in Bahawalpur on the invitation of Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV and were given land and Sadiqabad. Laghari Baloch also came at the same time and received huge chunks of agricultural lands.

The Baloch Tribes of Ravi, Upper Jehlum and Chanab

The Baloch tribes of the Ravi are found in bar of the Montgomery and Jhang districts. They used to breed camels here and held little land as cultivators. They consisted mostly of Jataoi and Rind. They probably are descendants of the men who under Mir Chakkar accompanied Humayun and received a grant of Land in Montgomery in return for their service. In Jhang and Sargodha districts on the Jehlum and the right bank of Chenab, the principal tribes to be found are the Rind, the Jataoi, the Lashari and the Korai.

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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Baloch People


Pile Rugs of The Baluch and Their Neighbors

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By Dr. Dietrich H. G. Wegner

Pile rugs are an important part of the material culture of Central Asian peoples. The attraction that emanates from these textiles inspires us to learn more about the people that produce them.

Traditional patterns and colors, the way to combine them, as well as the material and the techniques of production are often determined by the ethnic origin of the weavers. This background also explains the way in which man and his product reflect foreign influences. This aspect for the Baluch and their rugs shall be studied in the following series.

History and Geographical Distribution of the Baluch

Exact dates concerning the history of the Baluch are rare. Conclusions about their origin are all based on linguistic studies. According to these, Baluch is a separate Indo-European language with relations to the Middle Persian, the Kurdish and the Parthian languages. This indicates an original home south of the Caspian Sea (Elfenbein 1960:1038). History mentions the Baluch for the first time as nomads in the area of Kirman, whichwas conquered by the Arabs in 644. In response to the expansion of the Seljuks the Baluch began to evade and retreat to the southeast at the end of the 10th century. Continuous massive raids by the Baluch into Khorassan and Sistan triggered counter attacks during which they suffered heavy losses. Their defeat at Khabis by Mas’ud of Ghazna was very probably decisive; forcing the majority of the Baluch to move through Sistan into the area that is today known as Baluchistan (Frye 1960:1036). In the east, at the coast of the Indian Ocean called Mekran, they came upon the Djat and further north upon the Brahu’i nomads, who were partly absorbed by the Baluch1. Until the 17th century groups of these eastern Baluch spread into Sindh and further into Pandjab. There they are mentioned among the troops that helped the Mogul emperor Homayun to conquer Delhi (Frye 1960:1036). It is interesting to note that the Baluch never formed influential political organizations, as we know of them from Turks and Turkomans. But even subtribes and clans kept kept their total independence to the point of fierce battles developing among themselves.

The accompanying map explains the actual distribution of the Baluch, though incompletely, and does not tell us anything about the history of the Baluch north of Sistan, in a hundreds of kilometers wide strip, east and west of today’s Iranian/Afghan border, and up to the Soviet Turkmen Republic. The history of those Baluch is, however, of utmost interest, since only they, who actually live outside the geographical region of Baluchistan, have a tradition of pile weaving. The patterns in their rugs lead us to the question why these “north” Baluch do not utilize typical Baluch motifs as they are used by their southern brothers, but rather apply ethnologically foreign Turkoman designs. Among those designs are, especially in older rugs, very attractive tribal guls. The answer to that may lie in the fact that these Baluch had close contacts to Turkoman tribes whose tribal device they had to learn to reproduce as soon as they fell under Turkoman rule (Moshkova 1948:32). A hint at the possibility of very early contacts can be found in Moinuddin Isifizari’s “Rauzat ul Jannatfi-‘l-ausaf-i-Madinat-‘l-Herat” (Tate 1977:367 and Bijarani 1974:285). According to this, the Baluch nomads constituted already in the 14th century a great part of the population in the area north of Herat and up to the region of Badghiz. Oral history (Yate 1888 and Wegner 1978:287) underlines the above report. With all required discretion one can imagine how Baluch from Sistan came into this region that up until the 19th century always had been influenced by Turkomans. Without doubt, later on Baluch groups came also from Sistan to the north. That is during the reign of Nadir Shah (1736 to 1747), who was Safavi governor of Sistan at the beginning of his career. In 1740 he freed North Khorassan from Uzbeks and Turkomans during his successful expeditions against Bokhara and Khiva (Sykes II 1963:263). After his death, however, many of those regions came again under Uzbek and Turkoman domain (Vambery II 1969:150). Consequently, the population there became once again very dependent on the Turkomans. This development may have caused a gradual migration back towards Sistan by parts of the Baluch, during which smaller groups settled in the area of today’s Khorassan, where they are still living In light of this background, it becomes clear that Turkoman influences made the pile rug weaving tradition among these Baluch not only possible but even caused it. All of this was a slow development over a long span of time because Baluch have tended to hold on to their traditions in spite of constant and sometimes aggressive foreign influences from their neighbors, who have outnumbered them by far, and who have been very conscious of their own traditions. Up to today many groups of Khorassan Baluch have preserved not only their own language and own family structure but also some other customs, for example, the form of their tents. This points to the fact that the introduction and the spread of originally unknown technique of pile rug weaving, the adoption and modification of foreign Turkoman symbolism, and the development of the Baluch’s own patterns started a long time before and not at the time of Nadir Shah, as is often assumed (Edwards 1953:185; Eiland 1976:75)..

Flat-weave Fabrics and Pile-weave Rugs

It needs to be pointed out that, contrary to widespread opinion, there is no old tradition of pile rug weaving in Baluchistan itself (Imp. Gaz. Ind. 1908). Besides that, another kind of geometrical design dominates there. Up to today embroidered patterns from Sar-had (southern Persian Baluchistan) resemble ornaments on Baluch tombs near Thatta (“Chaukandi-Tombs”), which date back to the middle of the 18th century (Zajadacz-Hastenrath 1978:3foll.). Likewise, forms and colors of embroideries from Mejran (Pakistan Baluchistan) do not reflect any distinct Turk ornaments as do similar pieces from Baluch areas from Sistan on to the north.

The Baluch of Baluchistan have, however, a long tradition in the making of pileless fabrics (IMP. Gaz. Ind. 1908; Konieczny 1979). Mainly saddle bags and storage sacks are flat-woven. For rare floor coverings, woven pieces, about 80cm wide, are sewn together lengthwise so that pieces of 160x300cm are obtained. Very often they have small white and/or red geometric patterns in horizontal rows on a mostly very dark background.

The borderline between the pile rug and the pileless rug weaving Khorassan Baluch and the only pileless rug weaving Baluchistan Baluch ran around the middle of this century through Iran, approximately from the area around Iranshar in the south of the Lut Desert, to the east through the northern part of the region of Kwash, and on across today’s Iranian-Pakistani border, through the area south of Quetta toward Kelat. It is obvious that this border, considering the mobility of the Baluch, cannot be very rigid. Due to the growing construction of roads and highways, especially in Iran in the last decades, this border might have been shifted further to the south in the same measure as modern commercial demand has created new cottage industries in areas that were inaccessible up to then.

It is more difficult to determine the borders of the east Persian/west Afghan territory of the pile rug weaving Baluch towards the other directions. To the east their number diminishes gradually towards a north-south zone, which goes roughly from Quetta in today’s Pakistan, to the Amu Darya River in northeast Afghanistan. Single clans were, however, still to be found in northwest Pakistan, India, and even in the western part of Chinese Turkestan.

In the north they reach into the Soviet Turkmen Republic (Pikulin 1959) where, according to Russian information (1933), about 10,000 Baluch were settled in kholkhoes (Benningsen 1960:1036; Gafferberg 1969). There, pile rugs are probably no longer produced in great numbers.

Only very few Baluch are to be found west of the deserts Lut and Kavir, in northwest Iran. Some products of the Shahsavan point to the possibility that also Baluch did partake in the development of this recent and rather heterogeneous formation.

Identification of Baluch Tribes

In recent years growing government authority in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and especially in Persian Khorassan has limited the freedom and mobility of the Baluch. It is, nevertheless, difficult to identify specific clans over a longer period of time. Even the name of the Nahru’i, a tribe that was mentioned several times in history (Pottinger 1816:56; Bijarani 1974:287; Tate 1977:341-354) is hardly remembered among Khorassan Baluch nowadays even though they themselves probably belonged to that tribe originally. It seems that today some tribes still like to rename themselves after their Khans, who were of singlemost importance to them. One example are the Salar-Khani. The part that returned, however, adopted the name Said-Mohammed-Khani. In 1954 they consisted of 400 people and possessed about 20,000 sheep and more than 1,000 camels. The Khodadad-Khani, who settled about 100 kilometers northwest of the latter, are supposedly a splinter group of the Salar-Khani. Edwards (1953:185) calls the Salar-Khani, also Kurkheili, a name that was no longer in use ten years later.

former Afghan pastures after the death of Nadir Shah. These peoples are partly of Iranian, partly of Turk-Mongol origin and belong to the loose confederation of the Tsharar Aimaq (Chahar Aimaq). “The Four Peoples.” Sometimes the above mentioned Timuri are also said to be one of those.

A further example are the Ghara’i Baluch. They settled down in the territory of the Ghara’i tribe about 150 years ago and called themselves after their protectors. Similarly, the name of the Djanbeghi, neighbors of the Said-Mohammed-Djanbeghi, neighbors of the Said-Mohammed-Khani, could allude to a former dependence of a subdivision of the Herzegi with the same name. The Herzegi are a sub-tribe of the Saryk Turkoman. Also, the name of the Tshu(b)dari in the area of Kashmar reminds us of the Tshaudor (Choudor) Turkoman.

These observations explains why it is with little success today to search for the Baluch tribal names that were gathered by, among others, Pottinger (1816), Bellow (1891), and Tate (1910). It also shows why among Baluch it is far more difficult to attribute certain rug patterns to a clearer definable group of pile rug weavers than it is among Turkomans. It seems more meaningful to classify the patterns according to the geographical regions in which thay are most often found.

The Ethnic Environment of the Baluch

A regional classification allows us to also include those pattern modifications that originated in the same area that are, however, obviously not made by Baluch, but were developed when their producers learned the technique of knotting carpets from the Baluch (Wegner 1964:147; ibid. 1978:288, 292). These circumstances could be studied closer in some “Djulghe”, valleys, east of Turbett-i-Heidari between 1950 and 1960. Besides a multitude of Baluch clans, some semi-nomad village communities were found here which had immigrated from the farther east lying main territory of the Timuri around 1800 (Maitland 1975:416) and lived under a “tribal” name of their own. Among those “immigrants” the Moreidari and their subdivision, the Sarbuzi, the El-Khani, and the Boruti in the Djulghe Khaf have traditional independent pattern variants. In the further north situated Djulghe Barkharz appear the Porbuzi and the Seldjuqi as original Timuri, and in the even further north Djulghe Djam, the Sangtshuli. Only the Moghulzadeh in the Djulghe Khaf and the Mokhtari maintain that they are not Baluch. The classification of the Yaqub-Khani is also unsure because they consider themselves Baluch (Edwards 1953:187), as well as Timuri. Today the Timuri are mainly to be found in west Afghanistan. Ethnologically they do not belong to the Iranian people. Their original home in the region of Bokhara makes a Turk/Mongol derivation more probable than an Arab one claimed for reason of alleged greater distinction (Maitland 1975:416). The Afghan Timuri produce pile rugs, too. Many of their tribal devices can, however, not be sufficiently identified. Apart from the Yaqub-Khani, who are also to be found in Afghanistan, the sub-tribes of the Kaudani (also Kuduani), the Shir-Khani, and the Zakani have acquired a good reputation as pile rug weavers (Janata 1975:10 and 1978:11). The Bah’luri also are one of the main foreign family units among the Baluch. They are to be found in northeast and east Khorassan, between Tayabad and Gha’in, as well as in Afghanistan. They were still camel-raising nomads around 1950. According to their tradition they are originally west Iranian Turks. Thet were resettled to Khorassan by Shah Abbas (1587-1628) because they were notorious trouble-makers. In their pile rugs they have modified elements of Baluch patterns so much that the inner relation to the typical Baluch symbolism of these motifs is missing.

Pile rugs with Baluch features, cruder though and not as plentiful, are also found among the Firuskuni and Taimani. They live today as farmers and semi nomads in rather confined areas in west Afghanistan: north and east of Herat, and south down to the region of Adreskand. The Djamshidi live here also. According to Janata (oral information, 1979), the question arises whether their sub-tribe, the Maududi, is identical with the Mush(a)wani, whose typical pile-weave rugs (Fig. 1) were mentioned in more recent publications (Eiland 1976:79). About 250 Djamshidi moved into the area of Meshhed in Persian north Khorassan only after 1885 (Janata 1978:11). Firuzkuhi are also still to be found in Iran, in the area south of Nishapur (Bellew 1973:59). Presumably they stayed behind when their tribe, which had been resettled their by Nadir Shah, returned to their former Afghan pastures after the death of Nadir Shah.

These peoples are partly of Iranian, partly of Turk-Mongol origin and belong to the loose confederation of the Tsharar Aimaq (Chahar Aimaq). “The Four Peoples.” Sometimes the above mentioned Timuri are also said to be one of those.

We do not know of any pile rugs made by the three first mentioned peoples before 1900. And there are no pieces in which natural dyes are used exclusively. This leads us to the conclusion that they learned how to knot rugs in very recent times, probably from the neighboring Baluch.

The flat-weave products of those groups seem to be of more significance than their pile-weave products. Small and big saddle-bags, old and new ones, all have the same typical patterns, that Janata (1979) and Bolland (1971:169) reported from the Afghan Djamshidi and Firuzkuhi. Such bags were still sold in the bazaars of Meshhed between 1950 and 1960. Since their patterns remotely resemble the ornaments on web-ends of Baluch carpets, dealers sold them as Baluch rugs, locating the place of production however, within a wide area around Meshhed. It can, therefore, be assumed that these fabrics were made by the already mentioned splinter groups of the Tshahar Aimaq in Khorassan. Another proof for that is the fact that none of the pieces, whose provenance was determined, were brought from Afghanistan as personal property of pilgrims and other travellers, and later sold in Meshhed. Tent bands from the Afghan Firuzkuhi remind us of the ornaments of the Pathan Ghilza’i, or even of the Turkoman Beshiri, while the patterns of the Taimani resemble sometimes those of the Mishmast, another nomad Aimaq group in west Afghanistan (Janata 1978:11 and 1979: Fig. 13).The pile rug weaving group of the so-called Arabs also needs to be mentioned, more because of geographical proximity than because of similarities of their carpets with those of the Baluch. These Arabs are almost without exception villagers, who became sedentary a long time ago, and who derive their name — maybe out of reasons of prestige — from those Arabs who Islamized their homeland in the 7th century. Their main settlements are in the area of Ferdows with Ayask, Arisk, Dohuk, Seghale, and Serayan as the most important pile rug weaving centers in 1951. Motifs, structures, and colors of those farmers’ carpets seldom resemble products made by Baluch from the same area2. Apart from a few exceptions most of the pieces are coarsely knotted, had a long pile and were very colorful. They were a favorite among the rich Arabs from the emirates of the Persian Gulf, who preferred the summer in Iran to that of an even hotter home country. The demand caused an almost assembly-line type of cottage industry , a general degradation of the product, and to a very superficial reproduction of the patterns. We see very crude Afshar designs in the central field and even more so in the borders. These pile rugs must, however, not be confused with other carpets that also have a distinct Afshar influence, that were without doubt made by Baluch in Sistan, about 500 kilometers from Ferdows. In contrast to Arab products, these Sistan Baluch rugs have central fields rich with small, carefully designed motifs and a stepped and/or incised central medallion, similar to those on runners made by southeast Iranian Afshar (Fig. 2.). The main border has an alternating latch-hook pattern, which is favored by some Baluch groups, but is originally a Turkoman pattern (Fig. 3).

As a rule the fabric structure of these rugs points to Baluch weavers. Some fabrics from very small groups, who were semi-nomadic at least until 1960, and who call themselves and are called by their neighboring Baluch, Arabzadeh, descendants of the Arabs, show how difficult it is to classify the rugs. In 1955 a group of 50 Arabzadeh could be in close neighborhood to the Moreidari and the Said-Mohammad-Khani in the eastern Djulghe Khaf. The few small pieces they had woven, however, were not distinguished from those made by the Moreidari (Fig. 4).

In order to complete the study of the ethnological environment that influenced the pile-weave products of the Baluch, the Brahu’i and the Shadlu need to be mentioned. As concerns the Brahu’i, it has been said above that the Baluch absorbed many units of them , although they belong to the Dravadian language group of south India. However, independent Brahu’i are still to be found in Sistan (Tate 1977:316, 363), Baluchistan (Imp. Gaz. Ind)1976:89, 90), in the area of Herat (Snoy 1974:181), and in the Turkmen S.S.R. (Gafferberg 1969:17-18). Pile rug weaving Baluch lived close to them in many of these regions.

We do not know of any pieces that can definitely be assigned to the Brahu’i. Maybe their name was transmorgrified to “Barawi,” a group of pile rug weavers that supposedly belong to the Sistan Baluch. Only isolated pieces of their pile rugs with typical, but rather meaningless designs were found.

The Shadlu belong to the Kurdish tribes, which were resettled by Shah Abbas to the northern Khorassan border, as protection against the Uzbeks (Sykes 1963:174). Up until today the Kurds have held on to their Caucasian influenced designs, which they had imported from north-west Persia. They weave easily identifiable long piled runners and rugs of much greater size than are produced by the neighboring Baluch. Between 1950 and 1960 the Shadlu around Budjnurd made saddlebags that cannot be distinguished, neither in the technique nor in the design, from very good Baluch products.

Pile and pileless rugs are made by female weavers as it is true also for the Turkomans, if a horizontal, collapsible wooden loom is used. Irregular formats do not disclose an unskillful weaver, but her nomadic way of life: A not yet finished piece was rolled around the warp beams of the disassembled frame when the group moved on to another pasture. The frame was then not readjusted accurately at the new location. Sheep’s wool, and more rarely camel wool is used for the pile. This wool looks dull in a new piece and gets its attractive sheen only after longer use. Since in recent time Balouch carpets have been in great demand for export, local dealers thought they could abbreviate this process and had rugs made with synthetic silk, whenever such a material was available. These products were offered in Europe as especially valuable.

The use of silk is indeed very rare. Until recently it was only used to accentuate certain colors, that were not easily obtained in wool with natural dyes, e.g. green and purple. For about 40 years metal threads have been incorporated every now and then.

Undyed or brown sheep’s wool, or sheep’s wool mixed with black goat’s hair is much used for warp and weft. The small sides of the rugs have dark web-ends with very delicately woven or embroidered ornaments in white and/or red.Some older pieces have web-ends that are woven in Kilim fashion: Stepped or undulating stripes are formed through color changes, e.g. from medium blue to red to black to medium blue. There are also rugs without web-ends from the second half of the last century. More recent pieces have 3 to 6 cm wide web-ends, which are usually devoid of ornaments.

Balouch in the Afghan province of Herat preserved the tradition of web-end ornaments longer than those in the area of Turbett-i-Heidari. In Herat, pieces with elaborate ornaments in web-ends were still rather recently produced.

The fringes are either twined or braided. Some times there are knots close to the web-ends that may have special colorful weft threads to prevent unraveling of the pile. Very often the fringes of the lower terminating end are more carefully finished than the ones at the beginning upper end.

The finish of the selvage is very characteristic: It is twined two to four times with black goat’s hair and shows sometimes a “herring-bone” pattern. rhe pile is knotted onto the warp threads applying the asymmetrical Persian or Senneh knot. The Tekke and Salor Turkomans use the same knots in their carpets (Azadi 1975:36).

This and the fact rhat the Khorassan Balouch used Tekke and Salor tribal devices leads us to assume once again that the Khorassan Balouch learned the skill of knotting rugs particularly from those Turkomans.

(Black 1976:21) and (Eiland 1976:81) examined a great number of Balouch carpets and found out that 10% of the knots were of the symmetrical Ghiordes kind. This might be partly explained by the fact that the authors did not analyze the rugs on-site. Maybe they are not original Balouch products, but were made by Timuri. It is also possible that the rugs are indeed of Balouch provenance, but that the weaver had a different ethnic origin and applied her techniques when she married into a Balouch tribe. Fine pieces have 2500-3000 knots to a square dcm, and each weft thread bears pile. Those products are as valuable as the Tekke and Salor rugs. But due to the different kind of wool they are still softer than comparable Turkoman rugs. The Salar-Khani, the Said Mohammad-Khani, the Ghara’i Beluchi, the `Ali Akbar-Khani in the Iranian region of Turbett-i-Heidari, and the Afghan Dokhtar-e-Ghazi made rugs of this quality. They very rarely reached the bazaars of Meshed and Herat, or even Europe. Products of minor quality were known there, and mistakenly taken as characteristic of Baluch work. Those rugs are loosely knotted with coarse yarn and are very soft or even flabby. They were made e.g. by Baluch groups from central Afghanistan, and by the Baizidi, in the region of Mahwalat, south of Turbett-i-Heidari.

In the last decades these weavers have also used cotton warp threads. This change is due to the opening of, so far, remote areas to modern transportation. Clever dealers have now the possibility of buying raw wool directly, and cheaper, from sheep breeding nomads, who have succumbed very easily to the temptation of “fast money”. The nomads’ economic situation has not improved though. On the contrary, some Balouch clans have given up knotting rugs altogether or have at least started to incorporate the cheap “foreign material” cotton. Since the use of it does not affect the life of the rugs, they have even used it in rugs for their own use.

Up to the middle of this century pile-weave and flat weave fabrics were mainly made for home use. The demand was never big, but at least continuous. New pile rugs were part of the customary dowry and served to prove the weaving skills of the bride. In addition rugs wore out soon in a Balouch tent, that does not offer as much protection as a Turkoman yurt, and thus they had to be replaced more often. This also explains why older or even semi-antique pieces are rarely found among the Balouch themselves.

During good years a Balouch family would weave one or two additional rugs. They were sold in the nearest city bazaars or exchanged for utensils, that they could not make themselves, for tea and sugar, as well as for red calico for dresses, and once in a while for silver coins for jewelery. Many Balouch from central and north Khorassan made those for the Persian New Year, on March 21st according to our calendar. Some of them came from far away to the bazaars of Meshed. Therefore the rugs had to be finished by the middle of March. Corresponding dates were sometimes inscribed into the rugs, e.g. 20. 12. 1319 (see Fig. 13). Also the neighboring Iranian villagers then replaced their worn out Balouch rugs with newer ones. Particularly, richer people in the villages of Djulghe Khaf used to cover the floors of their “mehman-khane”, the room where guests were welcomed, with nomad rugs. A new rug was also needed whenever one was damaged by glowing coals falling from the stove. Such rugs from the “mehman-Khane” then substituted for worn out rugs in the “endetun”, the living and women quarters, which were inaccessible to outsiders, the doctor excepted.

Thus only a very limited number of carpets reached the markets in Iran and Afghanistan that were accessible to European merchants. They were not much sought after in the cities because the urban middle class, that was able to afford rugs, preferred larger sizes. But those could not be woven on Balouch looms. The people in the cities also favored more colorful rugs, and if possible floral designs, “to bring the garden into the house”.

Up until recently there was no big foreign demand for knotted fabrics made by those nomads. Pile, pattern and colors of their rugs did not appeal to the prevailing taste of the first decades of this century. Even the much more attractive Turkoman rugs became popular rather late. This explains why in many older but also in some newer books on rugs, floral museum carpets are described in detail while Baluch rugs are ony mentioned for the sake of completeness.

Popularity for Baluch rugs was lacking for more than a hundred years. this fact contradicts the idea that the reproduction of Turkoman guls and other motifs was caused by foreign demand and respective orders by importers. foreign demand and taste have, however, strongly influenced patterns and color combination of Persian manufactured rugs since the middle of the last century. At the time when Turkoman patterns were knotted in Baluch rugs, such marketing strategies could not possibly be discussed with nomads, who have known how to preserve their independence in every respect until this century. All this is surely a reason for the fact that the Baluch used natural dyes much longer than many Turkoman weavers. There were still new Baluch rugs without any synthetic dyes until around 1950. At that time chemical wool dyes were already offered in the village bazaars, but the were still more expensive than the home-made natural dyes. In some pile rugs from those years natural and synthetic dyes were simultaneously used. Red shades and brown yellows — to imitate camel’s wool — were soon used on bigger surfaces while yellow and green tints were used only sporadically in some motifs. Some red and almost all green tones of that period were neither fadeless nor waterproof. In the last decade the quality of synthetic dyes, however, has improved and there have been a greater variety of colors, but at the same time the rugs have lost much of their charm. Unusual colors like crimson red, bright orange, malachite green and purple seem to have animated the weavers’ imagination to excessive experiments that were in contrast to tradition. The result was disharmony in the rugs.

This shows that so-called progress can lead to the destruction of good nomad traditionsThe more important traditional colors of the field are found — with exceptions — in the following geographical centers:

Dark blue to black blue (made with very concentrated indigo): Areas of Turbett-i-Heidari and Kashmir, Djulghe Khaf and the northern part of the Herat region.

Medium blue (weaker concentration of indigo): North Khorrassan. There are only very few pieces with this color. Most of them were made in the second half of the last century.

Brick red, fire red to dark red (made from madder of different ages): Regions of Nishapur and north of Meshed, Djulghe Turbett-i-Sheikh-i-Djam, Djulghe Bakharz, Mahwalat and Gha’inat.

Aubergine shades (old madder with additional dyes): Sistan and central Afghanistan (southern province of Herat), a small area southeast of Gounabad in prayer rugs without mihrabs. Camel brown (undyed camel wool): Gha’inat, Bidjestan, Mahwalat, Djulghe Khaf and eastern Kjulghe Turbett-i-Sheik-i-Djam. Very often in prayer rugs, always in the “akhundi” type.

White to cream-colored (undyed, sometimes bleached sheep’s wool): Area around Turbett-i-Heidari, but only in the last decades as substitute for camel wool, which has become rare. Camel wool has always been used mainly for men’s clothes.

Black brown (natural wool with additional dyes, e.g. walnut shells): Southern Afghanistan, e.g. province of Farah.

In many Balouch rugs the ground color in the (main) border(s) is the same as the one in the field. If the center field is, however, camel brown, red tints are usually used in the borders. Red borders can also enframe a dark blue field. A reverse color combination was not seen in older rugs.

Different shades of ground colors are frequently used for field motifs. When red tints are used the design is still discernable. But this is not the case when dark blue is used on dark brown, like in many very finely knotted saddle bags made by south Afghan Balouch. Details in motifs, like small petals, as well as outlining strips are very often white and/or yellow or yellow orange. Green was used in older carpets only sparingly. Darker tints are seen in older rugs from Sistan and Afghanistan. Up until the beginning of this century lighter blue colors were often found in rugs from central and north Khorassan. Very often motifs were set off with black bordering lines. If Ihere was not enough black brown sheep’s wool available, brown wool was dyed several times by boiling it together with steel filings. This was done over and over again, according to an exactly scheduled process of eight days. Such a treatment damages the wool. It becomes brittle and mouldy, but this fact is not considered to lessen the value of the rug. Those rugs have a relief effect (corrosion), that makes them very often especially appealing.

Recipes for the production of plant and stone dyes have repeatedly been published. But they are only valid for those interviewed: In the geographical area of my field studies recipes were jealously kept secret among the families and not revealed even within the clan.

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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Baloch Culture


A Grammar, Phrase Book and Vocabulary of Baluchi (as Spoken in the Sultanate of Oman)

By: Major N.A.Collett MA FRAS

6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles and late of the Sultan’s Service
Second Edition

To Liwaa Nasib Bin Hamad Bin Salim Al Ruwaihi
Commander Sultan of Oman’s Land Forces and to
the Officers and Men of the Western Frontier Regiment
The Sultan of Oman’s Land Forces
1st Edition 1983
2nd Edition 1986
© N. A. Collett 1986
ISBN 0 9509345 1 8
Keyboarded by D. F. Harding
Printed and bound in Great Britain by Burgess & Son (Abingdon) Ltd.


The important “Course in Baluchi” of 1969, based on the Northern (Rakhshani) dialect of Western Baluchi by Barker and Mengal was and remains the best description we have of any Baluchi dialect. Even though Rakhshani is by far the most widely spoken dialect of Baluchi, it is by no means the most interesting or the most prestigious amongst native speakers, and little of the vast classical Baluchi balladry or other literature appears in it. On the other hand, the preferred dialects for classical poetry, Kechi and the Coastal variety of Western Baluchi, have not been the subject of any systematic study since the pioneering accounts of them more than a hundred years ago.
Major Collett has been dealing for some years with Baluch recruits, mainly from Pakistani Makran, to the armed forces of the Sultan of Oman, and wishing to provide a guide to their language as an aid to other officers from abroad, has written this account of it. Perforce he has based it on the Kechi dialect, and has thus provided a new description of what has hitherto been a neglected but nonetheless most important variety of Baluchi, important for its literary prestige as well as for its linguistically most conservative character.
The Kechi dialect of the phrasebook is still that used by the vast majority of Baluch recruits from Pakistan in the Omani forces, because of the policy of recruitment from the Kech Valley, but recently recruits have also been gathered from other Baluch areas of Pakistan as well. This circumstance is mirrored in the vocabulary lists, in which an occasional Pakistani form is to be found beside the Kechi form; some Coastal dialect forms, easily recognised, are also included. The vocabulary also contains many words hitherto unrecorded in Baluchi.
This work, painstaking as it is, stands well in the British Army traditions of writing accounts of languages of the Indian subcontinent. For Baluchi in particular there has been that of Major Mockler in 1877, Major Gilbertson in 1925, and now Major Collett has produced a valuable addition to the existing descriptions of Baluchi, one which deserves an honoured place amongst them.

J. Elfenbein


This account of the Kechi dialect of Baluchi is designed to fill a gap in the literature available to English speakers whose work in the Sultanate of Oman brings them into contact with speakers of Baluchi. It is aimed at those seeking to learn sufficient of the language for everyday use. It includes a grammatical description, a set of phrases designed particularly for military use, and a vocabulary listing words both from Baluchi to English, and vice versa.
Those seeking a more authoritative and comprehensive account of the language are referred to “A Course in Baluchi” by Mohammed Abd-al-Rahman Barker and Aqil Khan Mengal, published in 1969 by McGill University, Montreal. This is the standard work on the subject, though it is based on the Rakhshani dialect, which differs, in some respects considerably, from the Kechi dialect mostly used in Oman.
This work is based upon the experience of twenty months service in the Oman with Baluch troops of the Western Frontier Regiment, supplemented by subsequent research in the United Kingdom. Some of the vocabulary and idiom are, in probability, peculiar to the Sultan’s Forces, and the Baluchi represented here may be totally familiar neither to the specialist nor to the civilian inhabitant of Makran.
My grateful thanks are due to all those who assisted me in the preparation of this work; in particular to Lieutenant Colonel Peter Walton RAOC and Major William Foxton for their enthusiastic encouragement, to all the soldiers of D Company The Western Frontier Regiment, without whose help and perseverance this book would not have been possible, and especially to the following:
Naqib Zareen Noor Mohammed Shekh Baluch
Naqib Liyaqat Ali Kauda Luqman Kaudai Baluch
Raqib Wahid Bakhsh Taj Mohammed Baddani Brahui
Raqib Mohammed Ayub Mir Hayat Nausharwani Baluch
Jundy Mohammed Ali Mohammed Moosa Bajarzai Baluch
Naib Arif Imam Bakhsh Taj Mohammed Baluch Baluch
Arif Mohammed Yusuf Dawood Darzada Baluch
Raqib Ellahi Bakhsh Pasanvi Baluch
Naib Arif Abdul Hakim Mohammed Hashim Baluch
A special word of thanks is due to Professor J.H.Elfenbein, late of the University of Baluchistan in Quetta, for his enormous encouragement and patience and for the benefit his advice has been to this work.
Mistakes are, of course, the author’s own.


The Baluch have their home in Pakistan’s westernmost Province of Baluchistan, the Iranian Province of Baluchestan wa Sistan, the southern part of Afghanistan and in the south of the Turkmen SSR of the USSR. This enormous area is, due to low rainfall, mostly barren, and as a result a great number of Baluch have long emigrated and sought employment abroad, particularly in the Persian Gulf littoral. A considerable number have lived for generations in Oman. The size of the Baluch population is estimated at about four million, and, though it is the subject of much controversy, has never been determined due to the lack of an accurate census and the difficulty of distinguishing between different ethnic and linguistic groups. In 1981 it was estimated that the Baluch population of Pakistan was 2,500,000, of whom 700,000 lived in Karachi. About a further 1,000,000 Baluch live in Iran.
The country inhabited by the Baluch varies considerably in character, including the cultivated plains of the Punjab border and the Quetta area, the mountains of the Kalat highlands and Afghanistan, the rugged hill country of Makran and eastern Iran, and the level desert of the north west tip of Pakistan. It is one of the poorest and least developed regions of the world. Cultivation is confined to the plains, a few spots on the coastal strip and in the mountains, and to oases like Panjgur. Everywhere it is limited severely by the scarcity of water. Mineral and other resources remain undeveloped except for the natural gas field at Sui in the far north east of the country. Economic under-development is matched by political and social backward- ness.
The Baluch have lived in their present homes probably for over a thousand years, having migrated from the west, probably from the southern Caspian region, commencing the movement in about 600 AD. Evidence exists of their settlement in what is now Pakistan by about 800 AD, but it is likely that the tribes moved only gradually, by many stages, and independently of each other. There is evidence of both advances and retreats along the way. Some tribes seem to have crossed the Indus at some stage, then returned to Baluchistan at a later date. The areas at present occupied were settled by the 14th century. Stable government first appeared in 1660 AD when the sardar Mir Ahmed Khan I, founder of the confederacy of Brahui tribes and nominally a vassal of the rulers of Afghanistan, established his authority around Kalat. His successors gradually asserted control over a wider area, and the most important of them, Mir Nasir Khan I (reigned 1749-1795 AD), shook off the last vestiges of Afghan authority and established the independence of the Kalat Khanate. However, even in Nasir Khan’s day central control of the peripheral Baluch areas was nominal and subject to frequent dispute, and later the relations between the central government and the dependent rulers and tribal chiefs degenerated into open warfare. The 19th century saw a gradual growth of British influence, and although Kalat was never incorporated into the British Indian Empire, it enjoyed only a nominal independence by the last quarter of the century. A British Agent was resident at the Khan’s court, and the Khanate gave up some rights and lands around Quetta to the Empire. The Khans continued to rule the areas of Sarawan, Jahlawan, Las Bela, Kharan and Makran, with varying degrees of direct British interference, until British withdrawal in 1947. At its formation the Khan acceded to the state of Pakistan following a good deal of pressure from the new Pakistan government, and the Khanate ceased to exist as an independent entity in 1948.
Baluch society remains conservative and tribal, though in Makran a stratified system based upon social class exists. In Pakistan, outside the government-controlled towns (Quetta, Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur and a few others) Pakistani law is weakly applied, and local jurisdiction, regularised in British days, remains paramount. At the lower levels of society there exists a fairly large group of non-Baluch artisans and families whose ancestors were slaves, including a good many of African stock.
All Baluch are Muslims of the Sunni sect, though in some places, particularly in Makran, adherents exist of the Zigri sect, which is held to be heretical by other Muslims. Violent persecution of Zigris has occurred even in the last twenty years. Some remnants of older beliefs remain. Men and women held to have magical or prophetic skills exist alongside Islamic mullahs, and the belief in jins (spirits) and the practice of magic are widespread.
The majority of the Baluch serving in the Oman come from the Baluchi-speaking tribes of Makran, many from the central Kech valley, some from the Panjgur area and others from the coast, where the Sultan of Oman possessed the port of Gwadar until 1958. Also found are a few soldiers from Brahui tribes, mostly Brahui speakers from the large Brahui area stretching south from Kalat to Khuzdar and Bela. The Brahui language is genetically unrelated to Baluchi, though it contains a large number of Baluchi loan words due to the mixing of the peoples over the last millenium. Despite their large common vocabulary, both languages are not mutually intelligible. Several dialects of Baluchi (which is an Indo-European language related to Persian) are to be heard in the Oman, but the major dialect is that of the Kech area, which includes Turbat.

Notes on pronunciation

The letters and marks used to transcribe Baluchi into a Roman alphabet are given below. Examples of English equivalents and explanations are given to aid pronunciation. Letters annotated with a + are pronounced as in normal English usage.
Letter English Equivalent/Explanation
Short Vowels a as in the a of above
i as in the i of sit
u as in the u of put
Long Vowels ā as in the a of last
e as in the a of fate
ī as in the i of machine
o as in the o of boat
ū as in the oo of soon
Dipthongs ay as in the i of island, with the i pronounced short
āy as in the i of island, with the I pronounced long
aw as in the ou of scrounge, with the ou pronounced short
Consonants b +
ch as in the ch of chip
ḍ not as in the English pronunciation, but with the tongue pressed forward against the top teeth pronounced similarly to d but with the tongue curled up back on to the ridge of the palate
f +
g +
gh as in the Arabic letter ghayn. It has no English approximation
h +
j +
k +
kh as in the Celtic ch of loch
l +
m +
n +
p +
r as in the rolled Scottish r
ṛ has no English approximation, and is pronounced with the tongue curled up back on to the ridge of the palate. It is best approximated by substituting the letter ḍ
s +
sh as in the sh of ship
ṭ not as in the English pronunciation, but with the tongue pressed forward against the top teeth pronounced similarly to t, but with the tongue curled up back on to the ridge of the palate
w +
y +
z +
zh as in the z of azure

Notes on the Vocabulary

The following abbreviations are used in the vocabulary:
(a) Adjective
(adv) Adverb
(c) Conjunction
(d) Demonstrative Adjective
(i) Interjection
(n) Noun
(part) Particle
(post) Postposition
(prep) Preposition
(pro) Pronoun
(v) Verb
The verbal noun and past root are shown for each verb (for example: “rawag, shut – to go”). The past roots of complex verbs are not given (for example: “koshish kanag – to try”), and will be found by referring to the auxiliary verb (in the example just given this will be “kanag, kut – to do”).
The pronunciation of some sounds varies, and below are listed some letters whose sounds may be confused. The alternative should be checked if a word is not found in the vocabulary.
“h” is often omitted, and if a word beginning with a vowel is not found the word should be checked under “h”.
“i” can be heard as a short “e”.
“kh” can be heard as “k”.
“p” can be heard as “f” or vice versa.
“r” [should have a dot below] can be heard as “d” [should have a dot below].
“u” can be heard as “o”.

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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Balochi Language Teaching


Mir Gul Khan Nasir was a prominent progressive poet, historian and politician of Balochistan

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Mir Gul Khan Nasir was a prominent progressive poet, politician, historian, and journalist of Balochistan. Born on 14 May 1914 in Noshki. Gul Khan Nasir was named after the political agent of Kharan who had stopped in Noshki on his way to Kharan the very same day that Mir Gul Khan was born. His father’s name was Mir Habib Khan. Habib Khan belonged to the celebrated Paindzai subclan of the Zagr Mengal branch of the Mengal Tribe. Mir Gul Khan’s mother was Bibi Hooran. She was the sister of Mir Raheem Khan, the head of the Rakhshani Badini Tribe. She was a learned woman who knew how to read Persian and also the Quran (which is in Arabic) which, at that time, was considered quite an achievement for a man, let alone a woman. She played a most pivotal role in moulding her sons. Gul Khan was number four among five brothers. He also had three sisters. His eldest brother Mir Samand Khan (born c.1889) had served in the British Army and also as a commander in Khan of Kalat’s army. His second brother Mir Lawang Khan (born c.1901) was a well known tribal politician and also had the reputation of being an excellent self-taught local doctor. He died on 7th August, 1973 while fighting with the Pakistan Army during the 1973 Military Operation carried out in Balochistan by the Federal Government of Pakistan. Mir Lawang Khan holds an important place in the hearts and souls of the Baloch people as one of the many martyrs of the Balochistan. Mir Gul Khan’s third brother Mir Lal Bux Mengal (born c.1906) also served for a while in Khan of Kalat’s army during which time he held a commanding position in Makran. On the fourth number was Gul Khan, himself. His younger bother Sultan Mohammad Khan (born c.1918) served in the British Army before the Partition of India and in the Pakistan Army after the Partition. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Pakistan Army and retired in 1966. Sultan Mohammad also held pivotal positions in Balochistan after his retirement, such as the Vice Chancellor of The Balochistan University, The Commander of Dehi Muhaafiz (now known as Balochistan Reserve Police) and as the Project Director Kohlu.

Early Life

Gul Khan Nasir studied until fifth grade in Noshki. Then he went to Mastung where his uncle was in service. He didn’t spend much time there because soon after, his uncle was posted to Quetta. Here, Gul Khan got admission in Government Sandeman High School where he studied until tenth grade. After doing his matriculation from Quetta, Mir Gul Khan went to Lahore where he got admission in Islamia College Lahore in F.Sc. Medical. During the course of his studies, an eye of Mir Gul Khan got infected. In time the infection got so bad that he had to quit his studies and move back to Balochistan.
While Mir Gul Khan was studying in Mastung, he was quite impressed by Abdul Aziz Kurd, Malik Faiz Muhammad Yousafzai, Mir Mohammad Aazam Khan Shahwani and others who were running a secret political group, the “Anjuman-i Ithihaad-i Balochaan”. It was in Mastung that Mir Gul Khan became friends with Malik Abdul Rahim Khwajakhel who was a year senior to Mir Gul Khan. Malik Abdul Rahim Khwajakhel and Mir Gul Khan remained close friends until Malik Rahim’s death.
Mir Gul Khan had been doing poetry since the age of eight but it was during his time in Lahore when he began writing Urdu poetry which was of a revolutionary nature. This poetry of his became very popular and was published in the newspapers under his pen name Nasir which he chose as a tribute to Mir Nasir Khan The First (The Ninth Khan of Kalat, also known as Noori Nasir Khan). These Urdu poems of his, like Nawab Youzaf Ali Khan Magsi and Mohammad Hussain Anqa’s poems, were aimed at raising the political awareness of the Baloch people, especially, the youth. During his time at Lahore Mir Gul Khan played an important role in the students organization “Baloch aur Balochistani Thalbaa kee Anjuman” (B.B.S.O) which was formed by Mureed Hussain Khan Magsi and other Baloch students on the advice of Mir Yousaf Ali Khan Magsi.


Mir Gul Khan Nasir studied until Fourth Grade in his village. For further studies he was sent to Quetta where he got admission in Government Sandeman High School. After passing his matriculation examination from this school, he went to Lahore in order to pursue a higher education in Islamia College Lahore. During his second year in Islamia College, a piece of coal went into Mir Gul Khan’s eye due to which he had to discontinue his education and return to Quetta. Lahore, at that time, was the hub of knowledge and political and social activities. The political, cultural, social and literary movements in Lahore made quite an impression on Mir Gul Khan Nasir. When he returned to Quetta Balochistan was split into several parts namely The Chief Commissioner’s Province and The Balochistani princely states. The province of Balochistan was under direct British rule while the Balochistani States was indirectly controlled by the British through the Tribal Chiefs (sardars) and rulers,whom they had bought. In this situation the rulers of Balochistan were in no hurry to make the state progress and better the lives of its inhabitants. Because of these conditions Mir Gul Khan Nasir stepped into politics in order to join the other leaders who were fighting to liberate the people of Balochistan from the Imperialist powers.


When he went to Lahore, Mir Gul Khan Nasir saw the students taking part in different sports so he immediately tried out for the college football team and was selected. But with time, he got interested in boxing and began learning the sport. It didn’t take him long to become quite good at it. His height (above 6’00”) also provided him with an advantage in the game.
“Boxing helped Gul Khan Nasir get out of many a tight spot in his life” – Aqil Khan Mengal[1]
After his training, Mir Gul Khan began participating in boxing tournaments. In the All India Universities Boxing Championship he was the runner up. It was in this tournament that he broke his nose.[2]

Anjuman-e-Ithihaad-e-Balochistan Anjuman-e-Islamia Ryasat-e-Kalat

In 1921 an organization named “Anjuman-e-Ithihaad-e-Balochistan” was formed to struggle for the rights of the people of Balochistan. When Mir Gul Khan Nasir came back to Kalat, he joined this organization and was an active participant in it. During this time he also briefly held the office of Vice-Minister of Jhalawan in Kalat State. By 1936 Anjuman-e-Ithihaad-e-Balochistan had become inactive so The Baloch youth formed another organization “Anjuman-e-Islamia Ryasat-e-Kalat”. Malik Abdul Raheem Khwaja Khail was elected the General Secretary of this organization while Mir Gul Khan Nasir was the President. Mir Gul Khan resigned from his designation as the Vice-Minister of Jhalawan in order to promote the new organization. Afraid of the popularity of the Anjuman, the political agents of Kalat conspired against the party and managed to have it banned in Kalat State.

Kalat State National Party

After the ban on “Anjuman-e-Islamia Ryasat-e-Kalat”, On 5 February 1937 the Baloch youth once again got together and formed a new political organization by the name of “Kalat State National Party” (KSNP). Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd was elected its President, Mir Gul Khan Nasir the Vice President and Malik Faiz Muhammad Yousafzai became the Secretary General. The Kalat State National Party was affiliated with the Indian National Congress. It played an important role in curbing the power and influence of the Tribal Chieftains or Sardars, abolition of cruel and unusual taxes imposed on the poor by the Sardars and formation of a democratically elected Parliament fashioned after the British Parliament on Kalat State’s independence. The KSNP had several ups and downs with the Khan of Kalat.
At first most of the top leaders of the party such as Abdul Aziz Kurd, Faiz Muhammad Yoyusafzai, Gul Khan Nasir, Abdul Rahim Khwajakhel etc. were serving as government officials. In 1939, during an annual session of KSNP in which Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo was also taking part as a representative of a Karachi-based political party, some thugs sent by the local sardars tried to disrupt the rally by firing at the participants. After that all the members of the Party who had government jobs resigned and were arrested. This was the incident which caused Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo to join the KSNP. After some time the Khan reconciled with the KSNP leaders and re-employed them as government officials. Once again tensions rose between the KSNP and the Khan of Kalat and this time the KSNP leadership resigned for good never to work as government servants again. Paul Titus and Nina Swidler in their book “Knights Not Pawns: Ethno-Nationalism and Regional Dynamics In Post-Colonial Balochistan” write:
The Khan attempted to play off nationalist and sardari differences by maintaining his authority as the traditional head of the Balochi tribes while appealing to the leaders of the Balochi nation. This was not always possible, and by 1939 the activities of the nationalists had so antagonized the sardars and British that they pressured the Khan to declare KSNP illegal in Kalat State. The ban on the party was lifted after World War II, though antagonism between the sardars and nationalists remained.In March 1946, for example the Balochi activist poet Gul Khan Nasir was expelled from Kalat State following complaints to the agent to the Governor-General in Balochistan from the Badini, Jamaldini and Zagar Mengal sardars. They claimed that Nasir and other activists had created disturbances in the town of Noshki by making speeches charging that the sardars were appropriating and selling local residents’ wheat rations.

Muslim League

After Kalat’s accession to Pakistan in 1948, the KSNP broke up. The Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmedyar Khan joined Muslim League after the accession but was hesitant to do it alone so he sent Mir Ajmal Khan to Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo and Gul Khan Nasir to persuade them into joining the Muslim League with the Khan. Both Gul Khan and Ghaus Bakhsh thought that joining the ML would provide them the platform they needed to raise the voice for Kalat’s rights. But within days they realized that they would never be able to achieve what they wanted while they were in the Muslim League. So they left the ML never to turn back to it ever again.[4]

Usthman Gal

In the years that followed, Pakistan went through many changes. In 1954 the Communist Party was banned in Pakistan and then in 1955, all the provinces of West Pakistan were merged into one unit. In these conditions the Baloch ethnic nationalist politicians under the leadership of Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Mir Gul Khan Nasir, Agha Abdul Karim Khan (the brother of Khan of Kalat), Mohammad Hussain Anqa and Qadir Bux Nizamani[5] formed the “Usthman Gal” which is Balochi for “The People’s Party”. Agha Abdul Karim was elected as the President of this party.

Pakistan National Party

In 1956, the “Usthman Gal” was merged into the Pakistan National Party which also included “Khudai Khidmatgar” from N.W.F.P, “Azaad Pakistan Party” from Punjab, “Sindh Mahaz” from Sindh and “Woror Pashtun” from the Pashtun dominated areas of Balochistan. In this way, the Pakistan National Party emerged as the largest Left-Wing Political Party in West Pakistan.

National Awami Party

In 1957, The PNP merged with Maulana Bhashani’s Awami League to form the National Awami Party. It was the principle opposition party to the military regime for much of the late 1950s and mid-1960s. The party split in 1969 into two factions, the head of one faction remained in newly formed Bangladesh, while the remaining faction became the principle opposition party to the rule of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The party was outlawed by the Pakistani government in 1975 and much of its leadership subsequently imprisoned for alleged anti-state activities.


During this period of Ayub Khan’s rule, most of the Baloch leadership including Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Gul Khan Nasir and Faiz Muhammad Yousafzai were arrested on different charges. They were imprisoned in Quetta’s Quli Camp which was famous for the inhumane torture of its prisoners. Here the Baloch Leaders were subjected to different kinds of torture. They were hung upside down from their feet and beaten, not allowed to sleep for days, laid facedown on the floor while soldiers jumped on their backs with army boots. By the time he was released, Mir Gul Khan couldn’t even walk straight.[6]
This was a very important period for the politics of Balochistan because it was in these years that the young and dynamic Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal and Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri entered Balochistan’s political scene. It was also during this period that Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was sacked from his position as the Minister of State for Interior of Pakistan and arrested. As a result of this, he also joined the NAP.


During 1960-1970 the National Awami Party or NAP presented strong resistance to the Ayub Regime and for this reason, its leaders were constantly in and out of jail. In this decade Ataullah Mengal was catapulted to the top of the Baloch leadership because of his charismatic personality and Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri also earned a lot of fame because of his political philosophy. Mir Gul Khan Nasir went to jail around 5-6 times from 1962 – 1970. As a result of NAP’s struggle during this decade, the One Unit was discarded and Balochistan got the status of a province.

1970 Elections

In 1970, General Election were held in Pakistan in which the NAP managed to get a majority in Balochistan and N.W.F.P while the Pakistan People’s Party got most of the seats of Punjab and Sindh. Mir Gul Khan Nasir won a seat in the Provincial Assembly after defeating a big landlord of Chaghi.[7]
East Pakistan broke away from Pakistan and Bangladesh was formed because of controversy that arose over the election’s result. After the fall of East Pakistan, Bhutto wasn’t willing to allow the NAP form its governments in N.W.F.P and Balochistan. But as a result of extensive dialogue held between Z.A.Bhutto and Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, NAP was able to form coalition governments in both the provinces in 1972.

NAP government

In Balochistan Sardar Ataullah Khan Mengal was elected as the First Chief Minister of Balochistan while Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo became the Governor. Gul Khan Nasir was a Senior Minister in this government and held the portfolios of Education, Health, Information, Social Welfare and Tourism. Later, Tourism and Information portfolios were given to other ministers. As the Minister of Education, Gul Khan managed to lay down the foundation for the Bolan Medical College[8] which is, to this day, the only medical college in Balochistan.
During this time differences had arisen between Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and the rest of the NAP Leaders. Bhutto, who was looking for a way to remove the NAP government, saw this and used Akbar Bugti to dismiss the NAP government. The N.W.F.P government resigned in protest. Governor’s Rule was imposed with Nawab AKbar Khan Bugti as appointed as the Governor of Balochistan. Three months after the dismissal of the NAP government, Gul Khan Nasir was arrested on various charges before any other leader. In August 1973 Mir Gul Khan’s brother, Mir Lawang Khan died in an operation carried out by the Pakistani Military. Mir Gul Khan’s younger brother, Colonel (R) Sultan Mohammad Khan (who was the head of the Balochistan Reserve Police), was arrested the day he returned to Quetta after burying Mir Lawang Khan. Along with Colonel Sultan, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Ataullah Mengal, Khair Bakhsh Marri and Bizen Bizenjo were also arrested. Since all this happened during Akbar Bugti’s regime therefore the public sentiment was against him in Balochistan at that time. Mir Gul Khan Nasir wrote a lot of poems against Bugti during his imprisonment. Later, a commission known as Hyderabad tribunal, was set up and Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, Gul Khan Nasir, Nawab Marri, Wali Khan, Qaswar Gardezai, Habib Jalib and many others had to defend themselves in a treason case in front of the tribunal.
While in prison differences arose between the Baloch Leaders. After the ouster of Bhutto’s government by General Zia-ul-Haq, negotiations for the winding up of the Hyderabad tribunal and the release of all detainees was initiated leading to their eventual release in 1979. On their release, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Gul Khan Nasir and Ataullah Mengal brought back their followers who had taken refuge in Afghanistan while Khair Bakhsh Marri and Shero Marri, themselves, went to Afghanistan. Sardar Ataullah Mengal also left for London. Gul Khan Nasir and Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo joined Wali Khan’s National Democratic Party.

Pakistan National Party

After sometime, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo had a falling out with Wali Khan over the Saur Revolution of Afghanistan. Mir Ghaus Bakhsh and Mir Gul Khan left the NDP and formed the Pakistan National Party or PNP. Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo was elected as PNP’s President while Gul Khan Nasir became the President of PNP Balochistan.
Even though Gul Khan had joined Mir Ghaus Bakhsh’s party, he was of the opinion that the Baloch should not be pushed into another term of turmoil by pitting them against the Martial Law Regime but rather they should be educated, trained and made ready for the future conditions that might change the situation and geography of the subcontinent. But Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo thought that the Martial Law should be fought head on to make democracy in Pakistan stronger. The Establishment, taking advantage of the situation, set the state machinery into motion and by using different tools, especially the media, aggravated the differences between the two leaders to the extent that Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo demanded a resignation from Gul Khan Nasir which Gul Khan refused to tender in. But after the lapse of some more time, Mir Gul Khan tendered in his resignation and concentrated all of his abilities towards his literary work.[9]


Mir Gul Khan Nasir was arrested on several occasions from 1939 to 1978 on many different charges, all of them pertaining to politics. He collectively spent almost 15 years of his life in jail.[10]

Literary services

Mir Gul Khan Nasir wrote poems in English, Urdu, Balochi, Brahui and Persian. Most of his poems are in Balochi language. He was good friends with Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Once Faiz Sahib offered to translate Mir Gul Khan’s poems in urdu but Mir Gul Khan turned down the offer. Most of Mir Gul Khan Nasir’s Urdu poetry was written between 1933–1950 and there has bee no publication of his Urdu poetry to this date.
Mir Gul Khan’s poetry is filled with revolutionary and anti-imperialist themes and it reflects his progressive nature and socialist ideals. Mir Gul Khan Nasir was very much against the class differences that prevailed at that time, and still do. His poems exhibit his dislike for the chauvinistic attitude of the rich towards the poor. A famous quatrain of his goes as follows:


Wáhde pa ĝaríbáñ ki jaháñ tang bibít
Láp húrak, badan lúč pa badrang bibít
Haq int ča čušeñ wár o azábeñ zindá
Máří bisučant, sar birawant, jang bibít


When the world starts to constrict around the poor man
His mutilated naked form is left to fend for his hungry gut
Then it’s better from this life of misery and torture
If war ensues, heads roll & lavish palaces are burnt to the ground


Mir Gul Khan wrote many books on history and poetry and translated several works from other languages into Balochi and Urdu. A list of some of his books is given below:
Gul Baang (1951) was his first collection of Balochi Poetry.

History of Balochistan (1952) (Urdu) Volume 1 – After much research Mir Gul Khan published this book which consists of 340 pages. It is a history of the Baloch Race and removes many mis-conceptions about the Baloch which were prevalent at that time.

History of Balochistan (1957) (Urdu) Volume 2 – This volume consists of 15 chapters and deals with the history of Balochistan from Khan Khudadad Khan to Khan Ahmed Yar Khan until 1955.

Daastaan-e-Dostain o Sheereen (1964) is considered to be one of the best books of Mir Gul Khan Nasir. In this book he has penned the classical Balochi Love Story of Dostain and Sheereen. In the preface of this book the famous Baloch author Azaat Jamaldini called Mir Gul Khan “The Great Poet of the Balochi Language”.

Koch o Baloch (1969) was a book in which Mir Gul Khan, through intellectual reasoning proved that the Brahvis and the Balochis actually came from the same race.

Garand (1971) is an important collection of Mir Gul Khan Nasir’s poems.

Balochistan Kay Sarhadi Chaapa Maar (1979) is an Urdu translation of General Dyre’s “Raiders of the Frontier” by Mir Gul Khan Nasir.

Seenai Keechaga (1980) is a Balochi translation of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Sar-e-Waadi-e-Seena by Mir Gul Khan Nasir.

Mashad Na Jang Naama (1981) – Mir Gul Khan Nasir completed this Brahvi book when he was a student in the 8th grade but it was published in 1981.

Shah Latif Gusheet (1983) is a Balochi translation of that part of Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai’s poetry which concerns the Balochs.

Posthumous Compilations

Gulgaal (1993) is the ninth compilation Mir Gul Khan’s poetry.
Shanblaak (1996) is Mir Gul Khan Nasir’s tenth collection of Balochi Poetry which also includes Urdu translations by himself.


Mir Gul Khan Nasir was posthumously awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz (President’s Award) in 2001 for his literary services. Other Sitara-i-Imtiaz winners that year were Dr.Ilyas Ishqi, Professor Dr.Allama Naseer-ud-din Nasir and Kishwar Naheed.
In 1962, when the USSR government decided to award Faiz Ahmed Faiz with the Lenin Prize, they also wanted to present Mir Gul Khan Nasir with the Prize but because of his (Mir Gul Khan’s) differences with the Ayub Khan Regime of that time, he wasn’t allowed to go to Moscow.[12]


Soon after resigning from the leadeship of PNP, Mir Gul Khan’s health deteriorated and he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Not having enough money, or accepting any from his relatives, he was not able to procure treatment in time. It was only after his condition became so bad that he could not leave his bed that he was taken to Karachi, where doctors, after checking him, gave him only a few days to live. Mir Gul Khan Nasir died on 5 December 1983 in the Mid East Hospital, Karachi. He was taken back to his village, Noshki, in a huge procession. On 7 December 1983 he was laid to rest in his village’s cemetery. The funeral proceedings were attended by a large number of people. Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Malik Faiz Miuhammad Yousafzai and other leaders were not able to attend because they were in jail, while Nawab Akbar Bugti’s movement had been restricted to Quetta. Ataullah Mengal and Khair Bakhsh Marri were abroad, in self-exile.[13][14][15]


1.^ Tapthaan Magazine. May–June 1990, p70.
2.^ “Warsa i Nasiriyat” by “Abdul Saboor Baloch” p39-40.
4.^ Ashaaq Kay Kaaflay by Dr.Shah Mohammad Marri
5.^ Warsa-i Nasiriyat by Abdul Saboor Baloch
6.^ Mir Gul Khan Nasir: Shakhsiyat, Shairee Aur Fun pg56
9.^ Mir Gul Khan Nasir’s Bitter Last Days by Lal Bakhsh Rind
11.^ “Yaro Mujhe Masloob Karo” (Friends, Crucify Me!) by Raziq Bugti. p47, line17
12.^ Details of Award in the book “Warsa-i-Nasiriat” by “Abdul Saboor Baloch” (
13.^ Mir Gul Khan Nasir’s Bitter Last Days by Lal Bakhsh Rind
14.^ Warsa-i Nasiriyat

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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Baloch People

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