Monthly Archives: December 2013

Geocultural Inter-relations of Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan in the Globalization Era

(Research Paper)

By Abdolghayoum Nematiniya
Research Scholar,
Department of Sociology,
Banaras Hindu University,
Varanasi, India

Abdolghayoum Nematiniya

Abdolghayoum Nematiniya

The province of Sistan and Balochistan shares a border of more than 1100 kilometers with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Baloch living in Sistan and Balochistan (Iranian Balochistan) and Pakistani Balochistan have similar customs and traditions. Several factors account for interaction between the two populations. Socio- cultural and economic factors are the major source of interactions.Trade is the economic foundation of the border region. So, because of the vast boundaries, across the border, illegal trade is common among settlers of both sides.The study takes culture and modernity as the process of product and aims to provide a deeper insight and develop a better understanding of the influence of culture on modernity and globalization in general and its cultural tradition in Balochistan, particularly Iranian Balochistan.This paper is an attempt to examine the socio-economic and cultural inter-relations of Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan in the globalization era.

Key words: Baloch, border, Inter-relations, trade, smuggling.

Geocultural sociology is a multi-dimensional concept. It deals with people who belong to the same ethnicity, culture, language, life style, religions, and values, and on many occasions to the same family and kinship, but because of geopolitical reasons, they have been divided by international boundaries in different nations. So, their sub-nationality in a different sense is the same, but their nations are different. Crossculturalism is based on the notion of culture, which in its broadest sense denotes speech, customs, traditions, morals, laws – in fact, every aspect of activity engaged in by members of human societies. It also involves the process of getting to know and understand, as well as relate to and benefit from, the social systems that contribute to the ongoing development of society.
Geo-cultural sociology has to be considered an important conceptual approach in decoding certain aspects of some societies. Balochistan’s society is the case here in this study. The study takes culture and modernity as the process of product and aims to provide a deeper insight and develop a better understanding of the influence of culture on modernity and globalization in general and its cultural tradition in Balochistan particularly Iranian Balochistan.
The Baloch living in Sistan and Balochistan (Iranian Balochistan) and Pakistani Balochistan have similar customs and traditions (Harrison 1981:08, Baloch 1958:12). The major purpose of interaction between the two communities is the socio-cultural factors and economics. (Nematiniya, 2013: 06) The existence of the boundary normally reduces the contacts between the people living on either side.Cross-border issues here greatly influence the regional economics of the region. (Mojtahedzadeh, 2010: 10)

      Research Methodology
Both primary and secondary sources have been utilized for the present paper. The overall methodological framework of the paper is qualitatively based on geo-cultural relationship between Baloch people of Iran and Pakistan.
The method used for collecting empirical data for the current paper includes: Qualitative Sociological research methods which include visual methods, narratives of Baloch people of both sides of the border, participant observation of the author as an insider, key informant and in-depth interviews, ethnography, social network, other qualitative inputs and secondary data. The method of analyzing data is descriptive.

      The Baloch across the Border
The boundary between Iran and Pakistan is not very soft but it is not very restricted compared to the Iranian border linking Turkey, Iraq, Central Asian neighbors and even Afghanistan (Hughes 2004:119). However, the establishment of customs posts or other check posts tends to restrict and scrutinized the bona fides of arriving and departing passengers. There are regular and irregular entry points, the major one near Mirjaveh and Kuhak and Pishin in Iranian side. In Pakistani side there are a number of towns and villages where the houses penetrate both sides of the border (Baloch, 1975: 102), for example, the towns of Ridee and Balu in Turbat. There are five border districts predominantly inhabited by Baloch and Barhvi population. They are Panjgur, Chagai, Wasuk, Turbat and Gwadar. Previously, Kharan was an important and the largest district in the area wise, which bordered Iran. (Baloch, 1987:103) The Baloch living across the border have dual nationality.The people from both sides of the boundary line frequently cross the border for various purposes which include the following:
-To see relatives, dependents and family members -Social visits to friends, vacation, tourism, attending religious
-Cultural visits, e.g. inviting Baloch musicians from Pakistani Balochistan, attendance of weddings, ceremonies, burial ceremonies, naming ceremonies
-Visit to seek employment (mostly from Pakistani side)
-Trade and business visits
-The social visits include sightseeing, meeting with friends, and spending vacations there. These visits are common among the family members. Friends of the family members often travel with them. Social visits are rampant in border towns in normal life affecting business, social and cultural relations. When the people of Iranian Balochistan and Pakistani Balochistan cross the border line for one reason, or the other, they do not feel that they are entering a foreign land.
Cultural visits are arranged for the very purposes namely burial ceremonies, participation in weddings, and attendance in festivals and feasts, etc. Invitations to attend these functions are sent to all the relatives depending upon the financial status of the family, irrespective of their place of residence. Here, the similarity of customs, traditions and rituals has a significant role in creating a sense of unity among the people of both sides (Keiani 2010:23). People not only take pains to travel even long distances to participate in the cultural meetings but also disapprove of people absenting themselves without any reasonable excuse. A gathering of people living in far off places but tied with blood, culture and history is an occasion of joy and merriment. These links bring about full impact on the people living across the border in the time of any cultural events such as ‘Eid’ (Siasar,2005:18)
Muslims of Pakistan, especially Shiites, tend to visit religious sites in Iran such as Qom and Mashhad in summer time. (Shah, 2007: 06) Typically, they stay in Zahedan for a few days during their trip. The volume of such visits has increased in the last years, and the Iranian government provides special facilities for such visitors. (Afrakhteh, 2008: 208) Baloch talibs (seminary students) usually do not go abroad to learn theology; they prefer to have their Sunni Islamic education at the local madresas in Balochistan itself. This was not the case in pre-Islamic Revolution era, because Sunni theological schools in Balochistan were a handful and lacked wide recognition. In pre-Islamic Revolution Iran, the molavis were, to some extent, under the influence of tribal chiefs. This was due to economic and traditional dependency on the chieftainship. (Taheri, 2013: 4) Inter-marriages are common among the Baloch. Some Baloch have dual citizenship of Iran and Pakistan, and some male Baloch have two wives, one in Iran and the other in Pakistan or Afghanistan. (Afrakhteh, 2008: 209) The system of inter-marriages has been in practice for centuries and is supported by two leading factors: first, the family bond which can be served and strengthened by finding match across the borders. It is more common in the case of arranged marriages with close family members living on both sides, and second, further opportunities of interaction by making a fresh relationship; a party from either side through a third party may come up with the proposal of marriage.
The student exchange across the borders is very limited in the case of two communities. There are more cases of students from Sistan and Balochistan in the schools and colleges of Pakistani Balochistan. The students’ ratio is nonetheless very small; it should have been larger.
Students studying across the border are exempted from restrictions. (Marri, 1974: 34, Harrison 1981:95). Moreover, the Iranian Cultural Centre in Quetta has taken the responsibility for promoting and strengthening the cultural relations between the provinces of the two countries by establishing conferences, seminars and workshops. The Centre also holds social and educational gatherings for people of all walks of life, particularly scholars, intellectuals, and students. Bedside this, the Centre runs courses in the Pakistani language and calligraphy in which a large number of students take interest. In addition, it provides facilities to scholars in their higher studies. These activities have generated a great deal of goodwill for the people and the government of Iran and Pakistan.
The cultural similarities between border lands of Baloch are largely of non-material nature though the material cannot be ruled out. (Matheson, 1999: 32) Socio-cultural and economic factors are the major sources of interaction. The boundary between Iran and Pakistan was softer in the past than it is now. There are regular and irregular entry points (irregular entry points have been gradually fading away with the deployment of border troops and fencing on both sides, particularly the Iranian side). There are a number of towns/villages where houses occupy both sides of the border, e.g., the town of Rideeg/Bulu in Turbat.
Unlike the Mexico-U.S. border land there is no tension among the people of Baloch borderland. Two factors account for that: first, the good relationships between Iran and Pakistan under an endurable bilateralism without any border disputes, and second, the socio-cultural homogeneity of the borderland people speaking the same language.

        Rahdari: an Important Evidence of Geoculturalism
‘Rahdari’ is a system under which a resident of the district is issued a passport, which is valid for fifteen days to visit Iran to see his relatives and friends. Rahdari is issued by District Administration. Reciprocally, the Iranian government issues Rahdari to the Baloch residents of Sistan and Balochistan to visit immediate area across the border. Unlike Iran, the one inside Pakistan is least restricted and can visit across the adjacent up to Quetta and even Karachi. The main purpose of Rahdari is to visit relatives but it can also be utilized for other purposes. On humanitarian ground, visiting hospitals for surgery or medical check-up can make one’s eligibility (Kundi, 2009:07).
Many of the Baloch living on the borders have dual nationality and have access to Rahdari. The system was introduced in 1947 after the creation of Pakistan. Rahdari (border pass) is convenient for those who don’t have passports and want to cross the border for shorter distances. Traveling deeper into Iran needs to travel on passports since the Rahdari facility is restricted to two border provinces of Iran only. There is no definite policy or rules for dual citizenship between Iran and Pakistan. People with dual passports also need Rahdari. One has to be a local inhabitant of the border districts and have relations or some small business or humanitarian reason on the other side to qualify for Rahdari which covers 60 miles/100kms from the border. Under the Rahdari system, a pass is issued which is valid for fifteen days to visit Iran. Legally, it is issued only twice a year. The basic qualification of the pursuit or Rahdari is that the person is local of the districts adjacent to the border and has either relatives or business across the borders (ibid:08). However, residents with passport are issued visa without any difficulty. In other words, the Pakistani Baloch with passport can receive visa without any difficulty from the Iranian consulate in Quetta and similarly, the Iranian Baloch with passport from the Pakistani consulate in Zahedan. The people from both sides of the boundary line frequently cross the border for various purposes which include the following: some of Iranian Baloch who did not go for mandatory military service cross the border to get a Pakistani passport so that they can go for job to the Persian Gulf countries. Inter-marriages are common among the border Baloch. The system has been in practice for centuries as it helps strengthen tribal/family and ethnic bonds across the border while opening new opportunities of interaction by establishing new relationships.

            Crossing the Border
The Baloch living across the border are predominantly Sunni. Many of Iranian Baloch go for jama’at tabligh (a non-governmental Sunni missionary movement that carries its message of simple religious piety door-to-door in many parts of the world) across the border to Panjgor and Raiwind, the second largest religious gathering of jama’at tabligh. There are numerous shrines of saints.The most important is that of Seyed Ghulam Rasool in Chabahar. The other popular ones are those of Pir Shorab in Sastiyari, and Shazeni Pir and Rakal Shah in Chowkat. The Urs ceremonies continue for two to three days during which the pilgrims visit relatives, shop and do other errands. There has been more economic and sustainable development in Iranian Baloch areas since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Major development work was undertaken during the long Iran-Iraq war which had a salutary effect on the situation in the border areas.
As Donnan and Wilson say, in many border areas and cultures “sport is perhaps one of the least offensive rituals and symbolic structures.” Sporting activities are confined to football and cricket matches. (Kundi, 2009: 7) Baloch are good cricketers, but football is comparatively more popular in the area than other sports, especially in Iranian Balochistan. Most of the Iranian national cricket players are Baloch from Iranian southern Balochistan. There are football matches between the border area teams which generate lots of enthusiasm and
provide occasion for interaction.
The promotion of cross-border sports was mentioned in the Cultural Agreement signed in 1956, but no concrete steps were taken towards its promotion. The main cultural agreement between Pakistan and Iran known as Pakistan-Iran Cultural Agreement of March 9, 1956 did not focus on cultural interaction between the two Baloch communities, but under this agreement a number of cultural exchange programs were signed from time to time. Cricket is also popular on the Pakistani side but tent pegging which was more popular is declining in the border areas as more young people sport motorcycles instead of riding horses. Pick-ups serve as an important source of conveyance for cross border smuggling and transportation.

         Exchanges across the Border
Borderlands are frontiers of economic dealings with opportunities for legal and illegal enterprise. Trade has been an integrating factor among the Baloch across the border. The people of the border area from ancient times have depended on cross-border commerce and business as the major source of livelihood. The land they possess is largely non-irrigated and uncultivated. In case of no rain or insufficient rain it faces the threat of drought. Therefore, trade across the border is a major occupation of the people. People traveling to Iran with or without Rahdari passport or without passport, legally or illegally, take and bring with them different items of merchandise to support their livelihood.
According to an estimate, the trade not covered under the regular customs regulations, including that of petroleum and its products, from Iran into Pakistan amounts to more than U.S. $ 2 billion a year. It may be causing a loss to Pakistan revenue but provides a source of livelihood to the poor borderland Baloch. The major items smuggled include blankets, plastic goods, carpets, dried fruit, hosiery goods, fresh fruit (e.g., cherries) and tinned fruit. Stationery items and dairy products, in particular cheese, have become very popular in recent years. Balochistan is a major market for Iranian goods from where they are transported to other areas of Pakistan. From Pakistan, the major items of trade are rice, match boxes, tea, and cloth.
Smuggling of cattle, particularly cows and bulls, into Iran is a very lucrative business. Beef and mutton are expensive products in Iran. They are exported under license, but smuggling is common.
The train service is an important means of trade between Quetta and Taftan through Mirjaveh. The Nushki Extension Railway runs through Mirjaveh on the border to Zahedan in Iran. This line was constructed from Spezand Jn. near Quetta to Nushki in 1905. Extension work continued from 1917 to 1922 when the railway line reached Zahedan, covering 704kms (440 miles).
Sistan and Balochistan province enjoys huge potentialities in extraterritorial exchanges, as there are many ethnic and cultural relationships between the Baloch in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan and as this region is located on the route of the historic commercial Silk Road and in the vicinity of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Before the formation of urban centers and when the local government of ‘‘Sarhad’’ (border region) was under the control of the central government, production of dates, wheat, cotton, traditional fabrics and livestock products was common and evolving. The population was dispersed in animal husbandry sites and small agricultural units.Therefore, the demand for products was trivial and the commercial activities were inconsiderable. The commercial activities were controlled by the tribes, and they used to provide for their trading needs through Pakistan and thus provided for extraterritorial exchanges. (Bestor, 1979: 17–54)
This condition familiarized the local inhabitants with the potential for international trade. Iran is an oil-rich country, and the price of oil products in Iran is lower than in the neighboring countries and this facilitates oil exports.The people who live on both sides of the border enjoy common ethnic, social and cultural characteristics which facilitate their interaction and relationships and help the expansion of border trade. (Afrakhteh, 2008: 207)        The imposed border has separated the urban centres from their social and economic hinterlands. The demand for imported goods is thus high in the region and Zahedan acts as a transit point both to the domestic parts in Iran and to the neighboring countries (Khan 2005:40) nonetheless, this region suffers from a lack of proper job opportunities.
Therefore, the people who have no technical and educational skills are easily attracted to the trade of used commodities. The immigration of Afghan refugees and the Iran-Iraq War have aggravated this problem.Urban growth and expansion itself has also increased the demand for such consumer goods.
Unauthorized activities such as trafficking entail large profits for those involved, especially because these goods, after entryto Zahedan, can be easily transported to other parts of the province and other cities in Iran without the payment of customs duties. Due to this, many businessmen who trade tea, clothes and other goods cannot compete with the similar goods imported from the eastern border, which are mainly trafficked into Iran.
Iranian products are in high demand in Pakistan and Afghanistan so that the market of Zaranj City in Afghanistan is full of Iranian goods such as oil products, vegetables, and plastic products. In the border areas of Pakistan from Mirjaveh to some parts of Quetta, people use the vegetable oil imported from Iran. In the southern part near Rootak, people are freely involved in extraterritorial trade. The goods imported to Iran include rice, crystal, tea, clothes, fruits, sugar, new or used shoes, radios and audio-visual devices, cameras and mobile phones. While the goods exported from Iran include vegetable oil, plastic materials, chemical fertilizers and daily needs.
Entry of livestock into Iran is another example of informal trade in the border regions. The local inhabitants import animals, camels, cattle and goats from Pakistan and even from China, to Iran. During spring and summer, they bring their animals to the border areas from Gwadar in the South to Robat in the North on the pretext of grazing. The animals enter the border region in Iran where they are traded.
The exchange of goods is the initial basis of trade in the region which along with the lack of powerful productive institutions caused by the marginal position, climatic conditions, and settlement of nomadic tribes increased urban population, and the border situation has given the urban centers a commercial and business role.
Iranian Balochistan is economically more developed than Pakistani Balochistan, making it attractive for people from Pakistan who cross the border seeking job opportunities. Moreover, the ongoing war in Afghanistan has also increased labour force migration to Iran.
According to estimates, about 20,000 people enter Iran through the Mirjaveh check point every year while only about 17,000 pass in the opposite direction. Zahedan is a major destination for Pakistani and Afghani immigrants.
The students’ interaction/exchange across borders is very limited.There are more cases of students from Sistan and Balochistan in Pakistani schools and colleges than vice versa because of Iranian tough competition of Iranian university entrance exam; also in order to learn English as an international language, some Iranian Baloch students are studying in India and Pakistan.The major reason is that schooling in Iran is more disciplined and curricula-oriented. Iranian colleges and schools require a high attendance rate; in Pakistani Balochistan attendance is no problem. Nonetheless, students studying across the borders face no restrictions. The medium of instruction also affects students’ exchange. Had Persian or Balochi language been the common medium of instruction, there could have been more exchange of students.

Small-scale trade and smuggling are part of everyday life at many borders. Whenever prosperity along the border differs leading to considerable price differences in the adjacent countries, the border may be used as an economic resource by inhabitants living nearby.
Therefore, trans-border small-scale trade and smuggling are possibilities to cope with stressful periods of biographic transition such as unemployment and poverty. (Bruns, 2012: 4) At the same time, transborder small-scale trade and smuggling are an everyday border phenomenon which is part of the normal routine at many borders.
Hasting Donnan and Thomas Wilson claim that: “one can hardly open a book about borders without finding at least passing reference to smuggling and the clandestine movement of people and goods from one side of the national boundary to the other” (Donnan:2010). To them, smuggling across international borders has historically
functioned to subvert the economic and political order of states which share a border, while at the same time often building solidarity between co-ethnics who are minorities in each of the states.Illegal fuel trade is most obvious on both sides of the border.
Illegal elements of a trans-border economic activity do not have to be automatically illegitimate. In the light of high unemployment and a high level of poverty, few decent paid working places or other alternatives, smuggling and small-scale trade are often highly legitimized among the population, although by state law labelled illegal and therefore forbidden. “Many transnational movements of people, commodities, and ideas are illegal because they defy the norms and rules of formal political authority,” (Bruns, 2012: 4) as Abraham and van Schendel put it, “but they are quite acceptable, ‘licit’, in the eyes of participants in these transactions and flows.” (ibid: 4) Legitimization does not necessarily derive from legality, but has its own sources.
The Iranian gasoline is a major item smuggled from Iran into
Pakistan through the border. Recently a rationing system was set up whereby motorists receive a determined monthly allocation of subsided fuel stored on their magnetic strip petrol cards. As this ration is not sufficient for many motorists, they have to cover their consumption partly from the illegal market. (Shah, 2007: 34) The reasons for fuel trading become abundantly clear when you have a look at petrol or diesel prices while approaching the border. In the vicinity of the Afghan or Pakistani frontier, prices rise considerably; therefore, unofficial trade even starts in Iranian territory at a certain distance from the border. (Boedeker, 2012: 51) It is mostly illegal in which a chain of mafia government officials, and local notables are involved. The petrol is sold all over Balochistan, right from inside the Pakistani border to lower down to Punjab and Sindh. The major route of smuggling is from Iran through a number of dirt routes along the RCD and Quetta/Taftan international trunk road. There are different methods of smuggling; it is carried in oil tankers by the private and commercial vehicles in containers and trucks with big tanks tucked underneath.
Smuggling of petrol is a source of interaction and a boon for those smuggling it. People living in the far-flung areas of Balochistan, particularly areas near the border depend on petrol smuggling as the source of livelihood. Rationing system and the smuggling of petrol resumed with the visible change in the sale of Iranian petrol in border and non-border cities at a lower price.

           Drug and Human Trafficking
Production of opium in Afghanistan has been rising constantly since the invasion of the Soviets in 1979 as it was important for financing different rebellious groups especially in the southern provinces of Afghanistan bordering the Baloch settlement area. (Boedeker, 2012: 48) The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 83% of the opium exports from Afghanistan cross the border into the Islamic Republic of Iran either directly from Afghanistan or via Pakistan; it is true of the Baloch borderland, particularly in case of drug trafficking.Iran’s border with Pakistan and Afghanistan has traditionally been known as the South Asian golden triangle for drug smuggling since1979. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the largest portions of drugs enter Iran through the major routes across Golds mid’s Line from Afghanistan and Pakistan (World Drug Report 2009).The report said all drugs which enter Iran from Sistan and Balochistan Province are primarily dispatched to outskirts of Bam City via Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Balochistan Province.
A large percentage of the total amount of opium, heroin and morphine enters Iran from Sistan and Balochistan. Trafficking to the main stations in Iran usually takes place at night. Route Guides know
all the roads and passages in the eastern part of Iran.
Pakistan and Iran have signed a number of Memorandums of Understanding for the control of smuggling and human trafficking supplemented by the actions of home departments and border towns’ administrations. Similarly, the cases of human trafficking are common in the areas with the involvement of mafias and notables from the area to facilitate those who illegally cross the borders into Iran for their passage to Europe en route Turkey. According to a current UNHCR report (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Report 2010:2), there are about 930,000 registered Afghans living in Iran. Hardly does a month pass when there is not a major report of human trafficking in the media. Sistan and Balochistan is one of the gateways for illegal migration and there are frequent arrests of people illegally entering Iran.The number of illegal entrants can exceed 100 in a day. The FIA sources claim that there is involvement of borderland mafias. Local actors also play an important role. They are mostly tribal notables.
Iran has been stricter on smuggling and trafficking activities. Compared to Pakistan, smuggling across the border in Iranian government’s viewpoint is regarded as a secessionist activity which can jeopardize the nation’s integrity.
In Sistan and Balochistan opiates smuggling has coincided with an escalation of more organised violence. Although the extent and complexity of the relationship between drug-trafficking and insurgency are not clear, the presence of both types of violence has created a situation which is at times referred to as “full-scale war” by Iranian officials and has recently led to Tehran’s decision to transfer authority for the campaign against perpetrators of violence in Sistan and Balochistan to the IRGC. No matter borderlands have generally been areas of support and subversion of states, but the Baloch borderland is more supportive and less subversive.
According to Just Boedeker smuggling or trading, as it is seen from a Baloch perspective, is not an embarrassing and clandestine activity that enables participants to cope with poor living conditions. (Boedeker, 2012: 49)
The protagonists operating in this domain appreciate the (illegal) cross-border trade as a legitimate source of income and regard the counteractive measures of the Iranian state as a repression of the Baloch tribes(Hughes 2004:29). It is rather a prestigious profession preferred to manual work and the source of adventure stories attesting courage and manliness. This positive connotation of illegal crossborder trade results from different social and cultural-historic factors. He believes that Due to the Iranian official perspective of Baloch trading activities, which are perceived as smuggling and undermining the Iranian nation state, Baloch people are criminalized as a whole and excluded from any official posts for the main part(Boedeker, 2012: 50).

Baloch borderland being both the back and front yard of two countries with common hereditary, socio-cultural and historical bonds is largely of an interdependent or coexistent nature. Several factors account for interaction between the two populations, but more interaction is needed for economic integration which will benefit both Iran and Pakistan.
The Goldsmith’s Line does not stand in the way as the borderland Baloch show through their daily interaction.This borderland phenomenon of interdependence supported by historical, socio-cultural, economic and political ties is pregnant with possibilities of further integration.

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Published by
Journal of Subcontinent Researches
University of Sistan and Baluchestan
Vol. 5, No.15, summer 2013

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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Research Papers on Political Issues



(Research Paper)

D.Sc. (Ethnology),
Research Fellow, Faculty of Philosophy,
the Institute of Ethnology at the Charles University
(Prague, the Czech Republic)

D.Sc. (Cultural and Social Anthropology),
Assistant Professor,
Faculty of Economics,
Department of Psychology and Cultural Studies,
the Czech University of Life Sciences
(Prague, the Czech Republic)


I n t r o d u c t i o n
The national self-awareness of the Balochis, who live in several countries and have no statehood, is very specific in many ways. The problem of their identity can be better understood in the context of certain parallels between them and European peoples (ethnic groups), since their ethnogenesis displays certain common features. We should bear in mind, however, that the formation and development of the Balochis differed in many respects from those of the European peoples. The Balochis of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan are not absolutely identical, in this respect they differ greatly from the Europeans.
We treat the Balochis as one people with local distinctions and specifics, including, among other things, their linguistic diversity. In Europe, they would have composed a single linguistic group consisting of several subgroups using several more or less different dialects (which at a later stage would have become ethnic groups).

Elements Typical of Ethnic Groups and National Minorities
A minority as a group of people is identified (or can be identified) on the strength of certain specific features that distinguish it from its ethnic environment. The key and most obvious features that make ethnic groups (and hence minorities) different are their language, culture, and historical consciousness; we can also add racial identity, slight physiognomic specifics, original settlement areas, etc.


The Balochi Language
The Balochis speak the Balochi language, which belongs to the northwestern group of Iranian languages and is similar to the Kurdish language.
There are three large groups among Balochis who speak their native language:
Eastern Balochis (1.8 million), who live in Pakistan (Balochistan, the northwestern part of the Sindh Province and southwestern Punjab); about 800 Balochis live in India (Uttar-Pradesh);
_ Western Balochis (1.8 million): 1.1 million live in Pakistan (northwestern Balochistan);
0.4 million in Iran (northern Sistan); 0.2 million in Afghanistan; and about 30 thousand inTurkmenistan;
Southern Balochis (3.4 million): 2.77 million live in Pakistan (mainly southern Balochistan);
0.4 million in Iran (southern Sistan); 0.13 million in Oman; and 0.1 million in the UAE.
The attempts made in the latter half of the 19th century to codify the Balochi language and its grammar failed; this means that until around the 1940s this language had no written form: fairy tales and heroic eposes survived in oral form and were transferred from one generation to another by word of mouth. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Balochis used the Persian language as the written form of their native tongue; in the latter half of the 20th century, they switched to Urdu. In the Soviet Union in the 1930s, textbooks in the Balochi language based on the Latin script and newspapers in Balochi were published in Ashghabad and Mary, respectively. In the 1940s, the first literary Balochi works were published in Arabic in Pakistan.
There are three Balochi groups in Pakistan that use different dialects of the same (Balochi) language.
They live mainly in Balochistan, Punjab, and Sindh, the Brahuis separating the eastern and western language groups.
The Pakistani Balochis do not form compact ethnic groups; they live among other peoples: the Afghans (Pashtoons,) Punjabies, Brahuis, Lases, and Sindhis. Despite Pakistan’s ethnic diversity and the fact that Balochis are scattered across the country and live among other peoples, they have preserved their identity and language, while their neighbors have borrowed certain elements of the Balochi culture and language (some of the Brahuis, in fact, use the Balochi language).

 The Linguistic Situation in Turkmenistan
The Turkmen Balochis use the Rashkhani language (dialect), which differs greatly from the dialects used in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan.
According to Ivan Zarubin, to whom Edit Gafferberg refers in her fundamental work Beludzhi Turkmenskoy SSR. Ocherki khozyaystva, materialnoy kultury i byta (The Balochis of the Turkmen SSR.
Essays in the Economy, Material Culture, and Everyday Life),1 the languages of the Balochis of Khorasan and Turkmenistan are close to the dialect used by the western group, albeit with certain phonetic specifics.
The dialects of the Turkmen and Pakistani Balochis are very different (sometimes they even cannot understand each other). Turkmen and Iranian Balochis use more or less similar dialects.
The Brahuis of Turkmenistan also use the Balochi language; they arrived there together with Balochi nomads from Iran and Afghanistan and became completely assimilated in the 1960s. They regarded themselves as Balochis of the Brahui clan, even though members of the older generation still used their native language,2 which belonged to the North Dravidian branch. In Turkmenistan, the Brahuis3 belong to the same level as members of the Balochi clans with whom they intermarry.4 The Balochis polled in the village of Turbin, however, remain convinced that “darker skin is worse than lighter” (Brahuis are dark-skinned).
As mentioned above, a short-lived attempt to create a written language of the Turkmen Balochis based on the Latin script was made in the early 1930s; it ended in 1938 after producing several textbooks and political leaflets.5 Until the end of the 1980s, the Turkmen Balochis spoke their native language, which had no written form, and, therefore, there were no newspapers or books.
Political liberalization of the 1980s gave the Balochis a chance to acquire their own education system and their own written language based on Cyrillic. In independent Turkmenistan, which abolished Cyrillic in favor of the Latin script, textbooks in Cyrillic proved useless.

 Historical Self-Identity
Cultural memory does not reflect history; instead it presents it through defeats, treachery, wise rulers, the Golden Age, victims, embellishments, etc. In some cases, cultural memory can be considerably distorted or based on inventions. This gives rise to folk legends that simplify and embellish the past; sometimes history is adapted to current reality.

Ancestors of the Turkmen Balochis
There are any number of theories that look for the ethnic roots of the Balochis in the Arab regions, India, or Iran. According to one of the legends, the roots of the Balochis are found in Aleppo in Syria and go back to the time of Caliph Ali (a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad). His uncle moved to the region of Makran where he married a fairy who appeared before him. Their son was the ancestor of all the Balochis.6
According to Veluroza Frolova,7 the “Iranian” version is much more probable: it says that in the 5th-8th centuries, the Balochis moved from the southern Caspian to Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where they live today.
The ballads and heroic epos of the Balochis, which recount the events of the 15th-16th centuries, call clans bolaks; there were 44 bolaks (40 of them were Balochi proper, while four were considered to be vassal). Throughout the centuries, the bolaks have undergone many changes because of their nomadic lifestyle and intermixing. Not infrequently people escaped from their clans to set up a new clan, either because of marriage or because of blood feuds.
Wars and poor living conditions caused by inept khans or foreign invasions changed the structure of the Balochi clans.
Mikhail Pikulin8 wrote that some of the Balochi bolaks disappeared to give way to smaller groups.
In Afghanistan and Iran, they are known as tayfa; in Balochistan as tuman. They were based on political rather than clan principles and on submission to one of the khans.
The first nomadic Balochi tribes came to southern Turkestan (the Saraghs settlement and the town of Bayramali in the territory of Turkmenistan) at the turn of the 20th century; they arrived from Afghanistan and Iran on camels and donkeys. Edit Gafferberg9 wrote that their presence in this region was confirmed, among other things, by the lists of volunteers to the Red Army compiled in 1919 in Saraghs and kept in the State Archives of the Turkmen S.S.R. (now the State Central Archives of Turkmenistan), where Balochis were registered together with Turkmens.
The Balochis were driven away from Afghanistan and Iran by lack of pastures, feudal suppression of land tillers, and the inroads of alien clans.

 The Balochis and their State: A Look into the Past
In antiquity, the territory of Balochistan served as a bridge of sorts between Mesopotamia, on the one hand, and the Iranian Plateau and Indo-Gangetic Plain, on the other. The old maps dated to antiquity use the name Gedrosia for Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan; it can be found on the map showing the route across the deserts of Balochistan Alexander the Great chose for his army in 325 B.C., which returned from India. After his death and the disintegration of his empire, Gedrosia became part of the Parthian Empire (3rd century B.C.-A.D. 3rd century) and the Persian Sassanid Dynasty (from the first half of the A.D. 3rd century). The local Balochis were first mentioned in the 10th century.
In the 7th century, when Arabs came to Persia and spread Islam in it and the neighboring territories, the geographic term Makran appeared (an arid deserted strip along the Arabian Sea known as Gedrosia in antiquity).
In the 12th century, the Balochis found themselves in the Khwarazm Empire; in the 13th-14th centuries contemporary northern Balochistan was part of the domain of Genghis Khan and later Tamerlane.
According to M.K.B.M. Baloch (a Balochi author10) in the 15th century, Mir Chakar, one of the Balochi leaders, managed to unite the tribes to set up an empire in southeastern Persia, southern Afghanistan and, what is today, Pakistani Balochistan (by that time the Balochis had obviously spread across these territories); the empire, however, did not outlive its founder.
Other authors, too, mentioned this state. Tajik philosopher and Orientalist Mukhamed Asimov and British historian Clifford Edmund Bosworth wrote that in the latter half of the 15th century Mir Chakar from the Balochi Rind tribe founded the state of Balochi, in which members of the Balochi Lashari tribe lived side-by-side with the Rind tribe. The state disappeared because of a civil war between them. The Lashari were headed by Mir Goran Khan Lashari. After the war, known as the Thirty Years’ War, both tribes spread to Sindh and Punjab.11 In the 17th century, Brahui and Balochi tribes rebelled against the Great Mogul rule and set up the Kalat Khanate. Fred Scholz supplied detailed information probably retrieved from Baluch, another Balochi author.12
It is impossible to find out whether Balochis or Brahuis played the first fiddle; what we know is that the history of the Kalat Khanate is part of the history of Balochistan (even if many of the Balochi tribes did not belong to it).
The Khanate was not a centralized state; during the wars with Sindh, its neighbor, and Afghanistan, its borders were constantly changing. Throughout its history it remained under the strong influence of the rulers of either Iran or Kandahar.
Everything changed when Mir Nasir Khan came to power; he subjugated all the local rulers and extended the territory approximately to the borders of today’s Balochistan.
When the Dutch and later the British reached the Persian Gulf, the Kalat Khanate and the Balochipopulated territories around it acquired strategic importance as a toehold of Britain’s imperialist expansion to India, Iran, and Afghanistan.
In 1839, the consulate of Britain and the khanate signed an agreement under which Kalat had to guarantee the British troops safe passage to the borders of Afghanistan. Britain, in turn, pledged to guarantee sovereignty of the khanate and safety of the borders of the Balochi-populated territories (so-called Balochistan), which, however, lost some of their importance once the agreement had been signed.
The Persians, equally interested in this territory, tried even harder to conquer it and subjugate the Balochi tribes.
Late in the 19th century, Persia, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom signed an agreement under which the territory of Balochistan was divided into Western (Persian) and Eastern (British) Balochistan.
Early in the 20th century, the term Balochistan came to be applied to four different units:
(1) The Kalat Khanate often called Balochistan;
(2) Persian Balochistan ruled by Kerman;
(3) British Balochistan;
(4) the Balochi-populated territories in British India (the Punjab and Sindh provinces).
All the Balochi-populated territories, with the exception of Persian Balochistan (initially part of the Kalat Khanate and later part of the Persian Empire),13 belonged to Great Britain, even though the form of British rule differed from one territory to another.
(I) British Balochistan covered former Afghan territory (Shahrigh, Saba, Duki, Peshin, Chaman, and Shorarud).
(II) The territories ruled by Agent to the Governor General were divided into:
(a) territories under direct rule (they earlier belonged to the Kalat Khanate, or were tribal territories, or the areas Great Britain had acquired by changing the Afghan borders);
(b) formerly independent countries (the Kalat Khanate and the Lasbela and Charan principalities). At that time, the khan was the head of the Brahui tribe Qambarani and the highest representative of the confederation of the Balochi and other, subjugated, tribes.
(c) tribal territories of the Marri and Bugti ruled by their chief without Kalat interference.14


Nationalism of the Balochis
In 1947, British India was divided into Hindu India (the Dominion of India) and Muslim Pakistan (the Dominion of Pakistan); until 1971, the latter consisted of Eastern Pakistan (later the independent state of Bangladesh) and Western Pakistan (today’s Pakistan) separated from Eastern Pakistan by 1,500 km.
The same year, the U.K. recognized the independence of Balochistan, which soon thereafter signed an agreement with Pakistan under which Pakistan recognized Balochistan’s independence and the Khan of Kalat as its representative. Very soon, however, Pakistan occupied Balochistan and in March 1948 declared it its fifth province.
Both dominions set up on the strength of the Indian Independence Act of 1947 remained dominions until they passed their own constitutions.
The Constitution of India enacted on 26 January, 1950 proclaimed it a republic.
The first Constitution of Afghanistan enacted on 23 March, 1956 proclaimed the Islamic republic; until that time the country formally remained a monarchy with the last Governor General of the Dominion of Pakistan Iskander Mirza becoming the first president of the Islamic Republic.
Throughout the 20th century numerous attempts of different intensity were made in Iran and Pakistan to set up an independent Balochistan.
In the 1950s, a union of Balochi provinces was established in Pakistan; in 1974, the simmering separatist sentiments developed into an armed clash between tens of thousands of Balochis and the Pakistani army. The uprising was suppressed, but the Balochi language became one of the offi-cial languages and institutions appeared that studied the culture and languages of the Balochis and Brahuis.
The Balochis, who have not accepted their dependent position in Pakistan, crave for independence, their nationalist feelings fed by the fact that their natural riches (gas, coal, uranium, gold, and oil) of Sui on the eastern borders of Balochistan enrich Islamabad, while the living standards of the Balochis remains low: many of their settlements have no running water or electricity.15
Enkelab, one of the locals, described the sad state of affairs in his village: “In my village there is no gas, electricity, or running water. Our people fetch water from the gas station in Sui under fear of punishment, torture, or even imprisonment.”
This gas station is one of Pakistan’s most important facilities and, to a great extent, a source of the Balochi protest sentiments.
Young Balochis determined to fight the government of Pakistan join rebel structures of the Lashkar-e Balochistan type; enraged, they want to know why they have to sacrifice their right to freedom and their federation, in which one people dominates.
In Iran, likewise, the rights of the Balochis are infringed upon, in particular, in the province of Sistan and Baluchestan with sizable Balochi populations. The identity cards of the Balochis state that they belong to one of the clans (Esesi, Nautani, Kalbeli, etc.) rather than their common nationality.
This places clans higher than the nationality, which keeps the ethnic group disunited and distorts demographic statistics.
We all know that the people in power tend to ignore the interests of small ethnic groups; it is much easier to deny them education in their native language.

 The Balochis as an Ethnic Minority
The territory that since the time of British colonial rule has been called Balochistan according to the name of the Balochis, its local population, is today divided between three countries with a total area of 647 thousand sq km, the bigger chunk of it (347,190 sq km) is occupied by Pakistani Balochistan;
200 thousand sq km belong to the Iranian province Sistan and Baluchestan (Sistan and Baluchestan became a single administrative unit in 1959), and less than 100 thousand sq km stretch along the Helmand in Afghanistan.
In many places, Balochis live alongside former nomadic tribes, the largest of them being the Brahuis, Pashtoons, Lases, and Sindhs. They live close enough for intermixing and cultural exchange.
With no compact settlements, the Balochis of Sistan rapidly assimilated the languages and traditions of their neighbors. The territory of Baluchestan, on the other hand, is the only place where Balochis live in compact groups and where, therefore, there is no assimilation.
Veluroza Frolova16 discussed this back in the 1960s and pointed to the main distinctive features between the Balochi settlements in Pakistan and Iranian Baluchestan (with practically no other ethnic groups), on the one hand, and in Iranian Sistan, on the other:

Region ——————————– Compact settlements —————————–Assimilation
Pakistan (Balochistan) ——————No ——————————————————No17
Pakistan (Sindh and Punjab) ———-No ——————————————————No
Iran (Sistan) ——————————-No ——————————————————Yes
Iran (Baluchestan) ———————–Yes —————————————————–No

The Shi‘a in the village of Baluch Khan to the west of the Iranian town of Mashhad (not far from the city of Sabzevar) are one of the smaller Balochi groups that have preserved what was left of their specifics. The village is relatively hard to reach; unlike the Balochis of Sistan and Baluchestan, its population adopted Shi‘a Islam, but preserved their language, colorful dress (Iranian women wear black yasmaks), decorated homes, and national self-identity and are engaged in growing almonds.
There are Balochi settlements along the Iranian-Turkmen border, in which people (all of them Shi‘a) preserve their semi-nomadic lifestyle. In the summer, several families leave their homes to graze cattle; they live in tents, or gedans, and form a self-supporting community.
The Balochis who live on the southern shores of the Caspian (the original homeland of all Balochis, according to Frolova) in the Mazandaran Province of Iran not far from the city of Gorgan are Sunni Muslims (like most of the Balochis). They have preserved their language and elements of traditional culture—clothes and some customs.
The Baluchis who live in big cities Mashhad (Northern Iran), Zahedan (Sistan and Baluchestan), Quetta (Pakistan), and Muscat (Oman) can be described as assimilated Balochis, even though they themselves and the relatives who visit them insist that they have not lost their sense of belonging to their ethnic group; they use the Balochi language, wear Balochi dress, and, on the whole, follow the Balochi lifestyle. These ethnic elements, however, differ to a great extent from the traditional Balochi.

Turkmen Balochis
Early in the 20th century, the Balochis driven away by lack of pasture lands, floods, high taxes, etc. moved from Afghanistan to Iran. After a while, some of them returned; others moved further on to the territory of contemporary Turkmenistan (the Merv area) where they worked on cotton plantations that belonged to the local feudal lords (bays), built irrigation structures, or remained semi-nomad cattle breeders.
In her fundamental work quoted above, Edit Gafferberg18 wrote that the Balochis found it hard to adjust to Soviet power and described the changes that it introduced into their lifestyle. Her monograph is based on data she gathered during her long field seasons in 1926-1929 and 1958-1961 when she lived among the Turkmen Balochis. She pointed out that while Soviet power greatly improved the living conditions, it strove to disrupt the Balochi clan ties at any price and reduce the Balochi cattle breeders’ dependence on their khans.
According to a Balochi mullah, Kerim Khan was one of the strongest and the most influential leaders in Turkmenistan. The head of a large Balochi group in the Iolotan District, he, together with his men, helped Turkmens imprisoned for anti-Soviet activities to escape; the people asked him for advice or practical help.
Later outlawed as a basmach,19 he fled to Afghanistan with a large group of Balochis (women, old people, and children among them). At one point, when camping in the desert, they were attacked by a Soviet plane.
Today, there are about 30 thousand Balochis in Turkmenistan, all of them Sunni Muslims; they live in villages in one-story houses; according to the tradition they inherited from their nomadic and clan past, parents and married sons live together forming extended families. They share a courtyard, a kitchen with a special place for cooking, and an elevated place on which they sleep in the open air (tapchan); not infrequently there are tandyrs (clay stoves in the open where they bake bread). They use gas; the government plans to organize water supply.

Post-Soviet Historical Constructions
In the 1990s, the Soviet Union disappeared leaving an ideological void behind to be filled with a new identity model. The key role in the process belongs to the state or, rather, the ruling group, which should refer to the old traditions and go back to its ethnic roots.
The regime of late President of Turkmenistan Saparmurad Niyazov, better known as Turkmenbashi, moved further than any others toward new historical constructions. The state ordered a new history designed to prove that the Turkmens were the world’s oldest and in all respects exceptional nation.
The president was determined to replace the old (everything that reminded of the Soviet past) with a totally new ideology related to the old traditions of the Turkmens. He instituted new holidays and created new national heroes; Cyrillic was abandoned together with the old names of the months and days of the week.

Balochis in Contemporary Turkmenistan and their Cultural Memory
It should be said that President Niyazov did not like the Balochis who lived in his country; he concentrated on the Turkmens and their history. There are any number of eyewitness accounts of how Balochi musicians turned over their musical instruments to the state. The people who had already lived through the trying period of adaptation to Soviet power in the 1930s found themselves in another no less trying situation.
So far, the leaders of Turkmenistan have not bothered themselves with preserving the Balochi traditions, language, or ethnic identity.
At home, the Balochis use their native language; however, the younger generation, exposed to the new social reality, is gradually losing interest in it. At schools, the Turkmen language prevails;
children can barely read Latin script, to say nothing about English, which is part of the school curriculum; the teaching of Russian has recently considerably deteriorated.
In the Soviet Union, Balochi textbooks were based on Cyrillic; in independent Turkmenistan with its strong nationalist sentiments, teaching of the Balochi language based on Cyrillic stands no chance.
Old people, mullahs, and educated Balochis spare no effort to pass the history of the Balochis, their clans and traditions (related to marriages and the way the national dress should be worn), on to the younger generation by word of mouth. In an effort to preserve the language, they write poems about the people and its history to be read at marriage ceremonies.
The folk tales Ivan Zarubin wrote down at one time serve as a valuable source about the everyday life and culture of the Balochis of Turkmenistan and their spiritual culture and moral traditions.

 Heroes of the Balochis
Kerim Khan mentioned above is one of the main heroes of the Turkmen Balochis: he helped them during the times of trial when they moved to Turkmenistan and even freed Turkmens arrested by the Soviet government from prison.20
Mir Chakar, who united Balochi tribes and set up the first state of the Balochis, is a hero of the Balochis of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; he is the central figure of the Balochi epic ballad Hani and Sheh Murid, which is to the Balochis what Romeo and Juliet are to the Europeans: symbols of a pure and tragic love.

 Balochi Self-Awareness and Information about the Balochis
In the 20th century, several monographs appeared about the Balochis; Fred Scholz, one of the authors, concentrated on the period of British colonial domination; very much like many other authors who discussed manifestations of Balochi nationalism, he limited himself to the territory of contemporary Pakistan.
In the 1930s, expeditions of the Soviet Academy of Sciences studied the Balochis of Turkmenistan. Edit Gafferberg published a fundamental work in which she described the lifestyle, customs, and traditions of the local Balochis and the problems they had to cope with while integrating into the Soviet Union.
In post-Soviet times, Turkmen Balochis attracted attention and caused a lot of amazement among the Balochis of Pakistan: witness the article “Turkmenistan: The Country of Fifty Thousand Balochis” by Pakistani journalist from Quetta Yar Mohammad Badini.
Lutz Rzehak and his two Balochi colleagues compiled a Balochi, Pashto, Dari, and English dictionary; published in 2007, it was the first dictionary of West Iranian languages used by about 10 million.
The same people initiated a Balochi Academy in Zaranchi in the Afghan province of Nimroz. It started functioning in 2010 as a center of academic cooperation and information exchange among the Pakistani, Iranian, and Afghan Balochis. Together with the Academy in Quetta, it is expected to promote cultural development and more profound study of ethnic traditions. The fact that Balochis took an active part in setting up the academy and building it by funding the project and working on it has added to the Academy’s importance.21
Those who promote these projects strive to inform the world and the Balochis scattered across several countries about the history of the Balochis and their culture in order to show the world that the Balochis are not dangerous nationalists who only cause trouble in the countries they live.

C o n c l u s i o n
A larger number of Balochis live in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan; fewer are found in Oman, UAR, and Turkmenistan; their assimilation can be partly explained by the fact they live in compact settlements, but this does not always mean they are more resistant to alien influences. In Pakistan, for example, the Balochis scattered across the country are less assimilated than many other Balochi groups.
Not infrequently, in Pakistan, the ethnicities living alongside the Balochis borrow their customs and language.
The Balochis of Oman (in Muscat) and Iran (Mashhad) have become completely assimilated and integrated with the local population.
Compared with other national groups, the Balochis of Turkmenistan are resistant to assimilation, although they have borrowed some of the Turkmen everyday customs and family ceremonies.
The most progressive Balochis do not spare any effort to disprove what the media write about their people as nationalists and rioters; on the other hand, the Balochis should revive and preserve their traditions and their history.

1 See: E.G. Gafferberg, Beludzhi Turkmenskoy SSR, ed. by S.M. Abramzon, Nauka Publishers, Leningrad, 1969, p. 4, footnote 5 (I.I. Zarubin, K izucheniu beludzhskogo yazyka i folklora. Zapiski kollegii vostokovedov, Vol. 5, Leningrad, 1930).
2 See: E.G. Gafferberg, op. cit., p. 16.
3 In Turkmenistan, the Brahui are divided into smaller groups—Aydozi, Raatzi, Iagesi, Chaynal, Keran, Mirkhanzi, Sorabzi, Sasoli, and Zerkali.
4 See: E.G. Gafferberg, op. cit., p. 9.
5 See: “Izdan pervy perevod Evangelia ot Luki na beludzhskiy yazyk,” Russkaia Pravoslavnaia Tserkov. Otdel vneshnikh tserkovnykh svyazey, 22 August, 2005, available at [].
6 See: L. Rzehak, W.A. Pristschepowa, Nomadenalltag vor den Toren von Merw. Belutschen, Hazara, Dschamschedi, Dresden, 1994, p. 5, footnote 23 (Muhammad Sardar Khan Baluch, History of Baluch Race and Baluchistan, Karachi, 1958, pp. 1, 191).
7 See: V.A. Frolova, Beluzhskiy yazyk, Nauka, Eastern Literature Publishers, Moscow, 1960, p. 7.
8 Quoted from: E.G. Gafferberg, op. cit.
9 See: E.G. Gafferberg, op. cit., p. 4.
10 See: F. Scholz, Belutschistan (Pakistan), Verlag Erich Goltze, Göttingen, 1974, S. 33 (M.K.B.M.Baloch, The Balochis through Centuries, Quetta, 1964).
11 See: M.S. Asimov, C.E. Bosworth, History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Historical, Social and Economic Setting, Motilal Banarsidass Publ, Delhi, 1999, pp. 304-305.
12 See: F. Scholz, op. cit., S. 33 (Muhammad Sardar Khan Baluch, History of Baluch Race and Baluchistan, Karachi, 1958).
13 The borders established by the Anglo-Persian Boundary Commission in 1870-1872 were finally confirmed in 1895- 1896.
14 See: M.Th. Houtsma, A.J.E.J. Wensinck, Brill’s First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936 (reprint Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1993).
15 See: K. Zurutuza, Den v poušti s ________ povstalci (A Day in the Desert with Balochi Insurgents), _______,Albert Friess, Vice Magazine, 21.2.2012, available at [ povstalci/].
16 See: V.A. Frolova, op. cit., p. 9.
17 The closest neighbors, mainly the Brahuis, adopt the Balochi language and traditions.
18 See: E.G. Gafferberg, op. cit.
19 A member of the anti-Soviet movement in Central Asia.
20 See: E.G. Gafferberg, op. cit., p. 23.21 See: “Die Balutschi-Akademie in Zarandsch — Ein Kurzportrait,” 10 February, 2011 // Tethys. Central asia Everyday, 8 March, 2012, available at [ kurzportrait/].


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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Baloch People


The Baloch Resistance Literature Against the British Raj

(Research Paper)

By Javed Haider Syed
Assistant Professor
Department of History
Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad

Resistance literature is considered as an important factor in the development of political consciousness among subjugated peoples. Therefore, Balochi resistance literature against British colonialism merits evaluation. Even a cursory glance at the history of Balochi literature, manifests the pride and dignity that Baloch poets and epic writers have shown for their heroes. This literature also demonstrates anger and resentment against the intruders and ridicule against traitors.Balochistan Birtish

Notwithstanding historical accuracy, the Baloch self-perception as the guardian of noble values is perpetuated in their literature. They trace their origin from Arabia and show their presence in almost every great battle, which was fought for the glory of Islam or for the glorification of Baloch culture.

Long before the British occupation of Balochistan, the Baloch poets had condemned the high-handedness of the Portuguese and eulogized the bravery of a Baloch leader, Mir Hamal Junaid, who was arrested by the Portuguese and was taken to Portugal.1 It does not mean that they were critical of only the Europeans but other invaders like the Mongols and the Arghuns also received the same treatment.

However, in view of the scope of the present study, we will confine ourselves only to resistance literature produced against the British. According to a poet as well as literary historian, Mir Gul Khan Naseer, there were clear and distinct phases of the resistance literature.
In one of his books,
Balochi Razmiyyah Sha‘iri, 2 he divides the Balochi resistance literature into four phases. In the first phase, he looks at the pioneers, beginning with Mir Chakar Rind and Mir Gawahram Lashari and ending with the writers in the middle of the sixteenth century. This poetry is mostly in the shape of ballads and epics, dwelling on the achievements of great Baloch leaders. The second phase covers the writings after the migration of Mir Chakar Rind and Mir Gowahram Lashari from Balochistan covering the period between the middle of the sixteenth century to the advent of the British. The third phase covers the British period up to 1930. The last phase, according to Gul Khan Naseer, is the phase of “National” poetry.

During 1930-47, the Baloch people used different methods and techniques to pursue their struggle for freedom from the British. There were not many battles fought and not many physical confrontations. Rather, they worked through constitutional and peaceful methods, principally through literature inspired by the political struggle of the Muslims in other parts of India against the colonial rule. Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan provided the platform and took the lead in disseminating diverse ideas, ranging from Communism to Khilafat movement and anti-British slogans borrowed from the Indian National Congress.

Raham ‘Ali Marri (1876-1933) was one of the most prominent Baloch poets who not only composed poetry, but also actively participated in fights against the British. In one of his long epics, he addresses the “traitors” who sided with the British and says, “like a cattle herd, they followed the pagans and lost their faith both in their history and religion.”3 In fact, there are numerous references to early Islamic heroes in Raham ‘Ali’s poetry to show that the British aggression in Balochistan and the Baloch resistance were like a war between truth and falsehood: “With the blessing of God and for the honour of Ali’s4 horse, we will kill this serpent (the British) which has sneaked into our homes.”5 Raham ‘Ali was particularly critical of the collaborators of the British without whose help the latter would never have been able to occupy Balochistan. He saw them as the enemies of the Baloch and Islam.6 He was not very happy with the state of society in Balochistan. In his opinion, “half of the people were in deep slumber on their gilded cushions and the other half, like vagabonds, spent their nights in search of a resting place.” Some, according to him, “enslaved others to enhance their status and luxury and comfort, and others starved and cried for food during the last hours of night.”7 In this sense, his poetry certainly went beyond the parameters of the British colonialism as he held traditional Sardari system primarily responsible for the miseries and backwardness of the Balochi people.

Raham ‘Ali’s poetry reveals his keen interest in ensuring that the Marri tribe, known for its valour and bravery, continued to keep the torch of freedom alive. He himself participated in the battle of Harab fought in 1918 between the Marri tribe and the British Indian army. He wrote several poems to inspire the tribe in their struggle against the British. In one of the poems, he said:

The brave fighters of Marri tribe gathered in the valleys at the request of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri. May all the saints and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) bless you. They saddled their horses and their turbans flowed around their shoulders. Suddenly the British appeared along with their fighter planes. The brave Marris stood like a solid rock with their girdles and tussles tied with one another. They were martyred for protecting their honour. The clouds sent rain and they were blessed by God.8Another poem, written in the same year on another front, Gumbaz,evokes even more hatred against the British: Lo! The final hour has struck for a decisive war between the British and the Baloch. There is none who will not dance at the sound of clashing swords. Forward Ghazis 9 and Shahids, 10 decorate your horses. This humiliating slavery we are not made for. We have to leave this world one day, determined we are that we will lay down our lives for the glory of the Almighty and will be rewarded in this world and the world hereafter. We loathe the British money and glitter. Our God, He alone, is enough for us. No one will stay behind in this final clash and the world will always remember our daring deeds against the British.11

Raham ‘Ali became very popular with the tribesmen, particularly with the Marris and young and old both recited his poetry with great enthusiasm. And it always worked. After all, who else told them that:

“before going out to fight the British, the Marri Baloch warrior, perfumes his beard and drenches his moustaches in scent. With velvet he covers his body and with flowers he decorates his horse.”12

Raham ‘Ali strongly condemned those Baloch leaders who accepted money from the British or supported them out of fear. In his view, they were traitors not only to their own glorious tradition of courage and bravery but also had lost their faith in Islam. Raham ‘Ali had nothing but contempt and ridicule for them. He wrote: “Those people who ran away from the difficult times are now safely living in the Karachi area and are enjoying carrot and fish.”13

Raham ‘Ali stands out as the most prominent poet of his time. He participated in many campaigns against the British. His poetry therefore, is mainly autobiographical. He says, “Those nations who like comfort and peace are ultimately destroyed. Self-respect and honour are considered the deeds of real glory for nations.” 14

According to Raham ‘Ali, not only the Baloch and Afghans but also other Muslims have bartered away their country for a very small price. Hence, slavery has saturated their bone marrow like the wine gets into one’s senses. He laid great emphasizes on self-respect, honour and chivalry throughout his writings.15 Like most folk poets, though he was not formally educated in any school still he had the remarkable ability of conveying his feelings in an inspiring and provocative language. He wrote more than 50,000 verses against colonialism and Sardari system. A revolutionary poet as he was, his poetry was compiled and published by Mir Mitha Khan Marri. Raham ‘Ali’s popularity, his glorification of the Marri culture, his hatred of the British and disparagement of the “loyal’ Baloch leaders, ultimately led to his exile, but soon the people demanded his return and a delegation had to be sent to bring him back, but he was not destined to return to his native place. He died in 1933 and was buried in Musa Khel, Loralai.16

Another poet who also became very popular with the Baloch was Muhammad Khan Marri (1850-1932) who was educated on traditional Muslim lines and who, too, hated the British intensely.

This hatred was further intensified because of his active participation in various battles against the British. He is reported to have defeated the British forces at Kochali. In one of these encounters, Muhammad Khan Marri was arrested and sentenced to fourteen years of rigorous imprisonment. He spent these years in Poona Jail and returned to his homeland after his release.17 He was not only a good poet but was also very fond of holding poetical sessions at his house, which used to continue beyond midnights. His poetry about the battles of Gumbaz and Kochali became quite popular and continued to influence people even after his death. A specimen of his poetry is as follows:

Early in the morning, I was sitting in the mansion and I saw a plane. Icried, O Marris! Prepare your army and pray for martyrdom, perfume yourbeautiful beards and say goodbye to your dear ones. The gardens ofParadise are worth your visit but only if you lay down your lives. Thosekilled in the battles of Gumbaz and Kochali are the flowers of Paradise.Swings are waiting for them in the dense gardens of heavens.18
Baloch poets were particularly harsh on those who sided with theBritish. For example, another Marri poet, Giddu Doom says:

Those who have forsaken the Baloch people in the face of the British atrocities are cheats. But we are here to stay on the same rocks to face the same aggression that we have been victim of thousand times before. Our bravery and courage have not given way but you people have lost your Baloch honour just for a few rupees that you get in serving these infidels.19

Addressing the Sardars of the Sarawan and Jhalawan tribes who had not helped Khan of Kalat, Mir Mihrab Khan, in his encounter with the British in 1839, he went on to chide:

O, the good people of Sarawan, you lost your empire because of your foolishness. But then you had already said goodbye to your honour when you started loving the life of slavery. The British took away your Kalat and took away your camel-loads of treasures through the Bazaars to Calcutta but you, for a few pennies, turned into traitors.20

It must be noted here that from Jhalawan, only Wali Muhammad Khan Shahizai Mengal and Mir Abdul Karim Khan Raisani had helped the Khan of Kalat against the British. Mulla Muhammad Hasan, his contemporary poet, refers to Mir Mihrab’s struggle in these words:

Like torrents of rain, your guns roared, but the palace and the fort were occupied by the enemies. When the royal battle began, the Khan roared like a lion with majesty and anger. He had the royal dress, crown in one hand and the rock-like shield and sword in the other. He unsheathed his sword and fell on his enemies invoking the power of ‘Ali.21

Giddu Doom likened the allies of the British to the party of Yazid, the Umayyad ruler who had ordered the extermination of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husain and his family. That is how the Muslim poets drew inspiration from different phases of Islamic history.22 Raham ‘Ali also commented on the death of Mir Mihrab Khan (1839), in these words:

Did you see how he struck the pagans when the world saw his electrifying sword. Like a lion he fell, his face shining like silver. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) welcomed him at the fountain of Kausar, the channel of pure and heavenly water in Paradise. The way he embraced the martyrdom is without parallel. May God bless him.23

This type of poetry inspired not only the Marri tribesmen but also other Baloch freedom fighters throughout the British period. However, it was Mulla Mazar Bangalzai who composed a poem, Lat Sahib kiBagghi, i.e., “The Chariot of the AGG (Agent to the Governor-General)”, which moved the hearts and minds of the people and came to be treated as a national anthem. The background to the epic was coronation of king George V in 1911. The Delhi Darbar, which was held to honour the King-Emperor, became a grand event in the political history of the subcontinent. All the Nawabs, rulers, and Rajas of the Princely states in the British India were invited and were told about the special way of salutation while passing before the throne of the Emperor. The Khan of Kalat, Mir Mahmud Khan II, however, disregarded this special salute and decided to welcome the King-Emperor in his own way, by brandishing his sword. The Government of India considered it a discourtesy and decided to humble the Baloch Sardars in their own backyard. Consequently, all the prominent Sardars of different tribes were invited to the Residency at Sibi and were asked to pull the chariot of the AGG from Sibi Residency to the Railway Station. Except for Sardar Khair Bakhsh Marri, all the Sardars participated in this disgraceful act. Mulla Mazar witnessed this disgraceful event and composed a stirring poem, which ridiculed the Baloch leaders except Nawab Khair Baksh Marri whose sense of honour and dignity was deeply appreciated. Mulla Mazar, in fact, called it the curse of God on the Sardars who, like the beasts of burden were obliged to pull the carriage of an “infidel” without any sense of dignity and self-respect.

He described at length the whole event depicting the Englishman’s carriage being pulled through mud and rain by Baloch Sardars losing grip on their turbans and leaving their sandals stuck in the mud.

According to him, these tribal leaders were good only in looting the poor and betraying their own folks. While, “pulling this carriage, these leaders parted with the honour of their country. Neither had they cared for their own dignity nor for that of their people. What a spectacle it was! Every low and high watched them blackening their own faces and those of their people.” He was convinced that “on the Day of Judgment, God will throw these Sardars in the Hell.”24 This was indeed a tirade both against the tribal leaders as well as the people who were their subjects. Mulla Mazar soon became a legend. The writers, poets and historians of Balochistan consider their compositions incomplete without paying their respect to this man. Since he had condemned all the Baloch leaders by name, the Sardars asked the government of the British Balochistan to punish him. Consequently, he was exiled from Balochistan to Sindh. He died there and was buried at Jacobabad.25

Recalling the shameful episode at the Residency, Raham ‘Ali also paid rich tributes to Sardar Khair Bakhsh Marri and commented:

“O Sardar Khair Bakhsh! A million greetings to you because you still have the honour of the Baloch in your eyes. You have proved true to your mother’s wish. May God give you a life as long as the Jhalgari Mountain.”26 In another poem, Raham ‘Ali exclaimed:

Sardar Bihram Khan Mazari gave the British one hundred men in the First World War. The Buzdars of Highlands gave fifty, Dareshaks eighteen and Misri Khan went along with ten horses. But we are Marris and with our leader Khair Bakhsh, we will fight against the British and our Lord Hazrat Ali, on his horse, will come to our help and we will crush the heads of the British like we do with the snakes.27

This poem became a source of inspiration for many poets and a mark of humiliation for the Sardars who had released the horses from the Resident’s chariot and pulled it themselves as a sign of loyalty to the British crown.

Balochistan has a long tradition of maintaining its identity, dignity and pride. The Baloch always take pride in two things: being Baloch in the true sense of the word and showing bravery against the enemy.28

Even the lullabies of Balochistan convey these feelings: “I sing to my dear son this lullaby so that he sleeps. I pray that my son becomes a young man, has good friends and wears all the six Balochi arms on his dress.”29 Another lullaby that comes from the heart of a mother, says that “when there is a battle in the deserts, my son will be standing under shade of the swords.”30 Yet in another lullaby, which is known as the

‘Lullaby of Mir Qambar, a mother is made to say:

O, my son, the light of my eyes, if you embrace death and become a martyr for national honour and prestige, I will not weep or cry but would come to your grave with pomp and show, and will sing the song of celebration and happiness, and for each son who is killed for the honour of my land, I will produce another son.31

Another lullaby addressed Sibi as follows: O Sibi! you are hidden in the dust of horse riders. You have lost manypriceless lives of those seven hundred handsome and youthful men whoused to wear their turbans with grace and would ride horses without reins. There is no one left today. All of them have been swallowed by the Indianswords.32

In fact, the Balochi literature is full of references against the foreign invaders, that is, the Portuguese, the Mongols, the Arghuns, and the British. They are condemned for attacking the freedom and honour of the Baloch people. The British were particularly a target of this criticism. To quote a poet, Yusuf Nami Baloch, “if God grants me an opportunity, I would show you how a battle for freedom is fought.”33

Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd (1904-1979), an important literary figure started a political movement called the “Young Baloch” in the 1920s. He was inspired by the “Young Turks” and wrote extensively in newspapers, magazines and pamphlets about the Baloch identity as well as an independent state of Balochistan. He published the first map of Greater Balochistan and in 1930 joined the Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan. What made Abdul Aziz Kurd famous was Shamsgardi a critique of the rule of Sir Shams Shah, a British loyalist and the Prime Minister of Kalat, which was published from Lahore in 1931. Nawab Yusuf Aziz Magsi (1908- 1935) wrote the preface to the book in which he said:

This is the tale of a destroyed and forsaken people. It is aimed at their awakening. It should act like Moses’s staff against a Pharaoh of the twentieth century. It is a clarion’s call for our inactive and indifferent brethren in Balochistan. It calls the British Government to honour the right of people in the choice of their rulers.34

Aziz Magsi was an important literary and political figure. He entered into politics in 1920. He was one of the founding members of the Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan and became its first President in 1930. In 1932 and 1933 he organized two Baloch conferences at Jacobabad and Hyderabad, respectively. His poetry not only showed great literary merit but also conveyed a deep commitment to the freedom of his motherland, Balochistan. As he put it: “I swear by the brave blood of the Baloch that I will wipe out the mark of slavery from the face of my country and my motherland and will drink the wine of liberty.”35

Unfortunately, Magsi has been depicted less as a Muslim and more as a Communist and Congressite by certain nationalist Baloch elements.

The sweeping statements of his detractors, unfortunately, do not take into consideration his own views. In one of his poems, Magsi said: “The voices of Gandhi and Jaikar could not do much. Now we need someone like Kamal (Ataturk) to put the life in this dead body.”36 Thus, in politics, his ideal was neither Gandhi nor anyone else but the leader of Turkey who had changed the destiny of his country and had emerged as the hero of the whole Muslim world. So far as Aziz Magsi’s intellectual outlook was concerned, he claimed:

I intend to convert afresh the whole world to Islam. This is possible only if I myself become a true servant of Islam, could remind everybody the forgotten lessons and turn every Baloch into a preacher of the Holy Quran.

The sermons of Gandhi and Malviya will disappear into oblivion if I show the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).37

The fact of the matter is that Aziz Magsi was as good a Muslim as any other Muslim Baloch. All he sought for the Baloch and Balochistan was freedom. He dwelt at length on this theme in one of his poems,

addressed to a singer:

Keep singing, keep singing,

Let your melodies warm our blood.

Let the people of Balochistan feel ashamed.

What is slavery? Whenever it descends on any nation; it is misery and humiliation.

Wake up, the World Revolution!

Let the genie be out of the bottle.

The rich savour chicken and the poor grass.

Destiny changes our fate;

Crush those leaders, who betray their people.

O beautiful singer! listen to this song of Freedom.

You, too, O Baloch listen!

Rise and open your eyes.

Eliminate this instant, eliminate,

Whoever is following the footprints of Changez?

Whether it is a Baloch Sardar or the Englishman,

Both represent the powers of the Devil.38
Nawabzada Abdur Rahaman Bugti (1907-l958), the elder brother of Nawab Akbar Bugti (1927-2006), was also a prominent writer of resistance literature. He started his career as Tehsildar in Baloch tribal areas, but, before long, he gave up the employment and joined the Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan in 1931 and was elected President of Quetta and Sibi district branches of the party in 1931-1934 and 1934- 1938, respectively. He also practically led the popular Baloch uprising against the Sardari system in Bugti area. In one of his poems, he said:

The irony of fate produced such Baloch whose heads should be severed. They give their blood in making God out of Devil-like sharks. They burn the harvest of truth. They fight against the truth day and night and they protect the evil. They let the hurricane sink boat of justice and bring to shore oppression and injustice. Strange suns and moons they are which banish light at the order of their masters and lengthen the shadow of the darkness.39

This kind of protest and resistance targeted not only the British but also the ease-loving and status-conscious Sardars of Balochistan. In some instances, the sons revolted against their fathers for their docility and subservience to the British. Bugti, for instance, wrote a pamphlet against his father who was amongst those who had pulled the carriage of the Agent to the Governor-General at the Sibi Residency. After condemning his father, the ruling chief of the Bugti tribe, in this pamphlet called Mihrabgardi, he appealed to the Muslims of India in the name of Islam and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to help the Baloch in their fight against the Sardari system. Quoting the verse of the famous poet-journalist, Zafar Ali Khan, “If you no longer have the fear of God, still beware of the angry looks of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” Bugti wrote:

I appeal to the Muslims to look at our condition before it is too late… Help us, the oppressed people of Balochistan, through the columns of your paper and we pray to the members of Assembly and the Council, the saints and pirs that the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) is not happy at the oppression of the people of Balochistan at the hands of Sardari system.40Consequently, Bugti was arrested and exiled to Ranchi in Bihar province. After his release, he lived in abject poverty and died at Jacobabad in 1958.41

Mir Muhammad Husain ‘Anqa (1907-1977) who subsequently worked as editor for some of Aziz Magsi’s newspapers, in 1932, resigned his job as a school teacher in order to actively join the Baloch ‘nationalist’ movement. He was one of the founders of the Baloch national press. He served, from time to time, as editor of several newspapers of Baloch nationalist movement (1933-1948). He composed the first Balochi national anthem and wrote several books and articles against the British and was imprisoned several times. He was also one of the founders of the Communist Party of Balochistan and spent much of his life in prison due to his political activities. ‘Anqa was one of the pioneer Balochi writers to employ the Arabic-Urdu script for Balochi language in 1920.42 His poems were published in the newspapers he edited. After his death a number of his poems in Balochi were compiled and published in an anthology entitled Tawar.43 ‘Anqa’s life was devoted to political struggle. He tried to reach the people of Balochistan through his columns and resistance poetry. In one of his poems, he wrote:

Now that we have put our boat in the ocean, let the waves roar, let the nights be dark, we will find our destination. Every oppressor is defeated by the oppressed that is the verdict of history. I know the Baloch sword is broken but let the enemy not be jubilant, we have the determination. We are weak, but still no doubt, we have hands (with which we will fight against our enemies).44

‘Anqa’s poetry inspired other poets like Gul Khan Naseer and Azat Jamaldini (Abdul Wahid). ‘Anqa glorified the Baloch and Balochi lifestyle, though he does not sound as fervent a revolutionary as some of his contemporaries. In his youth, he was one of the founders of the Communist Party of Balochistan, but subsequently, he revised some of his Communistic ideas. Nevertheless, ‘Anqa remained committed to his people and their national struggle throughout his life. In one of his poems he asks the Baloch:

Stand up, make yourself aware.

Stand up, Balochi tribes.

You are Chakar, you are Taimur.

To be without a country is not good.

Looking for the desire of Yusuf Ali’s (Magsi) spirit,

Searching for a new life for the new Baloch,

Stand up, O Baloch,

So that all the people become one.

Now, they look like separate individuals.

May their blood be one.45

Abdul Wahid (Azat) Jamaldini (1918-1982) was a famous Balochi poet and short story writer. He was the editor of the monthly Balochi, which was published from Karachi and Quetta. He is counted among the founders of progressive literature in Balochi. In his first poem, Owl, he condemned the Sardars and the Sardari system in clear, unambiguous terms. In fact, this feature remained the hallmark of his poetry. The pungent tone of his poetry comes out quite clearly in his following composition:

We will pull the Sardars out of the community,

These wolves and Nawabs, the bloodsuckers,

These biting black snakes,

These traitors to the Baloch nation.46

During the last decade of the freedom movement from 1937 to 1947, Mir Gul Khan Naseer (1914-1983), in particular, emerged as a political activist and Urdu and Balochi poet and writer of considerable impact.

His writing career began in his school days at Quetta when he started expressing himself in inflammatory essays in Urdu. During his university days at Lahore (in 1934), he excelled in Urdu and Persian and studied history and English. Like most young educated people of his time, he was also inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. He joined the Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan in 1929, and started advocating radical social, economic, and political changes in Balochistan. After graduating from the University of the Punjab in 1937, he returned to Kalat and joined the Kalat State National Party which was the successor to the now-defunct Anjuman-i-Watan. Soon, he rose to be its Vice-President.

He was arrested and imprisoned many times, and was finally banished from Quetta and the British Balochistan. He also remained under house arrest for sometime. In 1940, he made peace with the authorities and accepted the office of Tehsildar in Jiwani, a small town at the Makran coast, “sufficiently remote to preclude much political activity.”47 During the period under review he wrote primarily in Urdu. His works have been published in nine volumes. A critical review of his verses reveals that he was a nationalist Baloch, deadly opposed to the Sardari system and critical of the laxity and indifference of his fellow countrymen towards the oppressive policies of the British. In one of his early Balochi poem,

Bayu-o-Baloch, he said:

Come, O, Baloch; Come O Baloch,

I tell (you) something today.

Come, O homeless Baloch, you have lost your way.

A gang of robbers has attacked your land.

They have set afire your houses.

They have carried away your possessions,

But you are not aware.

Overpowered by a heavy sleep you have become unaware.

Yours hands and tongue have ceased to function.

It has fettered the manly lion.48

In another poem, Faryad, he invokes the memories of the Baloch pride and instigates his compatriots to rise and fight against the British

usurpers. He wrote:

Where are the skilled Mughal riders today?

Where are the brave (and) famous ones today?

Where are the heroes and Indian tigers?

Where are the fighters with Afghan daggers?

Where are the green scimitars of the Baloch?

Where are the Turks and the swift Tartars?

Let them come today to the fatherland,

For the name and sign of the Mughals, have been lost.

The bitter infidels have taken our pure land.

Let them come, let them see, let them be ashamed.49
Similarly in Swagat, he complains that the Baloch have lost their former glory. He asks them to stand up for their fatherland, as other Muslim nations had done.

Stand up, stand up, young man, stand up!

How long will you sleep drunk on the bedding?

You see the Turks with curled moustaches.

They have tied swords and guns to their bodies.

And are going forward for dignity and fame.

On the other side, the Arabs with cloaks and turbans.

The soldiers of the holy war have taken up weapons.

The state of Iran is in dust-storm,

See what the glory of Iran is like.

The sleeping Afghans are now alert,

They are sitting ready with girded loins.50 In another poem called Grand, he gives full expression to hisfeelings of patriotism and revolutionary zeal. He glorified Balochistan,but at the same time, poses the question; “Is it a crime to be born as aBaloch”? He continues: “I uproar. I drive away oppression; I makethe motherland a new bride; I make it free, I am a rebel! 1 am a rebel!I am a rebel.” He ended his poem anticipating a revolution.51In Nawjawanan Gon, he urges the young and brave Balochfreedom fighters to bring the old Sardari system to an end. “Throw aheavy stone on the Sardari system.” He calls for driving out theforeign oppressors and says, “deliver the people from the foreign ruleand in this way save the Baloch honour and dignity.”52In another poem, Balot-a-Sair, Naseer saw it as his duty to make the Baloch aware of their slavery: “Your plain and open fields aresubjugated; The barren plains and deserts are enslaved; Your heartsand your souls are in chains. You are worse than slaves.53 However,Gul Khan Naseer was hopeful that the brave and heroic Baloch will

be able to shake off the yoke of slavery of the foreign masters and that of their oppressive Sardars. In Dil Mazan Kan, again, he paints an optimistic picture of future when he says: “The oppressive government of. the infidels will come to an end, suffering and trouble and affliction will come to an end. Light will come and darkness will come to an end.”54 Gul Khan Naseer was extremely unhappy with the way the British had ruled over Balochistan. But, in the end, he blamed the Sardari system for\ the slavery of the Baloch. In a poem entitled

“Prayer”, he says:

O my Creator! Give me courage to awaken

The Baloch from their deep slumber.

The Sardars have darkened the faces of the Baloch people.

Let me put them one by one on the gallows.55

Addressing the tribal leaders in 1940 in his poem, Qaba’ili

Sardaron Say, he warned them:

Look at the horizon. Look at the thunderstorm.

The lightening has struck your boat.

Now you will reap the harvest of what you had sown.

Remember the old saying that you receive what you give.

The Raj that you have served is now going to be over.

Your sustainer had sailed from thousand of miles.

His ship is sunk and anchor is lost.

Your lord, Your master, whom you served,

Is leaving now and you better accompany him.

Don’t lure us into new cobwebs of your words.

We are fed up with your presence.

Listen carefully; the British Sarkar is doomed for good.

It will never return, now the people will rule,

Before you fool,

No leader, no ruler, no chief, we will allow.

None will starve; none will remain in fetters,
No capitalist will you see now.

This pure land will be ruled by the people.

None to prostrate, none to take the throne.

The lightening strikes again,

Do you hear the thunder, worry not,

You sowed the poison Ivy, now taste its fruit.56

In another poem, Gul Khan Naseer attacked the Sardars and the Sardari system for all its excesses in these words:

I am chained without any fault,

Imprisoned without any conviction,

But listen Sardar! I am a son of Islam and

I will burn to ashes your mansions and your soft and gilded chairs.

I am intoxicated by the message of Islam and Shari‘ah.

I will not rest until I implement the true spirit of Islam.

What amazing system you have given us,

You sodomize, you rape, but no blemish on you.

You hide all the crimes under the title of Sardar.57

The institution of ‘Jirga’ was strengthened by the British and was used in collaboration with the Sardars to punish the freedom fighters and those who refused to tow the British line. In one of his poems called Jirga, Gul Khan Naseer criticizes the system in such strong


The irony of fate with the Baloch,

Because of Jirga, eliminate the Baloch,

Strengthen Jirga, “Allah-o-Akhar”,

Has no place in Sardari system,

Disbelief and paganism shows its face in Jirga,

Patriotism and love for land becomes a crime,

Heads of these lovers roll through the sword of Jirga.
If we stop, the hammer of Sardar crushes us.

Escape one cannot,

We are chained by Jirga,

Those who want the flowers to blossom in our desert,

Their hearts are pierced by the arrows of Jirga,

It is nothing but the enemy of laws, principles and Shari‘ah for us,

Straight from the Hell has come the penal code,

That is Jirga.

Naseer! worry not; it is bound to be eliminated,

Absurd, absurd, those who say that,

God has decreed Jirga.58

Both the breadth as well as the depth of Gul Khan Naseer’s poetry are amazing. He addresses his people in the form of a prayer, inspires his listeners through history and the dynamic spirit of Islam.

At times, he uses Altaf Husain Hali’s verses from the Musaddas. Likewise, in many of his poems, Iqbal’s ideas are also clearlydiscernible. Iqbal’s concept of “Mard-i-Momin” is evident in many ofNaseer’s poems. One of his poems, The Sleeping Youth of My Country,59 is written on the pattern of Hali’s epic and begins with averse of Hali with the same style and same tone. For the most part,however, Gul Khan Naseer remains preoccupied with the plight of theBaloch and the cruel treatment meted out to them by the Sardars andthe Sardari system. For example, in one of his poems, Raj Karay Sardar, specifically addressed to the Sardars, he says:

The children cry of hunger,

The old men are homeless,

The mothers weep in hidden corners,

There is nobody even to borrow money from,

But Sardar is our ruler.

There is no end to cries of infants,

Lovers go to bed without food,

The beloved are selling even their beauties but,
O brother! The Capitalist is still hungry,

And my Sardar rules over us.

Without food, without clothes are the miserable people,

Wailing and crying is heard from every house,

But Sardar wants work without wages,

Be it a Gardner or a Bijjar.

Our Sardar rules us, cuts throat, picks pockets, sucks blood.

Leachy creature,

Bones of ribs and skulls are his victims.

O brother! Through the instrument of Jirga.

Our Sardar rules us.

He creates feuds, banishes brotherhood,

Puts brother against brother,

And with both hands sweeps wealth through bribery.

O brother! He is our lord,

Amazing are the ways of my beloved land.

The people go hungry and naked,

But the jingle of money makes those parasites dance.

O brother! Sardar rules over us,

Our lords, these darlings of Crown,

Intoxicated with their power and wealth,

Why should they listen to our cries?

O brother! They are gods of this earth,

These Sardars rule us.60

Last but not the least, two more names are noteworthy in the long list of Baloch freedom fighters. These are Maulana Muhammad Fazil Durkhani and Abdul Karim Shorish. Maulana Fazil, a religious scholar, was born in the 19th century at Durkhan near Kalat. He founded the Durkhani Madrasah. He worked against Christian missionaries and Western culture. He translated the Holy Quran into Balochi and Brahvi to counter the Christian missionaries’ translation of Bible into Balochi and its distribution in Balochistan. He wrote more than 600 tracts, in Balochi, on religious topics. He died in 1892.

Abdul Karim Shorish was born in 1912 at Mastung. He was a founding member of the Baloch Young Party, Anjuman-i-Watan,Kalat State National Party and Ustaman Gal. He was also editor of monthly Naukan Daur, Quetta, and many other contemporary journals and wrote frequently in Balochi, Brahvi and Urdu.61

The resistance literature, thus, manifested not only the anger and the frustration of the Baloch writers against colonialism but also identified social and economic problems of Balochistan. Education for boys and girls, end of the Sardari system, political and economic reforms were some of its most frequently emphasized subjects.



1. Surat Khan Marri, “Balochi Muzahimati Sha‘iri: Aik Ta’rikhi Jai’zah”, Balochi Lebzanak, April 1994, p.37.
2. Mir Gul Khan Naseer,
Balochi Razmiyyah Sha‘iri (Quetta: 1979), p.32.

3. Ibid., p.194.

4. Cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who was known for his bravery and nobility both in war and peace.

5. Kamil al-Qadiri, Balochi Adab Ka Mutali‘ah, (Quetta: 1976), pp.148-52.
Ibid., p.7.

7. ‘Abd al-Rahman Ghaur, Naghmah-i-Kohsar (Quetta: 1968), pp.131-32.

8. Ibid., pp. 130-37.

9. Those who survive in the holy war.

10. Martyrs.
11. Naseer,
Balochi Razmiyyah Sha‘iri, op.cit., p.289.

12. Ibid., p.290.

13. Ibid., p.196.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.
16. Ghaur,
Naghma, op.cit., pp. 138-39.

17. Ibid., pp. 189-94.

18. Surat Khan Marri, “Balochi”, op.cit., pp. 38-39.

19. Ghaur, Naghma, op.cit., pp. 193-94.
Ibid., pp. 196-98.

21. Naseer, Balochi Razmiyyah Shairi , op.cit., pp. 290-94.

22. Ghaur, Naghma, op.cit., p.260.

23. Ibid., p.218.

25. Mir Naseer Khan Baloch Ahmadzai, Tarikh-i-Baloch wa Balochistan (Quetta: 2000), Vol. III, pp. 218-42.
26. Qadiri,
Balochi Adab, op.cit., p.274.

27. Ibid., p.286.

28. Mir Khuda Bakhsh Bijrani Marri, The Baluchis Through Centuries, History Versus Legend (Quetta: 1964), Vol. II, p.7.

29. Marri, The Balochis, op.cit., p.7.

30. Ibid.

31. Surat Marri, “Balochi”, op.cit., pp. 36-37.
Ibid., p.38.

33. Bashir Ahmad Warisi, Tazkirah-i-Magsi, Sukkur, 1958, p.68.

34. Ibid.

35. Mir Mitha Khan Marri, “Yusuf ‘Aziz Magsi ki Sha‘iri par Iqbal ke Asarat,” Balochi Dunya, November, 1979, pp. 14-15.
Ibid., p.15.

37. Ibid., pp. 15-16.

38. Mitha Marri, “Yousuf Aziz Magsi”, op.cit., p.18.
39. S
urat Marri, “Balochi”, op.cit., p.34.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid.
42. Paul Titus, ed.,
Marginality And Modernity, Ethnicity anti-Change in Post-Colonial

Balochistan (Karachi: 1996), p.128.

43. Ibid., p.128.

44. Ibid., p.129.

46. Ibid., p.124.

47. Carina Jahani, Language in Society-Eight Sociologistic Essays on Balochi (Upsala,

Sweden, 2000), pp. 80-82 Jones Elfenbien, Unofficial and Official Efforts to

Promote Balochi in Roman Script. Elfenbien has edited several of Gul Khan

Naseer’s published and unpublished poems, most of which carry political, social and nationalistic messages, entitled as: An Anthology of Classical and Modern Balochi Literature, 2 vols., (Wiesbaden, Otto, Harrassowitz, 1990).

48. Titus, Marginality, op.cit., pp. 115-16.

49. Ibid., pp.116-17.
Ibid., pp.117-18.

51. Ibid., p.122.

52. Ibid., p.118.

53. Ibid., pp.118-19.
Ibid., p.119.

55. Balochi Dunya, Mir Gul Khan Naseer Number, December 1984, p.2.
Ibid., p.48.

57. Ibid., p.42.
ibid., p.43.

59. Ibid., pp.44-45.

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Balochi Classical Literature


Balochistan Factor in Pak-Iran Relations: Opportunities and Constraints

(Research Paper)

By Dr. Zahid Ali Khan
Assistant Professor
Department of International Relations
University of Balochistan, Quetta

Sistan va Balochistan and Balochistan

Sistan va Balochistan and Balochistan


The paper mainly focuses on Balochistan, the only western Province of Pakistan which shares direct border with Iran. Due to its geographical location the Province of Balochistan occupies a special place in the friendly relations and mutual collaboration between Pakistan and Iran, especially, in the context of socio-cultural and economic interactions. But, despite of its paramount significance in Pak-Iran relations, there are also certain discouraging and disappointing factors which are equally responsible for creating misunderstanding, doubts and tension in the friendly bilateral relations between these two countries. The paper addresses these factors which make this province a destabilizing factor in Pak-Iran relations.

KEY WORDS: Balochistan, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Hazara,

Pakistan inherited about 590 miles (909 km) common frontier with Iran. Pak-Iran boundary is known as Goldsmith line1 was partially demarcated runs from Koh-I-Malik Saih, the tri-junction of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan to the Gwader bay in the Arabian Sea. Also, a common frontier region is inhabited by Baloch tribe which is linguistically, ethnically, culturally and traditionally is alike. The development of communication under the auspices of RCD and ECO further increased in the social and cultural interactions between these two communities.
The geographical contiguity coupled with socio-economic contacts and racial affinities between the people of the two provinces has a positive and profound implications on Pak-Iran relations.Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, which has a close geographical proximity with Iran. This province is one of the leading factors accountable for overall relationship between Pakistan and Iran. The geo-strategic location of Balochistan makes it the most attractive province for transit route to Iran The common border-line is responsible for the regular interactions between the Baloch communities living in Pakistani Balochistan and Seistan (Iranian Balochistan), and also the interaction between Hazaras community living in Quetta and Qum and the other major cities of Iran. The Baloch of Pakistani Balochistan and Seistan Balochistan of Iran have a similar customs and tradition. The strategic trans-national gas pipeline projects and construction of seaport, oil refinery and oil at Gwadar further increase the significance of Balochistan as an important energy conduit in the region.
The paper is divided into two parts. The first part of the paper deals with the socio-economic interactions between the people of the two provinces i.e. Pakistan’s Balochistan and Seistan the Baloch province of Iran. The paper focuses more on Baloch borderland interaction across Pak-Iran border. An attempt is made to highlight the role of Iranian Culture Center established in Quetta for the promotion and enhancement of cultural relations, especially, the exchange of visits of the professors, scholars, intellectuals, and students of the two Provinces for purpose of academic activities. The paper further describes Pak-Iran Joint Ventures and a common border market in the Province of Balochistan for the promotion of trade and commercial relations between the two countries.
In the second part of the paper the auther discusses some of the challenges that make Balochistan as a destabilizing factor in Pak-Iran relations. The illegal trade and smuggling, drug trafficking, Jadullah organization, the sectarian crisis and the brutal assassination of Hazaras in Quetta and the adjoining border districts, and the growing competition between the Gwader and Chabahar are the main constraints which remain as a strong bulwark not only in the mutual interaction and close cooperation among the people of these provinces but, also has its adverse affects on the overall future relationship between these two friendly and brotherly neighboring countries.

Balochistan as a Gateway of Pak-Iran Social and Cultural Relations
In the words of Dr. S.M. Burke, Pakistan’s abiding love for Iran also stems from the fact that Iran is the mother of Pakistani culture and Persian is the mother of our national language, Urdu. (Burke, 1973).Also, a common frontier region is inhabited by Baloch tribe which is linguistically, ethnically, culturally and traditionally are alike. (Abidi, A.H.H., August 1977).The Baloch living in Pakistani Balochistan and Seistan.
Balochistan (Iranian Balochistan) have a similar customs and tradition e.g. Beggari,2 Divan3, Hashar4, Karchva-kapon5, Sepat6, Bagi Mayar7, and Mangir8. The major purpose of interaction between the two communities is the socio-cultural and economics. The existence of the boundary normally reduces the contacts between the people living on either side. The boundary between the Pakistan and Iran is not very soft but it is not very restricted compared to the Iranian border linking Turkey, Iraq and even Afghanistan. However, the establishment of custom posts or other check posts tends to restrict and scrutinized the bonafide of arriving and departing passengers. There are regular and irregular entry points, the major one near Taftan and Panjgur. There are a number of towns and villages where the houses penetrate both sides of the border. For example, the towns of Ridee and Balu in Turbat. There are five border districts predominantly inhabited by Baloch and Barhvi population. They are Panjgur, Chagai, Wasuk, Turbat and Gwader. Previously, Kharan was an important and largest district in the area wise, which bordered Iran. But after the formation of three new districts in Balochistan, there has been border demarcation. (Dawn, Karachi, November 12, 2005).The Baloch living on across the border have dual nationality. The people from the both sides of the boundary line frequently cross the border for various purposes which include the following.
• To see relatives, dependents and family members;
• Social visits to friends, vacation, tourism;
• Cultural visits e.g. attendance of marriages, ceremonies, burial ceremonies, naming ceremonies;
• Visit to seek employment;
• Trade and business visits.
The social visits include sight seeing, meeting with friends, and spending vacations there. These visits are common among the family members. Friends of the family members, often travel with them. Social visits are rampant in border towns. In normal life affecting business, social and cultural relations when the people of Iranian Balochistan and Pakistani Balochistan cross the border line for one reason, or the other, that does not possess the feeling that they are entering the foreign land.
Of all kinds of traveling and visits cultural meeting stand unique. Cultural visits are arranged for very purposes namely burial ceremonies, participation in marriages and attendance in festivals and feasts etc. Invitation to attend these functions is send to all the relatives depending upon the financial status of the family, irrespective of their place of residence. Here the similarity of customs, traditions and rituals laid significant role in creating a sense of unity among the people of both sides. People not only take pains to travel even long distance to participate in the cultural meetings but also disapprove of people absenting themselves without any reasonable excuse. A gathering of people living in far off places but do not tied with blood, culture and history, is an occasion of joy and merriment. These links bring about full impact on the people living across the border in the time of any cultural event. Traveling and visits take place if they one the only going to the next village and not to the next country. Cordial and warm greetings are exchanged and return visits is either paid or promised. The festivals of Eid-ul-Fiter, Eid-ul-Duha and Eid-ul-Malad provide occasions for far and near relatives to spend some days together of livelihood.
Visits to shrines to participate in annual Urs (anniversary) of Sufis in Seistan Balochistan are one of the sources of interaction between the two communities. There are many shrines but the three are more important whom Baloch pay homage. They are Pir Shorah in Seistiyari, Shazeni Pir and Rakal Shah at Chowkat. They spend two or three days to attend the shrines, also meet their relatives and friends and then returned back to their homes. The Baloch living across the borders have excess to Rahdar9. The basic qualification of the pursuit or Rahdari is that the person is local of the districts adjacent to the border and has either relatives or business across the borders. However, residents with passport are issued visa without any difficulty. In other words, the Pakistani Baloch with passport can receive visa without any difficulty from the Iranian consulate in Quetta and, similarly, the Iranian Baloch with passport form Pakistan consulate in Zhaidan.
Inter-marriages are common among the Baloch. The system inter-marriages have been in practice for centuries. The system is supported by two leading factors. First, the family bond which can be served and strengthened by finding match across the borders. It is more common in the case of arranged marriage with a close family members living on both sides. Secondly, further opportunities of interaction by making a fresh relationship, a party from either side through third party may come up with proposal of marriage. The student exchange across the borders is very limited in the case of two communities. There are more cases of students from Seistan Balochistan in the schools and colleges of Pakistani Balochistan. The student’s ratio is nonetheless very small, it should have been larger. Students studying across the border are exempted from restrictions. (Marri, 1974)
Moreover, the Iranian Cultural Center in Quetta has taken the responsibility for promoting and strengthening the cultural relations between the provinces of the two countries by establishing conferences, seminars and workshops. The Centers also hold social and educational gathering with the across sections of the people of all walks of life, particularly with scholars, intellectuals, and students. Bedside this, the Center run courses in Pakistani language and calligraphy in which a large number of students takes interest. In addition, it provides facilities to scholars in their higher studies. These positive and active activities not only done by no other country in such organized and consistent manners, have generated a great deal of goodwill for the people and the government of Iran and Pakistan. This is an outstanding achievement, which, actually, even the political leaders, and diplomats of the two countries could not accomplish. Comparing the similar kinds of cultural centers of Pakistan, claims Dr. Shireen Mazari, are not to be established in Iran, due to the reason best known to the Iranian government, otherwise, the impact would have been surely doubled on the people of the two countries.( Mazari, 2000.)

Pakistani Balochistan and Seistan Balochistan as Twin Provinces
The government of the two countries also stressed the need for closer socio-cultural interactions between the people of these two provinces. On November 22, 2004, an historic agreement was signed in Quetta, on the occasion of the visit of Engineer Hussain Amini, the Governor of Seistan Balochistan, and Owis Ghani, the Governor of Pakistani Balochistan, by which they declared Seistan Balochistan and Pakistani Balochistan as twin provinces. In his address, Governor Owis Ghani said, “today indeed is the historic day or both Iran Pakistan as the two neighboring provinces Seistan Balochistan of Iran and Balochistan of Pakistan were being declared as the twin provinces. The historic agreement would not go a long way in furthering cementing the already existing bonds of friendship, Islamic brotherhood, and strong religious, social cultural and economic relations between the two provinces, but, also facilitate the growth of business, trade and cooperation in the multifarious fields especially these between twin provinces”. In reply Hussain Amiri, the Governor of Seistan that said “the agreement would not only pave the way for the progress, prosperity and the well being of the people of Iran and Pakistan but also cooperate in future for cementing of brotherly relationship and to boost trade not only on the national level but on the provincial level also”. According to the agreement;
Both the sides stressed the need for close interaction and the exchange of teachers and students between the two provinces.
The provinces of Seistan will provide techniques and experts for the modernization of irrigation system in the province of Pakistani Balochistan.
Both the provinces will take joint and collective steps for the eradication of smuggling, illegal trade and drug trafficking.
The governments of the two countries would provide maximum facilities and cooperation to travelers and visitors of across the border.
The visa formalities for passengers would be relaxed.A proposal for setting of common Quetta-Zahidan chamber of commerce.
The Iranian authorities agreed and promised their participation in the historic Sibi Mela every year
Both the provinces will take necessary steps in the promotion of trade and business.
The socio-economic dispute between the tow provinces would be settled by the joint cooperation of provinces themselves.
The illegal crossing of border will be discourage and discarded and complete security will be provided to the visitors.(Malik,2004)

Cross-border Trade with Iran
Setting up of a Pak-Iran Common Border Market is under active consideration of the governments of the two countries. On the recommendations of Balochistan, the government has identified four places for setting up the proposed markets at the border. These areas include Taftan-Minjaveh, Ladgashtjalaq, Parome-Kuhak, Mand-Peshin and Santsar-Nobandan.The motive behind establishment of a common border market is to sell goods at concessional rate of customs duty and other taxes for controlling growing cross border illegal trade between Pakistan and Iran. Actually, a proposal for establishing common border market with Pakistan was moved by Iran on the pattern of other such markets already existing on the borders of Turkey-Iran, Turkmenistan-Iran and Azerbaijan-Iran. Since Pakistan did not have the experience of operating such markets in the past, a delegation consisting of representatives from Balochistan and other concerned organizations and commercial Counselor of Pakistan at Tehran had visited Iran in this regard. After the visit, Pakistan delegation was in agreement with the idea for establishing the border markets. There was a consensual rationale for setting up the markets that would promote legal economic activity in the border areas with a view to provide economic incentives to the people in these remote areas on both sides of the border.
The people living across the border on both sides have little exposure to civic facilities especially, the educational facility. Normally the traders avoid in procedural obligations leading towards growing informal economy in that area. Being an arid area in terms of climate there is no concept of agriculture in these areas and the people have to depend on rain waters. In the face of hardships due to non-availability of adequate drinking water, the population is scarce which also discourage growth of industrialization in those areas. It is expected that setting up of common border market will eliminate smuggling, provide employment opportunities, strengthen cultural and historical linkages between the people of both sides having common traditions besides help promoting small and medium size entrepreneurship in the so far neglected areas. The government of Balochistan fully agreed with the idea of developing a common border trade market and has reportedly identified location as well where the proposed market would be more viable and easy to manage.
A green signal has also been given by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Industries and Production, and the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) for the idea for development of the border market. However, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has reservations regarding expected revenue loss due to import of oil products and also raised apprehension on the import of low quality CNG cylinders. It may be pointed out that these products are easily flowing into Pakistan, especially, in the province of Balochistan, and, are being sold at a much cheaper rate as compared to the prices in the remaining parts of the country. Similarly, the CNG kits are the much sought after item in the urban areas of Pakistan these days as most of the vehicle owners are converting from oil to CNG system which must cost effective as compared to costly oil consumption.
The proposed market is to be set up with an estimated cost of Rs105.405 million on experimental basis essentially to check increasing trend of smuggling and to provide employment opportunities to the local people living along side the border. In order to specify certain items to be allowed for trade in common border market, a trade delegation may visit Zahidan to study the common markets and get the first hand information of the area and its problems that might emerge in the process. The growing economic activity in that area would be certainly supported by the recent agreement between Pakistan and Iran through which people of the Makran area in Balochistan have received an additional electricity from Iran through a 132kv grid system. Power is being imported from Jakipur grid of Iran is now reaching Mand, Tumb, Turbat, Hoshab, Panjgur, and Pasni and Gwadar town of Balochistan. The import of electricity from Iran will facilitate over 26,500 consumers in that area.

Pak-Iran Joint Venture in Balochistan
One of the significant developments which expanded the business and commercial ties between the two countries is the Pak-Iran Joint Venture Refinery will be built at Hub in Balochistan is a welcoming step. The proposed Refinery having hydro-caker and ‘Coker units’ will help reform imported crude oil from Iran into a high speed diesel has multi purpose use and is in much demand in the country, while the production of coke from the refinery and its use in Brick Klins in innovative idea which would help reduce dependence on the less environment friendly fuels.( Pakistan Observer, Islamabad, January 17, 2003) The proposed venture will also go a long way in promoting economic cooperation between Pakistan and Iran, which suffered in the past few years because of the political misunderstanding between the two countries. This will provide an economic impetus to the least developed province in the country and offer an employment in the region where such opportunities are scare. Moreover, the refinery will help meet the growing demand of high-speed diesel. Balochistan will require 6 million tons of Iranian heavy crude oil and its project will help save 300 million US $ per annum in foreign exchange. It will also create thousand of jobs and help usher a new era of economic property and development in the province of Balochistan. In addition, another Joint Venture Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project is one of the significant developments which can greatly help Pakistan to overcome its energy crisis. The future of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipelines also lies in Balochistan.Its own resources of gas and oil are expected to be insufficient to meet the growing demand. By virtue of its energy resources and its location, it is key factor to the energy supply to the other provinces of Pakistan. The country’s mounting energy crisis and the growing demand for energy security in the region have magnified Balochistan economic and strategic importance. Balochistan is the only potential land route for the proposed $1.2bn pipeline. A major part — some 1,500km — of the 2,100km-long conduit which will connect Iran’s Pars gas field to Pakistan’s main distribution system in Nawabshah, will cross Baloch territory in Iran and Pakistan.( Dawn, 23 March,2010).Pakistan’s production of oil is far less than its consumption, making it necessary to import 80 per cent of its requirements. Pakistan is gifted with abundant resources of natural gas, but the rate of extraction in domestic fields is not going to be adequate to satisfy future demand.( Howard,2007)With Pakistan’s plans to lay more emphasis on natural gas for power generation, the pipeline project would have muli-dimential benefits.(Pandean, 2005).

Electricity from Iran
The supply of electricity from Iran is a boon for Pakistani borderland people who experience neither load shedding nor fluctuation. As compared to the past the Baloch are using more electricity. WAPDA was using and is still using diesel-run generators to supply electricity to border towns only for 5 to 10 hours a day. Iran is already supplying electricity through its 132KV line to Mekran coastal region, whose requirement is estimated at 17.5MW. The coastal region still relies on goods traded from Iran. The Iranian authorities proposed that a 132-kilovolt (KV) transmission line be laid between Mirjawa (Iran) and Dalbandin for Rs 1.34 billion and another 132-KV transmission line from Mirjawa to Dalbandin and Chagai via Nokundi for Rs 2.08 billion. WAPDA considered it too expensive for Pakistan. The authority submitted a new proposal to electrify the two Balochistan districts by laying its own transmission line from Faran Grid Station to Dalbandin for Rs 584 million.
Pakistan is currently importing electricity from Iran at Rs 1.80 per unit for the Mund, Taftan and Mushkhail areas in Balochistan as there is no WAPDA transmission system there. Pakistan is importing 30 megawatts (MWs) for Mund, 1 MW for Taftan and 1 MW for Mashkhail. (QESCO handout, Head office in Quetta).The use of Iranian electricity by the border Baloch is a major source of jubilation as there is no load shedding there compared to other areas of Balochistan which remain plunged in darkness for long hours. The demand for Iranian electricity is growing in Kharan, Noshki etc that their areas also be hooked to the Iranian supply of electricity.

Despite of its socio-cultural and economic significance of Balochistan in Pak-Iran relations as mentioned above, there are also certain discouraging factors which are equally responsible for creating misunderstanding, doubts and tension in the bilateral friendly bilateral relations between the two countries e.g. constraints and barrier at Pak-Iran border, the formation of Jandullah Organization, the brutal killing of Hazaras people, illegal trade, smuggling and drug trafficking, and the growing hostility and competition between Gwader and Chabahar the Pakistani and Iranian Ports respectively.

Pak-Iran Border Barrier
Hasting Donnan and Thomas Wilson claim that “one can hardly open a book about orders without finding at least passing reference to smuggling and the clandestine movement of people and goods from one side of the national boundary to the other”. (Donnan, 1999). Illegal trade or smuggling across the border in Balochistan is a common phenomenon that hampered the mutual interaction and friendly cooperation between these two provinces. Illegal trade or smuggling can be defined as the form of trade across the borders, ports with strong collaboration between the smugglers and the local police and custom departments. The volume of such trade in a commodity is determined by the extent of differences in the consumer prices between two countries. It is due the high taxes and custom duties on export and import on commodity (agricultural and industrial goods). Other factors encouraging smuggling include time to time shortages of supply than demand of different commodities across the borders; undue protection provided to smugglers by the political elites, local administration, higher officials in bureaucracy; negligibly low level of real pressure from higher authorities responsible to control smuggling; weak, lengthy and corrupt process of awarding punishment to the arrested smugglers etc. The attractive bribes to the official of anti-smuggling agencies are one of the great obstacles in controlling illegal trade across the borders. Pakistan has its border with Iran on its south-western sides. Illegal transfer of commodities (both agricultural and industrial goods) to and from Pakistan to these countries is a regular phenomenon on these borders. The magnitude of illegal trade across Pak-Iran border greatly varies across sources in terms of quantities and the estimated money values and loss of public revenue. The issue of illegal border-crossing by Pakistanis is more complicated. Most of the people illegally crossing the border with aim to pass through Iran on their way to Europe, a region with substantially higher wages and benefits.
The Iranian gasoline is a major item smuggled from Iran into Pakistan through the border. It is mostly illegal in which a chain of mafia, government officials, and local notables are involved. Smugglers use deserted tracks in Eastern Iran along the Pakistan-Iran border. It has become a major irritant for both governments, and creates obstacles for bilateral relations. The petrol is sold all over Balochistan, right from inside the Pakistan border to lower down to Punjab and Sindh. The major route of smuggling is from Iran through a number of dirt routes along the RCD and Quetta-Taftan international trunk road. There are different methods of smuggling. It is carried in oil tankers by the private and commercial vehicles in containers and trucks with big tanks tucked underneath. According to Customs sources, the private commercial trucks on the route are designed with special fuel tanks with capacity of around 500 liters. The smuggling of petrol is a source of interaction and a boon for those smuggling it. People living in the far-flung areas of Balochistan, particularly areas hit by drought depend on petrol smuggling as the source of livelihood. (Kundi, 2002).

Balochistan Based Jundallah Organization
It is an insurgent Sunni Islamic organization based in Balochistan that claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in Iran. It was founded and is currently under the command of Abdolmalek Rigi. It is believed to have 1,000 fighters and claims to have killed 400 Iranian soldiers and many more civilians. It is a part of the Baloch insurgency in Pakistan and in Iran’s Sistan and Balochistan Province. The group started under the name of Jundallah and later renamed itself as the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by Iran, which accuses the group of being behind numerous acts of terror, kidnapping and smuggling narcotics.
Pakistan shares a 909 km border with Iran. Pakistan’s largest province, Balochistan, spans the harsh and rugged terrain of the entire Pakistan-Iran border. The Baloch area on either side of the border has always been volatile. Clashes between local leaders and anti regime elements with Pakistani authorities and the Iranian regime respectively, over autonomy, wealth distribution and the sheltering of insurgents, have risen dramatically during the past few years. Jundallah is closely linked to the Baloch nationalism in Pakistan, but unlike the Pakistani Baluchis claiming territorial separation, Jundallah does not seek secession or union with Pakistani Balochistan. (Wiig, 2009). Iran accuses the United States and other foreign elements of backing Jundallah, possibly from Pakistani territory with Islamabad’s support. In early 2007, in retaliation Iran closed the Pak-Iran border at Taftan and forced Pakistan to give up its support for Jundullah. The group had claimed responsibility for a bus blast in Zahedan in February 2007, in which 11 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were killed. For the first five years, Jundullah operated in the Iranian province of Sistan-Balochistan, bordering the Pakistani districts of Chagai, Kharan, Panjgur, Kech, and Gwadar. Its leader, Mullah Malik Raiki, studied in a Pakistani madrassa in Mashkel, Balochistan, and has been living in Quetta and Karachi for many years now. Anti-Shia Pakistani organizations like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have also backed the Jundullah. (Zulfiqar, 2007).
In December 2010 Jundollah took responsibility for an attack on a mosque in the city of Chabahar that left 38 people dead and 89 others injured. (Chasmilee, 2011).Iran has accused Pakistan of hosting Jundallah and has on several occasions attempted to seal the border to Pakistan in an act of retaliation. (Escobar, 2010).Iran also alleged Pakistan of not taking adequate steps to control Jundullah for creating friction between the two countries. While an successful attempt by Pakistani authorities to free 21 Iranian officials from the clutches of Jundullah in August 2007 has been attributed to Pakistan’s desire to gain some concessions from the United States.( Zulfiqar, 2007). Although, the prevailing conspiracy thinking within the Iranian regime, these allegations may not be completely unfounded. (Harrison, 2009).Tensions between Pakistan and Iran intensified in response to the October 19, 2009 attacks against Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Sistan-Balochistan province. President Ahmadinejad publically accused “certain officials in Pakistan” of involvement in the attacks. (CBS News, October 19, 2009).Pakistani officials denied any involvement in the attacks, rejecting Iranian Interior Minister Mustafa Mohammad Najjar’s accusation that Jundallah received financial aid from Pakistan.(Dawn, 23 October,2009).
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Hassan Qatari said Thursday that the Pakistani government should take serious measures to eradicate terrorist activities across the borderline of the two countries. “The Pakistani government is expected to fulfill its promises and to take more serious measures to root-out the terrorist and evil activities,” (Xinhuanet, 14 January, 2010).Pakistan’s relations with Iran deteriorated in the wake of an October 19 bombing during a conference meeting between Shiite and Sunni groups in South-eastern Iran. The attack resulted in the assassination of several senior commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.(UPI, 14 January, 2010).An Iranian Foreign Ministry official said there is a hidden agenda behind the recent tragic events measures on Iran’s eastern borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.(Press TV, 14 January, 2010,§ionid=351020101).

Iranian Response
In the wake of deteriorating security in Siestan-Baluchistan following Jandullah’s violent attacks and to stop smuggling, Iran has taken some strict security measures along its eastern borders. The Iranian government has allocated a total of 150 billion Tomans (around $150 million) for the enhancement of security measures along the Iranian border. Responsibility for the security of border areas in Siestan-Baluchistan province has been handed over to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and Baseej forces. Forty four per cent of Iran’s borders are now under the special control of the national police, and a plan was formulated to increase the figure up-to 60 per cent by the end of 2009.Illegal trade or smuggling across the border in Balochistan has an adverse impact on Pak-Iran relations. Last year, Iranian forces handed over 8,732 illegal immigrants to Pakistani officials at the Taftan border, a township on the Pakistan-Iran border. “High-profile people are involved in this lucrative business. In order to stop the illegal immigrants and smugglers Iran is building a huge wall. It is one of the world’s most heavily fortified borders stretches between Iran and Pakistan. The Iran-Pakistan Barrier, is a three-foot thick (.91 meters), ten-foot high (3.05 meter) concrete wall extending across 700 kilometers of forbidding desert terrain. The fence would start from Taftan area to Mand in the Baloch-majority Sistan province, which borders Pakistan’s Balochistan province.( The News International, April16,2011). The actual wall, however, is merely one part of an elaborate system of barriers. The project also includes the digging of trenches and deep ditches, installation of barbed wire fencing and watch towers. The Iranian authorities have deployed additional units of regular army to strengthen security along the Pak-Iranian and Afghan-Iranian borders. It runs parallel along the border, which consists of linked embankments and ditches. (Neill, 2010)
More important, is the desire to quell the Baloch rebellion. The boundary between Iran and Pakistan also divides the land of the Baloch people, a distinct ethno-linguistic group some nine million strong. The bulk of the Baloch, a Sunni Muslim people, live in Pakistan, but as many as a million and a half reside in south-eastern Iran. The Baloch in Pakistan have been engaged in a low-intensity insurgency for decades, while those of Iran have become increasingly restive in recent years. Local economic consequences could also be severe, as many Baloch are nomadic pastoralists, roving over large distances with flocks of sheep, goats, and other animals. The barricade prevents such movement along its extent, placing additional pressures on the hard-pressed people of the region. Pakistan, by the way, is concerned about drug-smuggling from Iran, but of a different kind: alcohol. On April 26, 2011, Pakistani agents seized 2,586 bottles of liquor and beer in “the Kumb area of Balochistan near the Pak-Iran Border.” (Martin, 2001).The Pakistani Foreign Ministry has said that Iran has the right to erect border fencing in its territory.( Martin, Lewis W., “Iran-Pakistan Border Barrier”, May 13,2001)
However, opposition to the construction of the wall was raised in the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan. It maintained that the wall would create problems for the Baloch people whose lands straddle the border region. The community would become divided politically and socially, with their trade and social activities being seriously impeded. In 2007, a prominent Baloch leader denounced the wall “as a blatant endeavor to divide the Baloch nation on either side of Pak-Iran border.” The governments of the two countries had not taken the Baloch into their confidence on this matter,(Kasi, 2007)
Demanded that the construction of the wall be stopped immediately, and appealed to the international community to help the Baloch people.(The News International, Sep 6, 2007).Iranian border security forces gave an ultimatum to the residents of a Pakistani border town to vacate the town within 10 days. Residents of the Sorap locality in the Mand area of western Mekran region in Balochistan province rely on edible goods illegally coming from Iran for their livelihood. (India Defence. March 1, 2007.)

Sectarian Violence in Balochistan and the Assassination of Hazara
Hazaras are a Persian-speaking people who mainly live in central Afghanistan. They are Shia Muslims and comprise the third largest ethnic group of Afghanistan, forming almost 9-18% of the total population. Over half a million Hazaras live in neighboring Pakistan (especially in the city of Quetta) and a similar number in Iran. Their number has rapidly increased after partition, particularly during the last two decades. In 1962, through legislation, the Hazara tribe was described as the citizen of Balochistan. The number of Hazara has dramatically exceeded after 1986, due to a massive migration. The Islamic Revolution of Iran had a profound influence on the socio-cultural development of this community. The Sour Revolution in Afghanistan resulted in the huge influx of Afghan refugees both in Pakistan and Iran.
In Pakistan, most of the Hazaras live in and around Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s South-western Province, Balochistan with prominent Hazara populations include Hazara Town and Mehr Abad. They have contributed to local trade, and possess key positions in the Government administrative services of Balochistan and the federal government. Hazaras are also politically active in Quetta and have their own political party known as the Hazara Democratic Party. The most notable figure of Hazara was General Musa Khan, who served as Commander in Chief of the Pakistani Army between 1958 to 1966. Beside this, Hazara historians and politicians played a prominent role in the upliftment of Hazara people in Pakistan.
Hazara community in Pakistan has close and intimate relations with the Hazara community of Iran. Hazara visit to Iran are frequent. First, to meet their friends and relatives; second, for the purpose of education, the major part of Hazara are studying in the Iranian cities of Qum of Mashad,to seek employment, to the attend the festivals, the most important of which is Nouroz10 and visit to the Holy Shrines, especially, the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza, the eight Imam of Shia faith.. Pakistan is the world only country from where a maximum number of Hazara pay viist to Iran. They also go to Qum for the purpose of pilgrims and to Tehran to pay their tribute to the late Imam Khomeini. (Najeeb, 2005).
However, there have been some tragic incidents of sectarian violence in which 600 members of the Pakistani Hazara community have been killed since 1999. Quetta has become a major site of the expression of their deep hatred and frustration for Hazaras. Militant extremists are exacting their revenge on the Hazaras in Quetta. The new wave of target killings in Quetta, which began in 2009, suggests that Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and their allied terrorist groups of which the prominent are Sipah-i-Sahaba and Lashkar-i-Jagvi are involved in the assassination of Hazara. Recently, nearly 30 Hazaras were killed in attacks on a bus carrying Shia pilgrims to Iran near Quetta last month. Six more pilgrims were killed within Quetta city. (The Express Tribune, September 21, 2011.)
The response of the Pakistani Government has been merely a lip service. No even a single person has been arrested so far and brought to justice responsible for these attacks. (The Nation, 8 April,2010).The brutal killing of Hazara and failure on the part of the Government of Balochistan to arrest the culprits and to protect the lives of their citizens created misunderstanding, doubts, and suspicions in the future harmonious and brotherly relations between Pakistan and Iran.

Growing Competition between Gwader and Chabahar
The growing competition between Gwader and the Iranian Port of Chabahar for their influence in Central Asia is, yet, another factor which adversely affected the relations between the two countries. Chabahar is the new Indian financed Port. It is the part of the Indian plan to develop transportation infrastructure in eastern Iran in order to reduce the growing influence Pakistani port of Gwader. India’s ultimate desire to connect Chabahar with Central Asian countries through roads and a network of railway system to bypass Pakistan, and to reduce the dependency of Central Asian countries on the port of Gwader. Iran has already enjoyed close socio-cultural and economic relations with Central Asian countries. Iran is already working on several projects in Tajikistan including the Anzob tunnel, and constructed a bridge over the Amu Darya that connects Chabahar with Khojent route. (Bleuer, 2007)
As a part of Pakistan’s overall strategy for enhancing its influence in Central Asia and beyond the deep water port that it is building of new Gwader Port in Balochistan with the active Chinese assistance. Pakistan can provide Gwadar port to landlocked CARs. Gwadar can be a potential trade route for the CARs. The trade route can bring a lot of investment to Pakistan. So far the newborn states are relying more upon Pakistan for trade and commercial purposes. This port would have tremendous economic impetus to Pakistan for several reasons. It is located about 250 miles from the Straits of Hormuz through which some (40 percent of the world’s oil supplies Region). Second, the strategic location of the port makes it as an important regional shipping hub, providing the landlocked Central Asian republics, Afghanistan, and the Chinese Xingjian region an access to the Arabian Sea and third it will reduce the distances of 500 km between Pakistan and Central Asia. And more significantly, it will facilitate the transfer of Central Asia’s vast energy resources to world markets through Pakistan with significant profits in transit fees. (Haider, 2005).
Chabahar should provide India with access to Afghanistan via the Indian Ocean. India, Iran and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to give Indian goods, heading for Central Asia and Afghanistan, preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar. For the Indians, this is a direct threat. According to the recent report of Delhi Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis “Gwadar port being so close to the Straits of Hormuz also has negative implications for India’s commercial interest as it would enable Pakistan to exercise control over entire energy routes. It is believed that Gwadar will provide Beijing with a facility to monitor Indian naval activity in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, respectively, as well as any future maritime cooperation between India and Iran. (Global, 2011).Similarly, Iranian officials apprehend that Gwadar would be used by the United States as a base to monitor activities inside Iran.( Asia Times, April 29, 2005).
India also assisted Iran to construct railway spurs linking its rail network to that of Central Asia, the process considerably reduces Pakistan’s strategic leverage over these landlocked states thus providing them alternative corridors to the sea. New Delhi has undertaken vital role in the development of Iranian port facilities along with the construction of road and rail links. Indian engineers have contributed immensely towards the up gradation and development of the Iranian port of Chahbahar. New Delhi and have agreed to ‘join hands’ in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and to support the development of ‘alternative access routes to that country (bypassing Pakistan) via Iran’s Chahbahar port.” Moreover, India is developing Chahbahar and is laying railway tracks to connect it to Zaranj in Afghanistan, proclaiming that this would be a commercial port. In addition, India has constructed the 218 km long Zaranj-Delaram highway that now links Afghanistan to the Iranian port of Chahbahar as part of the Afghan circular road that connects Herat and Kabul via Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and Kandhar in the south- thereby providing easier access to Afghanistan and possibly even further, to Central Asia via Iran.(Zeb, 2003).There is also another project that involves linking Chah Bahar port to the Iranian rail network that is also well connected to Central Asia and Europe. Islamabad-Tehran’s conflicting interests over Afghanistan have played a pivotal role in the formation of their Indo-Iranian Nexus.(Pant, 2009).Moreover, India’s attempt to build roads linking Afghanistan and Central Asia and Iranian ports as a response to China’s building up of a deep-water port in Gwadar as a gateway to global markets for Central Asian resources.(Juli, 2003)

By virtue of its geo-strategic location, Balochistan occupies a paramount significance in the context of Pak-Iran relations as the only Province which shares direct border with Iran. The province plays a frontline and leading role in Pak-Iran economic and social integration. Integration of Common markets through undertaking infrastructure projects including network of roads and railways would facilitate trade within the region and cross border. The movements of people across the border significantly increase the economic, cultural and social interaction between the people of these two provinces. In the terms of cultural interactions and people to people contacts both the countries have achieved a considerable progress. In International relations, political, diplomatic and economic relations determine the nature and limitation of social and cultural interactions. The relations between Pakistan and Iran in these fields are, in fact, the reflection of social and cultural relationship which existed between the people of the two countries, and this is due to the blessing of the Province of Balochistan. The common characteristics i.e. the homogeneous culture and tradition of the people of these two Provinces will also study the nature of the depth of people to people relations between Pakistan and Iran. It is because, of their common faith, shared interest and common cause that not only accelerate the bonds of friendship between the two countries.
The proposed venture in Hub will also go a long way in promoting economic cooperation between Pakistan and Iran, which suffered in the past few years because of political misunderstanding between the two countries over Afghanistan. This will provide an economic impetus to this least developed province Balochistan and offer employment to the Baloch youth where such opportunities are scarce. More important, refinery will help to meet the growing demand of high speed diesel. It will also facilitate oil and gas exploration within the Province. More significantly, the construction of gas pipeline between Iran-Pakistan-India is perhaps, the most positive aspect of the new era of good economic relationship. The proposed gas pipeline project would be advantageous to Pakistan from the economic and political point of view. The Pakistani part signaled as desire to remove imbalances in their trade relations.
But, unfortunately, the presence of certain discoursing factors is perpetually and continuously disturbed this friendly, peaceful, and brotherly relations between these two countries. The intensification of sectarian crisis, the lack of information regarding each other’s resources, the wrong economic policies, the absence of effective border Market, border trade barriers, growing problems of smuggling and drugs- trafficking across the border, and other local trade hurdles are some of the challenges and constraints that greatly hampered the relations between these two provinces. Moreover, the Iranian allegations against Pakistan’s government involvement in the Balochistan based Jandullah Organization with the active support and cooperation of USA, and the growing competition between the Pakistani Port Gwader and the Iranian Port Chabahar further added fuel to fire to already disturbed relations.

1. It is the name of the boundary line between Pakistan and Iran. It was partially demarcated, runs from Koh-e-Malik Saih, the tri-junction of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan to Gwader Bay in Arabian Sea.The name came after the name of the Chairman of the Perso-Baloch Commission of 1871, Major-General Fredrick J.Goldsmith.
2. This is a Baloch custom at the time when the Baloch youth reaches the age of marriage, but his family members can’t afford the marriage expenses due to their economic condition. Under such circumstances, the youth visits the houses of their relatives and friends and ask for their contribution.
3. It is a place where the Baloch people get together in the shape of gathering to discuss and to settle their disputes.
4. It happens when a person can’t perform his task alone and needs the help of others. Under such circumstances, he visits the house of his relatives and friends and asks for their help on specific day. The friends and relatives may join the collective work without being paid. When the task has successfully accomplished a person offer them a dinner for the sake of goodwill and cooperation.
5. This is a normal practice of Baloch that when a person kills another person intentionally or un-intentionally for some reason best known to the killer. Under such circumstances, the feeling of revenge will afflict the entire Baloch tribe to the extent that no matter to what the tribe of the murderer belong, if he is missing, another member of his family i.e. brother, cousin and other close relative can be killed for the sake of revenge.
6. It is the name of Baoch’s festival usually celebrates at the time of the birth of the baby. In such festival the relatives of both mother and baby stay awake for several nights and pray to Almighty Allah and seek His help in order to protect both mother and baby against the attack of genie called aal.
7. It is a kind of support to the oppressed against the oppressor. When a powerful person commits atrocities and excess upon the weaker for any reason, the former can seek help from other influential person who has enough power to defend the right of oppressed against oppressor.
8. It is a kind of festival usually celebrated on the occasion of marriage ceremonies. It goes through various stages from engagement to wedding ceremony.
9. It is a system under which a resident of the district is issued a pass, which is valid for fifteen days to visit Iran to see his relatives and fiends. Rahdari is issued by District Administration. Reciprocally, the Iranian government issues Rahdari to the Baloch residents of Seistan Balochistan to visit immediate area across the border. Unlike Iran, the one inside Pakistan is least restricted and can visit across the adjacent up to Quetta and even o Karachi. The main purpose of Rahdari is to visit kith and kin but it can also be utilize for other purposes. On humanitarian ground, visiting hospital for surgery or medical check up can make one’s eligibility.
10. It is literally meaning new day but understood as the first day of the new solar Iranian year. The preparation of Nouroz started in the month of February. It is a great source of entertainment and enjoyment. It is a kind of cultural festival. It is celebrating in Iran on this happy occasion. The exchange of gifts takes place on such occasion as a token of love and affection.

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Published by: South Asian Studies
A Research Journal of South Asian Studies
Vol. 27, No. 1, January-June 2012, pp. 121-140

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Research Papers on Political Issues



Dr. Hanif Khalil
Assistant Professor NIPS
Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad

Javed Iqbal
 Lecturer, Pashto Department
University of Balochistan Quetta

The Pashtoons is an ancient race, nation or tribe on this earth having its own identity, specific values, norms and traditions and a peculiar charm since thousands of years. To trace the origin of the Pashtoons various theories have been presented by renowned scholars in different periods. In these theories, the theory of Israelies and the theory of Arian Tribes became very hot and famous for academic discussions among the historians and researchers.
In this paper along with other miscellaneous theories, these two famous theories have been discussed with references and evidences. At the end the conclusion has been given and the most acceptable theory has been pointed out.

The topic is under discussion since very long that who are the Pashtoons and what is the origin of the Pashtoons? To trace to origin of the pashtoons various theories have been presented by some eminent scholars, researchers, historian and linguist. But this question has not been answered yet scientifically with proved evidences. However some theories came under discussion in this respect. In these the most popular theories are as under
1. The Pashtoons are from semitic races and belong to the Israelies.
2. The Pashtoons are the descendents of Qatora, the wife of Hazrat Ibrahim (P.B.U.H).
3. The Pashtoons are basically from Greek races.
4. The Pashtoons are from Arian tribes.

Some other theories have also been presented and analyzed but the following two theories became most popular and always remain under discussions of researchers in different times.
1. the theories of Bani-Israels
2. the theories of Arians
In this discussion we will try to analyze these two major theories and to trace the most acceptable theory about the origin of the Pashtoons.
The Theory of Bani Israelies
The first famous and old theory about the genealogy of the Pashtoons is that they are Bani Israel. We find this theory for the first time in Makhzan-e-Afghani written by Niamat Ullah Harvi, a scholar at the court of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. He has completed his research about 1612 A.D. Most of the other historians and writers in their books and writings followed this theory, which was presented by Niamat Ullah Harvi. In these historians and writers the most popular Pashtoon writer Afzal Khan Khattak, the grandson of Khushal Khan Khattak in his Pashto book Taareekh-e-Murrassa, and Hafiz Rahmat Khan in his history book, containing the genealogies of the Pashtoons, Khulaasat-ul-Ansaab, followed and accepted this theory without any analysis and criticism and made this theory as the base and fundamental evidence of their writings. Famous orientalist and historian Olaf Caroe repeats the story in his book the Pathans. In the words of Olaf Caroe.
“The Afghan historiographers maintain that Saul had a son named Irmia (Jeremiah) who again had a son named Afghana, neither of course known to the Hebrew Scriptures. Irmia, dying about the time of Saul’s death, his son Afghana was brought up by David, and in due course in Solomon’s reign, was promoted to the chief command of the army. There follows a gap of some four centuries to the time of the captivity. Since Bakhtunnasar is mentioned, one must presume that the reference is to the second captivity early in the sixth century B.C, that of Judah from Jerusalem, and not the first captivity over one hundred years earlier, that of Israel by Shalmaneser the Assyrian, from Samaria, If this is so, it rules out any suggestion, often made, that the Bani Israel, the sons of Afghana, are in any way connected with the lost ten tribes. Nevertheless the theory of the ten tribes has had its notable supporters. In its aid it was suggested, originally by Sir, William Jones, pioneer of oriental studies in Warren Hastings, time that the Afghans are the lost ten tribes of Israel mentioned by the prophet Esdras as having escaped from captivity and taken refuge in the country of Arsarath, supposed by that elegant scholar as identical with the modern Hazarajat, the Ghor of the Afghan historians. But the reference in the afghan chronicles to Nebuchadnezzar makes nonsense of any identification with the ten tribes. The truth is that Muslims commentators of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were not well up in the history of the Hebrews. They make no distinction between Israel and Judah, and do not seem even to be aware that there were two captivities.” ( Caroe:1958:5)
Olaf Caroe also quotes Raverty who was an excellent scholar of Pashto literature as well as the history of the Pashtoons. Caroe admitted him as the last pleader of this theory in English writers. He narrates about the concept of Roverty as:-
“The last pleader for the Bani Israel tradition in English is the redoubtable Raverty. Referring to Cyrus, the first of the Persian Achaemenids, he notes that it was customary for the great King to transport a whole tribe, and sometimes even a whole nation, from one country to another. The Jews were even a stiff-necked race, and he asks form credence to the possibility that the most troublesome anong them had been moved to the thinly peopled satrapies of the Persian Empire where they would be too far away to give trouble. It is not possible he asks, that those Jew who could make their escape might have fled eastward, preferring a wandering life in a mountainous country with independence to the grinding tyranny of Cyrus successors and their satraps? In facts there was no other direction in which they could have fled”( Caroe:1958:6-7)
Our scholars linked the historical background of this theory, related to Hazrat Suleman, Saul, Talut, Armia and Barkhia and Afghana, to Hazrat Khalid Bin Walid and Qais Abdur-Rasheed, who is considered as the old grandfather of Pashtoon tribes, Saraban, Ghorghashts, and Beetan. Sir Olaf Caroe writes about this historical background in the following words.
“The Afghan chroniclers would have it that Khalid Bin Walid, the most famous of the Prophet’s Ansar (companions) and the first great Arab conqueror, belonged to the tribe of the descendants of Afghana resident near Mecca. (All other Muslims tradition states him to have been an Arab of the Makhsum family of the prophet’s tribe of Quraish.) On conversion to Islam, while the Prophet was still alive and before Khalids conquest of Syria and Iraq, Khalid either proceeded in person, or sent a letter, to his kinsmen of the Bani Israel settled in Ghor, to bring them tidings of the new faith and an invitation to join the Prophet’s standard there resulted a deputation of a number of representatives of the Afghan of Gohar, led by one Qais, which proceeded to meet the prophet at Medina. This Qais is said to be descended from Saul in the thirty-seventh generation, an under-generous allowance for a period of some seventeen hundred years. This Qais and his comrades then waged war most gallantly on the Prophet’s behalf. TLe chronicle proceeds:
The Prophet lavished all sorts of blessing upon them; and having ascertained the name of each individual, and remarked that Qais was a Hebrew name, whereas they themselves were Arbas, he gave Qais the name of Abdur Rashid and observed further to the rest that, they being the posterity of Malik Talut, it was quite proper and just that they should be called Malik likewise… and the prophet predicted that God would make the issue of Qais so numerous that they would out vie all other people, that their attachment to the faith would in strength be like the wood upon which they lay the keel when constructing a ship which seamen call Pathan; on this account he conferred upon Abdur Rashid the title of Pathan also.” ( Caroe:1958:7-8)
Renowned historian and researcher Sayyed Bahadur Shah Zaffar Kakakhel also narrated this background in his Pashto book Pukhtana da Tareekh pa Rana kay (The Pashtoons in the perspective of history). He explained the story of Qais Abdur Rasheed and also criticized the theories of Bani-Israel at the end. Bahadur Shah Zaffar explains that
“All the Pashtoons got entered into Islam. The Holy prophet Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) prayed for them and changed the name of their leader Qais into Abdur Rasheed. Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) gave him the title of Bathan. It means the leader of the boat of his nation. Hazrat Khalid bin Walid married his daughter Sara Bibi with Abdur-Rasheed than Qais came back to his own area and in his area he started to preach Islam. He died in 41 Hijri at the age of 77 during a war. He had three sons, the eldest Saraban, the second Beetan, and the third Ghurghasht. These three being the ancestors of the various branches of the Pashtoons” (Kakakhail: 1981:32-33)

Criticism on this theory
As mentioned earlier that along with Bahadur Shah Zafar Kakakhel some other historians and writers presented this theory that Pashtoons are from Semitic races and they are Israelies. But a number of scholars rejected this theory with new evidences and authentic sources. First of all we must quote Sayyed Bahadur Shah Zafar Kakakhel who are of the opinion that “There is no solid proof to accept this theory, even in Arabian history or in Islamic history”(Kakakhail: 1981: 35). An another scholar Dr. Abdur-Raheem author of the Afghans in India, wrote about this theory “The theory of the Semitic origin of the Afghan does not stand the serious analysis. The resemblances in features cannot be considered as providing scientific criterian for grouping different peoples into one race. The Sumerian resemble the Aryans in features through they are not considered to have any affiliation with Aryan people. The portraits of the koshan kings found their coin has the same type of feature but they are certainly neither Afghans nor Semitic” (Abdur-Raheem: 1969: 43)
Similarly the author of “History of Afghanistan” Sir Percy Cycks also criticized the theory of Bani Israel in the following words.
“A protest must here be made against the erroneus view that the Afghans are members of lost tribes of Israel, which various writers including Bellew and Holdich advocated. Actually this theory is of purely literary origin and is merely an example of the wide spread customs among Muslims of claiming descent from some personage mentioned in the Quran or some other sacred work. In the case of the Afghan they claim Malik Talat or king Savl their ancestor. Among the reasons advanced in support of this claim are noticably curved noses of the Afghan but this peculiarity is equally striking in the portraits of the koshan monarch of the first century A.D who had no Hebrew blood in their veins.” (Percy: 1973:78)
Renowned orientalist James.W. Spain quoted some other European scholars who had been discussed in their writings that Pashtoons are basically belonged to Semitic races. He narrates that “The idea that the Pathans were descended from the nation of Israel was encouraged by their tight tribal structure, their stark code of behaviour, their strikingly Semitic features, their bearded patriarchal appearances, and their predilection for biblical names (acquired from the Holy Quran): Adam, Ibrahim, Musa, Daud, Suleiman, Yaqub, Yousaf, Esa, and the rest. It was a favourite subject of speculation by British soldiers, administrators, and missionaries, and persisted in memoirs and travel books well into the twentieth century.
The only trouble is that it was not true. I feel something of a coward saying this here in a book written half a world away from the Frontier, when I know that I would never have the courage to say it to a Pathan. Nevertheless, we must face the facts, although, happily, the facts about the Pathans are anything but prosaic. The myth of the Semitic origins of the Pathans was debunked more than a hundred years ago by Bernhard Dorn, Professor of Oriental Literature at the Russian University of Kharkov, in a book with the interesting title, A Chrestomathy of the Pashto or Afghan language, which was published by the Imperial Academy in Saint Petersburg in 1847. The most recent and comprehensive treatment of the subject appears in the Pathans by Sir Olaf Caroe, a former British governor of the North West Frontier Province ” (Spain:1972:28-29)
James .W. Spain further says that in the connection of the Pashtoons to Semitic races, the tale of the Qais is not authentic. This story is based on mythical traditions. He wrote “This is not to say that the genealogies should be ignored or taken lightly. They were first set down by Persian speaking chroniclers at the court of the Moghul emperors in the early part of the seventeenth century. The sophisticated Moghul historians, possibly impressed by the same outward signs of Semitic connections that misled the British two hundred years later, apparently made up the decent of the border tribes from the mythical Qais and improvised a connection for Qais with Saul of Israel” (Spain:1972: 29) In the same way English writer G.P Tate also argues that this so-called genealogy of the Pathans was compiled under the religious influence on the Pathans, which has no historical evidence. He writes in his book, the Kingdom of Afghanistan in the following words:-
“The origin of the tribes who call themselves Afghans has attracted a great deal of attention, owing to the fact that they claim to be the descendants of Jews, who had settled in Ghor; and the various clans refer their origin to some one of the three sons of Qais, the chieftain of that community, who is said to have been the 37th in descent from Saul, king of Israel, Owing to intercourse with the Jews settled in Arabia, so the story goes, Qais was induced to visit the Prophet Muhammad, who won the Jewish Chief to Islam, and bestowed on him to the name of Abdur Rashid, and the title of Pathan. This last is a mysterious word which cannot be traced to an origin in any known language, but it is believed to means either or both, the rudder, or the mast of a ship. So say those who have committed the genealogy of the Afghans to paper. The conversion of Qais is not mentioned in the history of Islam. The so-called genealogy of the Afghans was complied at a time when all the races of Mankind were believed to have been the offspring of the first man and woman created by the Almighty and the eponymous ancestor of every tribe appears at some stage in the genealogy, which there seems every reason to believe was concocted in the 15th century A.D., probably when the Afghans began to attain to power in India. The main feature in it is the alleged Jewish ancestry of all the tribes, and this belief must have been very strong for the retention of the legend, when the tables of descent were complied. All that can be said at present is that the legend has preserved the memory of a fact which has dropped out of history. It is not improbable that there may have been a Hebrew community in Ghor.” (Tate:1973:10)
We have seen in the above mentioned references that the theory of Bani Israel about the origin of the Pashtoons is not reliable and nor it is based on authentic evidences. But this theory remained under discussion for a long time among the scholars of Pashtoon history. However at the mid decades of 20th century (AD) a new theory has been presented by some scholars of Afghanistan, Pakistan as well as some orientalists. This Theory was that Pashtoons are from Arian races or Pashtoons are Arians in origin.

Are Pashtoons Arians?
As mentioned earlier with quoting a few references that the theory of Bani Israelies has been criticized by some eminent scholars and historians. Thus this theory has been rejected by presentation of the theory of Arians put forward by some orientalists and some Afghan writers and historians. In orientalists Morgan Strine and Dr. Trump were in favour of this theory. In Afghan writers Professor Abdul Hai Habibi and Bahadur Shah Zaffar in Pakistani historians accepted and explained the theory of Arians in detail.
According to this theory the Pashtoons is the branch of the Arian tribes which are known in history as Indo Arian tribes. Actually the Indic branch is divided in two major parts named Indo European and Indo Arian and then the Indo Arian branch is divided in two sub branches named Indo Iranian and Indo Arian. Pashtoons are belonged to the branch of Indo Iranian. This theory is based on the words “Pashtoon” (name of nation or tribe) and Pashto (name of the language of that tribe or nation). The scholars and historians of Indus civilization have found these words in Vedic literature especially in Rig-Veda, the Holy Book of Arian tribes and Hindus. According to Bahadar Shah Zafar “In Rig-Veda the word phakt or phakta were used for the geographical surrounding of the Pashtoons. “Phaktheen” was used for Pashtoon. Initially Phakthean was converted into Pashteen and than into Pashtoon. It is also mentioned in Rig-Veda that Pashtoons used to stay in Bactria (Bakhtar) the old name of Pashtoon area and the present Afghanistan for so many years. In Bactria the Pashtoons are known as the inhabitants of Bakhd. After that the city of Balkh in the present Afghanistan became famous because of these Pashtoons as stated by some Greek historians they were known as pakteen and pashteen, and these words resembled with word Pashtoon and Pashtoonkhwa. So for the first time Mr. Lasan accept the resemblance between the words paktnees and Pashtoon. Keeping in view all these facts it became believable that the Pashtoon nation was a branch of the Arian tribes and their languages was one of the languages of Arian stock”(Kakakhail:1981:33)
We have seen in the above mentioned references that the scholars of modern era emphasized that the theory of Bani Israelis loses it authenticity and the theory of Arians can be considered comparatively authentic with solid evidences. Although some contemporary scholars are inclined to declare that Pashtoons are related to Greeks. In these scholars a Pashtoon intellectual Ghani Khan argues in his book the Pathan A Sketch that “The oldest relics, you see are of distinctly pre-Greek period. They are the same in conception and style as those of the united provinces or Orissa, e.g. the features of dolls and gods two things the humanity has of mixing up are most unlike those of Pathans of today. But when we came to Buddhist and the features of the dolls Budhas and Kings and saints take the likeness of those of the Pathans of today. The great ferocity of the Pathan will be a reaction to a rather long dose of Buddhist non-violence” (Khan: 1990:4)
But in the presence of Arians theory and the availability of supporting evidences the theory of Greeks also could not been accepted. As a whole a majority of scholars, researchers and linguists are stressing to prove that Pashtoons are from Arian tribes.

Although it has been explained in detail the historical references and the validity of evidences proved that Pashtoons can be considered from Arian races. However it is also mandatory and should make it clear that the Pashtoon tribes have their own peculiar charm and specific values. On the base of these peculiarities we can consider the Pashtoons as an individual tribe or nation in Arian tribes or a specific tribe of South Asian nations.

Caroe, Olaf, The Pathans, Oxford University Press Karachi, 1958.
Kakakhel, Syyed Bahadur Shah Zafar, Pashtoon Taareekh Kay Aienay Main (Pashtoons in the light of history), Abdur Rasheed Press Gujrat, 1981.
Abdur-Raheem, Afghans in India, Oxford University Press Karachi, 1969.
Percy Cycks, Sir, History of Afghanistan, Oxford London, 1973.
Spain, James W., The way of the Pathans, Oxford University Press Karachi, 1972.
Tate, G.P. The Kingdom of Afghanistan a Historical Sketch, Indus publications Karachi, 1973.
Khan, Ghani, The Pathans – A Sketch, Pashto Adabi Society Islamabad, 1990.


Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Balochistan

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