Author Archives: Balochi Linguist

About Balochi Linguist

I am Reasearch Associate Balochi language at International Islamic University Islamabad.

Balochistan: The Strategic Pearl

Dr. Khalil Ur Rehman,
Assistant Professor,
Department of Politics and International Relations
Qurtuba University of Science & IT, Peshawar Campus

Balochistan in the post-Columbian Age is central to the New Great Game because Central Asia is once more the Historical Pivot and a Heartland to the World Island i.e., Eurasia & Africa. It remains inaccessible to sea powers. The new transportation technology is decisive in reassertion by land powers in the Asia-Pacific region. The struggles in Eastern Europe (missile shield) and South Asia (Balochistan) are two indicators amongst many.Balochistan Both regions are part of the Inner Crescent (Europe & Asia) to the Historical Pivot at the Gestalt level and are strategic routes to the Heartland whereas the Outer Crescent originates from North America goes through Atlantic, Africa, and the Indian Ocean and culminates in the Pacific Ocean. The coast lines of Pakistan, India and Iran are part of the Inner Crescent i.e., Rimland. In the Eurasian context, the Rimland is yet again critical for America. Moreover, the most prosperous and the largest democracies could have assisted the case of economic and human development; instead the two have added a neo-imperialist Raag Bhairvi to the Eurasian struggle for world domination. An aspect is the interference in Pakistani Balochistan.

Keywords: Balochistan, Gwadar Port, New Great Game, Eurasia,

Balochistan is the heart of Eurasian power struggle. It straddles Persian Gulf and Caspian Basin in time and space dimensions. It is an economic and strategic magnet. The struggle over it involving Great Powers is yet to conclude. The U.S. attraction for Balochistan is due to its virgin coast line, vast hinterland with nominal population, secular culture, untapped natural resources, Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, the naval base in American perception, failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, rising China, revanchist Russia, Iranian nuclear issue cum regime change and the ongoing covert operations against Iran. However, what is more dangerous, an attack on Iran or the nuclear Iran? It is all about the New Great Game, the New Cold War and Eurasia as a sphere of influence. Americans have a hypothesis, but are looking for a deduction—a dangerous assumption.
Balochistan’s tribal political economy is twofold. Resentment is its critical core. Other than contrabands owing to hardships of life, an important aspect of Balochi political economy is trade in narcotics, weapons and ammunition. Sub-surface dumping is dotted all over. The same is true for Afghanistan because during Soviet occupation drugs flourished whereas under Americans are bumper opium crops. Despite abundance, the prices have skyrocketed. The connection is the ongoing insurgencies. Success in an insurgency, flow of money and the availability of manpower are linked. An insurgency attracts weapons and ammunition like a magnet. Enough guns and suicide bombers are around. It is now beyond butter and ideas. In the post 9/11 world, an attractive and lucrative addition to Balochistan’s political economy is the operational human cargo. The logistics of Islamist insurgents stretching from Afghanistan to Iraq to Turkey and to East Africa is a reality.

The arrests in the border areas of Taftan Balochistan and Iraq indicated the trail of Islamists more than once. The smuggling of weapons and cigarettes went up in Kut and Nasiriya, and clashes between drug runners have increased near the Iranian border.1 In addition to others in Africa and Middle East, Balochi tribesmen in the border areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran are ideal for the transportation of human cargo. They made good money during the Iranian Revolution and so is the case in the post 9/11 world. The unwritten rules are made of something stronger than paper, may be even stronger than steel.2 The trans-geographic Balochi tribal bond is a linguistic, cultural and an ethnic fact. An ethnicity is like a centuries old tree. The branches may be all around but the trunk has a specific location. The trunk of Balochi ethnicity is Pakistani Balochistan. Branches are into Afghanistan and Iran. And demographics always mix like milk and water e.g., astride Durand Line. Balochistan is an epicenter of the regional and global power struggle. The discontent in Balochistan adds fuel to the fire. If not handled properly, it has the potential to lead Pakistan towards war. Pakistan’s domestic political situation is critical to that, as it was in 1971. Pakistan’s dissonance based pursuits have historically violated the rights of the smaller provinces as well. This history has come to haunt Pakistan once again. The cognitive dissonance has both domestic and foreign policy implications.

Both internally and externally, Pakistan is in for a long haul. Its claim to be the front line state in America’s “long war” has proved disastrous. It has generally been acknowledged to be madness to go to war for an idea, but if anything is more unsatisfactory, it is to go to war against a nightmare.3 And the new strategic naval postures of “from sea to land” suggest that the geopolitical themes of Mahan and Mackinder are still relevant to understanding the international politics of the post-Cold War era.4

The Caravan World
The Real world of Balochistan is that of armed tribal caravans carrying narcotics, weapons, ammunition and sometimes aristocratic Persian carpets and cigarettes as well. The security parameter of these caravans is in tens of kilometers. The number of vehicles and armed escorts could be in dozens, perhaps more. Secrecy, suspicion, deceit, treachery and distrust works. They come from hard school of life with a capacity to improvise. A world within themselves, they are secret cells. The combat psychology is unconventional. It is extremely violent. High intensity drugs are used to enhance fighting efficiency. They want to be like that. The application of force and violence generated is decisive. They know their land and withdraw at will to protect the consignments. In addition to the time and space dimensions, liberty of movement and action, correlation of forces and weapon systems; scouts and screens protect the load carrying main body.

Expensive cruisers with studded tires, satellite phones, hi-tech communication, telescopic assault rifles and mounted heavy weapons including long range have replaced camels, 7mms and 303s. Mobility is in their blood and culture. It is demonstrated in the employment of weapon systems. There are no good boys and men. They are hard edged tribesmen from the dangerous end of the Real World. On encountering, both objective and phenomenal experience is harsh, but sustainable. Against them, irrationality carries the day. Rationality has no role in the scheme of things. And integrity is irrationality (more precisely non-rationality). Pakistan provides the shortest possible route for the transportation of drugs to Europe and UK. The transactions are in pure gold and U.S. dollars. The financial benefits are more to the middlemen and transporters as opposed to the growers. The pick and drop is in tons and transgeographic  or the connection is trans-national. It is rather global. Much to the relief of the world’s richest and most militarily adept heroin traffickers, Afghanistan today is the largest heroin manufacturer in the history of mankind.5 And the Afghan mafia in southern Afghanistan has ethnic, family and business connections with the trans-national Balochi mafia. The linkages are centuries old.

Balochis in the Iranian province of Seistan are fighting Tehran since long whereas the strife among the Arabs and Kurds of Ahwaz and Iranian Kurdistan is a reality aided from Iraq. Iranians blamed the Anglo- Saxons and Balochi Jundallah with an Israeli connection for the suicide attacks in Seistan killing many soldiers and Revolutionary Guard Generals. Subsequently, the leader of Jundallah was captured and hanged by the Iranians. Historically, Balochistan is water logged and part of the conduit and a perceived geo-strategic and geo-political bridgehead as well. Merchants have joined hands. Balochi pride can not be understated. It has an impact on sociology, politics, economics and now on geo-strategy and geo-politics. The Balochi worldview is also that of a great gravitas and patience in the face of socio-economic and political reductionism. Given chance, the phenomenon speaks for itself. And tribesmen instead of protests and speeches pick up guns and go to the mountains.

The Strategic Environment
Whenever you approach a big event, the prelude to that in geo-strategy, geo-politics and geo-economics is the Strategic Environment made up of facts creating a climate. The detailed information is not needed because a situation is always a mixture of psychological, perceptual, strategic, political, economic and cultural facts in which any given policy or an event unfolds. Before going into specifics, the strategist should ask himself of the ambiance in the zone in which reality will disentangle. It is a Strategic Environment which one can cut with the sword. The richer the analysis, the more rational one would be. The strategic conception should always be logical and rational as opposed to the one based on instincts or intuitions.

The State of Pakistan has enough knowledge to infer, if it wishes to, that the misconduct in Balochistan is a threat to the federation of Pakistan. The quality has to be raised both in and out of colors. There are enough grounds for the enemies of Pakistan to exploit. The people of Balochistan understand the lifestyle across the gulf. One knows it and that is the reality. The facets are many and one is enough to bring the state down. The prevailing Geo-political and Geo-Strategic Environment in the region makes it more sensitive, and a threat to be reckoned with. Since the toppling of Shah of Iran, dissidents from Seistan-Iran sit all along Pak-Iran, Pak-Afghan and Iran-Afghan borders with trans-cis tribal and family connections.

Pakistan condemned the hearing and the subsequent resolution on Balochistan in the U.S. Congress. American perception is that Balochistan offers an alternative to contest Eurasia. The queen bee intends to sit in Balochistan, whether as part or not part of Pakistan. The move has to be quick due to increasing Chinese influence. The competition has intensified. It is an expensive affair. So far China has shown no sign of flogging. It is rather flexing its space, stealth and naval muscles. America is also courting India to increase its strategic space for the Indo-U.S. Entente has Eurasia in view as a sphere of influence. Resultantly, the 26/11 was an assault on the Indian consciousness. India should not complain while playing High Politics. Blaming Pakistan is being deductive as opposed to inductive. The Indianness of India is India’s cognitive dissonance.

Some high circles in New Delhi have questioned the wisdom of the dual faced policy of engaging Islamabad in peace dialogue while at the same time supporting insurgent activity in Balochistan.6 The closest thing to a major power supporting terrorism is India, because of what it may be doing in Pakistan in reprisal for Pakistani-supported activity in Kashmir.7 However, despite steps by Pakistan since 9/11, the Indian interference in Balochistan continues. The fact is that India has infiltrated significant number of agents into Pakistan.8 Balochistan is a Strategic Pearl because it is central to the New Great Game and the New Cold War. It is complex. There are many cooks in the broth. The political indecisiveness is dangerous. And common denominator is always weak. The late political move makes it irrelevant. The use of force turns local into regional, global and geo-political. It is a dilemma. All types of chickens are coming home to roost. Pakistan has become an attractive idea. The clash persists. It is yet to be resolved. Black gold, ethnic conflict, Islamic fundamentalism, civil war, Russian irredentism—the Great Game is back on for sure.9 It is all about minerals, metals, oil and gas. The struggle and the game go on. The New Cold War is fought with cash, natural resources, diplomacy, propaganda and Russia is building up its clout as an energy supplier, while diversifying its customer base.10

Americans wanted to bypass Russia in Eastern Europe but the Russian geo-economic and geo-strategic moves are a blow to American interests in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. However in South Asia, the Strategic Environment has exposed Pakistan to the Strategic Games of the Big League. It is to its disadvantage, that the location has become a burden. It is no more an asset or an aid. The U.S. efforts revolve around changing Strategic Environment in South, South West and Central Asia. It has ramifications. Afghanistan is a Big Game, Iraq never was. The game has become too deadly and has attracted too many players; it now resembles less a chess match than the Afghan game of buzkashi, with Afghanistan playing the role of the goat carcass fought over by innumerable teams.11 And Iranians are not neutral. It is a small world and the number of lords is on the rise. It will be found out as to who is the Big Dog. There is this shifting in the Westphalian systemic landscape. The sovereignty of nation-state is under attack in the context of intended post-Westphalian New World Order.

Will Pakistan knuckle under global and regional hegemony? The razorsharp strategic focus with a grip over details is needed. The suicidal instinct is part of Pakistani concealed wiring. It is micro of the macro e.g., Pakistan’s nuclear policy and logic is suicidal. The development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems reflects it. Pakistan’s enemies are superior conventionally and in depth. Pakistan is all length and no breadth. The strategic equilibrium is tilted in others favor. Yet, Pakistan will not simply go down fighting. The thesis is that if others do not pull back, then the nuclear catastrophe will take over. Only wisdom and restraint can deter such a possibility.

The Gwadar Port
In the early 1950s, Pakistan’s intelligence set up was located at capital Karachi. A Military Attaché (read: CIA) at the American Embassy contacted Pakistan’s Military Intelligence Directorate for permission and security cover to travel from Karachi to Gwadar. The embassy was informed about the absence of roads and related infrastructure but the CIA officer did not recoil and opted to travel on camels along with the security cover. Of course the technical information gathered about the coast line was shared with Pakistan’s Military Intelligence Directorate. The record reveals that the Military Attaché surveyed the area for three months. American interest in Gwadar dates back to the creation of Pakistan. The awareness has increased. Some realists and of course the neo-cons in U.S. have raised concerns about the range of Chinese connection in Balochistan with particular reference to Gwadar and its impact on the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. Along with ever-present Russians, new powers such as China, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan have entered the arena, and transnational corporations (whose budgets far exceed those of many Central Asian countries) are also pursuing their own interests and strategies.12
The cancellation of the opening of Gwadar Port by the Chinese premier was meaningful. The conditions of Dubai Port had implications whereas other than the Hupchon Company of Hong Kong, China had lobbied for a Chinese firm, but Singapore Port Authority won the contract.

The forty year tax relief makes it a tax free port. The port was inaugurated by Pakistan’s President in March 2007. It became operational in December 2008. Pakistani decision makers are indecisive about the status of Gwadar Port. The unanswered question is whether it will be a feeder port or handling trans-national trade. The understating of trans-shipment gives advantage to Chahbahar, Salalah and Dubai ports endangered by the futuristic potential of Gwadar. Consequently, the houbara bustard is now a pan on the geo-political chess board.13

It synthesizes the Strategic Environment. The Sino-U.S. clash of interests over trade routes is risky. At stake is the trade corridor centred on Central Asia. And in Anglo-Saxon perception, what is China doing building roads, ports in Myanmar and Pakistan, connecting west and south west China with the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.14 The pincers are understood. The Eurasian power struggle involves Persian Gulf and the arc of Balochi territory stretching through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And some unrest is going on in Balochistan.15 The situation demands to be in harmony with time. Let’s not make it the failing of pride and honor. The honor and arms are linked in a tribal society. Balochistan is a pyramid like tribal society. The forlorn funerals become part of conscious and sub-conscious. The Balochi consciousness now carries yet another millstone of antecedents. It was a deliberate attack and a trial of strength. The belief was that the problem would be solved. It did not. A genuine politico-economic move is awaited. The insurgents are not responding to the overtures. Even the battered Jundallah is not willing to lay down arms, let alone the groups led by Baramdagh Bugti, Harbayar Marri, Javed Mengal and Dr. Allah Nazar.

The mind has to open up. The commitment is to be demonstrated. The thinking has to be critical. Lack of moderation is to be avoided.How could a multiple combination of weaknesses become so glaring? Everything over time has mixed up. The problems will keep recurring, but it is possible to arrange affairs within means and live honorably. Since perceptions remain critical, the statements emanating are not reliable in an unpleasant region. Military solution has costs, especially in domestic affairs. There is a failure to recognize the environment that exists. What mixture of domestic and foreign policy should Pakistan follow in relation to Balochistan? The art and alchemy is the right combination of politics and strategy. For Iran too, like Afghanistan, became a strategic rear base for India against Pakistan,16 since Iran helped India in Afghanistan. And India is a blunt geographic wedge in China’s zone of influence in Asia.17

Across the Indus, two militant salients of FATA and Balochistan have emerged to the dismay of Islamabad. It is all very fragile. Something extra ordinary is afoot. An inestimable storm is gathering. It is now diffusion and not confusion. Friction is inefficiency. Entropy is the wasting away of time. The winds are only friendly when one knows where one is going and how one is going. The uncertain domestic and external game can go up to a point and for limited time and not after that. That is why the ultimate task of statesmanship is to shape the future.18 Moreover, the prophet of realism holds his heart, whenever there are elections in Pakistan.

The question always was how to fill the gap? The thirst to fill the gap remains. It is a constant struggle. The disparity took Pakistan in different directions. And becoming a prisoner of rent is the heart and kernel of the problem. A bit of achievement led to more than one adventures. The denial accelerates the desire. The organizing principles of Pakistan’s domestic and foreign policies will have to be reoriented. For it has foundered in its orientation. The perception needs to be debated. An adjustment is required. One has to adapt to the reality. The pretending will have to be replaced. The situation is complicated and is not going to go away. It is unpredictable. It will not precipitate easily. And a dilemma is a stage where if you do you are dammed and if you don’t you are still dammed. If experience in Balochistan is anything to go by, the situation over the decades has been forced into local, regional and global dilemmas by those at the helm of affairs.

Furthermore, the vicious failure of political system haunts Pakistan. It remains unstable. It has become a suffering. There is an up swell of feeling of resentment. The dispensation is exposed. The political movie makers are equally bewildered. Nothing makes sense any more. The understanding of law is lacking. The breaking of law and its sanctity by government after government can go up to a point. It is difficult to reconcile. It has not sunk into some. Mind takes time to catch up. How should one see the Gestalt of whole tragedy in Pakistan? And there is no end in sight to the suffering.

Likewise a cascaded, made up and a close mind is blind to the passage of time. It refuses to be confused with the facts, be those phenomenal or otherwise. There is a stage when ones mind is beyond insight. It is a terrible state. The capacity to mislead one self is always there. One becomes victim too willingly. The situation is going to a stage where it will be muddy. The murkiness remains. To try to see a degree of clarity in a situation that is murky and to claim it is not is the denial of reality. The way events are shaping the things is touchy. The nemeses have caught up. The strategic equilibrium has limits. And the leadership does not have the capacity to realize that the world takes a round to come around, and the world has changed.

What is more the make-belief world is out of touch with the reality. Like in case of a sleep walker, a sense of unreality prevails. Why doesn’t the Pakistani mind turn to ask, how in a society time and again they repeat the same mistakes? The occurrences are same irrespective of leaders. What is the fault common to all? The growth, development and maturation that should accompany the rise are missing. Do they have in them to be leaders? Some qualities must be valued e.g., germs of leadership. To enter into their minds is not a problem, but the spell and hunger of power is sickening. The zone of proximal development perhaps lacks the systematicity and logic of adults. Everyone is part of the narrative. Everyone is discredited. An original leadership is required.

There is this difference between boys and men in the context of a call of a Higher Order. There is also this difference between rule and statesmanship. The latter does not come from rationalization, but stems from consciousness. An average mind suffers from insecurity, and makes a grab for power. And the problem with pathology is that it has no upper limits. There is no remorse. With eruptions in an unsettled Strategic Environment, assessment and determination is a difficult task including decision making. The numbers of crisis over the decades were numerous. What we see is the result of that build-up. Did they hold it in bag for some time? The present situation in Pakistan is bathos and bathos has anger. The slide is from sublime to triviality.

Similarly, the ancestral spirit has failed. The disintegration is not only philosophic and historic, but administrative as well. It is a failure at bottom and is fundamental. It is failure of mind and instincts at establishing linkages and connections. Any orchestration is based on composer’s capacity to see connections and linkages. And the capacity to see exclusive linkages in an apple garden is the essence. This failing is whether generalized or individual is the failure of a measure to see connection between unrelated things. It is always the ability to see connection that is vital. The failure to connect pits one against the reality itself.

The razor edge relationship is far from being clear e.g., the strikes on Salala Post or the curtain-raiser hearing and resolution in the U.S. Congress on Balochistan. It is an escalating Eurasian struggle and the rest are premises of the New Great Game. The championship is becoming interesting. The players are into finale. Like a Wagner’s High Drama, it is being played at the world stage. But the law of the unexpected continues to govern. What else one can do except letting it evolve. The savants understand. How can the Concert Master with its honorable consultant, allies, institutions, intellectuals, scholars, values and ideals commit errors of such historic proportions? How can one attribute brains? The ideas would be left out like scain. The capacity to convey is more effective if it is cold and logical.

Central Asia is up for a grab and Balochistan is critical to that. Other than the direct Indian, Iranian and European interests, America wants control of Gwadar Port and bases for the promotion of its trade and strategic interests while asking Pakistan to strategically distance itself from China. The strategic encirclement of China is part of perception. However, notwithstanding the continuing drone strikes, getting the Shamsi Base vacated sent the message in the reverse direction. No wonder, given the political will, Pakistan can be a Game Changer e.g., Pak-Iran-Afghan Summit or Pak-Iran gas pipeline.

Nonetheless, these are the times when this becomes that, therefore, integration is the name of the game. The passage of time is of essence because it can be greatest of all allies for it exerts control by conspiring in favor of one and against others. Pakistanis may define it anyway they like, but there is a situation. The issue is not law and order. It is lack of political participation and foreign intervention. And since there is a snowballing Luna Caprice connection to it, Islamabad can hope for the best, but it must plan for the worst. Moreover, there exists only one region in which all Great Powers are present i.e., Eurasia, particularly the sub-region of Central Asia; the first meeting place of China, India, Russia, the U.S. and the EU in history and here the gaps between Great Power rhetoric and the reality of their policy approaches are all too evident.19

Lastly, keeping in view the American perception of Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapon Capability and Terrorism, the New Great Game, the New Cold War, the revanchist Russia, the ascending China, Eurasia as a sphere of influence, and the elusive Strategic Pearl; the time has come not only to forge a new relationship with China but also to further the vindicated spirit of the architect of Sino-Pak relationship. This is Pakistan’s Defining Moment. If true potential is channelized, Pakistan will be a Great Nation. And justice is an ever fresh centre of gravity for it is Divine. Dispense justice and everything will fall into place. One should always tell the truth, but truth need not to be told, because, it is a jewel that shines by its own light.

Notes & References
1 Dehghanpisheh Babak, “Iraq’s New Guns for Hire”, Newsweek, 07 May, 2007, 31.
2 Robert Cooper, The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century, (London: Atlantic Books, 2004), 179.
3 Robert Jervis, American Foreign Policy in a New Era, (New York: Routledge, 2005), 51.
4 Dalby Dalby, “Political Geography and International Relations after the Cold War” in Globalization: Theory and Practice (ed.) by Eleonore Kofman & Gillian Youngs, (London: PINTER. 1996), 72.
5 Michael Scheuer, Marching toward Hell: America and Islam after Iraq, (New York: Free Press, 2008), 105.
6 Sergi Pyatakov & Mark Davidson, “Kishangarh linked to camps for sabotage in Pakistan”, Weekly Independent, March 03-09, 2005, 6-7.
7 Paul R. Pillar, Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy, (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2001), 51.
8 James Farwell, The Pakistan Cauldron: Conspiracy, Assassination & Instability, (New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2012), 229.
9 Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil, (New York: Crown Publishers, 2003), 136.
10 Edward Lucas, The New Cold War, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp.10-11.
11 Barnett R. Rubin, Ahmed Rashid, “From Great Game to Grand Bargain: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 87, No.6.
November/December, 2008.
12 Lutz Kleveman, The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia, (London: Atlantic Books, 2003), 3.
13 Mary Anne Weaver, Pakistan: Pakistan in the shadow of jihad and Afghanistan, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002), 142.
14 “Heavenly Dynasty”, The Economist, March 31st to April 6th 2007.
15 Zbigniew Brzezinski, & Brent Scowcroft, America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy, (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 60.
16 Robert D. Kaplan, “Centre Stage for the Twenty-First Century: Power Plays in the Indian Ocean”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 88, No.2, March/April, 2009.
17 Robert D. Kaplan, “The Geography of Chinese Power: How far Beijing can Reach on Land and at Sea”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, No 3, May/June, 2010.
18 Henry Kissinger, On China, (Canada: Allen Lane: 2011), 13
19 Graeme P. Herd, (ed.). Great Powers and Strategic Stability in the 21st Century: Competing visions of world order, (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), 204.
COURTESY By: The Dialogue Volume  VI Number 1

Comments Off on Balochistan: The Strategic Pearl

Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


Producing Tribal Balochistan: Sovereignty and Rule in a Colonial Frontier State

By Hafeez Jamali
University of Texas, Austin

District Map Balochistan


A key question in recent historiography of South Asia has been the production of people and production of space-time through the apparatuses of colonial rule and their persistence in the post-colonial period of nationalist rule (Chatterjee 2006; Goswami 2004). However, most of these studies have focused on ‘regulation’ or ‘settled’ districts of India where British control was relatively uniform and the administrative machinery sufficiently well-oiled to introduce projects of ‘improvement’. One the one hand, where the British did encounter adivasi or indigenous peoples of India as in Jharkhand, their presence or activities did not impinge on strategic imperial interests and the problem of their regulation was subsumed within the broader question of district management. On the other hand, in the frontier territories of Balochistan and the Tribal Areas of North West Frontier Province, colonial authorities had to operate in an environment over which they had less than full control. Moreover, in these territories, at the edge of the empire, the question of protecting imperial interests from the unhealthy influence of rival European powers such as Russia and France and the defense of British India haunted the imperial self much more. Thus, colonial authorities were faced with the problem of securing the attachment to their cause of reluctant tribesmen who had historically shown only nominal allegiance to any central authority and defied it openly whenever the opportunity was offered. My archival research in the British library suggests that in the case of colonial Balochistan (or Kalat Khanate), a frontier state, the exercise of rule was based on a mix of relations of force (sovereignty) and methods of rule (consent).

The method of indirect rule inaugurated by Robert Sandeman, Agent to the Governor General and first Chief Commissioner of Balochistan, is understood both by colonial writers as well as contemporary historians/ analysts/ opinion-makers of Balochistan (Nicolini, Redaelli, etc.) to have solved the problem of subduing the Baluch frontier1. It is popularly believed to have been an exercise in empire-light or a form of rule which\ involved a minimal expenditure of force and depended, for the most part, on the consent of the governed. However, a closer scrutiny of the archive – including comments by Sandeman’s contemporaries and successors on his administrative methods- suggests that it was far more intrusive and relied much more on the strategic use of military force than has been made out so far. More importantly, it brought together or fused disparate Baloch territories and tribes (and cut-out/separated others) to engender or produce a territory “Balochistan” and a particular subject of colonial rule, the ‘Baloch tribal’ with specific characteristics which required particular administrative methods of dealing i.e. through ‘tribal jirgas’ or councils of elders. Ostensibly, the ‘tribal jirgas’ were native institutions through which the colonial state gave Baloch people a certain degree of autonomy in resolving their differences and managing their internal affairs. However, in actual  practice the Jirgas were supervised by British officers or their native assistants (like Rai Bahadur Hittu Ram, Sandeman’s Assistant) and served to integrate the Baloch tribesmen, especially the tribal elite, into the structures of empire through which they learned to submit to colonial rule2. Over time, these arrangements led to the near total dismantling of the pre-colonial relations between the Khan of Kalat, his Sardars and ordinary Baloch tribesmen and by the end of colonial period the Khan had become a mere figure-head with no real power and the fulcrum of power in Balochistan shifted from the Khan’s headquarters at Kalat to the British Agent’s headquarters at Quetta.

The fault-lines of Sandeman’s method of rule become particularly evident in the case of colonial governance in Mekran region of Balochistan. The anthropological knowledge that Sandeman and his contemporaries had acquired about Baloch people through their encounters with Marri and Bugti tribes on Sind-Punjab frontier and with Brahui tribes of central Balochistan became questionable in managing the affairs of Mekran. Unlike the rest of Kalat, which was a Khanate, Mekran was a Hakomate although it was formally under Kalat jurisdiction. It had a clearly delineated class/status structure with a fractious elite or Hakum class at the top, independent Baloch landowners and herdsmen in the middle, and agricultural tenants/cultivars, fishermen, servants and slaves at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Tribal affiliation did not carry the kind of force or weight in dealings of people in Mekran which it did elsewhere in Balochistan. As a result, the British Political Agents’ attempts at resolving issues through tribal Jirgas and soliciting bonds of good behavior were repeatedly frustrated by non-compliance on behalf of the local actors. So the archival evidence pertaining to Mekran is particularly useful in studying colonial rule in Balochistan. Moreover, since the British perception of a Russian attack or advance from Persia/Iran was less alarming than was the case in Afghanistan, colonial rule in Mekran is marked by a certain lack of coherence and disunity of purpose and method. The affairs of Mekran were managed by multiple authorities based in Karachi (Sindh), Muscat (Persian Gulf) and Quetta (Balochistan)3.

Another important consideration here is the emergent grammars of citizenship, sovereignty and territoriality in Balochistan / Mekran at the moment of the colonial encounter. The pre-colonial relations were expressed in terms of matrimonial alliances between ruling families, payment of annual tribute, reception at the Durbar, conferring of Khillats/ titles, reading of the Friday sermon (Khutba) in the name of the ruler, etc. It was  a discontinuous body-politic animated by relations of in/fidelity, genealogical affinity, etc. as opposed to strictly delimited/mapped territory and uniform extension of sovereign authority. Matrimonial alliances and kinship relations did not necessarily span geographically contiguous areas/territories or correspond neatly to distinct/exclusive spheres of influence of various sovereigns to whom the local chiefs professed or owed allegiance4. Moreover, while Persia and Muscat had recorded documents, treaties, etc. to show for their claims over territory, Baloch claims over territory were argued in the form of genealogical and rhizomic maps that were recorded in popular memory and supported by limited documentation in the form of Sanads.

It appears that the colonial encounter transformed these relations in two important respects in Mekran region. On the Persian side of Mekran there was a more rapid assimilation of and a greater willingness to adopt the trappings of modernity and its territorial imagination due to Persia’s long encounter with French and British empires and a relatively stable historical/cultural past or memory of statehood. From the beginning of 19th  century onwards, Qajar monarchs of Persia were steadily modernizing their army andre-asserting their claims on Afghan and Baloch territories eastward of the Persian heartland5. They sent regular military expeditions to discipline the recalcitrant Baloch Sardars of Mekran, exact tribute, and force them to declare allegiance to the Persian monarch6. Persian authorities’ ultimate (although rather ambitious) object was to bring the entire intervening Baloch territories between British India and Persia under their control (Shahvar 2006; Hopkins 2007)7.

In the Baloch Khanate of Kalat, on the other hand, contradictory forces were at play. Initially (i.e. 1839-76) British policymakers sought to treat the Khan of Kalat as a sovereign ruler of all Baloch territories and to this end gave him a generous subsidy, encouraged him to keep a standing army comprised of mercenary soldiers, and discouraged Baloch Sardars (chiefs of individual tribes) from dealing directly with colonial authorities or soliciting British intervention against the Khan. This policy failed  spectacularly as the Sardars felt that the British government was curbing their independence by making them bear the Khan of Kalat’s heavy yoke. Subsequently (1876- 1948), however, British policymakers took a U-turn in the face of growing Russian threat in Central Asia (so-called Great Game). They intervened directly and decisively in the affairs of Balochistan by declaring the Khanate as a confederate structure where the Khan of Kalat was merely ‘first among equals’ viz a viz his Sardars.

In sum, the British sought to uphold the stability or maintain the status-quo of the indigenous political arrangements (system of rule) in Balochistan (rather than attempt to modernize it) based on their own anthropological understandings of Baloch society8. These understanding tended to vary over time based on the influence of ambitious frontier officers like John Jacob and Robert Sandeman and the changing perception of threat from Russia in London. Through these categories, colonial authorities sought to ‘locate’ and ‘fix’ the fluid dynamics of inter-tribal relations and the complex skein of alliances and multiple allegiances in Balochistan in imperial space-time. The acceptance of the British offer of ‘mediation’ by Baloch Sardars and the Khan of Kalat in 1876 appended them formally and irreversibly into the orbit of British rule in India (Redaelli 1997)9. This process enabled British administrators like Sandeman to inscribe an imperial margin or frontier in the ‘savage’ space of Balochistan where careers could be made and honors won10 (Dutta 2003).


1 Some contemporary authors have tried to raise Sandeman from the dead in a bid to give strategic advice for pacifying the insurgents fighting the US military and Pakistani authorities in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

2 I do not wish to imply here that British intervention was entirely an externally imposed grid of relations. Baloch Sardars (tribal chiefs) actively sought for colonial ‘protection’ or ‘mediation’ and participated enthusiastically in structures of colonial rule. The integration of Baloch tribesmen into colonial governance structures was facilitated by the relatively stable relations of mutual obligations and respect of authority between Baloch Sardars and ordinary tribesmen. This trait was repeatedly praised by colonial writers on Balochistan who characterized the Baloch as ‘frank’, ‘generous’ and ‘hospitable’ as opposed to the Pashtuns who were declared ‘fanatic’, ‘priest-ridden’ and ‘bigoted’. Some of these characterizations are still quoted favorably by Baloch nationalists.

3 For instance, during the period 1860-79, British authority in Mekran region was maintained by the Assistant Political Agent at Gwadar who was considered “Assistant to the Resident, Persian Gulf, for the country between Gwadur and Jask; as well as Assistant to the Political Agent, Maskat, for Gwadur affairs; and Assistant to the Agent to the Governor General, Baluchistan for the Mekran possessions of the Khan of Khelat”. Reference J.A. Saladana (1905) Précis of Mekran Affairs.

4 For instance, the Nawab of Kharan- a powerful Sardar in western Balochistan- simultaneously professed allegiance to and received subsidies from the Amir of Afghanistan and the Shah of Persia while his territory was ‘legally’ part of Khanate of Kalat.

5 During the second half of 19th century, Persian government repeatedly sought the help of Britain as well as France to send in their military officers to train its army in techniques of modern warfare. The Shah also requested the British to supply him with Naval warships and help train a nascent Persian Navy. Moreover, at the height of Ango-Russian rivalry, the Persian Government gave an extraordinary lease/ concession to a British industrialist to set up a cotton processing factory in Bushire.

6 See Najmabadi’s Story of the Daughters of Quchan. Baloch, Turkoman and other nomad tribes of Persian borderlands were inscribed in mainstream Iranian cultural memory as savage and barbarian raiders who would loot caravans and abduct Persian girls to sell them into slavery or reduce them to domestic servitude. There was and still remains in Iran unstinting popular support for Tehran’s oppressive measures against the Baloch. Among Mekran Baloch, however, there is a counter-memory of Tehran’s atrocious military expeditions for the exaction of tribute. These punitive raids would lay the country to waste and reduce the ordinary people to starvation. In Balochi language, the word ‘Qajar’- literally the Qajar rulers of Persia- is a metaphor for wanton cruelty and depredation.

7 Soli Shahvar (2006) Communications, Qajar Irredentism and the Strategies of British India: The Mekran Coast Telegraph and the British Policy of Containing Persia in the East. Iranian Studies: 39:3. B.D. Hopkins (2007) The Bounds of Identity: the Goldsmid Mission and the Delineation of the Perso- Afghan Border in the Nineteenth Century. Journal of Global History: 2.

8 Reference Mahmood Mamdani’s argument in “Beyond the Native and Settler as Political Identities: Overcoming the Political Legacy of Colonialism” in the context of Africa. Mamdani argues that for colonial authorities in Africa, the ‘improvement’ of natives did not only mean modernizing them according to European standards, but in certain cases, helping them stay true to their ‘authentic’/native’ traditions which implied propping up of indigenous governance structures by colonial authorities.

9 Redaelli, Ricardo (1997) The Father’s Bow: the Khanate of Kalat and British India. Manent.

10 Disraeli’s famous declaration that the East was a career (quoted in Said 1973) was exemplified by Sandeman’s career in Balochistan. As British Prime Minister in 1876, Disraeli gave wide-ranging powers to the Viceroy, Lord Lytton, who was to give his full backing to Sandeman’s proposals for intervention in Balochistan under the rubric of the “Forward Policy”. The supposed object was to prevent a Russian attack on India from the direction of Afghanistan by establishing forward military posts on the mountain passes at the gates of Afghanistan at the Khyber, Gomal, Tochi (NWFP) and Bolan (Balochistan) backed by military cantonments/garrisons in Peshawar and Quetta. These proposals were considered ill-advised and dangerous by some of Sandeman’s colleagues such as Major Loch and his immediate supervisor Sir William Mereweather, the Commissioner in Sind. From an obscure frontier officer reporting to the Commissioner in the 1870s, Sandeman became the first Agent to the Governor General (AGG) in Balochistan who reported directly to the Viceroy in Delhi. See also Simanti Dutta (2003) Imperial Mappings in Savage Spaces: Balochistan and British India. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corp.

Select Bibliography:
Primary Sources:
a) India Office Records (IOR), British Library
Agent to Governor General’s Office (1886) Raids: Deputation of Col Reynolds, PA
Southern Baluchistan to Mekran. IOR/R/1/34/3
Agent to Governor General’s Office (1888) Raids: Proposals for the Future
Management of Rind tribe. IOR/R/1/34/5
Agent to Governor General’s Office (1888) Raids: Mr. Crawford, PA Southern
Balochistan’s tour in Mekran and Panjgur. IOR/R/1/34/8
Burne, O.T. (1869) Memorandum on Persia. IOR/L/PS/20/MEMO40/1
Goldsmid, F.J. (1962) Mission to Mekran. IOR/L/PS/20/MEMO39/7
Moore, A.W. (1868-1875) Memoranda on Central Asian Question.
Ross, E.C. (1905) [1866] Report on the nature of Trade at Gwadur and the probable
amount of its Revenues. In J.A. Saldanha Precis of Mekran Affairs, pp
113-117. Calcutta; Office of the Superintendent of Government Press.
(1868) [1865] Memorandum of Notes on Mekran. In Selections from the
Records of Bombay Government No. CXI. Byculla: Education Society’s
Press. IOR/V/23/248, No 111
(1884-1889) Report on the Administration of the Persian Gulf Political
Residency and Muscat Political Agency. Calcutta; Office of the
Superintendent of Government Press. IOR V/23/42 No. 190.
Saladanha, J.A. (1905) Precis of Mekran Affairs. Calcutta: Government of India
(Foreign Department). IOR/L/PS/20/C244
(1906) Précis on Slave Trade in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf,
1873-1905. Simla: Government of India, Foreign Department. )

b) Parliamentary Papers (Blue Books), British Library:
House of Commons (1877) Biluchistan No.1 Papers Relating to the Affairs of Khelat.
Biluchistan No 2. Papers relating to the treaty concluded
between the Government of India and the Khan of Khelat,
on the 8th December 1876. IOR/L/PS/20/B23/2
(1878) Biluchistan No 3. Papers relating to the re-organization
of the Western and North-Western Frontier of India.

c) European Manuscripts (Private Papers) Collection, British Library
Goldsmid, F.J. Papers of Maj-Gen Sir Frederic Goldsmid, Madras Army 1839-75,
including material relating to his work on the Perso-Baluch and Perso-Afghanistan
boundaries Mss Eur F134
Jacob, John J. Papers of Maj. Gen. Sir John Jacob relating to the Persian War.
Keyes, Terence. Papers of Brig-Gen Sir Terence Keyes, Indian Army 1897, Indian
Political Service 1903-33. Mss Eur F131
Mereweather, W.L. Papers of Sir William Mereweather, Bombay Army 1841,
Council of India 1877-80. Mss Eur D625

d) Private Papers Collection at South Asian Study Center, University of Cambridge
Showers, H.L. Box 4. Personal files of Captain H.L. Showers (1862-1916) kept
while he was Political Agent. Showers Family Collection (1781-1904)

e) Home Secretariat Archives (HAS), Quetta, Pakistan:
Agent to the Governor General in Balochistan (1898) Slavery in Balochistan.
AGG/V.I 164.
Agent to the Governor General in Balochistan (1898) Kardar of Panjgur’s Report on
the Causes Which Led to the Rising in Mekran 1897-98. AGG/V.I 20.
Agent to the Governor General in Balochistan (1890) Confidential Order Regarding
Action to be Taken in Cases of Slavery. AGG/V.I 34.
Books and Journal Articles:
Bokhari, M. (Ed.) ( 1997 [1906]) Gazetter of Balochistan: Mekran District. Quetta, Pakistan:
Gosha-e-Adab Publications.
Chatterjee, P. (1993). The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories.
Princeton studies in culture/power/history. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
—. 2004. The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the
World. University seminars/Leonard Hastings Schoff memorial lectures. New York:
Columbia University Press.
Dutta, S. (2002). Imperial Mappings– in Savage Spaces: Balochistan and British India. New
Delhi: BR Publishing Corporation.
Goldsmid, F.J. (1876). Introduction. In St. John, Lovett and E. Smith. Eastern Persia: An
Account of the Journeys of the Persian Boundary Commission. London: Macmillan and
Mamdani, M. (2001). Beyond Settler and Native as Political Identities: Overcoming the
Legacy of Colonialism. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 43(4): 651-664.
Nicolini, B. (2007) Baluch Role in the Persian Gulf during the Nineteenth and Twentieth
Centuries. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 27 (2):
— (2006). The Makran-Baluch-African Network in Zanzibar and East Africa during the
XIXth Century. African and Asian Studies, 5(3-4): 347-370.
— (2004). Makran, Oman and Zanzibar: Three Terminal Cultural Corridor in the Western
Indian Ocean (1799-1856). Penelope-Jane Watson Tran. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers
Onley, J. (2007) The Arabian Frontier of British Raj. London: Oxford University Press.
Redaelli, Riccardo (1997) The Farther’s Bow: the Khanate of Kalat and British India
(19th-20th Century). Frenze, Italy: Manent.
Hafeez Jamali is a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin  (


Comments Off on Producing Tribal Balochistan: Sovereignty and Rule in a Colonial Frontier State

Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Balochistan


Is There an “Urban Mind” in Balochi Literature?

By: Prof. Carina Jahani
Department of Linguistics and Philology
Uppsala University, Sweden

The purpose of this chapter is to compare themes in Balochi written literature with those found in Balochi oral literature in search for an “urban mind”. The Balochi language is spoken in south-western Pakistan and south-eastern Iran, as well as by smaller populations outside Balochistan proper. Various estimates give at hand that there may be between 8 and 10 million speakers of Balochi, or even more. Childe presents a number of criteria for urbanism 1 which are used in this chapter to determine whether there is an urban mind in Balochi oral and written literature. The five written texts examined in this study all date from the 1950s and onwards, whereas the five oral texts are undated but assumed to be of a much earlier date than the written texts.
The study shows that in the oral narratives the urban setting is put forth as an ideal. To become a king or the king’s son-in-law or the foremost merchant in the world is what constitutes true success, and not, for example, to become the richest farmer or cattle owner. This urban mind is only present in a fantasy world, however, and in the written literature there is a totally different and this time realistic setting for the stories. Here the scene is not a world where wishes come true, but the harsh reality of Balochistan. Urbanism as an ideal is absent in these stories, and even though urban phenomena are mentioned they are not crucial in any of the written stories.

Following Childe’s criteria for urbanism, 2 writing is here regarded as one of the characteristics of urbanism. Accordingly, an investigation of written literature together with non-written (oral) literature can be rewarding in the search for differences between an “urban mind” and a “rural mind”. The purpose of the present chapter is to compare themes in Balochi written literature with those found in Balochi oral literature. Five oral tales and five short stories will be ex – amined in this study, and a number of criteria will be used in order to determine what can be labeled as “urban” in these texts.
In his work Orality and Literacy , Ong argues for a dichotomy between oral – ity and literacy and rejects the concept of “oral literature”. 3 Utas claims that such a model is flawed in that it seems to assume the language of oral literature is the same as that of free speech but different from that of written discourse.
Utas argues that, “the language of oral and written literature is more akin, by being normalized, conventionalized and consciously shaped to be remembered”. 4 Following Utas’ definition, both oral and written narratives will here be defined as literature. Before the actual analysis, I will provide a short overview of Balochistan and the Baloch people.
In his work Orality and Literacy , Ong argues for a dichotomy between oral – ity and literacy and rejects the concept of “oral literature”. 3 Utas claims that such a model is flawed in that it seems to assume the language of oral literature is the same as that of free speech but different from that of written discourse.
Utas argues that, “the language of oral and written literature is more akin, by being normalized, conventionalized and consciously shaped to be remembered”. 4 Following Utas’ definition, both oral and written narratives will here be defined as literature. Before the actual analysis, I will provide a short overview of Balochistan and the Baloch people.

Balochistan and the baloch, an overview
Balochistan, the land of the Baloch, is divided between Iran and Pakistan by the so-called Goldsmid Line, a border demarcation which was the result of a border commission headed by the British general Goldsmid in 1870–1872. 5 Exactly when the Baloch arrived in their present habitat is hard to determine. Marco Polo reports that this area, which he called Kesmacoran, had its own ruler and that the people “lived by commerce as much as agriculture, trading both overland and by sea in all directions”. 6 Spooner holds that the Balochi immigration into the coastal area, known as Makrān, started in the 11th century AD and intensified in the 13th century, when Turkic tribes started invading the Iranian plateau from the east. According to the epic tradition of the Baloch themselves, they are of Arabic origin and migrated from Aleppo in Syria after the Battle of Karbala in AD 680.
Although the majority of the Baloch today are Sunni Muslims, tradition has it that in the Battle of Karbala they fought on the side of the Shiite Imam and martyr Hussein against his enemy, the Umayyad caliph Yazid. 7 This is likely an attempt to establish a “true Islamic” genealogy for the Baloch.
It is probable that the original habitat of at least a core group of the Baloch was in the north-western part of the Iranian linguistic area and that they migrated south-eastwards under pressure from the Arabic and Turkic invasions of the Iranian plateau from the mid-7th century AD onwards. The main evidence supporting this theory is linguistic, namely the close relation between Balochi and other languages traditionally classified as north-west Iranian, such as Kurdish, Gilaki, Mazandarani and Talyshi. Another piece of evidence is the fact that Arab historians from the 9th and 10th centuries AD associate the Baloch with the geographical regions of Kerman, Khorasan, Sistan and Makran in present- day eastern Iran. 8 It also appears that tribes and groups of various linguistic affiliations, including Indo-European (e.g. Pashtun), Semitic, Dravidic (Brahui), Turkic, Bantu and others, have been incorporated into the very heterogeneous ethnic group today known as the Baloch.9 The Balochi language is spoken in the province of Balochistan in south-western Pakistan, and in the province of Sistan and Balochistan in south-eastern Iran.10
It is also spoken by smaller populations in Punjab and Sindh and by a large number of people in Karachi, as well as by Baloch who have settled in the north-eastern provinces of Iran, including Khorasan and Golestan. It is also the language of smaller communities in Afghanistan (particularly in the province of Nimruz), in the Gulf States (especially in Oman and the United Arab Emirates), in the Mari region of Turkmenistan, in India, in East Africa, and nowadays also in North America, Europe and Australia.
It is difficult to estimate the total number of Balochi speakers. Many Baloch, particularly in areas bordering Indian languages (in Punjab and Sindh) and Persian (in the western parts of the Balochi-speaking areas in Iran and in Khorasan and Golestan), identify themselves as Baloch but no longer speak the language. The same is true of many Baloch in East Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula, par – ticularly after having lived there for generations. The Baloch in Turkmenistan, however, have retained their language well, mainly owing to the fact that they have maintained a traditional lifestyle of agriculture and pastoralism and have, on the whole, a low level of education.
Another reason that it is difficult to give any certain figures for Balochi speakers is that first and second languages are not always recorded in censuses carried out in the countries where Balochi is spoken. A serious attempt at estimating the total number of Balochi speakers was done in the mid-1980s 11 with about 5 million as an approximate grand total. This figure has been questioned by some Baloch as unreasonably low. There is, indeed, a tendency on the part of central authorities to underestimate the number of members of ethnic minorities, and this may show up in any figures based on official statistics. The total number of speakers of Balochi, as estimated in the Ethnologue 12 (divided between Eastern, Southern and Western Balochi speakers) amounts to 7 million. In view of all this, and the fact that the birth rate in the province of Sistan and Balochistan in Iran is the highest in the country, and in Pakistan about average, the total number of Balochi speakers at the time of writing (2010) probably amounts to between 8 and 10 million, or even more.
Balochi is neither an official language nor a language of education in any of the countries where it is spoken. This is reflected, for example, in the lack of a standard written norm for Balochi. 13 There is also a dispute about which dialect, or dialects, ought to be the basis of a literary language. On the whole, writing and reading Balochi is at the moment an exclusive activity carried out by a small number of persons belonging to the Balochi literary elite, mainly in Pakistan. Thus, Balochi is, as a minority language, largely restricted to traditional and informal domains such as the family, the neighbourhood, and traditional occupations (e.g. pastoralism and agriculture). A career outside these traditional sectors is linked to a great extent to higher education and a good command of the national language. Efforts to preserve and promote the Balochi language are mainly of an unofficial character and based on private initiatives. However, there is a growing concern among the Baloch that their language may well be lost within a few generations if it does not develop a written standard.
The Baloch have traditionally sustained themselves on pastoral nomadism and/or seasonal agriculture and date cultivation, and to some degree on fishing. Fishing is limited to the shores of the Indian Ocean, that is, to the southernmost coastal area of Balochistan. Agriculture and date cultivation prevail in the lowlands of southern Balochistan as well as in oases and along rivers, for exam – ple in Iranian Sarawan and Pakistani Kharan. Further to the north, the main occupation has traditionally been pastoral nomadism.
The tribal structure has been both a uniting and a separating factor among free- born Baloch in all of Balochistan. It has been easy for originally non-Baloch tribes and clans to associate with and be incorporated into the Balochi tribal system, 14 and the unity within the tribe has also traditionally been very strong. However, tribal loyalties are often felt to hamper a nationalist movement, and nowadays many intellectual Baloch try to promote the replacement of tribal loyalties with a national Balochi loyalty. This raises the question of how to delimitate the Baloch ethnie. 15 For instance, what is the position of persons who no longer speak Balochi, of larger groups of Baloch living outside Balochistan, 16 of non-Baloch living in Balochistan,
17 of Baloch professing another religion than Sunni Islam, 18 and of sub-tribal groups and former slaves, who are not normally regarded as Baloch? 19
Three of the reasons that the Baloch are found over such a large area – from Turkmenistan to Tanzania and from Iran to India, and also in Australia, Europe and North America – are the natural and political conditions of Balochistan and the fact that the Baloch were often recruited as soldiers owing to their reputation of bravery.
Balochistan is situated at the crossroads between east and west, north and south. From Alexander the Great’s time onwards, many conquerors have passed through this region. The Sea of Oman also links Balochistan to the Arabian Peninsula and eastern Africa. These geo-political conditions of Balochistan have caused a considerable amount of migration.
The main natural reason for migration from Balochistan is the long droughts  that often plague this area. In the late 19th century there are reports of severe droughts, which caused many Baloch to migrate northwards to Khorasan and Golestan in Iran, to northern Afghanistan and all the way to Turkmenistan in search of pasture for their herds.20 Some of the Baloch also migrated westwards, to the Iranian provinces of Kerman, Hormozgan, and Fars, where they still speak Baloch and are known as Koroshi.21 A long and severe drought in Iranian Balochistan between 1997 and 2004 forced many Baloch to sell their herds or abandon their agriculture and look for other occupations, such as border trade, which is one of the main pillars of the economy in Balochistan today. Many also moved out of the province.
Another migration was when a number of Baloch were moved by force to Australia by the British colonial government during the second half of the 19th century to facilitate the exploration of the Australian interior. This could only bdone by means of camels, and the Baloch were among the ethnic groups in British India who kept this animal.22Political changes that have caused migrations out of Balochistan include attempts on the part of the central Iranian government to subdue local Baloch rulers and penetrate the region; this occurred in the 1850s and in 1928 during the third year of Reza Shah’s rule. Particularly after the second invasion, many Baloch moved to Karachi in British India. Also in the 1950s, a number of Iranian Baloch sought refuge in Oman after revolting against Mohammad Reza Shah.23 Many Baloch on the Arabian Peninsula and in East Africa have been recruited as soldiers, particluarly in the Omani army.24
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, a small number of educated young Baloch sought refuge outside Iran, mainly in Pakistan and Europe. It is interesting to note that there are two different words in Balochi to define pastoral nomads and settled agriculturalists. In former times, it was only the Baloch pastoral nomads that were known by the term “Baloch”, whereas the agriculturalists were called “townspeople” (Bal. šahrī).25
This latter term suggests that the village where the agriculturalists lived was indeed some sort of urban centre. The main political centre of the Baloch between 1666 and 1947 was Kalat in present-day Pakistan (Fig. 1). This was the centre of the Baloch Brahui Ahmadzai Khans, who ruled over a considerable part of Balochistan. The town of Kalat was described in the early 19th century as having more than 3,500 houses altogether (within and outside the wall surrounding the settlement) and was thus an urban milieu of some repute. Many of the shopkeepers were Hindus.26 Quetta (from the Pashto name for fort), the mainly Pashtun-inhabited capital of the province of Balochistan in Pakistan, has a very low percentage of Balochi population and is therefore less important historically to urbanism among the Baloch than another fort and urban centre, namely that of Sibi. According to the Balochi account of history, Sibi was the place where one of the early Baloch rulers, Mir Chakar, known from classical heroic ballads, established the capital of the Rind-Lashari Balochi confederacy in the late 15th century.27 Some other early urban centres in Balochistan that can be mentioned are Bampur, Pahra (now Iranshahr), Sarawan and Chabahar in present-day Iran, and Bela, Gwadar, Kharan and Khuzdar in present-day Pakistan.
It is hard to speak of a written Balochi literature before the 1950s. It is, however, highly likely that poems in Balochi were indeed written down by the poets themselves or by people around them. Strong indications that there might have been such early written records of Balochi literature are found in a British colonial document: “A considerable body of literature exists in Western Baluchi and many of the leading men keep books, known as daftar , in which their favourite ballads are recorded in the Persian character”.28 There were thus literate Baloch who were educated in traditional Islamic schools, where they were taught, for example, Arabic and Persian. It was thus natural for such persons to use the Arabic-Persian script for writing Balochi. Balochi was, however, never used as the official language at the court of Baloch rulers. The language of the administration in Kalat, for example, was initially Persian and later English.29
During the British period a considerable amount of publication of Balochi oral literature took place. More than anyone else, the person associated with this activity is the British civil servant M. Longworth Dames. The purpose of this effort was mainly to provide material for the British officials to learn Balochi. Also parts of the Bible were translated into Balochi in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and, possibly in response to this, the first translation of the Quran appeared in the early 20th century.30
However, only after the independence of Pakistan in 1947 do we find books in Balochi published by the Baloch themselves. The readership is so far limited to a small literary elite, comprising a few hundred people at best. This limited readership naturally puts a heavy mental and financial constraint on anyone wishing to publish his or her literary production in Balochi.

Criteria for urbanism
Gordon Childe, held by Smith 31 to be “the most influential archaeologist of the twentieth century”, presented the following criteria for urbanism: 32
1.“In point of size the first cities must have been more extensive and more densely populated than any previous settlements, although considerably smaller than many villages today.” 33
2.“In composition and function the urban population already differed from that of any village. Very likely indeed most citizens were still also peasants, harvesting the lands and waters adjacent to the city. But all cities must have accommodated in addition classes who did not themselves procure their own food…full-time specialist craftsmen, transport workers, merchants, officials an d priests.”34
3.“Each primary producer paid over the tiny surplus he could wring from the soil with his still very limited technical equipment as tithe or tax to an imaginary deity or a divine king who thus concentrated the surplus.”35
4.“Truly monumental public buildings not only distinguish each known city from any village but also symbolize the concentration of the social surplus.”36
5.“[P]riests, civil and military leaders and officials absorbed a major share of the concentrated surplus and thus formed a ‘ruling class.’”37
7.“[T]he elaboration of exact and predictive sciences – arithmetic, geometry and astronomy.”39
8.“Other specialists, supported by the concentrated social surplus, gave a new direction to artistic expression.”40
9.“Regular ‘foreign’ trade over quite long distances was a feature of all early civilizations”.41
10.“[E]ven the earliest urban communities must have been held together by a sort of solidarity…Peasants, craftsmen, priests and rulers form a community, not only by reason of identity of language and belief, but also because each performs mutually complementary functions, needed for the well-being…of the whole.”42
Following these criteria, and the added parameter of a monetary economy, I will now investigate whether there is an “urban mind” depicted in Balochi literature and, if so, whether it is found in both the oral and the written literature, that is, whether this “urban mind” is an old or a rather new phenomenon in Balochistan.
At this point it should be noted that the “urban mind” under study here has nothing to do with modernity. Totally different criteria would be needed for the study of modernity, but this is outside the scope of the present chapter.
The written texts examined in this study all date from the 1950s and onwards, whereas the oral texts are undated. Since common themes in the oral literature, almost identical stories in fact, are found among the Baloch who migrated westwards to Fars as well as those who went north-eastwards to Turkmenistan, the oral literature is here assumed to be of a much earlier date than the written texts. The texts analysed consist of five traditional tales and five short stories. The texts will be summarised in search for criteria of an “urban mind”.

Summary of the texts with notes on criteria of an “urban mind”
1. Oral texts
a. Mister Five-Slayer The first text is a story of a poor man who decides to leave the town where he is living and move to another kingdom. There he happens to become the chief minister of the king by claiming he can kill five tigers all at once, which of course he has never done. His duty as the chief minister is to ward off any dangers to the king and his rule. As soon as he is given a new mission, he returns home and starts beating his wife, who had once mockingly called him “Mister Five-Slayer”, something which he had taken as a pretext for his claim at the king’s court. By pure luck and the skill of his wife, he successfully fights tigers and thieves, and attacks the king’s enemies. On one of his missions, he dresses up as a businessman in order to fight robbers. Finally he receives half the kingdom.
In this text a more densely populated place, a “town” (Bal. šahr), is contrasted with the “village” (Bal. halk) that Mister Five-Slayer came from. There is also mention of “shopkeepers” (Bal. dukkāndār, bakkāl) and “construction workers” (Bal. hunarkār, ṭ āhēnōk). As for monumental buildings, Mister Five-Slayer builds himself a “palace” (Bal. mā ṛ ī), and the place where the king and his ministers gather is described as a “court” (Bal. dīwān). Regarding the ruling class, in addition to the “king” (Bal. bādšāh) there is mention of his “ministers and deputees” (Bal. wazīr u wakīl) and his “soldiers” (Bal. sipāhī). There is also reference to a “war” (Bal. mi ṛ u ǰang) between this king and another king. The climax of the story comes when Mister Five-Slayer is transformed from being “poor and destitute” (Bal. bēwass u nēzgār) into “lord of half the kingdom” (Bal. bādšāhīay nēmagay wā ǰa).

b. Moses and the starving man The second story is about Moses, in this Islamic context given the title of a “prophet”, and a destitute and starving man. The man asks Moses to intercede for him and plead with God to give him everything that has been provided for his whole lifetime in one go, so that he can fill his stomach if only once. God does so, and since the poor man cannot eat all the food he gives some away as alms.
God rewards him, and at the end of the story the man becomes the foremost businessman in the whole world. The very first criterion of urbanism found in this text is that Moses is seen as a mediator between God and man, the same role a priest has. Another notion associated with urbanism is giving alms to the poor “for God’s sake” (Bal. bi rāh-i xudā). An indirect reference to tradesmen is also found in that the poor man, upon receiving his allocation, goes to the “marketplace” (Bal. bāzār) to buy food. There is thus a monetary economy in this text. A more direct reference to 9 tradesmen is provided at the end of the story, where the “starving fellow” (Bal. gužnagēn bandag ) becomes “the tradesman of the world” (Bal. ta ǰǰ ār-i ǰahān), a transformation similar to the one in the first text. This also bears witness to an awareness of long-distance trade.
c. The little lizard-girl Story number three is that of a childless couple, a poor man and his wife. After the intervention of a man with supernatural powers, the wife gives birth, not to a human child but to a lizard. This lizard proves to be a blessing, since she can change her appearance into different utensils and by doing so bring home dates, wheat, oil and other necessities. Only when she visits the school, which seems  to be only for boys and thus a traditional religious school, does she get nothing. Eventually she manages to get hold of a merchant’s entire fortune and bring it to  her parents.
References to urban concepts in this text are the presence of a “religious man endowed with supernatural powers” (Bal. pīrpārsā) and specialised craftsmen such as a “keeper of the storage” (Bal. anbārčīn), a “gardener” (Bal. bāgpān)”, a “blacksmith” (Bal. āhinkār), and a “merchant” (Bal. bakkāl) who has a “shop” (Bal.dukkān). We also meet the “king’s daughter and his minister’s daughter” (Bal. bādšāh u wazīray ǰ inikk). The “royal palace” (Bal. bādšāhī mā ṛ ī) is mentioned as well. In this text, there is also reference to education with the words “school” (Bal. madrasag), “reading” (Bal. wānag), “small blackboard for each pupil to write on” (Bal. taxtī), and “pen” (Bal.kalam). The climax of this story is when the poor parents become “rich” (Bal. māldār u gan ǰ dār) after receiving the merchant’s en-tire fortune.

d. Goli and her husband The fourth story is that of Goli, who treats her husband, Ahmad, so badly that he decides to throw her into a well. When he has second thoughts and tries to pull her out of the well, a dragon comes out instead of his wife. The dragon manages to get Ahmad married to the king’s daughter by twisting itself around her neck and only letting go on Ahmad’s order. When the dragon does the same with another princess, Ahmad is called to rescue her as well. The dragon had warned him, however, that if he comes to rescue more princesses, the dragon will eat him up. However, Ahmad manages to save this second princess by telling the dragon  a lie, namely that Goli has escaped from the well and is looking for it. On hearing \ this, the dragon flees head over heels in order to escape falling into Goli’s hands. In this story there is mention of a “town” (Bal. šahr), two “kings” (Bal.šāh), two “kings’ daughters” (Bal.šāhey ǰanek), and a “court” ( ǰles). There is also mention of “wise men” (Bal.ālem) who try to free the king’s daughter from the dragon, but in vain. The climax of the story is not when Ahmad becomes the “king’s son-in-law” (Bal. šāhey dūmād), although this is an important event, but rather when he manages  to free the second princess despite the dragon’s warnings.

e. The Indian merchant and the Egyptian goldsmith’s daughter The final story is about an Indian merchant who takes a wife from Egypt, but throws her into a well on the way back to India. Another caravan pulls her out and takes her back to Egypt. She does not tell her family the truth about her hus-band and what he did. He, on the other hand, goes back to India where he loses his fortune. Fate brings him back to Egypt as a beggar, where he again meets his wife, who remains faithful to her husband even though he has been cruel to her. At the end of the story it becomes apparent that the merchant is the offspring of a slave and his wife the offspring of a prince, something which is then seen as the reason for their evil versus good deeds.
Already in the title of the story there is a tradesman, a “merchant” (Bal.ta ǰǰār) who does “business” (Bal.taǰ ǰāratt )” between India and Egypt, and a craftsman, an Egyptian “goldsmith” (Bal. zargar ). The Indian merchant is described as having a “caravan” (Bal. kāpila ) and the Egyptian goldsmith has “wealth” (Bal. sarmāya ).
Other merchants also appear, and the person who takes the woman back to Egypt is to bring a written “receipt” (Bal. rasīd ) from her father, a reference to written documentation. The Egyptian goldsmith lives in a “palace” (Bal. kāx ). When the Indian merchant loses his fortune he goes begging to different “towns” (Bal. šār ), and when he comes to Egypt and meets his wife he asks her, not knowing who she is, for “alms” (Bal. xayrāt)“for God’s sake” (Bal. pa xudāay nāmā). A “prince” (Bal. šāzādag ) is also mentioned as the father of the girl in the story. The girl, who is of royal lineage, does the good deed of protecting her husband even though he has mistreated her. Note also the presence of long-distance trade (and begging) which brings the Indian merchant-beggar to Egypt, not only once but twice.

2. Written texts
a. The inheritance
The first story is that of a dying old woman named Granaz. At the start of the story, she is moaning in agony. She has raised five sons, but the first is dead, the second has left the country and abandoned her, the third has become a guerilla fighter in the mountains, the fourth is in prison, and only the fifth son, who seems to be somewhat disabled, is at her side. She used to be a strong woman, but is now totally destitute. At the end of the story she dies in this sad condition. In this text, there are few references to what could be described as an urban mind. Granaz mentions a “fortress” (Bal. kōṭ ā) and a “prison” (Bal. bandīxāna), phenomena that are associated with the exercise of power. There is also reference to “religious people” (Bal. pīr u fakīr) who will only provide “amulets” (Bal. či ṭ u tāyīt) if they are well paid. There is no climax in this story of the kind found in the oral narratives.

b. The evil-doer
In the second story, a court report of a murder is given. Dawlat Khan has killed the wife of his brother, Muhabbat Khan, accusing her of having had an affair with a passer-by. Muhabbat Khan himself is a guest worker in Dubai and is about to return home for a vacation. As the story develops, it becomes clear that the woman was pregnant, and that it was in fact Dawlat Khan himself who had an affair with her. He committed the murder in order to conceal his guilt, but at the end of the story there is a report of a new murder. Muhabbad Khan has found out the whole truth and has killed his brother. This text revolves around a court case, and there are references to an “investigation” (Bal. taftīš), “written reports” (Bal.ripūr ṭ), “imprisonment” (Bal. kayz u banday sazā ), and the “crime branch” (Bal. krāym brānč ). Once again there is no climax, and the story ends on a sad note.

c. Thunder
The third story tells of a long drought and a prediction during a ritual sacrifice that there will be heavy rain in the near future. The man who makes the sacrifice, Kuhda Shahsuwar, has a son, Kasim, who has joined the army in Muscat. Kasim sends a message with another soldier to say he is about to return, whereupon his father begins making preparations to marry off his son in order to get him to stay at home from now on. He sends a servant to meet his son at the port on the day of his return and to travel back home with him. When Kasim arrives at the port he decides to visit a friend on the way home, and he sends the servant in advance.
The servant arrives safe and sound, but not Kasim, who is struck by lightning when he takes shelter under a tree as the long-awaited rain starts to pour down. His father loses his mind as a result of his son’s death. References to criteria of an urban mind in this text are the title of “village elder” (Bal. Kuhdā ) given to three people in the text, being a “soldier” (Bal. sipāhī) in the “army” (Bal. paw ǰ ), and the use of money, namely “Pakistani rupie” (Bal. kalladār ).

d. Ormara 2030
The fourth story is set in the future, namely in 2030, and the location is the port of Ormara in Pakistani Balochistan. The main character is Balach, who is an old Baloch nationalist, a member of a nationalist party, and a poet. When the story opens, he is sitting and watching the sea. He sees people dressed in different kinds of clothes, even shorts and skirts, which are not common in Balochistan today. He compares the noisy crowd in the restaurant to the seabirds of old times. He is very lonely since his friends of old are all dead, and there is a heavy burden on his heart. Nobody speaks Balochi any more, and Balochi culture is about to be forgotten as well. Balach remembers how he had foreseen and warned against this situation in his days as an active politician, but nobody had taken him seriously enough to do something about the situation. Balach hears young people conversing in Urdu and English, then suddenly somebody speaking in Balochi. He turns around and finds that it is only a little beggar. The next day Balach’s death is announced from the mosque, in Urdu rather than in Balochi.
In this text as well, there are some references to criteria of an urban mind. Balach is described as a writer of “poetry” (Bal. šāhirī ) and as a “political figure” (Bal. syāsī mardum ). There are also references to “political meetings” (Bal. syāsī ma ǰ lis u ǰ
Alasah ) and to a monetary economy in the form of “Pakistani rupie” (Bal. Kalladār ). But once again, the urban mind is not a foreground theme, and the story ends in despair since there seems to be nobody left to care for the Balochi language and culture after the death of Balach.

e. Bitter
In the final story we meet Rahmat, a young and successful writer, who is frequently published in magazines. He is very well received by the headmaster when he returns to his former school, and he believes that it is thanks to his success as a writer. The headmaster wants to talk to him about something, so Rahmat stays on until the headmaster has finished his daily duties. Rahmat imagines that the headmaster, who is a well-educated man with two M.A.’s and one M.Ed., may want to hear a poem of his, or maybe even ask for advice on writings of his own. As it turns out, the headmaster wants to discuss a totally different mat-ter. Rahmat has an influential brother in Bahrain, and the headmaster needs this brother’s help to find a suitable job for his own brother who is also in Bahrain.
The main criterion of an urban mind found in this text is that of writing. The whole milieu is a school where we meet the “headmaster” (Bal. hi ḍ mas ṭ ir) and the “poet and writer” (Bal. šāir u labzānt). Mention is made of “literary magazines” (Bal. labzānkī tāk )”, “poetry and writings” (Bal. šayr u nibištānk), a “meeting for reciting  poetry” (Bal. šāirī dīwān), “literary and other scientific work” (Bal. labzānkī u diga ilmī kār) a “school” (Bal. iskūl), “paper and files” (Bal. kāgad u fāyl), the “marketplace” (Bal. bāzār), a “secretary” (Bal. munšī), “university degrees” (M.A. and M.Ed.), and a “letter of introduction” (Bal. pārṭī kāgad).

Is there, then, an urban mind in Balochi oral and written literature? In the oral narratives the urban characteristics are very clearly put forth as an ideal. To become a king or the king’s son-in-law or the foremost merchant in the world is what constitutes true success, and not, for example, to become the richest farmer or cattle owner. The presence of businessmen is more strongly felt than that of religious men in these stories; in other words, Mammon is given more attention than God in this cultural setting. It is thus clear that there is indeed an urban mind strongly present in these stories, but that an urban lifestyle exists only in a fantasy world and is something that one can dream about but probably never attain.
It is interesting to note that writing in the vernacular (i.e. Balochi) has not been a prerequisite for an urban mind and urban ideals. Further, in the pre- modern society with a mainly non-literate population, where the oral tales were created and retold, the urban life was presented as the successful life.
In the written literature the stories have a totally different setting, which is grounded in real life. Here the scene is not a dream world where wishes come true, but the harsh reality of Balochistan. In fact, all the short stories end on a pessimistic note, with the death of an important character or with deep disappointment. Urbanism as the ideal is absent in these stories, and even though urban phenomena are mentioned they are not crucial to the plot in any of the stories. Their grounding in actual life rather than in dreams must be considered the main reason for this marginal treatment of urban ideals.
Again, it must be noted that urbanism has nothing to do with modernity. Modernity must be evaluated in totally different parameters, which would make for another interesting study. While traditional themes are the focus in three of the written texts (loneliness in old age, infidelity, the whims of nature), in the fourth story the worry about the future of Balochistan and the Balochi language is intertwined with the theme of loneliness, and in the fifth story human egocen – trism is depicted in a somewhat modern context.
The answer to whether there is an urban mind in Balochi literature must, however, be affirmative, at least for the oral narratives. The urban lifestyle and occupations are depicted as the ideal ones, those that one can only dream about.
Even though these oral narratives may have drawn upon a cultural heritage that was not only limited to the Baloch, it would have been impossible to tell stories about concepts that were totally unknown to the audience or for that matter the storyteller. Thus, there must have been a certain presence of urban concepts, as well as knowledge of an urban lifestyle, in the very rural area of Balochistan during the time when these stories came into being. The very old dichotomy be-tween the “Baloch” and the “townspeople” (see above) is further evidence that the people of rural Balochistan had an awareness of urbanism even in past centuries.

1 Childe 1950, 9–16.
2 Childe 1950, 9.
3 Ong 1982, 11.
4 Utas 2006, 209.
5 Hopkins 2007.
6 Spooner 1989, 609.
7 Dames 1907/I, 1–2.
8 Spooner 1989, 606.
9 See e.g. Spooner 1989, 599–600, 606–607; Swidler 2008, 366; Korn 2005, 43–51.
10 The official spelling in Iran is Sistan va Baluchestan (see Fig. 1).
11 Jahani 1989, 91–97.
12 These figures are from 1998 or earlier.
13 See Jahani 1989.
14 See e.g. Titus 1998, 668.
15 See Smith 1986, 21.
16 See e.g. Al Ameeri 2003; Axenov 2003.
17 See e.g. Yadegari 2008; Afrakhteh 2008.
18 See e.g. Badalkhan 2008.
19 See e.g.Yadegari 2008.
20 Axenov 2000, 72.
21 Nourzaei 1388.
22 Oral communication, Amin Goshti, Canberra, Australia.
23 Al Ameeri 2003, 239.
24 See Lodhi 2000; Al Ameeri 2003; Collett 1986.
25 See e.g. Baranzehi 2003, 79; Yadegari 2008, 254; Noraiee 2008, 346.
26 Swidler 2008,369, 371.
27 Hosseinbor 2000, 38 –39; Breseeg 2004, 140; see also Spooner 1989, 610.
28 Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series 1986 [ 1907], 81.
29 Jahani 2005, 153.
30 Jahani 1989, 24.
31 Smith 2009, 3.
32 Childe 1950, 9 –16.
33 Childe 1950, 9.
34 Childe 1950, 11.
35Childe 1950, 11.
36 Childe 1950, 12.
37 Childe 1950, 12–13.
38 Childe 1950, 14.
39 Childe 1950, 14.
40 Childe 1950, 15.
41 Childe 1950, 15.
42 Childe 1950, 16
43 Bibliographical information about the texts is found at the end of the chapter.

Afrakhteh, Hassan 2008. Social, Demographic and Cultural Change in Iranian Balo – chistan: Case studies of the three urban regions of Zahedan, Iranshahr and Chabahar. In The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 197–224. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Al Ameeri, Saeed Mohammad 2003. The Baloch in the Arabian Gulf States. In The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times,
Carina Jahani & Agnes Korn (eds), 237–243. Wiesbaden: Reichert. Axenov, Serge 2000. Balochi orthography in Turkmenistan. In Language in Society – Eight Sociolinguistic Essays on Balochi

, Carina Jahani (ed.), 71–78. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia, 3. Uppsala: Uppsala University.
Axenov, Serge 2003. The Balochi Language in Turkmenistan. In The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times,

Carina Jahani & Agnes Korn (eds), 245–258. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Badalkhan, Sabir 2008. Zikri Dilemmas: Origins, Religious Practices and Political Con -straints. In The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 197–224.
Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series (BDGS) 1986 [1907]. Quetta: Gosha-e-Adab.
Baranzehi, Adam Nader 2003. The Sarawani Dialect of Balochi and Persian Influence on
It. In The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in
Historical and Modern Times
, Carina Jahani & Agnes Korn (eds), 75–111. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Breseeg, Taj Mohammad 2004.
Baloch Nationalism. Its Origin and Development.
Karachi: Royal Book Company. Childe, Gordon 1950. The Urban Revolution. Town Planning Review 21:1, 233–254.

Collett, Nigel A. 1986.
A Grammar, Phrase Book and Vocabulary of Baluchi . 2nd edition. Cambridge: Abingdon.

Dames, M. Longworth 1907.
Popular Poetry of the Baloches
, I–II. London: David Nutt.

Hopkins, B. D. 2007. The bounds of identity: the Goldsmid mission and the delineation
of the Perso-Afghan border in the nineteenth century. Journal of Global History 2007:2, 233–254.

Hosseinbor, Mohammad Hassan 2000.
Iran and its Nationalities: The Case of Baluch Nationalism.
Karachi: Pakistani Adab Publications.

Jahani, Carina 1989.
Standardization and Orthography in the Balochi Language.
Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia, 1. Uppsala: Uppsala University.
Jahani, Carina (ed.) 2000.

Language in Society – Eight Sociolinguistic Essays on Balochi
. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia, 3. Uppsala: Uppsala Uni –

Jahani, Carina 2005. State control and its impact on language in Balochistan. In

The Role of the State in West Asia,
Annika Rabo & Bo Utas (eds), 151–163. Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute.

Jahani, Carina & Agnes Korn (eds) 2003.
The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times . Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Jahani, Carina, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds) 2008.
The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan.
Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Korn, Agnes 2005.
Towards a Historical Grammar of Balochi: Studies in Balochi Historical Phonology and Vocabulary . Beiträge zur Iranistik 26. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 2000. A Note on the Baloch in East Africa. In
Language in Society – Eight Sociolinguistic Essays on Balochi

, Carina Jahani (ed.), 91–95. Acta Universitatis
Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia, 3. Uppsala: Uppsala University. Noraiee, Hoshang 2008. Change and Continuity: Power and Religion in Iranian Balo – chistan. In The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 345–364. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Noorzaei, Maryam 1388/2010. Tow ṣ īf-e zabānšenāxti-ye neżām-e fe‘li dar guyeš-e Koruši . Unpublished M.A. thesis, Dānešgāh-e ‘olum-ta ḥ qiqāt, Fārs, Shiraz, Iran. Ong, Walter J. 1982.

Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the Word . London/ New
York : Me t hue n .

Smith, Anthony D. 1986.
The Ethnic Origins of Nations . Oxford: Blackwell.

Smith, Michael E. 2009. Centenary Paper. V. Gordon Childe and the Urban Revolution: a historical perspective on a revolution in urban studies. Town Planning Review 80:1, 3–29.

Spooner, Brian 1989. Baluchistan 1: Geography, history, and ethnography. In Encyclopaedia
Iranica, III Yarshater Ehsan (ed.), 598–632. London/New York: Mazda Publishers.

Swidler, Nina 2008. Pluralism in Pre-colonial Kalat. In
The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani,
Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 365–376. Wiesbaden: Reichert. Titus, Paul 1998. Honor the Baloch, Buy the Pushtun: Stereotypes, Social Organization and History in Western Pakistan. Modern Asian Studies
32:3, 657– 687. Utas, Bo 2006. “Genres” in Persian Literature. In Literary History: Towards a Global Per-spective, vol. 2: Literary Genres: An Intercultural Approach, Gunilla Lindberg-Wada, (ed.), 199–241. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Yadegari, Abdolhossein 2008. Pluralism and Change in Iranian Balochistan. In
The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism
in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 247–258. Wiesbaden:

Text corpus
Written texts Nimatullah Gichki (Ni‘matullāh Gičkī), Pitī mīrās (The inheritance), published in Bandīg, 1986, 27–28. Karachi: Īlum Publications.

Hakim Baloch ( Ḥ akīm Balōč), Syāhkār (The evil-doer), published in Hakīm Balōč 2000,
Āsay cihr, 34–38. Quetta: Balochi Academy.

Murad Sahir (Murād Sā ḥ ir), Grand (Thunder), published in Abdul Ḥ akīm (ed.) 1970,

Gičēn āzmānak , 220–227. Quetta: Balochi Academy.

Ghaws Bahar (Ġaw s Bahār), Ōrmā ṛ a, 2030ā (Ormara 2030) , published in Ġaws Bahār 2003.

Karkēnk, 5–13. Quetta: Balochi Academy.

Ghani Parwaz (Ġanī Parwāz), J awr (Bitter), published in Elfenbein, Josef 1990.
An Anthology of Classical and Modern Balochi Literature , 2, 68–71. Wiesbaden:

Oral texts
Wāǰ a pančkuš (Mister Five-Slayer), published in Barker, Muhammad A., and Mengal, Aqil Khan 1969. A Course in Baluchi , vol. 2, 172–181. Montreal: McGill University.

Hazratt-i Mūsā u Xudāay gušnagen bandag (Moses and the starving man), recorded by Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz. Gōǰuk (The little lizard-girl), published in Mēngal, Mīr ‘Āqil Xān 1973. Gēdī kissaw , 7, 10–14. Quetta: Balochi Academy.

Golī va šowhareš (Goli and her husband), recorded by Maryam Nourzaei.

Taǰǰār-i indī u misrī zargaray ǰinikk (The Indian merchant and the Egyptian goldsmith’s daughter), recorded by Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz.


 The Urban Mind: Cultural and Environmental Dynamics
.Eds.PaulSinclair, Gullög Nordquist, Frands Herschend and Christian Isendahl .
Uppsala: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History ,2010, pp.457-470.

















Comments Off on Is There an “Urban Mind” in Balochi Literature?

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Balochi Classical Literature


Politics and Change among the Baluch in Iran

By  Professor Dr. Philip Carl Salzman
Department of Anthropology
McGill University Montreal, Canada

About  Author

Dr  Philip Carl Salzman during his research in Iran

Dr Philip Carl Salzman during his research in Iran

Philip Carl Salzman is professor of anthropology at McGill University.He has carried out ethnographic research among nomadic and pastoral peoples in Baluchistan, Rajastan, and Sardinia. He is founder and past editor of the journal Nomadic Peoples and was awarded the 2001 Primio Pitrè- Salomone Marino from the International Center of Ethnohistory of Palermo for his book Black Tents of Baluchistan. His latest book is Culture and Conflict in the Middle East.

Profound changes
have occurred in the social and political life of the Baluch of Iran over the past century. Yet the fundamental principles underlying Baluchi social relations have remained unchanged.

The Baluch constitution
There are two constitutional political formations in Iranian Baluchistan. One is the tribe, which is the ultimate kin group to which loyalty is owed (Salzman 2000: Ch. 11). The other is the hakomate, a complex formation consisting of a small ruling elite, settled peasantry, and nomads, and which is integrated on bases other than loyalty (Salzman 1978a). I call the tribe and the hakomate “constitutional,” because each sets the basic rules within which its members operate. For example, the tribe defines and guarantees a territorial base and access to it, while the hakomate defines and enforces authority and subordination, and allocates resources accordingly. Every society faces the problem of security. Baluchi tribes and hakomates solve this problem quite differently. Tribes are based on kin solidarity, topak; Baluchi tribesmen look to their kinsmen to defend their interests. Baluchi tribal organization is based upon patrilineal descent: descent through the male line,
rend (Salzman 2000: Ch. 9). Patrilineal descent defines discrete, non-overlapping groups; earlier ancestors define larger, more
inclusive groups, while more recent ancestors define smaller, more exclusive groups. All members of a tribe trace their descent to the apical ancestor, after whom the tribe is commonly named, e.g. the Yarahmadzai are descendants of Yarahmad. At the same time, every sibling group of brothers and sisters are, by virtue of having a common father, a descent group.
Among the Yarahmadzai Baluch of the Sarhad region in northern Iranian Baluchistan, with whom I did my primary field research, certain levels of inclusiveness were marked. Groups based on five or six generations of descent, consisting of up to 150 souls, were vested with collective responsibility for defense and vengeance, and called, distinctively, brasrend, the group of brothers. The Yarahmadzai brasrend that I lived with and knew best, was the Dadolzai, the descendants of Dadol, although I also resided for a time with the chiefly lineage, the Yar Mahmudzai (Salzman 2000: Ch. 10). Uniting numerous brasrend was the minimal tribal section, which, in the case of the Dadolzai and Yar Mahmudzai, was the Nur Mahmudzai, and uniting various minimal tribal sections was the maximal tribal section, the Sohorabzai, which together with the Huseinzai and Rahmatzai were united as the Yarahmadzai tribe. While earlier and thus higher level ancestors were acknowledged, they did not define larger solidarity groups.
The brasrend was marked by the office of headman, mastair. (This is a specific application of a more general concept of seniority, mastair, which distinguishes between any two or more people, even brothers, on the basis of chronological seniority, leavened to a degree with capability and experience.) Minimal and maximal lineages were not represented by offices. The tribe among the Yarahmadzai, as among the Esmailzai, Gamshadzai, Rigi, and other tribes of Iranian Baluchistan, was marked by the office of chief, sardar (Salzman 2000: Ch. 11). The mastair and the sardar were leaders, not rulers. They were expected to consolidate, express, and act on public opinion. Coercion within the tribe was not part of their mandate. Their job was to secure consensus and peace internally, and to lead the defense against any external threat.
The underlying principle of adhesion and commitment in such tribal systems is relentlessly particularistic: unquestioned loyalty to my group vs. the other. It is not a matter of “my group, right or wrong”; “right or wrong” does not come into it. It is always a matter of absolute commitment to “my group” vs. the other.
Of course, in these tribal descent systems, which group is the referent, which group is “my group,” is contingent upon who is in conflict. If people of the Huseinzai are in conflict with some of the Soherabzai, then maximal tribal sections are the referents, and members of the Dadolzai and Yarmahmudzai act as Soherabzai. But if in another conflict, some Dadolzai are in conflict with some Yar Mahmudzai, then all Dadolzai are called upon to act as Dadolzai in opposition to the Yar Mahmudzai, their commonality as Nur Mahmudzai and Soherabzai and Yarahmadzai being not relevant to that conflict. For these Baluch, the Dadolzai unite against the Yar Mahmudzai; the Dadolzai and Yar Mahmudzai unite as Nur Mahmudzai against the Mir Golzai; the Nur Mahmudzai and Mir Golzai unite as the Soherabzai against the Huseinzai; and the Soherabzai and Huseinzai unite as the Yarahmadzai against the world.
This tribal system, called a “segmentary lineage system” by anthropologists, orders people by descent, and is thus a non-spatial form of socio-political organization. This is particularly helpful for pastoral nomads, who move around the landscape seeking pasture and water for their animals, distancing themselves from disease and threat (Salzman 1978b). Individual Baluch are inspired to conform to the rules of group identification and solidarity because they see their kin groups as their sole source of security on this earth. It is not primarily sentimentality, but a hard-headed assessment of interest that underlies
group solidarity, topak. Individuals act to advance the interests of their group(s) over the interests of others.
One consequence of this segmentary lineage system is a degree of peace through deterrence. The balanced opposition—of a small lineage vs. a collateral small lineage, of a tribal section vs. another tribal section, of a tribe vs. another tribe—discourages aggressive adventurism, because each group knows that another, more or less equivalent group, will form to oppose it and to seek vengeance (Salzman 2000: Ch. 10). Once conflict breaks out, neutral parties from structurally equidistant groups can be called upon to mediate and encourage peace. Here the sardar, representing the tribe as a whole, has a compelling responsibility to resolve conflicts and bring about peace.
But, as we should expect of human affairs, none of this— the balanced opposition, group solidarity, and conflict resolution—is mechanically perfect or always effectively enacted. The hakomate is, in contrast to the strong egalitarian and decentralized tendencies of the tribal system, hierarchical and centralized, and, in contrast to the largely voluntary basis of tribal action, is imposed and sanctioned by coercive force (Salzman 1968a).
Hakomates are based on the domination of oasis, agricultural populations by small elites, the ruler called hakom, his family hakomzat, in some cases who invaded and conquered. The ruling elite was supported by the tent dwelling, pastoral nomads, usually called baluch, in the control and exploitation of the oasis cultivators, called shahri. The baluch acted as enforcers, and received agricultural goods in payment. Hakomates, like agricultural oases, are more prevalent in the southern portion of Iranian Baluchistan, in Saravan and Makran, etc.

World turned upside down
The economies of Baluchi tribes and hakomates were largely subsistence oriented, with people producing for their own consumption, or for their ruler’s consumption. But in a place of rock and sand like Baluchistan, with dry years alternating with dryer, there were often shortfalls. The tribes compensated with predatory raiding, riding out on camel sorties to attack Persian villages in Kerman or caravans on the Persia-India route, carrying off agricultural stores, livestock, carpets, and other valuable goods, as well as captives to serve as slaves or be sold (Salzman 2000: Ch. 6). The hakomates, based in oases and relying more on irrigation crops, would have been able to ride out the drought years, perhaps squeezing the shahri a bit more.
But everything changed after Reza Shah’s military campaign in 1928-35 which brought Baluchistan under Persian control (Arfa
1964: Ch. 13). The tribes were “pacified” and forced to accept the suzerainty of the Shah. Consequently raiding was suppressed, and gradually the tribes were disarmed. Control was imposed over the hakomates, with various oasis forts knocked down by the Shah’s artillery. After the hiatus of World War II and the ascension of Mohammed Reza Shah to the throne, the process of integration of Baluchistan—now part of the Ostan-e Sistan o Baluchistan—into Iran continued. A provincial capital was built at Zahedan, in the far north of Baluchistan; district capitals were built in the main regions of Baluchistan. Persians— officials and ordinary civilians—began to trickle into Baluchistan, primarily but not exclusively into the towns. Eventually schools and clinics were built, some out in the countryside.
The position of the Baluch had changed radically. From being fighters and raiders, they had become the defeated, conquered by the Persians and their artillery and planes. From being politically independent, they had become dependent upon the will and whim of the Persian state and its agents and operatives. From operating their own, lineage-based control system, they found themselves subject to foreign and unknown laws and court procedures. From living off the fat of other people’s land, they found themselves forced back on their own meager economic resources. From living in their own language and culture, being culturally autonomous, they found themselves having to learn Persian and Persian culture. The world of the Iranian Baluch had been turned upside down.
Of course, tribal lineage organization did not disappear; it continued to operate for local matters, within some constraints imposed by state supervision. For example, there was a low grade violent conflict between two tribal maximal sections of the Yarahmadzai during 1972-76, flaring up from time to time, quiescent from time to time, but demonstrating the continued vitality of lineage solidarity and opposition. The sardar by necessity became an intermediary between the state and the tribe, mediating between the two while trying to satisfy both. For the first time able to draw on the rich resources of the state, he was able, in a small way, to become a patron to tribesmen, and managed to do well for himself while doing good for the tribe. He could also call on the state, in a limited way, to back him in his chiefly duties, such as resolving conflicts, e.g. that between the tribal sections (mentioned above).

Islamic intensification
During the 1960s and 1970s there was an increased attention among the Yarahmadzai Baluch to religion (Salzman 2000: Ch. 12). For the first time ever, Yarahmadzai, in this case senior members of the chiefly family, went on the haj, to be follow shortly by elders from various lineages. The sardar sponsored and supported a learned religious leader, a maulawi, as part of his retinue, building a small madrasse and residence at his headquarters, and recruited students and an assistant teacher for them. Friday prayer for all, led by the maulawi, was held (outdoors) at the sardar’s headquarters. Large prayer and instruction meetings, often led by mullas from outside the tribe, were called in the tribal territory, commonly out in open country. Ordinary tribesmen returned from these meetings inspired, and passed on instruction to their wives and children. Young men, of increasing number, were choosing to go to Pakistan to study in the religious schools there, taking on the mantle of the talib. In herding camps, playing the radio, listening to music, and other unseemly, un- Islamic behaviors, were looked on with increasing severity. It seems apparent that there was more and more place in the lives of the Baluch for their religion. I think it would be fair to call the general process “Islamic intensification.” No doubt there are many factors underlying this religious intensification among the Baluch. One would be sheer opportunity, made possible by improved communication and transportation, and by greater participation in the money economy: it became easier to hear about religion on the radio, easier to go to religious events and to faraway religious schools, easier to bring in and compensate religious authorities. But opportunity is not motivation, and I believe that two other factors have played a large role in Baluchi religious intensification.
The first is the loss of many bases of achievement and identity. The Baluch had been intrepid warriors and relentless raiders, but they were no more, having been defeated and conquered by the Persians. The Baluch had been proud of extracting a living from their barren and intractable land, but the Persian showed themselves to be incomparably richer and more economically successful.
The Baluch had been masters in their own land, governing themselves as they pleased, but they had become subjects of the all-powerful Iranian state, and reduced to politely requesting permission to come and go, and to arrange this or that local affair. Baluchi language, dress, knowledge, and customs had been the standard of correct behavior, but was now marginal and rustic, replaced by Farsi, and by Persian dress, knowledge, and customs. The Baluch had become “backward” in their own land. With the loss of the military, economic, political, and cultural bases of achievement and identity, the Baluch faced an increasingly obvious vacuum in their lives. They filled this vacuity by turning to religion. Islamic intensification was for the Baluch the expansion of religious concerns, activities, and satisfactions to replace those lost to the Persians. A newly emphasized identity as the “observant Muslim” and “the good man,” and for some, “the talib” and “learned” took the place of the intrepid warrior and tenacious husbander.
The Persian conquest of Baluchistan had raised a great question for the Baluch: who were they now? Islam supplied the answers. Second, Islam could supply the answer for the Baluch who had been undermined by the Persians, because Baluchi Sunni Islam was distinct from Persian Shi’a Islam. However superior the Persians had proven themselves in the battlefield, in the marketplace, and in the administrative offices and courts, Persian religion could always be challenged as incorrect by the Baluch, who saw themselves as following the true path of God. Some Baluch at least were ready to say that the Persians were hardly Muslims. There was no Baluchi doubt that in religion they were superior to the Persians. And the more religious they were, the more superior they were. In this light, Islamic intensification among the Baluch appears understandable.
The beauty of religion is that, while military prowess is tested on the battlefield, economic effectiveness in the marketplace, and political power in offices and courts, religion is never tested on this debased earth, but only in the glorious hereafter (from which reports are scarce). So anyone, however disadvantaged in this life, can claim that they, indeed they alone, follow God’s truth, that others are benighted and ignorant, if not outright evil, and there can be no decisive contrary reply to such an assertion.

Segmentary opposition all the same
Is the turn to religion among the Baluch a revolution in Baluchi social organization? Is the underlying principle of Baluchi segmentary organization—unquestioned loyalty to my group vs. the other—violated and overturned?
Is not the Islamic community, umma, inclusive and unified? For the Baluch, at least, their Sunni religion is—in good segmentary spirit—opposed to that of the Shi’a Persians. Indeed, I would suggest that the opposition between the Baluch and Persians itself has fueled the religious intensification among the Baluch. Thus segmentary opposition is replicated at the ethnic group level—Baluch vs. Persians—and in religion—Baluchi Sunnism vs. Persian Shi’ism.
My construing of Islam in a framework of segmentary opposition might seem outlandish or reductionistic. And yet nothing is more basic to Islam than its opposition to the superseded religions of Judiasm and Christianity, and to the paganisms of Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Bahaiism, etc., all characterized as false belief. Muslims are opposed to infidels, kafir. This is more than a notional opposition. Muslims are acting on behalf of God, and must convert, subordinate, or kill kafir. This was the program of the great Islamic Empire, which spread across much of the known world. The Ottoman Empire followed in the same spirit. Contemporary Islamist movements continue the tradition. This segmentary opposition and underlying particularism might be surprising, were it not well known that Islam was born, nurtured, and carried forth almost exclusively by Bedouin, whose tribal system, like the Baluchi tribal system, is entirely based on segmentary opposition and exclusive, particularist loyalty.
I would venture to say that the step from Sunnism vs. Shi’ism to Islam vs. the infidel would be easy for the Baluch of Iran to take. That they have been studying in Pakistani madrasse, where such emphases are common, would only facilitate the shift to this higher-level oppositional particularism. •• This paper was presented at the conference on Tribal Politics and Militancy in he Tri-Border Region, held in Monterey, California, September 21-22, 2006. I carried out ethnographic field research in Iranian Baluchistan in 1967-68, 1972-73, and 1976, for a total of 27 months. The main report of my findings is Salzman 2000.

References cited
Arfa, Hassan
1964 Under Five Shahs. London: John Murray.
Salzman, Philip Carl
1978a “The Proto-State in Iranian Baluchistan,”
in Origins of the State, Ronald
Cohen and Elman Service, editors.
Philadelphia: ISHI.
1978b “Does Complementary Opposition Exist?”
in American Anthropologist
2000 Black Tents of Baluchistan. Washington,
DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Middle East Papers
Middle East Strategy at Harvard University
June 20, 2008 :: Number Two

Comments Off on Politics and Change among the Baluch in Iran

Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Research Papers on Political Issues


Pakistan: The Resurgence of Baluch Nationalism

By Frederic Grare

About the Author 

Frederic Grare

Frederic Grare

Frédéric Grare is a visiting scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he assesses U.S. and European policies toward Pakistan and focuses on the tension between stability and democratization in Pakistan, including challenges of sectarian conflict, Islamist political mobilization, and educational reform.Grare is a leading expert and writer on South Asia, having served most recently in the French Embassy in Pakistan and, from 1999 to 2003, in New Delhi as director of the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities. Grare has written extensively on security issues, Islamist movements, and sectarian conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan and has edited the volume India, China, Russia: Intricacies of an Asian Triangle.

Thirty years after a bloody conflict that official sources estimate caused more than five thousand deaths among the rebels and almost three thousand among the Pakistan Army, Baluchistan seems to be heading toward another armed insurrection. During the summer of 2004, there were numerous attacks against the army and the paramilitary forces as well as repeated sabotage of oil pipelines. Since the rape of a female doctor by a group of soldiers on January 2, 2005, in the hospital in Sui, the principal gas-producing center in Baluchistan, assaults have multiplied, culminating in a pitched battle between the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary unit, and the local Bugtis, one of the largest Baluch tribes. According to the Pakistani daily, The Nation, approximately 1,568 “terrorist” attacks occurred through April 3, 2005. These attacks have not been confined only to tribal areas but have targeted Pakistani armed forces and Chinese nationals working on major regional projects all over the province.
Long-standing resentments caused armed conflict in 1948, 1958, and 1973. Today, these resentments persist because of the central government’s suppression of nationalistic aspirations; the absence of economic and social development in Baluchistan despite its possessing almost 20 percent of the country’s mineral and energy resources; and the exclusion of the provincial authorities and local population from decisions on major regional projects, most notably the construction of the Gwadar port. Non-Baluch have also won major jobs and contracts from the armed forces and have benefited from land speculation. Whether because of or in spite of its strategic interests in Baluchistan, the Pakistan government has not integrated the province into the state. As a matter of fact, the Baluch believe that Baluchistan today is a colony of Punjab, the most populated and powerful province of Pakistan.
Three separate but linked issues bear on Baluchistan today: the national question, the role of the army, and the use of Islamism. The national question is obviously central. The four provinces of Pakistan, fifty-eight years after independence, still reflect ethnic divisions that the central government neither fully accommodates nor can eliminate. The elite, in particular the army elite, has never recognized ethnic identities. From Ayub Khan to Pervez Musharraf, the army elite has always tried to promote a united Pakistan. Former dictator Zia ul-Haq was quoted as saying that he would “ideally like to break up the existing provinces and replace them with fifty-three small provinces, erasing ethnic identities from the map of Pakistan altogether.”1 To achieve unity, the army rule of the country has almost always favored military solutions over political ones and has tended to reinforce separatist tendencies. Cognizant of their province’s strategic and economic importance, the Baluch have been all the more resentful of the military’s arrogance and contempt. Finally, the Pakistan Army exercises its power by manipulating Islam to weaken Baluch nationalism and, even more important, to conceal the real nature of the Baluch problem from the outside world. The Baluch crisis is not just the unintended outcome of more or less appropriate decisions. The crisis epitomizes the army’s mode of governance and its relation with Pakistan’s citizens and world public opinion.

Why Baluchistan Matters
Baluchistan, which straddles three countries (Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan) and borders the Arabian Sea, is a vast and sparsely populated province (6,511,000 people2 occupying 43 percent of Pakistan’s territory) that contains within its borders all the contradictions that affect the region, including conflict between the United States and the Taliban.
A large part of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan are launched from the Pasni and Dalbandin bases situated on Baluch territory.3 The Taliban, backed by both Pakistan and Iran, also operate out of Baluchistan. If the pressure on Western forces in Afghanistan were to become unbearable, Washington and its allies could conceivably use the Baluch nationalists, who fiercely oppose the influence of the mullahs and also oppose the Taliban, to exert diplomatic pressure on Islamabad as well as Tehran.
Further, although it is the most sparsely populated province of Pakistan (about 4 percent of the present population),4 Baluchistan is economically and strategically important. The subsoil holds a substantial portion of Pakistan’s energy and mineral resources, accounting for 36 percent of its total gas production. It also holds large quantities of coal, gold, copper, silver, platinum, aluminum, and, above all, uranium and is a potential transit zone for a pipeline transporting natural gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to India.
The Baluchistan coast is particularly important. It provides Pakistan with an exclusive economic zone potentially rich in oil, gas, and minerals spread over approximately 180,000 square kilometers while giving Baluchistan considerable strategic importance. Two of Pakistan’s three naval bases—Ormara and Gwadar—are situated on the Baluchistan coast. Located close to the Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, Gwadar is expected to provide a port, warehouses, and industrial facilities to more than twenty countries—including those in the Gulf, on the Red Sea, and in Central Asia and East Africa as well as Iran, India, and parts of northwest China.5 Now that the first phase of construction has been completed, the port is capable of receiving freighters with a capacity of 30,000 tons and container vessels going up to 25,000 tons. The completion of the second phase of construction by 2010 will enable the port to receive oil tankers with a capacity of almost 200,000 tons. A special industrial development zone and an export zone have also been planned, and Gwadar should soon be declared a free trade zone. Finally, to make Pakistan the nerve center of all commercial activity in the region, the Pakistan government is building a road and rail network linking Gwadar to Afghanistan and Central Asia; the network is intended to provide these landlocked areas with an outlet to the sea.
Gwadar port, situated 725 kilometers to the west of Karachi, has been designed to bolster Pakistan’s strategic defenses by providing an alternative to the Karachi port, which once had to face a long blockade by the Indian Navy. Karachi’s vulnerability was confirmed when the threat of another blockade loomed large during the Kargil conflict.6 In fact, the Gwadar project is an integral part of a policy that seeks to diversify Pakistan’s port facilities. The construction of the Ormara base in Baluchistan, which became operational in 2000, is also a part of the same policy.7
China’s presence further enhances Gwadar’s importance. In fact, the port was built mainly with Chinese capital and labor. Some even consider this isolated township in the southwest of Pakistan as a Chinese naval outpost on the Indian Ocean designed to protect Beijing’s oil supply lines from the Middle East and to counter the growing U.S. presence in Central Asia.8 General Musharraf  and Shaukat Aziz, who was then finance minister, were supposed to have insisted that the Chinese government finance the project in exchange for docking facilities in Gwadar and Ormara and for permission to set up a listening post on the Makran Coast to intercept the communications of U.S. military bases in the Gulf. Beijing also operates the gold and copper mines in Saindak, near the borders of Afghanistan and Iran not far from the Ras Koh, the mountains where Pakistan’s nuclear tests are conducted. Iran, which has a Baluch population of about one million, is closely monitoring these developments. Tehran is afraid of Baluch nationalism and of subversive U.S. actions (supported when the need arises by Islamabad) on its own territory. It is also worried about competition from Pakistan in opening up Central Asia.

Reasons Behind the Crisis
Today’s crisis in Baluchistan was provoked, ironically, by the central government’s attempt to develop this backward area by undertaking a series of large projects. Instead of cheering these projects, the Baluch, faced with slowing population growth, responded with fear that they would be dispossessed of their land and resources and of their distinct identity. In addition, three fundamental issues are fueling this crisis: expropriation, marginalization, and dispossession.

Baluchistan has failed to benefit from its own natural gas deposits. The first deposits were discovered in Sui in 1953. Gas was supplied to Multan and Rawalpindi, in Punjab, in 1964; but Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, had to wait until 1986 for its share of the gas, which it received at that time only because the central government decided to extend the gas pipeline because it had decided to station a military garrison in the provincial capital. In the Dera Bugti district, home to the gas fields of Sui and Pircoh where conflicts have taken place recently, only the town of Dera Bugti is supplied with gas. It receives its supplies only because a paramilitary camp was opened there in the mid-1990s. Overall, only four of the twenty-six districts constituting Baluchistan are supplied with gas. In fact, although it accounts for 36 percent of Pakistan’s total gas production, the province consumes only 17 percent of its own production. The remaining 83 percent is sent to the rest of the country. In addition, the central government charges a much lower price for Baluch gas than it does for gas produced in other provinces, particularly Sind and Punjab.9 Moreover, Baluchistan receives no more than 12.4 percent of the royalties due to it for supplying gas.
What to do about the gas and hydrocarbon reserves lying under the soil of Baluchistan is also an issue. Baluchistan produces more than 40 percent of Pakistan’s primary energy (natural gas, coal, and electricity). The government has announced that the gas deposits being exploited at present will be depleted by 2012, leading to the need to drill deeper and undertake fresh exploration. Reports by geological experts indicate the presence of 19 trillion cubic feet of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil reserves in Baluchistan, but the Baluch are determined to prevent further exploration and development without their consent. They want an agreement for the equitable sharing of resources.10

The Baluch have had only a small role in the construction of Gwadar port, a project entirely under the control of the central government.11 The project will benefit the people of Baluchistan only if a massive effort is undertaken to train and recruit local residents and if the port is linked with the rest of Baluchistan, which is certainly not the case at the present time. Of the approximately six hundred persons employed in the construction of the first phase of the project, only one hundred, essentially daily-wage workers, were Baluch. There has also been only one road, which joins Gwadar to Karachi, opening the port to the rest of the country.
Although Gwadar is the region’s only deepwater port, there is yet no well-defined policy to turn it into a free trade zone. No effort has been made to train the local population so that they can find work with the development project. There is not a single technical school or college in Gwadar or in the surrounding area. In addition, the land around the port that was acquired below market price by the Pakistan Navy and Coast Guard and distributed to officers has since been subject to a great deal of financial speculation.12
The Baluch in Gwadar fear that they will become a minority in their own land. If the central government’s plans succeed, the population of Gwadar and its surrounding areas will rise from seventy thousand to almost two million. The Baluch are convinced that the majority will be Sindis and Punjabis.

The government is willing to construct military garrisons in the three most sensitive areas of Baluchistan—Sui, with its gas-producing installations; Gwadar, with its port; and Kohlu, the “capital” of the Marri tribe, to which most of the nationalist hard-liners belong. The Baluch, already feeling colonized by the Punjabis, feel dispossessed by these projects.
Behind these three problems, which the Baluch consider a casus belli, looms the demand for autonomy, if not for total independence. While Islamabad considers Baluchistan’s resources as national property and has acted accordingly, the Baluch are demanding that the province’s resources be used only for the benefit of the Baluch people.

Resurgence of Baluch Nationalism
Islamabad has always denied the existence of Baluch nationalism, but the Baluch lay claim to a history going back two thousand years. Its most significant milestones are the confederation of fortyfour Baluch tribes under the leadership of Mir Jalal Khan in the twelfth century, the confederation of Rind Laskhari in the fifteenth century, and the establishment of the khanate of Baluchistan in the seventeenth century. The Mogul and Tatar invasions and the wars and mass migrations in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries also confirm and reinforce the idea of a national identity.13
During the Raj, British administrators claimed a narrow strip of land adjoining Afghanistan, which they called “British Baluchistan,” but beyond that they refrained from interfering in the affairs of Baluchistan as long as the Baluch did not deny access to Afghanistan to the British Army. They paid the sardars (tribal chiefs), whom they allowed autonomy, for this favor.
The Baluch had secretly campaigned for independence during the final decades of the British Raj, and they were shocked by the inclusion of Baluchistan in Pakistan in 1947.14 The Baluch nationalists’ desire for independence clashed with the aims of the Pakistan government, which wanted to destroy the power of the tribal chiefs and concentrate all authority in the hands of the central government.15
The government in Islamabad sought to assimilate Baluch identity into the larger Pakistani identity. Since independence, Islamabad has come into conflict with the Baluch on four occasions—in 1948, 1958, 1962, and, most vigorously, from 1973 to 1977 when a growing guerrilla movement led to an armed insurrection that ravaged the province. During this most recent period, some fifty-five thousand tribesmen fought against seventy thousand Pakistan Army troops, deepening the resentment Baluch nationalists felt toward Islamabad.
The similarity between the period preceding the insurrection in 1973 and the present situation in Baluchistan is quite striking. It was during the 1960s that the Baluch nationalist movement acquired its peculiar characteristics that are evident even today. When the army, after the clash in 1962, began to increase its garrisons in the interior of the province, politically motivated Baluch, who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Marxist-Leninist national liberation movements, began to plan a resistance movement capable of defending Baluch national interests.
A score of ideologically motivated men got together under the leadership of Sher Mohammed Marri and worked secretly for almost two years to set up what would become the basic structure of the 1973 insurrection. In July 1963, twenty-two camps of different sizes were set up to cover a vast array of territories ranging from lands belonging to the Mengal tribes in the South to those of the Marris in the North. Managed by some four hundred full-time volunteers, each camp consisted of several hundred loosely organized reservists who could be mobilized according to the specific requirements of each operation.16 This movement later became the Baluch People’s Liberation Front (BPLF).
The BPLF did not initially seek independence; but Baluch nationalists, particularly of the younger generation who became alienated from Pakistan during the 1973–1977 confrontation, adopted independence as their goal.17 At the end of the conflict, their leader, Khair Bux Marri, chief of the largest Baluch tribe living in the eastern part of the province,18 took refuge in Afghanistan, where, working within a Marxist-Leninist framework, he continued to fight for the recognition of the rights of nationalities.19
From the end of the conflict in the 1970s to the summer of 2004, the major trends underlying the present Baluch national movement gradually emerged:
• Khair Bux Marri, who returned to Pakistan in early 1991, is thought to be the leader of the Baluch Liberation Army (BLA), a clandestine militant group that was formed in the early 1980s and was close to Moscow until 1991. It was responsible for most of the attacks against the government of Pakistan. It demanded the creation of a Greater Baluchistan, which would include the Baluch territories in Iran and Afghanistan.
• Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, leader of the most moderate Baluch faction, formed a new political party, the Pakistan National Party (PNP). The PNP has called for extensive provincial autonomy that would limit the central government to controlling defense, foreign affairs, currency, and communications. It has also demanded a redemarcation of the provinces on linguistic and cultural lines. Convinced that an armed struggle has very little chance of  success, the PNP has concentrated all its efforts on winning political support for nationalism among the Baluch people. Bizenjo, the PNP’s founder, died in 1989, and the PNP has since joined with others to form the Baluch National Party (BNP).
• Ataullah Mengal, leader of the Baluch National Movement (BNM) and chief of the secondlargest Baluch tribe, played an important role along with Marri in instigating the 1973 revolt.  At the end of this revolt, he went into self-imposed exile, settling in London where he set up the Sind-Baluch-Pashtun Front (SBPF), a simple body representing Sindi, Pashtun, and Baluch nationalist organizations. The SBPF demanded the transformation of Pakistan into a confederation in which each state would have the right to secede and the central government’s power would be limited to whatever each of the sovereign states delegated to it. Soon afterward, Mengal distanced himself from this organization. Today, Ataullah Mengal plays a minor role. When he takes part in the political debate defending the rights of the Baluch people, he does not speak as the head of an important armed rebel force, as his counterpart Marri does. Meanwhile, the BNM merged in 1996 with the PNP; later the leaders of the BNM and PNP founded the Baluch National Party (BNP).20
• The Baluchistan Students’ Organization (BSO) also emerged quickly during this same period. Its various factions supported one or the other of the three parties mentioned above, but that support did not prevent it from acting as an independent party. The organization has campaigned for a multinational Pakistan and for the revival of Baluch nationalism.21 It generally represents the aspirations of the educated but underemployed Baluch middle class. It calls for the continuation of quotas22 and for the recognition of the Baluch language as a medium of instruction in the province.
• Akbar Bugti, another important leader of the Baluch revolt today, leads a force of approximately ten thousand tribal insurgents. A moderate like Bizenjo, Bugti is nevertheless Islamabad’s public enemy number one because of the natural gas in his territory and the royalties it generates. The Pakistan government has held him up as the symbol of the obscurantist and narrow-minded sardars whom it blames for the Baluch problem. In the spring of 2005, the Pakistan government concentrated its attention solely on the Dera Bugti district (where the principal gas reserves of the province are located) and on Akbar Bugti, the district chief, even though attacks were increasing in the entire Baluch territory and especially in the nontribal areas.
The Pakistan government contends that the entire Baluch problem is the result of the cupidity of a few corruptible and corrupt sardars strongly opposed to any development that would threaten their power. But of the approximately twenty-eight sardars who matter in Baluchistan, only three have risen in open revolt against the government. In addition, even though the nationalist parties are often tribal parties,23 the revolt has spread well beyond the tribal areas, particularly to Makran.
Bugti, Mengal, and Marri—the principal tribal chiefs in open rebellion against the government—are highly suspicious of each other. Ataullah Mengal and Khair Bux Marri represent two extreme and contrary tendencies: Mengal has limited forces at his disposal and is therefore naturally inclined to negotiate, while Marri looks at the problem from an almost exclusively military angle. Bugti knows how to use the sizable force at his command as an instrument of negotiation, but he has to contend with the distrust of his peers stemming from his controversial role in the civil  war of 1973.24 The three tribal chiefs know, however, that any division in the movement would be suicidal.
The chiefs’ unity in spite of differences reflects the larger reality of Baluchistan, where the tribes are in conflict with one another but are united in the defense of a territory they believe they own jointly. The Baluch movement is not confined to the tribal areas but has spread to the entire province. (The only exceptions are the Pashtun territories in the North and the border areas adjoining Afghanistan that were incorporated into Baluchistan in 1971 and that the Baluch do not consider to be part of Baluchistan.) Attacks have multiplied in the coastal areas during the past few months. When Islamabad scheduled a visit on March 21, 2005, by President Musharraf and the prime minister of China to inaugurate the port of Gwadar, it had to be cancelled because of a general strike and protests in Gwadar that raged for three days and destroyed shops belonging to the non-Baluch population. Islamabad blamed the troubles mainly on the godfathers of the local mafias (whose number seems to have decreased after the repression that followed the killing of two Chinese workers in 2004), but the nationalist phenomenon is as significant in Gwadar as it is in other parts of the province.
In the Gwadar region, a nationalist revolt against Islamabad is also being driven by a middle class that is woefully underrepresented in the Pakistani administration and army, especially in the higher ranks. It has found a champion for its demands in the Baluch National Movement founded by Abdul Hayee Baluch in the early 1980s. This middle class provides the movement with many of its educated cadres. Abdul Hayee Baluch’s Baluch National Movement opposes a separate agreement, either collective or individual, between Islamabad and the tribal chiefs and knows how to take political advantage of tribal rivalries by imposing itself as an arbiter. Its presence makes it difficult for either Bugti, who represents the Jamhoori Watan Party, or Mengal, who represents the Baluchistan National Movement (Mengal faction), to reach a separate agreement with the central government. Afraid of being marginalized, Ataullah Mengal, for example, has adopted a more radical stance and no longer demands autonomy for his area but, instead, demands independence for Baluchistan. Because of the Baluch parties and their leaders looking over their shoulders, Islamabad has been unable to divide the movement by arresting some of its leaders, buying off others, fomenting conflict among them, or taking advantage of the lack of central communications to spread divisive disinformation.

Foreign Intervention?
Pakistan’s press, claiming that Baluchistan’s rebels possess highly sophisticated armaments, is constantly discussing the possibility of foreign intervention in the province.25 Ever since the crisis started, the press has been repeating official declarations and spreading rumors about a “foreign hand” being responsible for the troubles in Baluchistan. The chief minister of Baluchistan province, Jam Muhammad Yusuf, declared on August 13, 2004, that the Indian secret services were maintaining forty terrorist camps all over Baluch territory.26 More recent articles have continued to refer to India, but they also have expressed suspicion about Iranian and even U.S. involvement.27 Since India, a traditional enemy, reopened its consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar, it has been suspected of wanting to forge an alliance with Afghanistan against Pakistan. At the least, it  is thought to want to exert pressure on Pakistan’s western border to force it to give up once and for all its terrorist activities in Kashmir and, if possible, to bring the “composite dialogue” to an end on terms favorable to India. India is supposed to consider China’s role in the construction of the Gwadar port a potential threat to its economic and strategic interests in the region. (Some Indian analysts have linked the construction of the Gwadar port to China’s setting up a listening post on Burma’s Coco Island to keep a watch on India’s maritime activities and its missile tests in Orissa.28) When he was chief of India’s naval staff, Admiral Madhavendra Singh expressed fears that ties forged by the Chinese navy with some of India’s neighbors might endanger India’s vital sea routes to the Persian Gulf.29
The Pakistanis also suspect Iran of supporting Baluch activists in order to counter a Pakistan-U.S. plot to make Baluchistan a rear base in a future offensive against Tehran.30 Iran, which is keen on becoming the preferred outlet to the sea for Central Asia at Pakistan’s expense, has built its own port at Chah Bahar (recently renamed Bandar Beheshti) with Indian assistance.31 Iranian involvement is unlikely. Tehran has denied any involvement in the troubles in Baluchistan, claiming that it is not hostile to the Gwadar project.32 If it were to get involved in the Baluch imbroglio, it would probably not be in opposition to Pakistan and certainly not because of its rivalry with Pakistan over providing an outlet to the sea for Central Asia. Iran and Pakistan have a common interest in exporting Iranian gas to India, and an insurrection in Baluchistan would only harm their chances of building a gas pipeline through the province.33 Iran also has reason to worry about Baluchistan’s claims to its border regions. In fact, Tehran sent helicopters to Islamabad between 1973 and 1977 to help it put down the Baluch insurrection.
Finally, the Baluch as well as the Pakistanis see the United States as a potential troublemaker. Some Pakistanis suspect that Washington would like to use Baluchistan as a rear base for an attack on Iran and would also like to get China out of the region.34 They do not make clear which side the Americans are on: whether they are opposing the Baluch nationalists because they are supported by Iran or whether they are supporting the Baluch because they are hostile to the Chinese. Other Pakistanis see a continuation of the “Great Power game” being played in Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Proponents of this view believe that the United States, in competition with China and Iran, would like to control the oil supply lines from the Middle East and Central Asia and would also like to use its Greater Middle East initiative to dismantle the major Muslim states and redefine borders in the region.35 In contrast, some Baluch nationalists charge the United States with conspiring with the Pakistan government to put an end to Baluch claims. So far nobody has been able to prove any of these accusations.
Contrary to Pakistanis’ suspicions, it is also not certain that Baluchistan really needs outside financial support. The province is in fact an important center for the trafficking of arms and drugs36 that generates, sometimes with the complicity of corrupt intelligence officers, a very substantial income capable of financing the supply of arms and ammunition to local armed groups. The governor of Baluchistan disclosed in April 2005 that arms valued at approximately 6.4 million euros had secretly entered the province during the preceding six months in spite of the approximately six hundred check posts spread all over the territory.37 In addition, the large number of Baluch workers in the Gulf is capable of helping to finance these groups.

Exploiting Islam
Charges by Pakistan that the Baluch rebels are financed abroad are mainly important for what such accusations are trying to achieve politically: they could serve to mobilize international support for Pakistan, particularly from the United States, and neutralize opposition to a Pakistani military intervention. The charges are part of a larger effort to discredit Baluch nationalism. They should be seen alongside Pakistani attempts to use the specter of Islamism to undermine the claims of Baluch nationalism in Pakistan and internationally.
Following the policies adopted by Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, Pakistan’s government continues through its Ministry of Religious Affairs to encourage the setting up of madrassas in the province in order to penetrate deeper into the ethnic Baluch areas stubbornly opposed to the mullahs. Setting up these religious schools has been at the expense of secular education, the lack of which is even more noticeable in Baluchistan than in the rest of the country. The budget of the Ministry of Religious
Affairs for the province is said to be approximately 1.2 billion rupees, compared with 200 million rupees allotted to the Ministry of Education. It inevitably follows that the role of the clergy has been increased, angering nationalists who have long been demanding that the Ministry of Religious Affairs be dismantled.38
The growing power of the clergy—enhanced by the manipulation of elections enabling the religious parties and particularly Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam to join the provincial government in October 2002—has allowed the central government to draw the attention of foreign powers to the risk of the spread of fundamentalism in the region and to launch a systematic disinformation campaign equating the Baluch resistance with Islamic terrorism. Pakistan’s intelligence services have linked nationalist militancy to the terrorism of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.39
(Ironically, when the Baluch insurgents took refuge in Afghanistan, they sided with the Communist forces and their Soviet protectors.40) The same attempt at disinformation dictates the identification of Baluch nationalism with Iran’s Islamic revolution at a time when the United States and Western Europe are protesting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Consequences of an Independent Baluchistan
If Baluchistan were to become independent, would Pakistan be able to withstand another dismemberment—thirty-four years have passed since the secession of Bangladesh—and what effect would that have on regional stability? Pakistan would lose a major part of its natural resources and would become more dependent on the Middle East for its energy supplies. Although Baluchistan’s resources are currently underexploited and benefit only the non-Baluch provinces, especially Punjab, these resources could undoubtedly contribute to the development of an independent Baluchistan.
Baluchistan’s independence would also dash Islamabad’s hopes for the Gwadar port and other related projects. Any chance that Pakistan would become more attractive to the rest of the world would be lost. Pakistan’s losses from an eventual secession would not be limited to the economic domain. Although the central government could still find facilities for testing its nuclear weapons and missiles, the test sites would have to be in the vicinity of more populated areas. Some nationalists,  who are fully aware that they hold a trump card that would allow them to play on international sensitivities, claim that they would accept immediately the denuclearization of any future Baluch state in exchange for international support in their struggle for independence.
Neighboring countries are also not very enthusiastic about the prospect of a Pakistan weakened by the secession of Baluchistan. Iran, which in 1973 sent its military helicopters to assist Pakistani armed forces, and Afghanistan have strong Baluch minorities in their territories. They do not want a Baluch state, with a raison d’être that is essentially ethnic, on their southeastern border. The independence of Pakistani Baluchistan would inevitably give rise to the fear of the revival of Baluch support for a Greater Baluchistan.
India may be tempted to look at the further partition of Pakistan as an opportunity for forging a new anti-Pakistan alliance. An insurrection in Baluchistan might pressure Islamabad to resolve the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, but a change of regional boundaries could revive fears of irredentism in Kashmir and in the territories of the Northeast that a vengeful Pakistan would be only too eager to exploit. Despite the secular nature of Baluch nationalism, the United States is worried about the possibility of a war for independence complicating the U.S. fight against Islamist terrorism in the region. If the United States were to undertake a military action against Iran, it could also use Pakistani Baluchistan for conducting subversive acts in Iranian Baluchistan. For the United States to be able to do this, the Pakistani province would have to remain calm and not pose a threat to the interests of Washington’s allies.
The final question is whether an independent Baluchistan would be a viable state, or whether it would itself become a threat to regional stability. If an independent Baluchistan did not receive foreign technical assistance, it might not be able to exploit the control of its natural resources it would gain from independence. With a ridiculously low level of literacy41 and a lack of administrative experience, Baluchistan may not at the present time have the human resources required to develop its natural resources.
Baluchistan’s sparse population, which is scattered over a huge area, would also affect the economic and political viability of the new state. In addition, its ethnic composition could pose problems. Although the population of Baluchistan in 1998 was estimated to be about six and onehalf million, only approximately three and one-half million are Baluch; two and one-half million are Pashtun and a little more than a half million belong to other ethnic groups.42 The Baluch do not see this as a handicap because the Pashtun population is found in the northern part of the province and along the Afghan border, territories that are not historically a part of Baluchistan.43 They do worry, however, about projects like the Gwadar port that bring in non-Baluch residents; these newcomers could bring about a marked change in the province’s ethnic balance. Although large Baluch minorities have settled outside the province, they are not likely to return to their homeland if it becomes independent because of the lack of adequate development there.
If Pakistan is divided at some time in the future, an independent Baluchistan would become in all probability a new zone of instability in the region. Its instability would affect the interests of all the regional players. Yet, unless Pakistan changes its policy toward Baluchistan dramatically, the possibility of Baluchistan eventually gaining its independence cannot be ruled out.

In the absence of foreign support, which does not appear imminent, the Baluch movement cannot prevail over a determined central government with obviously superior military strength. Still, it can have a considerable nuisance value. The risk of a prolonged guerrilla movement in Baluchistan is quite real.
Most observers concur that the Baluch nationalists are raising the stakes to strengthen their negotiating position vis-à-vis the central government. Movement leaders have made it known that they would be satisfied with a generous version of autonomy. In the absence of their winning autonomy, however, the medium- and long-term consequences of the struggle for independence cannot be predicted today. The outbreak of another civil war in Baluchistan between the nationalists and the Pakistan Army cannot be ruled out if the minimum demands of the Baluch are not met.
Almost six decades of intermittent conflict have given rise to a deep feeling of mistrust toward the central government. The Baluch will not forget General Pervez Musharraf’s recent promises and the insults hurled from time to time at certain nationalist leaders. The projects that were trumpeted as the means to Baluchistan’s development and integration have so far led only to the advance of the Pakistani military in the province, accompanied by the removal of the local population from their lands and by an intense speculation that benefits only the army and its henchmen.
Baluch nationalism is a reality that Islamabad cannot pretend to ignore forever or co-opt by making promises of development that are rarely kept. For the moment, with little certainty about the conclusion of an agreement between the central government and the nationalist leaders,44 the province is likely to enter a new phase of violence with long-term consequences that are difficult to predict. This conflict could be used in Pakistan and elsewhere as a weapon against the Pakistan government. Such a prospect would affect not only Pakistan but possibly all its neighbors. It is ultimately Islamabad that must decide whether Baluchistan will become its Achilles’ heel.

1 Selig Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baluch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1981), p. 151.
2 Data are from the 1998 census.
3 The Jacobabad base is situated in Sind.
4 It was 5.1 percent of the population according to the 1998 census, which shows the relative decline of the Baluch population compared with Pakistan’s total population.
5 Hamid Hamza Qaisrani, “Gwadar Port Ready for Inauguration,” Gwadar News, April 2005, pp. 2–3.
6 Ibid., p. 3.
7 Tarique Niazi, “Gwadar: China’s Naval Outpost on the Indian Ocean,” China Brief 5, no. 4 (February 15, 2005),
8 Ibid.
9 One unit of gas priced at 27 rupees in Baluchistan costs between 170 and 190 rupees in Sind and Punjab, even though the technical conditions of production do not justify this price difference.
10 Akbar Bugti, in an interview with the author on April 16, 2004, remarked that, in 2001, a Chinese company was given permission by the Pakistani government to prospect and map the area. The Chinese had express instructions not to talk to members of local tribes. Tribesmen killed two Chinese employees and one Pakistani, and the Chinese company was obliged to leave.
11 No representative of the provincial government was present on March 24, 2002, in Gwadar during the signing of the project agreement by President Musharraf and Vice Premier Wu Bangguo of China.
12 Of the twelve thousand Coast Guard officers and sailors operating along the Makran Coast, only ninety are Baluch; and only nine hundred Baluch are in the Frontier Constabulary in charge of the province’s security. The Nation, April 11, 2005.
13 Taj Mohammad Breseeg, Baloch Nationalism: Its Origin and Development (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 2004), p. 22.
14 Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, pp. 22–24.
15 In practice, the central government has adapted itself to the continuance of the tribal system and co-opts its chiefs to consolidate its power over the province.
16 Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, p. 30.
17 Feroz Ahmad, Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 176.
18 It is in this region that the bloodiest battles took place during the 1973–1977 conflict.
19 He was wooed by the Communist government in Kabul and his son, Nawabzada Balaach Marri, was sent to Moscow for higher studies. It was only in 1991 that he returned to Baluchistan. The region under his control is even today the most dangerous for the Pakistani armed forces.
20 Siddiq Baloch, “Balochistan National Party,” in A. B. S. Jafri, The Political Parties of Pakistan (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 2002), p. 17.
21 Tahir Amin, Ethno-National Movements of Pakistan (Islamabad: Institute of Policy Studies, 1988), pp. 199–200.
22 Each province is theoretically represented in the administration and the army in proportion to its population.
23 This is notably the case with the BPLF, which is above all a Marri party, and the Jamhoori Watan Party, which represents the Bugtis. The BNP, which tried to extend its influence in the whole province, could not penetrate the regions controlled by the two former parties.
24 Although he was one of the initiators of the rebellion, Akbar Bugti was supposed to have provided information to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then prime minister, about the supply of arms from Iraq. Bhutto used this incident as a pretext to dissolve the provincial assembly and arrest Mengal, Marri, and Bizenjo. As for Bugti, he was appointed governor of Baluchistan before he in his turn was sent to prison by Bhutto. See Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, p. 35.
25 The News, February 2, 2005.
26 The Herald (Karachi), September 2004.
27 The News, February 2, 2005.
28 Zia Haider, “Baluchis, Beijing and Pakistan’s Gwadar Port,” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (Winter/Spring
2005), p. 98.
29 “Indian Navy Concerned Over China’s Expanding Reach,” Times of India, May 21, 2003.
30 Daily Times, January 29, 2005.
31 Zia Haider, “Baluchis, Beijing and Pakistan’s Gwadar Port,” p. 99.

32 Daily Times, February 7, 2005.
33 Daily Times, February 5, 2005.
34 “US Will Not Like Significant Presence in Balochistan,” Daily Times, January 30, 2005.
35 “Balochistan and the ‘Great Power Games’,” The News, February 3, 2005.
36 This is in complicity with Afghan refugee camps (including Dalbandin, Chaman, and Quetta).
37 The Nation, April 11, 2005.
38 Senator Sanaullah Baloch, interview with author, Islamabad, January 30, 2005.
39 “Pakistani Forces May Face Lengthy Conflict on Afghan Border,” Daily Times, January 27, 2005.
40 Several young leaders of the Baluch Liberation Army are supposed to have received training in the Soviet Union before 1989.
41 According to Pakistan’s Population Census Report, 1998, the rate of literacy was 24.8 percent for the Baluch population
(34 percent for men; 14.1 percent for women). The level of functional literacy (that is, the ability to not only decipher a text but also analyze it empirically) is lower than the official figures.
42 The Nation, April 11, 2005.
43 The population speaking Baluch dialects is currently in a minority in the areas claimed by the nationalists; see Aijaz
Ahmad, “The National Question in Balochistan,” in S. Akbar Zaidi, ed., Regional Imbalance and the National Question in
Pakistan (Lahore: Vanguard Books, 1992), p. 196.
44 The report of the Pakistani Senate’s subcommittee for Baluchistan contains proposals that will not have any major impact on the situation and are likely to go unheeded.

P a p e r s
South Asia Project January 2006
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Publications Department
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel. +1 202-483-7600
Fax: +1 202-483-1840

Comments Off on Pakistan: The Resurgence of Baluch Nationalism

Posted by on March 8, 2014 in Research Papers on Political Issues


Balochistan: The State Versus the Nation

By Frederic Grare

Frederic Grare

Frederic Grare


About the Author
Frederic Grare is a senior associate and director of Carnegie’s South Asia Program. His research focuses onSouth Asian security issues and the search for a security architecture. He also works on India’s “Look East” policy, Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s regional policies, and the tension between stability and democratization, including civil-military relations, in Pakistan. Prior to joining Carnegie, Grare served as head of the Asia bureau at the Directorate for Strategic Affairs in the French Ministry of Defense. He also served at the French embassy in Pakistan and, from 1999 to 2003, as director of the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities in New Delhi. Grare has written extensively on security issues, Islamist movements, and sectarian conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Balochistan, the largest but least populous province of Pakistan, is slowly descending into anarchy. Since 2005, Pakistani security forces have brutally repressed the Baloch nationalist movement, fueling ethnic and sectarian violence in the province. But the Pakistani armed forces have failed to eliminate the insurgency—and the bloodshed continues. Any social structures in Balochistan capable of containing the rise of radicalism have been weakened by repressive tactics. A power vacuum is emerging, creating a potentially explosive situation that abuts the most vulnerable provinces of Afghanistan. Only a political solution is likely to end the current chaos.

Key Themes
• Before the state began repressing Balochistan in an effort to maintain authority, most Baloch nationalist parties were not radicalized or fighting for independence. They were working within the framework of the federal constitution to achieve more political autonomy and socioeconomic rights.
• State institutions such as the Supreme Court have been unable to convince security forces to respect the law, but they have been instrumental in drawing attention to violence and atrocities in Balochistan.
• Many Pakistanis now view the security forces—not the separatists—as the biggest obstacle to national unity and stability.
• A negotiated solution is politically feasible. The nationalist movement is weak and divided, and a majority of Baloch favors more autonomy, not the more extreme position of independence. Islamabad may be willing to seek a political solution now that it has failed to eliminate the nationalists by force of arms. Finding a Way Out
• The nationalist parties should participate in provincial elections in May.
Only their participation in Balochistan’s administration can confer sufficient legitimacy on the provincial government. A legitimate and credible Baloch government can reestablish local control over the province, help reduce violence, and advocate for Balochistan on the federal level.
• The Pakistani security establishment should show greater respect for human rights in Balochistan by disbanding death squads, stopping extrajudicial executions, and ending forced disappearances. Serious negotiations and political solutions are impossible as long as these violations persist.
• Security forces should disavow the use of proxy groups and use legitimate state authority to combat sectarian violence.
• The United Nations should send a permanent observation mission to Balochistan to monitor the human rights situation. Such a mission would create greater transparency, promote accountability, and build confidence should the security establishment decide to change its policies in the province.

In 2005, a conflict erupted in the province of Balochistan, the largest and least populated of Pakistan’s four provinces, straddling three countries—Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan.1 For months, tension had been rising over the price of natural gas produced in the southwest province, the construction of additional military cantonments, and the development of the port of Gwadar, which the locals felt benefited people from other provinces. The eruption of violence, led by Baloch nationalists, was generally perceived as merely another expression of restiveness in a province traditionally uneasy with Pakistan’s central government—after all, the two groups had come into conflict on four occasions in the past.2
The uprising was triggered by the rape of a female doctor, Shazia Khalid, in the small Baloch town of Sui. A military man allegedly perpetrated the rape, but the culprit was never arrested. The military establishment’s alleged effort to cover up the incident triggered a series of attacks against the Defense Security Guards and the Frontier Constabulary by members of the Bugti tribe that hails from Balochistan.
The rape of Shazia Khalid provided the spark that started a blaze throughout the territory. Relations between the military government and the province had been tense for months, centered on grievances related to provincial sovereignty, the allocation of resources, interprovincial migrations, and the protection of local language and culture. These claims were not new. The tension was, however, particularly intense in the Bugti area, due to its rich natural gas resources and the determination of Akbar Bugti, a prominent Bugti leader and a former interior minister of state and governor of Balochistan, to get for his tribe a greater share of the royalties generated by their exploitation.
At the time, Pakistani authorities presented the conflict as the creation of greedy sardars,3 local tribal leaders fighting for a greater share of provincial resources and opposing development in order to preserve their own power, the outdated relic of a feudal system. Pakistan’s military did not take Baloch nationalist leaders seriously. They also discounted the risk of a long-term war.4
But seven years later, the conflict continues. Neither the fall of the Pervez Musharraf regime in 2008 nor the various goodwill statements of its successors has allowed the initiation of a real political solution. As a precondition of any negotiations, the insurgents asked for an end to the Pakistani government’s military operations in the province and for assurances that the intelligence agencies would cease their activities in Balochistan. They obtained neither.
Today, Balochistan is slowly but surely descending into anarchy. It is a bubbling “cauldron of ethnic, sectarian, secessionist and militant violence, threatening to boil over at any time.”5 Law and order in the province continues to deteriorate at an especially alarming pace. Even the head of the provincial government, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, who was supposed to be based in Balochistan, spent most of his time in Islamabad out of fear for his safety until he was finally fired.
The Pakistani military has so far proven unable to eliminate militant organizations and the larger nationalist movement, despite conducting targeted assassination campaigns and kidnappings and making various attempts to discredit the nationalist movement by associating it with organized crime or terrorist groups. Of course, every state opposes separatist tendencies, and Pakistan is no exception. But a close evaluation of so-called “Baloch nationalism” shows that although real separatist tendencies persisted in the province in the early 2000s, the political groups that actively promoted separatism were a minority. Most (not all) activists had reconciled themselves to the idea that Balochistan’s future was within the Pakistani federation. They were struggling for more autonomy within the federal constitutional framework and for the government to respect the socioeconomic rights of the Baloch. It was the state’s repressive response that radicalized most elements of the “nationalist” movement.
Now, a majority of the population wants more autonomy for the province but does not demand independence. The Baloch nationalist movement is divided between various separatists and factions asking for the autonomy of the province within the Pakistani federal framework, and it cannot achieve full separation from Pakistan. The conflict now demonstrates the absurdity of a repression that is reinforcing the very threat it is intended to eliminate.
The Pakistani security establishment proved relatively efficient in destroying Baloch social structures, but it has been unable to impose its writ on the province, much less propose viable alternative structures. Meanwhile, the security establishment has exacerbated ethnic tensions. Insurgents have begun to attack ordinary citizens of non-Baloch ethnic background, not just Pakistan’s federal agencies, and allegedly, the security establishment has lost control of its radical proxy groups.
The attempted Islamization of the province has led to less, not greater, control for the central government, and a hotbed of extremism is developing in a part of the population where it was previously unknown. As a Pakistani journalist recently wrote, “Balochistan has clearly turned into a security and governance black hole where multiple political, financial and criminal interests either converge or play out against one another.”6
Sympathy with the Baloch has increased across Pakistan, and for some “sympathizers,” the military poses the most potent obstacle to national unity and  stability, not the separatists. In their minds, the resilience of Baloch nationalism results from the persistent economic and social inequalities among the provinces that have been exacerbated by military repression and massive violations of human rights. To avert further crisis, the challenge in Balochistan is to transform the widespread rejection of the military’s policies into reconciliation with the insurgency and a common political will that ensures the so-called nationalist parties can participate in elections.

Dimensions of Baloch Nationalism
Historically, Baloch nationalism relates to the broader national question in Pakistan. Politically, it covers everything from aspirations to full independence from Pakistan to demands for autonomy within the Pakistani federation; the positions of the assorted nationalist parties and organizations vary over time. In that sense, the term “Baloch nationalism” is itself misleading. Sociologically, it is an evolving reality reflecting the evolution of the province as well as that of Pakistan itself.
Each of these dimensions is, of course, the object of an intense political struggle. Over the years, Pakistan’s central governments have tended to refute the idea of a Baloch nation, and military regimes have systematically assimilated all “nationalist” parties into the most hardline organizations. But reducing Baloch nationalism to a reminiscence of feudalism led by reactionary sardars has been for Pakistani central governments a convenient—but inaccurate— way to deny its popular dimension and its very existence.

The Actors
The organizations that compose the nationalist landscape and its different sensitivities today reflect the historical, political, and sociological evolution of Baloch nationalism as well as the movement’s spectrum of motivations and (sometimes conflicting) strategies. Many of the most active parties promote independence, although the leanings of many Baloch have diverged from that stance.
• The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) is a clandestine organization said to be associated with the Marri tribe. The BLA was led by Balach Marri until he was killed in 2007. His brother, Hyrbyair Marri, is generally considered the current leader of the organization, which stands for the independence of a “greater” Balochistan, including Iranian and Afghan Baloch. It is estimated to have about 3,000 fighters, mostly tribal members.7
• The Baloch Republican Party is led by Brahamdagh Bugti (currently in exile in Switzerland) since the killing of his grandfather, Akbar Bugti, by the Pakistani army in 2006. It advocates the independence of a “greater” Balochistan and opposes any sort of political dialogue, calling upon the international community to intervene to halt a “genocide.”8
• The Baloch Republican Army is presumed to be the militant wing of the Baloch Republican Party. It is usually associated with the Bugti tribe and said to be led by Brahamdagh Bugti.
• The Baloch National Movement calls for the independence of a “greater” Balochistan and refuses to participate in the political process. Its leader, Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, was found dead in 2009 after he helped unite several nationalist groups under a single umbrella. The military is usually considered responsible for his death, which drew condemnation from the United Nations.9
• The National Party, led by Abdul Malik Baloch, is a moderate, centerleft Baloch nationalist party that claims to represent the middle class. It has usually participated in the electoral process but boycotted the 2008 elections. Several of its leaders have been assassinated by unknown assailants.10
• The Balochistan National Party, led by Akhtar Mengal, is a major nationalist party that controlled the provincial government before 2002 but boycotted the polls in 2008. Considered a moderate organization, it calls for an increase in Balochistan’s share of revenue from provincial resources, but, until recently, it demanded only wide autonomy for the province, with the authority of the federal government limited to defense, foreign affairs, and the currency. Members have been killed by the authorities,11 and the party now calls for a referendum on self-determination.
• The Baloch Student Organization, created in the late 1960s, has trained and produced many nationalist leaders. It is considered the middleclass entry point into the nationalist movement and is composed of several different factions that support the BLA, the Baloch National Movement, the National Party, and the Balochistan National Party.
This has never prevented the organization from acting independently, as evidenced by its campaign for a multinational Pakistan and for the Baloch nationalism renaissance. Today, the BSOP-Azad faction, a hardline movement aligned with the BLA, seems to be the dominant wing of the organization.

The Beginnings of the Movement
According to Baloch nationalists, the broader Baloch nationalist movement that produced these groups has deep and broad roots—a two-thousand-yearlong history. Some historians, however, date the emergence of Baloch nationalism to the anticolonial struggle of the late nineteenth century, when the princely state of Khalat encompassed modern-day Balochistan. The rivalry between the British and Russian empires that led to the first British invasion of Afghanistan brought the British forces to Balochistan in their effort to control the supply roads to Kabul.12 However, the colonial power took care not to interfere in provincial affairs and established its direct control only on a thin piece of land along the Afghan border.
For other historians Baloch nationalism truly emerged nearer in time to the creation of Pakistan. Inspired by the Soviet revolution in Russia and the Indian independence movement led by Gandhi and Nehru, nationalist leaders had campaigned for an independent Balochistan during the last decades of the Raj. On August 15, 1947, one day after the creation of Pakistan, the khan of Khalat declared his state independent—though essentially as a bargaining position— proposing to negotiate a special relationship with Pakistan in the domains of defense and foreign affairs. The Pakistani leadership rejected the declaration of independence, and Khalat was forcibly annexed to Pakistan nine months later.13 There followed in 1948, 1958, and 1962 a series of conflicts of various
intensities between the Pakistani state and Baloch nationalists.
A Baloch resistance, which crystallized around the objective of protecting the populations and their interests and was inspired by Marxist-Leninist liberation movements, emerged shortly after the brief encounters of 1962. A few hundred ideologically motivated men assembled under the banner of Sher Mohammed Marri and the militant Baloch People’s Liberation Front, setting up what was to become the infrastructure of the 1973 insurgency. Although still under the authority of a member of the Marri tribe, this infrastructure extended far beyond Marri territory. By July 1963, 22 nationalist camps had been established, spanning from the Mengal areas of central Balochistan to the Marri territory in the northeast of the province. Some 400 full-time volunteers
ran the operations.14
The demand for independence came later, not as a claim of the Baloch People’s Liberation Front, but as a result of the gradual alienation and radicalization of Baloch youth during the 1973–1977 conflict. President and later Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had given Pakistan a democratic constitution but refused to respect the norms he had helped to establish. In 1973, he dissolved the provincial government formed by the opposition National Awami Party (NAP) and accused its main leaders of attempting to sabotage the foundations of the state. The most radical elements of the nascent Baloch nationalist movement then joined the guerilla effort initiated by the Marris and Mengals.15 Some 80,000 troops mobilized by the Pakistani army could not eradicate the  insurgency. Only after General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq launched a military coup did negotiations begin, resulting in the eventual withdrawal of the army from the province and the liberation of the Baloch leadership and several thousand activists.16 The province remained peaceful until 2005.

The Tribes and the Middle Class
The emergence of Baloch nationalism as it is known today is the product of a long and complex process of emancipation of the Baloch middle class, often educated outside Balochistan. This middle class nationalism emerged in parallel and frequently in dialogue with the growing nationalism of Balochi tribes, until time and military operations eroded tribal identity. Baloch nationalism grew within the tribal structures before gradually spreading to other sectors of society.
The tribal character of Baloch nationalism is as much a question of politics as of sociology or anthropology. Balochistan is divided among eighteen major tribes and a number of lesser tribes and clans. Marris and Bugtis, more historically prone to military confrontation, are the most politically important of them. Given the power of tribes, the differences between them, and their at times fraught interactions, the tribal question is still an essential component of any discussion on Baloch nationalism and has long been the main argument of those who refuted the existence of a Baloch nation.
For example, referring to the NAP, Feroz Ahmad wrote in 1999 that “[unlike] the Awami League, which led a Bengali nationalist movement cutting across all the classes, the NAP in Balochistan is a mere assortment of Balochi and Brohi tribal leaders. On the lingual basis Brohis have as much in common with the Balochis as Tamils have with Pashtuns.”17 As a matter of fact, Balochi speakers are a majority in only four out of 30 districts—Kharan, Makhran, Sibi, and Shagai. Even in the birthplace of Baloch nationalism, the Khanate of Khalat, Brohi is the dominant language. This disunity further contributes to the long-standing doubts that many Pakistani intellectuals hold about the existence of a Baloch nation.18
More recently, President of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf justified using repressive tactics in Balochistan as part of a campaign to end the province’s oppression at the hands of a minority of tribal chiefs, who were supposedly responsible for the underdevelopment of the province.
They constituted an easy scapegoat for the military government, which, interestingly, stated at the time that only 7 percent of the province was involved in the insurgency but did not explain why the remaining 93 percent that it did control was similarly underdeveloped.
Among the some 28 major sardars of importance in Balochistan, only three had openly revolted against the federal government. Moreover, according to Baloch journalist Malik Siraj Akbar, the Baloch Liberation Army “is not owned  by any one sardar. No nationalist leader, including Bugti, Marri, and Mengal, accepts responsibility for leading the Baloch Liberation Army, even though all of them admit to backing the outfit’s activities.19 And neither the assassination of Balach Marri nor of Akbar Bugti, the two main leaders of the initial phase of the current insurgency, ended the conflict between Balochistan and the center. It can be argued that each conflict between Balochistan and Pakistan’s federal government marked a new step in the process of “detribalization.” While the tribal factor never totally disappeared, it did lose its centrality. Today, the Baloch movement is led by the educated middle class. With the exception of the Bugtis and Marris, the most popular leaders belong to this category. This class is underrepresented in the higher echelons of the Pakistani army and the administration, and it provides a substantial part of the educated cadre of the Baloch nationalist movement.20 The middle class is also a strong factor of unity because it is deeply allergic to all separate agreements, individual or collective, between Islamabad and the tribal chiefs and knows how to take advantage of the rivalries among the latter.21
As a result, the geography of the resistance has changed, shifting from rural to urban areas and from the northeast of the province to the southwest. Sometimes it spills over to cities like Karachi. The sociological shift within the nationalist movement stems partly from the historical evolution of the movement itself, partly from the destruction of tribal structures in the most restive areas such as Dera Bugti or Kohlu, and partly from the increased involvement of areas where tribal structures are not dominant. All of these factors combine to strengthen Baloch nationalism in these areas while marginalizing the sardars.
Many Baloch nationalist leaders now come from the urbanized districts of Kech, Panjgur, and Gwadar (and to a lesser extent from Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, Kharan, and Lasbela). They are well-connected to Karachi and Gulf cities, where tribal structures are nonexistent. In fact, while there is violence all over the province, the insurgency seems to concentrate mainly in these urbanized areas. The Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force that operates in Pakistan’s border provinces, has apparently concentrated much of its 50,000-man strength in Balochistan in the southwestern areas of the province, mostly in the Panjgur, Turbat, and Kech districts.22
Thus, the middle class is today the main target of the Pakistani military and paramilitary in what seems to be an attempt to eradicate all manifestations of Baloch nationalism and to rule out the very possibility of its renaissance.23 But by doing so, the central government strategy will jeopardize the future of the province itself. Most people involved in the insurgency today are said to be under the age of thirty and to belong to the middle class. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan’s strategy has intensified the opposition and radicalized the most moderate elements of the nationalist movement. All  organizations have had to radicalize—at least rhetorically—or else lose the support of their constituencies. As early as 2006, former NAP leader and Balochistan National Party elder statesman Ataullah Mengal had to declare that “the days to fight political battles are over.”24

Politics of the Conflict in Balochistan
As long as the Pakistani center accepted nationalist representation, the nationalist leadership remained open to compromise. This possibility disappeared— or at least greatly diminished—as soon as it became clear that the military regime was seeking the elimination of the nationalist leadership.25

Election Rigging and Musharraf’s Devolution Policy
Throughout the 1990s, ethnic tensions had greatly diminished, thanks to robust representative participatory institutions. Nationalist parties emerged as significant forces. In the 1988 election, the combined vote for nationalist parties totaled 47.8 percent. It reached 51.74 percent in the 1990 elections, and Baloch nationalist parties dominated the elections again in 1997 and formed the government. 26 Baloch leaders also were represented in the mainstream Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). Balochistan’s relations with the civilian federal government grew tense occasionally during the democratic interlude of the 1990s, but the province remained peaceful.
The equation changed with the 2002 elections, when the military rigged the elections and reinvigorated its long-standing alliance with the region’s mullahs, helping the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) coalition of religious Islamic parties to gain power in Balochistan. The Election Observation Mission of the European Union reported vote tampering before, during, and after the elections.
The Election Commission of Pakistan was accused of diluting strongholds of parties opposing the regime and favoring its supporters. The eligibility criteria for candidates were changed to require university degrees, but madrassa diplomas were considered equivalent.27 Some prominent nationalist leaders, even those who had previously held high office in the province, without university degrees (including Akbar Bugti) were prevented from running, giving significant advantage to the MMA.
Islamabad’s electoral manipulation had a larger strategic objective as well.28 With Islamist parties in power in the two provinces adjacent to the Afghan border, it was easier for the military regime to provide the Afghan insurgency the sanctuaries it needed for the pursuit of a low-intensity conflict in Afghanistan while denying any responsibility in the process.
The Baloch and Pashtun nationalist parties found themselves fundamentally affected. A Baloch, Mohammad Jam Yusaf was appointed chief minister, but had little control over even his own cabinet, which was dominated by the  Jamaat-Ulema-u-Islam, a conservative Islamist party. Lacking a voice in their own province, Baloch nationalists rejected the military’s electoral, political, and constitutional manipulation.29 The rigging of the 2002 elections thus constituted the first step toward the conflict.30
Determined to eradicate Baloch nationalism, Musharraf accelerated the arrest of its leaders even before the beginning of the hostilities. A parliamentary committee including members of the Baloch opposition convened in September 2004 and wrote recommendations designed to form the basis of a negotiation, but the situation kept deteriorating. Even when a compromise with Akbar Bugti seemed imminent, Musharraf deliberately opted for confrontation.
General Musharraf also attempted to tackle the Baloch issue politically by launching a devolution plan that bypassed the provincial assemblies to create local governments entirely dependent on the central government for their survival. Although presented as a form of decentralization, all provinces except Punjab perceived the scheme to be an imposition of a centralized form of government and a negation of provincial autonomy—clearly an irritant for Baloch nationalists.
The army intervened in Dera Bugti, the epicenter of the rebellion, leading to significant population displacements. Extrajudicial killings, torture, and illegal arrests by security forces and the intelligence agencies became the norm. In 2006, the Pakistani press started reporting a new phenomenon: “forced disappearances.” Akbar Bugti was killed by the Pakistani army, and although Pervez Musharraf presented Bugti’s death as a decisive victory, it only intensified the conflict.

The Fiction of Civilian Power
In Balochistan, the post-Musharraf era started before the formal end of the Musharraf presidency in 2008. Rather than substituting a political dynamic for military repression, the new situation was characterized by parallel political processes, whose timid attempts at reconciliation could never compensate for an increasingly vicious and brutal security presence.
At the provincial level, the nationalist parties decided to boycott the 2008 elections because of the killing of Akbar Bugti. That opened the way for a massive rigging of the poll. The corrections of the electoral rolls by the Electoral Commission of Pakistan in September 2011 revealed that 65 percent of Baloch voters were fake in the 2008 election.31 Soon, all political parties represented in the assembly and close to the security establishment, despite being in conflict with each other in other parts of the country, suddenly became bedfellows in a government that had no opposition worth the name and therefore no control over the way the provincial government was spending public money. All members of the provincial assembly except one were made ministers,32 opening the way for corruption on an unprecedented scale in the province and annihilating all federal government efforts to end the crisis.
The federal leadership made further efforts to calm tensions within the region. Shortly after its February 2008 national electoral victory, the PPP apologized for the abuses committed by the Pakistani state in Balochistan. Later that year, newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari insisted on the need to heal the wounds of the past to restore confidence in the federation. Finally, in October 2009, the flagship Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Reconciliatory Committee on Balochistan unveiled its roadmap, calling for reconciliation with Baloch nationalists, the reconstruction of provincial institutions, and a new formula to redistribute resources.33
In early November 2009, the government promised to confer more autonomy to the province. On November 24, the government presented to parliament a 39-point plan for a more autonomous Balochistan, the so-called “Balochistan Package.” The text included the return of political exiles, the liberation of jailed Baloch political activists, the army’s withdrawal from some key areas, a reform of the federal resources allocation mechanism,34 efforts to create jobs, and greater provincial control of Balochistan’s resources. Parliament adopted the text in December 2009.35
The Balochistan Package addressed all initial Baloch grievances, including provisions related to the most controversial topics—the release of political workers, a political dialogue, the return of exiles, investigations into missing persons, judicial inquiries, and more—as well as provisions related to the economic situation in the province.36 It promised to transfer additional funds and to create some 16,000 jobs in the province.
The nationalist movement, which had expected to be granted more provincial autonomy, immediately objected to the plan.37 Moderate Baloch nationalists also had concerns, fearing that the government’s proposals were no more than a smokescreen behind which it would continue the systematic physical elimination of Baloch nationalists. By the end of December 2009, convinced that self-determination was the only way out of the crisis, all major stakeholders in the Baloch nationalist movement had formally rejected the government’s proposal. The Balochistan Package was never implemented.
In 2010 Islamabad doubled Balochistan’s budget and immediately released an additional $140 million to the provincial government to settle outstanding natural gas revenue debts.38 According to some journalists, some members of the provincial government pocketed the money or spent it on lavish projects with little or no impact on nationalist sentiments.39
In fact, the government has done little to shore up Balochistan’s economy. It has allocated more funds to the province, but the money does not seem to have reached its targets.40 Industry has collapsed and no additional irrigation projects exist to compensate for the  drought conditions of the past years. Teachers and professionals have left the province, while infrastructure, health, and sanitation lie neglected.41
The provincial government has de facto abdicated its basic responsibilities. In its August 2012 report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that the provincial government is “nowhere to be seen”; the government holds a number of its meetings outside the province. Nongovernmental organizations and development agencies are likewise retreating, fearing for the safety of their staff, while cross-border drug trade and kidnapping for ransom flourish.
The social and institutional fabric of Balochistan is facing systematic destruction, leaving behind only the province’s most radical elements. It took the killing of some 90 Shias in Quetta in January 2013 for the central government to sack the elected chief minister, Nawab Aslam Raisani, under pressure from the Shia community, placing Balochistan under governor’s rule (in fact, under the control of the military, as the governor is allowed to call on the army to help enforce law and order).42
Balochistan is now experiencing yet another political crisis. Political parties are trying to have the governor’s rule lifted and a new government installed. Negotiations are ongoing with the federal government, but it is unclear whether they will lead to the installment of a new government, who would lead it, and, more importantly, if it would be able to stop the violence.

Repression as Policy
Over the years, the government’s repressive tactics in Balochistan changed.43 Military operations were stopped, but across the province, people have been abducted, killed, and their bodies abandoned, acts widely referred to as “killand-dump” operations. These operations are attempts to keep the province under control and reinforce the power of the state.
The exact number of enforced disappearances perpetrated in Balochistan by the Pakistani military is unknown. Baloch nationalists claim “thousands” of cases. In 2008, Interior Minister Rehman Malik mentioned at least 1,100 victims, but in January 2011, Balochistan Home Minister Zafrullah Zehri said that only 55 persons were missing.44 An editorial dated September 11, 2012, in the Express Tribune indicated that the bodies of 57 missing persons had been found since January 2012. However, other papers mention figures over 100 during the same period. In its August 2012 report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan indicates that it has verified 198 cases of enforced disappearances in Balochistan between January 2000 and May 12, 2012, and that 57 bodies of missing persons had been found in Balochistan in 2012 alone.45
The Pakistani press, as well as international and Pakistani nongovernmental organizations, have documented a number of cases relatively well. According ton  Human Rights Watch, which concurs on this point with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, there seems to be little doubt about the fact that most of these disappearances have been perpetrated by Pakistan’s “intelligence agencies and the Frontier Corps, often acting in conjunction with the local police.”46 In most of the cases documented, the perpetrators acted openly in broad daylight, sometimes in busy public areas, and with apparently little concern for the presence of multiple witnesses.47 Relatives are, of course, denied access to the detainees. Torture and ill treatment are the rule, and extrajudicial killings frequent.
One case has been particularly publicized in Pakistan and abroad. On April 3, 2009, three political activists, including Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, president of the Baloch National Movement, were abducted from their lawyer’s office in a courthouse in Turbat.48 The abduction occurred on the day the Anti-Terrorist Court of Turbat dismissed all cases against them.49 Their bodies were found six days later in a mountainous area some 40 kilometers away from the city.
The murder of the three activists marked a more brutal change in policy and the beginning of the kill-and-dump operations. Their number kept increasing thereafter. In addition to activists and insurgents, other victims of these operations include sympathizers with the militancy, suspected nationalists, students, teachers, lawyers, journalists, and other educated people. As a result, many professionals have fled the province, migrating to other parts of Pakistan, raising further questions about the future of Balochistan.
Although the military and intelligence agencies refute such accusations, the Pakistani press also reports the use of death squads, composed of Baloch gunsfor- hire, resembling the Al Shams and Al Badr militias that the Pakistani military employed during the Bangladesh war.50 The intelligence agencies allegedly created the death squads operating in Balochistan today to counter the Marris, Mengals, and Bugtis by creating confusion and disrupting their activities.
They would possibly even replace tribal leaders with representatives of a Baloch nationalism that would become totally subservient to Islamabad.51 Some of the tactics employed by the militants are equally abhorrent as they, too, have their share of ethnically targeted killings. In the initial stages of the insurgency, the Baloch Liberation Army exclusively targeted the security forces. The Pakistani state and its agencies, considered instruments of Punjab’s domination, were the targets—not ordinary Punjabi citizens.
After the physical or political elimination of the political leadership of the insurgency, however, civilians, too, started to become victims of the militants. Irresponsible statements by political figures such as Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, who declared that “he could coexist with a pig but not with [a] Punjabi,”52 only worsened the political climate in Balochistan. Targeted ethnic killing  multiplied across the province. In July 2012, for example, the press reported the massacre of eighteen people, most of them Punjabi, in Turbat.53 Responsibility for the massacre was claimed by the Baloch Liberation Tigers, a Baloch group never heard of before. The nationalist camp itself has become increasingly polarized and subject to occasional internecine fights. Even non-nationalist Baloch have sometimes been murdered by the hardliners.

Breaking Ethnic Identities: The Islamization of Balochistan
Military regimes in Pakistan have also sought to eradicate ethnic identities by changing provincial demographics and pursuing Islamization, or the substitution of a common Muslim identity for ethnic ones. This is not a new phenomenon in Balochistan. Pakistan first attempted to marginalize the Baloch within their own province in 1971 by incorporating Pashtun areas into Balochistan.
At the end of the 1970s, following Zia-ul-Haq’s coup, Balochistan also became one of the two focal points of the dictator’s Islamization strategy (the other being the North-West Frontier Province, now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa). Since then, it has been an integral part of all centralization policies. The period between the end of the Bhutto regime and the military coup of Pervez Musharraf witnessed major developments in Pakistan’s Balochistan policy, many of which endure in some form to this day. Zia-ul-Haq used Islamization as a weapon against the
insurgency. Zia’s Pakistan officially sought a “new political system according to Islam.”54 The military dictator reconstituted the Council of Islamic Ideology, a consultative body set up for the sole purpose of formulating a more Islamic system of government; established the hudood laws, a series of punishments for violations of laws ranging from adultery and fornication to rape and theft; and introduced a system of sharia courts entrusted with ensuring that existing laws conformed to Islam.55 In 1986, a blasphemy law was introduced. In Balochistan, as in the rest of rural Pakistan, Islamization brought the arrival of Islamic scholars, the establishment of madrassas, and the revision of school curricula in accordance to Islamic law.
There was no particular novelty to these policies. Previous military rulers, Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan, had used religious symbols to help legitimize their rule. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto himself did the same thing under political compulsion.
Like the British administration, the Pakistani elite perceived the vast majority of “the indigenous population as a stagnant, backward and politically immature mass governed by religious sentiments” and therefore saw the idea of an Islamic state as naturally representative of the aspirations of a majority of the population.56
However, Zia-ul-Haq went further than any of his predecessors—but not for ideological reasons. Whatever his personal religious convictions,57 Zia-ul-Haq pushed the logic of religious manipulation to its most extreme because he faced a relatively more difficult political situation than his predecessors.58 For him, the very nature of the ordinary Pakistani was religious and therefore an Islamic state was necessarily to his liking. Inheriting the Balochistan conflict only a few years after the partition of Pakistan, which created East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), the new military regime also saw Islam as a powerful unifying force.
The Islamization of the early 1980s, in particular, was also a response to a Bangladesh syndrome, which continues to haunt Pakistani decisionmakers to this day. Zia tried to subsume Baloch and other Pakistani ethnic identities into a larger Islamic one.
Baloch nationalism proved, however, more resilient and Islamization policies failed in the areas where ethnic Balochs were predominant. Yet, they remained an important component of a long-term federal policy in Balochistan.Zia had accepted the necessary compromises with the nationalist leaders,59 half of whom were in exile, and Balochistan was temporarily pacified. These policies marked, however, the beginning of a slow process which, combined with a growing Pashtun demographic presence as well as the Afghan war against the Soviet Union, bolstered the religious parties in the Pashtun areas of Balochistan.
Despite Pervez Musharraf’s rhetoric about “enlightened moderation” and his promise to remove provincial grievances by devolving power away from the center,60 he followed in Zia’s footsteps regarding Islamization (although his provincial policy borrowed heavily from those of Ayub Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto).
The Musharraf regime continued, through the Ministry of Religious Affairs, to encourage the establishment of madrassas in Balochistan in order to penetrate deeper into the ethnic Baloch areas stubbornly opposed to the mullahs. New religious schools came at the expense of secular education. As a consequence, the role of the clergy increased, angering Baloch and Pashtun nationalists alike. Both movements have long demanded that the Ministry of Religious Affairs be dismantled. Ironically, the growing power of the clergy has allowed the central government to draw the attention of foreign powers to the risk of the spread of fundamentalism in the region and to launch a disinformation campaign equating the Baloch insurgency with Islamic terrorism. Attacks by al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or Baloch nationalists were systematically associated with one another in press reports. The same attempt at disinformation dictated occasional identification of Baloch nationalism with Iran’s Islamic revolution at a time when the United States and Europe were actively opposing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

The Exponential Rise of Sectarianism
The rivalry between nationalist and Islamist parties that emerged during Ziaul- Haq’s regime and continued under his successors was not an ideological struggle. The ideological façade was, first and foremost, an attempt by military regimes to break ethnic identities and centralize power.
Similarly, Baloch nationalists rejected the Islamization process much less for its ideological content than because they rightly perceived it as part of a larger scheme to isolate individuals and make them more amenable to Islamabad’s policies. The rejection of Islamization in Balochistan was primarily a rejection of centralization and of central dominance, not of Islamic doctrine per se. However, Islamization is currently experiencing a qualitative change in Balochistan. Amid the state of anarchy in the province and led by the Deobandi madrassa network, radicalization is on the rise and sectarian groups have stepped up their activities in the region. The number of sectarian killings has increased almost exponentially over the past few years in a province traditionally known for its deeply entrenched secularism.
A strong Taliban presence in Balochistan developed under Musharraf and in connection with the MMA government.
The province is also increasingly becoming a nexus of sectarian outfits. Afghan and Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban Balochistan), al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Janghvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Imamia Student Organization, and Sipah-e-Muhammad are said to have established presences in the province.61 Their presence is partly the result of Pakistani security agencies pushing them there from Punjab, partly a result of a vast network of Deobandi madrassas, and partly a consequence of the Islamization policies pursued by the federal state since the 1970s. At the same time, some analysts credit the Afghan refugee camps in the province as a key source of recruits for the Taliban.62
Balochistan’s sectarian groups continue to multiply, fragment, and collaborate at a dramatic pace. The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan has a large support base in Balochistan. Although banned twice by the government, it remains intact in the province and provides ground support for Lashkar-e-Janghvi terrorists. The group seems to operate as two different outfits, the Usman Kurd group and the Qari Hayi group. Some factions of the defunct Jaish-e-Mohammad seem to have established an operational relationship with Lashkar-e-Janghvi, while a large number of Harakat-ul-Mujadeen and Harakat Jihad-e-Islami militants are said to have joined the group. The Imamia Student Organization, influential among Shia youth as well as in mainstream Shia politics, seems to play a role in sectarian violence as well.63
The most worrisome factor is the changing sociology of the Islamic radicalization in Balochistan. Unlike the Pashtun-populated areas of the province, the Baloch territory was until very recently largely secular. Today, the Tabligh Jamaat conducts its activities outside the Pashtun areas. Lashkar-e-Janghvi is now recruiting in the Baloch population, and five of the most prominent leaders of the organization in Balochistan are said to be Baloch.
The post-Musharraf evolution has, in fact, witnessed a change and a worsening of the situation in Balochistan that shifted religious activism from politics to militancy. The Jamaat-Ulema-u-Islam no longer leads the provincial government, but radical religious proxies are now an integral part of the military’s strategy in the province.
Sectarian violence continues to thrive in Balochistan, with attacks directed mainly against the Hazara community—a Persian-speaking Shia minority that lives in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The phenomenon is not new in Pakistan; some 700 Hazaras were killed between 1998 and 2009.64 But violent attacks occurred relatively rarely in Balochistan until 2002, when Musharraf banned sectarian groups such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Jaish-e-Mohammad, prompting them to move to the province, where they came in contact with Taliban militants.
Targeted assassinations of Hazaras have grown more common since the killing of the chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party in January 2009. On September 20, 2011, twenty Shia pilgrims travelling to Iran were shot dead in front of their families in Mastung; three days later, three Hazara men were killed outside Quetta; and on October 4, thirteen Hazaras were dragged off a bus and shot dead. The trend continued unabated in 2012.65 Shias are not the only victims of sectarian groups. Lashkar-e-Janghvi Balochistan has also killed Baloch nationalist leaders, such as Habib Jalib Baloch. Interestingly, Lashkar-e-Janghvi Balochistan denies killing Shias while claiming to be involved in actions supposedly aimed at protecting the Baloch community. Some of its leaders talk of “carrying out defensive actions against people who are supported by foreign intelligence services.”66
Some analysts conclude that the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Janghvi enjoy official protection. Supposedly proscribed, they still hold rallies in major cities, openly displaying arms.67 Many attacks take place in areas with a strong Frontier Corps presence.68 “Sectarian violence has increased because of a clear expansion of operational spaces for violent sectarian groups to function within, and without fear of being caught,”69 implying that the “ease of the operations could come from the fact that the police and the courts do not have the capacity to investigate, prosecute, and convict sectarian killers,”70 or, more likely, that they are prevented from acting by the intelligence agencies.
Shia leaders blame the intelligence agencies but also accuse prominent members of the provincial Baloch government of protecting sectarian leaders.71
The groups perpetrating violence seem to rely on the fact that no serious action will be taken against them before the parliamentary elections in May 2013. Some Baloch leaders also blame the intelligence agencies, which they perceive to be using both religious and Baloch renegade groups to suppress nationalism and kill Hazaras. At the same time, the agencies seem to have been successful in their attempt to build up the perception that the Baloch community is targeting the Hazaras. The government itself has tried to give credit to the idea of a connection between Lashkar-e-Janghvi and the Balochistan Liberation Army; Interior Minister Rehman Malik declared to the senate that the two groups “had been related to each other for five years.”72 If the suspicion of these Baloch leaders were confirmed, it would mean that security agencies in Balochistan no longer rely primarily on a set of well-established and controlled fundamentalist organizations such as the Jamaat-Ulema-u-Islam or others like it. Instead, they are using increasingly radical proxies at a time when they seem to have the utmost difficulties in controlling groups that they sponsored in the past.

A Way Out?
Whether Balochistan can normalize its situation or if the current route to chaos is irreversible is an open question. The unstable status quo will inevitably lead to more anarchy, but reversing the situation would prove difficult and would most likely take several generations. In the search for a way out of the current mess, several factors must be taken into consideration.
First, a majority of the Baloch population wants greater autonomy for the province but does not demand independence. According to a July 2012 survey, only 37 percent of the Baloch favor independence, and a mere 12 percent of Balochistan’s Pashtuns favor that option. However, 67 percent of the total population supports greater provincial autonomy.73
These figures alone do not predetermine the future of Balochistan—the 37 percent of Baloch who favor independence indeed constitute a large plurality that could even grow in the future.
But they undoubtedly indicate a trend toward integration with the national mainstream. They also mean that there is space for political negotiation, and that Balochistan is not simply a law-and-order problem. It indicates that the possibility for some compromise exists.
Second, examined through the prism of Pakistan’s English-language press, the situation in Balochistan seems to echo positively in the rest of Pakistan. Unlike the 1970s, when the Baloch insurgency remained essentially a Baloch problem, it now generates debate in broader Pakistani society. Pakistani media outlets, especially electronic media, have proliferated and become more robust.
With few exceptions, the mainstream English-language press appreciates that  “separatist feelings are on the rise in Balochistan, thanks mainly to the action of the military and paramilitary forces, who are systematically accused of picking up, torturing and killing Baloch activists.” Those sentiments do not just appear in obscure Baloch nationalist newspapers (although the Baloch media is systematically banned and its journalists targeted by security forces and their proxies, which seems to indicate that the security establishment may fear their influence outside Balochistan).
The English-language press also recognizes the inability of the civilian politicians to solve the problem,74 especially blaming the provincial government for being corrupt and impotent.75 The provincial authorities blame the media for presenting a gloomy picture of the law-and-order situation in Balochistan,76 but they have little to show to counter the press’s arguments. It is difficult to assess the exact representativeness of the English-language media in their critique of the management of the Balochistan crisis, but the support they lend to the socioeconomic grievances of the province seem to indicate a real empathy for the Baloch, demonstrating some true unity in Pakistan. It also indicates a growing gap between Pakistan’s civil society and its military.
Third, the Baloch nationalist movement is divided and in no position to achieve independence. Baloch nationalists have occasionally engaged in internecine fights that pit hardline groups and individuals against those more amenable to dialogue and willing to resolve the crisis through a political process. Moreover, while the hardliners seem able to harass the military and its proxies, they do not possess the means to prevail over the Pakistani security forces.
Despite the widespread allegations of the Pakistani authorities, the hardliners do not seem to enjoy any significant foreign support likely to change the provincial balance of forces in their favor.77 Fourth, the security establishment is unable to eliminate the insurgency, and its approach to the conflict threatens to further exacerbate the situation.
And it is largely (though not solely) responsible for the increase in violence. It can objectively be argued that some of the most important leaders have been eliminated, but the insurgency has not disappeared. And fifth, the Supreme Court has been unable to force the security forces to respect the law but has been instrumental in shedding light on the Balochistan issue. Since the beginning of the conflict, the Supreme Court has held more than 70 hearings on the situation in Balochistan and issued orders for the implementation of law and the constitution in the province,78 supposedly as a response to real government inefficiency. None of its orders, however, has produced any tangible results. The court has, in the process, exposed its own inefficiency and further highlighted the total absence of accountability of the security establishment.79
The hearings have nevertheless been useful. They have contributed more than any other official body to informing the Pakistani press, public opinion, and the international community about the situation in Balochistan. Given these conditions, is there really space for a political dialogue? The refusal of the nationalist hardliners to negotiate with Islamabad is well-known, but it remains unclear if more moderate nationalist organizations are ready for a political process and willing to reenter electoral politics. During his brief stay in Islamabad in September 2012, Balochistan National Party President Akhtar Mengal met the leaders of two mainstream parties—the head of the PML-N, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, as well as the leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan. This perhaps indicates that Mengal is ready for political dialogue. It is said that the PML-N offered to propose his name for the post of caretaker prime minister, which he declined. For the mainstream political parties as for the nationalists, the priority seems to be the security situation of the province and the end of abuses by the security forces.
Mengal has proposed a “peaceful divorce” with Pakistan—that is, a referendum in Balochistan on self-determination. On the military side, the chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, responded to that proposal by stating that the army would extend its support “to a political solution to the Balochistan problem provided that the solution be in accordance with the constitution of Pakistan” adding that “any steps taken in violation of the constitution would be unacceptable.”80
Any political solution will have to include the nationalists, and the participation of the nationalist parties in the forthcoming elections could be a key component of a solution to the Balochistan issue. The provincial government will undoubtedly be much more legitimate if the nationalist parties do take part, and that will in turn help pacify the province. Some nationalist parties are debating the possibility of participating in the elections. However, they will do so only if there is a reasonably level playing field. Should the parties decide to boycott the elections once again, the situation is likely to worsen due to the predictable absence of legitimacy of a government in which they will not be represented.
No political agreement will be sustainable, however, without a significant improvement of the human rights situation and guarantees on the security of individual Baloch. But it is unclear whether the security establishment is ready to reverse its kill-and-dump policies, put an end to forced disappearances, and disband death squads as a precondition for peace. Moreover, the international community is unlikely to bring much attention to the issue until the completion of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The constraints imposed by the need to keep open troop supply and exit routes through Pakistan will limit the willingness of individual states to challenge the Pakistani military establishment.
In this context, international monitoring of the human rights situation in Balochistan conducted by the United Nations and its various agencies, could  be a limited, yet effective, means of pressure. But ending the assassination campaign and the enforced disappearances is a precondition for such a process.
The recourse to proxies and the willingness of the military to transfer responsibility of the security to the Frontier Corps demonstrate that they are uneasy with their own policies in Balochistan. The monitoring would not only expose the abuses of military proxies, as exposing them would essentially provide an incentive to change them. And monitoring—should the military authorities prove serious about restoring a semblance of normality in the province—would confer credibility to the process and, paradoxically, help restore part of the prestige of the armed forces.
Should there be a real change of mind in Rawalpindi, United Nations monitoring of the situation in Balochistan could become a way of gradually bypassing the mistrust among the various parties. As the United Nations would assess the policy of the Pakistani state in Balochistan in reference to international norms, not out of a particular national political agenda, it could also prove more acceptable for the Pakistani security establishment.
The impact and utility of the mission conducted by the United Nations in September 2012 should be understood in this dual perspective. It spent ten days in Balochistan, meeting with government officials and about 100 private citizens to investigate the fate of disappeared persons in Balochistan.81 The delegation came at the invitation of the Pakistani government, a tacit admission that there is a problem despite official denials. Unsurprisingly, the leadership of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and the paramilitary Frontier Corps, which have been blamed for most of the disappearances, refused to meet the delegation, a position consistent with their previous denials.82
The United Nations mission was primarily an attempt to call international attention to the issue of enforced disappearances. Similarly, the United States and the United Kingdom both expressed concerns over the human rights situation in Balochistan during the nineteenth session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.83
The role of the United Nations could evolve. It could become a guarantor of peace, helping to build confidence between the political parties and the security establishment if they could come to an agreement. It could help provide a practical way out of the present crisis.

Anarchy in Balochistan is not simply another unfortunate situation in an already-fragile region. The power vacuum emerging as a result of the systematic weakening or destruction of all social structures capable of containing the rise of radicalism creates a potentially explosive situation that abuts the most vulnerable provinces of Afghanistan: Helmand and Kandahar. It seems likely that no state power will truly be in a position to control these volatile provinces  after 2014, conferring additional latitude to the groups whose reemergence the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was supposed to prevent.
The Balochistan issue cannot be resolved, or at least mitigated, by addressing the socioeconomic grievances of its people—that time is long gone. Those grievances remain, but the political forces willing to negotiate them within the framework of the Pakistani federation have been marginalized and forced to harden their positions. The Pakistani security establishment seems to have decided to eliminate the very idea of Baloch nationalism, even in its most innocuous forms. Moreover, the Baloch leaders who have neither been bought off by the Pakistani security establishment nor joined the militancy are rejected by both sides. This does not augur well for finding common ground and forging a political agreement that would end the hostilities.
Though the population of Balochistan has lost whatever confidence remained in Islamabad, only a minority (although a sizable one) seems to favor independence. This is an indication that the political space for negotiations, however small it may be, still exists—but it does not guarantee that negotiations will ever start.
That a majority of the population supports Balochistan’s future within the Pakistani federation also indicates, at a deeper level, that Pakistan’s unity is less factitious than commonly thought. This and the failure of the security forces to end the Balochistan conflict by the sword should suggest to Islamabad that Pakistan’s diversity will have to be managed politically, not repressed or suppressed by military means. The choice is ultimately between some form of popular participation or complete fragmentation. If a solution is to be found, it will have to be political.
In Balochistan, the military wanted to eliminate the traditional and local structures to reinforce state power. It has unquestionably managed to destroy traditional social structures, but in the process, it has further weakened the Pakistani state and advanced the hardliners’ position. In many ways, then, Balochistan is thus reflective of the fate of Pakistan as a whole.

1 With 347,190 square kilometers, Balochistan constitutes 43 percent of Pakistan’s territory but about 5 percent of its population.
2 Since independence, the Pakistani federal state and Baloch nationalists had already fought on four occasions—in 1948, 1958, 1962, and 1973–1977.
3 Tribal chiefs in Balochistan.
4 Pervez Musharraf once said, “they don’t even know what is going to hit them.”
5 Naveed Hussain, “Fiddling While Balochistan Burns,” Express Tribune, August 15,
6 Imtiaz Gul, “The Dynamics of a Crisis,” News, July 13, 2012.
7 Michael Brown, Mohammad Dawaod, Arash Iranlatab, and Mahmud Naqi, Balochistan Case Study, INAF 5493-S: Ethnic Conflict: Causes, Consequences and
Management, June 21, 2012,
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid.
11 The Balochistan National Party blames underground death squads, such as the Baloch Musla Defai Council. The group has regularly accepted responsibility for the killing of BNP activists.
12 See Taj Mohammed Breseeg, Baloch Nationalism: Its Origins and Development (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 2004), 159–60.
13 Selig Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baluch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations (Washington, D.C.:, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1981), 24.
14 Ibid., 30.
15 The Bugtis had dissociated themselves from the movement.
16 Feroz Ahmed, Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan (London: Oxford University Press, 1999), 176–77.
17 Ibid., 173.
18 See Aijaz Ahmed, “The National Question in Balochistan,” in Regional Imbalances & The National Question in Pakistan, edited by Akbar Zaidi (Lahore: Vanguard, 1992).
19 Ibid.
20 Mahvish Ahmad, “Balochistan: Middle-Class Rebellion,” Dawn, June 5, 2012.21 Before the death of Akbar Bugti in August 2006, it is said to have, through Baloch National Movement, prevented the latter, the leader of the Jamhori Watan Party, and Mengal, leader of the Baloch National Movement (Mengal faction) and traditionally moderate, to conclude a separate agreement with the government. Both had to adopt a more radical posture and demand independence as opposed to simply autonomy. It became impossible for Islamabad to divide the movement by arresting some and bribing others. Frederic Grare, “Baloutchistan: fin de partie?” Herodote, no. 139, 4th trimester (2010): 111–12.
22 Ahmad, “Balochistan: Middle-Class Rebellion.”
23 Sasuie Abbas Leghari, “The Balochistan Crisis,” News International, August 25, 2012,
24 Malik Siraj Akbar, “‘The Days to Fight Political Battles Are Over,’ … MENGAL,” November 22, 2006, days-to-fight-political-battles-ore-over%E2%80%A6%E2%80%9D-mengal.
25 For example, the Army tried to physically eliminate Nawab Bugti at the very first incident, before the negotiations between the latter and the Mushahid Hussain-led delegation started.
26 International Crisis Group, Pakistan: The Worsening Conflict in Balochistan, Asia Report no. 119, September 2006, 6.
27 Final Report of the EU Election Observation Mission to Pakistan: National and Provincial Assembly Elections, October 10, 2002, europeaid/projects/eidhr/pdf/elections-reports-pakistan=-02_en.pdf.
28 Although the Jamaat-Ulema-u-Islam came only second in the 2002 provincial election, it was asked to form the government, which it led for the entire legislature.
29 International Crisis Group, Pakistan: The Worsening Conflict in Balochistan, 8.
30 Ibid., 7.
31 Balochistan was not the only province with a substantial number of fake voters. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas had 62 percent, Sindh 54 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 43 percent, and Punjab 41 percent. Irfan Ghauri, “Voter Fraud: 65% of Votes in Balochistan Were Bogus,” Express Tribune, September 22, 2011.
32 “The Farce in Balochistan,” Pak Media, February 8, 2013.
33 “Balochistan Matters,” Dawn, October 28, 2012.
34 The National Finance Commission (NFC) Award was so far based exclusively on the population criteria, which gave Punjab a decisive advantage over all other provinces, to the detriment of all others, in particular the least populated of them, Balochistan. The new mechanism took into account backwardness, the population living under the poverty line, and so on, in order to give each province the means of its own development. The revised NFC Award increased the provincial share of the divisible pool from 47 percent to 56 percent for 2010–2011 and to 57 percent for the following four years. The new criteria for the award included a population of 82 percent, poverty of 10.30 percent, revenue generation of 5 percent, and inverse population density of 2.7 percent. The award changed the ration of distribution of resources to provinces: Punjab, 51.74 percent, Sindh, 24.55 percent, NWFP, 14.62 percent, and Balochistan, 9.09 percent. See Mohammed Waseem, Federalism in Pakistan, LUMS, August 2010, 13.
35 For a detailed analysis of the package, see The Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan Package: An Analysis, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, December 2009.
36 See Balochistan Package presented to Parliament on November 24, 2009, http://www.
37 “Pakistan: Balochistan Leaders Say It’s an Ethnic Cleansing Plan,” South Asian Media Network, December 6, 2009.
38 Human Rights Watch, “We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years”: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan, July 2011, 12.
39 “The Farce in Balochistan,” Pak Media, February 8, 2013.
40 Rs 250 to 300 million were disbursed annually to 54 out of a total of 65 assembly members for development schemes without any monitoring or accountability system. “Aghaaz-e-Huqooq: Did the Package Make a Difference?” Express Tribune, February 13, 2013.
41 Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Hopes, Fears and Alienation in Balochistan: Report of an HRCP Fact-Finding Mission (May 5–19, 2012), August 30, 2012,
42 “Balochistan Officials Fired Over Shia Attacks,” Al Jazeera, January 14, 2013.
43 See, for example, Mir Mohammed Ali Taipur, “Winning the Battle of Algiers,”Daily Times, April 25, 2010.
44 Human Rights Watch, “We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years”.
45 See Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Hopes, Fears and Alienation, 59–71.
46 Human Right Watch, “We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years”, 26.
47 Ibid., 32.
48 Lala Munir from the same organization, and Sher Mohammed Baloch, an activist of the Balochistan Republican Party.
49 Saleem Shahid, “Furore in Balochistan Over Killing of Nationalist Leaders,” Dawn, April 10, 2009. It should be noted that Ghulam Baloch was involved in the negotiation for the release of John Solecki, director of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Quetta office.
50 Muhammad Akram, “Baloch Leaders Made Their Points Well. Is Anyone Listening?” Dawn, September 28, 2012.
51 Four main organizations are said to be operating in Balochistan today. The Baloch Musala Defaie Tanzen operates in the Mengal area and has claimed responsibility for the murder of six journalists in Khuzdar. The Saraman Aman Force operates on the outskirts of Quetta as well as Khalat and Mastung. It used to specialize in kidnapping for ransom, but now kills nationalists as well. The other two organizations are the Sepha Shuhda e Balochistan and the Graib Bawaw Thereek.
52 Malik Siraj Akbar, The Redefined Dimensions of the Baloch Nationalist Movement,(Bloomington, Ind.: Xlibris Corporation, 2011), 313.
53 Mir Mohammed Ali Talpur, “A Mere Ritual,” Daily Times, July 8, 2012. See also Dawn, News, Daily Times, Nation, and Express Tribune from the same day.
54 John L. Esposito, “Islam: Ideology and Politics in Pakistan,” in The State, Religions and Ethnic Politics: Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, edited by Ali Banuazizi and Myron Weiner (Lahore: Vanguard, 1987), 344.
55 Soon, however, the martial law decrees were exempted from any examination of conformity with sharia.
56 Markus Daechsel, “Military Islamization in Pakistan and the Spectre of Colonial Perceptions,” Contemporary South Asia 6, no. 2 (July 1997): 141.
57 As rightly explained by Daechsel, “manipulation is always more than just a supposedly rational game for, in order to manipulate somebody, a political actor has to know who that somebody is and which particular chord he has to strike to have maximum effect. Knowledge of the other entails knowledge of the self.” Ibid., 121.
58 Ibid.
59 Zia-ul-Haq had withdrawn the Hyderabad conspiracy case against the Baloch leaders and granted them and the Baloch People’s Liberation Front militants general amnesty.
60 See International Crisis Group, Pakistan: The Worsening Conflict in Balochistan, 7.
61 Muhammed Amir Rana, “The Growing Nexus: Ethnic/Sectarian Violence Is Expected to Continue to Be a Long Term Challenge,” News, July 29, 2012.
62 Safdar Sial and Abdul Basit, Conflict and Insecurity in Balochistan: Assessing Strategic Policy Options for Peace and Security, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, October– December 2010, 3.
63 “The Growing Nexus,” Friday Times, August 3, 2012.
64 “Pakistan Hazaras Targeted Campaign of Ethnic Communal Killings,” World Socialist, May 22, 2012.
65 Huma Yusuf, “Sectarian Violence: Pakistan’s Greatest Security Threat?” NOREF Report, July 2012.
66 Syed Shaoaib Hasan, “Sectarian Militancy Thriving in Balochistan,” Dawn, April 11, 2012.
67 Ibid. See also “Gunmen Kill 7 Shi’a in Balochistan,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 7, 2012.
68 It is also said that the provincial chief of the Lashkar-e-Janghvi in Balochistan, Osman Shaifullah Kurd, was on death row, detained in a cantonment from where he was simply allowed to go.
69 Katja Riikonen, “Sect in Stone,” Herald, October 16, 2012.
70 Ibid.
71 Hasan, “Sectarian Militancy Thriving in Balochistan.”
72 Ijaz Kakhakel, “BLA and LeJ Main Culprits of Violence in Balochistan,” Daily Times, August 3, 2012.
73 Ansar Abbassi, “37pc Baloch Favor Independence: UK Survey,” News, August 13, 2012.
74 “No Conspiracies, Please,” Express Tribune, June 6, 2012.
75 “Balochistan Bleeds,” News, June 25, 2012.
76 “CM Unhappy With Media Portrayal of Balochistan,” Dawn, July 18, 2012.
77 Denouncing international conspiracies, a recurrent theme of Pakistan’s authorities, seems more common whenever they feel they no longer really control the situation. On June 3, 2012, for example, the inspector general of the Frontier Corps, Major General Ubaidullah Khan Khattak, told the press that some 121 training camps run by Baloch dissidents were active in Balochistan and supported by “foreign agencies,”
20 of which were directly operating in the province. Such allegations are echoed in some sections of the press; the most suspicion falls on India, but accusations are also directed at Afghanistan and the United States and its allies, which supposedly conspire in Balochistan to coerce Islamabad into accepting Washington’s strategy for Afghanistan. Interior Minister Malik, who in April 2009 had “made a presentation of what he called evidence of the involvement of India, Afghanistan, and Russia in Balochistan and other parts of the country,” reiterated his accusations in August 2012 before the senate, blaming foreigners for using “banned outfits” and accusing the Afghan and Indian intelligence service of active involvement in “the destabilization of the province and patronizing of separatists, including Brahamdagh Bugti.” Apart from a very limited number of commentators, nobody seems to be buying the argument, although the serious analyst Ayesha Siddiqa does not refute the possibility of the involvement of foreign agencies (adding, however, that their help may be limited). The assertions of foreign conspiracies are actively refuted by the vast majority of the mainstream Pakistani press.
78 Mahammad Zafar, “Balochistan Conundrum: Hearings Spotlight ‘Crumbling’ Khuzdar Situation,” Pakistan Tribune, October 11, 2012.
79 On September 27, Akhtar Mengal, leader of the Balochistan National Party, left his London exile where he chose to live after a period of imprisonment in 2008 and 2009, to appear before the apex judiciary of the country to present a “six-points plan” for Balochistan. In his statement before the court, the Baloch leader said “he had turned to the Supreme court to end 65 years of hopelessness” adding that “expecting anything from the incumbent government was a sin.” He reiterated the traditional grievances of the Baloch, insisting on their political marginalization and exploitation, but focused mainly on the human rights situation in the province. He denounced the “ongoing military operations against the moderate Baloch nationalists in Balochistan, the indiscriminate use of force against civilians, target killings, displacement, and disappearances, and accused the security forces and the intelligence agencies of having committed hundreds of unlawful killings in Balochistan, insisting that “Baloch nationalists [were] being eliminated and instead of giving representation to true representatives, manufactured leaders were being installed.” He ended by presenting a six-point charter enumerating the corresponding demands for correction by the government. The court immediately ordered the issues to be brought to the notice of the concerned authorities, including the prime minister and the heads of Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, and the Intelligence Bureau, and gave them three days to provide their responses to the court. Unsurprisingly, the military and intelligence authorities denied all accusations.
There were no covert or overt operations going on in Balochistan, no death squads operating under the aegis of the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, and no missing persons in the custody of the secret agencies.
80 “Army to Support Any ‘Constitutional’ Solution to Balochistan Unrest: Kayani,” Dawn, October 3, 2012.
81 Declan Walsh, “UN Presses Pakistan Over the Fate of Hundreds of Missing People,” New York Times, October 21, 2012.
82 Baluch Sarmachar, September 19, 2012. Members of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, an organization fighting for the release of the missing people, later sent a letter to the UN and the Supreme Court stating that they had received death threats after they appeared before the delegation. The threats were emanating from the Tehrik Nefaz Aman (TNA), one of the death squads allegedly supported by the intelligence agencies.
83 “Balochs Welcome U.S. Human Rights Intervention at UNHCR,” Tamil Guardian, March 28, 2012.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Publications Department
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel. +1 202-483-7600
Fax: +1 202-483-1840



Comments Off on Balochistan: The State Versus the Nation

Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Research Papers on Political Issues


PAKISTAN’S BALOCH INSURGENCY: History, Conflict Drivers, and Regional Implications

(Research Paper)

By Mickey Kupecz

Mickey Kupecz is an M.A. candidate in International Security at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies where he is a Sié Fellow. His degree focuses on the South Asia region, particularly Pakistan.
His functional interests include ethnic conflict, terrorism, and stability operations. He has interned at the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force, as well as at the Center for Complex Operations at the National Defense University.

Baloch Sarmachar

The Baloch people are a unique ethno-linguistic group spread between Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Throughout history they have been the victims of marginalization within their respective countries. This analysis begins by detailing the low-level insurgency the Pakistani Baloch have fought against the federal government of Pakistan since 2004. It then presents the drivers of historical conflict including tribal divisions, the Baloch-Pashtun divide, marginalization by Punjabi interests, and economic oppression. The contemporary conflict drivers are then examined, which include the construction of the Gwadar mega-port, oil revenues, the war in Afghanistan, and repression by the Pakistani government. The Baloch insurgency will then be placed in a larger regional and global context. By examining the conflict drivers in Pakistani Balochistan and its implications for South Asia, it is clear that while a complete cessation of the conflict is unlikely, ensuring the conflict remains limited is an important element for stability in Pakistan and the region more broadly.


The Baloch1 insurgency in Pakistan is the result of both historical and contemporary factors, and has implications for stability across South Asia. However, Balochistan is often overlooked or forgotten altogether because of the more prominent internal and regional issues facing Pakistan. The Kashmir dispute, the war in Afghanistan, nuclear safety issues, and the internal struggle with religious extremists dominate headlines. However, relations between Baloch nationalists and the central government have been confrontational since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, periodically turning violent. In 2004, the long-simmering tensions broke out into renewed insurgency. The conflict stems in part from the central government’s imposition of a historical narrative of the creation of Pakistan as a religiously homogenous country onto the ethnically distinct Baloch. Today these divisions are also intimately tied to the headline dominating issues mentioned above. While resolution of the conflict in Balochistan will not solve these internal and regional issues, limiting the insurgency is important in preventing further destabilization of Pakistan and the South Asia region at large.

This analysis begins by detailing the Baloch’s low-level insurgency undertaken against the federal government of Pakistan since 2004. It then presents the drivers of historical conflict including tribal divisions, the Baloch-Pashtun divide, marginalization by Punjabi interests, and economic oppression. This section also presents a brief history of relations between Balochistan and the federal government. The analysis then investigates the contemporary conflict drivers, which include the construction of the Gwadar mega-port, oil revenues, the war in Afghanistan, and repression. These historical and contemporary conflict drivers are unlikely to be resolved in the near future. This paper will then place the Baloch insurgency in a larger regional context, which will make clear the importance of managing the conflict for maintaining stability in South Asia.


Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest and least populated province. The Balochs are an ethnically and historically distinct people who inhabit a 375,000 square mile region, roughly the size of Egypt along the Persian Gulf, and are found in the modern states of eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and southwest Pakistan. The military coup in 1999 that brought Pervez Musharraf to power increased general alienation among the Balochs. This is because Balochs see the army as lacking Baloch representation due to its domination by the interests of the Punjabi—the main ethnic group in Pakistan that accounts for approximately 45 percent of the country’s population.” A primary Baloch grievance is the construction of the megaspore of Gwadar, which began in 2002 and is ongoing. In 2004, a renewed ethnic insurgency broke out, and violence has escalated since the killing of the Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti by the army in 2006 and the unlawful detention and disappearance of many additional Baloch leaders by the Pakistani government.3 US intelligence estimates that around 25,000 army and paramilitary forces are involved in counterinsurgency operations in Balochistan, which has only amplified ethnic grievances.4

The current conflict in Balochistan, the bloodiest since the 1970s, has broken a long period of relative peace between Baloch nationalists and the federal government.

The transition from the military government of Musharraf to the civilian government of President Zadari in 2008 did little to assuage Baloch discontent. Indeed, in 2009, 792 attacks resulting in 386 deaths were recorded;5 approximately 92 percent of the attacks were linked to Baloch nationalist militants. Violence increased in 2010, with 730 attacks carried out resulting in 600 deaths.6 Recently, non-political civilian targeting as well as politically motivated attacks and killings have been on the rise.7

Simultaneously, leadership of the Baloch nationalist movement remains highly fractured. As a result, the Baloch nationalist movement is not unitary in either its goals or its tactics.8 The Jinnah Institute, an Islamabadbased think tank, argues that the multiplicity of Baloch leaders with competing motivations has exacerbated the violence, making deciphering the conflict landscape increasingly difficult.9 It is nearly impossible to accurately analyze the structure of the movement given contradictory reports, facts, and figures, a problem compounded by the inaccessibility of Balochistan to the media and independent observers.10

For many Balochs, however, nationalism does not extend beyond specific tribal loyalties. The three largest tribal groups are the Marri, Bugti, and Mengal tribes. Leaders from these tribes are capable of raising large armies and supplies but remain highly suspicious of each other.

Additionally, a 2006 cable from the American Embassy in Islamabad leaked by Wikileaks noted that not all of the tribal leaders have turned against the state, mentioning in part, “There seems to be little support in the province, beyond the Bugti tribe, for the current insurgency.”11 The actions of the Pakistani military appear to confirm this statement; the military specifically targeted the Bugti tribal chief, Nawab Akbar Bugti, and have focused their efforts primarily on Bugti areas.12 Additionally, the military has been able to negotiate with tribal leaders one-by-one, preventing them from joining in a common cause against the government.

While the military continues to see the Bugti tribe as the main sponsor of the anti-state insurgency, other tribal leaders have used their forces as leverage against the state to achieve their own ends. Indeed, the cable from the American Embassy goes as far as to suggest that nationalist leaders do not truly believe in secession, and instead use political rhetoric to extract revenues from the national government.13 In particular, they desire a larger voice in the province’s development and a greater percentage of its natural resource revenues. Tribal leaders Nawab Marri and Attaullah Mengal are said to each possess 4,000 to 5,000 troops and have used them to pressure the government to cede to their demands.

However, as Human Rights Watch notes, the extent to which Baloch political leaders maintain control of militant groups remains unclear.14 The Pakistani military, on the other hand, believes Baloch leaders have a role in every attack. They have even gone as far as to say that the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Balochistan Liberation Unity Front are merely fronts for tribal fighters attempting to extract revenues from the state.15
The argument about direct control by Baloch leadership misses the point, however. Genuine disaffection with the government exists among Balochs, regardless of the degree of control under which militant groups operate. Much of the violence and lawlessness is the result of tribal politics, but Baloch nationalists have several legitimate grievances both historical and current, that the Pakistani state has repeatedly failed to address. These must be explored in depth to truly understand the current violence in Balochistan.


The conflict in Balochistan has been driven by a number of historical trends that will be outlined in this section, including a weak tribal alliance system, economic oppression, and rivalry with neighboring ethnic groups. The intractable nature of these historical factors has made a conclusive resolution of the conflict impossible, resulting in intermittent uprisings by Baloch nationalists. The development of a Baloch national identity stretches back to the pre-colonial era. At the time, Balochistan was a highly fragmented society. Nasir Khan, the preeminent figure in Baloch mythology, was the first leader to successfully unify the Baloch tribes in the middle of the 18th Century.16 He created an army of 25,000 men and set up the first administrative system of government in the region.17

However, the loose tribal alliances arranged by Khan remained volatile. This fragmentation has hindered economic development in the province, exacerbated problems with neighboring Pashtuns in northern Balochistan and Afghanistan, and left Balochs vulnerable to Punjabi domination.

While the Pashtuns and Punjabis have never allied against the Balochs, both have presented distinct problems to them.

In the late 1800s, the British exploited this weak tribal alliance system through a divide-and-conquer strategy. The strategy partitioned Balochistan into seven regions so that the British could take control of the area and ensure access to Afghanistan. In 1884, the British annexed Balochistan to British India.18 Unfortunately, as a result of the tribal rivalries exacerbated by the partition, the infrastructure and economic development of Balochistan suffered relative to other parts of British India, a trend that would continue into the twenty-first century.

The tribal nature of Baloch society also prevented a unified nationalist movement from forming in the lead up to the creation of Pakistan in 1947, which led to the province’s annexation. As British withdrawal became imminent in the mid-1940s, some Baloch leaders scrambled to form a sense of common ethnic identity by calling for an independent Balochistan.19 However, Baloch separatism was the project of only a few tribal chiefs and failed to become a cohesive ideological movement.20

Ultimately, on August 15, 1947, the day after the partition of India and Pakistan, the nascent government in Islamabad forcibly annexed Balochistan. After the partition, Punjabis would maintain their domination of the civil and military bureaucracies of the state, continuing the alienation of the Balochs.

Another long-term conflict driver is the pattern of economic oppression. Balochistan has always been the poorest and least developed of all of Pakistan’s provinces.21 Since the mid-1970s its share of the country’s GDP has dropped from 4.9 to 3.7 percent.22 Balochistan has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate, the highest poverty rate, and the lowest literacy rate in Pakistan.23 The government has often tried to co-opt Balochs with development projects, but none has achieved any measure of success.

While economic development usually dominates the rhetoric coming from Islamabad, the larger issue for the Balochs remains resource exploitation. This source of tension dates back to the colonial era, when the British began extracting coal from Balochistan.24 Exploitation of the province’s natural gas has remained a major Baloch grievance since it was first discovered in 1952, soon after the departure of the British.25 Despite being Pakistan’s most abundant province in natural gas, Balochistan has seen little benefit from its gas fields relative to the Sindh and Punjab provinces.

This is because a new constitution introduced in 1973 set provincial gas royalties at 12.5 percent. However, the wellhead price of gas from each province was differentiated, based on per capita provincial income in 1953. While this tremendously disadvantaged Balochistan, the dismissal of the provincial assembly in February 1973 left them without recourse.

This has resulted in a wellhead price five times lower than in Sindh and Punjab, meaning that Baloch receives less in royalties.26 Furthermore, the government has returned little of the royalties owed to the province, citing the need to recover operating costs.27 Consequently, Balochistan is heavily in debt.28

An historical conflict driver of Baloch nationalism is the Baloch-Pashtun divide, aggravated by British efforts in the region. The British fought several wars in Afghanistan with the strategic objective of keeping it as a buffer zone against Russian expansion. They developed extensive road and rail links throughout the northern parts of present day Pakistani Balochistan, areas mainly inhabited by Pashtuns.29 The effects of road and railway development programs implemented during the colonial era persist today. The Pashtuns in the north of Balochistan have achieved greater economic progress than the Balochs within the province because of infrastructure and commercial links created during the British era.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 further aggravated the Baloch fear of political domination by Pashtuns. As Afghan Pashtuns fled across the border into Pakistan, Balochs viewed them as foreigners in a land they claimed as their own. Fears of political domination seemed to be confirmed by the success of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, a Pashtun nationalist party formed in 1989.30 Stunted economic development resulting from colonial era policies, as well as perceived marginalization as a result of increased Pashtun migration during the Afghan War, are important factors driving Baloch ethno-nationalism.

Domination by Punjabis is another historical conflict driver that dates to the colonial era. During the colonial era the British favored Punjabi control of the region, and therefore arranged a political structure favorable to their interests over those of the Balochs. They entrusted the administrative and military institutions to Punjabis while Balochs were completely excluded.31 Because of their small and fragmented population, Balochs were adversely affected by British policy more heavily than other ethnic groups—the structural legacy of which would continue following the partition and the simultaneous departure of the British in 1947.32

Indeed, mistrust of Punjabis sparked a Baloch uprising following the implementation of the One Unit Scheme in 1955. The plan originally had little to do with the Balochs; it was an attempt by Punjabi interests to consolidate the four ethnically diverse provinces of West Pakistan, including Balochistan, into a single administrative entity in order to counter an ethnically homogenous and numerically superior East Pakistan.

East Pakistan, which would become the independent country of Bangladesh in 1971, was composed of ethnic Bengalis and was separated from West Pakistan by over 1,000 miles of Indian territory. Its population was also larger than that of all of West Pakistan’s ethnic groups combined.33 The Bengalis, like the Balochs, had always felt underrepresented in politics and the military establishment despite their massive population. The Bengalis and Balochs shared an ideological affinity for increased autonomy and a dislike for Punjabis, but their political affiliation extended no further.

The One Unit Scheme nonetheless led to a violent response from Baloch nationalists, for reasons having nothing to do with the Bengalis. The Scheme decreased Baloch representation at the federal level and forestalled the establishment of a provincial assembly, which had yet to be approved by the central government nearly a decade after the partition.

The Khan of Kalat was thus able to mobilize various tribal chieftains against the One Unit Scheme because it was seen as centralizing too much power in the federal government and limiting provincial autonomy.34 The revolt was ended in 1958 through harsh government repression and the arrest of several nationalist leaders. Over the next decade Balochistan was treated more like a colony than a part of the Pakistani state. Punjabis and other non-Baloch groups controlled the administration of the province.

Additionally, resource exploitation by the central government, low rates of literacy, and overall impoverishment plagued the province.35

Dominance by Punjabis would continue after Balochistan became an independent province in 1970 following the dissolution of the One Unit Scheme. In 1972, the newly restored civilian federal government permitted Balochistan to hold its first provincial elections, which brought to power the highly ethno-national National Alwami Party (NAP).

However, Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto removed the NAP government by dismissing the Baloch provincial government in early 1973, following allegations that they were conspiring with foreign governments.36 This set off the most violent Baloch insurgency to date.37

During the four years of violence that ensued, estimates by scholar Selig Harrison put the number of Baloch fighters at 55,000 and the number of Pakistani troops at 80,000 with the death toll at 5,300 for Baloch militants and 3,300 for the Pakistani troops.38

The militant response of the Baloch was largely driven by their rivalry with the Punjabi. First, the dismissal of the provincial assembly was seen as ethnically driven. Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had come to power at the federal level and the demands of the nationalist NAP in Balochistan threatened to undermine the control of the PPP and its Punjabi support base.39 Second, the Punjabi-dominated military’s harsh response was driven by ethnic concerns. The army had become increasingly wary of accommodating ethno-national demands after Bengalis successfully seceded from Pakistan and formed the country of Bangladesh in 1971.40

The secession of East Pakistan was an episode that the army feared would be repeated in Balochistan and thus sought to crush the insurgency. A military coup in 1977 led to the execution of Bhutto and brought General Muhammad Zia to power. While he made no concessions on the issue of autonomy, Zia negotiated an uneasy, 25 year-long truce with Baloch nationalists, starting with the release of Baloch prisoners. There are three main reasons for this. First, the failure of the bloody insurgency in the 1970s disheartened many radical Balochs. Second, the collapse of the Mohammed Daoud government in Afghanistan in 1978 deprived these radicals of external support.41 Lastly, Zia allowed Baloch nationalists to run in elections throughout the 1980s as long as they were not connected with a party; partially as a result, provincial assemblies formed by the winners of these elections had little actual power or autonomy.42 While Balochistan was largely peaceful during the 1980s and 1990s, the historical roots of the conflict were never resolved, which allowed for a renewed outbreak of violence in 2004.


Aside from the historical grievances of political and economic subjugation, the construction of the Gwadar mega-port, expanded natural gas exploration, the war in Afghanistan, and the military’s harsh response to nationalist demands have fueled the current Baloch insurgency. The contemporary factors fueling the insurgency are complex, making resolution of the conflict improbable. The largest conflict driver in Balochistan today is the construction of Gwadar. Announced in 2001, the Chinese-funded project is aimed to transform the small fishing village of Gwadar into a major transportation hub on par with Dubai. Beyond the lofty rhetoric about the development benefits of the port, Gwadar is of extreme strategic importance to Pakistan. A new deep-water port counters Indian naval projection,43 consolidates relations with China, and serves as a passageway for Pakistan’s natural resources to the energy-hungry markets of India, China, and East Asia.44

Despite its importance, the federal government has excluded Balochs from the Gwadar development process. The project is run entirely by the federal government and employs few Balochs in construction of the massive port, instead relying on Chinese engineers and laborers. Army personnel have been posted in the area to secure it from insurgent attacks. One observer noted that there has been little improvement in living standards for Balochs in the area. A parallel town for workers at Gwadar is being built close to the old one in order to segregate Balochs from the growing influx of outsiders.45

Additionally, government officials illegally sold much of the land around Gwadar, making massive profits at the expense of local Balochs.46 The economic marginalization of the Balochs in Gwadar has only led to increased resentment and resistance on the part of the Baloch thus convincing the government of the need to take a more hardline approach to achieve its economic ambitions. In this way, a cycle of animosity perpetuates the conflict.

Expanded natural gas exploration is another source of conflict. Balochistan is a transit site for a proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline that would bring gas from Iran to Pakistan and eventually on to India.47 Baloch militants have frequently targeted gas pipelines and termini as a way of demonstrating their disillusionment with the federal government’s exploitation of the province. Previous attacks have not only cut off power to major cities for several days, but also threatened negotiations with Iran and India over the IPI pipeline.48 Nevertheless, Islamabad remains unwilling to negotiate with the Balochs on the very resources that cause Balochs to remain a nuisance.

The current US-led war in Afghanistan is another contemporary conflict driver. It has further marginalized Balochs in two ways. First, the war has caused an influx of Pashtun refugees from Afghanistan into Balochistan, numerically marginalizing the Baloch population within their own province. 49 This is particularly problematic because, as noted earlier, hostilities between Balochs and Pashtuns date back to the colonial era.50

Second, an influx of extremist militants has brought more federal army and paramilitary troops into the province, which has unnerved Baloch nationalists. Many displaced Taliban troops fleeing from Afghanistan have settled in Balochistan. In fact, Quetta, the provincial capital, has become the de facto capital of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan.51 The Baloch have not reacted favorably given the military’s history of ethnic repression and its perceived domination by Punjabis. In response, Baloch nationalists have begun killing non-Baloch settlers, primarily Punjabis, educators, and moderate Baloch political leaders opposed to violence.52 The violence has become so widespread that for most of 2011, Balochistan recorded the highest number of instances of violence of any Pakistani province.53 While the war in Afghanistan is not a primary driver of Baloch resistance, it has numerically marginalized Balochs within the province and invited Pakistani forces into the region, which has both increased lawlessness and further radicalized the nationalists.

While the Taliban presence has led to an influx of Pakistani forces into the province, the military’s harsh response to the Baloch insurgency has led to a spiral of violence.54 A report by the Pakistan Security Research Unit notes, “Islamabad’s militarized approach has led to…violence, widespread human rights abuses, mass internal displacement and the deaths of

hundreds of civilians and armed personnel.”55 The International Crisis Group also notes that, as in the past, the attempt to crush the insurgency is feeding Baloch disaffection.56 Many Balochs have been imprisoned and held without charges, and the kidnapping of dissidents has become routine, alienating moderate Balochs from the government. This kidnapping trend has risen sharply since 2006. A report released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan documented 143 missing persons and 140 recovered bodies in Balochistan from 2006 to 2011.57

That the Baloch issue has been handled militarily rather than politically makes sense given the lack of civilian control over the country. Despite the restoration of democracy after the departure of General Pervez Musharraf, the military remains the dominant political authority and pays no heed to the commands of the civilian government. As Adeel Khan notes, “[The military] has earned the dubious distinction of being an army that keeps trying to conquer its own people.”58 Unsurprisingly, its response to nearly any problem has been one of overwhelming force. As a consequence, Balochistan has become a third front for the military, the other two being the low-level conflict over Kashmir with India and the battle against Islamic militants who challenge the authority of the state.

Ultimately, civil-military relations in Pakistan show no signs of changing, indicating the unlikelihood of any near-term alteration of the state’s policy on Balochistan.


An escalation of the Baloch insurgency could have disastrous repercussions for security in Pakistan and neighboring countries such as Iran and India. Firstly, containing the Baloch insurgency is important to the stability of Pakistan. At present levels, the conflict is unlikely to threaten the stability of the state. Pakistan’s military is relatively large with 640,000 well-trained troops,59 making it capable of maintaining order in the country. However, expansion of the current Baloch insurgency could undermine the territorial integrity of the state.

Escalation of the Baloch conflict could potentially lead to the balkanization of Pakistan, a scenario that has been discussed extensively over the past decade.60 The insurgency could also combine with other movements to stress the capacity of the Pakistani state to maintain control.

For instance, if the Baloch insurgency were to gain ground or spread to other provinces such as Sindh, which also has a history of ethno nationalism,

Pakistan could lose vast swaths of territory. In such a scenario, Punjabis may decide that maintaining the unity of the country is not worth the cost.61 If the nationalists were to join forces with Islamist insurgents, the consequences could be equally devastating.

The implications of an expanded Baloch insurgency extend beyond Pakistan. One such danger is that the conflict in Balochistan could spill over into Iran, which views the widening insurgency in Pakistani Balochistan in terms of its own Baloch population. In 2005, a nascent Baloch rebellion against the Iranian regime began, though it is has not gained significant ground.62 While Iran and Pakistan cooperated in quelling Baloch national movements in the past, Balochistan has become a point of tension between the two as each suspects the other of interfering with its internal affairs.63 An escalation in violence in Pakistani Balochistan has the potential to increase violence and instability in Iran.64

At a minimum, the Pakistani Baloch conflict will continue to forestall the development of the IPI pipeline,65 which is important to promoting security in the region by increasing trade ties and giving both Iran and India a stake in the stability of Pakistani Balochistan.66

The most pressing regional concern is that the Balochistan conflict could destabilize the uneasy Indo-Pakistani peace. In particular, Pakistan harbors suspicions that India may be using Baloch insurgents as proxies.

Pakistan’s press frequently claims that Baloch rebels possess highly sophisticated armaments, suggesting the possibility of foreign intervention in the conflict.67 In 2004, military officials were quoted as saying that over 200 Baloch rebels had been trained within Pakistan by the Indian government, which was used as a pretense for Pakistani military operations in the province.68 Accounts from third-party sources lend some credence to these claims. According to Christine Fair, a Pakistan expert at Georgetown University, “It would be a mistake to completely disregard Pakistan’s regional perceptions…Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Balochistan.”69 Whether Indian involvement is real or perceived, it has hardened the stance of the Pakistani government towards the rebels.

The consequences of Indian support for insurgents in Balochistan could be disastrous for peace in South Asia. Pakistan has previously used proxies to inflict casualties in Indian-administered Kashmir and throughout the rest of the country. However, such a strategy by India in Balochistan may prompt less restraint from Pakistan than India has shown, risking war and even a nuclear exchange. Indian support for Baloch separatists could conceivably result in the breakup of Pakistan along ethnic lines with the possibility of a mass migration of refugees following the balkanization of Pakistan.70 A massive influx of migrants to India would certainly prompt a humanitarian crisis, stretching the capacity of the Indian government. It may also lead to communal violence between Muslim immigrants and Hindus in India. Finally, in such an instance, the behavior of a broken Pakistani military would be unpredictable, risking a nuclear conflict. In sum, while India may be tempted to support Baloch separatists, the consequences of doing so could be catastrophic. Limiting the Baloch insurgency in Pakistan is thus an important element for stability in South Asia.


The conflict in Balochistan threatens to further destabilize an already fragile region. Understanding the present conflict requires an understanding of more than 150 years of social, political, and economic oppression. The history of the Baloch people includes colonial subjugation, forcible annexation, the refusal of sub-state ethnic claims, interference in local affairs, and the inability of Islamabad to deliver genuine development. A long history of rivalry with neighboring Pashtuns is an often overlooked grievance of Baloch nationalists as well. Further, tribalism and factional conflict have kept the Balochs from advocating a coherent set of demands. These long-term conflict drivers must be considered when addressing the present conflict. However, several factors make the current Baloch insurgency unique. The issue of Gwadar, the increasing importance of natural gas revenues, and a renewed influx of Afghan refugees, have further complicated the situation. Furthermore, the state’s harsh response to the current insurgency has fed a conflict spiral, making reconciliation less likely.

Unfortunately, peaceful resolution of the conflict in Balochistan is improbable in the near future because neither side is likely to change its behavior. The military will maintain its strategy of targeting recalcitrant Baloch leaders, while some nationalists will continue to use violence as a means of extorting concessions from the federal government. The state will attempt to negotiate with those it sees as moderate in order to buy as much peace as possible. However, the underlying problem of genuine development aid is unlikely to be addressed. As such, intermittent attacks against the state and non-Baloch tribal groups will continue for the foreseeable future.

Given that Balochistan is important to broader regional peace, it should be accorded more attention in academic and policy discourse. While the Baloch insurgency will remain active in the medium term, its consequences can be mitigated. Genuine development in the province and an end to the harsh repression of Baloch nationalists would be a start.

These policies may not overcome the deep-seated antipathies of Baloch rebels, but they will ensure the conflict remains limited. Pakistan’s neighbors would also be well advised to avoid inciting the conflict. Failure to do so could have serious repercussions for Pakistan and its South Asian neighbors.


1 The transliteration of Baloch leads to the alternate spellings Baluch and Baluchistan. For convenience, all quotations using the alternate spelling have been standardized.

2 Livingston, Ian and Michael O’Hanlon. “Pakistan Index,” Brookings Institute (December 29, 2011): 12.

3 “Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan,” International Crisis Group Asia Briefing No. 69 (October 2007): 2-5.

4 Jetly, Rajsree. “Resurgence of the Baluch Movement in Pakistan: Emerging Perspectives and Challenges,” in Jetly, Rajshree. ed. Pakistan in Regional and Global Politics (New York: Routledge, 2009): 215.

5 “Pakistan Security Report 2009,” Pak Institute of Peace Studies (January 2010).

6 “Pakistan Security Report 2010,” Pak Institute of Peace Studies (January 2011).

7 Zaidi, Salman. “Policy Brief: Making Sense of Violence in Balochistan 2010,” Jinnah Institute (January 2010) securityprogram/

212-policy-brief-making-sense-of-violence-in-balochistan-2010 (accessed Dec. 10, 2011).

8 Wirsing, Robert. Baloch Nationalism and the Geopolitics of Energy Resources: The Changing Context of Separatism in Pakistan (Strategic Studies Institute, April 2008): 21.

9 Zaidi.

10 Wirsing, 21.

11 “2006: Who’s Who in Balochistan,” Dawn (May 28, 2011) available at Dec 6, 2011).

12 Aslam, Rabia. “Greed, Creed, and Governance in Civil Conflicts: A Case Study of Balochistan,” Contemporary South Asia Vol. 19, No. 2 (June 2011): 195-196.

13 “2006: Who’s Who in Balochistan.”

14 “Their Futures Are at Stake,” Human Rights Watch (December 2010): 10.

15 Wirsing, 22.

16 Harrison, Selig. “Baluch Nationalism and Superpower Rivalry,” International Security Vol. 5, No. 3 (Winter 1980): 156.

17 Khan, Adeel. “Baloch Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan: From Guerilla War to Nowhere?” Asian Ethnicity Vol. 4, No. 2 (June 2003): 286.

18 Khan, Adeel “Baloch Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan,” 283.

19 Khan, Adeel. “Baloch Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan,” 285.

20 Cohen, Stephen. The Idea of Pakistan (Washington DC: Brookings, 2006): 219.

21 Kennedy, 157.

22 Jetly, 216-217.

23 Baloch, Sanaullah. “The Baloch Conflict: Towards a Lasting Peace,” Pakistan Security Research Unit No. 7 (March 2007): 5-6.

24 Khan, Adeel “Baloch Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan,” 284.

25 Aslam, 194.

26 “Conflict in Balochistan: HRC Fact-Finding Missions,” Human Rights Commission of

Pakistan (August 2006): 56.

In Balochistan the wellhead price is $0.38 while it is approximately $2 in the other


27 Ahmed, Gulfaraz. “Management of Oil and Gas Revenues in Pakistan,” The World Bank (March 3, 2010): 11.

28 “Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan,” 9.

29 Present day Pakistani Balochistan was part of British India, as Pakistan did not exist until Partition in 1947.

30 Khan, Adeel. Politics of Identity (New Delhi: Sage, 2005): 124.

31 Roy, Kaushik. “The Construction of Regiments in the British Indian Army: 1859-

1913,” War in History Vol. 8 No. 2 (April 2001): 139.

32 Talbot, Ian. Pakistan: A Modern History (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005): 56

The departure of the British from their Indian colony led to the creation of two states, Pakistan and India, along religious lines with the former being Muslim and the latter Hindu.

33 Cohen, 7.

34 Harrison, Selig. In Afghanistan’s Shadow (New York: Carnegie, 1981): 27.

35 Khan, Adeel. “Baloch Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan,” 287.

36 Titus, Paul and Nina Swindler. “Knights, Not Pawns: Ethno-Nationalism and Regional

Dynamics in Post-Colonial Balochistan,” International Journal of Middle East Studies Vol. 32, No. 1 (February 2000): 60.

37 Khan, Adeel. “Renewed Ethnonationalist Insurgency in Balochistan, Pakistan: The Militarized State and Continuing Economic Deprivation,” Asian Survey Vol. 49, No. 6 (November/December 2009): 1076. and Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, 37.

38 Selig S. Harrison, “Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan: The Baluch Case,” in Hutchinson, John and Anthony Smith eds. Ethnicity (Oxford University Press; Oxford,1996), 298.

39 Khan, Adeel. Politics of Identity, 117.

40 Talbot, 224.

41 Khan, Feisal, “Why Borrow Trouble for Yourself and Lend It to Your Neighbors? Understanding the Historical Roots of Pakistan’s Afghanistan Policy,” Asian Affairs Vol. 37, No. 4 (October 2010): 177.

42 Khan, Adeel. “Renewed Ethnonationalist Insurgency in Balochistan, Pakistan” 1077.

43 Kaplan, Robert. Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of America Power (New York: Random House, 2010): 71.

44 Baloch, 3.

45 Khan, Adeel “Renewed Ethnonationalist Insurgency in Balochistan, Pakistan” 1079.

46 Kaplan, 74.

47 Wirsing, 4.

48 Temple, David. “The Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline: The Intersection of Energy and Politics,” Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies Research Papers No. 8 (April 2007): 27.

49 “Their Futures Are at Stake,” 7.

50 Talbot, 56-57.

51 “Their Futures Are at Stake,” 7-8.

52 “Pakistan Security Report (June 2011),” Pak Institute for Peace Studies (July 13, 2011) available at (accessed Dec. 6, 2011).

53 Author calculations compiled from “Pakistan Security Reports,” Pak Institute of Peace Studies available at (accessed March 11, 2012).

54 “We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan,” Human Rights Watch (July 2011): 11.

55 Baloch, 7.

56 “Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan,” 2.

57 “Balochistan: Blinkered slide into chaos,” Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (June 2011).

58 Khan, Adeel “Renewed Ethnonationalist Insurgency in Balochistan,” 1091.

59 The Military Balance (London: Institute for Strategic Studies, 2012): 469.

60 For an extensive discussion of the future of Pakistan, see Rizvi, Hasan. “At the

Brink?,” in Cohen, Stephen. The Future of Pakistan (Washington: Brookings, 2011): 182-198.

61 Bajpai, Kanti. “Pakistan’s Future: Muddle Along,” 73 in Cohen. The Future of Pakistan.

62 Bhargava, G. S. “How Serious Is the Baluch Insurgency?,” Asian Tribune (Apr. 12, 2007) available at (accessed Dec. 2, 2011).

63 Atarodi, Alexander. “Insurgency in Balochistan and Why It Is of Strategic Importance,” Swedish Defence Research Agency (January 2011): 22.

64 Nader and Lahla, 12.

65 Sahay, Anjali and Jalil Roshandel. “The Iran-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline: Implications and Challenges for Regional Security,” Strategic Analysis Vol. 34, No. 1 (January 2010): 87-88.

66 Sahay, and Roshandel. 88-89 and Temple, 4.

67 Grare, 9.

68 Raman, B. “Balochistan Continues to Haunt Musharraf,” South Asia Analysis Group

(Dec. 29, 2004) available at (accessed March 11, 2012).

69 “Internal Security Strategy for Pakistan,” Pak Institute of Peace Studies (January 2011): 5.

70 Bajpai, 79.



Author’s comments doesn’t necessarily reflect blogger’s views.

Comments Off on PAKISTAN’S BALOCH INSURGENCY: History, Conflict Drivers, and Regional Implications

Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Research Papers on Political Issues

%d bloggers like this: