Author Archives: Balochi Linguist

Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan: A Case Study of Baloch Nationalism during Musharraf Regime

Muhammad Ijaz Laif
Muhammad Amir Hamza

This paper is an attempt to define ethnic nationalism in Pakistan with reference to Balochistan. The federation is weakened by military regimes that cannot understand the real situation of Baloch nationalism and its deep roots among the people of Balochistan. To explain and analyze the problem, the study has used books, journals, newspapers, government documents and interviews for quantitative/explanatory analysis. To analyse the situation, the philosophy of ethnicity and nationalism and their difference has been discussed. Balochistan has become a gateway to Central Asia, Afghanistan, China, and Europe.bugti It is also approachable to West Asia due to the Gawadar port and some other mega projects. Peace, development, rule of law, and political stability has become of utmost priority to the area of Balochistan and Pakistan. Therefore, it is very important to analyze the present situation of Balochistan which includes the characteristics of Baloch nationalism, its roots, brief history, and ethnic elements of Pakistani nationalism, provincial autonomy and the basic causes of Baloch uprising during Pervez Musharraf regime. The paper analyses the seriousness of Baloch nationalist movement and its future’s consequences and impact on the mega projects in Balochistan.

Ethnicity refers to rather complex combination of racial, cultural, and historical characteristics by which societies are occasionally divided into separate and probably hostile, political families. In its simplest form the idea is exemplified by racial grouping where skin colour alone is the separating characteristics. Almost anything can be used to set up ethnic divisions, though, after skin colour, the two most common by a long way, are religion and language. According to the Dictionary of Politics, ethnicity raises the whole socio-political question of national identity that is why ethnic politics is at its most virulent and important in third world countries whose geographical definition owes often far more to European empire builders to tend them to any ethnic homogeneity.1
Probably, one needs to distinguish between the politics of ethnicity in advanced societies, where it is some what luxurious, given the overall strength of national identity and the relative importance of other basic political issues related to organizing a productive economy, and the Third World, where ethnic divisions may be absolutely central to the problems of organizing a working political system at all.2
Ethnicity is basic since it provides for a sense of ethnic identity where cultural and linguistic symbols are used for internal cohesion and for differentiation from other groups. It is an alternative form of social organization to class formation. W. J. Foltz has identified four types of characteristics that distinguish different ethnic groups. The first characteristic is biological, where members of a group develop common physical characteristics by drawing upon a ‘particular genetic pool’. More important are the next two distinguishing features, cultural and linguistic, where the ethnic group develops a distinctive value system and language. Finally, the ethnic group may evolve a structural identity by developing a particular type of ‘joint’ relations, differing from the way others organize their ‘social roles’.3
Another Sociologist Paul Brass brings “ethnic groups within three definitional parameters, first, in terms of ‘objective attributes’ – some distinguishing cultural, religious or linguistic feature that separates one group of people from another, second, in terms of ‘subjective feelings’ where a subjective self-consciousness exists. Third, in relation to behaviour – that is, how ethnic groups behave or do not behave, especially in relation to other groups, since cultural and other distinctions really come forth to one group’s interaction with other groups.4
Shireen M. Mazari says in her paper that in most heterogeneous states, ethnic identities and groupings exist within the state and national structures, problems arise when ethnic movements is transformed into nationalist movement. As Tahir Amin points out, ethnic movements seek to gain advantages within an existing state, while nationalist movements seek to establish or maintain their own state.5 There are very few modern states, which are ethnically homogeneous. In his study of nation-building, Walker Connor points out that of a total of 132 states existing in 1972, only 12 (9.1%) could be viewed as ethnically homogeneous, while another 25 (18.9%) states consisted of one main ethnic group, which accounted for more than 90% of the state’s total population. In 31 states (23.5%), however, the single largest ethnic group formed only 50-74% of the population, and in 39 states (29.5%), no one ethnic group accounted for even half of the population of the state.6
With the addition of new states into the system, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and in the aftermath of continuing decolonization on the African continent since the seventies, the picture would not have altered in terms of the trend. One of the fallouts of decolonization was the resurgence of ethnicity as a means of identity assertion in the newly-independent states – especially, since in many cases, ethnic groups were split across artificially created borders, without regard to natural, geographic borders and divides, especially in Africa. This also led to ethnicity often having a trans- national framework.7
On the other side nationalism is the political belief that some groups of the people represent a natural community which should live less than one political system while leaving others independent and often has the right to demand an equal standing in the world order with others. Although some times a genuine and widespread belief, especially under conditions of foreign rule, it is equally often a symbolic tool used by political leaders to control their citizen. Nationalism has always been useful to leaders because by stressing national unity harping on threats from those who are clearly foreign or different internal schisms can be prepared over or otherwise unpopular policies can be executed. This statement simplifies, the nationalism contrast with internationalist movements or creeds, and it is a means of stressing on local, at times almost tribal, identities and loyalties.8
Nationalism is a feeling of protection of interests of a nation and national state. It should not be intermixed with ethnicity. Sociologist Hasan Niwaz Gardezi describes that Nationalism was and is a great power which developed nation states in Europe. This gave birth to colonialism, and it resulted in the development of multinational aspects of nationalism and imperialism. Due to colonialism, nationalism developed in the clave countries and they got freedom from the yoke of colonialism. Later on, in the new independent states, under the neo-colonial set up, ruling classes have changed this weapon into ethnicity and used it for their own interests under the philosophy of divide and rule.9
According to the Encyclopedia of Wikipedia, nationalism, in its broadest sense, is a devotion to one’s own nation and its interests over those of all other nations. The term can also refer to a doctrine or political movement that holds that a nation usually defined in terms of ethnicity or culture has the right to constitute an independent or autonomous political community based on a shared history and common destiny. For nationalists, the borders of the state should be congruent with the borders of the nation. Extreme forms of nationalism, such as those propagated by fascist movements in the twentieth century, hold that nationality is the most important aspect of one’s identity and it attempts to define the nation in terms of “race” or genetics.10
Nationalism has had an enormous influence in world’s history. The quest for national hegemony has inspired millennia of imperialism and colonialism, while struggles for national liberation have resulted in many revolutions. In modern times, the nation state has become the dominant form of societal organization. Historians have used the term nationalism to refer to this historical transition and to the emergence and predominance of nationalist ideology.11
But ethnic nationalism is more than nationalism. It defines the nation in terms of ethnicity that always includes some element of descent from previous generations i.e. gynophobia. It also includes ideas of a culture shared between members of the group and with their ancestors, and usually a shared language. Membership in the nation is hereditary. The state derives political legitimacy from its status as homeland of the ethnic group, and from its function to protect the national group and facilitate its cultural and social life, as a group. Ethnic nationalism is now the dominant form, and is often simply referred to as “nationalism”.12 Theorist Anthony Smith uses the term ‘ethnic nationalism’ for non-Western concepts of nationalism, as opposed to Western views of a nation defined by its geographical territory. (The term “ethno-nationalism” is generally used only with reference to nationalists who espoused an explicit ideology along these lines; “ethnic nationalism” is the more generic term, and they used it for nationalists who hold these beliefs in an informal, instinctive, or unsystematic way).13
After the collapse of Soviet Union and with the end of cold war, the nation state is being challenged by the drive of racial, cultural and religious minorities for the rights of self-determination. The world is facing a wave of ethno-nationalism. The problem is being faced by both old and new nations, from Great Britain, Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan etc. The myth of national integration or unification is being exploited by the social diversity of constituent minorities.
Pakistan is trying its utmost for the fulfillment of minority’s demand for self-determination. It was an ethno-nationalist state in the post colonial era. Being an independent state, Pakistan largely ignored the social diversity and economic disparities of its people. The construction of national ideology based on pure mechanical national unity and simplistic ideas of cultural homogeneity. The ruling classes of Pakistan neglected the social diversity and ignored the interests of ethnic and regional minorities. This gave the ultimate death blow to Pakistan. A majority of its people broke away to form a separate country Bangladesh. The remainder of Pakistan is under the siege of political instability, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, religious terrorism and economic inequality.14
In Pakistan, the ethnic movements have been of differing varieties, and have shifted from seeking advantage within the state to moving beyond into the realm of ethno-nationalism,15 rather than reverting to the former position. While these shifts have been correlated primarily to internal political developments (for example, in the case of the ‘Sindhu Desh’ movement), in some cases, external developments have had a major influence also (as in the case of the ‘Greater Balochistan’ and ‘Pushtunistan’ movements). The 2002 elections showed a trend that had begun in the last elections (February 1997), that ethnic parties have lost ground to national political parties.16
The roots of these problems lie in Pakistan’s failure to acknowledge and accommodate its ethnic diversity, economic disparities and provisional autonomy. Ethnicity particularly has been much talked about, with little understanding. Pakistan is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society. The constitution of Pakistan provides equal rights and opportunity to all nationalities and ethnic groups in all walks of life. Language and culture of all identities should be promoted and there should be mutual respect and tolerance. Suppression of diversity in the name of Islam, national unity or strong centre is not only violation of basic human and democratic rights but is counter productive to the aims of suppression. Unity among all nationalities, ethnic or racial groups must be sought and can be found within the cultural and ethnic diversity of Pakistan.

Objectives of Study:
This research is about the ethnic nationalism with reference to Baloch nationalism and its political impact in Pakistan. The purpose of the study is to test a hypothesis that the ethnicity, ethnic nationalism is a serious threat to Pakistani federation. The un-democratic forces cannot understand the real situation of provincial autonomy and the power of nationalism. In this respect, the study will endeavor to deal with the following:
1. To discuss the elements of Ethnic Problems in Pakistan.
2. To analyze the historical and political causes of Baloch Insurgency.
3. To evaluate the role of tribal chiefs in the movement.
4. To analyze critically the causes of Baloch insurgency during Musharraf Regime and its threat for the.
5. To discuss the nature of Baloch unrest and its impact on future of Pak-Iran-India Gas Pipeline and other development projects.

At the end recommendations and conclusion will be drawn. The focus of this study is on the Balochistan’s insurgency in 1999- 2007 and state ‘suppression’ by Musharraf regime due to which many workers of Baloch political parties including Akbar Bugti were removed from the scene for ever. It would attempt to examine the impact of these savior state ‘oppressions’ and its consequences on Pakistani politics. The future of federal structure and over all country’s political situation is discussed in this paper.

The research problem in this paper is to explain the ethnic and national problems of Pakistan with reference to Balochistan. The existing material on ethnicity, nationalism and provincial autonomy in Pakistan is mostly descriptive and theoretically ambiguous. Thus, the study used secondary sources i.e., books, journals, and newspapers, at times quantitatively to explain and analyze politics and nationalism in Pakistan. In addition, primary sources such as reports are used for quantitative analysis. The study relied on quantitative facts in the data collected because it would help to test hypothesis. The questionnaire that was built for this purpose shall analyze the problem with the help of theoretical framework.
Finally, the study has mainly focused on Pakistan’s provincial problems, general politics and Baloch nationalism. It has excluded otherwise very useful narration of political developments such as a detailed description of the causes of Pakistan’s partition in 1971 and various military actions in Balochistan. It has been done knowingly because it is very difficult to include all in this short paper. The study is intended to explain the problem that has not been dealt with the way the present study does. Therefore, unnecessary details are avoided to fully concentrate on the problem.

Literature Review
Sixty years of Balochi nationalism in Pakistan have had very few impacts in the print media due to the military factor prevailing in Pakistan that has suppressed Balochi nationalism. In order to test the hypothesis, several books on the subject and some original reports and documents of the government of Pakistan are used as a primary source. Various books e.g. Ethnicity and politics in Pakistan by Dr. Feroze Ahmad (1991) Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore were relied upon in terms of quantitative/qualitative facts to explain the Ethnicity and nationalism in Pakistan.
In addition, reference has been made of another book Adeel Khan (2005) Politics of Identity: Ethnic Nationalism and the State in Pakistan, SAGE publications Delhi, to explain the role of Army, Civil Bureaucracy, political parties and tribal ‘sardars’ in the structure of Pakistani federation. Both the books also cover general politics of Pakistan and Balochistan and the philosophical aspects of ethnicity and nationalism. On the issue of national question of Pakistan and ethnicity, a valuable book was Hasan Niwaz Gardezi’s Understanding Pakistan- the Colonial Factor in Social development, (1991) Maktba Fikro Danish, Lahore. In this book he discusses Balochistan’s tribal belts and its pre capitalist modes of production. About Ethnic and nationality question, he describes the early eruption of ethnic resistance against the central authority in Balochistan.
A valuable historical work of Justice Mir Khuda Buksh Marri Searchlights on Balochi’s and Balochistan (1974), Royal Book Company, Karachi, was also consulted. In In his book, Justice Murri attempted to trace the origin, customs, language and history of Baloch people from Tell-Harire and Allepo in Nothern Syria to ancient Babylonian, Kerman, Balochistan and Delhi from the earliest times to the present. Two important books on national crisis, national integrity and political situation of Pakistan are also consulted for this paper. From Crisis to Crisis by Herbert Feldman (1972), Oxford University Press, Karachi is a valuable writing to examine the administration of the country by Ayub Khan through the instrumentality of the constitution promulgated by him and brought in to effect on the abrogation of martial Law on June 1962.
The second one is Rounaq Jahan’s Book, Pakistan- Failure in National Integration (1972), Colombia University Press,London. In this book, she focused on national development, national integration of Pakistan since 1971. Some valuables articles of Dr. Mubarik, Ishfaq Saleem Mirza, Dr. Anees Alam, and Tahir Muhammad Khan on nationalism, nationality, and the evaluation of Baloch-Pashtoon movement in Balochistan and their contradictions were also consulted, published in Journal of ‘History’ (2005), Fiction House, Lahore.
To explain the historical aspects of the Baloch nationalism, the study relies upon secondary sources like journals, newspapers, magazines and internet resources. The secondary sources helped a lot in terms of explaining the historical background of Baloch nationalism, mega projects in Balochistan, real causes of the unrest in Balochistan. Some primary material in terms of Pakistan Census Report (1998) to quantitatively explain the impact of inters province migration towards Sindh and Balochistan were also accessed.
Interviews of some of the leaders of political parties of Balochistan, intellectuals, experts on Baloch issue were conducted in order to get some information and insight on the Baloch nationalist movement and politics and economic ventures to explain research problem. However, unfortunately, the accessibility to some of the concerned persons was made difficult due to their engagements and critical situation of Balochistan and the judicial crisis of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The time constraint too proved a setback in this respect. To solve this problem, Chairman of a political party Khaliq Baloch and Rashid Rehman an expert on Balochistan were accessed. This source has been used quantitatively to explain the real situation of Balochistan.

Elements of Ethnic Problems in Pakistan:
Much has been said and written about the history, facts and legitimacy of ethnic problems, grievances and national question of Pakistan. Here, we will only highlight some basic elements of the ethnicity in Pakistan.

Provincial Autonomy:
Provincial rights, regional autonomy, and self-determination are basic types in which the ruling class of the dominated nationality or ethnic group has raised grievances against the domination of the ruling elite of the Punjab. In different part of the country, political elements from time to time raise their voice for complete independence, confederation with only residual powers for the centre, more autonomy within federation, creation of new provinces for different ethnic entities and demand for change in provincial boundaries to create more homogeneous provinces.17

Allocation of Resources:
This is the most important area in which oppressed nationalities and ethnic groups are very sensitive. The resources for which they struggle are financial resources for development and recurrent expenditures, more share in irrigation water, Government jobs, opportunities for professional and higher education and allotment of agricultural land to civil and military bureaucracy in Sindh and Balochistan.18

Inter-Province Migration:
There is a great resentment on migration from Punjab and NWFP to Sindh and Balochistan. Refugees from other South Asian countries, Afghanistan, and Arab countries are also a problem for Balochistan. In 1998, the last Population Census calculated a net migration to a total population ratio of 9.6 for Sindh.19 This migration created a huge burden on limited resources of these provinces. In Balochistan the case of Gawader and the making of cantonments become a sensitive issue, because it will change the demographic balance of Balochistan.

Language and Culture:
This is another sensitive area. Demand for the protection and promotion of languages and cultures of different ethnic groups against the domination of Urdu and neglect of regional cultural heritage. It is a permanent feature in the struggle of different ethnic groups for their identity assertion. In spite of a dominated nationality, Punjabis are deprived of their mother tongue. Language and cultural identity serve as instruments to forging group cohesion and legitimating group demands.20

The major issue, for the leadership, was to frame a viable political system in the aftermath of the state’s creation in August 1947. The preparation of the various drafts for a viable constitution which could satisfy the expectations of all the provinces of the new country reflected the economic, social, political and cultural problems which confronted Pakistan. The failure of the political leadership to accommodate ethnic diversities within a representative political framework was responsible not only for the failure of civilian rule and the military takeover in 1958, but also for the creation of ethno-nationalism.
Nationalism is a product of concept of a nation. Pakistani state has four nationalities in its federation. The ruling class of Pakistan is ignoring this fact since its creation and trying to change its multi-nation status into a single nation. Anees Alam says that in the newly independent states, the institution of state was born and developed under the shadow of colonialism. Now this institution (state) has become involved in ‘negative’ practice to develop a single nation country Pakistan. Creation of Bangladesh and continuous unrest in Balochistan is the result of this state ‘mentality’.21

Political Background of Baloch Insurgency
To understand the present insurgency in Balochistan, it is necessary to overview the historical background of the movement. In 1947, there were three independent rulers in independent Balochistan, Khan of Kalat in Baloch areas, Nawab Jogezai in some Pashtoon areas and some other Pashtoon areas were independent. Geographically, Balochistan was distributed into four states or regions. They were (1) Bela (2) Kallat (3) Makran (4) Kharan. The four states were under the Khan of Kallat before the arrival of Britishers. Two agreements were signed in 1878 and in 1939 among Khan of Kalat and the British government.22
The Britisher got Quetta, Noshki, Bolan and Naseerabad on rent from Khan of Kalat. The area of railway line from Jakababad to Taftan was also on rent. In 1947; The Khan of Kalat and other Baloch sardars wanted to be an independent Balochistan. For this purpose they formed Kalat National Party. The forceful merger of Balochistan into Pakistan was the first contradiction of Baloch with Pakistani ruling class.23 When the nominal rulers of Balochistan, the Khan of Kalat, dragged his feet in the early 1950s over signing the Balochistan accession document to Pakistan, the impatient federal government threw diplomacy and negotiation overboard and hastily sent a couple of PAF jets to strafe his palace and make him change his mind.
Natural Gas was discovered in Sui around 1952. Since then, Pakistan has benefited enormously from this cheap source of energy. Balochistan, however, neither had gas for its own use nor was paid royalties which was its due right till the mid-1980s, when General Zia-ul- Haq was trying to mollify the Baloch nationalists since he had his hands full with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s People’s Party. Even today, only gas pipeline in Balochistan runs through Quetta, with a proposed pipeline to Khuzdar, still to become a reality. The lack of alternative fuel has denuded; whatever little forest covered the arid province. Only under international environmentalists’ pressure, has the federal government lately conceded to the need for gas supply to Ziarat to save the unique Juniper forest from extinction. The royalties being paid to Balochistan for its gas are lower than those being paid for later discoveries in Sindh and Punjab. This was cause of much heartburning for the Baloch.24
When One Unit was declared in 1955, Sher Mohammad Marri, a tribal ‘wadera’, protested the usurpation of ‘provincial rights’, fled to the hills with a band of loyal tribesmen and started taking pot-shots at the ‘occupying Punjabi army’ The seeds of Baloch provincial awakening gave rise to Baloch nationalism in the aftermath of national elections, the eruption of Bengali separatism and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Mr. Bhutto’s PPP won Sindh and Punjab and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League swept East Pakistan, the fact also was that the National Awami Party led by “nationalists” Ghaus Bux Bizenjo, Ataullah Mengal, Khair Bux Marri, Akbar Bugti and Khan Wali Khan dominated Balochistan and the NWFP. At the time, even the Jamiat i Ulema i Islam of Maulana Mufti Mahmud (father of Maulana Fazlur Rehman) thought fit to join hands with the nationalists to espouse the provincial cause.
The 1970s revolt of the Baloch, which manifested itself in the form of an armed struggle against the Pakistan army in Balochistan, was provoked by federal impatience, high handedness and undemocratic constitutional deviation. It was the effect of unjust federal policies and not the cause of them. At that time, Nawab Akbar Bugti served as an agent of the federal government when he was appointed governor of Balochistan by Mr. Bhutto throughout the time of the insurgency and spoke not a word in favour of Baloch rights or provincial autonomy. The greater irony was that the insurgency came to an end following the army coup of General Zia ul Haq against the civilian government of Mr Bhutto.
Soon thereafter, Gen Zia unfolded plans to desensitize the alienated Baloch and Pashtun leadership by a multi-faceted strategy aimed at co-opting the leaders into office while providing jobs and funds in the federal government to the alienated and insecure tribal middle classes. More significantly, he created maximum political space for the religious parties in the NWFP and Balochistan so that they could be galvanized in the jihad against the USSR in neighbouring Afghanistan. The years of Zia’s political machinations had had their effect, and although the PPP emerged as the single largest party in the 1988 elections, it failed to gain an overall majority in the national legislature. Benazir Bhutto’s Prime Ministership was, therefore, the result of a compromise with the existing structures of power, with the division of powers tilted heavily in favour of the President.
In the course of the four elections held in Pakistan since 1988, political coalitions have been built across ethnic lines and the national parties have made inroads into the provinces. (See Appendix I) For instance, after the 1997 elections, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) chose to form a coalition government with a number of ethnic parties – although it could have ‘gone it alone’. Instead, it formed the coalition with the Awami National Party (ANP), the Balochistan National Party (BNP), Jamhoori Watan Party, The Baloch leaders, who had taken up arms against the Z. A. Bhutto regime, were also brought back into the mainstream after the death of General Zia. While the Baloch political parties remain fragmented, the mainstream national parties increased their support in the Province. The old alignment between the Balochs and Pushtuns also ended as a result of the influx of Afghan refugees into Balochistan.
Although conflicts continued with the centre over the distribution of resources, including water, these issues are not framed in ethno-national terms anymore. The civilian Governments headed by Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif made overtures to the Baloch nationalists and managed to persuade them to give up violence, despite continuing differences between Islamabad and the Baloch nationalists over questions such as genuine political autonomy for Balochistan, larger allocation of central tax revenue and development funds for Balochistan and payment of inadequate royalty for the gas found in Balochistan and taken to Punjab to sustain its economy.
The return of the Army to power under the President General Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999, led to a gradual deterioration of the situation in the province. Amongst the reasons for this were: the traditional grievances of the Balochs over the lack of political autonomy, inadequate royalty payment for gas and lack of economic development. The construction of the Gawadar port by the Army with Chinese assistance without the involvement of the Baloch people and their Government in Quetta in the decision-making related to the port; the award of all major contracts relating to the construction of the port to companies based in Karachi and Lahore; and the re-settlement of a large number of ex-servicemen from Punjab and other parts of Pakistan in the Gawadar and the surrounding areas on the Mekran coast in order to assure the security of the new port. The fact that Pakistan’s nuclear-testing site was located at Chagai in Balochistan also aggravated the grievances due to fears of long-term environmental and health damage.

Analysis of Baloch Ethnic Nationalism during Musharraf Regime
The present phase of Baloch struggle for ‘independence’ was propelled by socio-economic reasons. Baloch-Pakistan relationship did not rest on even keel even after Sui gas started flowing to Pakistani homes and industries in Punjab and Sind, Port Qasim and Gawadar were being developed with Kuwaiti and Chinese assistance. New industrial infrastructures attracted professional and labour forces from Punjab, Sind and other areas of Pakistan.
President Musharraf’s arrival did not improve the situation. Baloch demand for political autonomy, royalty from Sui gas, and award of major work orders to Punjabis and Sindhis and induction of more Frontier Guards and regular army contingents increased the ambience of tension. Islamabad added to the tense situation by rehabilitating large number of ex-servicemen on de-notified tribal land and inducting more NWFP Pushtoons to Quetta areas. Some minor Sardar’s were either bought off or disinherited by affluent Punjabis and rich ex-army personnel. Islamabad even failed to negotiate an acceptable formula on gas, copper, silver, gold and coal royalty. The Baloch Sardars resented the fact that Islamabad had not considered it necessary to consult the provincial government before conducting nuclear tests at Chagai Hills.25
After the military coup in 1999, however, the fight against a ‘common enemy’ once again acquired more urgency than group interests. The military regime’s desperate move to manage Pakistan’s dwindling economy, for which it seemed to believe that the exploration of Balochistan oil and gas resources hold some hope, once again radicalized the nationalists in Balochistan. The military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf announced in December 1999 that exploration work would soon be started.26 Since then nationalist elements have started using harsh language against the federal government. “The army is very strong, but this time it will not get a walkover,” Mengal has been quoted as saying, implicitly pointing to the 1973 military operation launched against trouble-making Baloch tribal chieftains during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government that broke their back.
Since long, a predominant majority of the Baloch nationalist leaders have been agitating against the establishment of proposed army cantonments and the mega projects, including the Gawadar deep-sea port, in Balochistan. “In the name of gigantic projects is a plan under way to settle the Punjabis in Balochistan,” Mengal says.27 Since 2000 the Kachhi Canal, Mirani Dam, Gawadar Port, Makran Coastal Highway, Saindak Copper Project and Quetta Water Supply Scheme were announced by Islamabad. Over 300 percent increase was made in the national budget for development programs in Balochistan. These things have failed to materialize from paper into concrete.
Along with the development programmes came in the Punjabis, Pushtuns, Sindhis and Chinese work forces. The Baloch people suffering from economic distress developed clash of economic interests with the Chinese and other Pakistanis. Examination of economic indices of this period brings out the facts of glaring disparity between Balochistan and Punjab and Sind. The Balochs, like the Bengalis were treated as raw material suppliers.28 The government accuses the nationalist Sardars of being opposed to the mega-projects in particular, and to development in the province in general, for fear that their traditional hold on their areas may be weakened by modernization. However, enlightened nationalists, including the three main nationalist Sardars, Marri, Bugti and Mengal, assert that they do not oppose development, but deprivation of Baloch people’s rights in the name of development and modernization.
Given this background, it is easy to understand nationalist misgivings about further exploration for gas and oil in the province. The tribes have been resisting exploration activities without a fair share in gas and oil development. Whatever little exploration activity has occurred in the past has been either under the protection of military deployments or under agreements with local chieftains. In the case of the latter, the exploration companies have been accused by local people of bad faith and reneging on promises of providing jobs, schools, healthcare and other social infrastructure to the local populace.
The Sandak copper and precious minerals project was supposed to train and employ local youth. Instead, after many false starts and remaining in limbo for almost a decade because of the unwillingness of the federal authorities to provide a paltry Rs 1.5 billion29 as working capital, the project has been revived under Chinese management. The latter, which put up the project in the first place, never forgot its export and earnings potential, and have a contract to run it in return for 50 percent of the profits.30 Out of the remaining, 48 per cent goes to the federal government and Balochistan receives 2 per cent.31 It is also argued that there are no local youths trained or employed in the project, another broken promise in a long line of similar disappointments.
Gawadar port’s strategic and economic value has never been in doubt. In fact it was the Baloch nationalists, at that time in coalition with Nawaz Sharif, who invited the former prime minister to announce the initiation of the project at a rally in Gawadar. But subsequent developments have left these very nationalists bitter. The master plan for the Gawadar port, city and military base adjoining it have never been seen by either the chief minister of the province or been laid for discussion in the Balochistan Assembly.
Along with other development work on the ground, perceptions have developed that the new Gawadar city has turned out to be a major land grab for investors from outside the province, as advertisements in the national and even international media show. Initially, the federal authorities envisaged 2.5 million people being inducted from outside the province. This has now climbed to 5 million. Given that the population of the entire province is only 6-7 million32, the people of Balochistan have raised protest that this massive influx will swamp them; deprive them of a share in the opportunities created by these mega-projects, and wipe out their identity.
The government believes that these are the work of elements opposed to the exploration. One of the radical nationalist, Khair Bux Muree, who had played an active role in the 1970s insurgency, but has been living a secluded life for last two decades, seems to have been chosen for the role of one social element and the government has implicated him in the judge’s murder and put him behind the bar.33
The clash in Balochistan is between ‘aggressive’ modernization (backed by military force) and the Baloch people’s demands for their rights. Force has not yielded good results in the past. It is unlikely to do so in future. The government therefore would be better advised to seek a consensual mode of implementation of the mega-projects the poor people of Balochistan desperately need to overcome decades of neglect and deprivation of rights by bringing the nationalists on board through a fair distribution of the benefits of development and modernization.
Since several years, there was a tension in Sui between the Bugti tribes led by Nawab Akbar Bugti and the federal government over issues of employment, job security, compensation, etc., relating to work conditions in the gas generating and distribution companies that pump sui gas to the rest of the country. But that was presumed to be a local affair. The federal governments of Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and General Pervez Musharraf were convinced that Nawab Bugti was extorting money from Islamabad ostensibly on behalf of the Bugti tribesmen who work the gas plants but actually for himself by nudging his fiercely loyal Bugti tribesmen to rocket the pipelines whenever the negotiations get bogged down against his liking.34
Divided, fatigued and shorn of ideological moorings or avowed enemies like Z.A. Bhutto, the Baloch movement melted into memory over the next two decades. Nawab Akbar Bugti was consigned to negotiating rights and concessions only for his Bugti tribesmen in Sui. And the various civilian federal governments that came and went were content to accede to his local pecuniary demands. In the event, what has changed under General Pervez Musharraf to compel the Bugti and Marri tribes to join hands? What has transpired since 1999 to lead to a reinvention of the “Baloch middle class nationalist struggle for provincial rights”?
The military cantonments planned at Gwadar, Dera Bugti and Kohlu are viewed as outposts of repression and control, not development. The Frontier Corps is thoroughly hated and despised as a federal instrument of oppression. With the religious parties rampaging in much of Balochistan and defying the writ of the government, the rise of incipient armed nationalism poses a grave challenge to the stability and security.
In this political seesaw, Mr Bugti was not flexible about terms like ‘gas royalties’, ‘provincial autonomy’, ‘constitutional rights’ etc while portraying himself as the great and patriotic Baloch nationalist fighting for the rights of his province rather than for his tribe. The federal government, on the other hand, seemed falsely obsessed about “the need to open up Balochistan for economic development” and was constantly carping about the exploitative Sardari system in the province that kept the tribesmen in chains and acted as a brake on progress, unfortunately for the stability and security of Pakistan, the truth is different on both counts. There is an unfortunate situation in which a Baloch Liberation Army comprising a few armed bands under tribal and middle class command is conducting military operations against the army in Balochistan. Gawadar is an obvious target as it is perceived as a federal project without provincial approval or participation in which the non-Baloch civil-military elites are ‘grabbing land for a song’.35
The single most critical macro factor was the social and electoral engineering initiated by the military regime in its last five years. By sidelining the mainstream PPP and PML-N parties and their natural progressive allies like the ANP, BNP and others in favour of the religious parties, like Jama’at i Islami and Jamiat i Ulema i Islam, General Musharraf alienated the old non-religious tribal leadership as well as the new secular urban middle classes of Balochistan who see no economic or political space for themselves in the new ‘military-mullah’ dispensation.
Similarly, by undermining the cause of provincial autonomy at the altar of local and federal government, the military regime has threatened the very roots of the constitutional consensus of 1973 enshrined in the Baloch consciousness. If the federal government had also delivered the great development paradigm and provided jobs and office, it might have avoided this sense of deprivation and resentment among the political and economic have-nots of the province. But it hasn’t, Balochistan remains a backwater province, infested by Taliban-type mullahs and opportunist politicians, all beholden to the (military) regime in Islamabad.
The Baloch nationalism, with very few exceptions, tends to be articulated by the local elite and intelligentsia. Why should it be surprising then that some Sardars are voicing the demands of Baloch nationalism? Given the tribal structure of Baloch society the only surprise is that ‘more of them are not doing so’. The Balochistan crisis is becoming worse and more serious. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), after retreating in the face of regular troop’s deployment in Sui, has shown its capability to strike not only all over Balochistan, but even in the heart of the state, i.e. Punjab. In separate incidents gas line to Lahore was blown up near Changa Manga, as was the gas line near Taunsa. Meanwhile rocket attacks and the blowing up of railway lines have preceded apace. Every new day brings news of fresh disasters.36
The intelligence agencies, civil and military, have been bending their backs to convince the government that the ubiquitous foreign hand has been responsible for all the trouble in Balochistan. The finger of accusation has been pointed by these agencies at Iran. The Iranian government has denied more than one time meddling in Balochistan, pointing out that only if peace prevails in Pakistani Balochistan will peace reign in Iranian Balochistan. The logic of this position is that Iran has nothing to gain and the prospect of trouble with its own Baloch nationalist’s resurgent demands for autonomy and rights if it were to ever contemplate support to Baloch nationalists in Pakistan. Much is being made by the government and its hangers-on of the alleged blockage of modernization and development by the Sardars of the Baloch tribes in order not to lose their grip on their subjects. In fact, if it is not the foreign hand, then the Sardars are the authors of all the trouble, according to this official view. This is misplaced propaganda capable of taking in only the uninformed.37
History teaches that nationalism, with very few exceptions tend to be articulated by the local elite and intelligentsia. Why should it be surprising then that some Sardars are voicing the demands of Baloch nationalism? Given the tribal structure of Baloch society the only surprise is that most of them are not doing so. The overwhelming majority of Sardars is, as usual, aligned with the status quo, including leaning on the Centre of their political existence, perks and privileges. The small intelligentsia on the other hand is in the Baloch nationalist camps. Quite progressive people too have been taken in by the government’s propaganda about the Sardars being the sole obstacle to progress and development in Balochistan, in a faint echo of the 1970s, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto managed to convince the rest of the country, especially the Left, aided considerably by a total news blackout on events in Balochistan, that Balochistan’s resistance to his military operation was only for the defence of Sardari privilege.
People have to understand that a tribal society is at a different stage of historical development. When deprived of its rights for long and oppressed in myriad ways, it resists, its language is inevitably that of nationalism, and its articulation inevitably by the local elite and intelligentsia. Balochistan is no exception. The tilting against Sardars is a red herring that obscures the real issues concerning Balochistan historical grievances becoming inextricably intertwined with the affront to the tribal code of honour in the shape of the rape of a doctor on Balochistan soil and the attempts to protect the perpetrators, especially the principal accused hiding behind his sullied uniform.

Post Bugti Scenario:
Some sources allege that the fourth phase of Baloch insurgency was triggered off by sexual assault on a female doctor, Dr. Shazia Khalid, by a gang of Punjabi employees of the PPL at Sui. Islamabad handled the matter in a cavalier fashion. Accumulated anger incensed the people and they mounted attack on the Sui facility. Nawab Akbar Bugti, the leader of Jamhoori Watan Party of Balochistan, stated that the attack was a manifestation of anger of the people and had nothing to do with nationalist struggle for freedom by the tribes. General Musharraf retaliated by ordering the ISI and the Army to mount operations against rebel Baloch forces headed by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Bugti’s critics alleged that he had rebelled demanding higher royalty payment for Sui gas. These charges have not been proved.38
In his death and the manner in which it was carried out, Sardar Akbar Bugti was likely to become a martyred hero for Baloch nationalism. Bugti, the Sardar or chief of more than 200,000 Bugti tribesmen, was killed along with more than 35 of his followers when the Pakistan Air Force bombed his hideout in the Bhambhore mountain range in the Marri tribal area.39 Pakistani officials declared that at least 16 soldiers including four officers were killed after they went in to mop up the remnants of the Baloch guerrilla group. A fierce battle ensued which led to their deaths. Bugti, a 79-year-old invalid who could not walk due to arthritis, is reported to be buried in the rubble of the cave where he was hiding.40
For months, Pakistani politicians including members of the ruling party had been insisting that the military regime agree to hold talks with the Baloch leaders in order to stop what was becoming an ever-widening civil war in the province. Several security agencies and advisers to President Pervez Musharraf, including the Inter services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau, asked Musharraf to hold talk with the Baloch leaders.
However, other councillors and the Military Intelligence advised him to crush the Baloch leaders, which included three prominent Sardars, Bugti, Khair Bux Marri and Ataullah Mengal. Senior politicians say that Mr. Musharraf’s lack of understanding about the Baloch issue, his underestimation of the growing sense of alienation in all the smaller provinces and the attack on his ego when his helicopter was fired upon by Baloch rebels in 2006, all contributed to his helping him take the decision to kill Bugti.
Bugti was not the leader of the mysterious Balochistan Liberation Army which has been banned by Pakistan, but he was certainly its most visible spokesman over the past three years, as the Baloch insurgency against Islamabad has grown. The army has attempted to divide the Baloch by promising large aid grants to those tribal leaders who support the government, even as Islamabad claims that it is eliminating the Sardari system. Pervez Musharraf may have underestimated Baloch nationalism. Baloch nationalists have long argued that while Islamabad exploits their massive gas and mineral deposits, they give little in return to the province.
In 2006, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League agreed on a package of incentives for the Baloch that included a constitutional amendment giving greater autonomy to the province, but it was overruled by Mr Musharraf and the army who then vowed to militarily crush the rebellion. The army argues that millions have been spent in development, but projects such as the building of the Gawadar port, the building of cantonments and even new roads do not necessarily benefit ordinary Baloch. The projects are defined by the army and its national security needs, rather than through consultations with the Baloch or even the Balochistan provincial assembly. Then the projects are carried out by outside companies who give menial jobs to the Baloch.
By killing Bugti, the president earned the enmity of not just the Baloch rebels but the wider Baloch population who may not believe in taking up arms, but are still frustrated with Islamabad for its failure to develop the province. He might have seriously underestimated the power of Baloch nationalism which has led to four wars with the Pakistan army in the past. Nationalism within the smaller provinces has always been the biggest threat to military regimes just as it was to Mr. Musharraf.
The hanging of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979, who was a Sindhi, by an earlier military ruler has made Sindhis resentful of the army, while they have, by and large, always voted for the opposition Pakistan People’s Party. In the North West Frontier Province where Talibanization is rampant, Pashtun nationalism is presently taking the form of political Islam.41
By killing Bugti, the army was sending a clear message to nationalists in other provinces as to how they will be dealt with if they rear their heads. However, the smaller provinces are seething with resentment against continued military rule. Their sense of frustration and alienation is growing as they see the army representing only its own interests or that of Punjab, the largest province in the country.
The army is also sending a powerful signal to neighbouring India and Afghanistan. The army has accused India of financing and arming the Baloch rebels, while it has accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai of allowing the Baloch to train in Afghanistan. India and Afghanistan have denied these charges at the highest level, but Pakistani officials say that there is little doubt that the Indians were involved in funding the Baloch movement because of their long-standing involvement with the Baloch and the evidence that arrested Baloch rebels have provided the Pakistani intelligence services.
There is an ever-deepening political crisis in Pakistan which the death of Bugti will only exacerbate. Many people say that the country is rapidly unravelling with Mr Musharraf refusing to give clear-cut guarantees about free and fair elections in 2007, while he insists on running again for another five-year term as president even as he remains army chief. Bugti’s death will only add to the growing fears about the country’s future and the danger inherent in a policy of killing political opponents rather than holding a dialogue with them.

Implications for Pak-Iran-India Gas Pipeline and other Mega Projects
The political unrest in Balochistan and the murder of Akbar Bugti is a serious threat for gas pipeline of Iran, Pakistan and India’s project. During the visit of Iran’s oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh of New Delhi to discuss the future of the pipeline, anti- government element in Balochistan blew up two gas pipelines sending a message to all parties involved in this pipeline of peace project.42 The area of the Balochistan-Punjab border where the pipeline is supposed to run is one of Pakistan’s poorest areas and its most restive province. In recent years it has been a battleground of private militias belonging to Baloch tribes. Sporadic armed clashes resulted in attacks against water pipelines, power transmission lines and gas installations. Yet, the region is strategically important due to its large reserves of oil and gas. Over the years Islamabad has failed to provide a fair share of the oil and gas wealth in shape of royalty to Balochistan. Lack of economic progress and a deep sense of disaffection have contributed to the distrust between the federal government and the Baloch people.
As a result, the tribes now oppose any energy projects in their area. Since 2003, sabotage of a gas pipeline from Sui to cut off supply to the Punjab has become a routine. Later on, a wave of attacks against gas installations caused the government to send troops to protect the installations. During the era of Mushraf regime and especially in the following year the confrontation is growing more and more. To calm the area Islamabad added carrots to its policy of sticks by increasing investment in regional development projects. However, it seems that violence has resurfaced and the region is sliding into a near war situation.
After the murdered of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, it is very difficult for Mushraff Government to snub the Baloch nationalism and insurgency in Balochistan. The attacks of the Baloch Liberation Front and Balochistan Liberation Army fired rockets at the pipeline and exchanged gunfire with the security forces for several hours on government installation.43 During the fire exchange the pipeline caught fire, disrupting supply to a power plant. As we have seen in other parts of the world where pipelines are under attack, ending the onslaught may well prove to be mission impossible. Nevertheless Islamabad has already indicated that the pipeline project will be pursued even were India to decide not to join.44

Human Rights Violations:
There are serious violations of human rights in Balochistan. Thousands of Baloch militants had been killed in the last three decades movement. According to the Carnegie report, in the last 30 years the conflict in Balochistan resulted in 8,000 deaths, 3,000 of them from the army.45 The HRCP report said that up to 85 percent of the 22,000-26,000 inhabitants of Dera Bugti had fled their homes after paramilitary forces shelling repeatedly hit the town. There were alarming accounts of summary executions, some allegedly carried out by paramilitary forces. The HRCP received credible evidence that showed such killings had taken place, across Balochistan, the HRCP team found widespread instances of disappearance of torture inflicted on people held in custody, and on those fleeing from their houses. Carlotta Gall, The New York Times correspondent visiting the area in April 2006 reported having witnessed deep bomb craters caused by MK-82 bombs. According to her, “Hundreds of political party members, students, doctors and tribal leaders have been detained by government security forces, many disappearing for months, even years, without trials in well-documented cases. Some have been tortured or have died in custody.”46
She proceeds to comment, “In places like Dera Bugti and Kohlu, government forces have carried out reprisals against villagers, Baloch leaders and human rights officials say. In a case documented by the Human Rights Commission, the Frontier Corps killed 12 men from Pattar Nala on Jan 11, 2006, after a mine explosion near the village killed some of its soldiers. Two old men from the village who went to the base to collect the bodies were also killed. The next day, the 14 bodies were handed over to the women of the village. Local fighters say the Frontier Corps has carried out 42 such reprisal killings in the last three months of 2006.”47
The first reports about major displacement due to fighting appeared in April 2005 when some 300 government troops were surrounded by thousands of tribal militants in the town of Dera Bugti, located close to Pakistan’s largest gas reserves. The fighting was reported to have displaced around 6,000 people and killed scores of civilians.48 Militants have continued to target gas pipelines, railway lines and electricity networks, and have launched rocket attacks on government buildings and army bases, followed by retaliation and search operations by the military. The security situation for the civilian population has severely worsened due to the use of landmines in parts of the Dera Bugti and Kohlu districts both by rebel forces, in particular the Balochistan Liberation Army, and by the Pakistani army. As of April 2006, more than 50 civilians had been killed by landmine explosions since the beginning of the year.49 The army has used heavy artillery and launched air strikes against insurgent bases; this has also killed and maimed civilians. By December 2005, about 90 per cent of the population in the town of Dera Bugti was reported to have fled and displacement was also reported in the district of Kohlu. During subsequent fighting, thousands of civilians were reported to have fled several areas in the neighbouring Jaffarabad and Sibi districts.50 The situation deteriorated further in the wake of the killing of Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006 which was followed by bloody riots. Several have warned that the conflict will go on escalating if the government continues its harsh military response against political opposition groups in the region.
There are no official or UN estimates of the extent of the displacement due to the fighting. One regional human rights organisation says 200,000 people were displaced as of July 2006. The displaced had at that point fled to relief camps or towns in safe areas of Jaffarabad, and the Nasirabad, Quetta and Khuzdar districts of Balochistan, as well as to the Sindh and Punjab provinces. No other source has verified this figure. Another media report says 50,000 remained displaced due to military operations as of July 2006.51
Several reports have testified to the critical living conditions for the displaced that moved to relief camps as well as a general apathy demonstrated by the Pakistani authorities’ vis-à-vis the displaced civilian population. Although the media have not been allowed to move freely in the areas most affected by the violence, deplorable conditions and lack of assistance to the displaced in relief camps have been reported since the onset of the conflict. In May 2006, assistance had not yet reached the camps. The displaced were reported to be living in the open in baking hot weather without food and other facilities. Provincial opposition leaders appealed to international and national humanitarian organisations for assistance.52 The displaced were still reported to be living in temporary settlements without provision for water, sanitation, food, schooling and health care. The government is accused of deliberately blocking access to the displaced populations and has stopped efforts to provide health services in the camps. Official sources said that the displaced were well off and not in need of assistance.53

Pakistan is a federation of four provinces. Its creation is very unique in nature. The role of provincial units, nationalities and ethnic groups in the creation of Pakistan is basic and fundamental. The pre-partition strategy of the Muslim League was to struggle for provincial autonomy and lose centre for the rights of the Muslims. But after partition all the political parties, army, and civil bureaucracy had become the champion of strong centre. The attitude of strong centre and the refusal of provincial autonomy has played vital role in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.Again, the ruling class of Pakistan, Civil and military bureaucracy is refusing the rights of self-determination of oppressed nationalities like Balochistan. The guarantee of provincial autonomy that is given in the constitution of 1973 of Pakistan is also denying these reserved rights. The various causes of unrest in Balochistan are serious and that should be addressed and touched by the democratic government in post Mushraf scenario.
Formation of the democratic government in Pakistan and Balochistan provided the opportunity that democratic government should meet with the provincial award among the provinces, royalty of the provincial resources, Gawader port problem, and cantonment issue. The national, regional and international political scenario is very dangerous and complex. Therefore, the Balochistan issue should be addressed as early as possible to strengthen the Pakistani federation.
The new Zardari government should focus on development plans and it must be directed towards the full empowerment of local people. The people must be recognized as stake-holders in the decision-making process, and their interests must be placed at the top of the list of priorities. For this to happen, the people must be given a voice, this is possible only if civil society organizations make greater efforts to visit the areas of deprivation and interact with the people and are allowed to do so. At the same time, all movements must alter their approach to seeking rights from one of aggression, to a broader based initiative aimed at building countrywide and even international alliances for their campaigns.
All steps are taken by the government as well as tribal leaders to end the practice of penal sanctions through jirgas as well as to do away with any form of private prisons that may exist. To meet the needs of people, educational institutions and vocational training centres must be established across Balochistan. Development cannot be limited only to building infrastructure or setting up giant projects. Development plans must focus on building civil society, including establishing press clubs, bar associations and community radio and television networks. This would connect the population of Balochistan to the rest of the country and enhance the cultural environment within which hey lead their lives. The low visibility, negligible educational attainments and virtual lack of any voice in decision making of Balochistani women is a serious hurdle in the development of the province. This situation needs the serious attention of the government, leaders of tribes, regional political parties as well as nationalist movements. In the explosive situation in Balochistan, the more vulnerable members of society, such as children, members of minority communities and unemployed youth not only deserve special protection, their social and economic advancement must be guaranteed through appropriate plans of action. Therefore, it is necessary to treat them very carefully on Issue of Balochistan. The national interests demand that patience, negotiation and compromise should be the hallmark of federal policy rather than knee-jerk army operations and detentions. At the same time, the federal government should make serious efforts to clinch the new development conditions of resource sharing with local tribes and regions. The future of the oil and gas pipelines that are being planned across the mountains and deserts and coasts of Balochistan for the prosperity and stability of Pakistan hinges on a sensible and exclusionary approach rebel killing raises stakes in Pakistan.
It should be remembered that danger in Balochistan is two-fold. The nascent but alienated middle class in the few towns of Balochistan is now rallying behind the nationalists and accepts the sardars spearheading PONM as genuine leaders. At the same time, the developmental lag in the province is sufficient to substantiate the anti-centre stance of PONM. That is why any military action in the province will completely lack local support. The other destabilizing factor relates to the ongoing battle against the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine. The Pashtuns in Balochistan also have serious problems with the federal government’s policy on the Pak-Afghan frontier. This could be troublesome since Pashtun nationalism has also been responsible for the internationally reported presence of the Taliban in the province.

Notes and References
1 David Rober (1987), The Penguin Dictionary of Politics, Penguin Books, New York, pp.111-112.
2 ibid.
3 W. J. Foltz, (1974) ‘Ethnicity, Status & Conflict’ in Bell & Freeman (eds.) Ethnicity and Nation-Building: Interpretational and Comparative Perspectives, Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage Publications, p. 8.
4 Paul R. Brass, (1991) Ethnicity and Nationalism, Sage Publications, Delhi, pp. 18-19.
5 Shireen M. Mazari, Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, in her paper presented at the Conference on ‘South and South East Asia in Perspective – 20th and 21st Centuries’, held at the Institute of Political and Social Studies, Lisbon, Portugal, on November 12-14, 2002. Tahir Amin, Ethno-Nationalist Movements of Pakistan (1993), IPS, Islamabad, p. 2.
6 W. Connor, (1972), ‘Nation-Building of Nation Destroying’ in World Politics quoted by Shireen M. Mazari.
7 Shireen M. Mazari,op.cit.
8 David Rober (1987), The Penguin Dictionary of Politics, Penguin Books, New York, pp.111-112.
9 Hassan N. Gardazi (1991) Understanding Pakistan, ‘The Colonial factor in Societal Development,Maktaba Fikro Danish, Lahore, p.49.
10 accessed on 19-06-2007.
11 ibid.
12 ibid.
13 ibid.
14 Feroz Ahmad (1998) Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan, Oxford University Press, Karachi, p.15.
15 For example, ‘Greater Balochistan’ movement in the seventies which has dissipated over a period of time, as have the ‘Sindhu Desh’ and ‘Pukhtunistan’ movements.
16 Shireen M. Mazari, op.cit.
17 Feroz Ahmad (1998) Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan, Oxford University Press, Karachi, p.15.
18 ibid, p.16.
19 Government of Pakistan, Statistics Division Population Census Organization (2001), Census report of Sindh province, Islamabad, p.19.
20 Feroz Ahmad (1998), Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan, Oxford University Press, Karachi, p.16.
21 Anees Nagi (2005), ‘Nationalism in new independent countries’, History,(special number on nationalism)a biannually Journal,no.24. Fiction House, Lahore, p.55.
22 Adnan Adal (2006), “Historical background of Baloch National Movement”, Monthly Nawa-e-Insan, vol: 6, issue: 11, January 2006.
23 ibid.
24 Zafarallah Jamali’s conversation with newsmen, reported in Dawn, Karachi, August 2006.
25 /?tac=Balochistan-Cruches_Of_History accessed on July 13, 2007.
26 , accessed on 04-06-2007.
27 Interview with Atta Ullah Mengal by Najam Sethi, Friday Times, Lahore, Febrary, 2006.
28 mastop_publish/?tac=Balochistan-Cruches_Of_History accessed on July 13, 2007.
29 Interview with Rashid Rehman, currently a freelance contributor, has held editorial positions in various Pakistani newspapers, on January, 2007-06-06.Quoted by , accessed on 04-06-2007.
30 ibid.
31 ibid.
32 , accessed on 04-06-2007.
33 ibid.
34 Haroon Rashid’s report in Monthly Herald, Karachi, November-December, 2000.
35 Adeel Khan (2005), Politics of Identity: Ethnic Nationalism and the State in Pakistan, SAGE publications Delhi, p.119.
36 publish/?tac=Balochistan-Cruches_Of_History accessed on July 13, 2007.
37 ibid.
38 ibid.
39 Wajahat Masooad, The murdered of Akbar Bugti (2006) Monthly Nawa-e-Insan.vol.7, September, 2006.LRL No. 279, p. 22.
40 ibid.
41 Dawn, August, 17, 2006, Karachi.
42 accessed on 29-05-2007.
43 Wajahat Masooad, The murdered of Akbar Bugti (2006) Monthly Nawa-e-Insan.vol.7, September, 2006.LRL No.279, p. 22.
44 Dawn, August, 17, 2006, Karachi.
45 publish/?tac=Balochistan-Cruches_Of_History accessed on July 13, 2007.
46 ibid.
47 ibid.
48 6CEF209F30020F37C1257203004E6189/$file/Pakistan accessed on July 13, 2007.
49 ibid.
50 ibid.
51 Dawn,13 July 2006
52 Dawn, 16 April 2006.
53 Dawn, 13 July 2006.
Pakistan Vision Vol 10 No 1

Comments Off on Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan: A Case Study of Baloch Nationalism during Musharraf Regime

Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Research Papers on Political Issues


Nationalism in Pakistan: A Comparative Analysis of Ethnic Factors in East Pakistan and Baluchistan

Fauzia Ghani, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
GC University Lahore

Sadia Mushtaq, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
GC University Lahore

Namra Mehmood
MPhil Scholar
Department of Political Science
GC University Lahore


The world comprises of different nation states which are comprised of sub nationalities. Some states have homogenous and some have heterogeneous population. States having heterogeneous population consist of many ethnic groups. Each ethnic group residing in such heterogeneous countries have their needs and demands which are very hard to fulfill completely. When this happens, the demands might turn into a movement where people from a certain ethnicity raise their voices so that the ruling elites might hear them and address their concerns completely. States like Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka etc are facing problems of ethno nationalism. A certain ethnicity may ask for provincial autonomy, devolution of power and even independence. In Pakistan case, there are many ethnic groups like Punjabi, Pathan, Baluchis, Sindhi, and Muhajirs etc which are affecting the whole polity. The issue of disintegration of East Pakistan which gave a set back to the political system of Pakistan is well known and nowadays Baluchistan’s movement of ethno nationalism is attracting national as well as international attention. The researchers have tried to dig out the ethnic factors of both federating units i.e. East Pakistan and Baluchistan. The research also provides the theoretical framework of Ethno nationalism in Pakistan and also does an analysis of the factors and causes of ethnic rivalry residing in East Pakistan and Baluchistan.

Key Words: Ethno nationalism, Modernization, Industrialization, Baluch Nationalism, Extra judicial killing, Marginalization, East Pakistan and Baluchistan.

After a series of events Pakistan appeared on the map of the world. Much day and night effort was made to create Pakistan. Soon after its creation the death of Quaid-e-Azam clogged the development in Pakistan as there was no leader alike Jinnah. Majority of other leaders were driven by personal power and greed. In order to achieve the power the leaders brought in civil and military bureaucracy into politics thus harming the democratization process and country’s unity. This also gave rise to frustration and a sense of deprivation among ethnic groups residing inside Pakistan. As there was no devolution of power and the system was highly centralized, the demands of many ethnicities were not taken into account. There was unequal distribution of resources and power resulting in a widened gap between haves and haves not. All this resulted in promotion of ethnic nationalism.
A majority of writers talked about ethnic problems and their reasons in Pakistan. South Asian ethnic insurgencies are mostly indigenous. These issues emerged from states having past colonial socio, cultural, economic and political heritage and mostly in reaction to unwise government policies. 1In accordance with the Brown, the Asian ethnic conflicts are triggered by bad and corrupt leaders or bad neighbors. These bad leaders or bad neighbors might convert the politically unstable situation into warfare. 2 Feroz Ahmed is of the view that ethnic conflict in Pakistan emerged because the state leaders refused to accept that these regions were entirely different in culture and language from each other. When they were not accepted as different entity and were taken as one. This created ethnic problems as culture or language is dear to people’s heart and they don’t want to lose it or can’t see it fading away at any cost. This resulted in weakened national integrity as relations got bad among various ethnic groups.

Adeel Khan views ethnic conflicts in Pakistan as a struggle for power between the dominant and non-dominant groups. 3He analyzed ethnic conflicts in Pakistan as a political matter and for him politics is all about power. 4He says that if all the ethnic groups have their share in power structure the ethnic conflicts can be minimized.
Veena Kukreja has done very useful work on ethnic issues of Pakistan. She concluded that ethno nationalism arises due to problematic relations between the center and the provinces. 5She agrees with Feroz Ahmed and says that the powerful Pakistan ruling elite has remained reluctant to accept heterogeneous society and named it as to law and order problems rather than focusing and solving the issues of governability which was the real root cause of ethnic problems. 6

Tahir Amin, has devoted much part of his work on the ethnic issues of Pakistan. He is of the view that the state policies play an important role in ethnic conflicts in Pakistan. 7He says that in order to reduce the conflicts every ethnic group should be taken in account; they should have equal participation in every field. Having no equal participation will mostly result in conflicts among different ethnicities thus raising the chances of civil war inside the state.
Analyzing the history of Pakistan, one can construe that the ingredient of ethno nationalism is always there. It is in Sindh, Baluchistan, KPK and was also in former East Pakistan. In some provinces, the cry of a separate homeland was also heard as the central government was unable to fully address the concerns of the people. The same happened in East Pakistan where a secession movement occurred and then ultimately Bangladesh was appeared on the world map as an independent country.

On the other hand, Baluchistan is also facing problems due to ethnic rise as their demands are poorly addressed by the center. Some Pakistani leaders and scholars put the scenario of East Pakistan and Baluchistan under the same realm. They think that Baluchistan will separate from Pakistan likewise East Pakistan did in 1971 as the demands for a separate homeland are heard too. A majority of insurgent groups and some political parties of Baluchistan are not ready to live with Pakistan in any case because of many grievances.

The researchers compared the factors responsible for emergence of ethno nationalism in East Pakistan and Baluchistan in order to find out that whether they are same or not. They also analyze the history of both the provinces before reaching the conclusion.
Analysis of the circumstances in East Pakistan clearly illustrated the reasons and factors that gave rise to ethno nationalism in the state. The elitist policies played a crucial role in the upsurge of ethno nationalism. Pakistan was in a distinct geographical position having no geographical contiguity between East and West Pakistan. There was a parliamentary system but this system was not working properly in Pakistan, the political institutions of Pakistan had been at a developing stage and the political leadership had no experience in managing the affairs of the state. This caused the politicians to lose control over political matters thud giving a chance to the bureaucracy who placed themselves in the politics of Pakistan. There were no general elections during the phase1947- 1958. The involvement of bureaucracy in political matters and the effect of the policies of the politicians enhanced the reservations in East Pakistan as their representation was low in bureaucracy. Due to this the demands and hopes were not respected by the power elite thus giving rise to ethno nationalism. Along with this a language movement in East Pakistan, economic inequality among East and West Pakistan and intense centralized system arose a sense of deprivation and frustration among Bengalis. Due to the legacy of the past and bad planning of elite class East Pakistan was far behind from West Pakistan on the economic sphere. This economic gap widened between the two wings in 1947-48.According to the Government of India act 1935 article 92 A central governments had the power to dismiss the provincial government and impose direct central rule on the provinces. This power was used in 1954 when elected provincial government of United Front in East Pakistan was dismissed by the Governor General. This caused great resentment among Bengalis as in United Front all parties were regional and belonged to East Pakistan. Now, the entire situation turned into worst case scenario giving rise to ethno nationalism in East Pakistan.

When Ayub Khan in 1958 came into power, he declared martial law. He set up councils of national integration in both regions, instituted inter wing scholarships, ordered compulsory inter wing postings of civil officers and made arrangement for the exchange of cultural and students delegations. 8He also incorporated a term in 1962 constitution for the elimination of inequalities between the two regions. Ayub Khan adopted many options in order to promote national integration and laid stress on Islam as a united force. These policies of Ayub Khan that were industrialization, modernization or economic development gave rise to another group i.e. industrialists in which Bengalis had again less representation. This thing further widened the gap between the East and West Pakistan. The six points of Mujeeb also came in his era. In the era of Yahya khan disunity between the two regions were at the top. The martial law which was imposed was considered as an effort to deprive the Bengalis from their rights. Yahya said that the general elections are held as early as possible. After elections, only three political figures i.e Yahya Khan, the Awami league led by Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman and Pakistan People’s Party led by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto were left. They had different opinions and views regarding power making consensus among them really difficult. 9Awami league emerged as a leading party in the elections. The decision of Yahya khan to postpone the National Assembly session made the situation out of control in East Pakistan. To control the situation in East Pakistan Yahya khan ordered a military operation in East Pakistan which making the situation more badly resulting in the separation of East Pakistan.

Since many years in Pakistan and unfortunately in Baluchistan as well, the wave of ethno nationalism is operating. Baluchistan is the biggest but the least populated province of Pakistan. Since inception of Pakistan, the relations between Baluchis and the center were problematic. One of the reasons was less representation of Baluchistan in the mainstream politics. Baluchis were of the view that the central government is not at all concerned about them and are only concerned about the natural resources in their province. These perceptions gave rise to ethno nationalism in Baluchistan. Baluchistan from 1947-70 was a federation and was directly administered from the center. In 1955, Muhammad Ali Bogra combined the provinces of western wing as one unit in order to counter the superiority of Bengalis. But the one unit policy did not get popularity in Baluchistan and Khan of Kalat Mir Muhammad Yar Khan showed serious reservations on this policy. With the help of tribal leaders, the Khan of Kalat demonstrated against this scheme. Just one day before the imposition of martial law a military operation was launched in order to counter these demonstrations. Mir Ahmed Yar Khan was arrested resulting in more worsened situation in Baluchistan. Army justified their operation in Baluchistan on the grounds that Agha Abdul Karim who was the brother of Khan of Kalat and was involved with Afghanistan in assembling an eighty thousand tribal force for rebellion against the central government. However these charges were denied by the Khan of Kalat. 10After gaining the status of province and the election of first representative government in Baluchistan it was the perception of Baluchis that now their problems and worries will come to an end.

In 1970, National Awami party (NAP) formed a coalition government with Jamait Ulema-e- Islam (JUI) in Baluchistan but it was dismissed by the central government. This dismissal of the elected government along with the arrest of its leaders resulted in third insurgency and then another military operation in Baluchistan deteriorated the situation further. The insurgency came to an end when General Zia ul Haq over throw the Bhutto’s government. The situation of Baluchistan was under control and the level of ethno nationalism remained static in Zia’s era and in civilian era but their concerns was also not addressed properly.

Another shock in political system was faced by Pakistan when martial law was imposed in 1999 by Musharraf .After coming into power the situation in Baluchistan became more volatile due to the policies adopted by him. From the very beginning Baloch Sardars were against the mega projects which were initiated in Baluchistan. In this regard Mengal said “In the name of gigantic projects is a plan under way to settle the Punjabis in Baluchistan,” 11Musharraf was of the view that Sardars opposed the development projects because they thought that with the development in their region their influence will be reduced however Sardars said that they are not against the development but are against the deprivation of Baluch people in the name of development and modernization. 12In this regard in Chagai district a project with the name of Saindak was initiated. It was only the metallurgy project in Pakistan. The project started operations in 1995 but after the trail production it was closed down as the government did not have enough money. Then in 2002, Musharraf gave this project to a Chinese company on lease for ten years. The distribution of profits is according to a formula that is unintelligible i.e. The Chinese company takes 50%, the Federal Government 48% and only 2% of Baluchistan. 13

Along with this, another glaring example of injustice with the Baluchis is Gawadar port. Gawadar port holds a strategic and economic value. It is designed as a regional hub for transit and transshipment of goods for Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East. When this agreement was signed in 2002 between Pakistan and China there was no representative of the provincial government. In Musharraf era, another military operation was ordered resulting in death of Akbar Khan Bugti giving rise to an unending insurgency inside Baluchistan. Baluchistan is the least developed province of Pakistan having lowest human development index and high rate of human rights violation.

Ethnic Factors
A comparative analysis is done by the researchers in order to test out the relevance of the factors which promoted ethno nationalism in both provinces. Factors which promote the ethno nationalism in both provinces are as follows.
 Culture
 Inequalities in different areas
 Less representation of Bengalis and Baluchis on Influential positions
 Elitist Policies
 Scarcity of resources
 Centralized System
 Role of military and military operations
 Underdevelopment
 Role of foreign powers
 Human rights violations

First factor that gave rise to ethno nationalism among ethnic group is culture. Culture constitutes an important place in any ethnic group. It constitutes the way of living, language and traditions of any group. The role of language in erupting the conflict between the East Pakistan and the center needs no introduction. The first bone of contention between East Pakistan and the center was on the language issue when it was announced that Urdu would be sole official language of Pakistan. Bengalis were not ready to accept this as they were of the view that they are in majority so Bengali should be the national language. The philosophy behind the declaration of one language Urdu as national language was to promote national integration. But it was very difficult to suppress the voice of that ethnic group which was in majority. In 1954 this movement came to an end when the constituent assembly accepted Bengali as one of the state languages. This language movement was a start of the sub nationalism among Bengalis on one hand and but on the other hand the strong retaliation was not seen in Baluchistan when Urdu language was declared as an official national language.
Even at that point in time Baluchistan did’t get the status of a province but it doesn’t mean that in Baluchis were not concerned to their culture but the level of intensity especially in matter of language was not seen in Baluchistan. Culturally Baluchis were conscious enough as when the first government was installed in Baluchistan they did a lot of projects for the initiation of their culture. Dehi Muhafiz (rural police) was formed. They formed their own press and established a national council of arts in Quetta under the leadership of Lal Baksh Rind. This council was established to promote Baloch literature and culture. When the central government asked the provincial government to introduce Arabic script for Baluchis language they opposed it. They wanted to introduce roman script for the Baluchis language as they thought it is more close to Baluchis culture. But this language movement didn’t get so much popularity as the provincial government of Baluchistan declared Urdu as its official language. It is also observed that in East Pakistan, majority of population were living there having common culture and language whereas Baluchistan is least populated province of Pakistan and at a same time comprises of many ethnic groups, it is not culturally homogenous so the role of language and culture in erupting ethno nationalism in Baluchistan is less than East Pakistan.

Second factor were inequalities in different sectors like power, prestige, development and economic matters which gave impetus to the ethnic conflicts in East Pakistan and Baluchistan. After the analysis, it can be concluded that the economic grievances in both the provinces played a vital role in the outbreak of ethno nationalism. In order to overcome these disparities provinces asked for provincial autonomy so they could manage their issues themselves but it was not given.
The seizing of rights of both, Bengalis and Baluchis by the central government resulted in frustration among them. Moreover, the unequal distribution of income between East and West Pakistan i.e. in West Pakistan from Rs.330 in 1949-50 to Rs.373 in 59-60; whereas in East Pakistan it declined from Rs.305 to Rs.28814 created hatred in the hearts of Bengalis thus strengthening their wish for a separate homeland. When Ayub Khan came into power he acknowledged that there was a disparity in East and West Pakistan especially in economic sector. In Ayub Khan’s era there was an increase in public sector allocations to East Pakistan but in private sector they were left behind. A study reveals that from 1963-68 only twenty two percent of the total private investment took place in East Pakistan as compared to seventy eight percent in West Pakistan. Like others Ayub Khan also failed to fill this gap between East Pakistan and West Pakistan. On the other side condition of Baluchistan is also the same.
Despite the fact it is rich in natural resources and minerals economically Baluchistan is far behind the other provinces of Pakistan. One of the interesting facts is that Baluchis people were exploited economically by different central governments. They were not given due share and were not included in the mega projects which were initiated in their own province. Baluchistan receives a 12.4 per cent royalty from its natural gas revenues but that royalty is based on a well head price that is far lower than that of other provinces e.g. in Baluchistan, the well head price for natural gas is $0.38 per thousand cubic feet; some sites in Punjab and Sindh get $3 and $2 respectively. 15 Both provinces faced disparities in different sectors and this resulted in ethnic issues in them.

Third factor was role of the people on influential position played an important role especially in the state of Pakistan where apart from politicians, the role of bureaucracy and army holds importance in managing the affairs of the state. The problem was that some ethnic groups were over represented in bureaucracy and military resulting in underrepresentation and threat to the existence and interests of other ethnic groups. Notwithstanding, the majority population of Pakistan, the Bengalis had very minor representation in army and bureaucracy and those who joined army and civil services were not on superior positions. Same is the case with the people of Baluchistan; they have less representation too in civil and military services, but unlike East Pakistan they are in minority. In army, the number of Baluchis is very low and this scenario made the Baluchis leaders call the army as Punjabi army. The policies adopted, less representation on influential positions created resentment among both the ethnic groups further aggravating the situation.

Fourth factor are the elitist policies which provided a fertile ground for the outbreak of ethno nationalism. The ill planned policies adopted by several leaders overtime badly affected the national integration of Pakistan. The highly centralized system, no devolution of power and the unawareness of leaders at the center about the conditions and aspirations of different ethnic groups created resentment in the ethnic groups i.e. Baluchis and Bengalis. In Ayub era, one unit policy (1955) harm the national integration of Pakistan to the limit especially in East Pakistan where the majority of Pakistanis were living were not given power to manage their own affairs. The policy of integration through economic development started in Ayub’s era in Pakistan, but the implementation of policies resulted in economic disparity among both regions. Distributive system of resources and power were not based on merit. Same is the case with Baluchistan. The province acquired the status of a province after the debacle of Pakistan. The elites didn’t learn anything from the past and again advocating the policies that showed dictatorial regime. In 1973 the decision of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to dissolve the elected government in Baluchistan is the glaring example of that mindset. After this, the decision to initiate a military operation in Baluchistan was the biggest mistake.

Furthermore, in Musharraf era, the decisions to build cantonments in Baluchistan, starting of military operation in Baluchistan that resulted in the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, inauguration of different development projects and not recruiting Baluchis in it deteriorated the situation even further. Between all these polices nationalist parties in both the regions start flourishing as people were fully convinced that the elite in center has nothing to do with their development and interest. So one can conclude that in East Pakistan and Baluchistan, polices of elites is the prominent factor in the emergence of the ethno nationalism. This scenario developed insecurity among Baluchis and Bengalis. This insecurity gave rise to other issues like war of natural resources among different provinces.

Fifth factor is the scarcity of resources .In any developing state scarcity of resource create problems as there are number of groups which are striving to fulfill their needs like in Pakistan. All the groups are in a competition to acquire more and more resources for a better standard of living. The same issue is evident in East Pakistan and Baluchistan scenario where the resources of both provinces were used by other ethnic groups creating tensions between the ethnic groups. The issue of Sui Gas is a very prominent example where the gas was provided to almost all parts of the country but not in Baluchistan where the Sui Gas was first found. Along with this the gas royalty paid to the Baluchis is also not enough. Senator Dr Abdul Malik Baluch, President National Party (Baluchistan) said: “The Baluchistan economy is based on agriculture, minerals, gas and fisheries. You know the history of the gas. It was discovered in 1952 and its supply to other parts of the country began in 1955. It reached Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and every corner of Punjab but never reached Baluchistan completely. Saindak, which is one of the biggest cooper projects, 50 per cent share is going to the Chinese, 45 per cent to the federal government while the Baluchis are getting only 2 per cent from it. As for agriculture, Baluchistan is 46 per cent of the land of Pakistan is not getting the due share of the Indus water”16. In order to have a control over resources Baluchistan was continuously asking for provincial autonomy which was given after 18th amendment but was not fully implemented. East Pakistan had the same issue where jute was produced enormously but the Bengalis always complained of not getting their sufficient share instead West Pakistan was given more for development purposes. This war of resources converted into a war for a separate homeland where the Bengalis could use their resources for their betterment.

Sixth factor is the centralized system of the country. After the emergence of Pakistan, the mindset of the ruling elite of Pakistan was that national integration was only acquired through centralized system which created ethnic rivalry. The ruling elites were of the opinion that a system where provinces have autonomy cannot give rise to national integration. But after the application of centralized system in Pakistan there was no national integration rather than different ethnic groups called for provincial autonomy. Provinces or ethnic groups were not satisfied with the policies of ruling elites. The constitution of 1956 and 1962 also called for the strong center rather than the provincial autonomy. Bengalis were always in favor of provincial autonomy because they wanted to manage the affairs of their province and wanted to control their resources, but this demand was never addressed and deteriorating the situation to the full. After the separation of East Pakistan when Baluchistan became a province the policies of center towards Baluchistan were to force them to ask for autonomy.

Meanwhile, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto dissolved the first elected government of Baluchistan the Baluchis considered it as an authoritarian policy of center in which no weight-age was given to the aspirations of provinces. During the tenure of other governments, the Baluchis were not satisfied with the conduct of central government and their policies. Also in Musharraf era many development projects were initiated in Baluchistan but they opposed all, they said that it was not acceptable to them to start any project without taking into confidence the local people of Baluchistan. They think that their natural resources were used for the development of the country except Baluchistan. In short centralized policies by the elite as well as army paved a way for the emergence of ethno nationalism in East Pakistan and Baluchistan.

Seventh factor is the role of army and military operations in the eruption of ethno nationalism. Army is a powerful institution of Pakistan since its inception. The country has been run by army many a times. Army men had run the affairs of the state starting from Ayub Khan to Pervez Musharraf. Unfortunately the role of the military in emergence of ethnic conflict is very important to analyze. As in the past, the policies adopted by army especially in the form of military operations in these provinces resulted in the outbreak of ethno nationalism. The policies pursued by Ayub Khan in the form of economic development resulted in unequal development which creating great resentment among the masses of East Pakistan as they were economically exploited. In one unit there was no provincial autonomy, all the provinces had to obey central government. Taking in account both of the provinces and their conditions, the military operation was also conducted in East Pakistan but the circumstances in which military operation was conducted in East Pakistan and Baluchistan were different. The effect of military operation in East Pakistan started many debates saying that if Pakistan forces didn’t do military operation in East Pakistan, Pakistan would have been saved. Others said that India was openly supporting the Mukti Bahini that whether operation was conducted or not the result would have been the same.
However in Baluchistan the circumstances were different. In Baluchistan forces were used in 1948, 1958, 1973 and in 2006 and till today. The continuity of military operations in Baluchistan worsened the situation instead not even one of them pacified the situation The decision to use force in East Pakistan can be defended on these grounds that at that time India openly intervened in the domestic affairs of Pakistan but in Baluchistan whenever military operation was launched it could have been avoided. Instead negotiation as a tool could have used. Whenever there was resentment among Baluchis against the central government on their policies, the option to use force was implied which further aggravating the condition. Kachkool Ali Baluch, Leader of the Opposition, Baluchistan Assembly made a statement on such condition that “The people of Pakistan did not get a nation – the Pakistan army got a state.” 17 To quote Mir Khuda Bakhsh, a clan elder of the Marri tribe in Kohlu, “The motive of the military action is to capture oil and gas resources of the area”. 18 On the basis of such notions some nationalist parties of Baluchistan that started their demand with provincial autonomy now demanded separation from Pakistan.

Eighth factor is development political, economic and social. There is a perception of certain ethnic group that the government is not interested in their development and is not concerned about their demands usually gives rise to ethno nationalism as apparent in Baluchistan case, where the people think that the central government is only interested in their resources. No gas availability, lowest human development index, illiteracy, food insecurity and unemployment clearly show the unconcerned behavior of the government. Mir Khuda Bakhsh told to newsmen that “the local people ask what benefits the exploitation of power resources in Dera Bugti has brought to their lives in the past 50 years? They still burn wood for fuel purpose and live like nomad. Then, how would the exploitation of mineral riches from Kohlu benefit the local population in the future? Whereas the Sui gas brought an industrial revolution in Pakistan, Baluchistan still lacks an industrial base which is the single biggest cause of unemployment in the province.” 19
It is worth noting that not even single project changed the life of Baluchis they remain poor and underdeveloped as compare to other ethnic groups. The effect of so called development in Baluchistan didn’t change the conditions of Baluchistan and the minors funds which were allocated to Baluchistan failed to reach the people of province as they were not properly planned. The Social Policy Development Centre 2005 report discovered, that the percentage of the population living in a high degree of deprivation is the highest in Baluchistan as compared to the other provinces. To be exact it is 88 percent in Baluchistan, 51 percent in the KPK, 49 percent in Sindh and 25 percent in Punjab. 20. The same issue was with the East Pakistan. At that time one unit was prevailed in Pakistan and it divided Pakistan into two zones East Pakistan and West Pakistan. Bengalis always complained that there was no balance between the East Pakistan and West Pakistan in context of development. Despite the fact that majority population was living in East Pakistan; West Pakistan consumed more resources and money. All these factors invited the foreign elements to intervene and use the situation in their own interest.

Ninth factor is role of foreign hand in worsen the ethnic situation. Taking advantage from the state of affairs the foreign powers got the fertile grounds to use this situation in their interest. It may not be right to say that foreign intervention is the primary source of ethnic conflict but in the long run foreign powers have their role in the separation of East Pakistan and also in upsurge of ethno nationalism in Baluchistan. The role of foreign hand in the deteriorating the ethnic conflict further in East Pakistan and Baluchistan is quite evident. When Pakistan came into being its territory was divided into two regions. The distance between the two regions were thousand miles and in between India was situated.
It is observed that from the very beginning India had its role in worsening the situation in East Pakistan. They openly supported the Bengalis against the Pakistan forces, trained them and provided them with weapons. It was due to the Indian support that Bengalis became successful in attaining the separate homeland for them. In case of Baluchistan the role of foreign countries cannot be denied. Government of Pakistan said so many times that they have clues that India is involved in building up volatile situation in Baluchistan. Pakistani intelligence agencies are convinced that Indian consulates in Kandahar, bordering on Baluchistan, and the city of Jalalabad, bordering on KPK, provide funds arms to the Baluchistan Liberation Army and the Baluchistan Liberation Front. 21. So in Baluchistan and East Pakistan the role of foreign country in destabilizing the situation is quite evident.

Tenth factor is situation of Human Rights. Along with other tensions and conflicting situations there is probability of the emergence of human rights violation when there is a wave of ethno nationalism in any province. In East Pakistan and Baluchistan the issues of human rights violation are there. The issue of ethno nationalism in both provinces flared up because of Human rights violations. It largely depends on the government how they respond to the aspirations of ethnic groups. In case government adopted the measure of force, it further aggravated the situation. Military operation conducted in East Pakistan to defend the boundaries of Pakistan also gave rise to human rights violation. It is absolutely true that when there is a use of force despite the fact it’s justified it will result in the suffering of people. Too many military operations in Baluchistan were also conducted .In the era of Musharraf many people lost their lives or were displaced from their homes. Apart from that many other issues which are now prevailing in Baluchistan. i.e. target killing; missing person issue further worsening the situation.

The factors/causes of ethno nationalism in East Pakistan and Baluchistan as mentioned above are many which put country at the brink of destruction at one point in time and the other. It is observed that in one province one factor is dominant and in other province other factors are dominant. Some factors are also common in both provinces. On these grounds many people start claiming that as some factors are common in both provinces, result will be the same which will result in breakup of Baluchistan from Pakistan like East Pakistan .Some people said that despite the fact that some reasons were common in both provinces the probability of breaking up of Pakistan like 1971 is not possible because the conditions of Baluchistan and East Pakistan are different. Selig Harrison says that the reasons for the ethnic conflict in both provinces are same like economic grievances, less representation in army and bureaucracy etc but there are also some important differences between the both which making them different from one other. 22
Geographical contiguity in any federation is very important and plays a great role in the integration of the state. After the establishment of Pakistan, it didn’t have many resources to tackle East Pakistan which was far away from the rest of the state thus creating problems. This physical separation invited external power to intervene in East Pakistan more openly as compared to Baluchistan. In case of Baluchistan there is no physical separation. So the central government can defend Baluchistan well.

Secondly, East Pakistan was in majority unlike Baluchistan and it was hard to ignore the majority and their demands as compared to minority. Minority can be suppressed by central government but to suppress the demand of majority of population is not easy. Not paying attention to the demands of Bengalis resulted in an upsurge of ethnic movement resulting in appearance of Bangladesh. Moreover, East Pakistan was homogenous population unlike Baluchistan. In Baluchistan apart from Baluchis many ethnic groups are also residing. So like East Pakistan Baluchistan has a heterogeneous population. In the words of former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf “the situation in Baluchistan had no resemblance with that of East Pakistan and asserted that the province would remain an integral part of Pakistan”. He said that some tribal chiefs of Baluchistan were trying to give a perception that situation in the province was similar to that of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) which was far from reality. He added that the dynamics and situation of East Pakistan were very different from that of Baluchistan as the former was home to 52 percent population of Pakistan which unanimously stood to get separation and Baluchistan formed only 4 percent population of the total Pakistan and majority of them do not want separation except some of the Baloch Sardars whose supporters were less than 0.5 percent.” 23

Thirdly, in accordance with Selig Harrison Baloch nationalism has not yet acquired the cohesion and momentum that Bengali nationalism had in 1971. 24In Baluchistan the leaders which are driving secessionist movement are not living in Baluchistan rather they express their program from outside that they are not ready to live with Pakistan. At the same time all the tribal leaders do not agree for a separate homeland and just want their rights to be fulfilled. Whereas in East Pakistan the way Mujib Ur Rehman mobilized the masses is quite different from the Baloch leaders. He was leading a homogeneous society. There is a lack of consensus among the leaders of Baluchistan. If some tribal leaders are driving the secessionist movement then some tribal leaders are in government as well. So there are bleak chances that on the demand of few tribal leaders Baluchistan will separate from Pakistan.

In this connection the leader of Baluchistan’s political party, Akhtar’s Mengal presented his six points and declared it same as the six points of Mujib. There was a huge hue and cry all over and it was said that Balochistan is experiencing and demanding the same as once demanded by Bengalis in 1966. After analysis of these points many differences can be seen. Mujib’s six points covered constitutional, political, economic and strategic aspects. It was maximalist positions to secure a fair deal for East Pakistan where as Mengal’s six point do not go beyond demanding ordinary rights enjoyed by citizen elsewhere in the country. 25 According to the Najam Sethi “Sheikh Mujib’s plan all but demanded independence from Pakistan. But for Akhtar Mengal, “a soft or hard divorce” is still dependent on the outcome of the dialogue and reconciliation process.” 26

Fourthly, the circumstances in which Pakistan was made were not very buoyant. There were lesser resources and it was not in a strong position to defend itself especially in that case when there was a physical separation too. Pakistan had less army, fewer weapons and possessed no nuclear power. But now the scenario is totally different as it has huge army, sophisticated weapons and at the same time is a nuclear power. In case of foreign intervention in Baluchistan like East Pakistan, Pakistan will defend it effectively. It was also said that if in 1971 Pakistan had nuclear power India didn’t dare to intervene in Pakistan so openly. It was after the separation of East Pakistan that Pakistan started its policy of building up nuclear power for its defense because they felt that in 1971 they failed to defend its boundaries.

Above are the points and issues that describe that despite the common factors in Baluchistan and East Pakistan in the eruption of ethno nationalism there are many imperative differences in both provinces which showed that separation of Baluchistan is not as easy as in the case of East Pakistan. But it doesn’t mean that things should be allowed to get worsen in Baluchistan. Efforts should be made to fulfill the demands of Baluchis and their grievances should be fully addressed. It is the responsibility of government to address the problems of Baluchis. After scrutinizing various factors of ethnic tensions and ethno nationalism in Pakistan following recommendations are given in order to counter the ethno nationalism in Baluchistan.

 General amnesty should be given to all Baluchis and practical implementation should be done by taking them on the negotiating table instead of using force. Moreover, they should be included in the main stream politics so that they do not feel alienated anymore.

 Military operation is not a solution of any problem. To curb ethnic conflict through weapons is a bad option. History shows that whenever a military operation was conducted to curb the ethnic movement it resulted in further bad conditions. In order to avoid ethnic conflict in Baluchistan all kinds of military operation should be ceased.

 Education gives awareness to the masses and enables a person to make his/her life better. If people of a specific ethnic group are well off or contented they will not indulge themselves in any kind of anti-state activities. Low literacy rate could be regarded as one of the reasons of ethno nationalism in Baluchistan. If the youth in Baluchistan get the opportunity to get education they will use their capacity to make their living standard better and in constructive activities.

 The emergence of Human Rights Violations badly affects the internal environment of the state and also the image of the country at international level. When ethnic conflict exists there emerges the human rights violation as well which then ultimately makes situations more volatile. In Baluchistan, there exists a huge number of Human Rights Violation where the issue of missing person and killing and dumping policy is of the greatest concern. Army and the intelligence agencies are alleged for being involved in extra judicial killings but the army denies it. In order to put an end to the ethnic conflict in Baluchistan, law and order inside the province should be maintained.

 In case of East Pakistan and Baluchistan, both provinces faced the same problem i.e. unequal distribution of resources. The elite policies regarding resource distribution resulted in more marginalization and alienation from the center. In order to curb the ethno nationalism in any Baluchistani it is the responsibility of the government to make an effective distributive system so that the needs and demands of Baluchis are addressed properly.

 For a heterogeneous state to prosper and function properly it is important that it gives equal representation to all of the ethnic groups so that feeling of hatred does not arises for other ethnic groups residing inside the country. Baluchis have less representation in the main stream politics and civil and military services. Due to this underrepresentation, the people who are at the helm of affairs are unaware of the problems of Baluch which made them go against the central government thus giving rise to ethnic conflict. In order to calm down the wave of ethno nationalism it is important for the government to introduce such mechanism in which all ethnic groups have representation so the interests of every ethnic group could be protected.

 In Pakistan, the role of foreign powers in aggravating the ethno nationalism is noteworthy.

 Constitution is a medium that determines the magnitude of independence of a province in managing its affairs. It is also an observation that if province has less powers or regional autonomy or centralized system is operating it gives rise to friction among center government and provincial government. All the constitutions of Pakistan called for less autonomy for the provinces which created great resentment among the provinces. East Pakistan and Baluchistan are clear illustration of these. After the 18th amendment many powers are given to the provinces. In order to avoid ethnic conflict constitution should be implemented in true letter and spirit.

 Pakistan is a heterogeneous state where different ethnic groups reside. The main objective of the state is to develop unity among the diverse ethnic groups by initiating inter province programs where different ethnic groups could share their ideas, culture and views to enhance understanding about each other and to end hatred. Moreover, inter province games and student exchange programs should also be initiated in order to create inter province harmony.

 Sardari system is the trademark of Baluchistan society. To abolish it completely would be impossible. The government should sit on the negotiating table with the Sardars and mutually work for the development of Baluchistan. The Sardars are influential enough to develop Baluchistan and Baluchis so that they can be the part of integrative force of the country.

1. Micheal Brown and Sumit Ganguly (eds), “Government Policy and Ethnic relations in Asia and Pacific”, (Cambridge, M.A: MIT Press,1970) ,p.8
2. Michaeal E.Brown,(ed), “The International Dimension of Internal Conflicts,” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 1996),p.571
3. Adeel Khan, Politics of Identity, Ethnic Nationalism and the State in Pakistan (London: Sage Publications, 2005), p.23
4. ibid
5. Veena Kukreja, Contemporary Pakistan, Political Processes, Conflicts and Crises (London: Sage publications, 2003), p.45
6. ibid
7. Tahir Amin, Ethno National Movements of Pakistan Domestic and international factors (Islamabad: Institute of Policy Studies, 1988) p.32
8. Safdar Mehmood, Pakistan divided (Lahore: Feroz Sons limited, 1984), p.28
9. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972).p.192
10. Ibid., p.287
11. ibid
12. ibid
13. Ibid
14 ibid. p.34
15. Ibid
16. Dr. Noor-ul-Haq Balochistan Facts and Fiction: Islamabad Policy Research Institute. Viewed on 3rd March 2012
17. Pakistan: A forgotten conflict in Baluchistan, viewed on 15 may 2013,
18. Ibid
19. Syed Fazal-e-Haidar,Higher Poverty in Balochistan,
20. Zulfikar Shah, “Balochistan on the brink,” Dawn, February 8, 2008
21. Daily Times, Lahore, 13 February, 2006.
22. Selig S.Harrison, “Ethnicity and Political Stalemate in Pakistan”, in the State Religion and Ethnic Politics,ed Ali Banuazizi and Myron Weiner (United States: Library of Congress,1986),p277
23. Understanding Baluchistan by Musharaff, understanding-Baluchistan
24. Selig S.Harrison, “Ethnicity and Political Stalemate in Pakistan”, in the State Religion and Ethnic Politics, ed Ali Banuazizi and Myron Weiner (United States: Library of Congress, 1986), p277
25. Dr.Pervaiz Tahir, “6 Points: Now and Then,” Jahangir’s World Times, Nov 2012
Courtesy . Berkeley Journal of Social Sciences
Vol. 4, Fall 2014

Comments Off on Nationalism in Pakistan: A Comparative Analysis of Ethnic Factors in East Pakistan and Baluchistan

Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Research Papers on Political Issues


A New Society In Pakistani Balochistan 

By: Zofia Mroczek
Rural Development Consultant


Zofia Mroczek

The western province of Pakistan, Balochistan, has been torn by separatist insurgencies since its annexation into the new born Muslim state in 1948. As the current conflict, which exploded in 2005, has now become less intensive, military actions have also changed their character.There is no open war in the traditional sense but there are new problems, like enforced disappearances, kill and dump operations, death squads, extrajudicial and target killing, which strike Balochistan. A famous phrase of the former president Pervez Musharraf addressed to the militants: “you won’t even know what hit you” (Pakistan: the Worsening Conflict in Balochistan, International Crisis Group, Asia Report no 119) has got a disturbingly literal interpretation.

Who are Baloch nationalists?
According to the government, only 7% of the province is actually troubled,
and that is due to the terror imposed on the population by some backward
sardars1 protecting their own privileges2. On the contrary, the unrest is definitely much more than Islamabad claims. “It is not just the tribes but all Baloch people are fighting [for their rights], and most of them are ordinary Baloch” Abdul Rauf Mengal, a parliamentarian from the Balochistan National Party, says3.
However, not the whole of Baloch society, and not all to the same extent, adhere to the nationalist movement and reach for weapons. There is an entire myriad of more or less radical groups: parties demanding autonomy, militants struggling for national liberation and ordinary people searching for justice and a decent life.
Baloch nationalism has a dual basis. On one hand, it developed as a tribal identity repressed by a force perceived as foreign. Specific character of a tribal society is reflected in the strong reaction to the attacks on the collective identity. The individual is not at the center, it is the community that counts. So when threatened in its integrity, a tribal society is threatened also in its raison d’etre, and reacts with a major compactness: the nationalism4.
However, divisions among the tribes are deep and they do not have a tradition of their own sovereign state5. “[Unlike] the Awami League, which led a Bengali nationalist movement cutting across all the classes, the NAP [National Awami Party] in Balochistan is a mere assortment of Baloch and Brohi tribal leaders. On the lingual basis Brohis have as much in common with the Balochis as Tamils have with Pashtuns”, Feroz Ahmad commented in 19996.
On the other hand, a new Baloch nationalism has emerged with the emancipation of the Baloch middle class and intelligentsia7. These people were often educated outside the province, where they acquired modern ideas but also developed a sense of belonging to the homeland. They wanted to bring these ideas back home but found themselves excluded from high positions in administration or in the army, which they deserved due to their education.
Gradually, the relatively unified middle class took command over the nationalist movement in what is considered a process of its ‘detribalization’. One of the better known leaders of the movement, Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, says: “I agree that tribal system has lost its significance in today’s world. The current tribal system is not the one our ancestors practiced”8. The middle-class is also much less prone to make separate agreements with the government (as it would happen frequently with the sardars).
Traditionally restless tribal areas in the North-East of the province were heavily struck at the beginning of the conflict so that the flashpoints moved towards the urban centers in the South-West, where the middle classes were ready to embrace insurgent ideas9. The profile of the militant has changed as well: he has become modern, tribal-free and younger: the majority is probably under 30. They come from the cities like Kech, Panjgur, Gwadar, Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, Kharan, Lasbela or even
Karachi. This is where the Frontier Corps concentrate their forces10.
Islamabad, by targeting the middle class and the youth, destroys human potential which is vital for the development of the Baloch society and the province as a whole. Young educated people are not only marginalized by the federal policies but also heavily radicalized and may spend their best years in mountains with kalashnikovs.

Toward radicalization?
Motivation and goals have changed as well. People are desperate and have lost confidence in the sense of political solutions. Continuing disappointments, such as lacking power devolution, extractive policy, military pressure and all kinds of abuse, lead to statements like: “When nobody wants to hear our voice, we’re forced to make them hear it through violence” or “the young people have taken up the arms; they are fighting for their rights. They think they can’t get through a political struggle. If this still continues, if we can’t get our rights through political means, we too will take up the gun […] we are now tired. This is our last struggle”11.
Some leaders set their sights on independence and have very precise political plans. A prominent political activist of the Baloch Republican Party’s Women’s Wing, Banuk Hooran Baloch, delineates exact borders of the desired state: “we demand independence for greater Balochistan which includes Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan (currently in Punjab), Jaccobabad, Karachi (currently in Sindh) and Iranian occupied Balochistan and our struggle will continue until we free greater Balochistan”12.
Certainly, these are not the mainstreaming voices, but the fact that they appear in a public debate proves that there are serious radicalization flashpoints within society.
The escalation of the attacks against the pipelines and the episodes of violence can be observed since 2002. Initially, the armed group would organize attacks against everything that symbolized the ‘colonial’ state’s policy, like pipelines, railway, electricity network or military cantonment, provoking heavy retaliations13. The salient feature of these actions was that they were not causing many casualties, at least not among civilians. If the victims were usually Punjab, it could be explained by the ethnic composition of the military forces assigned to quell the insurrection.
However, with time and with the increase in turmoil, the militants started
to target also Punabi civilians: teachers, policemen, employees working on
pipelines or in Gwadar, and even Chinese engineers engaged in projects sponsored by China. For instance, in 2004 a car bomb killed three Chinese engineers and wounded 9 en route to Gwadar14.
Threatening and physically eliminating Punjabi employees, both from public administration or private companies, is supposed to have a symbolic meaning of fighting the Punjabi domination over the province. Instead, it has a critical impact on the Baloch society which is an indirect victim of this practice: Balochistan cannot provide its own staff for schools and other public structure and has to rely on better qualified specialists from Punjabi. Targeting Punjabis discourage them to come to work in Balochistan15. If that is a goal of the militants in order to counter migration from other provinces, it should be also considered that
encouraging ethnic hate may undermine social relations for decades.

Baloch come out of shadow
Islamabad has always tried to divert attention from the conflict and to stifle the stream of news from the province. The policy of misinformation caused within years a surprising unawareness of what was actually going on there. The government would downplay the scale of unrest, as an army spokesman said: “It is not an insurgency…The Baloch militants are employed people [mercenaries]. There is no [nationalist or other ideological] motivation”16. Thus, many Pakistanis, especially the left, were convinced by the official version promoted by Islamabad.
Gradually, this wall of silence started to erode and in spite of many risks, influx of information has been intensifying. Extremely poor conditions of the education and communication infrastructures have not impeded Baloch society to become very active even on international forums.
Nowadays, the situation in Balochistan can be relatively easily monitored but impartiality and plausibility of the information remain to be verified.
There are numerous websites and blogs, often run by a Baloch diaspora in different parts of the world, from Sweden to Canada. They have different view points but all declare to be impartial and to “raise awareness on an international level and report the atrocities against Baloch people[…]”17.
Initiatives on a bigger scale have been undertaken, too. Baloch would resort to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization18 and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Appeals have been also made to the USA for interrupting its military assistance to Pakistan and for American intervention.

Laic nationalists
The completely secular character of this sites and initiatives is a salient feature. Defence of the human rights and democracy in a quite Western way is in the first place, often colorized by the nationalism, moderate or radical. The availability of the English version, the inspiration of the UN Declarations of Human Rights, the concept of nation and other values commonly shared in the Western world, are explicit. They lack references to the global jihad or any kind of anti-Western solidarity of the Muslim world. Even the radical site Baluch Sarmachar, with its war cry:
“Long live free and united Balochistan, Struggle and Victory”, invokes just freedom. If we type in its search engine words like ‘Allah’, the results refer to Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, “most popular middle-class leader” and to Dera Allah Yar- area of Jaffarabad district. If we do the same thing with the word ‘jihad’ the first result is an article The enemies of civilized world
announced Jihad against Baloch Nation, and others in this vein19.
In the case of Balochistan, the religious factor does not count because the conflicting sides are both Sunni. If religion can be promoted to a national/ethnic unity factor even in traditionally tolerant societies, in Baloch case it is less probable because it is a persecutor, the state, who uses religion as a form of oppression. In a logical way, therefore, Baloch, whose culture was never particularly religious, do not feel like invoking Islam in their struggle.

Social mobilization
Another peculiarity is that the repression can indirectly encourage a social mobilization, a raise of awareness of the identity, and a new-gained confidence to defend one’s rights. Certainly, this could be a very tricky path since the collusion with extremist religious movements or xenophobic forms of the nationalism is easy. As mentioned before, the former is less probable given the alliance of conservative Islamist and the state. The latter, however, has already come true in many cases. An ethnic tincture that appears in some aspects of the militancy is a proof of this worrying process.
It is important to remember that probably not all the blogs written by the well-educated young people from London are read on regular basis by the poorly educated people in Baloch mud houses. Nonetheless, the injustice and violence affecting all Baloch every day, push them to search for solidarity within their community and to go on the streets. Consequently, information and ideas go around.
The parties like Baloch Republican Party, Baloch Youth Wing, Baloch National Movement and other new and traditional organizations, call for strikes, hunger strikes or demonstrations, and achieve actual results. They appeal in the first place for an end to abductions and extrajudicial killings, which are particularly painful for the community. They are addressed primarily to the UN, like the one organized by the Voice of Baloch Missing People on the Eid Day in Quetta (August 2013) with people carrying large photos of their abducted relatives20. During these events, clashes with the police take place frequently.

Women step up for their rights
The presence of women at demonstrations is another feature worth being raised. Since the first to be abducted or to be killed are men, the ones who mourn and protest are in the majority of cases mothers, wives, sisters. Although Baloch tradition is much less bounded by Islamic laws, it remains deeply patriarchal and gender restrictive. Baloch women have never had a decisive role in society and would spend most of their time at home looking after family. Nevertheless, the unrest, military operations and abductions have had a dramatic impact on the traditional social structure. Men ‘disappear’ and the trauma caused by this change the ingrained social code. Frequently, women are the only ones left to maintain broken families. By going to work and interacting with the authorities when trying to get information about the missing, they emancipate themselves. This is a common phenomenon for repressed and warring societies, as a World Bank study states: “Conflicts create households headed by widows who can be especially vulnerable to inter-generational poverty. Second-round impact can provide opportunities for women in work and politics triggered by the absence of men”21.
There are a lot of stories of women who have moved into action, like Zarina Baloch, who after the forced disappearance of her cousin, a political activist, and after finding him dead two years later, started to take part in rallies on a regular basis: “I was in Karachi when I heard the news that the mutilated body has been found in Turbat. I don’t have words. What can I do? I heard there is a protest by BHRO [Baloch Human Rights Organization] the next day, so I have to join that protest and I joined. I even spoke to many news channels and told them that my brother has been killed. I got his mutilated body”22.
Banuk Hooran Baloch is the organizer of the Women’s Wing of Baloch Republican Party. According to her, women are obliged to: “fight for liberation shoulder-to-shoulder with Baloch brothers because if we [the Baloch women] remain ignorant about the struggle and don’t play our role today then the history will never forgive us”23. Not only do women demonstrate holding photos of ‘Baloch martyrs’, but they even reach important positions. As Karima Baloch, about 30-years-old vice-chair of the Baloch Students Organization, says: “And that’s what’s so striking. In a region where women are for the most part neither seen nor heard, they are now not just silent supporters of the separatist movement: they’ve become its leaders”24. She is paying a high price though, since, having been tried in absentia for sedition and defiling Pakistani flag for three years, she has been living hiding. Banuk Hooran Baloch mentions 200 women abducted and detained, like Hanifa Bugti or Zarina Marri, a young school teacher, abducted in 2005 and allegedly kept in a Karachi cell, tortured and forced to work as sex slave25.
It is not ascertained whether there are women among the guerrillas in the mountains, but it does not seem as unimaginable as it could have some time ago in the segregated society of Balochistan. Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, for instance, acknowledges and even wishes for women taking up arms: “I appeal to my sisters. If in Palestine, Leila Khaled can pick up arms then can’t my sisters do the same? […] They should play their role because this is a demand of the times. History is not written just for men. Both men and women make up the history of any nation”26. However, these seemingly ground breaking words raise concern that the women’s will to fight could be abused in order for them to become obedient kamikaze. We can only hope that these declarations may really trigger a change.
Certainly, it is difficult to see any positive aspects in protracting bloodshed, extreme poverty, everyday terror, broken families. Emancipation should not come at price of such suffering, but the sad fact is that sometimes it does. Women and girls are the most vulnerable in war’s terrifying consequences but it is also the war that, by striking society as a whole, transforms deeply its structure and rearranges roles. When men, fathers, husbands, leaders go missing, who is left has to mobilize, both because of the desperation and rage, and because of a simple need to survive. Here’s why Naela Quadri, in exile in Afghanistan since 2010 where she heads the World Baloch Women’s Forum, says: “Here this grand involvement of women in nationalist movement means a lot. It means many chains of patriarchy, breaking many chains of slavery. It’s not just slavery from Pakistan. Slavery from patriarchal chains also”27. However, the way ahead is still long and tortuous.
The separation from Pakistan has been brought into public debate. The continuing violence and destruction of the social structures push people to harden their position28, without taking into account the realistic capacities and the actual will of Baloch to organize in the state of Balochistan. What people really want counts less and less, while events push them toward radicalization.

1 Tribal leaders
2 Pakistan: the Worsening Conflict in Balochistan, International Crisis Group, Asia Report no.119, 14 settembre 2006, p. 23
3 Ibidem, p. 10
4 M.I. LAIF – M.A. HAMZA, “Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan: A Case Study of Baloch Nationalism during Musharraf Regime”, Journal of Pakistan Vision, vol. 1, no. 1, 2000, p. 68
5 F. GRARE, Balochistan. The state versus the Nation, The Carnegie Papers, South Asia, April 2013, p. 8
6 A. FEROZ, Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan, London, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 173
7 M.I. LAIF, M.A. HAMZA, (2000), p. 67
8, 12.09.2013
9 F. GRARE, (2013), p. 9
10 Ibidem
11 Pakistan: the Worsening…, cit, p. 12, 04.08.2012
13 M.I. LAIF – M.A. HAMZA, (2000), p. 74
14 J.R. MURTHA, The strategic Importance of Balochistan, thesis for the Naval Postgraduate School of Monterey, California, June 2011, p. 49
15 C.C. FAIR, Balochistan, US House of Representatives, Commitee on Foreign Affairs,Oversight and Investigations Subcommitee, 8 Febraury 2012, p. 8
16 R.G. WIRSING, Baloch nationalism and geopolitics of energy resources: the changing context of separatism in Pakistan, Strategic Studies Institute for the U. S. Government, April 2008, p. 32,1.html, 15.02.2013
19 sarmachar
20 Ibidem
21 M.BUVINIC – M. DAS GUPTA – U. CASABONNE – P. VERWIMP, Violent conflict
and Gender Inequality. An Overview, Policy Research Working Paper 6371, The World Bank, February 2013, abstract page, see also C. MULLER – M VOTHKNECHT, Group violence, Ethnic Diversity and Citizen Participation: Evidence from Indonesia, Aix Marseille School of Economics, February 2012 role-fightindependance-pakistan, 17.07.2013 struggle-for-thrliberation-of-my-nation-banuk-hooran-baloch/, 04.08.2012, 17.07.2013 struggle-for-thrliberation-of-my-nation-banuk-hooran-baloch/, 04.08.2012,, according to Asian Human Rights commission of Pakistan role-fightindependance-pakistan, 17.07.2013
27 Ibidem

Atarodi A., Insurgency in Balochistan and why it is of trategic importance, FOI Swedish Defence Researcg Agency, Defence Analysis, January 2011
Buvinic M., das Gupta M., Casabonne U., Verwimp P., Violent conflict and Gender Inequality. An Overview, Policy Research Working Paper 6371, The World Bank, February 2013, abstract page
Fair C.C., Balochistan, US House of Representatives, Commitee on Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Investigations Subcommitee, 8 February 2012
Fazl-e-Haider S., Gwadar: An emerging Centre of a New Great Game, Istituto per gli studi di Politica Internazionale, no. 162, October 2009
Feroz A., Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan, London, Oxford University Press, 1999
Gall C., “In remote Pakistan, a civil war festers”, in The New York Times, 2 April 2006
Grare F., Balochistan. The state versus the Nation, The Carnegie Papers, South Asia, April 2013
Harrisson, S.S., “Nightmare in Balochistan”, Foreign Policy, no. 32, Autumn 1978
Hewitt V., Ethnic construction, provincial identity and nationalism in Pakistan: The caes of Balochistan, in S. K. Mitra and R. A. Levis (eds.), Substantional Movements in South Asia, Boulder, 1996
Hundergford, H.T., The Indian Borderland: 1880-1990, London, Methuen, 1909
Jamal H., Khan A. J. , Trends in Regional Human Development Indices, Social Policy and Development Centre, Research Report no. 73, July 2007
Khan Z.A., “Balochistan Factor in Pak-Iran Relations: Opportunities and
Costraints”, Journal of South Asian Studies, Vol. 27, no. 1, 1 June 2012
Laif M.I., Hamza M.A., “Ethnic Nationalism in Pakistan: A Case Study of Baloch Nationalism during Musharraf Regime”, Pakistan Vision, Vol. 1, no. 1, 2000
Mahsood A., Miankhel A.K., Baluchistan Insurgencyç Dynamics and Implications, Department of Political Science, Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, KPK,
Pakistan, Global Advanced Research Journal of Social Science, Vol. 2, no. 3,
March 2013
Muller C., Vothknecht M., Group violence, Ethnic Diversity and Citizen
Participation: Evidence from Indonesia, Aix Marseille School of Economics,February 2012
Murtha J.R., The strategic Importance of Balochistan, thesis for the Naval
Postgraduate School of Monterey, California, June 2011
Pakistan: the Worsening Conflit in Balochistan, International Crisis Group, Asia Report no. 119, 14 September 2006
Pipes, G.D. , The Baloch-Islamabad Tension: Problems of National Integration, thesis for the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, March 2010
Piacentini Fioriani V.F., Pakistan, le condizioni di sicurezza e gli scenari futuri Research of the Military Center of Strategic Studies, 2010
Rashid A., Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Italian edition, Serie Bianca Feltrinelli, Milano 2001
The state of sectarianism in Pakistan, International Crisis Group, Asia Report no. 95, 18 April 2005
Wirsing R.G., Baloch nationalism and geopolitics of energy resources: the changing context of separatism in Pakistan, Strategic Studies Institute for the U. S. Government, April 2008
Yusuf H., Sectarian violence Pakistan’s greatest security threat?, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center, July 2012

Online sources (1998), 28.07.2011, Key to HDI countries and ranks, Human Development Report 2013,, T. Saeedi, ‘Pakistan: Unveiling the Mystery of Balochistan Insurgency’ Intellibrief, 01.03.2005, A. Naveed, Trouble in Pakistan’s Energy-rich Balochistan’ ISN Security Watch, 30.01.2006, 11.04.2012
endance-pakistan, 17.07.2013, 2013, B. Raman, Pakistan: Shia Anger Againsy Kayani, 24 29.04.2009, Turbat Fact Finding Report, 11.02.2013

Analysis No. 266, July 2014 ©ISPI2014

Comments Off on A New Society In Pakistani Balochistan 

Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Research Papers on Political Issues


The Baluch Role in the Persian Gulf during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

By Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini
Faculty of Political Sciences,
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart,

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, evidence of the Baluch popula-tion could be found in the service of the Al Ya’rubi of Oman, mainly as mercenarytroops.’ Officers were called jam’darand soldiers sowar.2 To the Arabs of Oman, these Baluch corps constituted their military power (alshawkah) and their strength and were an indispensable tool in the conquest and maintaining of Omani tribal power. It was, however, with the Omani dynasty of the Al Bu Sa’id of Oman—starting around the first half of the nineteenth century—that the Baluch, and the coastal strip of Makran, the main region in south Central Asia of their origin, became an institutional part of the Omani governmental forces and major political leaders. Baluch tribes also settled in other Gulf areas beside Oman, and in separate villages, practicing their tribal customs and speaking their language.


Persian Gulf

Being Baluch is a question of geographical and cultural identity; therefore their integra­tion in the Arab regions of the Gulf has been always assured and stable when closely related to their original corporate role of defense force. Consequently, the role of Baluch—espe­daily Makrani—in the Arab Gulf countries has been growing and modifying itself since the nineteenth century. During the twentieth century, Baluch cultural identity, and most of all the Baluch presence in numerical terms with respect to Arab Gulf nationals, did become a significant reality, and also a cultural reality. Today there are many integration problems between nationals and nonnationals in most of the Arab Gulf countries, and the Baluch con­tribution to the richness of Gulf culture and society could represent a significant step toward future cooperation and integration through reform governmental projects. Consequently, when talking about globalization, one should keep in mind that this concept is not new for this particular region. The society of the Gulf has in fact been a “globalized” community from time immemorial; nevertheless, each ethnic group composing this cosmopolitan world suc­ceeded in preserving its own cultural identity.
In the United Arab Emirates, for example, there are today 135,700 southern Baluch (7 percent of the population) as a part of a larger community of about S million.3 Starting in the late 195os, sudden wealth made this region one of the richest of the world. Here the Baluch found work as unskilled laborers, policemen, or fishermen. Other Baluch joined the military. Still others labored in the oil fields and on the farms of the wealthy Gulf states. Although the Baluch work extremely hard, they are much better off than they were in Baluchistan, one of the poorest areas of the world. One of the main causes of the Baluch “diaspora” to the other shores of the Arabian Sea largely results from their lands of origin, which I describe together with their society’s conditions and customs.
The Baluch reside mainly in Baluchistan, a dry, desolate region in the southeastern part of the Iranian plateau. It extends from the Ker­man desert to the east of Bam and the Besha­gard mountains and to the western borders of the Sind and Punjab provinces of today’s Paki­stan. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Baluchistan was divided by the British between Iran and Pakistan.’ These two states had a dispute concerning the border dividing the two parts of Baluchistan; it was resolved by an agreement signed in 1959.5
Iranian Baluchistan is a part of the Sistan and Baluchistan provinces.’ The barren land of Iranian Baluchistan, situated on the southeast­ern side of the country, is part of “Great Baluch­istan,” with the other half located in Pakistan.? The province is divided into four regions—Sar­hadi, Sarawan, Bampur, and Makran—based on their environmental differences.
One of the main characteristics of Balu­chistan is the variation in flora and fauna that exists because of the climatic differences. This multifeatured, inhospitable land has given rise to people of different ethnos. The ethnic diver­sity is such that one can find Baluch and Brohi Arabs, Jats and Kurds, and also blacks, whose ancestors had once been brought to this land as slaves from East Africa by the Omani Arabs.’

Historically it is believed that the Baluch moved to Makran from Kerman province to flee an expedition of the Seijuks during the eleventh century. At that time, the Baluch were nomads.’ They have never had a centralized govern­ment and live under a tribal system. Baluch is the name of several tribes, a small number of which live in Turkmenistan. They speak Balu­chi, believed to be a west Iranian language of the Indo-European family of languages and influenced by eastern Iranian dialects. There are two branches of northern (Sarhadi) and southern (Makrani) Baluch. The Iranian Ba­luch tribes are divided into a number of clans.'” The Iranian Baluch belong mostly to the Hanafi school of the Sunni faith of Islam. A few tribes in the Sistan area are also regarded as Baluch, but they speak a Sistani dialect, an abandoned Persian language.”
The Baluch are a people of about 6 mil­lion, scattered mainly across Pakistan (of which they occupy nearly a half), southeastern Iran, Afghanistan, and the United Arab Emirates, where they form a large immigrant community. They appear to have first occupied the center of Iran (Kerman), or perhaps even the north, before migrating toward the southeast.
Although the presence of Baluch nomadic tribes is documented before Muslim times, their current territory was populated in the past by a number of ethnic groups speaking various idioms, among which were the Dravidian lan­guages. Some would more or less consider the Baluch to be any nomadic tribe, and the latter would accept this identification, but this iden­tity was not enough for the Baluch to be able to identify themselves as an ethnically homoge­neous community.
From the end of the eighteenth century, and for all of the nineteenth century, it was these tribes of pillaging warriors who protected, hid, supported, and faithfully defended the Al Bu Sa’id of Oman. The tribal structure and clan-family relationships of their society, which was traditionally nomadic, could count on Makran, peninsular, and continental solidarity.
It was only in the eighteenth century that a Baluch national identity arose.12 It won over and brought together various tribes, essentially on the condition that they would speak the same language and share their culture. Proba­bly around that time, epic poetry was developed among the tribes, thus unifying all the groups and subgroups, whatever nuances there might have been, into an entity that today is called the Baluch people. Language is the essential factor in cultural cohesion, which is remarkable given the heterogeneous character of their society; music, too, by highlighting poetry, has been an important element in establishing cultural unity.
Baluchistan is the largest province of Paki­stan. It covers 44 percent of the land surface, an area of 347,190 square kilometers, but has a population of only 4.5 million (around 4 per­cent), making it the least populated province of the country. About half of this population lives around Quetta, the provincial capital of Paki­stani Baluchistan, located in the north, close to the border with Afghanistan. To its north and west, thousands of kilometers of barren desert and stark mountains form the borders with Iran and southern Afghanistan, while due east it is divided from the rest of Pakistan by the Kirthar and Sulaiman mountain ranges. Toward the south, along the Arabian Sea, stretch the sandy desert beaches of the Makran coast.
Most of Baluchistan lies outside the mon­soon system of weather; therefore the climate is extremely dry. The annual rainfall is about fifteen centimeters and is even less along the Makran coast. In terms of physical geography, Baluchistan has more in common with western Asia than with the Indian subcontinent. Its vis­tas of arid wastelands, great deserts, and formi­dable mountain ranges (dramatically contoured and twisted by the earth’s violent geological movements) make it a dramatic area. The dry climate combined with the natural geographi­cal features make it one of the most daunting environments for successful human habitation; thus it is sparsely populated. Many observers think that the region resembles the surface of the moon.
The most important tribes of Pakistani Baluchistan are the Brohi, Baluch, and Pathan, who speak Brohi, Baluchi, and Pushto, respec­tively. The northeast of this province receives rain and snowfall, a measurable precipitation that supports juniper forests, cultivated land, and orchards that produce apples, almonds, apricots, peaches, and grapes. Most of the peo­ple in central Baluchistan lead serninomadic lives herding sheep, goats, and camels, while others are subsistence farmers and laborers working in Punjab and Sind during the win­ter months. Some areas of the south, near the Makran coast, are famous for growing three hundred different varieties of dates!’
Covering an area of sixty-two thousand square kilometers, Makran forms the southern­most strip of Baluchistan province, with a coast­line of over six hundred kilometers. It is hard to envision the vast wilderness of this remote area, where miles of virgin beaches stretch along the sea in bright sunshine and blue skies during the winter months. Because there is hardly any rain, the few villages and settlements depend on spring water and wells. The coast has several tiny fishing villages, while main towns like Gwadar, Ormara, jiwani, and Pasni have small fishing harbors, where the fishermen can be seen com­ing in with their catch every morning and eve­ning.’ Makrani Baluch in the past traded with other maritime communities along the west­ern Indian Ocean; in fact, since ancient times Makran has held a historically strategic position as the most direct route between the Middle East and the riches of the Indian subcontinent.
Known to the ancients as Gedrosia, the Greeks were among the first recorded visitors to Makran. At the end of his conquest in 325 BC, Alexander the Great marched with his army through its harsh deserts, suffering heav­ily because of shortages of both food and water. Earlier, only Semiramis and Cyrus are known to have tried to traverse Makran’s wastelands with an army, but with devastating results.
According to the Greek historian Near­chos, Alexander did not take that route in ig­norance of its difficulties, but he chose it on learning that no one had yet traversed it with an army except Semiramis, who escaped with only twenty men of all his army, and even Cyrus, the son of Kambyses, escaped with only seven soldiers. When Alexander heard these accounts, he was seized with an ambition to outrival both Cyrus and Semiramis.15
The Greeks exerted more of a nominal influence over this region. In 305 BC Chandra Gupta defeated Alexander’s successor, Selecus Nicator, and the region fell under the control of the Mauryan empire. Later the area came under the Sassanian dynasty and remained under its control until the end of the sixth century. Raj Shah of Sind controlled the area for some time. The Arabs of Oman exercised their power over Makran from the seventh to the tenth century.
For the next seven centuries the region was under the loose control of many foreign dynas­ties, which followed one another in quick suc­cession, but their power was short lived.
Toward the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese found their way to India and captured several places along the Makran coast. They never penetrated inland and were unable to establish anything more than heav­ily defended military bases at various ports. In 1581 they destroyed Gwadar and Pasni by burn­ing the two trading and fishing villages to the ground. In the eighteenth century, Makran came under the nominal control of the khanate of Kalat, which was ruled by Nasir Khan I (the Great, 1749-95). The khanate of Kalat, which developed around the seventeenth century, was a refuge for waves of invaders coming from southwest Asia, directed to India; from the tenth to the fifteenth century Kalat and the border­ing provinces were subdued by foreign powers imposing tributes, often with the use of force; but it was not before the end of the seventeenth or the beginning of the eighteenth century that the khanate succeeded in affirming its power in Baluchistan. Once it subdued the sedentary ag­ricultural tribes and enforced tribal authority on the pastoral nomadic groups, the khanate began developing a centralized bureaucratic apparatus through territorial expansion, which included Makran.i6
It was not until the nineteenth century that the British became interested in this area, first during Napoleon’s menacing presence in Egypt and later during the time of the first Anglo­Afghan War in 1838. A British expedition was sent into the area to pave the way for the build­ing of the Indo-European telegraph line, which passed through Makran. On the line’s comple­tion in 1863, Major F. Goldsmid was posted to Gwadar as a British assistant political agent. In 1872 a firm boundary between Persia and Brit­ish Baluchistan was established.° During the twentieth century, after the creation of West Pakistan in 1947, it became a part of Pakistan itself. In 1953, Pakistan Petroleum Limited dis­covered natural gas in Sui, a town in eastern Baluchistan. For most of Pakistan, the discov­ery was a big boon: within ten years, residents in major cities were enjoying gas stoves and fur­naces. In Islamabad today, gas is cheaper than electricity. Only thirty years after discovery the gas was piped to Quetta; yet, to this day, resi­dents in Sui have no access to piped gas.

The Wastes of Creation:
Traveling to Baluchistan, one covers hundreds of kilometers of endless desert road through dust and sandstorms, where an eternal cloud of dust stands over the mountains and valleys overlooked by a sun covered in haze, an agitated atmosphere heavy with the presence of ever-existing dreadful, unexpected events. Were it not for the windswept tamarisk bushes by the road and the occasional tents set up here and there in the dust, or the bell sound­ing on a goat, the presence of humans would not be evident. It feels as if one is walking on an empty, forgotten planet in the burning heat of its blazing sand deserts and the illusive waves of the ever-existing mirages, haunted by all the devils and wicked ghosts of all time, the famous jinn.1B
“When the Lord created the universe, Ba­luchistan was formed out of its wastes.” Whether or not God created this land out of the wastes of the universe, as this Baluch proverb describes, Baluch people had been residing in some other land in the past and migrating to this land in search of shelter. Baluch people then living in the eastern region of the Caspian Sea were driven to the southern part of the country (Ker­man), from whence they were once more moved to the eastern parts and the dry deserts of Balu­chistan. Those who invaded this land forced the Baluch people to leave their green pastures and watersheds and move in tribes riding on the backs of camels and mules and carrying their hard, yet lightweight, accommodations on their saddles, leading their cattle toward this remote corner of the world in search of a refuge. The Baluch name in history is accompanied by de­scriptions of massacres and invasions. It was first mentioned in inscriptions and petroglyphs at­tributed to Darius the Great in Persepolis and Bistoun as the fourteenth province of the Achae­menian empire. It is the place Alexander turned to after his Indian conquest, in the sandy des­erts where half his weary army died. During the golden days of Islam, Arabs invaded and looted this land many times. The caliph’s commander, expressing his concern over being sent to Ba­luchistan, was quoted as saying, “You sent me to a land where her water is hidden under the ground, her dates are eaten up, and her warriors are brave. If the soldiers are few, they will be de­feated, otherwise, they shall starve to death.”19
After the Arabs came the Turkmens, Ghuzz, Mongols, and Timurids, who in turn in­vaded this land right up until the Qajar dynasty came into power in Persia in the nineteenth cen­tury, a period in which violation and oppression reached such a climax that the word Qajaris still synonymous with “stranger” and “invader.” Late in the nineteenth century, the British govern­ment of India penetrated the Persian territory, following its domination over the Sind region, under the pretext of extending telegraph lines from India to the “Oman Sea” and guarding the area. They finally succeeded in separating from Persia a part of Baluchistan, later known as Pakistan’s Baluchistan, in 1871.
In Persian Baluchistan, local khans and commanders rebelling against the central gov­ernment were thoroughly suppressed during the Pahlavi reign in the twentieth century, put­ting an end to tribal autonomy and local rulers. Since the second half of the twentieth century, the primitive lifestyle in which nature plays a decisive role, together with the background of historical invasion and confrontation with other tribes and the tax-gathering, forceful cen­tral government, has led to a call for a militant-tribal structure to defend against invaders and bring the tribes into harmony with one another and their superiority and thus win the challenge of power.2° Common people take refuge in the closed, internally consistent communities where their predetermined, ascribed socioeconomic status is guarded.

Ways of Subsistence:
Adaptation has become a necessity through generations because the Baluch live in a land of scarce water, unfavorable winds, untimely rains ending in floods, and a dry, barren soil. The sit­uation makes cattle raising more profitable than farming and migrating more suitable than set­tling. However, variations allow for oscillations between farming and cattle raising, the major economic activities in the area. Nevertheless, because of the unfavorable climate, contempo­rary migrations to other provinces and the Gulf sheikhdoms account for a supplementary source of income, together with drug smuggling and illegal imports.
Agricultural products in most regions suit­able for the purpose are as follows: date palms are planted in areas that have minimal access to water; paddy fields and nonirrigated wheat fields with a small yield can be seen near rivers; tobacco, corn, and broad bean are cultivated in the plains; and very small quantities of citrus products and tropical fruit are planted in areas with abundant water. Although farming in Balu­chistan is an ancient practice, it has never been greatly developed because of the water short­age, poor soil, lack of investment in the area to improve soil conditions (e.g., leveling steep hills located by rivers, where the soil is more suitable for agriculture), and the primitive tools and absence of advanced technology to counteract the floods and droughts. The problem of water shortage is replaced by the lack of agricultural land along the rivers. Where good soil is found, there is no water, and vice versa. Water scarcity, however, poses the main problem.21
In general, in droughts and years of fam­ine agriculture is a more reliable source of income compared with cattle raising, despite problems such as tribal rivalries and the very high taxes levied by local governments until the beginning of the twentieth century. Several fac­tors, namely, soil, water, labor, and tools, influ­ence agricultural production. In most areas the land is shared, and its potential value cannot be estimated. Landownership is accompanied by water rights, and one’s right to land where cultivation is possible is determined by one’s share in providing the water pumps or digging the qanat/kariz, a widespread system of com­plex underground networks for channeling the water present in the impervious strata at the foot of the mountains. These traditional and highly sophisticated systems are long channels dug out of the subsoil, which, by using the slight inclination of the mountain slopes, make it pos­sible to direct the water along the underground strata, channeling it toward potentially fertile terrain to make possible agricultural activity and the establishment of permanent human settlements. Obviously, the significance of these elaborate irrigation systems extends beyond the economic sphere into the social and political: ownership is linked not so much to space as to the water hours, provided according to the lunar cycle, that may be destined for irrigation of the fields.”
In an inherited water-well realm, land is not divided, nor does it have a particular value in and of itself. It is only during harvest time that one’s share of water is observed. The Per­sian Baluchistan land reform of 1961 absorbed the heads of many tribes into the central gov­ernment and thus contributed to strengthening their power. So the farmers working on their land who had a right to that land were deprived of their ownership in favor of these tribal heads who supported the government. After the Is­lamic revolution of 1979, the removal of local tribal chiefs (sardars) introduced some minor changes in landownership. Some of the people who migrated to the Arab Gulf states because of the droughts came back home and, with the money they had earned, bought the lands that had belonged to the distinguished men of the tribe. Purchase of these properties changed the face of ownership in the region to some extent. In the rural society of Baluchistan, as in other parts of Iran and Pakistan, different methods of production exist alongside one another, char­acterized mainly by historical variations of life reflecting a transitional period.

Animal Husbandry:
According to tribal beliefs and traditions, pas­tures belong to the whole tribe, but animals, such as goats, cows, and camels as well as poul­try and bees, belong to their immediate owners. There are two modes, of cattle raising in the re­gion. The first is the rural mode, in which each family keeps a limited herd in a corner of their living area, apart from their farming activities. The beasts roam in a restricted area during the day and are taken back home at night. The sec­ond is the tribal mode, in which the tribe moves with the herd to warmer areas during the cold months and returns to the cooler mountainous regions during the summer months. The tribe depends on grasslands for grazing the herd, but during the hard drought periods, after the in­fliction of sometimes heavy losses, the animals are fed with barley.
Another prevalent migration style is one in which families that own one hundred to two hundred heads of cattle move together in groups, holding three hundred to five hundred heads among them, toward pastures where they spend a few days to allow the beasts to graze on the few existing bushes and plants. Afterward, the families set off toward new grasslands. In the past, dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, dried whey, sour milk, and yogurt, as well as wool and animal hair, were used mainly within the tribes. After a transition from a natu­ral, self-sufficient economy to a producing one, however, these products were also exchanged in the marketplace. The tribes would gain access to land, water, and pastures in the past by giv­ing a share of their crop to the khan. This pay­ment also usually included the government tax. Since the Qajar rule in the nineteenth century, the heads of the Persian Baluchistan tribes and clans have allocated one-tenth of the tribal in­come earned through cattle products to them­selves and have supplied a military force to aid the central government. The labor force among the tribes is based on the family unit and the wage-earning shepherd and is manipulated and maintained in a primitive order. Labor division among the tribes depends on age, gender (nat­urally divided tasks), and class. Women in the richest tribes have a slight role in production and daily tasks. Poorer women, by contrast, play a vital role in their families’ economy and are less restricted in their social lives.

A natural economy based on handmade articles ruled in Iranian Baluchistan before the land reform of 1961. Most products were consumed within the tribe, and raw materials and primitive tools were produced in the area. Animal skins, wool hair, hides, horns, and tree leaves mainly provided the raw materials needed for the tools used in farming, cattle raising, and maintain­ing the living requirements of the settled tribes, who formerly lived a migratory lifestyle. Tools needed to produce handicrafts either were im­proved by family members and relatives or were made to order by skilled craftsmen. In the latter case, an exchange of agricultural or dairy prod­ucts would pay for the tools.
Primitive tools were not exchanged, nor were they rented among the producing fami­lies; production organization was limited to one family or related families within a village. Labor division was natural and accompanied by a social division based on the individual’s status both in an assumed kinship system and in a real one. Products and the producing tools were for inside use and would not find their way into the market. After the land reform, some changes were introduced regarding the rules governing production, distribution, and exchange, result­ing in a greater production level for sales in the market. Consequently, handicrafts have been divided into two groups, the first related to in-ternal consumption goods, the second to prod­ucts for the market:2s
To decorate their houses, women sew coins and buttons on a piece of cloth and adorn the sleeves and the front parts of women’s cloth­ing with a kind of well-known needlework. This type of embroidery work has been common among Baluch tribes since old times and is used in the family and sent to the market for sale. Handicrafts sent to the market as well as those used within the tribe include the tegard (a type of mat used as a carpet); coins sewn on a piece of cloth for use as decoration; needle­work made to order, which is more or less ex­changed as in the past but can also be found occasionally in the market; rugs and carpets; and, to a limited extent, kilims, for which the government has provided some workshops. Pot­tery making has been done in Baluchistan since ancient times. Pottery discovered in the village of Damen in Iranshahr is now on display in the museum of anthropology in the city of Zahe­dan. Nowadays, pottery is made only in a small region, to a limited extent. Kalpuregan, a vil­lage about thirty-five kilometers to the south of Sarawan, is now famous as a pottery center in Iranian Baluchistan. Men provide the clay from the nearby hills and prepare it for production, and women make and paint the pots. The pots are made in a primitive style, without the aid of a potter’s wheel. They are dried in the sun and then painted with colorful, dotted patterns. These products are both for personal consump­tion and for sale in the market.

Living in the inhospitable natural conditions of Baluchistan and lacking the know-how to coun­teract the deficiencies of their surroundings, the Baluch take pleasure in the minor phenomena they find in nature. They founded a life that dates back to the dawn of civilization, when they subsisted on food provided by the fruit and plants they gathered from their parsimo­nious environment. Their diet has consisted of dates (either wild or cultivated), raw mountain grasses, onion juice, pepper juice, and bread.
Baluch make use of all that is found in na­ture. During the springtime famine, men even compete with beasts over grass. In the past few decades, keeping pace with the developing in­dustries in Iran and Pakistan, all kinds of con­sumer goods produced inside the country or abroad could be found in the remotest parts of Baluchistan. The exports consist chiefly of salted fish, fish maws, shark fins, raw wool, goat hair, hides, cotton, dates, and dwarf palm, while the imports include cotton piece goods, silk, sugar, wheat, rice, iron, and oiI.24 The rush of goods from the Gulf states, India, and Pakistan as well as those produced inside the country has had a great impact on families’ consumption, diet, clothing, and even taste and cultural val­ues. Through these various goods, such as man­made fabrics from China and great quantities of illegal alcohol from the Gulf, numerous Baluch families have become acquainted with different cultures and lifestyles and other world markets.

Plunder and Smuggling
As stated above, the land is so infertile and cul­tivation so close to impossible that despite palm plantations, cattle raising, and the recent devel­opment of irrigated farming, extra sources of income seem almost necessary. During the time when the Baluch were relatively independent and autonomous, they used to gain this income by raiding farms in nearby villages or robbing caravans traveling to or from India. Extra in­come was also supplied through smuggling and illegal imports and by selling their labor force in or out of the country, since the tribal military organization was abolished and they no longer disobeyed the law of the land. The vivid testi­monies of the Baluch plundering nature given by the nineteenth-century British explorers con­firmed the Baluch as great warriors and power­ful adversaries. They were described as capital marksmen and were notorious for their lawless habits such as the chupao (raid). Among the Nar-rhoi and the Yaramadzai, the looting was con­ducted on camels. They reached the villages at night and at dawn started the raids, using the fundamental element of surprise; captives were taken as slaves, and the route back was never the same. These raids were a permanent factor of blood revenge among Baluch tribes.25 Loot­ing brings honor to the tribal society, showing manliness, bravery, and merit and thus uniting the tribe. Smuggling plays the same role and is organized, as in the past, by warlike, militant, self-sacrificing men. It brings honor as well as solidarity to the tribe because it requires de­tailed planning and cooperation among the tribe members involved.

Let’s travel to Dubai together, as it’s senseless without you.

—From a Baluch song
Migration is very common among the Baluch, for numerous reasons. Some migrate to the re­gion’s ports and cities or go abroad in search of food and shelter, and others to escape from the law, at the risk of losing everything. Sometimes it is simply a test of manhood, of going out into the world, or an attempt to escape the prevailing restrictive tribal system or to save some money for marriage or a new, better life. Youth tend to migrate in order to enter the labor force and fill the income gap; older people, by contrast, rarely migrate unless they no longer possess anything to guard. Pakistan, where the other half of the homeland that was divided by political games but never recognized by the Baluch is located, promises a refuge. Historical connections, to­gether with the racial, lingual, religious, and cul­tural unities as well as the similar lifestyle, family ties (most Baluch have relatives in Pakistan), and economic relations, give most Pakistani Baluch the right to ancestral land and water in Iran, and vice versa, and are considered to be the main reasons for this migration pattern.
Other factors include geographic vicin­ity, the easy crossing to Pakistan, and the lower cost of living in that country. Most migrations to Pakistan involve the whole family, whereas the Gulf states draw only the youth and the poor, often single men by themselves because of the dangers involved. In the latter cases, most mi­grants are deprived of a legal passport and cross the border through organized illegal bands that demand much money for the task.

In this rough land only the Baluch, the goat, the palm, and the camel can survive. The common poverty motivated by the lack of production and the consequent malnutrition, accompanied by the consumption of nonessential products such as tea, tobacco, and drugs, accelerate the suscep­tibility to all kinds of diseases among children and adults alike. Bread is the main food people subsist on. Contaminated drinking water plays a great role in inducing diseases. Other sources of water such as rain, rivers, springs, and Banat/ kariz are used both for drinking and for wash­ing. Rainwater in some places is collected in pools and ponds and is contaminated with par­asites and microbes. A polluted environment, together with lack of bathing and changing of clothes (especially among the cattle raisers, and not the farmers), an absence of toilets, and so on, add to this dramatic problem.

Education: A Case Study:
The individual is first educated within the fam­ily and then inside the tribe. The education re­ceived is mainly automatic and behavioral and results in socialized stereotypes. In the past, only the male offspring of the upper class would receive a formal education that would enable them to write and to read the Koran and other religious books. The modern education system that was started under the Pahlavi regime with the establishment of schools in Persian towns and cities and aimed at training children only to read and write did not succeed, because of the lack of possibilities for advanced education in small centers and the absence of educational structures. Despite the great incentives for edu-cation and the wish to save the children from poverty and tribal restrictions, and also the oc­casional governmental aid (there is even a uni­versity established in Zahedan, the center of the province), the highest percentage of literate people are among city dwellers and males. Sta­tistics related to literacy in cities show that the majority of literate people are the children of governmental officials and clerks. In Pakistani Baluchistan, the education of young females de­veloped thanks to an important element of the Rind tribe: Zobaida Jalal. Following the military coup d’etat in Pakistan on 12 October 1999 that installed the new government of General Pervez Musharraf, she was appointed general federal minister of education, women, development, social welfare, and special education. Zobaida started the first school for girls, gradually intro­ducing new cultural ideas, such as male teach­ers, and new social and political balances in the tribal local society. Zobaida fights for the eman­cipation of Islamic women through their edu­cation. She bears the typical features—round eyes, long nose, and fair complexion—of the Rind tribe, to which she belongs, and is the most famous and admired woman throughout Balu­chistan. Thanks to Zobaida’s generosity, it has been possible for me to study the Mand area, where she lives with her family, and to have the opportunity to enrich the dialogue among peo­ple, cultures, and religions.
Mand is situated in the northwestern part of Makran, close to the border with Iran. Significantly, it was in this area, where tribal traditions are deeper and more widespread, that Zobaida decided to found and direct the Zobaida Jalal Khan Primary Girls School. In the early 198os, only a few pupils attended the school, but thanks to Zobaida’s firmness and to the creation of special facilities, such as a trans­portation service and a boarding program for those girls whose families live far from Mand, she succeeded in her design. In addition to the main subjects, lessons in languages, including Baluchi, Urdu, English, Arab, and Persian, are taught; all of them are important in Pakistan, a state characterized by a multiethnic presence and a plurality of languages. The school was built and sponsored by Zobaida’s father, Jalal Khan, and today is financed by the government of Baluchistan, together with the association of many prestigious personalities throughout Paki­stan, including Bishop A. Lobo of Islamabad-Rawalpindi. The teachers are both Pakistani and European. In 1993 Zobaida’s care and de­termination overcame all obstacles to the intro­duction of a male teacher, the first in Pakistan’s women’s educational system. Zobaida’s commit­ment in the diffusion of cultural values among females of Islamic tribal societies represents a long and difficult task. This route will hopefully lead not only to better conditions for women but also to the acceptance of equal human rights for all. Zobaida represents a bright examplefor many women of this area: a Baluch woman who, having started from one of the most impover­ished and forgotten places in Pakistan, devoted her life to the people, but never forgot her own identity as an Islamic woman. Her commitment in spreading culture among women in Islamic tribal societies not only works toward female emancipation but also aims to acknowledge the values of human dignity. Hers is undoubtedly a strong testimony of the Baluch contribution to the Gulf’s development.

Owing to geographic variations and differ­ent lifestyles, accommodations in Baluchistan are varied, as are other aspects of Baluch life. Houses in towns and cities have arched roofs and earthen walls. Those made of cement are either governmental offices or accommodations for government officials. Traditional houses made of palm and wild palm leaves can be observed along the desert border. Apart from the old castles, whose remnants are still visible in some regions, and the two-story buildings belonging to local tribal chiefs (sardar), accommodations in Baluchistan consist mainly of semicircular or elliptical structures made of palm leaves. They have dome-shaped roofs, which when seen from the inside are rectangular. Another type of ac­commodation has large earthen rooms with high ceilings and a fireplace, showing perfect settlement and the good status of the owner. There are no other facilities such as toilets, bath­rooms, storerooms, and so on. Still another type of accommodation belongs to the cattle-raising tribes in Baluchistan. It is woven of goat’s hair and is easy to set up and to move; twelve people can do it. A number of sticks are used to form a frame, which is then covered with a goat’s hair mat woven by the women of the tribe.

As the smallest social units, families in Baluch­istan are often extended. In cattle-raising cul­tures, women’s labor plays a greater role in the economy than it does in towns and villages. In such systems, women’s role in the division of work is quite remarkable; they are considered to be men’s equal in production. This role does not exist in towns and villages because of the differences between the cattle-raising lifestyle and the sedentary one and also because of the existence of new jobs that symbolize men as the only effective labor force in economic produc­tion. Women automatically enjoy the rights and respect due to their class, which is not an indi­cator of their role in production. In fact, they take no part in production and have darzada, or servants (in the past they had slaves), at their service. The number of women who belong to the richest tribes in towns and villages is very small. Some of these women never leave their houses. A man in Chahbahar was proud that one of the women in his family had not left her house in the past eighty years, even though so many historical events had taken place in this country. These rich women are normally seen only by their husbands and close relatives.
Despite the fact that the tribal system in migratory and sedentary groups prevents women from marrying outside their class, the development of villages and towns, new jobs, formal education, and moving out in search of money, as well as the reduced power of local tribal chiefs, has introduced some changes in local society. This has also caused changes in wealth allocation among families, leading to new cultural and economic possibilities in Ba­luch life. These changes have influenced in­tertribal marriages to some extent. Although most marriages are still arranged within tribes, polygamy is common among the rich tribes. In the majority of cases, monogamy persists as a result of the prevailing poverty. Marriages are arranged in the poor tribes for socioeconomic reasons, whereas in the rich groups the incen­tive is to strengthen political and kinship ties.

Wives are selected from among the young girls belonging to the same tribe as the mother of the boy to be married, and it is the boy’s mother who makes the selection. The fathers are then informed of the decision. In the past, girls and boys of the same tribe would be engaged to each other at birth. The endogamous practice, how­ever, was the most widespread. The father would inform the family and the old respected men of the decision, and on approval, they would go to visit the girl’s family. After a few visits, the girl’s father would declare his consent to the boy’s fam­ily or to the elder man who acted as mediator.
The girl and the boy who are to be mar­ried have no right to express their personal views, and at times they are not even told about the matter until before the wedding ceremony; it is their parents who declare their own wish. The marriage age for boys is between fifteen and eighteen, and for girls between twelve and fifteen. In a ceremony arranged prior to the wedding, an elder man acting as a mediator in­forms the boy’s father of the conditions set out by the father of the girl.
After mutual agreement, the bride’s fa­ther receives cash from the boy’s father in ex­change for the dowry of furniture and house­hold items such as bedding and utensils. If the bride is from a rich tribe, servants (and in the past slaves) and a few palm trees are also added to these articles. The engagement ceremony is festive, with singing and dancing. A woman from the groom’s side, perhaps his sister or his elder sister-in-law, carries a suitcase containing the groom’s gifts on her head and sings aloud some songs accompanied by the other women. The wedding may follow immediately after the engagement, or it may take place a few years later, after the groom’s return from a journey during which he has saved enough money to pay for the wedding ceremony. The ceremony can last as long as fifteen days for the rich tribe, but only a day or two for the poor people.
The relatives take part in the ceremony by presenting what they can afford in cash or as gifts. In the past, a few days and nights were spent dancing, singing, and reciting Baluch epic poems and listening to the poet and the music player until daybreak. When the wedding is over, the groom is taken to the bride’s house in a brand new Toyota, which has replaced the adorned camel of the past. A woman carrying a Koran and perfumed oil welcomes the groom at his arrival. He is a stranger in a familiar land.

Baluch Cultural Identity:
Among the many migrating groups, it is inter­esting to note the numerous African elements, mostly of slave origin, that contributed to the Baluch cultural identity. Within comparative slave history, the “Oriental” slave route was not a mild or peaceful process; the slave trade from the main ports of Sub-Saharan East Africa to the markets of Central Asia was not characterized by either small quantities or lack of violence. The historiographical debate about these issues is very intense. While much attention and research have been devoted to the history of the Atlan­tic slave trade, studies of the Asian slave trade routes have been at the center of numerous in­ternational conferences and workshops. Many publications have debated the issues concerning migration patterns of Africans in Asia and the role of the African elements in the numerous Arabian and Asian cultures and societies.”
“Negroes of Pakistan are called Makrani.”‘ Makrani is a term often used to identify black people of south Central Asia. The slave trade routes spread Africans through the Muscat port by sea and through Persia by land to Las Bela, Kharan, Kalat, and Karachi. Abyssinian origins were assumed because of the occasional traces of woolly hair and inverted lips. The African pres­ence in Baluchistan was due both to absorption and the substratum of black people: settlements of healers and sorcerers of East African origins, traced since the eighth and ninth centuries from Gujarat, possibly moved west, and succeed­ing waves of migration patterns developed from • the monsoon routes of the South Seas. Con­sequently, identity absorption has been a long and often painful process within the Baluch concept of cultural identity, potentially through African migrations to the coast of Makran and subjugation by stronger Baluch tribes by direct slave importation. Other Africans were brought to Makrani Baluchistan as captives after fights with Persia and Afghanistan. During the eight­eenth century, there were many recorded slaves in the Kharan district. Slaves were exchanged for indigo madder (a plant whose root is used as a source of dye), hides, and cotton by the tribes of Makran and Las Bela. They were also captured by the rulers of Kharan in battles with Persia and Afghanistan, especially during the eighteenth century, and others were brought to Karachi from pilgrimages to Mecca. As is well known, despite abolition in 1843, slavery flour­ished throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the western Indian Ocean. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Africans have found their freedom and become part of a new society: a multicultural and a multireligious society composed of Sunni Muslims, Shia, and Zikris. At the beginning of the twentieth cen­tury, most of the Makranis were skilled or un­skilled laborers, craftsmen, fishermen, owners of small restaurants, schoolteachers, or drivers. After the partition, and in recent times as well, the diffusion of crime, drug and illicit alcohol smuggling, and illiteracy resulted from new il­legal routes, including human trafficking.
Most of the Baluch are very fond of music and dance, and here the African element be­comes a distinctive feature of the Baluch cul­tural identity. The drum beater, with his drums, sits in the center, and other participants dance around him. This dance—lewa—is claimed to be of African origin, and during the singing that accompanies the performance, Baluch use a combination of Arabic, African, and Asian languages. The still-complex situation of Baluchistan and its historical, institutional, and po­litical marginal position represents a challenge that appeals to ethnic and cultural identities, with the aim of shaping a better future both for this region and for the Baluch presence in the Gulf region.28
According to F. Barth’s observations, the Baluch even once settled on Arabian shores of the Gulf, attired in their dress, the females with wide and flowing sleeves and a loose bodice, in contrast to the Arabs’ more close-fitting and swung-waisted dress.29 The pantaloons are wide at the top and very narrow at the calf, whereas those of the Arabs are more straight. The em­broideries of both dress and trousers are beauti­fully colored, full of sexual and cultural symbols and significances. Baluch marry in the summer season, and Arabs avoid the summer. The Ba­luch groom buys gold for his bride, while the Arab groom gives a bride-price to his father-in-law; virginity for Baluch remains a private mat­ter, while Arabs give public proofs. The Baluch nuptial but is constructed in the bride’s home, whereas Arabs place it in the groom’s home. Baluch homes in Arabia showed a cultural vital­ity in colors that Arabs houses did not.
Baluch cultural identity is preserved in many Gulf countries, especially in the Sultanate of Oman. Here Baluch people represent the sec­ond largest cultural group after the Omani from Zanzibar. There are approximately 405,400 people of Baluch origin living in Oman.” This amounts to i g percent of the country’s popu­lation. Despite the loose contacts with their homeland, the Baluch in Oman have main­tained their ethnic and linguistic distinctions. The various Baluch groups speak different lan­guages, each with distinctive traits. Like other ethnic groups, they have attained the ranks of management. Although further research is needed on this issue, Al Ismaily and McKiernan provide information about the role of Baluch in this country and their cultural influences on managerial styles. Baluch culture in Oman suggests a more autocratic management style. Moreover, the majority of managers exposed  to the Baluch culture recognize that their management is influenced by their military service. These observations confirm the strong military tradition among the Baluch people.

The Gulf’s history and its pivotal role in world politics have attracted the interest of many scholars since ancient times. The strategic role of the Gulf region has always represented a cross-cultural articulation of broad diversities, where culture and society play today a significant mean also of conflict resolution. The role of the Baluch in the Gulf was well defined during the nineteenth century as mainly a human source for the recruitment of mercenary troops especially for the sultans of Oman, and still today the sultan of Oman’s bodyguards and the Bahrain police are composed of Baluch.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the well-characterized identity of Baluch culture was widespread in the Gulf, with its strong Asian and African elements. The gradual process throughout two centuries of the intermingling of two main elements—military strength and cultural and political identity—contributed to an unquestionable presence and deep influ­ence of the Baluch in the Gulf’s society.
As most agree, terrorism today represents one of the major plagues to be defeated through­out the world. Within this broad and complex subject, when trying to analyze social, economic, and cultural differences like those of the Bal­uch in the Gulf region, one should tend toward a more analytical and empathic approach, in order to use it as a methodological key for re­reading and understanding what could be de­fined as one of the contemporary world’s major crises. Only by also understanding the Baluch’s main motivations for their presence in the Gulf today (my starting hypothesis) could one try to identify that kaleidoscopic character of the so-called globalized Gulf region, which as I have said is a fascinating and unique example of all the different cultures in the whole world.

1. S. B. Miles, The Countries and Tribes of the Persian Gulf, 2 vols. (Glasgow: Garnet, 1994), 201-63; W. Floor, The Persian Gulf: A Political and Economic History of Five Port Cities, 1500-7730 (Washington, DC: Mage, 2000,347-51.

2.  Much of the content of my essay is the result of several sea­sons of fieldwork in Pakistani Baluchistan. The term jam’clor seems to correspond to “master of the gate” or “head consta­ble”; it has been transliterated in various ways by British sources mainly on a phonetic basis as farnadari orjemadari.

3. Joshua Project: Pakistan, PK (accessed 18 April 2007).

4.  On this subject, see, e.g., V. F. Piacentini,”Notes on the Definition of the Western Borders of British India in Sistan and Baluchistan in the Nineteenth Century,” in Yad-Nama: In memoria di Alessandro Bausani (Yad­Nama: In Memory of Alessandro Bausani), 2 vols., ed. Scarcia Amoretti and B. Rostagno (Rome: Bardi, 1991), 189-203; F. Goldsmid, “Exploration from Kurrachi to Gwadur, along the Mekran Coast,” Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London 7, no. 3 0874: 91-95; and P.J. Brobst, “Sir Frederick Goldsmid and the Containment of Persia, 1863-73,” Middle Eastern Studies 33, no. 2 (1997): 197-215.

5. T. M. Breseeg, Baloch Nationalism: Its Origin and Development (Karachi: Royal Book, 2004).

6. Its main towns are Zahedan, Zabol, Iranshahr, Sar­swan, and Chahbahar.

7. Its area equals 273,661 square kilometers and sus­tains a population of about 2,388,000. It is bounded on the north to Sistan and Kerman provinces, on the south to the Gulf of Oman, on the east to Kalat, and on the west to Roudbar-e-Bashagard.

8. B.Nicolini, Makran, Oman, and Zanzibar: Three-Terminal Cultural Corridor in the Western Indian Ocean (7799-7856) (Leiden: Brill Academic, 2004).

9. See the extensive collection by J. G. Lorimer, Gaz­etteer of the Persian Gulf Oman, and Central Arabia, 8 (Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Print­ing, 1908-15).

10. The most important tribes, variously transliter­ated by British explorers during the nineteenth cen­tury, were the Baveri, Balideh, Bozorgzadeh, Riggi, Sardaar, Zaie, Shahbakhsh, Lashari, Mobaraki, Mir Morad Zaie, Narroi, Nousherwani, Brohi, Baram-Zehi, and Shir-Khanzal.

11. The notable Persian dialects were Sarbandi, Shah­raki, Sargazi, Zamlr-Farsyoon, Mir-Arab, and Sanja­rani.

12. R. Redaelli, The Father’s Bow: The Khanate of Kalat and British India (Nineteenth—Twentieth Century) (Fi­renze: Manent,1997).

13. A British explorer of the nineteenth century de­scribed the date palms and their abundance in Balu­chistan. See R. Leech, “Notes Taken on a Tour through Part of Baloochistan in 1838 and 1839 by Haji Abdun Nubee of Kabul, Arranged and Translated by Major Robert Leech,”Journal of the Asiatic Society 69 (1844): 667-706.

14. Gwadar was an enclave of the Sultanate of Oman from the second half of the nineteenth century up to 8 September 1958, when West Pakistan bought it back from Oman for f3 million. Gwadar is today a town of 80,000 people. The building of the first five-star hotel, the Pearl Continental, is almost complete, but just 20 percent of people in Baluchistan have ac­cess to safe drinking water. Pakistan and China had signed a comprehensive agreement on 16 March 2002 in Beijing undertaking the task of construct­ing Gwadar’s deep sea port according to universal standards. Islamabad expects that a fully function­ing port at Gwadar will create thousands of jobs and improve peoples’ livelihoods and thus erode tribal bonds and make the sardars (local chiefs) obsolete. Of the $250 million needed for the first phase of con-struction, Beijing provided $200 million. Six hundred engineers moved to Gwadar. The construction labor force is totally Chinese, and the exclusion of Baluchis led to a massive car-bombing in Gwadar in May 2.004 that killed three Chinese engineers. The Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean and the access to the Middle East markets are obviously only a part of the geostrategic relations between China and the United States in the Gulf. B. Nicolini, “Historical and Political Links between Gwadar and Muscat from Nineteenth-Century Testimonies,” in Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, vol. 32 (London: Brepols, 2002), 281-86; Nicolini, “Gwadar: A Place to Live or a Place to Hunt?” Quaderni Asiatic’ 50 (1999): 5-13:See also Gwardar News, www.gwadarnews .com/gwadar.asp.

15. Bivar, “Gil Achemenidi e i Macedon’: Stability e turbolenza” (“The Achaemenids and the Macedo­nians: Stability and Turbulence in Central Asia”), in Asia Centrale, ed. G. Hambly (Milan: Storia Universale Feltrinelli, 1970), 30 (originally published in Zentral­asien, no.16 [Frankfurt: Fisher,1966]); M. Sordi, Ales­sandro Magno try Storia e Mito (Alexander the Great between History and Myth) (Milan: Jaca Book, 1984); J. A. Saldanha, Precis of Makran Affairs (Calcutta: Su­perintendent of Government Printing,1905).

16. Nicolini and R. Readelli, “Quetta: History and Archives; Notes of a Survey of the Archives of Quetta,” Nuova Rivista Storica 78, no. 2 (1994): 401-14.

17. See the report of the British commissioner for the joint Anglo-Persian Boundary Commission: F. Gold­smid, Eastern Persia: An Account of the Journey of the Persian Boundary Commission, 1870-1890 (London: Royal Geographical Society,1876).

18. During, ‘African Winds and Muslim Djinns: Trance, Healing, and Devotion in Baluchistan,” Year­book for Traditional Music 29 (1997): 39-56.

19. F. Piacentin i, “Traces of Early Muslim Presence in Makran,” Islamic Studies 35 (1996): 122-34.

2o. See P. Titus and C. Jahani, “Knights, Not Pawns: Ethno-Nationalism and Regional Dynamics in Post-colonial Balochistan,” international Journal of Middle East Studies 32 (2000): 47-69.

21. F. Van Steenbergen, “Water Rights as Social Con-tracts,” In Baluchistan: Terra incognita; A New Meth­odological Approach Combining Archaeological, His­torical, Anthropological, and Architectural Studies, ed. V_ Piacentini and R. Redaelli (London: British Archaeo­logical Reports, 2003).4959.

22. R. Redaelli, The Father’s Bow, 30-32.

23. S. M. al Ameeri, “The Baloch in the Arabian Gulf States,” in The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times, ed. Carina Jahani and Agnes Korn (Wi­esbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2003), 23745.

24. R. Hughes-Buller, Imperial Gazetteer of India: Provincial Series, Baluchistan (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel, 1984), 51-53.

25. H. Potti nger, Travels in Beloochistan and Sinde (London: Langman, Reese, Orte, and Brown, 7816); C. Masson, Narrative of Various Journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan, the Panjab, and Kalat, 4 vols. (1844; Ka­rachi: Oxford University Press0977),4:349.

26. Within the so-called diaspora studies, see, for example, W. G. Clarence-Smith, The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century (London: Routledge,1989); Clarence-Smith, Islam and the Abolition of Slavery (London: C. Hurst, 2006); G. Campbell, Structure of Slavery in Indian Ocean Africa and Asia (London: Routledge, 2003); E. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa: Changing Patterns of international Trade to the Late Nineteenth Century (London: Heinemann, 1975); R. L. Powells, Horn and Crescent: Cultural Change and Traditional Islam on the East African Coast, 800-1900 (Cambridge: Cam-bridge University Press,1987); J. Glassman, Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856-1888 (London: James Currey, 1995); Glassman, “The Bondsman’s New Clothes: The Contradictory Consciousness of Slave Resistance on the Swahili Coast,”Journal of African History 32 (1991): 277-312; J. Middleton, The World of the Swahili: An African Mercantile Civilization (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992); M. Horton and J. Middleton, The Swahili: The Social Landscape of a Mercantile So­ciety  (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000); and P. Caplan and F. Topa n, eds., Swahili Modernities: Culture, Politics and Identity on the East Coast of Africa (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2004). See also the collection of essays dedicated to these complex issues in “The African Di­aspora in Asia—Historical Gleanings,” special issue, African and Asian Studies 5, nos. 3-4 (2006).

27. J. B. Edlefsen, K. Shah, and M. Farooq, “Makranis, the Negroes of West Pakistan,” Phylon 21 (1960): u-3

28. Titus and Jahani, “Knights, Not Pawns,” 47-69.

29. F. Barth, Sohar: Culture and Society in Omani Town (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983),107; A. Melamid, “Batinah Coast of Oman,” Ge­ographical Review 80 0990); 431-33•

3o. S. B. Nasser Al Ismaily and P. McKiernan, inside the Omani Corporate Culture: ,4 Research in Manage-ment Styles (Muscat: Oman Economic Review, 2007),
Comparative Studies of  South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
Vol 27, No 2, 2007
DOI 10. 1215/108920X-2007-012 @ 2007 by Duck University Press

















Comments Off on The Baluch Role in the Persian Gulf during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Posted by on December 16, 2015 in Balochistan


Balochistan: The Forgotten Frontier

Mahrukh Khan
Research Fellow
Institute of Strategic Studies
Islamabad, Pakistan

“Also from Pahlav and Pars and Koch o Baloch, From the warriors of Gilan and Dasht-e-Soroch” (Shahname III: 42, Dastan-e Siyavas 616)1

Today the term ‗Balochistan‘ means more than geography the term. Balochistan refers to the Baloch culture and the people‘s social concepts and traditions; the land is considered to be the cradle of the Baloch ethno linguistic identity.2
Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan, comprising 44 per cent of the total land mass. It has a coastline which stretches 770 km, and shares borders with Iran and Afghanistan. The province is sparsely populated, the enormity of its size contrasts remarkably with its low population. Economically, Balochistan offers some of the best assets for development.  The province is immensely rich with minerals of diversity, gas deposits as well as a gifted geography. The geostrategic importance of Balochistan is irrefutable. Its enduring importance lies in the fact that it offers easy access routes to land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asia, has an entrée to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and South Asia.
Balochistan has always been at the centre-stage of conflict. Its geography influences its security environment. There is a growing sense of frustration among the Baloch who believe that Balochistan is part of the federation but only on paper and is at the mercy of the State, which continues to exploit its natural wealth3. Current Baloch resistance has been building up for quite some time, especially since the federal authorities in Pakistan started developing Gwadar Port and road and rail links to it as part of an ambitious project to provide a surface trade link with Central Asia through Chaman, Kandahar across Afghanistan into Central Asia, akin to the Silk Route.4.
The tension between the centre and Balochistan can be traced back to the early years of Pakistan‘s independence. Many believe that the current tension between the people of Balochistan and the rest of Pakistan is caused by growing socio-economic insecurities and by the systemic discrimination and oppression of the local people by the centre dominated by the country‘s most populous province.5

Desert scene, Balochistan

Desert scene, Balochistan

Origin, rise and geography of the Baloch race
The historical record of the origin of the Baloch race is vague. It is uncertain whether they were native to their land or they arrived during one of the many waves of migration that swept the ancient Middle East.6 The word ‗Balochistan‘ in its very literal sense means the land of the Baloch. There exist diverging opinions and historical accounts about the origin and evolution of the Baloch race; however, none is conclusive.
The earliest extant source (Šahristānīhā ī Ērān-šahr, a Pahlavi) text written in the 2nd/8th century, though probably representing a pre-Islamic compilation; lists the Balōč as one of seven autonomous mountain communities (kōfyār). Arabic writers in the 3rd/9th and 4th/10th centuries (especially Ebn Kordādbeh, Mas‗ūdī, Estakrī, Moqaddasī) mention them, usually as Balūc, in association with other tribal populations in the area between Kermān, Khorasan, Sīstān, and Makrān.7
Historical evidence, although spasmodic and scanty, does also suggest that the original homeland of Baloch had been the regions of ancient Nenwah and Babylon on river Tigris stretching eastward to Susa and Fars province up to Kirman hills.8 Many of other historical records state the earliest known mention of part of Balochistan is in the Avesta, the Vara Pishin-anha which undoubtedly is identifiable with the valley of Pishin. The Shahnama also contains scant records of the conquest of Makran by Kai Khusru (Cyrus), and the Achaemenian Empire which reached its farthest limits under Darius Hystaspes included the whole of the country.9
Breseeg in his book describes the evolution and origin of Baloch in two competing theories: the first states that the Baloch are native people who have been described as the Oritans, the Jatts, the Medes, etc., in ancient records; the second states that the Baloch migrated into the area some 2000 years ago.10. On the other hand, Justice Mir Khuda Bakhsh Bijrani explains about the arrival of the Baloch race in the Subcontinent; by arguing that the Baloch first entered the region during the Mongol invasion of the 13th century.11
The history of settlement in Balochistan is reflected in its topography. Place names fall into three categories: names that are of Baloch origin, or have been ‗Baluchized‘, are used for most minor natural features like rivers, streams, rocks, mountains; old settlements and major natural features tend to have pre-Baluch names; and new settlements, dating from the middle of the 19th century in Iran, and the middle of the 20th century in Pakistan generally have Persian or Urdu names.12
The territory of Balochistan has been divided historically into a number of areas, among which Makrān (in the south), Sarhadd (in the northwest), and the area known earlier as Tūrān that includes the modern towns of Kalat and Khuzdar (Qosdār/Qozdār; in the east), have been the most significant, Iranian and Indian political centres to the west, north, and east (particularly, Kermān, Sīstān, Qandahār, Delhi, Karachi), and even the sultan of Oman to the south.13

A typical village in Dhrun National Park, Balochistan

A typical village in Dhrun National Park, Balochistan

A troubled history
Balochistan‘s geography influences the power politics of the regional and world powers, their spheres of influence, efforts at territorial expansion, and propagation of ideologies, military intervention, coercion, and application of economic aid to create dependency, confusion and instability,14. From 1839 till the independence of Pakistan, the greater part of Balchistan was—formally or informally—under the British Empire, whose interest was essentially in securing and protecting its North-West Frontier Province from both Afghanistan and Iran. At a particular stage in this endeavour, the British negotiated formal international borders through the territories of Baloch tribes with both Iran and Afghanistan, roughly according to the effective sphere of influence of the khan of Kalat, but with some attention to the interests of local leaders.15.
Balochistan came to the attention of British Indian Empire after the first Anglo-Afghan War 16 when the British got defeated. It was then that the British Empire realized the strategic importance of Balochistan and saw it as an entry point for Russia in the Indian Subcontinent; thereafter, Balochistan was considered an important strategic ground for the British army. In 1838, the British anticipated to establish relations with the state of Kalat in Balochistan. Since Balochistan provided easy access to Qandahar and Herat, developments in Afghanistan and Central Asia shaped the British policy towards Balochistan.17 As a result, in 1839, an agreement was signed between the British and the Khan of Kalat, Mehrab Khan, which allowed British-Indian forces to pass through Balochistan without any obstruction.
In 1871, the Gold Smith line was drawn and demarcated in 1896 which gave western Balochistan to Persia while retaining the larger eastern part for the British. The Durand Line, drawn by the British in 1984, further divided Balochistan between British Balochistan and Afghanistan.18
Later, in 1870 the British Empire came to an understanding with Iran to demarcate Balochistan; under the agreement, many of the villages under Khan‘s control were given to Iran. In 1896 and again in 1905, Anglo-Persian Joint Boundary Commissions were appointed to divide Balochistan between Iran and Britain.19. Learning from the first and second Anglo-Afghan wars, the British and Russia entered into an understanding to mutually demarcate boundary of Afghanistan. As a result, the ‗Durand Line‘ was drawn under a treaty signed in 1893.
Balochistan was divided into British Balochistan, and the leased areas under British control, and the Khanate of Kalat, de jure being ruled under the control of the Khan21. The rulers of Kalat were never fully independent. There was always a paramount power to which they were subject.22. Balochistan under the British was divided into three parts: British Balochistan, Balochistan states – Kalat, Kharan Makran and Lasbela – and the tribal areas.23
In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the British Empire came up with two core policies framework for Balochistan; firstly, ‗close border policy‘ and; second, ‗forward policy‘. These policies were primarily framed to establish strong foothold in the areas joining Afghanistan and Iran, starting from the North West Frontier to Balochistan.

Close border policy
Under the close border policy, the British government in India exercised direct control over the tribesmen of the province. The policy led to a complete failure in terms of administration in the province and resulted in absolute resistance and four armed revolts by the Baloch. The policy was later eased because it could not produce a proper balance in the province. As a result, Balochistan was theoretically divided into two parts for better management by the British Indian Empire; as ‗Area A‘ and ‗Area B‘.
The British implemented a concept of collective responsibility in which entire tribes would be punished for the actions of its individuals in an effort to force the tribes to control their members. This technique included the blockading of passes, rounding up and imprisoning of tribesmen, selling off their cattle and forcing the tribes to pay for British losses and damages.24 The close border policy consisted of not letting any military power rise in Balochistan which could counter British interest.25

Forward policy
The forward policy was established by the British Indian Empire in order to pursue its larger strategic goals in the region. Its basic goal was to push forward and expand the frontiers of British India. After the first Anglo-Afghan war, Balochistan was considered as a major buffer zone and its geostrategic location became known. The policy initially aimed at subjugation of the Baloch and other native tribes to the British will. For this purpose, they established a string of garrisons deep in Baloch and Pathan territories.26
As a result, a major infrastructure build-up started to take shape; resulting in some of the major strategic railway lines and roads for the purpose of military logistics at that time. The apprehension of the advancing Czarist influence from the north compelled British policymakers to formulate and implement the ‗Forward Policy‘ aimed at checking the inflow of Russian influence into India from the north.27 Later, this policy was established as the ‗Sandeman System‘.
The first regular census in the province of Balochistan was carried out in 1901. In the midst of British rule in early 1920s, a movement started to take shape which united all the loose confederacies and tribal areas of Balochistan and the idea of ‗Greater Balochistan‘ emerged. The movement was shortly established as the Anjuman-e-Ittehad-e-Balochistan and later, to give it a more political motive along with an ideological background, its name was changed to Kalat State National Party. In the middle of 1933, the first map of Greater Balochistan was introduced by Mir Abdul Aziz Khan28 as his opposition to the political division of Balochistan by the British Empire. The opposition came against the violation of the treaty that the British had signed with the Khan of Balochistan in 1934 which granted the Baloch the right to defend their territories against any foreign invasion from Central Asia as well as Iran.

Independence of Pakistan and Balochistan
“Balochistan is the land of brave independent people and to you; therefore, national freedom, honour, and strength should have a special meaning. These whispering of „mulki‟ and „non-mulki‟ are neither profitable for the land nor worthy of it. We are now all Pakistanis – not Baluchis, Pathans, Sindhis, Bengalis, and Punjabis and so on and as Pakistanis we must feel, behave and act and we should be proud to be known as Pakistanis and nothing else.”
Quaid-e-Azam‘s speech in reply to the Civic Address presented by the Quetta Municipality29
Mir Ahmed Yar Khan Baluch, in his autobiography30 recalls that in August 1947, a Round Table Conference was held in which Quaid-e-Azam, Liaquat Ali Khan, Lord Mountbatten, Sir Sultan Ahmed and other important position holders of the State of Kalat participated. As a result, an agreement was agreed which stated that August 5th of 1947 will be declared as an independent day for the state of Kalat; it will act as an independent country with cordial relations with its neighbours. It was agreed that Kalat will enjoy the status it had in 1838 which allowed it to exercise its right to self-determination and to choose what is best for its country and its people. After the independence of Pakistan, the state of Kalat also announced its independence.
Baloch nationalism turned militant soon after that. During the movement against the One Unit of west Pakistan ―it almost appeared as if Balochistan had seceded de facto if not de jure so far as could be judged by the open defiance of authority which prevailed there‖.31

Military Operations in Balochistan
Pakistan launched its first military operation in the state of Kalat in April 1948; the elected Baloch parliament was dissolved, and the Khan of Kalat was arrested. On May 16, 1948, Prince Karim, the younger brother of Khan of Kalat, resisted the occupation and seizing of Balochistan and started the first Baloch national resistance movement. He was later arrested with his 142 followers and sent to prison.
In 1955, the One Unit Plan was introduced by the then government. Under this scheme, the four provinces of Pakistan; Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and N.W.F.P [now known as Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa] were amalgamated into one unit.32 The idea badly backfired and was strongly condemned and thrown away by the Baloch leaders and was considered as a breach into the Baloch nation. The One Unit system and the Parity formula invoked a sharp reaction among the Baloch, and the demand for its dissolution took a violent turn in Balochistan.33
The second Baloch resistance took place in the early years of Ayub Khan‘s regime. Nawab Nowroz Khan led the second Baloch national resistance. He was arrested when he came for negotiations with Pakistan‘s Army, who assured him that he will not be harmed and that the Baloch issues and problems will be addressed. Nawab Nowroz, along with his sons and a nephew, were arrested and later executed. From this point onwards, Baloch ethnicity became the major driving force in the nationalist fight.
Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto dissolved the elected Baloch Nationalist Government of Ghous Bux Bizenjo, Sardar Attaullah Mengal, Khair Bux Marri and Nawab Akbar khan Bugti in Balochistan and launched the longest and massive military operation in Balochistan, which lasted for five years. Khair Bakhsh Marri formed the Balochistan People‘s Liberation Front which led large numbers of Marri and Mengal tribesmen into guerrilla warfare against the central government.

 Evolution of issue and challenges
The nature of the Balochistan problem is essentially linked with two vital factors34:
1. The absence of democracy in Pakistan; and
2. Inherent and growing economic disparity in the country.
The problem of Balochistan for long has been a low simmering conflict. Under the rule of President Musharraf, military operations continued in Balochistan and the issue of Balochistan rose to its utmost height. Dera Bugti and Kohlu were considered to be the main hotbeds of Baloch insurgency. Military operations were carried out to overcome and destroy insurgency; however, they backfired and resulted in more grave consequences for the country.

Akbar Bugti killing case
For Baloch nationalists, the death of Akbar Bugti became the rallying point in their cause. Nawab Bugti‘s killing, however, was relatively a late entrant to the Baloch cause. Nevertheless, that resulted in making him the pantheon of Baloch heroes that provided sustenance to political identity that produces rebellion with remarkable regularity.35 The Chief Justice of Pakistan has termed Nawab Akbar Bugti‘s killing ―the biggest mistake‖ and said that there could be no peace until the Dera Bugti matter was resolved.36 Akbar Bugti‘s son, after his assassination, filed an FIR against the then President Pervez Musharraf, the then Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the then Balochistan Governor Owais Ghani, the then interior minister Aftab Sherpao, the then Balochistan chief minister Jam Yousuf and the then provincial home minister Shoaib Nausherwan.37

Missing persons
The issue of missing persons in Balochistan is among the most alarming challenges in the province. The subject is becoming a major irritant in resolving the crisis in the country and in the province. According to the Government of Balochistan, there have been 103 missing persons reported in the Supreme Court cases.38 However, the figures vary from report to report; Baloch nationalists claim that the figure in reality is much more then what the government data shows. Forced disappearances and kidnapping is a common norm in the province either by the security officials or by the nationalist groups in the province.
In May 2010, the Supreme Court formed the Commission of Inquiry for Missing Persons, with a mandate to investigate enforced disappearances and provide recommendations for eliminating this practice. A new Commission of Inquiry for Missing Persons was established by the federal Ministry of Interior on March 1, 2011.39

Human rights violations
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented a rising number of abuses by the Pakistani security forces in Balochistan. Amnesty International describes the use of ―kill and dump‖ tactics, under which activists, teachers, journalists and lawyers, even teenagers, have been detained and their bullet-ridden bodies dumped on roadsides at a rate of about 20 a month in the recent past.40
Human Rights Watch says hundreds of people have disappeared since 2005 in Balochistan, and it has documented 45 cases of enforced disappearances and torture by Pakistani security forces in the province in 2009 and 2010. It has also reported a growing trend of retaliation by armed rebels on non-Baloch settlers, including the targeted killing of 22 teachers.41
The insurgency evidently continues to simmer and result in constant attacks on gas pipelines, railway lines, bridges, communication network areas, power stations as well as military areas and military check-post. The new act of terrorism introduced is the use of hand grenades in various terrorist attacks in Quetta and other cities of the province.

Annual Fatalities in Balochistan, 2006-2011
Years /   Civilians /  SF Personnel /   Militants /   Total
2006  /     226          /  82                      /   142            /   450
2007  /     124         /    27                      /    94            /   245
2008  /     130         /    111                     /    107          /    348
2009  /     152         /    88                      /    37           /     277
2010  /      274       /     59                      /     14          /     347
2011*/       542      /      122                    /      47        /     711 
 SATP, Data till December 31, 201142

Main actors and nationalist political parties of Balochistan

Three main actors:
1. Bugti Tribe, formerly led by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.
2. Marri Tribe, led by Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri.
3. Mengal Tribe, led by Sardar Attaullah Mengal.

The main nationalist political parties of the Balochistan are as follows:
1. Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP): it was formed in 1990 and was headed by [Late] Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Although the party had a political motivation, it, to a very large extent, supported the Bugti Tribe.
2. Baloch Haq Talwar (BHT): Baloch Haq Talwar is headed by Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri.  Its main objective is to condemn military rule.
3. National Party (NP): it is headed by Dr. Abdul Hayee.  It opposes governmental projects like the Gwadar Port and demands Baloch rights to control their own province.
4. Baloch Students Organization (BSO): it represents the Baloch middleclass students who oppose military rule and demands jobs for the youth of Balochistan. BSO, formerly known as Baloch Educational Student Organisation, was formed in 1965.
5. Pushtun-Khwa-Mili-Awami Party (PKMAP): it was formed by the Pushtuns of Balochistan and N.W.F.P. They favour democratic parliamentary system.

Government-claimed insurgent organisations in Balochistan
1. Baloch Liberation Army [BLA]: it is headed by Harbiyar Marri; its main areas of influence include Kohlu, Jafarabad, and Nasirabad in Balochistan. Harbiyar Marri is in exile in London and operates from there. The main demand of the group is independence from Pakistan. It is the most extensive party of the Baloch resistance organisation with its influence not only in Balochistan but also in parts of Afghanistan, Iran and other parts of the world.
2. Baloch Republican Army [BRA]: it is headed Braham Dagh Bugti; its areas of influence include Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Barkhan. Currently, the leader of the group is residing in Switzerland and demands independence.
3. Baloch Liberation United Front [BLUF]: it is headed by Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch. His area of influence is in South Balochistan, mainly the cities of Mastung, Turbat, and Kharan.
4. Baloch Liberation National Front [BLNF]: it is largely headed by Baloch students in Quetta city and parts of Southern Balochistan. BLNF is believed to be actively involved in killings of Punjabi settlers in Balochistan.
5. Balochistan National Party (BNP): formed by Sardar Attaullah Mengal, it was the result of the merger of Mengal‘s Balochistan National Movement and Ghous Baksh Bizenjo‘s Pakistan National Party. Its basic demands are of provincial autonomy, limiting federal government authority to defence, foreign affairs, currency and communications.43

War on terror and security situation in Balochistan
The new growing religious group calling itself Tehrik-e-Taliban Balochistan (TTB), similar to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in Waziristan, is an emerging threat in Balochistan.  There has been no substantive data to determine whether this group is working under Baithullah Mehsud or it is an independent organization. The self-proclaimed spokes-person Engineer Asad of TTB disassociates TTB from Baithullah Mehsud‘s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP); describes suicide bombing as un-Islamic and rules out any vendetta with the Sherani faction, led by Maulana Sherani of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI). The TTP members are almost all Paktuns, but it is possible that it would also have some Baloch activists.44
The TTB is believed to be an active arm of the Quetta Shura; it recruits its manpower from the different madrassas located in the surrounding areas of Quetta. It consists of indigenous fighting units, facilitators and foreign fighters.45 However, the more important ones with the major Afghan / Pushtun composition come from madrassas in Chaman, Pishin and Qila Abdullah. They are believed to be Afghan refugees as also Pakistanis.
These recruits are thoroughly trained as Taliban fighters and to believe in the war against the West and eventually die a martyr‘s death. In the Soviet Afghan war, the madrassas in Chaman contributed to the Mujahedeen movement. Several Afghans who were studying in these camps participated in the war in 1980s. There is considerable concern among people in the Zhob-Qilla Saifullah region following the influx of militants and media reports that the drones may target locations in Balochistan as well.46
It is believed that the Taliban militants plan to establish a regional alliance in Balochistan with Iranian Jundullah organization, an insurgent Sunni Islamic organization which has support in both the Pakistani Balochistan and Iranian Balochistan. It was reported that there is a linkage between Pakistani Baloch and Jundullah and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The general impression is that this cooperation will lay the foundation for joint regional operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India.
Taliban and al-Qaeda had suspected Jundullah working under U.S. and Pakistani intelligence agencies to dismantle Iran. Following Abdul Malik Rigi meetings with al-Qaeda‘s agents, it has been established that these two organizations will go hand in glove to spread terrorism and carry operations in the border region of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. But U.S. officials acknowledge they know relatively little about the remote and arid Pakistani border region, have no capacity to strike there, and have few windows into the turbulent mix of Pashtun tribal and religious politics that has turned the area into a sanctuary for the Taliban leaders, who are known collectively as the Quetta Shura.47
If the TTB problem is not addressed, Balochistan will separately be marred by Islamist extremism. According to a report by internal-displacement monitor 2008, ―Most of the violence in Balochistan is, however, ‘nationalist’ and there is no cooperation between pre-dominantly Pushtun Islamist militants in the North and the Baloch nationalist insurgents.‖ Baloch insurgents have always kept a distance from religious ideology mixing in with their nationalist motive and getting in way of their struggle with Islamabad. However, according to a claim made by TTB spokesman, Engineer Asad, the organisation is against fighting the Pakistani security forces, law-enforcement agencies and turning Pakistan into a battlefield.48
The new Taliban phenomenon in Balochistan in general is believed to be a cover for U.S. to carry out overt operations to dismantle the ongoing projects of Gwadar, to counter China‘s access to the Indian Ocean and also to secure the energy route to Central Asia. It is believed that if China is able to get access to the warm waters, it might eventually raise a threat to U.S. military bases in the Gulf. Similarly, it is also said that American intelligence agency – CIA – is funding the TTB along with the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashker-e-Jhangvi in Balochistan. Pakistan has time and again proposed to fence the Turkhum- Shorawak border to stop Taliban infiltration, but the offer has been turned down by Washington and Kabul.   The likelihood of Baloch militant leaders joining a Pushtun organization is very remote. Both of the groups have different set of ideals and different war objectives. The Baloch nationalists are waging a struggle against the ruling government of Pakistan, whereas, TTB wants no foreign boot on its soil just like its propaganda in Waziristan and other Northern areas. If Islamabad remains ignorant to it, Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives will surely use Baloch as a hub to ‗regroup and rearm‘. Recently, there were reports of rift between the Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Omar. Later, Sarajuddin – son of Jalaluddin Haqqani – a member of the Taliban‘s leadership Council, has called for a change in the Quetta Shura leadership, arguing that lack of leadership has led to the killing of some of the Taliban‘s most senior commanders.
Pakistan‘s collaboration with the U.S. in its war on terror has placed the country in a situation where its internal security dynamics are being regularly challenged by the internal militants on its western borders adjoining Afghanistan both in FATA and in Balochistan. Ignoring these security challenges in Balochistan is only magnifying their volume and intensity. The province which had for long faced a burning nationalist insurgency has started to become the next big target for the United States.  The New York Times reported that, ―the support for the Taliban and other militant group is Pakistan‘s spy service, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence. The Taliban‘s widening campaign in southern Afghanistan is made possible in part by direct support from operatives in Pakistan‘s military intelligence agency.49.|The support to the Taliban U.S. believe is not just in monetary form but also in the form of weapons and military supply as well as planning and guidance towards its targets. However, Pakistan time and again has denied any such relations with Taliban or any other militant organisation.
America believes that virtually all of the Afghan Taliban’s strategic decisions are made by the Quetta Shura; decisions flow from the Shura to Taliban field commanders, who in turn make tactical decisions that support the Shura’s strategic direction,50 hence, believing that fighting the Quetta Shura will raise chances to engage more moderate Taliban and al Qaeda operatives into talks, but the Pakistani and U.S. authorities fail to understand that Taliban are not going to fight according to American principles of war and tactics. Together, U.S. and Pakistani authorities should realize that it is first and foremost essential to bargain with the nationalist leaders and other influential parties in Balochistan and take them on board if they wish to fight Taliban. Talibanisation of Balochistan will not only jeopardize the integrity of the federation, but also cause unrest in the entire region.
There is little probability of established relations between Baloch separatists and the Taliban movement. That is because the Baloch and the Pakhtoon (the Taliban movement is essentially a Pakhtoon-led movement) have their own ethnic conflicts in Balochistan, and it is a pressing internal issue that threatens to boil over. The Baloch are of the view that Pakhtoon living in Balochistan are exploiting their resources and the quotas that the federal government has allocated for the province, as well other business opportunities. The Baloch stance is that while they fight with corresponding forces for the province‘s rights, the Pakhtoon in Balochistan take advantage of the shares given to the province by the Federal government. According to the Baloch, the presence of Taliban and other sectarian groups of religious parties are only likely to sabotage their insurgency. The Baloch maintain that they are fighting for a greater cause.

Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan
Balochistan, Pakistan‘s largest but least populated province with a troubled history is currently in the news for all the wrong reasons. Target killings, kidnappings, separatist movements, terrorism, ethnic violence, human rights violations, and a general sense of unrest have become perennial issues that are increasingly highlighted in the national media. However, there is always a disclaimer attached, i.e., Balochistan is a province with tremendous untapped economic potential, especially from mineral resources, that needs to be harnessed and utilized for the good of the people.
It has almost become rhetorical to point out the mineral and natural richness and of the profits, which if availed, could turn the country into an economically viable and self-reliant entity. Pakistan is regarded to be an agricultural country, and hence, historically, the rather barren Balochistan remained neglected. The irony now is that the mineral riches of the province and its strategic coast and trade routes make it a potential saviour.
It is important to understand hurdles to their immediate or potential success and in order to carry out a realistic assessment of their long-term progress. Thus, the Gwadar port, the Reko Diq mines, the Sui gas pipelines and some dam-based energy projects will be examined as we seek to point out the challenges and opportunities from a disgruntled region. Ironically, one primary reason for indignation is this very use of resources since the justified claim is that they have not been used to benefit the very region they come from – the natural gas from Sui being a major case in point.
In order to understand the importance of these separate projects that can in no way be de-linked from the overall progress in Balochistan, it is necessary to see the economic situation overall in context of the recent National Financial Commission award, and the earlier much maligned Aghaz-e-Haqooq-eBalochistan (AHB) package. The package aims, among other things, to delegate a range of powers to the Balochistan government, and requires federal authorities to obtain provincial government‘s consent with respect to major projects.51
While some recognize it as a folly to simply seek solutions from a purely economic perspective, it is clear that economic incentives are part of the problem. It is thus the NFC award that together with other ‗incentives‘ provides a legal, sustained and organized framework for the province‘s long-term growth. And hence, we need to point out its importance, deficiencies and the opportunities emanating from its implementation.
The province will receive Rs12 billion in arrears, after acceptance by the federal government of its demands to raise with retrospective effect the well-head price of gas and the gas development surcharge. Federal grants on account of the NFC award and the Aghaz-i-Haqooq Balochistan (AHB) package were estimated at Rs12 billion, also regulate service of 11,500 police and Levies personnel and 8,500 new jobs.52
The AHB package has been largely derided, with one prominent Baloch leader calling it a ‗joke‘.53 Out of 61 modest recommendations and points made in the AHB package, only 15 have been implemented so far. However, the government has claimed again and again that it will implement all points in 2013. Nevertheless, the execution of the package is nowhere in sight.
One thing remains clear. That the economic, political and social rights of the province have been, at best, compromised since independence, and in essence, the process now starts. But, while recognition is an important first step, implementation is another matter altogether. Moreover, it is a policy mistake to simply assume that giving economic rights is the only matter of concern; when rectifying measures are meant only to foster economic integration, they miss the point of the crisis of Balochistan.54 Non-implementation of the Balochistan package has simply highlighted the rights the people of the province do not have. The operation of the security agencies against the ‗terrorists‘ is of no use if no measures are taken to improve the lives of those people who are in a state of rebellion.55
Scores of protest in Balochistan have been due to zero achievement of the PPP government‘s promises. The AHB package is stagnant and its progress in terms of resolving the crisis in Balochistan is negligible. The main challenge to Balochistan‘s development comes from the institutions, social structure, political fragmentation and short-sighted policies. The government over the years has failed to produce any development, social or economic, in the region. The economic development of Balochistan has been a great challenge. It is a multidimensional process involving major changes in social structure, popular attitudes and national institutions. It has a limited labour generation, limited agriculture land, water scarcity, limited industrial development and, above all, a constant security challenge.

U.S. bill on Balochistan
On February 9, 2012, the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a hearing on Balochistan; a resolution was passed in the U.S. Congress which specifically dealt with the situation in Balochistan, recommending that the province becomes a separate nation independent of Pakistan. The bill was tabled by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and it stirred the security as well as political calculus in Pakistan.
In his opening remarks, Rep Rohrabacher said that Balochistan is a turbulent land marked by human rights violations ―by regimes that are against U.S. values.‖56 America officially views the conflict in Balochistan as an internal matter of Pakistan. However, the continuance of violence and growing instability in the province and widespread presence of Taliban raises concerns for the U.S. and makes it worthy of their attention.
The issue of Balochistan has been burning in Pakistan for decades, but in the past few years it has reached a more serious edge. The international community, unwary of Pakistan largest province, has now started to take interest in the region, especially due to its geostrategic importance.
Apart from the concerns over the U.S. bill raised by the Foreign Office of Pakistan, Pakistan‘s Ambassador to U.S. has also raised serious concerns in U.S. regarding the issue as it will affect the already strained relations between America and Pakistan. However, in turn, U.S. State Department distanced itself from the proceedings and the Congressional hearing on Balochistan commenting that the problems of Balochistan should be resolved through peaceful and political means. At a news briefing in Washington, the department‘s spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said that the U.S. administration has not changed its policy and continues to see Balochistan as part of Pakistan.57
The bill on can be interpreted through two competing theories. Firstly, the time period in which the bill was circulated was when Pakistan had choked the NATO supply lines to Afghanistan in retaliation to the Salala incident.58 This move can be construed as an attempt by U.S. to embarrass Islamabad and also to put pressure on Pakistan.
Secondly, in the backdrop to the Colonel Ralph Peter‘s map which was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June of 200659? Although the map doesn‘t reflect the policies and strategies planned by the Pentagon, it has been a topic of discussion on many occasions by different political figures in U.S.
According to Colonel Ralph Peter‘s article, the boundaries projected in the map redress the wrongs suffered by the most significant ―cheated‖ population groups, such as the Kurds, Baloch and Arab Shia, but still fails to account adequately for Middle Eastern Christians, Bahais, Ismailis, Naqshbandis and many another numerically lesser minorities.

Objected and criticised by the government of Pakistan, the bill was welcomed by many Baloch nationalist leaders and was seen as a way out of the misery they are facing.

Three main key developing strategies which can be applied in the long term in order to systematically develop Balochistan are as under:
 Generating social awareness and services.
 Generating growth development which means reforms in the existing economic structure and policies at the provincial level in Pakistan. In the need to do so, a careful scrutiny is required to understand the resources whether mineral, industrial or agricultural in Balochistan to develop them in a way which is more favourable for the people of the province.
 Private sector should be encouraged to invest in the province. Currently the contribution of the private sector is close to nonexistent. The investments can be in infrastructure development, crop and fruit farming as well as livestock.

The following steps, on the other hand, need to be taken on a priority basis:
1. Addressing human right issue: Failure to overcome the human rights issue can in future make way for direct foreign intervention in the province. As a result, the province which already is under the cloud of isolation may drift away from the federation, accepting a foreign intervention.
2. Setting the house in order: Ensuring immediate and effective measures to overcome hostilities in the province. It is imperative to set up a shortterm strategy which immediately deals with the growing frustration in the province. The initial short-term strategy can be later diversified into a long-term sustainable plan for the province.
3. Addressing provincial inequality: It is this provincial inequality that has fiercely triggered the sense of deprivation among Baloch masses. Even the provincial governments have been severely inhibited in their efforts to improve conditions because of the fact that Islamabad takes direct decisions over policies governing the province.60
4. Improvement of law and order situation: The higher judiciary may entrust the subordinate courts to actively pursue cases of violence. The judiciary should also be more assertive in ensuring compliance with orders.61

It is high time to address the economic concerns of the province with the purpose of one, understanding grievances and looking at the way they have been addressed, and two, looking at the oft-quoted potential of the province through its large energy and mineral based projects. Years of ill-conceived development policies and priorities, military operations, and poor governance have resulted in Balochistan‘s being the most backward province. What Balochistan needs is a good and efficient government with a review of its policies on Afghanistan as well as its status on war on terror so that it can help them resolve their differences and misperceptions that have resulted in the conflict scenario now.62
There is an immediate need to rethink the national policy and identify the loopholes that are resulting in the crisis scenario. Playing the trio blames game among the tribal lord, dictatorship and democracy is not what is required. The issue, if not handled carefully, will end up putting the entire nation in grave danger. There is no doubt that Pakistan has given a lot in America‘s War on Terror and gained little. Conversely, Kabul and Western governments believe that Islamabad has contacts with the Taliban leadership and it has been ignoring their activities in its territory.63
Throughout the period since the partition, the Baloch have had an uncomfortable relationship with the central government of Pakistan.64 What is now important to stabilize this growing situation is to look again at the mistakes that were made in the past by the government. The period after the election and formation of the outgoing democratic government has, on the other hand, proved to be one of positive signals. Suicide bombings have become less frequent. The military is at the same time also being evacuated from many of the tribal areas.
For many analysts in Pakistan, the international community is now reflecting on the possibility of an independent Balochistan which is being sold as a complete package to the strategic community, primarily to the U.S.65 The need of the hour is unity and not division. It is required for Balochistan as a province to prosper and for greater interest of Pakistan regionally and globally. Balochistan is a gold mine for Pakistan, but if the current crisis is carried on, it would definitely change into a ticking time-bomb. It is in Pakistan‘s interest to understand and recover the situation, make way for possibilities and have a much more flexible approach in its policy.
The Taliban and al Qaeda have never been anyone‘s friend, and their strings are certainly not pulled in Islamabad. The dynamics in Balochistan are absolutely different and have been overlooked. Balochistan is already the victim of lowintensity conflict and recurrent insurgencies, pairing it with war in North and South Waziristan will be more catastrophic and troublesome to handle. Sooner or later, it will emerge as a fault line conflict along with an international theatre of war where bounties would be placed to hunt Taliban or al Qaeda. A tactful approach is required to fight the menace of terrorism rather than opting for abrupt moves.
To conclude, Pakistan‘s internal security challenges not only undermine its own national interests but also hinder the smooth drive of regional and international actors to achieve their objectives in this part of the world. Hence, it is a pre-requisite that the Pakistan should recognize that a stable Balochistan is essential for economically empowering Pakistan and for stabilizing the volatile security situation in the country at large.

Notes & References  
1―The Baloch and Their Neighbours; Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Baluchistan in Historical and Modern Times‖, edited by Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn, and Gunilla Gren-Eklund, ‗Towards the Interpretation of the Term Baloc in the Sahname,‘ Vahe Boyajian, Reichert Verlag Wiesbaden, 2003, Germany, 2―Taj Mohammad Breseeg, Baloch Nationalism; its Origin and Development,  (Lahore: Royal Book Company, 2004), p. 59.
3―Hafiz-u r-Rehman, “Aghaze-Haqooq-e-Baluchistan”, IPRI Journal, XII: 1, January. 2010, p.10
4―Blochis of Pakistan: On the Margins of History‖, Foreign Policy Centre, November 2008,
5―Sanaullah Baloch, ―Baluchistan – The only way forward‖, The Express Tribune (Islamabad), February 11, 2012.
6―Breseeg, op. cit, p. 115.
7―Baluchistan 1 Geography, History and ethnography‖, Encyclopedia Iranica,
8―Justice Mir Khuda Bakhsh Bijrani Marri Baloch, ―Search Lights on Baloches and Baluchistan‖, Gosha-e-Adab, 1977, p. 3.
9―Mr. R. Huges-Buller, I.C.S, ―Imperial Gazetteer of India Provincial Series; Baluchistan‖, Sang-e-Meel Publications, 2002, p. 11.
10―Breseeg, op. cit., p. 116.
11―Justice Mir Khuda Bakhsh Bijrani Marri Baloch, Search Lights on Baloches and Baluchistan, (Gosha-e-Adab), 1977, p. 7.
12―Baluchistan 1. Geography, History and ethnography‖, Encyclopedia Iranica,
13―Baluchistan 1. Geography, History and ethnography‖, Encyclopedia Iranica,
14―Iqbal Ahmed, Baluchistan: Its Strategic Importance, (Lahore: Royal Book Company, 1992), p. xvii.
16―The first Anglo-Afghan war also known as the Auckland Folly was fought between the British-India Empire and Afghanistan. The cause of the war was primarily rooted to gain more strategic ground by British in the Subcontinent and to deny Russia entrance through Afghanistan into the British ruled Subcontinent. The war started in 1839 and ended in 1842 resulting in major casualties on both sides. This was also considered by many historians as the first war which made way for the ‗Great Game‘ in the region.
17―Javed Haider Syed, ―The British Advent in Baluchistan‖, Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, vol. XVIII, No.2, 2007, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research,
18―Breseeg, op. cit., p. 60.
19―Inayat Ullah Baloch, The Problems of Greater Baluchistan (Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden Gmbh, Stuttgart), 1987, p. 30.
20―J.G. Bartholomew, ―Baluchistan; Imperial Gazetteer of India‖, vol. 6,  Argon to Bardwan 1907-1909, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908),  London: Digital South Asia Library,
21―Martin Axmann, ―Back to the Future; the Khanate of Kalat and the Genesis of Baloch Nationalism 1915-1955‖, (London: Oxford University Press, 2008), pg. 107.
22―The state of Kalat was never a completely independent state. Even in the early years of Mughal era and the British rule the state were although run by the tribal of stately chiefs but the authority of the matters remained with the British rulers of the subcontinent. For more details consult,  Huges-Buller, op. cit., p. 14.
23―Tahir Amin, ―Ethno-National Movements of Pakistan, (Islamabad: Institute of Policy Studies Islamabad, 1993), p. 64.
24―Justin S. Dunne, ―Crisis in Balochistan: a Historical Analysis of the Baloch Nationalist Movement in Pakistan‖, Monterrey: Naval Post Graduate School, California, June 2006, p. 34.
25―Martin Axmann, Back to the Future; the Khanate of Kalat and the Genesis of Baloch Nationalism 1915-1955, (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 28.
26―Ahmed, op. cit., p. 97.
27―Justice (R) Mir Khuda Bakhsh Marri, Search Light on Balochis and Baluchistan, (Lahore: Gosha-e-Adab), p. 298.
28― ‗Balochis of Pakistan …‘, op. cit.
29―Jinnah; Speeches and Statements 1947-1948, The Millennium Series, (London: Oxford University Press).
30―To get the details of the agreement please refer to Mir Ahmed Yar Khan Baluch, Inside Baluchistan, a Political Autobiography of His Highness Baiglar Baigi; Khane-Azam-XIII‖, (Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1975), p. 147.
31―Herbert Feldman, From Crisis to Crisis: Pakistan 1962-1969, (London: Oxford University Press), 1972, p. 203.
32―Lawrence Ziring, Pakistan at the Cross Current of History, (Lahore: Vanguard Books Lahore), p. 71.
33―Breseeg, p. 301.
34―Ikram Azam, ―Pakistan: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow‖, Paper, Thoughts on the Balochistan Problem, August, 1974 to December 1975, pp. 135.
35―Haris Gazdar, ―Bugti and the Baloch Cause‖, Economic and Political Weekly, September 30, 2006,
36―Balochistan Crisis; CJ terms Akbar Bugti Killing ‗Biggest Mistake‘‖, The Express Tribune (Islamabad), September 04, 2012,
37―Akbar Bugti Case; BHC Extends Interim Bail of Jam Yousaf, Aftab Sherpao‖, September 03, 2012,
38―Details, names of the Missing Persons issued by the Government of Baluchistan to Supreme Court can be viewed at
39―We can Torture Kill or Keep You for Years; Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Baluchistan ‖, Human Rights Watch, July 2011,
40―Carlotta Gall, ―Pakistan‘s Bitter, Little-Known Ethnic Rebellion‖, New York Times (New York), August 23, 2011, 24Baloch.html?pagewanted=2&ref=world
41―Carlotta Gall, ―Pakistan‘s Bitter, Little-Known Ethnic Rebellion‖, The New York Times (New York), August 23, 2011, 24Baloch.html?pagewanted=2&ref=world
42―Baluchistan Assessment – 2012, South Asia Terrorism Portal,
43―Proscribed Terrorist Organizations, ons/counter-terrorism/proscribed-terror-groups/proscribed-groups?view=Binary
44―Rahimullah Yususfzai, ―And now there is Tehrik-e-Taliban Baluchistan‖, The News (Islamabad), Wednesday, March 04, 2009.
45―Jeffery Dressler, ―Counterinsurgency in Helmand; Progress and Remaining Challenges‖, Afghanistan Report 8, Institute for Study of War, Washington D.C., January 2011, .pdf
46―Ilyas Khan, ―On the Trial of Taliban in Quetta‖, BBC News, 25 January, 2010,
47―Pamela Constable, ―U.S. Says Taliban Has a New Haven in Pakistan‖, Washington Post, Tuesday, September 29, 2009,
48―Rahimullah Yususfzai, ―And now there is Tehrik-e-Taliban Baluchistan‖, The News (Islamabad), March 4, 2009.
49―Mark Mezzetti and Eric Schmitt, ―Afghan Strikes by Taliban gets Pakistan‘s Help, U.S. Aides Say‖, March 5th, 2009, New York Times,
50―Pamela Constable, ―U.S. Says Taliban Has a New Haven in Pakistan‖, Washington Post, Tuesday, September 29, 2009,
51―We can Torture Kill or Keep You for Years; Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Baluchistan ‖, Human Rights Watch, July 2011,
52―Nasir Jamal and Sale, ―Rs. 152 Billion Budget for Baluchistan‖,  Dawn (Islamabad), June 22, 2010
53―Attaullah Mengal Interview; Aghaz-e-Haqooq Package a Joke‖, The Express Triune (Islamabad), December 20, 2011,
54―Interview of Cyril Almeida at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, 2012
55―PPP Failure in Baluchistan‖, Editorial, The Express Tribune (Islamabad), March 7, 2011,
56―Huma Imtiaz, ―Baluchistan Grievances heard by U.S. Committee‖, The Express Tribune (Islamabad), March 9, 2012
57―Anwar Iqbal, ―U.S. government distances itself from Baluchistan haring‖, Dawn (Islamabad), February 10, 2012
58―Salala incident, also known as Salala attack occurred on November 26, 2011. U.S. NATO forces targeted two check posts in the Pakistan Afghanistan border area which resulted in killing of twenty four Pakistani soldiers. In retaliation Pakistan blocked U.S supply line to Afghanistan. The supply lines were opened after an apology by U.S on July 3, 2012.
59―Lt. Col. (R) Ralph Peters, ―Blood borders: How a better Middle East would look‖, Armed Forces journal (AFJ), June 2006,
60―Salman Latif, ―The Problem with Baluchistan‖, The Express Tribune (Islamabad), July 22, 2010.
61―Balochistan, Blinkered Slide into Chaos‖, Report of an HRCP fact-finding Mission, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, June 2011
62―Sana Ullah Baloch, ―The Baluchistan Conflict towards a Lasting Peace‖, Seminar Paper, March 07, 2007,
63―Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, ―Pak-Afghan relations‖, Weekly Pulse (Islamabad), June 8-14 2007, pp.13
64―Breseeg, Op. Cit., p. 389.
65―This idea has been reflected by Unas Samad, professor at the University of Bradford, in his article in Express Tribune (Islamabad), March 7, 2012; in which he discusses that a small idea can develop into a movement, giving examples of South Sudan and East Timor.

Comments Off on Balochistan: The Forgotten Frontier

Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Research Papers on Political Issues


Strategic Carnage of Balochistan

By Hasan Yaser Malik
University of Karachi, Pakistan

Facets like geography and history have always imprinted the demographical mosaic of a civilisation. Vast and rocky Balochistan with Its coastal belt heralds the marches by Alexander’s army in 300 BC and its NE rocky ranges yielded of the ‘GandamakTreaty ‘ tabled in 1879. Being a gateway to the strategically important ‘Strait Of Hurmoz’ , Central Asia and bordering two Islamic Republics Balochistan has always been prominent for Regional Politics. Geography and courses of invaders have kept it a distant demography.


Strategic Map of Balochistan

Despite being sparsely dwelled, the religion and culture have kept the social bond in strength.  Makran Coast adds to cultural diversity. Demography and absence of much needed awareness carved the roots of feudalism. With diminishing authority, the feudal and politicians are exploiting the Balochi youth by installing a politically motivated sense of deprivation. The emergence of Gwadar Port as a vibrant regional economic hub has caused many regional and extra regional powers in conjunction with the sham nawabs and politicians to exploit Balochies. The media blitz is further compounding the precarious situation. The infra structural development to link with energy rich Central Asian Republics have added to cultural diversity of Balochistan. Indian involvement is to offset Kashmir.

Keywords: Carnage, deprivation, key players, media blitz and Port.

I. Introduction:
A strategically located as a gate way 34 km narrow; energy rich Hurmoz Strait the Balochistan Province of Pakistan has always been the source of centre piece for the regional, extra regional and local populace. The importance of the province lies in its location and mineral resources. Apart for providing an access to Central Asian and Caspian Resources for U.S, China, Europe and lndo-Pacific littoral states its vast cooper, gold, chromites and energy reserves have always kept the interests of all the key players; starting as a Great Game between  UK and USSR in nineteenth century to U.S and China in twenty first  century to. In the present scenario where U.S is involved in War on Terror in its neighbouring Afghanistan with a geographical border of 753 miles it is very difficult for Pakistan to quarantine Balochistan due to religious, cultural and economic needs across the border.  The emergence of Gwadar Port with the Chinese assistance has raised the concerns of all the key players including the sham politicians and diminishing feudal who are trying to exploit the innocent Balochies for their interests. India is also exploiting the situation to offset the Kashmir Issue. The immature media blitz is further enhancing the issue. Sincere efforts have already been made by high lighting this important facet at various national forums by sharing and expressing the true insight of this enigma to counterbalance the politically motivated aspects of the situation through national level periodicals.   This paper aims at stooping this carnage by high lighting the true social, cultural and political picture of the Balochistan to share the spot on facet at international forum with a view to draw the conclusions and formulate the recommendations for turning the Balochistan into a regional economic hub and remove the misconception of sense of deprivation among Balochies by empowering them with equality. The paper will be expanded as mentioned below:
1.2 Demography of Balochistan
1.3 Projected Uprisings
1.4 Strategic value of Balochistan
1.5 Conclusions
1.6 Recommendations
1.7 Conclusion

II. Demography of Balochistan:
Balochistan covers an area of 347,190 sq km; which is 43.3% of Pakistan [1]. Balochistan is bounded by Arabian Sea in south Sulaiman and Kirthar Mountains in east, Chagai and Toba Kakar Mountains in the west and north respectively bordering Afghanistan. The average height of mountains is 6,000- 11,000 ft. (1,830-3,335 m). Balochistan Plateau has an average altitude of 2,000 ft. (610 m) [2]. Only the Toba Kakar Range is speckled with Juniper, Tamarisk and Pistachio trees, rest all are barren and bleak. The mountains are carved off by numerous channels and hill torrents with rain water. Relatively more significant are Zhob, Bolan and Loralai Rivers, located in the north-eastern portion of Balochistan [3].  Balochistan is mosaic of rugged mountains, barren vast lands, deserts and coastal belt. The Makran Coast and northern mountains have served as a route for the invaders including Alexander the great and British Troops.
The total population is about ten million; which is divided among four major groups. North and east are Pushtun dominated areas; whereas east is Balochi, west is Brahvi and southern Coast is Makrani dominated belt. The Balochies are 40% and Brahvi are 20 % of the total population; including 769,000 Afghan Refugee including Pushtuns, Tajiks and Hazaras [4]. At present the Balochies are turning in to minority and Pushtun are emerging as majority. This demographic change is due to the influx of Afghan Refugees during Russo-Afghan War in 1980, emergence of Gwadar Port has caused shifting of many non Balochies for better opportunities and most of the Balochies are shifting to Karachi by selling away their properties to Pushtuns.

2.1Social Values of Balochies:
Baluchistan‟s society comprises of different ethnic groups, each with its own customs and peculiarities [5]. Pathans, Brahvi and Baloch are all governed by almost similar values and customs. Tribe, in all the cases is the basic identity of a man. The most important feature of Balochistan society is the ‘Sardari System’ [6]. The area has been a mountain walled bulwark, secure from foreign invasion, which fulfils requirements of a feudal and turbulent mode of existence. Difficult terrain and lack of communication have forced them to lead a life of isolation. In the beginning, Sardari was bestowed upon men of courage and integrity. In order to perpetuate their hold, the Sardars however, made this institution hereditary and thus process of degeneration set in. Individual status in the tribe is defined initially by position within the tribal genealogy. The entire land belongs to Sardar who, without any contribution and participation receives ‘Shiskak’ a tax from the tillers. A Sardar or Malik enjoys absolute power over the life and property of his tribesmen. The British rule further galvanized the Sardari and Malik system as the British gave full authority to all Sardars for their allegiance to the Crown. The British, however, were not as successful with the Pathans as they were with the Brahvi and Baloch Sardars. Sardari system thus entrenched deeper in the Baloch and Brahvi tribes and lesser in the Pathan society. The majority of the people are Muslim Sunnis. There are a small number of Ismailis and Zikris in Makran Division and sizeable Hazara population with Shia faith in Quetta. The rules of honour (mayar) which have prevailed among the people for generations still influence the actions of many although gradually giving way to regular law and order. It was incumbent on tribesmen:
 To avenge blood.
 To fight to the death for person who had taken refuge with him.
 To refrain from killing a woman, Hindu, Minstrel, a boy who had not taken to trousers or had entered the shrine of a noble, so long as he remained within its precincts, and also man who while fighting begged for quarter with grass in his mouth and putting down his arms.
 To cease fighting when a mullah, a noble, or a woman bearing the Quran (Holy Book) on his or her head, intervenes between the parties.
 To punish an adulterer with death.
 The custom of (Hal Ehwal) amongst the tribal‟s is that by which any tribesmen while travelling is asked for the latest news, which is exchanged for local information. This is in turn passed on, and thus all sorts of intelligence are quickly spread amongst the tribes. This system was effectively used by Marris in 1973-77 insurgencies.
 The majority of Balochies being un educated; living in east and west of Balochistan do not have the even the basic ideas about following:
 Religious Believes.
 Society beyond tribe.
 Country or a province.
 Comforts of life.

2.2 Economic Features:
Baluchistan‟s share of the national economy has historically ranged from 3.7% to 4.9%. Since 1972, its economy has improved to 2.8 times. The economy of the Balochistan is principally based on natural gas, coal and minerals… Limited farming in the east as well as fishing along the Arabian Sea coastline provides income and sustenance for the local populations. Tourism has reduced due to the war on terror being fought it its north and west.
One of the world’s largest copper deposits (and its matrix-associated residual gold) worth U.S $ 3.3 billion has been found at Reko Diq  in the Chagai District of Balochistan [7]. The mining license is held jointly by the Government of Balochistan (25%), Antofagasta Minerals (37.5%) and Barrick Gold (37.5%). BHP Billiton in cooperation with the Australian firm Tethyan has estimated copper production of 2.2 million tons.
The Gwadar Deep Sea Port is considered to be the hub of an energy and trade corridor to and from China and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) by. With a population of 227,984 having 12,637 sq km area, Gwadar Port has immense geo-strategic significance as a deep sea port [8]. The port will act as a gateway to the 34 km narrow Hurmoz Strait; from where 40 % world oil is transported. Gwadar Port is designed to bring an economic and social revolution in Balochistan and prosperity to the country.

2.3 Political Formation:
Since colonial times, Balochistan Affairs were entrusted to lower ranking agent to the Governor General. It was since 1970 that political activity started in the province. The recent 18th constitutional amendment 2010 has given long outstanding demand of provincial autonomy; Gwadar Development Authority is now directly under the Chief Minister; glimpsing a right of ownership. A package „Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e- Balochistan 2010‟ dealing with the social, economic and political facets has generally been welcomed, however due to vested and political interests of a few individuals the implementation remained slow. Major political parties besides other national level parties are Jamhoori Watan Party, Balochistan National Party, and Balochistan National Movement. Two political alliances Pakistan Oppressed Nation‟s Movement and Mutahida Majlis–e-Amal have emerged as main political players [9].

2.4 Projected Uprisings in Balochistan:
To share the advantages of Gwadar Port, many key players are trying to destabilise it by covert activities. International Media has tinted a few Indian clandestine activities to hinder its development by causing unrest in Balochistan to divert the global attention from Kashmir Issue.
Christine Fair, a leading American expert on South Asia said. “Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity. Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border” [10].
“Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Balochistan. Kabul has encouraged India to engage in provocative activities such as using the Border Roads Organisation to build sensitive parts of the Ring Road and use the Indo-Tibetan police force for security” [11].
“Their role in Afghanistan is a pincer movement designed to relieve the pressure in Kashmir. Whether it will work remains an open question. Meanwhile, I know that the Indians have mucked around in Sindh in retaliation for Pakistani involvement in the Punjab crisis”[ 12 ]. During the briefing given to Elected President of U.S.A Mr. Barak Hussain Obama on 6 November 2008 at Washington by Director of National Intelligence Mc Connell well known Indian aspirations were highlighted, that vacuum created once the USA leaves Afghanistan will be filled by India and Iran [13].

 III. Strategic Value of Balochistan:
Strategically Gwadar; Balochistan holds a dominant position in the Gulf Region as part of the „Great Game‟ [14]. It has enormous potentials to emerge as a regional hub and a future trans-shipment port. However the changed environments have a few concerns for the global key players to exploit its potentials to the fullest.

3.1 Chinese Interests :
Chinese naval presence at this critical choke point of Gulf can not only check the INDO-US domination of Indian Ocean[15]but can also strive to achieve its aim of being a naval power [16].  Apart from the utilisation of port an existing land link  can be of help to China in improving its ever expanding trade to Central Asia, Middle East and Africa, as it will reduce the sea distance to 2500 km instead of 10000 [17]. Gwadar offers China, a tactical position in the energy rich Caspian Region thus, affording a substitute trade route for the western Xinjiang province, thus utilising it as a trade route through Gwadar Deep Sea Port. Chinese‟s economy is expanding at the rate of about 9% every year with trade volume of U.S $1.76 trillion and GNP ranging up to 7.3%. China has foreign exchange reserves of U.S $ 600 billion. Having such a strong and a potent economic growth rate China is expected to be the world leading economy in year 2025.
China has provided an all-out assistance for the development of Gwadar Deep Sea Port to Pakistan thus, strengthening the vital geo-strategic ties with each other in an expanding global village. Numerous strategic and economic aspects of Chinese interest in this project are explained below:
 The Gwadar port is very prudent for the Chinese economy especially for the economic development of its south western Xinjiang Province; providing an economic opportunity for Uighurs, which can improve the relations of neighbouring Muslims from two countries.
The Gwadar Port can provide the Chinese with a listening post to observe the naval activities of USA in the Persian Gulf 460 km further west of Karachi and away from Indian Naval Bases of Gujrat and Mumbai.
 In military and strategic terms, Gwadar Port can help China to monitor the SLOCs from the Persian Gulf as about 60% of Chinese energy requirements come from the Persian Gulf and transit along this approach. Recently on 30 Jan Pakistan Government has allowed of concession accord about Gwadar Port to China from Port of Singapore Authority[18]; which has caused serious and immediate concerns for India [19].
 The Indian activities in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Aden have always been an eye sour for the Chinese‟s. Zhao Nanqi, director of the General Staff Logistics Department of the Chinese Navy issued a top-secret memorandum explaining the People Liberation Army‟s strategic plans to enhance  control over Pacific and the Indian Ocean in accordance with the “high-sea defence” policy by pursuing its „string of pearl strategy‟. Zhao stated that “We can no longer accept the Indian Ocean as only an ocean of the Indians”.  A naval base; at the gate way to will help China in checking the Indian hegemonic designs in the region. Presence at Gwadar would help China to keep track of oil transportation in Persian Gulf. Gwadar Port is an alternate for China if the route through Malacca strait is denied to her for access to Asia, Europe and Africa.

3.2 Interests of CARs:
Central Asia and South Asia, encompassing Caspian Region, Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, Iran and the energy-rich „lake‟ called the Caspian Sea; which has formed the region as a centre piece in the international arena. The CARs, besides their utter unwillingness are still dependant on Russia [20]. In order to shun away the effect of Russian influence; there are two routes available to reach warm waters, one passing through Iran (Chahbahar) neighbouring Balochistan and the other leading through Balochistan (Gwadar). Due to prevalent international environment, western countries are not in favour of the trade route through Iran; hence Gwadar emerges as a more viable alternate port for reasons mentioned below:
 The Caspian Region is in need of a suitable route for pipeline and Gwadar as a gateway to Strait of Hurmoz is the most suitably option.
 In order to bridge the geographical gap Turkey proposed to establish a railway link between Central and South Asia (India), the proposal failed because of the terrestrial limitations. In the present global circumstances and availability of Silk Route Pakistan appears to be the best option.
With the development of Gwadar port, all trade to and from CARs is definite to adopt the shortest available route via Gwadar and the trade benefits of Pakistan are expected to multiply. The proven CARS reserves and production will have following implications on Gwadar Port:

 Estimated production of dry cargo is more than liquid cargo, which entails requirement of larger ships and thus Gwadar Deep Sea Port will prove better.
 Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan will produce more dry cargo than other CARs and Gwadar will prove to be the shortest access to warm waters.
 Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan having more liquid cargo can export it through pipelines and can have an alternate routes to Mediterranean Sea through Caspian Region which is about 1800 km long route whereas through Balochistan will be only 1400 km long.
 The investment for liquid cargo passage through pipeline via Gwadar, Caspian Region and China will be 2 to 2.5 billion U.S $, 3.3 billion U.S $ and 35 billion U.S $ respectively.

3.3 Interests of Afghanistan:
Afghanistan has been gifted with a number of natural resources. These resources are not fully exploited and the process is unlikely in the near future too. On the other hand Afghanistan currently has few exports i.e. steel, agriculture, textiles, etc. It is most likely that the country will be dependent on the imports and the aid from the donor nations, for which it had to depend on a transit agreement with Pakistan [21]. Whatever the likely imports or the exports, Pakistan can benefit from them by providing a safe transit route through Gwadar. A few facets which will influence the significance of the Gwadar port for Afghanistan are as follows:
 Gwadar provides the shortest possible access for Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean and is most cost effective.
 The local Pushtuns have religious, cultural and economic linkages with Pakistan.
 For a developing and a landlocked country like Afghanistan, which is in need of immediate access to warm waters Gwadar appears to be a most suitable opportunity.
 The U.S would like that the Afghan trade should be routed through Pakistan and not through Iran.
 Afghanistan will get all the port related amenities, warehousing services, transit conveniences and import opportunities.

3.4 U.S and Indian Interests:
Since the end of World War-II U.S occupied a place of importance in the Afghanistan‟s economic and social development. Afghanistan believed that good and active relations with U.S were not only important for the economic and social development but also for the maintenance of their policy balance [22]. Presently due to U.S war against terror in the Afghanistan – Pakistan neighbouring areas; the U.S access to CARs is being delayed and CARs are also finding it difficult to access the warm waters of Indian Ocean.
The emerging power; China is an eye sour for U.S objectives in the energy transporting Indian Ocean. Chinese„ sting of pearls‟ strategy is further compounding the problems of Indian Ocean domination; for which is now mostly relying on India and thus allowing it to keep pricking Pakistan in Balochistan with help of Karzai Government in Afghanistan. India is constructing Chahbahar Port for Iran; 72km west to offset the Gwadar Port and is causing disturbance in Balochistan to hide the Kashmir Issue. U.S is poised to allow India to fill in the power vacuum in Afghanistan once it pulls out partially from Afghanistan.

3.5 European Interests:
Although the Western nations are not part of the region, but this port in Balochistan is strategically important for due to the following reasons:-
 The European monetary alliance also points at the Arabian Sea, passing through Afghanistan, on the coast of Balochistan.
 Afghanistan has the option of using the trade route through Iran, which is contrary to the U.S interest; hence route through Gwadar would be a more viable option.
 To counterbalance the Russian concerns on energy transportation through Caspian Region.

IV. Conclusions:
 The diminishing sardars and sham politicians are exploiting the innocent Balochies by inspiring a sense of deprivations which has been caused by them so as to put the blames on others. Few are indirectly cooperating with India and present Karzai Government of Afghanistan.
 India is taking part in covert activities against Pakistan to divert the global attention from the core issue of Kashmir between India and Pakistan and also to support the Iranian Chahbahar Port to counter balance the Gwadar Port.
 With the development of Chahbahar Port India is not only gaining the economic advantages but is also damaging Pakistan foreign policy versus Iran. The urgency on India‟s part was visible in foreign secretary Nirupama Rao‟s speech ahead of meeting.

“There is a need for accelerating our joint efforts to fully realize the potential of the Chahbahar port. This is a project that is in the common interest of not only India, Iran and Afghanistan, but also Central Asia23”.  As per International Media India is in endeavouring to create a freedom movement in Balochistan and is trying to highlight the same. India is projecting the Balochi aspirations of independence from Pakistan through a few of overseas Balochies, that too mostly non Muslims. The insurgency has no Islamic form; rather efforts are being made to lead it towards an ethnic divide. It is supporting various militant groups like Balochistan Liberation Army, Baloch Liberation Front and Baloch People‟s Liberation Front.
 Some disgruntled politicians like Shazan Bughti grandson Nawab Akbar Bughti are now in Kabul and are being patronized by Afghan Government. Such politicians who have lost their strength in ancestral areas are still being projected as truly influential leaders by the media.
 Only a small group of Balochi people are taking part into the anti development activities for their vested interests, so it will not be justified to blame all the Balochies, who have always sided by the Pakistan.
 Incidents of unrest in parts of Quetta and Khuzdar should not be pronounced or projected as source of unrest in complete Balochistan, which covers almost 44% of the Pakistan‟s area. There is quite unrest in Kashmir and North East of India too.
 Pakistani Media is highlight this facet merely what they listen from a few individuals at Islamabad, who talk for their vested interests.
 Baloch sardars with diminishing authority are being projected as god father and their views are being valued beyond limits. There is a definite loud whispering in the educated population against the Sardari system.
 Sincere and a dedicated motivation may it be political one coupled with better health and education standards will overcome many issues.
 The relations between Balochistan and the Centre will depend upon the sincerity of the Central Government.
 Respect of a Baloch is a centre piece and must always be truly valued and exercised.
 Pakistan can‟t close eyes to Indian Supported BLA‟s target killing, albeit small in quantity and quality. There is a need to launch a prudent and a pragmatic media campaign highlighting the Indian involvement in Balochistan.
 Awareness and education is need of the hour for the development of Balochistan. Pakistan Army is running various pragmatic education programmers. It is also settling the tribal disputes to start the mining of energy and other natural resources.
 Social and development activities like health care, provision of water, education, resolution of tribal conflicts and mining opportunities being provided by the Pakistan Army are now being welcomed by the Balochi Masses but such activities are not liked by the sardars and politicians; as they consider it a cause of their diminishing authority and in order to refrain from the army‟s involvement they wrongly project that Balochies do not like army.

V. Recommendations:
 Pakistan must not leave any stone unturned to highlight the Indian covert activities being carried out in Balochistan to create a situation of unrest.
 Pakistan must emphasis Afghanistan to stop supporting the Indian coercive activities along its 753 miles of borders with Balochistan in form of 11 consulates.
 Pakistan must improve it relations with neighbouring Muslim; Iran with whom it shares 568 miles of border. Although; presently because of the economic sanctions Iran is finding it difficult to sell its fuel resources but still Pakistan can make use of it to overcome its energy crisis through planned Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Pakistan has permitted a contract allowing Iran for constructing 785 km long Pakistan section of pipeline on 30 Jan 2013[24].
 China has constructed Gwadar Port in Balochistan; which being at the gate way energy rich Hurmoz Strait is the most important pearl of its „string of pearl‟ strategy. Pakistan must formulate the policy and evolve strategy by which it can share maximum with China and spend it for the social development of Balochistan for decade or so.
 The government must take a few additional and swift measures to improve the existing communication infrastructure; particularly linking eastern and western with southern Balochistan in an early phase, so as to get rid of the quarantines.
 The governmental plans to link southern and western Balochistan with Central Asia must include the eastern Balochistan at any cost.
 The government should change the ages old British Colonial Policy and must improve the administration system by posting the best bureaucrats, judges, police officials and mining experts.
 In order to improve the quality of life and to make use of mineral resources the government must establish a Research and Development Setups at District level under the frame work of an autonomous body.
 In order to make the facet of social and infrastructural development more pragmatic; the government must not allocate the money through greedy politicians and authority hungry sardars but must do it with direct involvement of masses. It is the time to stop pleasing the sardars and politicians by getting rid of one room school concept.
 Every development plan must be approved with direct choice and involvement of the masses; the existing Jirga System (council) can be made use of.
 There is a need improve and galvanize the existing Jirga System progressively; which provides speedy justice in accordance with the religious and traditional values.
 The government must form a media policy in accordance with the national objectives instead of the vested objectives. International Media both electronic and print must be used to highlight the true fact. The involvement of International Media will compel the nation media to project the truth.
 The Pakistani electronic media needs to act positively by highlighting the true facets based on the research and not just projecting whatever is being told by a few individuals sitting in Islamabad.
 CARs may be encouraged to participate in the development of this port by offering them joint ventures in the exploitation of our Exclusive Economic Zone. The government is already doing the needful in this regard but efforts should be made to neutralize the Iranian or Turkish moves in this regard.
 In order to effectively guard the SLOCs responsible for our ninety percent of Pakistan‟s sea trade it must have a modern navy having commensurate strength to power ratio with India. This will not only give security to its EEZ but also Gwadar Port itself.
 Future prospects of Gwadar Port are directly related with stability in Afghanistan. All the road links from CARs and Gwadar have to pass through Afghanistan, therefore till the time there is peace in the country and writ of the government is established, no worthwhile economic activity can be generated. Pakistan although is doing much, yet more efforts is required to be made in collaboration with international community by exerting their influence to bring peace and stability in the region. Islamabad is keen to establish trust and cooperation with Kabul, however, confidence of Pakhtoon belt has to be restored. Involving Pashtoons is the only way that benefits of Gwadar Port can be shared by both Pakistan and Afghanistan as envisaged by the policy makers.
 Instead of getting into rivalry or competition, government should work in tandem with other neighbouring ports especially, Chahbahar and Dubai. It should give them a feeling that they will be helped in facilitating the world trade through Gwadar Port, and it will not affect their business. Visits, conferences and seminars will help in this regard.
 The U.S definitely is seeing this project with a lot of apprehensions, as they see it as China‟s effort to elicit influence in the Arabian Sea. Efforts need to be made in order to make sure that at least if one does not get U.S support for the project, one should ensure they do not oppose it.
 Growing Indian influence in Iran will provide substantial leverage to India to exploit Pakistan‟s internal security and economic interests. Pakistan should forge better relations with Iran not just on the basis of Muslim brotherhood but also keeping in mind drastically changing geo-economic and geo-political needs of Iran. Pakistan should also try and assure Iran that Gwadar Port is not being developed as a counter weight of Iranian Chahbahar Port.
 Pakistan should involve Beijing as much as it can because anchoring Beijing in Gwadar would enhance the prospects of its success. Nonetheless, too much reliance on China or for that matter any other country may not be in Pakistan‟s interest. While involving the Chinese navy into the area may be sensible in the shortterm, but there is obvious need for Pakistan to develop its own naval strength. Similarly, in terms of the upkeep of the port and trade facilities and the rest of the operation, there is a need to bring in more than one country on board.
 Pakistan should exploit the present U.S interest in the region by providing them the facilities at the Gwadar port for the safe transportation of oil, trans-shipment and storage facilities until its naval segments is improved to counter Indian navy.
 God has indeed gifted Balochistan with one of the finest natural features ranging including rugged mountains, vast deserts, high plateaus and the deep sea with beautiful coastline. With a pragmatic patronage it can become a regional tourism centre as well as an international centre for water sports and other related events.
 Although, Gwadar is comparatively free from the tribal influence, yet people of the area have two major concerns. First, the influx of population from rest of the country may turn them in minority. Second, the local Balochi Population lacks in education and other skills and as such they have a fear that major share of economic opportunities may be grabbed by the people from other parts of the country. Some elements with vested interests are out to blow the issue out of proportions. There is an immediate need to win the confidence of the local population by giving them examples of Dubai and Sharjah or even for that matter of the Europe and U.S.
 National Highways Authority has planned construction of Gwadar – Ratodero and Gwadar – Turbat – Panjgur – Chaman highways. In addition, linking of railway lines between Gwadar and Quetta extending up to Chaman and Taftan and further Havelian to Khunjerab are still in embryonic stage in and linking Balochistan. Progress on these projects is slow which needs to be expedited for timely access to Afghanistan, CARs and China.
 Electronic and print media are playing their important role of making positive opinion of the people towards the state and its intentions to ensure development and prosperity of Balochistan. However, coordinated efforts are required to gear up the campaign. It can also publicise the examples of prosperity of individuals or community as a result of government projects through dedicated television programmes. Continuous effective tenure of present government will improve the image of Pakistan at the international level for being moderate, progressive and investment friendly country. Gwadar being a mega project require to be highlighted at every level using international channels like BBC, CNN, Discovery and National Geographic etc. Taking advantage of Pakistan‟s present role against terrorism, the aspect of maritime security and presence of Pakistan Naval Force at the Gateway to Persian Gulf may be highlighted through documentaries. An effort should be made through media and diplomatic channels to assure CARs that Gwadar is the only secure port for them to reach to the warm waters.
 Bureaucratic snags have been involved in development process of this most backward province. There is a need to revamp the existing administrative system to let the process of economic development continue in a sustainable pattern. At present, the province of Balochistan has no say in bureaucratic circles in Islamabad. Government must ensure due representation of the province and increase job quota from 3.5 to 5.5 percent in central superior services for next decade.
 Poverty is the mother of all weaknesses that can be easily exploited by external and internal anti state elements. Introduction of poverty reduction programmes in the shape of encouragement to small scale industries, loans for small and medium size businesses, technical skill training, professional and technical consultancy, assistance in agricultural techniques etc will improve the lives of poor Balochies and reduce the chances of their exploitation by nefarious elements.
 The existing industries along the coastline revolve around fishing and ice manufacturing. A lot of business linked industries are possible to establish which offer sizeable profits for the investors in Gwadar like:
o Fish, prawn, crab and shrimp processing and farming plants.
o Cold storages facilities and Ice factories.
o Seawater Desalination Plants.
o Marine and automobile repair workshops.
o Hotels, Restaurants and Resorts.
o Boat building and naval architecture institute.
 The local population of Balochistan province, which was initially very enthusiastic about the project, is now voicing their concerns over the project. On January 21, 2006, a bomb blast at Gwadar, directed against the Chinese engineers is also considered part of the same malicious agenda. If the local population is not supportive of the project it will certainly disturb the economic growth and the security conditions in the area, which is not a good omen. Some of the main concerns yielding for special attention which can be exploited by regional and extra regional key players are:
o Balochies are being made to think that the project is another attempt to grab the mineral and natural resources of Balochistan province after the Sui Gas Project.
o The Baloch Nationalists believe that the USA would use the project for military purposes.
o Balochies Politicians with the Indian assistance are projecting that the Government is planning to settle 30,000 people from the other provinces with a view to enhance the projected and politically motivated sense of deprivation.
o The contractors have been hired from Karachi and Islamabad, so they are bringing employees and labour force from the same areas and are not employing the local populace.
 Pakistan is considered as the back bone of Islamic world due to its military potency, missile programme and nuclear capability. Pakistan must endeavour to adopt a leading role within the Islamic world so as to bring all the Muslims on one platform.  From this medium, the impression of so called “terrorism” clung to the Islamic World in general and Pakistan in particular, must be shunned. An effort should be made to bring the Muslim Ummah in cooperation and coordination with Europe, U.S, Russia and China.

VI. Conclusion:
The Balochistan is one of the very important parts of Pakistan and Balochies have always proved to more loyal than any one. Presently due to Gwadar Port, abundance of mineral resources and route Caspian Rejoin Balochistan has become valuable for all the regional and extras regional powers. Every country is trying to share maximum out of and is ready to do anything to serve its interests.  A few Pakistani politicians are siding along the powers to suit their wellbeing. Projected uprising are clearly indicate that a few regional countries are doing their best to work for the independence of Balochistan with an aim to de-stablise Pakistan. It is prudent for the government to understand the international inspirations and act timely and wisely. Considering the America‟s virtual control of Afghanistan, the Indo-US nexus, the Chinese presence in Gwadar, unrest in Balochistan, emerging role of SCO as Eastern NATO, trans-regional gas pipeline project and big powers‟ quest for energy security are all developments indicative of a new „Great Game‟ in the offing it will be imperative for Pakistan to adopt a four pronged strategy.
Firstly; Pakistan Government must improve its own house in order by motivating and improving the quality of life of not more than 5 million Balochies out of 170 million Pakistanis in an early time frame. Secondly; strictly dealing with dozen of sham politicians and sardars who working against Pakistan by joining hands with its enemies. Thirdly; ensuring that electronic and print media only highlight the true and research based information and do not act over a mere hear say. Lastly; Pakistan should adopt a pragmatic and a deliberate policy by improving its relations with China and India to reduce the U.S pressure that is unlikely to welcome the mere possibility of Chinese naval presence at the critical choke point of Persian Gulf.  Pakistan should therefore expect long-term and determined resistance from both U.S and India in the event of allowing China‟s naval power to use Gwadar in Balochistan.
Balochies and Balochistan are the most significant part of Pakistan and without these Pakistan is in complete. It is not only the responsibility of the government to ease the situation but as part of the nation and society each Pakistani is responsible to understand the real issues of Balochies and accommodate them and sacrifice their share for the social development of quarantined Balochies. However government must do its best through diplomatic level and world powers must play their role to stop the Strategic Carnage of Balochistan.

[1] on 30 Oct 2011).
[2] (accessed on  4 Nov 2011).
[3] ( accessed on 4 Nov 2011).
[4] Sikander  Hayat‟s World, “Balochistan Trouble of a Demographic Nature”,…/Balochistantrouble-of-demographic minority. (accessed on 30, Oct, 2011).
[5] Chas.E. Yate, Colonel and Mir Muhmud Khan, the gazetteer of Balochistan (Quetta: Gosha-e-Adab Printers,1906, 1st Published, 2nd Edition 1986) 23.
[6] Chas.E. Yate, Colonel and Mir Muhmud Khan, the gazetteer of Balochistan (Quetta: Gosha-e-Adab Printers, 1906, 1st Published, 2nd Edition 1986) 201.
[7] (accessed on 28 Oct 2011).
[8]  Yaser Hasan, Strategic Significance of Gwadar Deep Sea Port; Regional and Extra Regional Dimensions, University of Karachi, Karachi, Ph.D., 2011. (43).
[9] Lieutenant Colonel Syed Iqbal Ahmad, Balochistan – its strategic importance (Pakistan: Royal Book Company, 1999) 27.
[10] Christine Fair, “Analysts say India Fanning unrest in Balochistan”Daily Times (Islamabad) Aug 18, 2011
[11] Christine Fair, “Analysts say India Fanning unrest in Balochistan”Daily Times (Islamabad) Aug 18, 2011
[12] Sumit Ganguly, “Analysts say India Fanning unrest in Balochistan”Daily Times (Islamabad) Aug 18, 2011
[13] Woodward Bob, Obama’s War (New York: Simon & Schuter, 2010) 8. [14] Bhonsle, Rahul K, the India security scope 2006: the new great game (New Delhi: India Gyan Publishing House, 2006) 123.
[15] Nixon Richard, seize the moment (New York , United States of America.:  Simon and Schuster, 1992) 63.
[16] Yeuh, Yun Leo Liu, China as a nuclear power in world politics. (London, United Kingdom: Macmillan Press Limited, 1972) 40.
[17] Khalid, Muhammad Mumtaz, history of Karakoram Highway, volumeII (Pakistan, Rawalpindi: Hamza Pervez Printers, 2009) 8.
[18] Khaleeq Kiani, “ Gwadar port to be transferred to Chinese firm; Cabinet ratifies Iran pipeline agreement   ”Daily Dawn (Lahore) Jan 3 1, 2013
[19] Rajeev Sharma, “Will China‟s takeover of Pak‟s Gwadar port be a game changer? “ FIRSTPOST INDIA (India) Feb 4, 2013
[18] Blank, Stephen J, Central Asian Security Trends Views From Europe and Russia (U.S.A: Carlisle, PA, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S Army War College, 2009) 2.
[19] Matinuddin Kamal, power struggle in Hindu Kush, Afghanistan (Pakistan, Lahore: WAJIDALIS PVT LTD, 1991) 308.
[20] Ghaus, Abdual Samad. The fall of Afghanistan, an insider’s account (Washington, U.S.A: Pergamon-Brassey‟s International Defense Publishers) 152.
[21] India keen to develop Iran‟s Chahbahar Port, “ (accessed on 30 Oct 2011).

Dr. Hasan Yaser Malik holds Masters Degrees in Warfare Studies, International Relations and Special Education; and has done Ph.D. in International Relations. He is also a Chartered Member of Institute of Logistics & Transportation, U.K. He has contributed in many eminent journals and has interest in Research, Flying and Deep Sea Diving.
Courtesy: IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS) Volume 8, Issue 4 (Mar. – Apr. 2013), PP 68-77 e-ISSN: 2279-0837, p-ISSN: 2279-0845. http://www.Iosrjournals.Org

Comments Off on Strategic Carnage of Balochistan

Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Research Papers on Political Issues


Balochistan: A Key Factor in Global Politics

Prof. Dr. Umbreen Javaid
Director, Centre for South Asian Studies,
Chairperson, Department of Political Science,
University of the Punjab,
Lahore, Pakistan

Javeria Jahangir
PhD Scholar
Centre for South Asian Studies,
University of the Punjab,
Lahore, Pakistan

Balochistan is a land which has always been visited by different nations throughout the history. Despite of many phases of obscurity, this marvelous land never lost its geo political and geo-strategic importance. Being located close to Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and Indian Ocean, Balochistan has always been serving as a passage for foreign historian, politicians and armies. The geographical location of Balochistan makes it a sensitive region not only for Pakistan but also plays the key role in determining the significance of this region on international level by developing historic interest of the global powers. Being the best possible marine passage in the Indian Ocean of the Eastern, Central, and Western divisions of Asia, Balochistan has attained highly significant position among international powers by developing great atmosphere of competition for securing and dominating its sea paths which are now essential for the enormous world trade and energy shipment. Unique and outstanding physical geography of Balochistan is taking on increased importance in regional political affairs.

Geopolitical Map Of Balochistan

Vast fields of natural gas reserves and other valuable minerals have become the centre for attraction and interest of foreign investors and developers which would provide an ideal profitable aim for global powers. The objectives of foreign states are to become economically more powerful to get global hegemony by controlling the major portion of world’s energy resources. so it is the biggest requirement of time to spread their influence over world energy resources, energy transit corridors, major land and maritime trade links and for this purpose, Balochistan has especially become the focus of global geopolitical exploitation.

Key Words:   Balochistan, Global Politics, Energy Resources, Super Powers, Geo Political Manipulation, Economic Interests.

The current land of Balochistan is divided into three parts, Northern Balochistan, Western Balochistan and Eastern Balochistan which are spread between three countries that are Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan by a differentiating border called Goldsmith Line. It was drawn by British General Goldsmith in 1870-1872. Balochistan became a part of Pakistan on August 14, 1947 and got the status of province in 1972. The location of Balochistan which connects Iranian Plateau with South East Asia and the Central Asian States to its long coastal line on the Arabian Sea provides it with a great significance in the terms of geography.
Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan in size but smallest in population. The Province covers 34.7 million hectares, almost 44 percent of the country’s land area. According to 1998 Census, its population is about 6, 511,000.  Balochistan geographically is bounded by 60 52′ east longitudes to 24 54′ north latitude and 70 17’ east longitudes to 32 6’ north latitude. (Census Report Balochistan, 2001:58)
Balochistan is a mountainous desert area. It borders Iran, Afghanistan and its Southern Boundary is the Arabian Sea with strategically important port of Gwadar on the Makran Coast, commanding approach to the Strait of Hormuz. Balochistan shares 900 kilometer long border with Iran and 1,002 kilometer long border with Afghanistan (Sial and Basit, 2010:5). Historically, its western region was the southern part of Sistan o Baluchestan province in Iran. Eastern part was Pakistani Balochistan and in the northwest, the Helmand province of Afghanistan existed. The Gulf of Oman formed its southern border.  It has common borders with all the other three provinces in Pakistan, North West Frontier Province (NWFP) through Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) in the north, Punjab in the extreme north east and Sindh in east.
The land of Balochistan has always been visited by different conquerors, travelers, settlers and traders throughout the history. Although Balochistan has witnessed many periods of obscurity, but this marvelous land never lost its geostrategic importance. Much importance lies in the fact that it is close to Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and Indian Ocean. This region has been a passage for historian, politicians and large foreign armies like Persian, Greek, Arab, Mongol, Ghaznavids, Ghoris, Mughals and British has given Balochistan an added importance. (Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908:274)
The geographical location of Balochistan, which makes it a sensitive region of Pakistan, plays the key role in determining the significance of this region both.  Any politico-military development in Afghanistan, Iran and the Gulf Region directly affects the security of Balochistan. (Khan. 1997:2) strategically, it is located in the Warm Water Belt, which has always been a region of historic interest for the super-powers.
Balochistan is located at the possible marine passage in the Indian Ocean of the Eastern, Central, and Western divisions of Asia and the Indian Ocean has already attained high significance in international powers by developing great competition for securing and dominating its sea paths which are now fundamental for the enormous world trade and energy shipment. Due to its location in the middle of the Central, Western Southern and South-western Asia, it is directly affected by global geo-politics. With the extreme proximity to the oil lanes of the Persian Gulf and a common border with Iran and Afghanistan, Balochistan covers almost the whole coast of Pakistan of about 470 miles of the Arabian Sea with a high value sea port, completed with Chinese support at Gwadar Balochistan. (Mazhar, Javaid and Goraya, 2012:117)  The region of Balochistan has got a special importance as a military route because it has proven to be at an important position for the quick and abrupt increase of influence and becoming more unbeaten deployment and supplying to the Central Asia, South Asia, Middle East, China and Russia. Stations of air force and navy at Gwadar are also useful for a keen observation on any military activity and foreign control over important international choke point in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and the shipping trade through the Indian Ocean. (Ismail, 2014:184).
Because of a unique and outstanding physical geography and with the discovery of vast fields of natural gas reserves and other valuable minerals, Balochistan is taking on increased importance in regional affairs and is attracting interest of foreign investors and developers. The government of Pakistan have planned and launched many important projects for economic development in Balochistan with the support and cooperation of national and international actors. These mega projects are meant to facilitate the transportation of goods and services throughout the region more efficiently and rapidly. In addition, the overall environment of Balochistan makes it a major site for the development of roads, railroads and pipelines to connect the Middle East, Central Asian and South Asian regions, in addition, the construction of a deep-water port at Gwadar has the prospective of bringing globalization to the region.
Present Balochistan is also a territory of international strategic importance due to the political problem within Balochistan where the Baloch people are struggling for autonomy, better governance, and perhaps even independence from Pakistan. There are great impacts of this struggle on the security of not only Balochistan but also of surrounding regions. The current Baloch insurgency has high lightened the geo strategic significance of this region to the regional and international players and Balochistan has got the status of a common denominator to them. ‘In fact no policy of any of the countries competing for power in the region could be called comprehensive and practical unless it considers Balochistan in its defense plans. The conflicting interest of the Great Powers in the region-ranging from peripheral to central, converge in Balochistan, in a way that they subject to political pressures of varying degrees at various points of time and space”(Ahmad, 1992: 148)

Political and Economic Interests of Foreign Nations in Balochistan
Balochistan has always been influential on local, national, and international politics. As Balochistan borders two very significant strategic countries Afghanistan and Iran, and having majority of Baloch residents in Afghan and Iranian areas, any type of unrest or violent insurgency in Pakistani Balochistan would disturb regional instability affecting the neighboring countries and consequently become a regional dispute. Baloch insurgency may create large problems in Iran and Afghanistan due to the strong demand for greater Balochistan which includes Baloch areas of Iran and Afghanistan. (Javaid, 2010:116). Being located in the middle of the Central, Western Southern and South-western Asia, Balochistan is always under the effects of global geo-politics. The maritime significance and potential of port Gwadar to connect the landlocked, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states to the Indian Ocean as an international trade route and an energy transit corridor, and mineral resources have heightened geo-political competition among global powers, in the Eurasian region Balochistan provides an ideal profitable aim for global powers.. Plenty of energy resources, trade routes and maritime choke points,  Balochistan has attained not only its national interest but can be more important than on international level too. This unique and valuable situation provides golden opportunity to the global powers to instigate their regional play. The world is increasingly moving towards multi-polarity and economic and military powers are growing in the Asian regions. United States has been at a powerful position exclusively since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The objectives of Asian states like China and India are to become economically more powerful to get global hegemony by controlling the major portion of world’s energy resources.
Demand for energy supply of China, India, and other Asian countries is quickly increasing, so it is the biggest requirement of time to spread their influence over world energy resources, energy transit corridors, major land and maritime trade links. For this purpose, Balochistan has become the focus of global geopolitical manipulation in this region. The resettlement of borders in the name of Greater Balochistan would definitely affect the economic development of China, Iran, India and Pakistan. United States have many times highlighted the geostrategic and geo-political significance of Balochistan and they have presented and supported the idea of free Balochistan which could serve best to secure US geopolitical and geo strategic benefits.
In order to counter Iran, the land of Balochistan is of much importance for America. The natural resources of China and oil of the Arab world are going to eliminate in coming 30 to 40 years (Mazhar, et al.  2012: 120) and then the US will have to rely upon Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan; and for this purpose, US would have to cross Balochistan and its Coast, due to the interference of China in Balochistan, it would not be possible for US to attain an influential position. America would not be able to extend its economic hegemony for a long time, it will be substituted by China which is going to be influential over Gwadar Port and coastal line of Balochistan. That is the main reason behind US displeasure with the construction of Gwadar Port in collaboration with China.
When the Taliban administration ended in Kabul and rebellious groups of Taliban crossed the Pak-Afghan border to enter into Balochistan and organized revolutionary struggle against the aliened forces in Afghanistan. Moreover, the re emergence of the Baloch nationalist insurgency also complicated the internal situation of Pakistan’s security; Balochistan obtained a new geo-strategic significance and became focus of US as a Trans border energy route.
The Baloch insurgency was recharged with the development of Gwadar sea port and their demand to share the benefits of Gwadar Project attracted strong US interest in Balochistan because it has the capacity to convert Balochistan in a main corridor of energy transportation from Central Asia and Iran to other parts of the region in minimum time. The US has to maintain a crucial and essential role in the new great game of resource development in Balochistan and in other parts of Asia.  Therefore, all the three prominent factors; the Taliban militancy, Baloch insurgency and future significance of Balochistan as an energy transit route, played a very strong role in attaining and developing serious attention of US to Balochistan. (Aazar, 2010:164) Prior to that, Balochistan due to its defensive proximity with Afghanistan had a significant hand in the early triumph of US war on terror post 9/11.  Pakistan provided US the access to airspace and airfields in Balochistan for US aerial bombing on Kabul to destroy the Taliban regime and their network in Afghanistan. (Aazar, 2010:165) Balochistan has been playing a central role in the geo strategic development of South and West Asia long before the US war on terror post 9/11 but during war, Balochistan’s territorial proximity to Afghanistan was a great strategic advantage which was fully exploited by US forces.
American involvement in Balochistan is somehow blamed for supporting Baloch insurgents in order to deal with the Chinese influence in Balochistan. It is believed that CIA agents in Afghanistan provide financial support to the Baloch insurgents. (Bansal, 2008, pp.182–200) it is discovered that the US spy agency CIA is involved in recruitment of local agents in Balochistan to locate the members of Quetta based Taliban Shura. The Quetta Shura is a term used by the Americans for the Mullah Omar-led Taliban commanders. (Waheed,  2011, Apr.27) The incident of the arrest of a CIA Spy Raymond Davis in a murder case of two Pakistani in January 2011 increased the tension in Pakistan-US relationship and also exposed the CIA immoral activities in Balochistan. Above all, CIA’s activities in Balochistan are clear sign of US growing interest in this region. In fact, Creation of “Greater Balochistan” is the top most agenda of US, India and Israel cooperation. (Hassan, 2011, May.04) Apparently, US propagate her concerns for the stabilization of Pakistan, but at the same time, she does have a deep interest in delaying projects that would enable China to be strategically present in this region and establish herself as an emerging economic power particularly at the Port of Gwadar. Americans are also interested in increasing their influence in Gwadar and other parts of Balochistan. Therefore, the any harm caused to China-Pakistan joint venture of development of Gwadar port is one of the main US interest in Balochistan. Thus, any type of violence in Balochistan protects US interests in the region because it is helpful in delaying the development projects between China and Pakistan.
The basic objective is to control the increasing Chinese existence in Balochistan. China is an economic rival to US and its presence in Balochistan is not beneficial for the strategic and economic future of US. The Gwadar port can serve as the marine base for Chinese forces which is a matter of great anxiety for US. The Indian Ocean, near the Strait of Hormuz, a route for the export of oil from the Gulf States, will definitely come under the observation and influence of China will create serious problems for US in maintaining its monopoly in the region. The divergence of interests of various powers is also worsening the situation in Balochistan. Under the unstable and insecure circumstances in Balochistan, China will not move forward to provide any further technical or financial assistance to Pakistan for the development and progress of any economic project. (Mazari, 2005, Feb.2)
The clear objectives of US are to deteriorate Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan to establish a strong hold in Central Asian Region and harming Chinese economic interests in African and Middle East through creating obstacles in the Gwadar project. This can be possible only by supporting Balochistan Nationalist Movement to disturb the situation and creating unfavorable environment for any economic investment by China. ‘’CIA supported elements are using America, United Kingdom, India and Afghanistan as their platforms for organizing, planning and operational bases for execution of the plan of Independent Balochistan. Moreover, some militarily supported political lobbies of America and UK are facilitating anti Pakistan elements to carryout nefarious activities against Pakistan’’. (Hassan, 2011, May.04) US interests are also intended to counter Iran, The United Sates is not happy with the expansion of Chinese energy and military assets, particularly so close to Iran and the Gulf region. An instable Balochistan is far more preferable to US than a stable and economically flourishing Balochistan. Any disturbance in Balochistan reduces the possibility of development of the IranPakistan oil pipeline. The US has openly shown her discomfort with the proposed pipeline project. (Bansal, 2008:182).
The US is not only interested in Balochistan, but also has strong concerns about the massive resources of Central Asian States and Balochistan is the most convenient available path to these resources. US is much anxious to get control over the whole region for their future security plans and eliminate the influence of their only rival and competitor China. US interest in Balochistan highlights two long term objectives, firstly,  US has to create a secure and reliable route to all the energy resources of Central Asia to USA, and secondly  to contain China. Balochistan provides the shortest passage between the Indian Ocean and Central Asia outside of the Gulf. Therefore any unrest in Balochistan directly affects and effectively discourages Trans-Afghan pipeline project that is planned for transferring Central Asian resources to South Asia as the control of economically strong and established states of South Asia over this region will not allow US to flourish economic hegemony.
US and Russia have always focused their interest on Balochistan to exploit the land as a tool to make Pakistan a weaker state.  Russia has encouraged the “Secessionist Movement of Sindhu Desh, Pakhtonistan or (Independent) or Greater Balochistan” (Najmuddin, 1984: 60). With the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, it was predicted that the Soviet would try to take possession of deep-sea-water port on the Indian Ocean, and the Baloch insurgents and their rebellious activities would be significantly helpful to Soviet attempt. (Harrison, 1981:173)
Having controlled Afghanistan, Russia tried hard to convince the Baloch to revolt against central government of Pakistan and the Baloch insurgents were assured by Russia that they would be given autonomy over Balochistan after the Soviet completely conquers Afghanistan. (Ismail, 2014:184) The Russian strategy was to establish full control in Kabul as their base and to raise the issues of Pakhtunistan and Greater Balochistan from the land of Kabul, and try to separate and disconnect Balochistan from Pakistan and to either merge it with Afghanistan or to create a new independent country that should be under full control of Moscow. “Whether Russian loose their interest in Afghanistan, yet in Balochistan and Indian Ocean its interest would not die down” (Ahmad, 1992: 253).
Russia also needs a suitable corridor to the warm waters of the Indian Oceans. Like USA, Russia also wants to preserve its monopoly over all the energy resources of Central Asia. At present all the Central Asian States (CAS) are entirely dependent on Russia for export of their energy projects. Soviet Interests in Balochistan have various aspects which are not much different than that of US. Russia wants to control the Gulf oil, which constitute almost 60 percent of world’s known reserves. Any trouble in Balochistan gives Russia a hope to discourage Trans-Afhgan pipeline or any other similar projects.
A Russian influenced Balochistan would bring the natural resources of the Indian Ocean and Antarctica under direct control and pressure of Russia. Fish catch from Indian Ocean and particularly from Arabian Sea, which constitutes almost 1/3rd of total fish catch, will be transported to Central Asia Republics over lands, without any trouble, in less time, thus will be more economical. (Ahmad,1992: 256) Balochistan will provide Russia the shortest route to the world’s largest untapped mineral resources which are located at Antarctica. (Mazhar et al. 2012:119). All these future probabilities which can provide economical stability to Russia are related to Balochistan.
Balochistan is the only Province of Pakistan which shares direct border with Iran. The geographical location of Balochistan plays a very significant role in shaping the relations between Pakistan and Iran in the socio-cultural and economic perspectives. Balochistan is the only factor which can directly influence Pak-Iran relations both negatively and positively.  Unfortunately, there are certain disappointing and inadequate factors which are creating confusions, doubts and stress and making Balochistan a weakening factor in Pak-Iran relations. Balochistan plays a key role in Pak-Iran economic and social integration. The close relation between the people of both countries on the basis of many religious and cultural similarities significantly increases the economic, cultural and social communication between the people of Iran and Pakistan. Infrastructure projects of roads and railways networks can make possible easy trade within the region and cross border. The proposed venture of oil refinery in Hub will do a lot for the promotion and betterment of economic cooperation between Pakistan and Iran,
which has been going through a tensed situation in the past few years because of political misunderstanding over Afghanistan issue.  (Khan, 2012:137)
The project will provide an economic momentum to this least developed province Balochistan and will help to meet the increasing demand of high speed diesel. It will also make possible the exploration of oil and gas in Baloch region. The construction of gas pipeline between Iran-Pakistan is the most positive aspect of economic relationship. The proposed gas pipeline project would bring economic and political profit to both the countries equally.
The ongoing insurgency in Balochistan has badly affected the friendly relations of the two countries as the Iranian government blame Pakistan’s involvement in the Balochistan based Jandullah Organization which is a group of Baloch nationalist militants which is also creating political disturbances in Iranian areas with the active support and cooperation of USA. (Khan, 2012:137)  Moreover, the growing competition between the Pakistani sea port at Gwadar and the Iranian Port Chabahar, and strong rivalry between India, China and Pakistan to increase their influence in Central Asia through these ports, have already disturbed economic and political relations of Iran and Pakistan.
Chabahar seaport is situated at about 70 kilometer distance from Pakistani seaport of Gwadar, developed with Chinese assistance. Both these ports are great competitors as both are constructed with the same objectives in a same region. The difference between the two lies in the fact that Gwadar port is facing many issues like the bad security situation in Balochistan and lack of proper infrastructure of connecting links to main highways. The project is not making progress due to slow and process of development. While there is no such situation at Chabahar which is being developed rapidly and also has gained attention and interest of China successfully. Not only China but also Iran, Afghanistan and India are equally emphasizing at Chabahar Port ahead of Gwadar as regional trade and commerce center.
The Chabahar seaport is located outside the Strait of Hormuz, in Iran‘s Free Economic and Industrial Zone. This port is away from the passage of heavy seatraffic in the Persian Gulf waters and provides more easy entrance to ships besides connecting it to Afghanistan and Central Asia. A road and rail communication system is also being constructed between Chabahar and Herat to connect with Central Asian States. India is seriously interested in the development of this seaport just to avoid Pakistani route to Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian States. (Hussain, 2015:146)
Chabahar is somehow is an Indian financed Port and a part of the Indian plan to develop another mean of transportation in eastern Iran to counter and reduce the emerging influence of Pakistani port of Gwadar. India intends to connect Chabahar port with Central Asian countries through roads and railway to avoid Pakistan, and to reduce the dependency of Central Asian countries on the port of Gwadar.  (Khan, 2012:135)  As Gwadar port is expected to improve not only Pakistan’s but also Chinese influence in Central Asia and beyond. Gwadar can be a potential trade route for the landlocked Central Asian States and this new trade route would have tremendous economic impetus to Pakistan in the form of new and great investments as the CARs will rely upon Pakistan for their trade and commerce.
Chabahar is providing India with an easy access to Afghanistan through the Indian Ocean. An agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan has been signed according to that, Central Asia and Afghanistan are bound to give special preference and tariff reduction to Indian trade goods. (Khan, 2012:135) Therefore, Gwadar port is a threatening factor to Indian trade through Indian Ocean. Being so close to the Straits of Hormuz, Gwadar would create negative impact on India’s commercial interest by enabling Pakistan to implement vast control over entire energy routes. Gwadar will also enable China to observe and examine Indian naval activity in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea and any future maritime cooperation between India and Iran will be easily monitored by China. Similarly, Iran has clear apprehensions about the use of Gwadar port by the United States as a base to monitor activities inside Iran. (Asia Times, 2005,April.29).
India also is trying to secure energy routes to counter the growing Chinese influence in the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean. So India chose Iran as her economic and strategic ally. India has spent huge amount on the construction and development of Iranian Port of Chahbahar. Iran is already working on Chahbahar port in sistan Baluchistan, which will facilitate Indian trade activities to Afghanistan and Central Asia through roads and rail links. The Chinese involvement in Pakistani Gwadar and Indian influence on Iranian Chahbahar has resulted not only in economic competition and strategic rivalry between India, Pakistan and China but also has increased risk of controversy for the economic and natural resources of Central Asia.
The growing competition between China and India has an unfavorable impact on the Pak-Iran relations. Gwadar and Chahbahar are the main causes of geostrategic and economic competition. China is largely alarmed by the growing Indian growth in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. Moreover, the progress and warmth in Indo-US relations since the conclusion of US-India civilian nuclear cooperation and mutual aid between India and Iran in Afghanistan and Central Asia became a matter of serious concern for China’s long-standing strategic and economic objectives in the region. (Khan, 2013: 79-80)
India is establishing good relations with Pakistani neighbors; Iran and Afghanistan just to contain Pakistan and to counterbalance Chinese emerging power, because China is the only power which is quite capable of competing and suppress Indian hegemony and supremacy in the region. As Indian navy is greater than that of Pakistan, therefore to surpass India, Pakistan needs Chinese support and cooperation in the Port of Gwadar which is in the best welfare of both China and Pakistan. Through the Gwadar, China can keep a strict watch on Indian approach and emergence in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and Persian Gulf. (Khan, 2013: 79-80).
So far as Afghanistan is concerned, she has historically been remained a dispute between major powers. Mostly, Afghanistan remains in state of war and process of nation building, so there is no functional type of economy in Afghanistan and mostly depends on limited agriculture which is not meeting the basic food requirements of Afghans and they have to depend upon foreign donated food for survival.  (Shah, 2007:65) The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran (TAPI) pipeline project is a big hope to help restore the Afghan economy as the project could bring in over 300 million dollars royalty to the country and other foreign investments in the project may do a lot to stabilize and revive Afghan economy with the renovation of other infrastructure. Afghan transit trade was earlier handled through the Karachi port, but now the Gwadar port will serve this purpose well. Afghanistan has admitted the significance of Gwadar as a gateway to wealth for Afghanistan and also has offered support for the development of the Gwadar port.  (The Dawn, 2003, Aug.5)

Global Political Players and Current Baloch Insurgency
There has always been a belief among government of Pakistan that an outside hand is playing a role in the Baloch insurgency. Pakistan has always been claiming that the Baloch insurgents possess highly refined artillery and modern military training which may be a clear sign of the possibility of foreign support and intervention in the province. (The News, February 2, 2005.). A major example took place in 1973, during Bhutto regime; when Pakistan government found an ammunition store at Iraqi embassy in Islamabad.  Weapons including about three hundred submachine guns and forty eight thousand 48,000 rounds of ammunition were located by Pakistanis officials.  Akbar Bugti was the only Baloch Sardar at that time that fully supported central government in dismissal of NAP government in Balochistan and got the designation of Governor of Balochistan as a reward. ( 13 April, 2015) He is the one who supervised the worst military operation against the Baloch insurgents during 1973-77 revolt. The government claimed that the Iraqi weapons were being sent to help out the Baloch insurgents.
India developed interest in Afghanistan in the mid-1970s in the postBangladesh era and simultaneously, India started its efforts to put Balochistan in the same condition through encouraging an insurgency in Balochistan. For this purpose, India exploited the enmity between the state and the rebellious Baloch Sardars. The aims of India were to keep away Pakistan from the energy resources to turn Pakistan into an economically weak state. This kind of economic and political instability would damage the strength of Pakistan to survive as an independent state.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) occurred during the era of 1970s as the most active insurgent group with a strong leaning towards Soviet Union. It is believed that BLA received arms from the Soviet Union found many insurgents were secretly trained and educated there. The Baloch leaders have openly listed India among their sponsors. Grand son of Akbar Bugti, and a BLA leader, Brahamdagh Bugti, had accepted assistance from India and Afghanistan to defend the Baloch nationalist cause. ( accessed on 14 April, 2015) “We love our Indian friends and want them to help and rescue us from tyranny and oppression. In fact, India is the only country which has shown concern over the Baloch plight. We want India to take Balochistan’s issue to every international forum, the same way Pakistan has done to raise the so-called Kashmiri issue. We want India to openly support our just cause and provide us with all moral, financial, military and diplomatic support.” ( balochistan.html 14 April, 2015
The selection of targets and use of modern weapons clearly shows the fact that the Baloch rebels have been trained by military experts. These large scaled insurgencies cannot last without large funding as the insurgents cannot rise on their own. According to an estimate the financial expenditure of BLA alone is about 50-90 million rupees per month. Supposedly, considerable cash is flowing into their hands from Afghanistan through US. ( 14 April, 2015).
It is said that US has been encouraging Baloch separatist movements for a long time through the help of India. United States had been encouraging India to strengthen its spy network in Afghanistan by helping it open consulates along the Afghan border with Pakistan. These Indian consulates were used as bases of Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Baloch rebels are receiving financial and other assistance through these Indian centers. In 2004, the chief minister of Balochistan Jam Muhammad Yusuf openly declared that the Indian secret services were maintaining forty terrorist camps all over Baloch territory. (The News, February 2, 2005). The Pakistani officials have been continuously referring to Indian involvement but they also have expressed their doubt about Iranian and even US involvement.
India has established nine training camps along the Afghan border to provide military training to the members of the Baloch Liberation Army. India and the UAE are also alleged for providing armed and economic assistance to Baloch rebels. The aim is to create hurdles in the construction of the Gwadar port. Russian government has been directly involved in supporting the Baloch insurgents. Former president Pervez Musharraf had also raised the point with US officials in September 2007 and he asked the US to get involved on issue of attempt from Afghanistan and India to destabilize Balochistan. General Musharraf stated that ‘’Pakistan had proof that India and Afghanistan were involved in efforts to provide weapons, training and funding for Baloch extremists through Brahamdagh Bugti and Baloch Marri, two Baloch nationalists, who were living in Kabul.” (The Express Tribune, 2012, Dec 3) The former Governor of Balochistan, Owais Ahmed Ghani stated “India is not only helping annoyed people with weapons, but is training them as well, India is financing the insurgency and Afghan warlords and drug barons of arming the militants’’ ( 9041535146 on 16 April, 2015).
Afghanistan has also played role in supporting Baloch separatist movements. It is believed that during the first three insurgencies, the Baloch militant insurgents were provided with political and logistic support by Afghanistan. The first insurgency in 1948 led by Abdul Karim, was initiated during his stay in Afghanistan. (Harrison, 1981:26) and he was seeking support from both Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Although, Karim received significant support from Afghanistan but Baloch nationalists never admitted it openly. (Harrison,1981:26). When Karim instigated the second Baloch insurgency in 1958, again Karim had appealed Afghanistan for support of the insurgency. (Harrison, 1981:28).
During the third insurgency of 1962, Afghanistan directly and openly supported Baloch rebels. The prime minister of Afghanistan, Mohammad Daud granted permission to Baloch insurgents; the Pararis; to establish their camps along the Afghan-Pakistan border. (Harrison, 1981:39) These camps were initially established to provide refuge to the Baloch migrants but in fact, these refugee camps were largely utilized as Baloch insurgent headquarters. that’s why, when General Zia ul Haq extended amnesty to the Baloch rebels, he also included Baloch  living in Afghanistan and allowed them to return to Pakistan. (Harrison, 1981:40)
The government of Pakistan also suspects Iran of supporting Baloch militants. Iran is of the opinion that Pakistan; in collaboration with US; is planning to make Balochistan a front base in a future offensive against Iran. (Daily Times, January 29, 2005)  because Iran is ambitiously trying to become the preferred passage to the sea for Central Asia at Pakistan’s expense, and for this purpose, has built its own port at Chahbahar with Indian assistance to counter Pakistani Gwadar Port. But Iranian government never admitted any involvement in the troubles in Balochistan, claiming that it Iran has no intentions to harm the Gwadar project by helping Baloch Militants. (Daily Times, February 7, 2005).
However, Iran does not need to get involved in the Baloch insurgency directly as Iran probably would not be able to openly oppose Pakistan because Iran and Pakistan have a common interest in exporting Iranian gas to India, and an revolution in Balochistan would only harm the chances of building a gas pipeline through the province and consequently, it would be a big economic loss to both the countries. (Daily Times, February 5, 2005.) The only concern of Iran regarding Baloch insurgency is the unrest caused by Iranian Baloch, living within the territory of Iran and supporting their Pakistani Baloch companions for the liberation of Baloch regions located in Iran. It was for this reason that Iran assisted Pakistan during the insurgency of 1973 to help it put down the Baloch rebellion.
The government of Pakistan has doubts about the role of United States as a probable troublemaker. It is believed that US would like to use Balochistan as a front base for an attack on Iran and would also like to get China out of the region by supporting Baloch insurgents.  (Daily Times, January 30, 2005). The US has been asking Pakistan to allow it to open a consulate in Quetta and deploy CIA to keep an eye on the Taliban based Quetta Shura. However, the government of Pakistan did not allow the US to open a consulate in Quetta. ( April 14, 2015).
But the US intentions are never clearly explained by Pakistan,  it is difficult to understand whether US is opposing the Baloch nationalists because they are supported by Iran or whether US is supporting the Baloch because they are aggressive to the China. On the other hand, the Baloch nationalists put blame on government of Pakistan for conspiring with the US to crush down the Baloch fight for freedom.

The geographical location and huge mineral and energy resources of Balochistan, make this land extraordinarily important for almost all the world and specially a mark of special interest among regional and international political actors such as the US, India, former Soviet Union, UAE and Afghanistan. All these countries have one common interest in this region and an independent Balochistan is in high favor of their geo-strategic and geo political interests.
The Gwadar port is estimated to be the focal point of an energy and trade passage to and from China and the Central Asian Republics. China has got legal right on Gwadar as it has invested a lot in this project financially and technically. China has also invested in a coastal highway to link Gwadar with Karachi. China is also involved in the Saindak gold and copper mining project in Balochistan. China and India have been engaged in several trade plans for their joint benefits but there has always been a sense of rivalry and an economic competition between the two countries So, India may not desire to see the development of Gwadar port as profitable for China as well as for Pakistan. The US involvement is also seen as a part of the “Great Power game” which is being played by global powers in Central Asia since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It is widely believed that the US wants to compete China and Iran through controlling the oil supply lines from the Middle East and Central Asian States and to achieve its goal, US is using its Greater Middle East plan to take apart the major Muslim states and redesign borders in the region according to its own political and economic desires and benefits.  It is beleived that the US and British intelligence agencies are supporting the Baloch militants to destabilize the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and weaken the Gwadar port from becoming functional due to Chinese involvement which would definitely be a major threat to US oil and naval interests in the Gulf region.
A constant insurgency in Balochistan is becoming a great threat to the image and development of Pakistan as it would split the nation in different ethnic groups as it has gained the status of a separatist movement.  The Baloch demand and armed struggle and separatist movement for an independent Balochistan have strategic impacts not only on Afghanistan, India and United States but also it has economic impacts on Iran, UAE, China and Central Asia. This situation would bring dramatic changes in the economic, political, and strategic landscape of South and Southwest Asia. Furthermore, international pressure from India, Iran, China, Afghanistan, and Central Asia is complicating and weakening Pakistan’s position on international level. These countries have strategic energy and economic interests tied up in Balochistan by means of pipelines, ports, and roads.

1. Ahmad, Lt. Col. Syed Iqbal. (1992). Balochistan: Its Strategic Importance, Karachi: Royal Book Company
2. Aazar, Tamana, (2010). US Pakistan Cooperation and Pakistan Security Post 9/11, Ph.D Thesis, School of Social Sciences and Asian Languages, Curtin University of Technology, Australia.
3. Bansal, Alok, (2008). Factors Leading to Insurgency in Balochistan, Small Wars & Insurgencies, June, Vol. 19, No.2, pp 182- 200. Government of Pakistan, (2001). Provincial Census Report of Balochistan, Statistic Division, Islamabad.
4. Hussain, Dr. Nazir, (2015). Thaw in Iran-US Relations: Opening of Chahbahar Trade Link and its Impact on Pakistan, Chapter 10 of the Book, ‘’Pakistan‘s Strategic Environment Post-2014’’, Islamabad Policy Research Institute. pp 14-148
5. Harrison, Selig S., (1981). In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baloch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations, Washington, D. C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
6. Hassan, Lt Col. (R). Zaheerul, (2011). US Involvement in Balochistan, Pakistan Observer, May. 04
7. Ismail, Muhammad, (2014). Geostrategic Importance of Balochistan: Baloch Insurgency and the Global Politics of Energy Resources, Journal of Political Studies, Vol. 21, Issue – 2, pp-181-201
8. Javaid, Umbreen. Dr., (2010). Concerns of Balochistan: Effects and Implications on Federation of Pakistan, Journal of Political Studies, Vol. 17, Issue 2, pp. 113-125
9. Khan, Zahid Ali, (2013).China‘s Gwadar and India‘s Chahbahar: An Analysis of SinoIndian Geostrategic and Economic Competition, Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. XXXII & XXXIII, No.4 & 1
10. Khan, Zahid Ali, (2012).Balochistan Factor in Pak-Iran Relations: Opportunities and Constraints, A Research Journal of South Asian Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp-121-140
11. Mazari, Shireen, (2005). Balochistan and the Great Power Games, The International News, February 2.
12. Mazhar, Muhammad Saleem; Javaid, Umbreen and Goraya, Naheed S. (2012). Balochistan (From Strategic Significance to US Involvement), Journal of Political Studies, Vol. 19, Issue – 1, pp-113-127
13. Najmuddin, Dilshad. (1984). Threat of Insurgency; Consequences and Measures, (Unpublished Research Paper). Rawalpindi: National Defence College.
14. Shah, Abid Hussain, (2007). The Volatile Situation of Balochistan – Options to Bring It Into Streamline, Masters Thesis, Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, California.
15. Sial, Safdar and Basit, Abdul, (Oct-Dec 2010). Conflict and Insecurity in Balochistan: Assessing Strategic Policy Options for Peace and Security, Conflict and Peace Studies, Vol 3, Number 4, Islamabad: Pak Institute for Peace Studies.
16. The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. VI (1908). Oxford: Claredon Press Waheed, Hamid, (2011). The Balochistan Dynamics, The Nation, Apr. 27
Courtesy: South Asian Studies
A Research Journal of South Asian Studies Vol. 30, No.2, July – December 2015, pp. 91 – 105.

Comments Off on Balochistan: A Key Factor in Global Politics

Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Research Papers on Political Issues


The Makran-Baluch-African Network In Zanzibar And East-Africa During The XIX Century

By Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini
History and Institutions of Afroasian countries,
Faculty of Political Sciences,
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart,


Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini

Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini

Throughout the western Indian Ocean during the XIXth Century there were not just one, but people from many regions, merchandise and slave routes. They were generally divided in two main monsoon directions: one from East Africa and the Red Sea to Arabia, to India and to South East Asia, and the other in the opposite direction; consequently, slaves were not only black Africans, but also Asians.1 African slaves were imported in great numbers annually from East Africa to Oman, travelling on Arab dhows (sanbuq). Around the first half of the XIXth Century there was an extensive commerce of slaves from Ras Assir (“The Cape of Slaves”) and Pemba, and many African people were bought with cloth and dates on Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, enslaved, and transported to the Arabian Peninsula where they were mainly engaged in fishing pearls in the Persian/Arab Gulf.2 Slaves also became lords of African “reigns”, as they were considered to be more loyal than anybody else within their clans and tribes. In this regard, Omanis used to recruit mercenary troops also from the Baluch tribes, who developed a long-lived military tradition, representing a real element of power within Omani areas of influence in East sub-Saharan Africa. T his article examines the role played by the Makrani-Baluch tribes during the XIXth Century’s sub-Saharan East African apogee with the Omanis, and their influence on the social, political and economic level giving special attention to slavery.

In the Indian Ocean religious elements, such as Hinduism in India, Buddhism in the Malaysian-Indonesian Archipelago, and the spread of Islam through short as well as long-distance trade routes, strongly influenced, and in many cases, modified the concept and use of slavery. The social, political and economic functions of slaves were generally: a) domestic patriarchal, b) productive-agricultural (bonded labour directed into intensive wet crop agriculture); c) military administrative. Within the Islamic world, armies of slave-soldiers came from Central Asia, mainly Turkish peoples from the Caucasus and from the Steppes till their islamization; while domestic slaves came chiefly from the coastal strip of East Africa.

This article evaluates the cultural synthesis of different local realities through fieldwork and, at the same time, integrates this with the archival and bibliographical research that lies at the basis of the work itself. In this respect, the new historical perspective which tends to the relations between the coasts, islands and interior of the continents no longer a state of incommunicability, isolation and stasis but rather an intense and dynamic movement of peoples, goods and ideas—with marked effects on local societies—is also to be considered an extremely valid tool in providing a more complete and up to date interpretation of events. It is well known that studies in the history of the western Indian Ocean can no longer be considered merely as hagiographic reconstructions, but must take into consideration a number of historical political institutional aspects. These include: the presence of different ethnic, social and religious groups together with the affirmation of Arab-Omani domination between the end of the XVIIIth and start of the XIXth Century; the fundamental influence of the Indian mercantile and other Asian communities; the impact with the Swahili populations of the East African coast and the sub-Saharan areas. All of these factors must, naturally, also be considered in relation to links with Europe.

Slavery in the Western Indian Ocean
O man occupies the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula and is located between latitudes 16° 40′ and 26° 20′ north and longitudes 51°–50′ and 59° 40′ east. The coastline extends 1,700km from the Strait of Hormuz in the north, to the borders of Yemen in the south and overlooks the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. The total land area is approximately 309,500 square kilometres and it is the third largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. Oman’s territory has a varied topography, consisting of plains, deserts, mountain ranges and oases. The rock matter is predominantly sedimentary and is rich in metallic mineral deposits, such as copper, chromite and gold. The two main mountain ranges are the Hajar range, running from Musandam to Ras al Hadd; and the Qara range in Dhofar, which attracts the light monsoon rains during the mid-summer months. Around 82% of Oman consists of desert. Most conurbations arise on the coast. There are many caverns in Oman and the country is home to one of the largest caves in the world, Teyq Cave, which is 250 metres in depth, 300 million metres in size. It is thought that the cave was formed as a result of several chambers collapsing due to erosion. There are several islands located in Oman’s waters, the largest of which is Masirah in the southeast which is accessed by sea. The climate differs from one area to another. It is hot and humid in the coastal areas in summer; while it is hot and dry in the interior with the exception of the higher mountains, which enjoy a moderate climate throughout the year. Rainfall is generally light and irregular; although heavy rains and thunderstorms can cause severe flooding. In the south, the Dhofar region has a moderate climate and the pattern of rainfall is more predictable with heavy monsoon rains occurring regularly between May and September. Average temperatures for the north of Oman are 32 to 48°C. from May to September; 26 to 36°C from October to April. Due to the monsoon season, June to September, Dhofar in the south of the country maintains a fairly steady year-round temperature of around 30 to 35°C. The average rainfall in Muscat is 75mm. In the Jebel al Akhdar region, the average rainfall can be from 250mm to 400mm. The monsoon season in Dhofar can bring rainfall of between 100 and 400mm.
From the descriptions of travel accounts by Europeans during the XIXth Century, the picturesque bay of Muscat was a semicircle, enclosed by the mountains and with rocks dropping down to the sea on which fortifications had been built to watch out for keeping a lookout for enemies. The town was surrounded by hills and rung round with walls and, with a green valley beyond the shore, it was a pleasant place. The hinterland of Muscat is so mountainous that, in the XIXth Century, it could only be reached on camel or donkey back. Just outside the town, the coast is mainly desert, hilly and desolate.
frican slaves were imported in great numbers annually from East Africa to Oman, travelling on Arab dhows (sanbuq). In the first half of the XIXth Century there was an extensive commerce of slaves from Ras Assir “The Cape of Slaves” and Pemba, and many African people were bought with cloth and dates on Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, enslaved, and transported to the Arabian Peninsula where they were mainly engaged in pearl fishing in the Gulf. They were forced to dive forty times a day or more and their mortality was high.
Slaves also became lords of African “reigns”, as they were considered by their masters to be more loyal than anybody else within their clans and tribes. In this regard, Omani Arabs used to recruit mercenary troops also from the Baluch tribes, who developed a long-lived military tradition, representing one of the real elements of power within Omani areas of influence in East sub-Saharan Africa.
This paper examines the role played by the Makrani-Baluch tribes during XIXth Century’s sub-Saharan East African apogee with the Arabs from Oman, and their influence on the social, political and economic level with special attention to slavery.
It is important to emphasize that the Islamic Arab world’s perception of slavery as an economic and power policy was entirely different from that of the Christian West which had undersigned the Holy Alliance and strove for abolition. In Islamic society, unlike many others, slavery was not prohibited. It even finds precise dispositions in its support in the Koran: the equality of all men before God implies clear duties also in regard to slaves, but not the suppression of slavery itself, even though it is severely forbidden to reduce another Muslim to the state of slavery. In terms of rights, no political or religious function may be performed by a slave, but owners may delegate to slaves any responsibility or task related to the exercise of their authority. Thus, the slaves of important individuals enjoyed a privileged status and could often attain higher positions of power than free men, the cases of slaves themselves becoming princes not being entirely exceptional, either. In the context of Islam, slavery is a highly-structured concept, regulated down to the smaller detail by the civil and criminal codes. As a result, it is difficult to pass judgement on the moral or physical condition of slaves in the Islamic African world as compared to those in other societies. Conditions obviously varied, and there were certainly those who attempted to escape, but there is no doubt that this institution lay at the very foundation of the entire Islamic society of the cosmopolitan commercial empire ‘founded’ on the seas by an Omani Sultan: Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid (1806–1856). Moreover, as we have noted, it was inevitable that there would have to be a clash with the Christian West, as represented by Great Britain, over this question.3
rom the Islamic religious point of view slaves are considered persons, but being subject to their masters they are not fully responsible, and they are at the same time a thing.4 Slavery can originate through birth or through captivity, if a non-Muslim who is protected neither by treaty nor by a safe conduct falls into the hands of the Muslims. Slaves can get married: the male slave may marry up to two female slaves; the female slave may also marry a free man who is not her owner, and the male slave a free woman who is not his owner. The marriage of the slave requires the permission of the owner; he can also give the slave in marriage against his or her will. The permission implies that the master becomes responsible with the person (rakaba) of the slave, for the pecuniary obligations that derive from the marriage, nuptial gifts and maintenance. Minor slaves are not to be separated from their near relatives, and in particular their parents, in sale. The children of a female slave follow the status of their mother, except that the children of the concubine, whom the owner has recognised as his own (umm walad), and this was the case of the numerous sons of the Omani Sultans during the XIXth Century, is free with all the rights of children from a marriage with a free woman. And this rule has had the most profound influence on the development of Islamic society. The Islamic law of slavery is patriarchal and belongs more to the law of family than to the law of property. Apart from domestic slaves, Islamic law takes notice of trading slaves who possess a considerable liberty of action, but hardly of working slaves kept for exploiting agricultural and industrial enterprises.
n Swahili coast slavery was mainly characterised as an open and very much absorptive system, although during the XIXth Century the majority of slaves from the interior such as Unyanyembe and the Great Lakes region were destined to cultivations, and consequently totally excluded from any chance of paternalistic generosity from their masters. The search for a better life on Zanzibar and on the Swahili coast was tempted by slaves in many ways: those who were outside the master’s household worked in the master’s mashamba—from the French champ, or field, that is the plantations5—and were expected to take care of their subsistence, cultivating a small plot of the mashamba; the more privileged cultivated by themselves a small piece of land, paying an annual or monthly tribute to their master.6
Vibaruna were hired slaves, mainly in urban centres; they were extremely poor, but in some cases joined Hadrami Arab’s caravans and succeeded in modifying their humiliating conditions of life. The trading slaves, mafundi, craftsmen, reached a decent level of dignity, but they remained under strict control of their master, and ‘illegal’ or personal initiatives were severely punished.
In Africa slaves were thought of as less than human and, even when they embraced Islam—Sunni and never Ibadi as only the Arabs of Oman—were thought of as being less than Muslims.
The burning question of slavery went hand in hand with another and no less relevant factor.7 In the sub-Saharan East African regions, and in the eastern Mediterranean, there was no local ‘peasant class’ that could be employed on the new cultivations which European demand had induced rich landowners to introduce and which were proving to be both extremely successful and profitable (sugarcane, rice, copal, vanilla, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg and, especially on Zanzibar, cloves). Consequently, the use of slaves for tilling the land and other heavy labour on the plantations had become a question of routine; in other words, when England undertook her crusade against slavery, it was precisely this most miserable section of society which constituted the economic foundations of the entire region.
We also agree with Barendse that trade and tribe relationships between Swahili coast and Makran littoral during the second half of the XIXth Century were pre-existing to the power of the Al Bu Saxid of Oman, and highly influenced by the role of Indian—both Hindu and Muslim—merchant communities all over the region of the western Indian Ocean, who became extremely rich and powerful.8
Therefore, within this framework, the Makran-Baluch presence along the Swahili coast, apparently was closely related to their military and mercenary role within the tribes of Oman, further on developing in trading in East Africa, but this is an interesting hypothesis which requires further research.
From the end of the XVIIIth Century, and for all of the XIXth, it was precisely these tribes of pillaging warriors who protected, hid, supported and faithfully defended the Al Bu Saxid of Oman, thanks also to the tribal structure and clan family relationships of their society which, traditionally nomadic, could count on both ‘Makran’, on the today’s Iranian and Pakistani coasts, and ‘peninsular’ and ‘continental’ solidarity. From the accounts of travellers, explorers and British officials of the time—as well as from Archive documents sources—we see emerge among other Baluch tribes in Africa the Hot, the Rind and the Nousherwani.9
The Baluch tribes from Makran, a very tough people, very skilled in the use of weaponry, adaptable to climate change and environmental conditions, were pushed from the extreme misery of their country towards Persia and towards the coasts of Arabia. Here, they offered themselves as soldiers, sailors and bodyguards for a salary that, though even modest, could represent the difference between life and death for themselves and their families. During the XIXth Century the condition of life of these people was so hard that the British explorer Sykes wrote: “they are adscripti glebae and in miserable conditions, nominally receiving a third of the crop . . . only enough to keep body and soul together”.10 During the XVIIIth and XIXth Centuries the Baluch were known to British agents as ‘ferocious freebooters’, and they protected and hid the ‘Arabs’ of Oman in their desolate lands; they were mainly employed on the dhows of the Muscat rulers, or sent on military expeditions in the Omani deserts.11
anzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the today’s Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. At that time the island of Zanzibar was administered by governors representing Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid and exercised all power on his behalf. The military support which furnished these representatives with absolute authority over the island and its affairs, consisted of special troops of proven trustworthiness, that is to say, the Baluch corps closely tied to the Al Bu Saxid by fundamentally economic agreements. The local governors also had the support of the local, autochthonous Swahili aristocracy, mainly merchants. These came under the mwinyi mkuu, subdivided into diwan, jumbe, wazee; and were tied to the Omani elite by mutual interests in the exploitation of the resources offered by the island and the eastern shores of Africa.12 This mercantile empire, with Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid moved its economic and political centre of gravity to Zanzibar, making control of the neighbouring islands and the nearby African coast one of the cornerstones of its vast system of interests. Many years later, the English explorer Richard Burton, would claim that: “If you play the flute in Zanzibar it will sound as far as the Great Lakes”.13 Without a shadow of a doubt, European rivalry in the Gulf and the western waters of the Indian Ocean from the start of the XIXth Century on, combined with related upheavals in power and strategy, had a decisive impact also on the deviation of the maritime routes followed by this immense commercial traffic mainly based on human flesh.
learly, however, the ability and modernity of Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid in exploiting such political contingencies was also to carry a certain weight.
Within this framework of trade, commerce, bargaining, conflict and struggle for the control of trade in this or that valuable merchandise, the island of Zanzibar inserted itself with the dynamism of its officials, merchants, cunning adventurers and slaves. Turning once again to the question of slavery, we must remember how the very backbone of Zanzibar’s economy at this sensitive stage in its rise was formed precisely by slaves, the key element in both the local economy and the immense wealth of its merchants.
These, therefore, were the foundations on which Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid and the Indian mercantile communities built their great commercial emporium in the face of inevitable conflict with the English in the Gulf over the question of piracy.
he contrast is self-evident between the two, profoundly different ways of perceiving objectives and strategies. On the one hand, we have an ‘Arab’ merchant prince and his traditional court of advisers, warriors, merchants and slaves and, on the other, we have Great Britain which, greatly influenced by marked public pressure, decides to launch a crusade against the slave trade and traders. In other words, an undertaking which has the aim of tearing up from the roots the real economic foundations of the entire western Indian Ocean region and of revolutionising both the traditional mechanisms of local power and traditional culture itself. We thus have a conflict between the force of superior technology and military power of the Europeans and the cunning and ambivalence of the merchant prince of Muscat and Zanzibar, Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid, conscious though he was of his own military weakness. Since 1800, when Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid received the model of a 74-gun ship as a present from the visiting British envoy, Major-General John Malcolm (1769–1833), from the start he recognised the importance of cultivating British friendship. And this was a relationship valued too by Britain.14
In sub-Saharan East Africa during the XIXth Century, it was believed that slavery, if we go beyond the mere capture of human beings, was also caused by the tribes of the interior accumulating debts to the slaving merchants of the coast, as well as by the recurrent periods of drought suffered along the Mrima coast, sometimes along that part facing the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. In alternating phases, therefore, the populations ‘decided’ to travel to Zanzibar and there sell themselves into slavery.15
The slave trade practised along the East African shores had certain principal characteristics: the slaves did not come from areas of Swahili cultural influence, and were called mshenzi (pl. washenzi), that is to say, barbarians, uncivilised. They were not Muslims, as were all free Swahili within the domains of the Omani Arabs, and were the property of their owners, slavery being regulated by the principles of Koranic law.
The slaves formed a separate caste. There were watumwa wajinga, not yet assimilated into the coastal populations, the wakulia, transported as children to Zanzibar, and, in this category, also the wazalia (pl. of mzalia), those generations born on the coast and fully acculturated into coastal Islamic culture.
Those enjoying more privileged conditions were, naturally, the domestic slaves. Their relationship with their owners was more that of a member of the family than one of submission and they were called udugu yangu, my brother, and the women suria, concubines of their owners or nannies. As they were often entrusted with manual labour, household slaves thus became msimamizi, guardians, nokoa, kadamu, first or second head slaves in the spice and coconut plantations on Zanzibar and along the coasts. Others had the task of leading caravans towards the interior. The slave of the mashamba hoed the fields, sieved copal and carried the merchandise to the ports. They could also be assigned a piece of land with which to support themselves, working there on Thursdays and Fridays, the two days of rest. They were also permitted, on payment of a tax, to get married.16
The demand for slaves came, primarily, from the various parts of the Arabian Peninsula, where the cultivation of date palms called for a continuous supply of labour, but also from western India, where they were employed in local oases and on sugarcane and tea plantations from Central Asia, where cotton was beginning to be grown, as well as from various regions of the Ottoman Empire and from the American continent. African slaves were also used as domestic help or in craftwork in rich families and at the Arab courts. The demand was especially high for young women and girls to serve in the home. Slaves destined for the courts were given special training in entertaining important guests with their singing and dancing.
Another speciality was that of the eunuchs, held in particular esteem especially in the Ottoman Empire.17 These were mutilated without any regard being shown for hygiene, a fact reflected in the survival rate for those transported from Africa of only one in ten. According to Islamic law, mutilation is forbidden inside the dar al-Islam, therefore, only slaves were mutilated, with some exemptions in Central Asia and in Persia. The eunuchs were highly priced, three times more than a slave, and reached high ranks within Islamic societies. The eunuchs were harim guardians, as well as guardians of everything sacred, like the Holy Places, such as Mecca. They retained great prestige and richness; black castrated slaves were powerful figures in the Ottoman Empire and eunuchs were highly respected within the whole of dar al-Islam being very close to Muslim sovereigns.18
Great Britain was the first nation to undertake an international campaign with humanitarian goals. There remained, however, a weighty and complex knot to unravel. How could they combat slavery and, at the same time, ally themselves with the most famous and powerful protectors of the slave traders, such as Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid who, in their turn, obtained their greatest profits precisely from this trade in human flesh?
It was around this crucial question that relations during the XIXth Century between the Omani Arab Sultan, the East India Company and Britain revolved, a problem which animated lively political debate also within the various forces in play.
The slave trade, therefore, represented a highly destabilising elements for British policy, not only on the political but also on a social and economic level. To this was added the imposing humanitarian pressure brought to bear by public opinion in Britain which forced the Government to take decisive action with the specific aim of putting an end to such trade.19

Connections between Seaboard Communities
During the XIXth Century, the growing effectiveness of British measures aimed at abolition caused a reduction in the availability of African slaves. This lack was, however, partly compensated for by Asiatic slaves, as shown by the commerce in Asian people from the coast of Baluchistan destined to be sold in the squares of Arabia during the first decades of the XXth Century.20 And this was one of the alternative, and little studied, slave routes in the western Indian Ocean.
At this point it is useful to indicate another, important factor which played a part in the impressive economic-commercial growth of Zanzibar, as well as the labyrinth of suspicion, diffidence, envy, misunderstanding and open conflict between Britain and Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid of Oman. And here we come to that delicate and precious material which had been exported throughout the Orient since time immemorial: ivory.21
S ince the II Century BC, ivory had been exported from East Africa to the Mediterranean. From the VIIth Century A.D., India and China emerged as the main markets for African ivory. Superior to Asian ivory in quality, consistency and colour, African ivory had followed the maritime routes of the Indian Ocean until the end of the XVIIIth Century, departing from Mozambique. New fiscal burdens and taxes, however, imposed by the Portuguese at the start of the XIXth Century and termed ‘suicidal’ by Sheriff,22 together with the mercantile ascendancy of France and Great Britain in the Indian Ocean, caused a shift in the ivory trade. The ports of Mozambique having been progressively abandoned, the dealing and sale of this precious material would henceforth be conducted on the island of Zanzibar.
S tarting from the second decade of the XIXth Century, Europe entered the ivory market with its considerable demands. The splendid, shining African ivory, pure white and strong but at the same time easily worked, was increasingly sought after in the west for luxury items such as elegant elements of personal toilette, billiard balls, piano keys, elaborate jewels, fans, cutlery and clothing accessories. In that particular atmosphere of a fin de siècle Europe increasingly fascinated by all things Chinese or exotic, ivory was a must. This is made crystal clear by the fact that British imports of ivory rose from 280 tons in 1840 to 800 in 1875.
The economy of the East African interior thus witnessed an immense growth in the demand for pagazi, free men recruited from among the African tribes allied between each other (mainly Yao and Nyamwezi), and for slave porters.23 Women with small children were obliged by ‘Arab’ slave traders and Baluch soldiers and bodyguards to abandon their offspring in order to continue transporting elephant tusks.
A complex exchange network soon developed between the interior and the coast, leading to the introduction of rice cultivation in the interior in those areas under Arab dominion such as Tabora, Nyangwe, in modern day northern Congo, and in nearby Kasongo.
Later, thanks to the entrepreneurial ability of Tippu Tip, the greatest and most powerful slave trader of the XIXth Century,24 the borders of what had been identified by the English as the Ottoman Empire, pushed further to the north-west into modern-day Rwanda and Burundi. At that time, “their movement was like a snowball”.25
Another wealthy protagonist in this chapter of Zanzibar’s history, Jairam Sewji, also profited greatly from this opening up to western markets. A member of the Topan family, who was the richest and most influential merchant in Zanzibar, personally financed almost all of the caravan traffic, accepting responsibility for all the risks and eventual losses this entailed. Throughout the first half of the XIX Century, Jairam Topan represented the financial and political kingpin of all activity occurring on Zanzibar (around the year 1840, for example, he had four hundred slaves in his personal service). As such, it was with him that Europeans and Arabs had to deal. A somewhat singular political-financial phenomenon thus came into being, in the figure of Jairam Topan who concentrated Arab, Asian and European interests in his own hands, conducting as though with a baton the ancient, admirable and sophisticated system of commercial currents, connections and links of the western Indian Ocean.26
A further factor, and no less important than ivory, was the extraordinary and revolutionary expansion of clove cultivation on the island of Zanzibar. The creation of a new niche for agricultural exploitation on Zanzibar and Pemba was destined to transform the twin islands into a true commercial empire. According to English publications of the time, at the end of the eighteenth Century the introduction of cloves (Eugenya caryophyllata, of the Myrtacae, Myrtle family) altered completely the perceptions of the economic and commercial potential not, take note, in the eyes of the Europeans but in those of Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid and his Indian protégés.
Since the II Century BC envoys from Java at the Han court of China had sucked cloves to sweeten their heavy garlic breath during audiences with the emperor. Clove plants, originating in the Moluccas, were first exploited by the Dutch who grasped the commercial value of this precious, perfumed spice which also possessed medicinal properties. Around the year 1770, the French merchant, Pierre Poivre, succeeded in obtaining a few seeds with which to start a cultivation on the Mascarene Islands. It was, therefore, the French who, at the start of the XIXth Century, introduced cloves onto the island of Zanzibar.
These initial attempts proved successful, the environment being perfectly suited to this cultivation which eventually led to Zanzibar being the primary producer of cloves in the world. From available English accounts, it appears that Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid decided to invest his wealth and energy in a project of this kind. Such a move required both courage and faith, as the plants take from seven to eight years to reach maturity and produce the first blooms, and ten years for the first crop. As budding does not occur at regular periods and the buds themselves must be removed before flowering, harvesting occurs in three phases, between August and December. This requires numerous and skilled labour, especially as the plantations also need to be weeded in continuation.27
We must also bear in mind the fact that the cultivation of cloves was very similar to that of dates practised in Arabia and understood to perfection by the Arabs, who proceeded to acquire land on Zanzibar, mainly by expropriation to the coast of the Swahili. The management of land on Zanzibar was organised in three different categories: wanda, natural scrubland; kiambo, areas suitable for building upon; msitu, rural areas and lands surrounding villages. The legalised expropriation practised by the Arabs and a somewhat questionable interpretation of the juridical institution of usufruct often led to Swahili lands effectively being confiscated.
The mashamba of the Sultan of Zanzibar, initially concentrated around Mntoni and Kizimbani, gradually grew to include Bumwini, Bububu and Chiwini. In 1835, Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid possessed as many as forty-five mashamba on the island.
Clove ‘fever’, with its high profit on initial expenditure, produced a real ‘Arab’ landowning aristocracy, continually financed by the Indian mercantile communities, that slowly replaced the old Swahili aristocracy. This did not, however, cause any kind of rupture, thanks to the dexterity of the Indian exponents who gradually involved the local African elite by delegating to them certain tasks and responsibilities, thus making them active participants in this major Indian Ocean business.
On the coasts of the continent, on the contrary, society experienced significant changes due to the massive influx of slaves from the interior and of Arabs and Asians from abroad (Tabora—a key site on the commercial route towards the heart of the continent—practically became an ‘Arab’ town with a considerable Baluch presence). Thus, profound differences developed between the cultural identities of the islands, on the one hand, and the continent on the other, where, from the third decade of the XIXth Century onwards, the opening up of caravan routes wrought a true revolution in economic, military, social and cultural terms.
This agricultural turning-point rapidly undermined the traditional order, and the plantations and slaves needed to cultivate them led to the phenomenon known as ‘clove fever’.
Naturally, hand in hand with the growth of the plantations went an ever increasing demand for slaves. In 1811, of the 15,000 slaves that arrived on Zanzibar, 7,000 were destined for labour on the mashamba.28 By 1822 the plants had grown to a height of roughly four and a half metres.
T his ‘clove fever’, therefore, pushed the annual number of new slaves up from 6,000 at the start of the Century to 20,000 in the second half, and it was the clove plantations which would prove vital to Zanzibar’s economic growth. Profits, in fact, rose phenomenally from 4,600 Maria Theresa thalers in 1834 to 25,000 in 1840.29 For Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid, it was a triumph.
Britain viewed the cultivation and exportation of tropical agricultural produce with an extremely favourable eye insofar as this could represent for oriental leaders a valid economic alternative to the slave trade. The increasing number of clove plantations on Zanzibar, however, also necessitated a notable increase in the labour force. High mortality rates on the mashamba meant that almost the entire workforce had to be replaced every four years which, as we have seen, created enormous problems and far reaching changes within East African society. The confiscation of the more fertile Swahili lands, the overwhelming influx of slaves and limited numbers of the Hadimu and Tumbatu tribes present on the island resulted in these latter being relegated to the very margins of society. In addition, the arrival of Arabs, Indians and Baluch drawn by this new and profitable market further exacerbated the situation in the eyes of the English (in 1819 there were 214 Indians resident on the island).
Maritime city state of the Swahili coast had always been sustained by intimate interaction with the non-Muslims of their rural hinterlands, and this contributed also to the consolidation of the coastal identity.30
During the first half of the XIXth Century the demand for ivory came mostly from western India. The Omani Arabs exploited the old slave trade routes to the interior bringing new people to the coast of East Africa with Elephant tusks. The Mrima was the major source of ivory’s export for Zanzibar economy. The imports of cloths from India were given by the ‘Arabs’ as presents to main African chiefs of the interior and this represented a clear sign of prestige and superiority within their tribes, although agriculture remained for long periods the primary source of the Swahili coast, long before the booming introduction of commerce. Salted and smoked fish became an important item of trade: Zanzibar and Pemba islands soon developed the production of fish to provide the porters to the interior and for the very profitable exchange with ivory. Also copal resin’s demand grew during this period and was produced in Bagamoyo area and bought by the Indian traders, as well as mangrove poles for vessels to be taken to Arabia and to the Gulf.
There were three major sets of slave and ivory trade routes to the interior often safeguarded by Baluch corps: 1) the ‘southern’ route from southern ports such as Kilwa to Lake Nyasa and the highlands of the south western interior where the Nyamwezi carried tusks and other goods; 2) the ‘central’ ivory route from Bagamoyo in west and northwest directions, where the caravan trade became progressively monopolised by the Omani Arabs and by the Indian merchants; 3) the ‘northern’ route, the Masai route from Mombasa and Malindi towards Kilimanjaro where the Mijikenda were ivory hunters together with the Kamba. The Saadani caravan route did not develop an Arab merchant community, while the Pangani route led to the foundation of Ujiji around 1840 and passed through the Bondei hills and along the foot of Usambara and Pare mountains, well watered and preferred by travellers from other towns of the northern Mrima; large quantities of ivory, pembe, of soft and high quality, came from Pare and the Rift valley, and this route became the second in importance after Bagamoyo. The Taveta trading station never became dominated by coastal Muslims, as it was too dangerous.
The Nyamwezi caravan labour was cheaper than slave porters, and was seen as a way to proving manhood as initiation for young men. Caravans arrived usually in September and porters announced their approach by blowing horns and beating drums.

Mercenary Groups and Power Politics in the Western Indian Ocean
A nother important item destined to change deeply the hinterland power balances was represented by firearms: during the first half of the XIXth Century matchlocks began to appear in the hands of Omani mercenary troops, who, imported them from the Ottoman Empire and from Europe.31 The Shirazi, the Swahili important families, gradually ‘lost’ their power and were pulled apart by the Al Bu Saxid within the growing trade of Zanzibar, although they retained control of the northern caravan trade but the great wealth soon passed into ‘Arabs’ and ‘Indian’ hands. As the central route was the most controlled by Arabs, Tabora, near the heart of Unyamwezi, as we have seen above, became an ‘Arab’ town together with Ujiji. Here Baluch soldiers settled, intermarried, and soon became influencing figures. The impact of the Al Bu Saxid political power and of the Baluch military power in Zanzibar on the African hinterland was therefore destined to influencing the lives of East African men and women; considerable modifications underwent in traditional elite patterns of power relationships where client patronage perspectives never were to be the same, and where new actors were destined to emerging on the new western Indian Ocean scenario in its connections with the East African hinterland. In this regard, the ivory trade became a means of travel, adventure and wealth offering a way to modifying the status within the coastal communities. Everybody could share this ambition, but at the same time new tensions were introduced between Swahili rich families, struggling to preserve their precarious domination, and the demand of the ‘parvenus’ on whose support they relied.32
Although Great Britain in 1815, represented by Lord Castlereagh (1769–1822) had convinced the European powers to sign the agreement for abolition of the slave trade, the Arabs felt themselves in no way bound to respect its terms, and least of all Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid.
While Britain continued on its anti-slavery crusade, motivated by the more pragmatic purpose of weakening the growing mercantile fortune of the Omani Arabs and other oriental leaders—without foreseeing the enormous wealth that would result from the agricultural conversion introduced by Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid on Zanzibar —France, showing fewer scruples, took advantage of the situation to recapture some of its positions.
To the English, Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid never allowed a chance to slip by to indulge in double-crossing. On the one hand he reassured the English, and on the other he courted the French with a view to them possibly supporting him against enemy Arab tribes on the islands of Mafia and Kilwa and in Mombasa.
The combination of these ideal conditions for the slave trade, furnished by the ‘Arabs’ in East Africa, was exploited to the full by French merchants. Under the Treaty of Paris in 1815, French had regained sovereignty over the island of Bourbon.33 The French explorer, Guillain, commented that: “rapports intimes qui continuaient d’exister entre l’Arabie et la côte orientale d’Afrique, où nous avons le commerce des esclaves avait lieu de temp immémorial”.34
A synergy thus developed between Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid and France of common interest in finding new ports and commercial bases. However, after taking the potential purchase of Zanzibar and Pemba into consideration, Paris instead turned its attention towards Madagascar.35 Given the by now unrivalled supremacy of the Royal Navy, backed also by the Bombay Marine in the western stretches of the Indian Ocean, and the defeats inflicted on the pirates of the Gulf, France did not really have any other choice.36
In 1817, Lord Hastings (1754–1826), the Governor General of Bengal from 1813 to 1823, proposed strengthening Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid and supporting his power policy in East Africa.
The choice made by the Anglo-Indian Government was without doubt influenced by the difficulties caused in that period by the continual raids of pirates in ‘oriental’ waters, by the commercial and political instability afflicting the entire region and, lastly, by the presence of the French who continued to represent a threat to Great Britain.
From a study of English documents it can clearly be seen how the fickleness and political digressions of Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid were a constant cause for alarm among the British. They were perceived as constituting yet another element of insecurity in a region which was by this time the object of great interest and importance. Since a determined line had to be adopted, Hastings’ decision represented a firm stance in favour of Al Bu Saxid Sultan as a political point of reference for Britain, also in relation to those regions of East Africa in which the Omani Arab dynasty exercised an indirect form of control.
Throughout the XIXth Century the shame and humiliation of slavery in sub-Saharan East Africa had been imposed and exploited by numerous social groups for many lucrative purposes mainly originated from southern Arabia and western India. Amongst the many, the role played by the Baluch mercenaries coming from the southern coast of South-Central Asia, was identified initially within the Omani Arab elite. The Makrani-Baluch came to East Africa as soldiers, warriors, and body guards of the Arab leading dynasties. Later on during the XIXth Century, we presume, the Baluch, called bulushi in Kiswahili, took gradually knowledge of lands and people, intermarried with African women, and became traders themselves. The presence of Asians in East Africa, often identified by the available literature on the subject primarily with Indians, was therefore much more fragmented and diversified, due to the exercise of power within Arab societies of the time, and to the richness of the western shores of the Indian Ocean.
On the other side of the coasts of the western Indian Ocean, that is on South-Central Asian shores, slavery was practiced with similar patterns.
During the second half of the XIXth Century, more precisely in 1874, a group belonging to the tribe of the Rind from eastern Baluchistan bought domestic slaves at Gwadar;37 they came from the coasts of East Africa. This gave rise to a conflict of interests between the Rind and the representative (Naxib) of the Khan of Kalat in Kej (today’s Turbat, capital of Makran); a conflict which ended in bloodshed and saw the death of four members of the “blue-blooded tribe” of Baluchistan. Sir Robert G. Sandeman (1835–1892), the Deputy-Commissioner of Dera Ghazi Khan, affirmed that the death of four members of the Rind tribe had nothing to do with the slave trade at Gwadar. Sandeman, as described by biographers of the time was very charismatic and ambitious, understood the psychology of intertribal relations much better than his Political Agents, his representatives, as, in his opinion, they were not able to identify the real causes of tribe conflicts between the members of the Baluchistan groups.38 In this regard he reminded: “domestic slavery is a time honoured institution in Baluchistan as in other eastern countries, and much of the land is cultivated by slave labour . . . at the same time it must be remembered that many of the ideas attaching to the word ‘slavery’, which are so repellent to civilized minds, are absent from the manners of the Baluch tribes”.39 This affirmation by Sandeman could be interpreted in different ways: for example as eurocentrist and full of contempt for local populations. Nevertheless, the following elements suggested different interpretations of the “justification” of slavery in Asia within a wider scenario: the strategic importance of Baluchistan within Anglo-Russian rivalry; the second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–80); the recent construction of the telegraph line which connected Calcutta to London (Indo-European Telegraph Line) after the political consequences of the Great Mutiny in India of 1857; the growing importance of the North West Frontier of British India; the need for definition of the borders between Persia and the Khanate of Kalat which begun with the Commission directed by Sir Frederic Goldsmid in 1870 and ended with the sign of an Agreement in Teheran on 24 September in 1872.40
In 1877 Sandeman became the Agent to the Governor General and Chief Commissioner of Baluchistan. During the first years of the XXth Century, the British measures adopted against the slave trade contributed to diminishing the number of slaves from East Africa; to this reduction corresponded a new slave trade of Baluch origin, as testimonied by the trade in Asians coming from the coast of Baluchistan directed to Arabia to be sold in Arab markets during the first decades of the XXth Century.41 As clear proof, on 20 May 1903 the responsible Agent of Jask area sent a telegram to the Director of the Persian Gulf section in Karachi saying that: “a great number of them are brought to these places from the Kej district . . . not only Africans but low caste Baluchis are now being sold by petty headmen”.42 The poorest among the Baluch were sold as slaves, and the cause was the following: “the reason there is such a demand for slaves from these parts, is that the trade from the African Coast has been effectually stopped, and Baluchistan is the only place now open to them”.43 The Baluch were collected within the district of Kej and sent as slaves also in Persian territory.44 Baluch slave women had their heads totally razed, then covered with quicklime, so that their hair could not grow, rendering them perfectly unrecognizable to their own tribes, and forbidding them coming back to their places of origin.

To conclude, the role of Baluch mercenary groups within the slave trade in sub-Saharan East Africa was represented by a specific ethnic group who was enslaved in South-Central Asia by other groups in a much more powerful position; and this was a continuous process of shame and humiliation of weak and desperate people in this maritime part of the world, and a process of different perceptions held by various powers between the land and the seaboard areas.

I am grateful to Dr. Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya, King’s College, University of London, for her comments on a previous draft of this article.

A.G.G. : Agent to the Governor-General B.A. : Baluchistan Archives, Quetta, Pakistan C.O.Q.D.A. : Commissioner of Quetta Archives, Pakistan H.S.A. : Home Secretariat Archives, Quetta, Pakistan H .S.A.—B.A. A.G.G. OFFICE Records, File 292/1874 Misc., Slavery in Baluchistan. The Gazetteer of Baluchistan (Makran), Quetta, 1906 (repr. 1986), pp. 98–101. H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office—Essential Records, Baluchistan Archives, Complaint about existence of Slavery in Baluchistan, from Capt. P. Cox, Consul and Political Agent, Maskat to Lieut. Col. C. A. Kemball, Agg. Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, 17th September, 1901, Political, 5–2/57. H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office—Essential Records, From the A.G.G. to the Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign Department, Quetta, 25 March, 1884, Report n. 942; Selections from the Records of the Government of India. Foreign Department, No. CCXI, First Administration Report of the Baluchistan Agency, Calcutta, 1886, p. 290. H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903–1905, File 23, n. 1510, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from the Assistant Superintendent Jask Sub-Division to the Director, Persian Gulf Section, Karachi, Telegram dated 20th May, 1903. H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903–1905, File 23, n. 1510, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from the Assistant Superintendent Jask Sub-Division to the Director, Persian Gulf Section, Karachi, Extract of a Letter n. 11 dated 28th March, 1904. H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903–1905, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from Russell, Under Secretary to the Government of India to the A.G.G. Quetta, 1903, File 23, n. 1510.

1 B. Nicolini, “The 19th century Slave Trade in the Western Indian Ocean: the Role of the Baloch Mercenaries”, in Carina Jahani, Agnes Koru, Paul Titus (Eds.), The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, historical and sociopolitical perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan, Wiesbaden (Reichert) 2008, 81–106. The transliteration of Arabic names here follow a simplified system of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Cd Rom Edition, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, 1999.
2  From now on the Persian/Arab Gulf will be referred to as the Gulf.
3 On the history of slavery in Islamic African societies, amongst the many, see Lovejoy, The African Diaspora: Revisionist Interpretations of Ethnicity, Culture and Religion under Slavery; Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa; Lovejoy, Africans in Bondage: Studies in slavery and the slave trade in honour of Philip D. Curtin; Cooper, From Slaves to Squatters: Plantation Labor and Agriculture in Zanzibar and Coastal Kenya; Pouwels & Levtzion (Eds.), The History of Islam in Africa; see the papers presented at the Conference on Slavery, Islam, and Diaspora, H. Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora, Department of History, York University, Toronto, Canada, 24–26 October, 2003 where it was considered that comprehensive study on slavery was needed.
4 Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law, p. 127; Sheriff, “The Twilight of Slavery in the Persian Gulf”. pp. 23–37.
5 Lodhi, Oriental Influences in Swahili. A Study in Language and Culture Contacts, pp. 46–47.
6 Glassman, Feasts and Riot, Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856–1888, pp. 79–114.
7 On the lively debate on the question of slavery, amongst many, see Heuman, Slavery, The Slave Trade, and Abolition, in Winks (Ed.), Historiography, The Oxford History of the British Empire, pp. 315–326.
8 Barendse, The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century.
9  Miles, Notes on the Tribes of Oman by L.C.S.B. Miles, p. 94.
10  Sykes, Ten Thousands Miles in Persia, p. 108.
11  Hourani, Arab Seafaring, p. 89.
12 Glassman, The Bondsman’s new clothes: the contradictory consciousness of slave resistance on the Swahili Coast, pp. 277–312.
13 A claim that has been interpreted in many conflicting ways. Nicolini, Makran, Oman and Zanzibar: Three Terminal Cultural Corridor in the western Indian Ocean (1799–1856).
14 Davies, The Blood-Red Arab Flag. An Investigation into Qasimi Piracy 1797–1820, p. 55.
15 Akinola, Slavery and Slave Revolts in the Sultanate of Zanzibar in the Nineteenth Century, pp. 215–228.
16 Clarence-Smith, The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century: An Overview; Martin, Ryan, A Quantitative Assessment of the Arab Slave Trade of East Africa, 1770–1896; Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa; Alpers, The East African Slave Trade; Gray & Birmingham, Pre-Colonial African Trade: Essays on Trade in Central and Eastern Africa before 1900; Manning, Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental and African Slave Traders.
17 Clarence-Smith, Slavery and Islam, pp. 22 onwards; Toledano, Slavery and Abolition in the Ottoman Middle East.
18 Vercellin, Tra veli e turbanti. Rituali sociali e vita privata nei mondi dell’Islam, pp. 186–191.
19 See the extensive archival documentation contained in Thomas Clarkson Papers e Liverpool Papers, The British Library, London. McCaskie, Cultural Encounters: Britain and Africa in the Nineteenth Century, pp. 665–689.
20  H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office—Essential Records, Baluchistan Archives, Complaint about existence of Slavery in Baluchistan, from Capt. P. Cox, Consul and Political Agent, Maskat to Lieut. Col. C. A. Kemball, Agg. Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, 17th September, 1901, Political, 5–2/57. Nicolini & Redaelli, Quetta: history and Archives. Note of a Survey of the Archives of Quetta, pp. 401–414.
21 Ylvisaker, The Ivory Trade in the Lamu Area 1600–1870.
22 Sheriff, Slaves, Spices & Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873, p. 81.
23  Rockel, “‘A Nation of Porters’: the Nyamwezy and the Labour Market in Nineteenth-Century Tanzania”, pp. 173–195.
24 At the end of the XIXth Century, Hamed bin Muhammad Al Murjebi, nicknamed Tippu Tip, owned 7 mashamba and 10,000 slaves in Africa, a capital worth approximately 50,000 Maria Theresa thalers in total. Farrant, Tippu Tip and the East African Slave Trade. Tippu Tip’s family has not died out, the last descendant of this great XIXth Century slave and ivory trader was a doctor in Muscat, Oman in 1993.
25 Wilkinson, The Imamate Tradition of Oman, p. 60.
26 Nicolini, A Glimpse to Indian Merchant Communities in Zanzibar during 1800: the Topan Family through British Archival Sources, paper presented to the International Conference TADIA/UNESCO, The African Diaspora in Asia, Goa, January, 2006.
27 The cultivation of cloves on Pemba was less successful than on Zanzibar due to a cyclone which destroyed most of the plants in the first decades of the XIXth Century. Bennett, A History of the Arab State of Zanzibar, pp. 28–29.
28 Bhacker, Trade and Empire in Muscat and Zanzibar: Roots of British Domination, p. 128.
29 Clara Semple, The Society for Arabian Studies, London, affirmed that, since 1763, testimonies of German Crowns minted in Austria came from Yemen and, even earlier, from Jedda; many coins were sent on from Arabia to India during the XIXth Century. The silver content of the thalers was kept constant at 833.3/1000, therefore it was considered very reliable, unlike the Spanish dollar which was debased, although it had a higher silver content. Also the Maria Theresa thaler could not be ‘clipped’ because it had an elaborate edge inscription and this made it very popular—spreading throughout the western Indian Ocean even reaching Central Asian bazaars—and people soon began to trust it. Semple, Silver Legend, The Story of the Maria Theresa Thaler.
30  Glassman, Feasts and Riot, p. 33 on.
31  Nicolini, The Traffic of Arms and Ammunitions in the Gulf and in the Western Indian Ocean between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century, paper presented to the International Conference ‘The Global Gulf’, Exeter University, Exeter, July 2006.
32  Glassman, Feasts and Riots, p. 78.
33  The Treaty of Paris, 20 November 1815, provided for the restitution of the island of Bourbon. Complete text in De Martens, Nouveau Recueil de Traités de l’Europe, Traité de Paix du 20 Nov. 1815 avec les Conventions Speciales, pp. 682 onwards.
34 Guillain, Documents sur l’Histoire, La Geographie et le Commerce de l’Afrique Orientale, p. 162.
35 Mosca, Il più bell’enigma del mondo: il popolamento dell’isola del Madagascar. Alcune riflessioni in merito.
36 On 23 March 1819 the Government of Bourbon stipulated a secret Treaty with the Sultan of Kilwa, under the terms of which French would provide military support to the Sultan in exchange for support in retaking Pemba, Zanzibar and the island of Mafia from Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid for which the French would recognise the authority of the Sultan of Kilwa over the island of Pemba. This treaty was to remain only in French hands to prevent the Sultan from showing it to the English, but it never, in fact, came into effect. The Ministère de la Maison du Roi feared British naval superiority and, as a result of further political complications in Europe, the French decided not to place their relations with the increasingly important Saiyid Saxid bin Sultan Al Bu Saxid at stake.
37  H.S.A.—B.A. A.G.G. OFFICE Records, File 292/1874 Misc., Slavery in Baluchistan. The Gazetteer of Baluchistan (Makran), Quetta, 1906 (repr. 1986), pp. 98–101.
38 Piacentini & Redaelli (Eds.), Baluchistan: Terra Incognita. A new methodological approach combining archaeological, historical, anthropological and architectural studies.
39 H .S.A.—A.G.G. Office—Essential Records, From the A.G.G. to the Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign Department, Quetta, 25 March, 1884, Report n. 942; Selections from the Records of the Government of India. Foreign Department, No. CCXI, First Administration Report of the Baluchistan Agency, Calcutta, 1886, p. 290.
40 Piacentini, Notes on the Definition of the Western Borders of British India in Sistan and Baluchistan in the 19th Century, pp. 189–203.
41 H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office—Essential Records, Complaint about existence of Slavery in Baluchistan, from Capt. P. Cox, Consul and Political Agent, Maskat to Lieut. Col. C. A. Kemball, Agg. Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, 17th September, 1901, Political 5–2/57.
42 H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903–1905, File 23, n. 1510, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from the Ass. Superintendent Jask Sub-Division to the Director, Persian Gulf Section, Karachi, Telegram dated 20th May, 1903.
43  H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903–1905, File 23, n. 1510, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from the Ass. Superintendent Jask Sub-Division to the Director, Persian Gulf Section, Karachi, Extract of a Letter n. 11 dated 28th March, 1904.
44 H.S.A.—A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903–1905, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from Russell, Under Secr. to the Gov. of India to the A.G.G. Quetta, 1903, File 23, n. 1510.

AA. VV. 1999 The Encyclopaedia of Islam, CD Rom Edition, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. A kinola , G. A. 1972 “Slavery and Slave Revolts in the Sultanate of Zanzibar in the Nineteenth Century”, Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria. 6(2): 215–228. A lpers , E. A. 1967 Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa. Changing Patterns of International Trade in East Central Africa to the late Nineteenth Century, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. A lpers , E. A. 1975 “The East African Slave Trade”, Historical Association of Tanzania. 3(1). Barendse, R. 2001 The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century, East Gate Book, New York: M.E. Sharp. B ennett , N. R. 1987 “A History of the Arab State of Zanzibar”, Studies in East African History. 3(4): 28–29. B hacker , M. R. 1992 Trade and Empire in Muscat and Zanzibar: Roots of British Domination, London: Routledge. C larence -S mith , W. G. 1989 The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century: An Overview, in, W. G. Clarence-Smith (Ed.), The Economics of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century, London: F. Cass. C larence -S mith , W. G. 2006 Slavery and Islam, New York: Oxford University Press. C ooper , F. 1980 From Slaves to Squatters: Plantation Labor and Agriculture in Zanzibar and Coastal Kenya, 1890–1925, New Haven, New York: Yale University Press. D avies , C. E. 1997 The Blood-Red Arab Flag. An Investigation into Qasimi Piracy 1797–1820, Exeter: Exeter University Press. D e M artens , G. F. 1818 Nouveau Recueil de Traités de l’Europe, Traité de Paix du 20 Nov. 1815 avec les Conventions Speciales, Tome II, 1814–15, Gottinge. G lassman , J. 1 991 “The Bondsman’s new clothes: the contradictory consciousness of slave resistance on the Swahili Coast”, Journal of African History. 32(2). G lassman , J. 1995 Feasts and Riot, Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856–1888, London: J. Currey. G ray , R. & B irmingham , D. 1970 Pre-Colonial African Trade: Essays on Trade in Central and Eastern Africa before 1900, London: Oxford University Press. G uillain , M. 1856 Documents sur l’Histoire, La Geographie et le Commerce de l’Afrique Orientale, 3 vols., Paris: Bertrand. H euman , G. 1999 Slavery, The Slave Trade, and Abolition, in Winks R. W. (Ed.), Historiography, The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. V, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
H ourani , G. F.  1995 Arab Seafaring, I ed. 1951, revised and expanded edition by J. Carswell, Princeton: Princeton University Press.  L odhi , A.  2000 Oriental Influences in Swahili. A Study in Language and Culture Contacts, Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis.  L ovejoy , P.  1983 Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa, “African Studies Series” 36.  L ovejoy , P.  1986 Africans in Bondage: Studies in slavery and the slave trade in honour of Philip D. Curtin, Madison: African Studies Program.  L ovejoy , P.  1997 “The African Diaspora: Revisionist Interpretations of Ethnicity, Culture and Religion under Slavery”, Studies in the World History of Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation. 2(1).  M anning , P.  1990 “Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental and African Slave Traders”, African Studies Series. 5(2).  M artin , E. B. & R yan , T. C. I.  1977 “A Quantitative Assessment of the Arab Slave Trade of East Africa, 1770–1896”, Kenya Historical Review. 5(1): 71–91.  M c C askie , T. C.  1999 Cultural Encounters: Britain and Africa in the Nineteenth Century, in, Porter, A. (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. 3, Oxford: Oxford University Press.  M iles , S. B.  1984 Notes on the Tribes of {Oman by L. C. S. B. Miles, 27 May 1881, in, Sirhan I. S. I. Sirhan (Ed.), Annals of Oman to 1728, Cambridge: The Oleander Press.  M osca , L.  1994 Il più bell’enigma del mondo: il popolamento dell’isola del Madagascar. Alcune riflessioni in merito, C.S.I.: Napoli.  N icolini , B. & R edaelli , R.  1994 “Quetta: History and Archives. Note of a Survey of the Archives of Quetta”, Nuova Rivista Storica. 78(2): 401–414.  N icolini , B.  2004 Makran, Oman and Zanzibar: Three Terminal Cultural Corridor in the western Indian Ocean (1799–1856), Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.  P iacentini , F. V.  1991 Notes on the Definition of the Western Borders of British India in Sistan and Baluchistan in the 19th Century, in Scarcia Amoretti B.—Rostagno L. (Eds.), Yad Nama. In Memoria di Alessandro Bausani, 2 vols., Rome: 189–203.  P iacentini , F. V. & R edaelli , R. ( Eds .)  2003 Baluchistan: Terra Incognita. A new methodological approach combining archaeological, historical, anthropological and architectural studies, Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.  P ouwels , R. & L evtzion , N. ( Eds .)  2000 The History of Islam in Africa, Athens: Ohio University Press.  R ockel , S. 2 000 “‘A Nation of Porters’: the Nyamwezy and the Labour Market in Nineteenth-Century Tanzania”, Journal of African History. 41: 173–195.  S emple , C. A.  2005 Silver Legend, The Story of the Maria Theresa Thaler, Barzan Studies in Arabian Culture, 1, Manchester: Barzan Publishing.
S chacht , J.  1993 An Introduction to Islamic Law, I ed. Oxford, 1964, II ed. Hong Kong.  S heriff , A.  1987 Slaves, Spices & Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873, Athens: Ohio University Press.  S heriff , A. 2 005 “The Twilight of Slavery in the Persian Gulf”, in, A. Sheriff (Ed.), ZIFf Journal Monsoons and Migrations. 2: 23–37.  S ykes , P. M.  1902 Ten Thousand Miles in Persia, London: C. Scribner’s Sons.  T oledano , E. R.  1998 Slavery and Abolition in the Ottoman Middle East, Seattle: University of Washington Press.  V ercellin , G.  2000 Tra veli e turbanti. Rituali sociali e vita privata nei mondi dell’Islam, Venezia: Marsilio.  W ilkinson , J. C.  1987 The Imamate Tradition of Oman, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  Y lvisaker , M.  1982 “The Ivory Trade in the Lamu Area 1600–1870”, in, J. De V. Allen and T. H. Wilson (Eds.), “From Zinj to Zanzibar”, Paideuma. 28: 221–231.
Courtesy: Uncovering the History of Africans in Asia
© 2008 Koninklijke Brill NV

Comments Off on The Makran-Baluch-African Network In Zanzibar And East-Africa During The XIX Century

Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Balochistan


The Tupak Of The Jemadar: Notes On The Baluch Presence Along The Swahili Coast During The Nineteenth Century

By Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini
Faculty of Political and Social Science
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Lombardy, Italy

Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini (2)

Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini

Between the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was the blood-red flag of the Omanis that formed a tie, and not merely in the figurative sense, between the ports of Makran-Baluchistan, the principal ports of Oman itself, and the ports along the Swahili coast from Mogadishu to Kilwa. This short note aims to re-read Baluch presence during nineteenth century’s Swahili coast during the ‘apogee’ with the ‘Arabs’ from Oman, as well as its potential influence on local society.

The Tupak was the muzzle-loading musket used by the Baluch soldiers of the Omani Sultans, and the Jemadar (Jamadar, Jam’dar) was the chieftain representative as well as the Baluch commander in the Sultans’ Omani army. The Baluch in Africa were brought between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the Omani Arabs as soldiers; once settled, their culture has undergone quite a metamorphosis from the end of the eighteenth century on. Traditional Baluch lifestyle gradually melted with the Swahili one. Baluch ancestors interacted with local people and assimilated to become part of the cultural and social life of the region. It must be noted however, that they did not lose their identity. Language and culture apart, the Baluch in Africa did maintain an identity from the rest of the people.

The famous British explorer, Richard Francis Burton (1872:16-17), once said, “Of the gladdest moments in human life, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Burton so expressed his feelings while sailing to Zanzibar during the second half of the nineteenth century.  The feelings of the Baluch soldiers sailing during much earlier times and in much different conditions from the coast of Makran to the Swahili coast1 were certainly less enthusiastic and romantic, although their sailings could have been pushed by similar emotions.

From the nineteenth century on, it was the blood-red flag of the Omanis that formed a tie, and not merely in the figurative sense, between the Omani enclave of the port of Gwadar in Makran-Baluchistan, the principal ports of Oman itself such as Muscat, Matrah, and Sur, and the Swahili coast from Mogadishu to Kilwa. This short note wishes to re-read Baluch presence during nineteenth century’s Swahili coast during the ‘apogee’ with the ‘Arabs’ from Oman, as well as its potential influence on local society. The Tupak was the muzzle-loading musket used by the Baluch soldiers, and the Jemadar was the chieftain representative as well as the Baluch commander in the Sultans’ Omani army. The Baluch in Africa were brought by the Omani Arabs as soldiers; once settled, their culture has undergone quite a metamorphosis from the end of the eighteenth century on. Traditional Baluch lifestyle gradually melted with the Swahili one. Baluch ancestors interacted with local people and assimilated to become part of the cultural and social life of the region. It must be noted however, that they did not loose their identity. Language and culture apart, the Baluch in East Africa did maintain an identity from the rest of the people.

In this regard, while many trace the African elements in Asian cultures and societies in general, and in Baluch culture and society in particular (During, 1997:39-56), we would like to re-examine the role of the Baluch elements into African culture and society. Thanks to research carried on in the Baluchistan Archives combined with research in the British Archives, and field work conducted in Pakistani Baluchistan, in the Sultanate of Oman, in the United Arab Emirates, and in the United Republic of Tanzania, Baluch presence in the Gulf and throughout the western Indian Ocean was apparently closely connected with piracy, and measures taken by the British authorities against slave trade during the nineteenth century (Nicolini and Redaelli, 1994:401-414). Illicit traffic of arms and ammunitions was flourishing on the shores of the Gulf and of the Indian Ocean, and the prohibition orders were simply ignored and weapons were obtainable in large quantities.

Starting from the nineteenth century, the level of influence on trade routes ‘controlled’ by Muslim merchants in the Gulf and in the Indian Ocean was high (Sweet, 1964:262-280; Shariff, 2001:301-318; Risso, 1995). The growing strategic importance of the Indian Ocean as a watering highway was soon to becoming the focal point of world politics, making the region the pivot of world affairs. The promotion of arms trade and its influence has been not only a source of complex relationships between different people and different cultures and religions, but also played an important role in searching for peace among all the littorals of the Swahili coast.

The coastal region of Baluchistan, Makran, since ancient times, did hold a historical strategic position as the most direct route between the Middle East and the riches of the Indian subcontinent. Covering an area of 62,000 squared kilometres, Makran forms the southern most strip of Baluchistan province. As there is hardly any rain, the few villages and settlements depend on spring water and wells (qanat/kariz) (Piacentini and Redaelli, 2003). The coast has several small fishing villages while main ports like Gwadar, Ormara, Jiwani and Pasni have fishing harbours where the fishermen can be seen coming in with their catch every morning and evening; and where Makrani Baluch used to trade with all the maritime world of the past in the western Indian Ocean.

The port of Gwadar lies on the coastal area of Makran (Nicolini, 2002:281-286). Its dry climate combined with the natural geographical features make one of the most daunting environments for successful human habitation. Therefore, it is sparsely populated. Makran was, and still represents today, a place of refuge for innumerable dissidents, rebels and fugitives. Among the first were, as stated above, the Omanis, who gradually imposed their power on the main coastal centres. The case of Gwadar was of particular interest as the town, its port and the surrounding territory were granted as a jagir (a temporary grant of land exempted from taxation) from the khans of Kalat to the Al Bu Sa’id of Oman. From a jagir Gwadar soon assumed the status of an enclave of the Sultanate of Oman.2

As close connections always existed between the two countries, the Omani presence in the Makran region eased the control of the local trade and of the regional and tribal mechanisms of power. The strategic role played by the port of Gwadar in the illegal traffic of arms and ammunitions coming from Europe to the Gulf and directed to East Africa had been essential.  So essential that during the second half of the nineteenth century, Sir Olaf Caroe did write, “The strategic value of Baluchistan, the desolation of the region is a resource”. It offers what Tucker called ‘space power’ (Brobst, 2005:82-83). It is interesting to note that, once in Africa, and having consolidated their military power on behalf of the Omani Sultans along the Swahili coast, some elements among these groups did not remain soldiers and started trading activities. Baluch settled and started different activities linked to the slave and ivory trade – the main merchandises of the time (Lobo, 2000:25; Kusimba, 1999). Therefore, Baluch role along the Swahili coast throughout 1800 was destined to considerable impact on local societies, and to significant modifications in its main motivations and objects. The result was an important contribution to Swahili culture and society, and to relevant changes within Swahili ‘traditional’ customs (Spear, 2000:339-373)3. Obviously, it must be noted that Baluch activities did not make them so wealthy according to the legendary prosperities described by most of the available literature. The wealth of the Sultans of Zanzibar, as well as the luxury of their court was different in reality. Consequently, Baluch role has been studied as closely, and often exclusively, related to the military and defensive role within the groups of Oman. It is believed that Baluch groups were found only along the Swahili coast littorals and in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba; but they developed trading relationships into the hinterland of East Africa. Only few Arabs went to the interior of Africa, e.g. traders like for example Tippu Tip and his father who claimed to be Arabs. Swahili settlements were also viewed as Arab mainly due to the Islamic nature of their behaviour. The close connections between the Omani Sultans and their Baluch soldiers and body guards represented the crucial issue; the loyalty was the prerequisite for the recognition by the Arabs of Oman to their soldiers, and from the nineteenth century onwards, descendants of Baluch soldiers were absorbed into new categories and played new roles within Swahili society and economy (Middleton, 1992:97).

Starting from the end of the eighteenth century and for all of the nineteenth, as already stated, it was precisely the warriors of these South-Central Asian groups who protected, hid, supported and faithfully defended the Al Bu Sa’id of Oman, thanks also to the tribal structure and clan-family relationships of their society which, traditionally nomadic, could count on both ‘Makran’, on encompassing today’s Iranian and Pakistani coasts, as well as ‘peninsular’ and ‘continental’ solidarity. From the accounts of travellers, explorers and European officials of the time, we see emerging among other groups of Baluch along the Swahili coast the Hot, the Rind and the Nousherwani (Miles, 1881:94). These three groups were identified in archival available sources, although we assume that other Baluch groups were present on the field and in battles both in Arabia and in Africa.

The Baluch from the coastal Asian region of Makran were pushed from the extreme misery of their country towards Persia and towards the coasts of Arabia. Here, they offered themselves to the Omani Sultans as soldiers, sailors and bodyguards for pay that, though even modest, could represent the difference between life and death for them and for their families. During the nineteenth century the condition of life of these people in Makran was so hard that the British explorer Sykes vividly described it as terrible and miserable.

At that time, the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba were administered by governors representing Sa’id bin Sultan Al Bu Sa’id (r.1806-1856) and exercised all power on his behalf. The military support furnished by these representatives with extensive authority over the islands and their affairs, consisted of special troops of proven trustworthiness, that is to say, Baluch corps ‘closely tied’ to the Al Bu Sa’id by fundamentally economic agreements. The loyalty these Baluch soldiers had for the Omani ruling family at a time when there was much anarchy amongst the groups of Oman, earned them lasting trust with the Sultan who deployed them to guard all his palaces and interests in the region.

The first settlers on the East African coast were, as stated above, the Baluch soldiers, who until the establishment of the Sultanate in the 1840s, maintained army posts in the major centres of Mombasa, Zanzibar and Pemba. These men inter-married with the local Waswahili and were quickly assimilated into their culture and society. They were later followed by whole families who left Baluchistan in the hope of finding better life along the Swahili coast, which arose at the time as an important manufacturing centre and only later became the hub of international maritime trade with Asia (Kusimba, 2008:22). Most of the Baluch came from Kasarkand, although their brothers later followed them in from Sarbaz, Lur and Muscat. Although the life and times of Baluch on the Swahili coast during 1800 is quite obscure, it seems however that Mombasa was the major Baluch settlement at the time. According to Lane (Lane, 1993:133-141), it is believed that the first non-African to go into Maasailand was a Baluch, so too was the first non-African to be welcomed into the royal court of the Kabaka of Buganda. As they moved inland, the Baluch founded cluster communities in Djugu and Bunia in the Congo; Soroti, Arua and Kampala in Uganda; and Iringa, Tabora, Mbeya and Rujewa in Tanzania; probably there was a Baluch family in almost every main Swahili town.

The Baluch settled in Mombasa and developed a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, preferring to engage in small real estate ventures and trade, or keeping employment with the Omanis and later, the British. Those who lived in the fertile hills of Uganda and Tanzania flourished in the farming and trading industries. The mercantile skills and business acumen of the Baluch earned them high regard amongst the various communities in which they settled. This can also be said of the small but vibrant Nairobi community.

Since the first half of the nineteenth century, the Bulushi (pl. Mabulushi) Swahili communities – mainly from Persian origins – settled in Saa-teeni, outside Zanzibar town, in Fort Jesus in Mombasa, and later on in the Unyanyembe. The introduction of military terms such as jemadari (commander), singe (bayonet), bunduki (rifle), habedari (attention), have been identified into Kiswahili from Persian Baluch (Lodhi, 2000:62).

In regard to the political leadership along the Swahili coast, during the nineteenth century the local Omani-Arabs governors on main African trading ports often enjoyed the support of the local, autochthonous Swahili aristocracy, mainly merchants. They were tied to the Omani elite by mutual interests in the exploitation of the rich resources, offered by the eastern shores of Africa (Glassman, 1991:277-312; Lodhi, 2000).

Without a shadow of a doubt, European rivalry in the Gulf and in the western waters of the Indian Ocean from the start of the nineteenth century on, combined with related upheavals in power and strategy, had a decisive impact also on the deviation of the maritime routes followed by slave trade. Clearly, however, the ‘ability’ of the Omani Sultan in exploiting such political contingencies was also to carry a certain weight. These, therefore, were some of the causes on which Sa’id bin Sultan Al Bu Sa’id and the Asian mercantile communities, both Muslim and Hindu, built their commercial emporium in the face of inevitable conflict with the English in the Gulf over the question of piracy (Davies, 1997; Risso, 1995; Nicolini, 2006).

A complex exchange network soon developed between the interior and the Swahili coast, leading to the introduction of rice cultivation in the interior in those areas under ‘Arab dominion’ such as Tabora, Nungwe, in modern-day northern Congo, and in nearby Kasongo. On the coasts of the continent, on the contrary, local societies experienced significant changes due to the massive influx of slaves from the interior and of Arabs and Asians from abroad. Tabora, a key site on the commercial route towards the heart of the continent practically became an ‘Arab town’, with considerable Baluch presence (Reid, 1998:73-89). Thus, considerable differences developed between the cultural identities of the coast and the islands, on the one hand; and the interior of the continent on the other, where, from the third decade of the nineteenth century onwards, the opening up of caravan routes wrought a ‘revolution’ in economic, social and cultural terms.

Maritime ports of the Swahili coast had always been sustained by intimate interaction with the non-Muslims of their rural hinterlands, and this contributed also to the consolidation of the coastal identity (Glassman, 1994:33). Nevertheless, Rockel reminds us that Unyamwezi, the heart of the ivory trade and the home of most male caravan porters, was not a major source of slaves; rather, it was a region that imported slaves. Caravans arrived at the coast usually in September and porters announced their approach by blowing horns and beating drums (Rockel, 2000:173-195; Rockel, 2006).

Another important item destined to alter the power balances was represented, as stated above, by firearms, the Tupak of the skilled Baluch Jemadar, soldiers. During the first half of the nineteenth century matchlocks began to appear in the hands of Omani mercenary troops – composed also of Baluch – who imported them from the Ottoman Empire and from Europe. As is well known, Omani interests did not converge only on the island of Zanzibar and on the seaboard of the mainland in front of it; the Al Bu Sa’id, and their Baluch troops, moved down to Mozambique (Hawley, 1982:29-39; Pouwels, 2002:385-425). In this regard, a clear sign of the consistency of the Omani military aspirations along the coasts of East Africa during the first half of the nineteenth century were the political and diplomatic initiatives between the Portuguese and Oman. In 1830 the representatives of the Lisboa Crown in Lourenço Marquez (the present Maputo) sent to the Sultan of Oman what follows:

“27 de Março de 1830,  Relaçao dos artigos enviados para o imamo de Mascate, com indicação do respectivo valor: 1 espingarda de 2 canos e um par de pistolas também de 2 canos (150 pesos), uma bengala de abada con castão de ouro (70 pesos), una moldura com vidro para o retrato do rei (10 pesos); para embaixador do imamo havia sido dispensido o valor de outra bengala (20 pesos) e de um par de pistolas de um cano (12 pesos)”. 4

Tabora, near the heart of Unyamwezi, as we have seen above, became an ‘Arab’ town together with Ujiji. Here Baluch soldiers settled, intermarried, and soon became powerful figures. There were obviously considerable modifications in the traditional elites’ patterns of power relationships, where client-patronage perspectives never were to be the same, and where new actors were destined to emerging on the new western Indian Ocean scenario in its connections with the East African hinterland. Everybody could share this ambition but at the same time new tensions were introduced between Swahili rich families, struggling to preserve their precarious domination, and the demand of the ‘parvenus’ on whose support they relied (Glassman, 1991:277-312).

Throughout the nineteenth century the shame and humiliation of slavery in East Africa had been imposed and exploited by numerous social groups for many lucrative purposes mainly originating from southern Arabia and western India. Baluch were part of this framework. To this regard, the British explorer Stanley wrote:

“… this personage with a long trailing turban, was Jemadar Esau, commander of the Zanzibar force of soldiers, police, or Baluch gendarmes stationed at Bagamoyo. He had accompanied Speke and Grant a good distance into the interior, and they had rewarded him liberally. He took upon himself the responsibility of assisting in the debarkation of the expedition, and unworthy as was his appearance, disgraceful as he was in his filth, I here commend him for his influence over the rabble to all future East African travellers …” (Stanley, 1872).

And from another British testimony by Lieutenant General R.S.S. Baden-Powell: “… The first visitor from the outer world to come into the Uganda was a Baluch soldier, named Isau bin Hussein, of Zanzibar, who, in 1849 or in 1850, flying from his creditors, finally reached the court of Suna, King of Uganda. On account of his beard they named him ‘Muzagaya’ (‘The Hairy One’), and he became a power in the land. Through him the people there first heard of the Arabs and of white men, of whose existence only vague reports, treated as fairy tales, had hitherto reached them. The rumour arose among them that they too were originally descended from a white race …” (Kirkland, 1998).

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the growing effectiveness of British measures aimed at abolition caused a reduction in the availability of East African slaves. This lack was, however, partly compensated for by Asiatic slaves, as shown by the commerce in Asian people from the coast of Baluchistan destined to be sold in the squares of Arabia. And this was one of the alternative slave routes in the western Indian Ocean.

We confirm the theory which maintains that in the Indian Ocean, people of African origin may have moved to India and to the Gulf as free people as well as slaves – more than 70% (about 1,500) of soldiers in Oman were African from East Africa – and Asians were moved to Africa and Southeast Asia as slaves or moved as traders or indentured labourers (Mujitaba, 2000; Jayasuriya and Angenot, 2008). Here the Baluch moved as Jemadari, as soldiers, and as body guards to the Omani Sultans, and represented with their firearms their military and defensive strength in Africa. Later on, they settled and started different economic activities; the Baluch did acquire social status and considered themselves ‘better than the Africans’, while on the South-Central Asian coasts they were enslaved themselves by other ethnic groups in a much more powerful positions (Nicolini, 2007:384-396).5 To conclude, the role of the Baluch on the Swahili coast was deeply interconnected with the role played by the Omani Sultans; therefore, they were mercenaries within the slave trade along the Swahili coast during the nineteenth century which was generally ‘controlled’ by Omani-Arabs and was represented by many diversified groups. It was an endless process of power relationships within slave societies in the Indian Ocean. The conservation of Baluch cultural identity in Africa is a peculiarity of some descendants of the nineteenth century courageous Asian warriors although restricted to few small enclaves.

Our sincere hope is that the history of the Baluch, for a too long time considered the “black fellows” of the Gulf (Peterson, 2004: 32-51) will acquire the dignity it deserves also within Indian Ocean history, and will not remain a history still mere footnotes at best.

1  With the broad term Swahili coast, we would like to identify a cultural space which stretches from Cape Guardafui to Cabo Delgado. See for example Middleton, J. (1992). The World of the Swahili. An African Mercantile Civilization. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp.184-200.
2 Report of the British Commissioner for the joint Anglo-Persian Boundary Commission: F. Goldsmid, Eastern Persia: An Account of the Journey of the Persian Boundary Commission, 1870-1890. London. 1876. Goldsmid, F.J. 1863. Report by Col. Goldsmid on the Claims of Persia, Khelat and Muscat to Sovereign Rights on the Mekran Coast, Political Department. Bombay. 19 December.  3 The intense debate on the role of the Swahili culture and civilization is not the main focus of this note. Amongst the many, see for example T. Spear. 2000. Swahili History and Society to 1900: A Classified Bibliography. History in Africa. Vol. 27: 339-373; D. Nurse & T.J. Hinnenbush. 1993. Swahili and Sabaki: A Linguistic History. University of California Publications in Linguistics. 121. Berkeley and Los Angeles. University of California Press; M. Horton. 1996. Shanga. The Archaeology of a Muslim Trading Community on the Coast of East Africa. Memoirs of the British Institute of East Africa. 14. London. The British Institute in Eastern Africa; T. Spear. 2000. Early Swahili History Reconsidered. The International Journal of African Historical Studies. Vol. 33, No. 2: 257-290; R.L. Pouwels. 2001. A Reply to Spear on Early Swahili History. The International Journal of African Historical Studies. Vol. 34. No. 3: 639-646; C.M. Eastman, 1971. Who Are the Waswahili? Africa: Journal of the International African Institute. Vol. 41. No: 228-236; P. Caplan & F. Topan (Eds.) 2004. Swahili Modernities. Culture, Politics and Identity on the East Coast of Africa. Trenton N.J. Africa World Press; F. Shami & G. Pwiti (Eds.) 2000. Southern Africa and the Swahili world Studies in the African Past. Dar-es-Salaam University Press; J. Middleton. 1992. The World of the Swahili. An African Mercantile Civilization. New Haven. Yale University Press; E. Gilbert, 2002. Coastal East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean: Long-Distance Trade, Empire, Migration, and Regional Unity, 1750-1970. The History Teacher. 36. 1: 67 pars; C.M. Kusimba. 1999. The Rise and Fall of Swahili States. Walnut Creek. Altamira Press.
4 Santana, F. (1967). Documentaçao Avulsa Moçambicana do Arquivio Histórico Ultramarino, II, Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos, Lisboa 63, p. 683.
5 Quetta Archives H.S.A. – A.G.G. Office – Essential Records. Baluchistan Archives. Complaint about existence of Slavery in Baluchistan, from Capt. P. Cox, Consul and Political Agent, Maskat to Lieut. Col. C. A. Kemball, Agg. Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, 17th September, 1901. Political 5-2/57.


Brobst, P. J. (1997). Sir Frederick Goldsmid and the Containment of Persia 1863-73. Middle Eastern Studies, London. Vol.33, No.2, pp.197-215. Brobst, P. J. (2005). The Future of the Great Game Sir Olaf Caroe, India Independence, and the Defence of Asia. Ohio:The University of Akron Press. Burton, R. F. (1872). Zanzibar, City, Island and Coast. London: Tinsley Brothers. Caplan, P. and Topan, F. (Eds.) (2004). Swahili Modernities. Culture, Politics and Identity on the East Coast of Africa. Trenton N.J. Africa: World Press. Davies, C. E. (1997). The Blood Arab Red Flag. An Investigation into Qasimi Piracy 17971820. Exeter: Exeter University Press. De Silva Jayasuriya, S. and Angenot, J. P. (2008). Uncovering the History of Africans in Asia. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. During, J. (1997). African Winds and Muslim Djinns. Trance, Healing, and Devotion in Baluchistan. Yearbook for Traditional Music, Vol.29, pp.39-56. Eastman, C. M. (1971). Who Are the Waswahili? Africa: Journal of the International African Institute. Vol.41, No.3, pp.228-236. Gilbert, E. (2002). Coastal East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean: Long-Distance Trade, Empire, Migration, and Regional Unity, 1750-1970. The History Teacher, Vol.36, No:1, p.67. Glassman, J. (1991). The Bondsman’s New Clothes: The Contradictory Consciousness of Slave Resistance on the Swahili Coast. Journal of African History, Vol.32, pp.277312. Glassman, J. (1994). Feasts and Riot. Reverly, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856-1888. Portsmouth: Heinemann. Goldsmid, F. J. (1863). Report by Col. Goldsmid on the Claims of Persia, Khelat and Muscat to Sovereign Rights on the Mekran Coast, Political Department, Bombay. Hawley, D. (1982). Some Surprising Aspects of Omani History. Asian Affairs, Vol.3, No.1, pp.28-39. Horton, M. (1996). Shanga. The Archaeology of a Muslim Trading Community on the Coast of East Africa. Memoirs of the British Institute of East Africa. London: The British Institute in Eastern Africa. Kirkland, C. (1998). Some African Highways: An Electronic Transcription. Electronic Text Research Centre. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Kusimba, C. M. (2008). Leadership in Middle-Range African Societies. Unpublished paper. Kusimba, C. M. (1999). The Rise and Fall of Swahili States. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press. Lane, P. J. (1993). Tongwe Fort. Azania, XVIII, pp.133-141. Lobo, L. (2000). They Came to Africa. 200 Years of the Asian Presence in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Printers. Lodhi, A. (2000). Oriental Influences in Swahili. A Study in Language and Culture Contacts. Goteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. Middleton, J. (1992). The World of the Swahili. An African Mercantile Civilization. New Haven: Yale University Press. Miles, S. B. (1984). Notes on the Tribes of Oman by L.C.S.B. Miles, 27 May 1881. In Sirhan, I.S.I. Sirhan (Ed.) Annals of Oman to 1728. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mujtaba, H. (2000). Afro-Asia in Pakistan. Historic, Political and Intellectual Linkages between Africa and Pakistan. Samar. 13: winter/spring. Nicolini, B. and Redaelli, R. (1994). Quetta: History and Archives. Note on a Survey of the Archives of Quetta. Nuova Rivista Storica. Year LXXVIII. II, pp.401-414. Nicolini, B. (2002). Historical and Political Links between Gwadar and Muscat through Nineteenth Century’s Testimonies. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies (PSAS). London, Vol.32, pp.281-286. Nicolini, B. (2006). The Traffic of Arms and Ammunitions in the Gulf and in the Western Indian Ocean between the End of the 18 and the Beginning of the 19 Century. Unpublished paper presented to The Global Gulf Conference, Exeter University. th th Nicolini, B. (2007). The Baluch Role in the Persian Gulf during the 19th and 20th Centuries. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. University of Toronto. Vol.27, No.2, pp.384-396. Nurse, D. and Hinnenbush, T. J. (1993). Swahili and Sabaki: A Linguistic History. University of California Publications in Linguistics. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Peterson, J. E. (2004). Oman’s Diverse Society: Northern Oman. Middle East Journal, Vol. 58, No.1, pp.32-51.  Piacentini, V. and Redaelli, R. (Eds.) (2003). Baluchistan: Terra Incognita. A New Methodological Approach Combining Archaeological, Historical, Anthropological and Architectural Studies. Oxford. British Archaeological Reports (BAR). Piacentini, V. (1991). Notes on the Definition of the Western Borders of British India in Sistan and Baluchistan in the 19th Century. In Scarcia, A. B. and Rostagno, L. (Eds.) Yad-Nama. In memoria di Alessandro Bausani, 2 Vols. Rome. Pottinger, H. (1819). Relazione di un viaggio nel Beloutchistan e in una parte della Persia. Verona, Sonzogno. 3 Vols. Pouwels, R. L. (2001). A Reply to Spear on Early Swahili History. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol.34, No.3, pp.639-646. Pouwels, R. L. (2002). Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean to 1800: Reviewing Relations in Historical Perspective. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol.35, No.2/3, pp.385-425. Quetta Archives H.S.A. (1901). Essential Records. Baluchistan Archives. Complaint about Existence of Slavery in Baluchistan, from Capt. P. Cox, Consul and Political Agent, Maskat to Lieut. Col. C. A. Kemball, Agg. Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, 17th September, 1901. Political, 5-2/57.  Reid, R. (1998). Mutesa and Mirambo: Thoughts on East African Warfare and Diplomacy in the Nineteenth Century. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol.31, No.1, pp.73-89. Risso, P. (1995). Merchants and Faith. Muslim Commerce and Culture in the Indian Ocean. Boulder: Westview Press. Rockel, S. J. (2000). A Nation of Porters: The Nyamwezi and the Labour Market in Nineteenth Century Tanzania. Journal of African History, Vol.41, No.2, pp.173-195. Rockel, S. J. (2006). Carriers of Culture: Labour on the Road in Nineteenth Century East Africa. Portsmouth: Heinemann. Santana, F. (1967). Documentaçao Avulsa Moçambicana do Arquivio Histórico Ultramarino. II Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos. Lisboa, 63. Shami F. and Pwiti G. (Eds.) (2000). Southern Africa and the Swahili World Studies in the African Past. Dar es Salaam University Press. Sheriff, A. (2001). Race and Class in the Polities of Zanzibar. Afrika Spectrum, Vol.36, No.3, pp.301-318.
Sheriff, A. (2007). Message to ZIORI (Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute) supportes. 20 December. 2007. Spear, T. (2000). Swahili History and Society to 1900: A Classified Bibliography. History in Africa, Vol.27, pp.339-373. Spear, T. (2000). Early Swahili History Reconsidered. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol.33, No.2, pp.257-290. Stanley, H. M. (1872). How I found Livingstone. Travels, Adventures and Discoveries in Central Africa Including Four Months Residence with Dr. Livingstone. London. Sweet, L. E. (1964). Pirates or Polities? Arab Societies of the Persian or Arabian Gulf, 18th century. Ethnohistory, Vol.11, No.3, pp.262-280. Sykes, P. M. (1902). Ten Thousands Miles in Persia. London: C. Scribner’s Sons.

Comments Off on The Tupak Of The Jemadar: Notes On The Baluch Presence Along The Swahili Coast During The Nineteenth Century

Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Balochistan


Maritime Indian Ocean Routes: The Role of Gwadar/ Gwātar

By Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini
Faculty of Political and Social Science
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Lombardy, Italy

Abstract (Italian)

Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini

Prof Dr Beatrice Nicolini

Fra le principali rotte dell’Oceano Indiano – sia marittime sia terrestri – Gwadar, divisa nella seconda metà del XIX secolo dalla Commissione Britannica per le Frontiere fra la baia orientale persiana di Gwātar e quella occidentale di Gwadar, rappresentò una delle principali vie di comunicazione tra il Medio Oriente ed il Subcontinente Indiano, giocando un ruolo strategico nel commercio di schiavi, avorio, datteri e spezie dall’Africa orientale e dalla Penisola araba verso l’Asia centrale e viceversa. Tanto Gwātar quando Gwadar, sulla regione costiera del Makrān, sono state definite scientificamente terra incognita.

long the shores of the Western Indian Ocean, trade relations between the people of the Asian, Arabian and East African coasts were innumerable and deeply intelinked. Such links and relationships of trade and power were to be sought in those elements that constituted the close equilibrium of the Indian Ocean, that is, in the monsoons, in the presence of commercial thalassocracies (the well known ‘merchant-states’), in the predominance of mercantile laws, and in the trade routes of spices, ivory and slaves. Starting from the sixteenth century onwards, the European desires for conquest of commercial monopolies in the slave trade, and in all those factors essential to the creation of multiple ties, contributed to the consolidation of a ‘red thread’ which would link three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. Oman international trade activities during four centuries – 1500 to 1800 – saw irresistible waves of political leaders, brave seafarers, valorous merchants and adventurers in an escalating competition between leaders and merchants from every part of Asia and Africa as well as of Europe and the newly United States. During the period that saw the rise of European powers in the Indian Ocean, according to available historiography, a ‘revolution’ occurred from which new protagonists emerged along the Asian, Arabian and African regions. Against this backdrop, the gradual emergence of new Omani dynasties resulted from the polarization that followed the struggle against the Portuguese presence in the Persian/Arab Gulf and in the Indian Ocean. This gave rise to gradual and discontinuous processes of unification among the Omani groups, traditionally divided and in conflict with each other, which came to the fore in the progressive affirmation of what we could define as the international power of the Omani Arabs in the Gulf and in the Indian Ocean. The history of Oman international trade relations has been closely connected mainly to the maritime routes across the Western Indian Ocean: sailing the Gulf and the Western Indian Ocean had always been dependent on the fact that the winds occur in an annual sequence with great regularity. The balance created by the monsoons was achieved over the space of a year with the following rhythm: from December to March the monsoon blows from Arabia and the western coasts of India in the north-east, pushing as far as Mogadishu. The winds are light and constant, the climate hot and dry. In April the monsoon starts to blow from the south-west, from Eastern Africa towards the coasts of the Gulf, the climate cooler but much more humid. The rains are mainly in April and May, while the driest months are November and December. Until the nineteenth century, sailing from Arabia in November in a south-south-westerly direction took thirty to forty days in ideal weather conditions while, in December, thanks to the stabilization of the monsoon, the voyage took only twenty to twenty-five days. Consequently, thanks to the monsoons the international trade relations of Oman had been historically through the sea; although we must remember that Oman trades were intense through land as well. Maritime coastal trades, as well as long distance trades, constituted the expressions of an economy that was already highly sophisticated, developed and organized; therefore, the necessity of control of these sea trade routes represented a crucial element: a political element. Starting from the eighteenth century onwards, groups from the interior gradually began to settle on the coastal new centres.

Suddenly the traveler comes upon a desert plain before the sea, where there are many boiling mud pools. Everything in the Makrān coastal region blends together in a kind of colourless mass; the sand, the houses, the people – the poverty. What is striking though, is the brightness of the veils and of the Baluch dresses of the Makrani women who walk around the old Arab-Indian-African market. This fascinating place is the ancient Ismaili (Khojas) community centre; the Ismailis played a crucial role in the history of the port town and still detain a determined power in the local society.

The role played by Gwadar within the framework of the slave, ivory and spice trade coming from East Africa had been crucial. And the African element is still very evident in this ex-Omani enclave; music has many African overtones and is played with African instruments. The dances, performed only by men dressed as women, start with some rupees placed on the top of your head, and the dancer moves around slowly picking the money up.

In front of Gwadar port there is Ashtola Island, explored by McGregor in 1877-78. It is a wild and beautiful island, with a high mountain that ends in a plateau. Here people tell the legend of the white horse of the Prophet, as remembered by the presence of a shrine. Guater (also Gwadar, Pers. Govāter) is a little known locality at the southeastern corner of Iran on the border with Pakistan. Gwātar (Gwuttur) (25° 10’ N. 61° 33’ E.) must not be confused with Gwadar (25° 6’ N. 62° 19’ E.). Since the British Commission definition of the borders in 1871-2 Gwātar bay, on the eastern shore, remained within the Persian borders; while Gwadar, on the western shore, about fifty miles west of Gwātar (De Cardi, p. 164; Potter, p. 139), is today part of Pakistan.

Gwadar is a small port on the neck of a hammer-headed promontory on the Makrān coast, about 250 miles east of Muscat (Hay, pp. 433443); it included the Persian town of Gwātar, the Persian port, and the whole sandy peninsula of that name, covering an area of about 307 square miles (Hughes-Buller, p. 280); it has been one of the main routes of communication between the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent, together with a strategic role within slave, ivory, dates, and spice trade from East Africa and from the Arabian Peninsula, directed to Central Asia and vice versa (Saldanha, p. 19). One of the earliest detailed source that specifically names Gwātar/Gwadar within Gedrosia region is Anabasis Alexandri by Arrianus of 325 B.C. (Roberts, p. 187). Together with Pasni, a fishing village on the Makrān coast – today in Pakistan – , Gwadar was attacked and burnt by the Portuguese in 1581 (Stiffe, pp. 610-12; Badalkhan, pp. 153-169). In 1739, Taki Khan, Nāder Shah’s general (1736-1747), captured it (Hughes-Buller, p. 48; Miles, p. 252). In 1784 Mir Naṣir Khan I (1749-95), the khan of Kalāt, granted as a “jagir” (lease), a temporary grant of land exempted from taxation the port of Gwadar to Saʿid Solṭān b. Aḥmad Āl bu-Saʿid of Oman (r. 1792-1804) who ruled on Muscat, on a trust basis (Ross, p.113; Piacentini and Redaelli, pp. 3349). In 1784 half of the revenues on Gwadar belonged to the Gički family of Makrān (Broome, pp. 221-45); while Gwātar was nominally under the Persian influence through Jadghāl Baluch tribe chiefs (Pottinger, p. 30; Macgregor, p. 24; Rubin, pp. 59-72).

On the occasion of the construction of the Indo-European Telegraph Line, investigations made by the Makrān, Sistān and Persia Boundary Commission, directed by Sir Frederick Goldsmid (1818-1908) (Goldsmid, pp. 269-297), juridical-territorial claims were advanced (Soli, pp. 329-351).

On 24 January 1862 Mir Faqir Moḥammad Bizenjō, chief of the Bizenjō tribe of Makrān and ally of the Khan of Kalāt, who was representative of Kēč, signed a treaty with Goldsmid for the safety of the passage of the telegraph line through Makrān; the representative also granted to Goldsmid the safety of the lands belonging to Mir Bayan Gički, chief of the Gički family. At the beginning of 1863 Ebrāhim Khan, the Persian military governor of Bampūr, wrote letters to Saʿid Ṯowayni Āl bu-Saʿid of Oman (r. 1856-66), grandson of Saʿid Solṭān b. Aḥmad Āl bu-Saʿid of Oman, and to the Omani Arab deputy (wālī), named Mahomed (Leech, p. 702), of Gwadar suggesting not to give their approval to the prosecution of the telegraph line to the British before a Persian consent. Numerous raids followed, and the British were obliged to send forces to protect their political agents in Gwadar (Harris, pp. 169-190). Only in 1868 the Persian Government accepted to give up its “rights of sovereignty” on the oasis of Kēč and on Gwadar as part of the Kermān province: it was better for British India to border with Persia than with a tribal territories such as of Kalāt (Khazeni, pp. 1399-1411).

In 1863 Reverend George Percy Badger was put in charge of the Boundary Commission to investigate on the intricate question of the borders in this area (Badger, pp. 1-8); he considered politically advisable that Gwadar remained within Omani hands, with a well armed fleet strong enough to defend it, rejecting the hypothesis of restoration to the Khanate of Kalāt, who was unable to protect this important strategic port against Persian claims. During the second half of the nineteenth century Gwadar was at the same time: an enclave of  the Sultans of Oman, a place of interest for the Gički family from Kēč Makrān, a strategic observatory for the British Government along the coast of Makrān in Persian direction, and a station of the Indo-European Telegraph Line. On 24 September 1872, joined by the Persian Commissioner Mirzā Maʿṣūm Khan, (Piacentini, p. 200) the British Boundary Commission fixed the demarcation of the frontier, starting from the bay of Gwātar to the west of Gwadar, between Persia, Makrān and Sistān (Brobst, pp. 197-215; Nicolini, pp. 4-23).

Only on 8 September 1958, and for three million pounds, the request of the Khans of Kalāt to restore the “jagir” (lease) on Gwadar granted from Mir Naṣir Khan I of Kalāt to the Āl Bu-Saʿid of Oman, was finally satisfied. The price for a town, the price for an important harbour and a strategic base that has belonged to the Omani Sultans since 1784. Since that period, close relationships subsisted between the Āl bu-Saʿid of Oman and the Baluch tribes of the coastal area of Makran.

Slave Trade
During the second half of the nineteenth century, more precisely in 1874, a group belonging to the tribe of the Rind from eastern Baluchistan bought domestic slaves at Gwadar;1 they came from the coasts of East Africa. This gave rise to a conflict of interests between the Rind and the representant (Na’ib) of the Khan of Kalat in Kej (today’s Turbat, capital of Makrān); a conflict which ended in bloodshed and saw the death of four members of the “blue-blooded tribe” of Baluchistan. Sir Robert G. Sandeman (1835-1892), the Deputy-Commissioner of Dera Ghazi Khan, affirmed that the death of four members of the Rind tribe had nothing to do with the slave trade at Gwadar. Sandeman, as described by biographers of the time was very charismatic and ambitious, understood the psychology of intertribal relations much better than his Political Agents, his representants, as, in his opinion, they were not able to identify the real causes of tribe conflicts between the members of the Baluchistan groups. In this regard he reminded: “domestic slavery is a time honoured institution in Baluchistan as in other eastern countries, and much of the land is cultivated by slave labour … at the same time it must be remembered that many of the ideas attaching to the word “slavery”, which are so repellent to civilized minds, are absent from the manners of the Baluch tribes”.2 This affirmation by Sandeman could be interpreted in different ways: for example as eurocentrist and full of contempt for local populations. Nevertheless, the following elements suggested different interpretations of the  “justification” of slavery in Asia within a wider scenario: the strategic importance of Baluchistan within Anglo-Russian rivalry; the second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80); the recent construction of the telegraph line which connected Calcutta to London (Indo-European Telegraph Line) after the political consequences of the Great Mutiny in India of 1857; the growing importance of the North West Frontier of British India; the need for definition of the borders between Persia and the Khanate of Kalat which begun with the Commission directed by Sir Frederic Goldsmid in 1870 and ended with the sign of an Agreement in Teheran on 24 September in 1872.

In 1877 Sandeman became the Agent to the Governor General and Chief Commissioner of Baluchistan. During the first years of the twentieth century, the British measures adopted against the slave trade contributed to diminishing the number of slaves from East Africa; to this reduction corresponded a new slave trade of Baluch origin, as testimonied by the trade in Asians coming from the coast of Baluchistan directed to Arabia to be sold in Arab markets during the first decades of the twentieth century.3 As clear proof, on 20 May 1903 the responsible Agent of Jask area sent a telegram to the Director of the Persian Gulf section in Karachi saying that: “a great number of them are brought to these places from the Kej district … not only Africans but low caste Baluchis are now being sold by petty headmen”.4 The poorest among the Baluch were sold as slaves, and the cause was the following: “the reason there is such a demand for slaves from these parts, is that the trade from the African Coast has been effectually stopped, and Baluchistan is the only place now open to them”.5 The Baluch were collected within the district of Kej and sent as slaves also in Persian territory.6 Baluch slave women had their heads totally razed, than covered with quicklime, so that their hair could any more grow, rendering them perfectly recognizable to their own tribes, and forbidding them to coming back to their places of origin. The role of Baluch mercenary groups within the slave trade in sub-Saharan East Africa was represented by a specific ethnic group who was enslaved in South-Central Asia by other groups in a much more powerful position; and this was a continuous process of shame and humiliation of weak and desperate people in this maritime part of the world, and a process of different perceptions held by various powers between the land and the seaboard areas.

Gwadar/ Gwātar
Gwadar today belongs to the jurisdiction of the Government of Baluchistan – Home and Tribal Affairs Department, within the Makran Division. As a consequence, the definition of Makran as a Tribal Area forbids tourists, especially westerners, to travel throughout this region without a N.O.C. (no objection certificate). Gwātar remained a fishing village within the Persian borders where today aquaculture and shrimps are farmed; in Pakistan instead, since 1964, the Gwadar Deep Sea Port Project was a dream of Pakistani government; after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the newly formed Central Asian republics – together with the rich transAfghan pipelines – China finally largely financed ($200 millions) and built the Gwadar Port Project first phase in January 2006 (Axmann, pp. 268-274). Although the Pakistani Gwadar should become a twenty-first century reality equipped with a highway and oil and natural gas pipelines (Kaplan, pp. 64-94), connecting both “horizontal” (Iran, Pakistan, China) and “vertical” (Afghanistan, Central Asia) strategic and economic interests, the traditions of the Makrāni and Baluch groups, still remain politically but not culturally divided.

A.G.G.: Agent to the Governor-General B.A.: Baluchistan Archives, Quetta, Pakistan C.O.Q.D.A.: Commissioner of Quetta Archives, Pakistan H.S.A.: Home Secretariat Archives, Quetta, Pakistan

1 H.S.A. – B.A. A.G.G. OFFICE Records, File 292/1874 Misc., Slavery in Baluchistan. The Gazetteer of Baluchistan (Makran), Quetta, 1906 (repr. 1986), pp. 98-101.
2 H.S.A. – A.G.G. Office – Essential Records, From the A.G.G. to the Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign Department, Quetta, 25 March, 1884, Report n. 942; Selections from the Records of the Government of India. Foreign Department, No. CCXI, First Administration Report of the Baluchistan Agency, Calcutta, 1886, p. 290. 3 H.S.A. – A.G.G. Office – Essential Records, Complaint about existence of Slavery in Baluchistan, from Capt. P. Cox, Consul and Political Agent, Maskat to Lieut. Col. C. A. Kemball, Agg. Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, 17th September, 1901, Political 5-2/57.
4 H.S.A. – A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903-1905, File 23, n. 1510, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from the Ass. Superintendent Jask Sub-Division to the Director, Persian Gulf Section, Karachi, Telegram dated 20th May, 1903. 5 H.S.A. – A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903-1905, File 23, n. 1510, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from the Ass. Superintendent Jask Sub-Division to the Director, Persian Gulf Section, Karachi, Extract of a Letter n. 11 dated 28th March, 1904. 6 H.S.A. – A.G.G. Office Confidential, 1903-1905, Traffic in Slaves from Kej to Persia, from Russell, Under Secr. to the Gov. of India to the A.G.G. Quetta, 1903, File 23, n. 1510.


F. Arrianus, Anabasis Alexandri, in E.I. Robson, Anabasis Alexandri, The Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, 1933, repr. 1958, 2 vols, vol. 2, p. 187.

M. Axmann, “Phoenix From the Ashes? The Baloch National Movement and its Recent Revival,” in C. Jahani, A. Korn, and P. Titus, eds., The Baloch and Others. Linguistic, Historical and Socio-Political Perspectives on Pluralism in Baluchistan, Wiesbaden, 2008, pp. 261-292.

S. Badalkhan, “Portuguese Encounters with Coastal Makran Baloch during the Sixteenth Century. Some References from a Balochi Heroic Epic”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, vol. 10, n. 2, Jul., 2000, pp. 153-169.

G.P. Badger, Memorandum by the Rev. G. P. Badger on the Pretentions of Persia in Beloochistan and Mekran, drawn up with especial reference to her Claim to Gwadar and Charbar, London, 1863, pp. 1-8.

F. Barth, Sohar. Culture and Society in an Omani Town, Baltimore, 1983.

P.J. Brobst, “Sir Frederic Goldsmid and the Containment of Persia, 1863-73”, Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 33, n. 2, Apr. 1997, pp. 197-215.

C.E. Davies, The Blood Arab Red Flag. An Investigation into Qasimi Piracy 1797-1820, Exeter, 1997.

B. De Cardi, “A New Prehistoric Ware from Baluchistan”, Iraq, vol. 13, n. 2, Autumn, 1951, pp. 63-75.

H. Furber, Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient 1600-1800, Minneapolis, 1976.

G. Geary, “Through Asiatic Turkey,” in P. Ward, ed., Travels in Oman, New York, 1987, pp. 35-53.

F.J. Goldsmid, “Notes on Eastern Persia and Western Beluchistan”, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, 1867, vol. 37, p. 269-297.

C.P. Harris, “The Persian Gulf Submarine Telegraph of 1864”, The Geographical Journal, vol. 135, n. 2, 1969, pp. 169-190.

R. Hay, “The Persian Gulf States and Their Boundary Problems”, The Geographical Journal, vol. 120, n. 4, Dec., 1954, pp. 433-443. G.F. Hourani, Arab Seafaring, Princeton, 1951.

R. Hughes-Buller, The Gazetteer of Baluchistan (Makrān), 1st ed., Quetta, 1906; repr. Quetta, 1986.

J.C. Hurewitz, ed., Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East. A Documentary Record: 1535-1914, 2 vols., vol. I: European Expansion, Princeton, 1956, pp. 68; 77; 78.

R.D. Kaplan, Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power, New York, 2010, pp. 64-94.

A. Kazeni, “On the Eastern Borderlands of Iran: The Baluch in Nineteenth Century Persian Travel books”, History Compass, vol. 5, n. 4, 2007, pp. 1399-1411.

R. Leech, “Notes taken on a Tour through part of Baloochistan in 1838 and 1839 by Haji Abdun Nubee of Kabul”, Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. 13, part 2, 1844, pp. 667-706.

J.G. Lorimer, Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman, and Central Arabia I. Historical Part, Calcutta, 1915.

C. Macgregor, Wanderings in Baluchistan, London, 1882, p. 2S.B. Miles, “Journey from Gwadur to Karachi”, The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. 44, London, 1874, pp. 163-82.

S.B. Miles, The Countries and Tribes of the Persian Gulf, London, 1919, repr. 1994, p. 252.

B. Nicolini, Makran, Oman and Zanzibar: Three-Terminal Cultural Corridor in the Western Indian Ocean (1799-1856), Leiden, 2004.

V.F. Piacentini, “Notes on the Definition of the Western Borders of British India in Sistan and Baluchistan in the 19th Century”, B. Scarcia Amoretti, L. Rostagno, eds., Yād- Nāma in memoria di A. Bausani, vol. 1, Rome, 1991, pp. 189-203.

V.F. Piacentini and R. Redaelli, Baluchistan: Terra Incognita. A New Methodological Approach combining Archaeological, Historical, Anthropological and Architectural Studies, Oxford, 2003.

L. Potter, “The Consolidation of Iran’s frontier in the nineteenth century”, in R. Farmanfarmaian, ed., War and Peace in Qajar Persia: implications past and present Oxford, 2008, pp. 125148.

H. Pottinger, Relazioni di un viaggio in Belouchistan e in una parte della Persia, Milan, 1819, 3 vols, vol. 2, p. 30.

R. Redaelli, The Father’s Bow. The Khanate of Kalat and British India (19th-20th Century), Florence, 1997.

E.C. Ross, “Captain’s Ross Reports about Mekran, 1865-68”, Selections from the Records of the Bombay Government, new series, n. 111, Byculla, 1868, p. 113.

M. Rubin, “The Telegraph and Frontier Politics: Modernization and the Demarcation of Iran’s Borders”, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, vol. 18, n. 2, 1998, pp. 59-72.

J.A. Saldanha, Persian Gulf Précis. Précis on Makrān Affairs I, Calcutta, 1905.

S. Soli, “Communications, Qajar irredentism, and the strategies of British India: The Makran Coast telegraph and British policy of containing Persia in the east (Baluchistan)”, Part I, Iranian Studies, vol. 39, n. 3, Sept. 2006, pp. 329-351.

A.W. Stiffe, “Ancient Trading Centres of the Persian Gulf: IV Maskat”, The Geographical Journal,vol. 10, n. 6, Dec., 1897, pp. 608-618. P. M. Sykes, Ten Thousands Miles in Persia, London, 1902.

Wilks, Historical Sketches of the South of India, 3 vols., London, 1810.

Beatrice Nicolini Ph.D. She has a Degree in International Relations and Comparative Government, Harvard University, USA, and graduated in Political Science, Catholic University, Milan, Italy; Ph.D. in History of Africa, Siena University, Italy. She teaches History and Institutions of Africa and she is member of Ph.D. School Committee ‘History and Politics’, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Catholic University, Milan, Italy. Her researches focused on connections between South-Western Asia, the Persian/Arab Gulf, and Sub-Saharan East Africa. The history of the Indian Ocean, slave trade routes, development issues, are her main research topics through archive and fieldwork investigations. She received grants and recognitions from the Sultanate of Oman and from UK for her studies, and contributed to the historical section of the new Museum of Muscat. She did publish 100 publications, most of them peer-reviewed in English, and some of them also translated in Arabic. Among her publications, B. Nicolini (2012), The First Sultan of Zanzibar. Scrambling for Power and Trade in the Nineteenth Century Indian Ocean. M., Wiener, Princeton; B. Nicolini (2013), Re-reading the role of Oman within its International Trade Relations from 16th to the 19th centuries, in S., Wippel (Ed.) (2013), Regionalizing Oman, Springer Science, Dordrecht.

Courtesy: Quaderni Asiatici 102 – giugno 2013

Comments Off on Maritime Indian Ocean Routes: The Role of Gwadar/ Gwātar

Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Balochistan


The British Advent in Balochistan

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

An Abstract
On the eve of the British advent, the social and economic infrastructure of Balochistan represented almost all characteristics of a desert society, such as isolation, group feeling, chivalry, hospitality, tribal enmity and animal husbandry. There was hardly any area in Balochistan that could be considered an urban settlement. Even the capital of the state of Kalat looked like a conglomeration of mud dwellings with the only royal residence emerging as a symbol of status and power. In terms of social relations, economic institutions, and politics, society demonstrated almost every aspect of tribalism in every walk of life.
The British Advent in Balochistan This paper, therefore, presents a historical survey of the involvement of Balochistan in the power politics of various empirebuilders. In particular, those circumstances and factors have been examined that brought the British to Balochistan. The First Afghan War was fought apparently to send a message to Moscow that the British would not tolerate any Russian advances towards their Indian empire. To what extent the Russian threat, or for that matter, the earlier French threat under Napoleon, were real or imagined, is also covered in this paper.
A holistic account of British advent in Balochistan must begin with “The Great Game” in which Russia, France, and England, were involved. Since the time of Peter the Great (1672-1725), the Russians were desperately looking for access to warm waters. The Dardanelles were guarded by Turkey. After many abortive attempts, Russians concentrated on the Central Asian steppes in order to find a route to the Persian Gulf as well as the Indian Ocean. The British perceived the Russian advances in Central Asia as a threat to their Indian empire because of the ancient historical, religious, and cultural linkages between Central Asia and South Asia. This linkage goes all the way back to the period of the Indus Valley civilization. Successive Indian rulers from Chandragupta Maurya onwards pursued a “forward” policy towards Central Asia. In turn, successive Central Asian leaders and people penetrated South Asia during the latter’s long periods of internal weakness. Both the areas were particularly linked since the Sultanate period. Apart from religious, cultural and linguistic links, commercial relations were perhaps the most important. Although the British did not want to lose the trade with Central Asia, they were apprehensive of possible influences emanating from the Muslim population of the region. No wonder, Russian advances in Central Asia were cause for much concern in London. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Russians had occupied the Central Asian steppes and, in fact, had started sending diplomatic missions to Iran, Afghanistan, Sindh and the Punjab, which was an independent state under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
These developments were complicated by Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798. The French had lost their Indian territories and were now keen to make up for the lost “French prestige in India.”1 After his initial success in Egypt and Syria, Napoleon had sent missions to the Qajar Shah of Iran, Fateh Ali Shah (1797-1834). His chief envoy, M. Jaubert, persuaded the Qajar King to seize Georgia from Russia. A military mission was also sent to train the Iranian Army.2 The other area of the French contact was Mysore under Tipu Sultan who was fighting a desperate war against the British. After Tipu’s defeat and death in 1799, the French concentrated on Iran. In 1807, the Russians defeated the Iranians at Arpatch and under the humiliating Treaty of Fars,3 Iran lost more territory to Russia. They also lost faith in the French pledges of help against the Russians. The British did not wait for long to take advantage of the changed situation. After the Treaty of Fars, the British Resident in Basra offered the Shah of Iran 125, 000 rupees and several diamonds from George III to fight the Russians.4 Not only that, the Governor General of India sent Mountstuart Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay, who was well versed in Eastern languages, to Peshawar where the ruler of Kabul, Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk, had his winter capital. In 1809, he managed to extract a treaty of mutual defense between the British and the Afghans.5
Although the battle of Waterloo in 1815 put an end to the French threat to British India, the Russian presence remained effective in the region. Indeed, they emerged as the major rivals of the British in Asia. The Iranians tried to recover their lost territories from the Russians but invariably ended up loosing even more, whereas the Anglo-Persian Treaty of 1814,6 which promised military and financial aid to the Iranians in wake of a foreign aggression, did not change the situation. In fact, when Shah Abbas Mirza Qajar tried to recover part of the Caucasus in 1826,7 with the help of the British, it again resulted in a disastrous defeat. To add to their woes, the British never fulfilled their commitments. By the Treaty of Turkmanchai in 1828,8 the Russians not only gained full control of the South Caucasus but also received a heavy indemnity from the Iranians (equal to 15 million dollars)9 along with external territorial rights and commercial advantages. It seemed that the British had some sort of understanding with the Russians and in fact wanted to weaken Iran so that it would no longer pose a threat to the British interests in India and Afghanistan. In fact, one may argue that this attitude was typical of the British policies and postures in this region. On the one hand, they signed treaties with Iran for help in case of foreign invasion and, on the other, with Afghans against the Iranians, as was evident in Elphinstone’s contacts with Shah Shuja.
In 1809, however, Shah Shuja was replaced, and after unsuccessful attempts to seek help from different rulers of the area, he fled to Lahore in 1813. After five years, he became a British pensioner.10 By now, the Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh had become a formidable power and the British sought their help in reinstating Shah Shuja to the throne of Kabul. However, after many years of civil war the Afghans acknowledged Dost Mohammad Khan as the Amir. In the process, of course, the Afghans had lost their territories in Sindh and Balochistan. The Mirs of Sindh and the Khans of Balochistan had broken away from the influence of Kabul.
During the turmoil and uncertainty in Afghanistan, the Sikhs had occupied Peshawar in 1834. In 1836, Amir Dost Mohammad Khan defeated the Sikhs and had almost recovered Peshawar but instead of occupying the city, he sought British approval. He sent a letter to the new Governor General, Lord Auckland, and asked permission for retaining Peshawar. In the words of Louis Dupree, a noted scholar on Afghanistan, “Auckland replied that the British government followed a consistent policy of non-interference in the affairs of independent nations.”11 Ironically, “Auckland himself,” according to Fraser Tytler, “in fact, was responsible for the First Afghan War”.12 Yapp also agreed with this assessment. According to him, “Auckland went to war to safeguard the internal rather than the external frontier.”13 He dispatched Captain Alexander Burnes to sort out the Afghanistan situation. Burnes arrived at Kabul in 1837. He declared that the objective of his mission was to restore commercial relations between India and Central Asia and to “workout the policy for opening River Indus for commerce.”14 Amir Dost Mohammad Khan wanted British help in recovering Peshawar, only to realize soon that British would do nothing at the expense of their relationship with the Sikhs.
Interestingly, on December 19, 1837, a Russian diplomat, Captain Ivan Vickovich, arrived at Kabul with letters from the Russian government (the Czar also wrote a letter in response to a letter sent by Amir Dost Mohammad through Mirza Husain) ostensibly for the same purpose that Burnes had come.15 In order to make the British position absolutely clear, Burnes, the British envoy delivered the following ultimatum to Dost Mohammad Khan on March 6, 1838:
You must desist from all correspondence with Persia and Russia: you must never receive agents from (them) or have ought to do with him without our sanction: you must dismiss Captain Vickovich with courtesy: you must surrender claims to Peshawar on your account as that Chiefship belongs to Maharaja Ranjeet Singh: you must also respect the independence of Candahar and Peshawar and cooperate in arrangements to unite your family.16
Although the Amir agreed, but Burnes, refused to spell out the terms particularly with reference to Peshawar. Disappointed and frustrated, Dost Mohammad Khan entered into negotiations with the Russian representative. Meanwhile the Russians continued to help the Iranians in the siege of Herat and pledged more help in the future.17 These events in Herat and Kabul made the British reassess their policy in the area, which ultimately led to their occupation of Balochistan. Since Iran was wooing the Russian ambassador to the embarrassment of the British, Lord Auckland sent an army to Persian Gulf to occupy Kharaj Island in June 1838. In the same month, a treaty was signed between the British Governor General, the Sikh ruler (Ranjit Singh), and Shah Shuja.18 The treaty stipulated that with the Sikh and the British help, Shah Shuja would rule Kabul and Qandahar. Herat would remain independent. In turn, Shah Shuja would recognize the Sikh government in the Punjab, in North-West Frontier including Peshawar and Kashmir, but excluded from further advances against the Amirs of Sindh. Shah Shuja surrendered himself before the British and aligned his destiny with the Indian subcontinent, rather than with Central Asia. The GovernorGeneral was convinced that “a friendly power and intimate connection with Afghanistan, a peaceful alliance with Lahore and an established influence in Sindh are objects for which some hazard may well be run.”19
Consequently, the British raised a large military force known as the “Army of Indus,”20 at Ferozpur to attack Afghanistan and install Shah Shuja on the throne of Kabul.21 Consequently, so-called First Afghan War started in 1839. As the present study is not directly related with the causes of the war which brought the British into Balochistan, the discussion will be confined to the route that this army took and how this invasion affected the people and rulers of Balochistan.
When the time came for the Indus Army to attack Afghanistan, Ranjit Singh not only withdrew his pledge to support this mission but also refused to let Lt. General Sir J. Keane, Commandant of the Indus Army, to march through his territory. General Keane had to find an alternative route (almost threefold longer and through difficult terrain) through Sindh and Balochistan. Keeping in view the hostile environment in terms of supplies, General Keane denuded Balochistan of much of its meager resources to keep his army moving.22
The British had already signed a treaty (March 1839) with the Khan of Kalat who honoured this agreement to the best of his abilities. The army reached Quetta in March 1839 for its onward journey to Qandahar. General Keane took Qandahar without a fight on April 26, and then moved towards Ghazni, which was occupied on July 22, 1839. On August 7, 1839, the army entered Kabul along with Shah Shuja without any resistance.23 Dost Mohammad Khan fled to Bukhara.
During this period, two important events influenced the future. Ranjit Singh died in 1839, and thus the British prospects of occupying the Punjab became brighter. Secondly, the British realized that Shah Shuja was extremely unpopular among the Afghans and if they withdrew their forces, he would be dethroned. It was, therefore, decided to maintain a British garrison in Afghanistan. Realizing the difficulty of persuading the Afghan chiefs to accept a British ‘stooge’ as their leader, William Macnaghten was sent to do the job. Almost every conceivable move was made to reconcile the people to Shah Shuja but in vain. In a letter to Captain Macgregor, he confessed:
I have been striving in vain to sow ‘Nifaq’ (dissension) among the rebels and it is perfectly wonderful how they hang together.24
Finally, in desperation, the British decided to leave Afghanistan and their retreat proved the foolishness of the adventure. Their retreat began on January 6, 1842. In addition to the hazards of the freezing weather, the resistance and the attacks of the local people combined to make this retreat one of the most humiliating and bloody in the history of wars. The sole survivor, Dr. Brydon, saved the gory details for the future historians.25
The disastrous aftermath of the First Afghan War proved to be even more disastrous for Sindh and Balochistan. The British had realized the importance of both these areas for their Afghan and Central Asia policy. The logistic importance26 of the area especially the coastal areas of Balochistan attracted them for pursuance of their forward policy westward. They wanted to capture a suitable port, i.e., Jiwani which was on few days cruise from their stronghold, Bombay. They had already acquired Karachi port facilities in 1820s. They were also aware of the vulnerability of the political and administrative set-up of the local rulers. Thus, they lured the Brahui Khan of Kalat to enter into various treaties with the British starting from 1839 to help reinforce their position in this area.
On March 28, 1839, the British had entered into a treaty with the Khan of Kalat to provide a passage and supplies to the Army of Indus on way to Qandahar through Shikarpur, Jacobabad (Khangarh), Dhadar, Bolan Pass, Quetta and Khojak Pass.27 The son of a deposed vizier, Akhund Mohammad Hasan, secretly opposed it. Even the Khan did not like such terms of the treaty, which included acknowledgment of the supremacy of Shah Shuja, his reinstallation in Kabul, to collect and protect supplies of British troops and to get in return an annuity of 150,000 rupees. The Army of Indus faced problems when passing through the Bolan Pass as they were attacked by the tribes of Kachhi and Bolan and it was alleged that all was done at the instigation of Akhund Mohammad Hasan. The British held Mir Mehrab, Khan of Kalat (18171839), responsible for this “violation”. General Willshire, on return from Qandahar, proceeded towards Kalat and deposed the Khan. Mir Mehrab Khan was killed fighting and the British occupied Kalat on November 13, 1839.28 Now it was established that Akhund Mohammad Hasan was, in fact, a protege of the British, and, in order to avenge the removal of his father by the Khan, he had informed the British of the machinations of the Khan.29
Had Mehrab Khan acted like Ranjit Singh and made an alliance with Amir Dost Mohammad Khan perhaps the future history of the area would have been different. However, with the passage of time, the British involvement increased and they gradually attained and strengthened their control in Balochistan through further treaties, military expeditions and intrigues. They installed a teenager, Shahnawaz Khan, a distant relative of Mehrab Khan as the new ruler with Lt. Loveday as Regent and started the dismemberment of Balochistan by giving Quetta and Mastung to Shah Shuja and Kacchi to the rulers of Sindh. But as soon as the British forces left Kalat the tribal sardars revolted and Nasir Khan II (1840-1857), son of Mehrab Khan was enthroned.30 By signing a treaty on October 6, 1841,31 the Khan of Kalat agreed that the British Government would station troops in Kalat, control its foreign relations and rule the State with the British Resident. Within the next few years, the British had annexed Sindh (1843) and the Punjab (1849) and now there was hardly any possibility for the Khan to look for a potential ally in the neighbourhood.32
After many abortive attempts to adopt an effective Afghan policy, the British realised that it was in their best interest to keep the pressure through the frontiers to make sure that the Russians did not succeed in their efforts to move towards Herat and then to Qandahar. Most of the diplomatic correspondence and the concern of the travellers manifested the danger of Russian advance in that region. Nonetheless, we also come across some evidence which suggested that some tacit agreement existed between Moscow and London about the extent to which the two would not pose a threat to each other.
But when the Iranians, encouraged by the Russians, occupied Herat in 1853, it was considered as a clever Russian move. The British immediately moved to establish friendly relations with Amir Dost Mohammad Khan of Kabul through the Treaty of Peshawar, which was signed on March 30, 1855.33 But before that, the British had concluded a treaty with the Khan of Kalat on May 14, 1854,34 which abrogated the treaty of 1841. The new treaty recognized the Khan as an independent ruler while he was expected to oppose the enemies of British and to be friendly with their supporters. Their foes and friends were not named; however, it was clear that the Khan would act as a close ally of the British. In return, the British promised to pay an annual subsidy of 50,000 rupees and to provide military help in case of foreign invasion. This treaty was signed at Mastung, by which Khan’s authority was recognized over the areas from south of Kalat to Arabian Sea and west of Sindh to Iran including Las Bela. According to a British source, “In 1854, when war was anticipated between England and Russia, to strengthen the position on the frontier, a fresh treaty was made.”35 This treaty was further strengthened in 1862 when the boundary between Balochistan and British India was defined and Kalat was declared as a neighbouring state of India. The subsidy was also doubled.36
Another treaty was signed in 1863 which also sought pledge from the Khan to safeguard the British installations. The British Government agreed to pay 20,500 rupees per annum to the Khan for the establishment of posts and development of traffic along the trade routes.37 In this year, the Khan received further boost from the death of Amir Dost Mohammad Khan, the ruler of Kabul. In fact, the British Agent in Qandahar reported to the government that Khan of Kalat, Mir Khudadad Khan (1857-1893) had offered the province of Shal (Quetta) to the ruler of Qandahar if the latter would assist him in consolidating his position at Kalat.38
By now, the British had realized that, for the Khan to be an effective and successful ruler, it was essential that he should have the best of relations with the Sardars of different tribes in his area. If this relationship was good and friendly, the Khan would feel secure. If there was mistrust or enmity between the Khan and the Sardars, the former would either look for help from the British or from the neighbouring rulers. Therefore, it was stipulated that it would be better if the British presence was secured in that area to ensure that this relationship remained good and cordial as well as to keep an eye over the activities of the Khan. It was in view of this that the British occupied Quetta in December 1876, and a new treaty was signed. It was a renewal of 1854 treaty with a few supplementary provisions and was named as the Treaty of Kalat. Some of the provisions of this treaty were: 1. A British Agent would permanently reside at the court of Kalat. 2. The British Agent would use his good offices to settle any dispute between the Khan and the Sardars so that the peace of the country is not disturbed; and 3. The British Government would be at liberty, by arrangement with the Khan, to construct in Kalat territory such lines of telegraph or rail roads, which might be beneficial to the interest of the two governments.39
This treaty was literally imposed on the Khan by the special representative of the Governor-General, Sir Robert Sandeman. It is reflective of the way the British influence in affairs of Balochistan had increased. It is pertinent to point out that John Jacob had written on July 28, 1856, to the Viceroy, Lord Canning, “we should continue to exert such influence which is absolutely necessary and it would neither be advisable nor necessary to assume, in these respects, greater power, either in nature or extent than we now virtually possess or exercise.”40 But, now, the situation had changed and the British had assumed more power in this region than was envisaged before the Uprising of 1857.
This treaty was essentially concerned with the relationship between the Sardars and the Khan, but neither for this treaty nor for the treaty of 1854, were consultations with the Sardars deemed necessary. These treaties were between the British and the Kalat Khanate, yet the Sardars were mentioned with the Khan as parties. 41 This treaty, of course, led to the construction of telegraph and railway lines through the Kalat territory. Sandeman, who was Deputy Commissioner of Dera Ghazi Khan, was instrumental in stationing a British garrison at Quetta. The subsidy of the Khan was increased to rupees thirty thousand per annum with the appointment of Sandeman as Agent to the Governor General with his headquarters at Quetta. On February 21, 1877, the foundation of the Balochistan Agency was laid.42 The British extended their influence around Quetta and the Bolan Pass and the Khan’s control was reduced to nominal.43
In order to understand subsequent events in Balochistan, we have to take into account how the British perceived their interests in Afghanistan. As discussed earlier, the relevance of the vast territory of Balochistan to the British Empire became manifest during the First Afghan War (1839-1842), which, was apparently fought to protect Afghanistan from the Russian influence. Since Balochistan provided easy access to Qandahar and Herat, developments in Afghanistan and Central Asia shaped the British policy towards Balochistan. A loyal and friendly Balochistan definitely meant a safe and reliable launching pad for the necessary interventions in Afghanistan and even in Iran. We shall see how the ‘Great Game’ shaped the destiny of Balochistan after the Second Afghan War.
The First Afghan War was fought on the pretext of the presence of a Russian diplomat in Kabul. It needs to be noted that at that time the Russians were more than two thousand miles away from the Afghan border. The Russians kept advancing in Central Asia without eliciting any reaction from the British. By 1872, they had subdued Khiva, Bukhara, Samarqand, and Turkistan. Instead of strengthening Afghanistan, the British had annoyed the Afghan ruler by awarding the Sistan proper (about 950 square miles, with a population of 45,000) to Iran and leaving the Outer Sistan, and the district on the right bank of Helmand, to Afghanistan as a result of the deliberations of the Siestan Arbitrary Commission in 1872.44 It is true that Siestan was, initially, a part of the Iranian territory but had been attached at different periods to Herat and Qandahar.45 Amir Sher Ali (ruler of Afghanistan) did not approve these arrangements. The British Viceroy, Lord Northbrook (1872-75), anticipating more trouble, refused to accept Amir Sher Ali’s nominee, Abdullah Jan, as heir-prince.
The new Viceroy, Lord Lytton, added fuel to the fire when he demanded that the Amir of Kabul should accept a British Resident at his court. On the Amir’s refusal, he invaded Afghanistan in 1878, and thus the Second Afghan War started. How the fate of Balochistan was tied to the British adventures in Afghanistan is obvious from the role and activities of Sir Henry Rawlinson. In 1868, Rawlinson had advised his government to “occupy Quetta, gain control of the Afghan area by subsidizing the Amir in Kabul, and establish a permanent British Mission in Kabul to keep the Russians out.”46 After the occupation of Quetta, Rawlinson pressed for another war against Afghanistan.
The Second Afghan War, like the First Afghan War, was started on the pretext of keeping the Russians out and feeding the home government with the fear of Russia. Ironically, the declared policy of the British in Afghanistan since the outbreak of the Crimean War (18531856) was “to build up a strong, friendly and united Afghanistan which should serve as a buffer between the British and the Russian aggrandizement.”47 Apparently, not only was Russo-phobia unfounded but also some tacit understanding existed between the two powers. For example when Amir Sher Ali asked the Russians for help against the British during this war, he was advised to make peace with the British. Frustrated, the Amir had to escape to Turkistan. He died near Balkh on February 21, 1879.48
Amir Sher Ali was succeeded by his son, Amir Yaqub Ali Khan in 1879. In order to prevent further advances of the British, Amir Yaqub Ali acceded to their demands in the Gandamak Treaty that was concluded on May 26, 1879.49 This treaty added the districts of Kurram, Pishin and Sibi to the British Empire along with permanent control of Khyber and Michni passes. The British were also given Loralai and the Pashtoon territories lying to the north and east of Quetta. A British Resident was to reside at Kabul. The Amir was prohibited to engage with any foreign power without approval of the British. He was granted 600,000 rupees stipend in return. Not only the treaty extended the boundaries of Balochistan, it reduced Afghanistan to dependency.
This was a very important development because now the British had established themselves on the western frontiers of Balochistan which sandwiched the Khan and the Sardars between British India and British Balochistan. Now the British frontier stood across the Khojak Range to Chaman near Qandahar. Within the next decade, a broad gauge railway line was constructed up to Chaman by tunnels through the hilly areas. In the words of Edward Oliver, “Baluchistan thus became the first point of advance in the pursuit of Forward Policy.”50
The next decade saw the establishment of the contours of the British administration in Balochistan, which remained intact, more or less, for a long time. The near eastern part of Balochistan, inhabited mostly by the Pashtoons, came under the direct administration of the Balochistan Agency. The southern part of Balochistan remained predominantly Baloch in population, whereas the Brahuis were concentrated in the highlands. Further division of Balochistan took place in 1877 whereby some Baloch tribes of the Derajat were put under the Punjab administration. These tribes included Buzdar, Khetran, Khosa, Leghari, Mazari, Qaisrani, etc.51
In order to finalize the demarcation of the border between Balochistan and Afghanistan, a “Baluch-Afghan Boundary Commission”, was instituted in 1895. Colonel McMahon brought to a successful conclusion the demarcation of Durand Line from Gomal to Koh-i-Mulk Siah. The latter is tri-junction of British India, Afghanistan and Iran. Sir Thomas Holditch proposed a boundary between Balochistan and Iran in consultation with the Iranian Commissioner. The Administration Report of Baluchistan Agency 1886 gives the background to this situation.52 The report describes in detail the dissensions among the Makrani Chiefs that invariably led to the raids on Iranian territory. In order to put an end to these raids, the Iranians brought these areas under their control and imposed tribute on these tribes. With the passage of time, they extended their claims over Kej and its dependencies, which were under the suzerainty of the Khan of Kalat.
In order to remove the threat of the raiders and to demarcate the areas under the Khan, the British government and the Shah of Iran had already approved a proposal in Tehran in September 1871. According to the memorandum by the British Commissioner, Major General Goldsmid, Panjgur, Parum, and other dependencies with Kohuk. Boleidee, including Zamiran and other dependencies; Mand, including Tump, Nasirabad, Kej, and all districts, Dehs, and dependencies to the eastward; and Dasht with its dependencies as far as the sea, were declared to be beyond the Persian frontier.53
By the end of the nineteenth century, the British had consolidated their hold on Balochistan, reduced the Khan of Kalat to the status of a vassal, and secured their borders with Iran and Afghanistan through rail and road links, and cantonments.
It is interesting to note the way the British saw the role of the Khan of Kalat and the Balochi Sardars. In a memorandum, Sir Robert Montgomery described the political structure of Balochistan and advised the British Government to strengthen and secure the position of the Khan of Kalat. According to him, “this would secure not only our borders of Sindh and the Punjab against the inroads of Baloch robbers, and the plunder of travellers and merchants to and from our territories to Central Asia but also to the protection of India itself against the possible dangers from the direct or stimulated advance of Persia.”54 He conceded that the revenues of Balochistan were not sufficient for the Khan and the Sardars to effectively manage the affairs of the confederacy. But since there was the British Resident in Kalat, he suggested, “Would it not be possible to make arrangements for the subsidizing of inferior chiefs guaranteed and secured by English power, through English payment? It is my opinion that great political advantages may be gained by the extra grant of the subsidy to the Khan.”55
This preoccupation with the subsidies seemed to be the cornerstone of the British policies. Though nominal, these subsidies, nonetheless, gave the British Resident an upper hand in the affairs of the state administration. Sir Henry Green, a Political Agent at Kalat, proudly mentioned the effect of these subsidies on his status: “The Chiefs and people seem to think that I and the Khan should divide the throne equally, but I have told the Khan that I want to place the power I have gained over his people in his hands.”56 This situation had shaped Lord Lytton’s “Forward Policy”. It appears that this policy also inspired Lord Lytton’s Afghanistan policy, “It had been the policy of Lord Lytton’s government to subdivide the Kingdom of Afghanistan, on the grounds that no Chief could be found sufficiently strong to rule the whole country and secondly, that it was necessary on the line of Quetta, Qandahar, and Herat.”57
While this policy proved successful for the British, it became a handicap for the Khan especially when the subsidy was withdrawn. Again, Henry Green’s reflections on the position of the Khan are revealing. Green had assumed his office when the Khan was only twelve years old. This provided him enough opportunities to win his confidence. He wrote:
The Khan is absolutely powerless to exert unaided by any physical force over his unruly Chiefs and their followers: he can but rule by setting Chief against Chief and the tribe against tribe, and he can only do this with the assistance of money and by its use maintaining on his side the most powerful of his Chiefs. By depriving him of his subsidy we have reduced him to equality with the weakest of his Sardars. We have deprived the country of any semblance of a head.58
It was under these circumstances that the Khans operated under British supremacy. The diplomatic skills of the British officers were not wanting when it came to giving the Khans a sense of false pride. For example, on January 1, 1877, the Khan of Kalat (Khudadad Khan 18571893) and various Sardars of Balochistan were invited to attend the Imperial Assemblage at Delhi. Robert Sandeman was the Agent to the Governor General (hereafter AGG), in Balochistan. In his account, he mentions how these local chiefs were overwhelmed with the railway and telegraph system and how for the first time they realized the strength of the British Government. The Khan, the Jam, and the Sardars from Balochistan were placed apart from the other Indian chiefs as distinguished strangers. When the Khan resented this discriminatory treatment and complained to Sandeman that he was not even considered worthy of receiving a banner which was presented to every other prince, “I (Sandeman) was desired to assure His Highness that no slight of any kind was intended; on the contrary the reason that he had not received a standard was that he occupied the position of a Sovereign Prince entirely independent of the British Government. The Khans and the Sardars were satisfied with this explanation.”59 Lord Lytton also paid return visit to the Khan whereas the native Indian Princes were not granted this high protocol.
The British did not follow a clear and consistent policy in their relations with the Khan and the Sardars. They acted according to the given situation and demand of the circumstances. Thus, at times, they humiliated them, as indicated above. At times, they were honoured and decorated. For example, Lord Lytton admitted Khan Khudadad Khan to the rank of a Knight Grand Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India. Some Sardars also received honours.60
However, such gestures were mostly extended in the time of war or any other grave crisis which demanded loyalty, and support of the local rulers. On special occasions, pleasantries were exchanged. Sandeman wrote to the Khan of Kalat before he went on leave in 1881: “I pray you to think of this sincere friend who is ever with you like a second kernel in one almond”. In response, the Khan acknowledged Sandeman’s contribution to the settlement of disputes of the frontier tribes, opening up the trade routes, administration of the country and the peace of its inhabitants.61 However, not all Khans acted with dignity and self-respect. Mostly it depended on their status and standing with the Baloch Sardars. Khudadad Khan, in particular, was so weak and servile that when Colonel Colley, the Military Secretary to the Viceroy, brought a letter to the Kalat Darbar on October 10, 1887, the Khan “received the viceregal letter under a salute of twenty guns and pressed the document to his forehead.”62
In this context, it would be worth exploring a little further how the British really perceived the position and status of the Khan. Did they consider Balochistan as a protectorate, a confederacy of different tribes under the Khan or a divided state between directly administered areas and the region under the Khan? Indian rulers normally found it to their advantage to maintain a high level of ambiguity towards turbulent border regions. This was often deliberate as it allowed the paramount power greater freedom of action. This freedom was necessary for the center to avoid getting drawn into conflicts too often. Surprisingly the British were not clear about the real status of Balochistan and its rulers. For example, Colonel Graham, the Commissioner of the Derajat and Colonel Phayre, the Political Superintendent of the Upper Sindh Frontier, were not even sure whether Balochistan was a confederacy or a state with a sovereign ruler. The Administration Report of 1886 reflected this confusion. Indeed, in its estimate the view to be taken of the conduct of the Sardars towards the Khan during the prolonged struggle between them, which involved so much loss of life and property, depended entirely on the answer to be given to this question:
If the Khan were a supreme ruler, the Sirdars were rebels without excuse for their rebellion; but if the Khan were the head of a confederacy, of which the Sirdars were members, the latter must be regarded as men engaged in an earnest endeavour to defend their liberties and privileges.63
In an earlier Conference held at Mithankot in February 1871 on question of the relations of the Khan of Kalat towards the Sardars of Balochistan, the British administrators expressed conflicting opinions. Sir W. Merewether and Captain Harrison, Political Agent at Kalat regarded the Khan as a supreme ruler and the Sardars as his subjects and feudatories. On the other hand, Colonel Phayre, Police Superintendent of Sindh, held that the Khan was no more than the head of a confederacy. He could not rule without the support and countenance of the British Government. Robert Sandeman and Colonel Graham were of the same opinion.64
During his feuds with the Sardars, the Khan used to ask for the British armed intervention to settle the problem. However, unless the British interest demanded such an intervention, the Viceroy would not oblige.65 On one occasion, the Khan told the Political Agent, Major Harrison, that if he failed to obtain assistance from the British Government, he would have to ask Afghanistan or Iran for aid. The Political Agent reminded the Khan of the article 3 of the Treaty of 1854, which restricted him from entering into negotiation with other States without the consent of the British Government. He also told the Khan that the Viceroy would not extend any help unless the Kalat government was established on a just basis, the rights of his subjects were properly cared for, and their grievances enquired into and redressed. As a matter of fact, he had simply conveyed to him what the Viceroy had observed: “If we were to intervene in force to support his authority, it would be necessary to enquire into and guarantee the rights of those whose alleged grievances have driven them into what may possibly be a justifiable rebellion.”66
This policy was certainly meant to ensure that the Khan would not emerge as a strong leader. The British wanted to keep for themselves the role of the final arbiter between the Khan and the Sardars without committing their soldiers to strengthen the office of the Khan. Hence, the memorandum on his powers and the responsibilities of the British government clearly stated that:
It was not the duty of the British Government to settle by armed intervention the administration of the Kalat, or to adjust the quarrels between the Khan and his nobles or to help the Khan to assert nominal suzerainty over recalcitrant tribes; and that His Excellency in Council would only give moral and material support.67
In fact, the memorandum clearly curtailed the powers of the Khan by suggesting that, “we shall take our own measures, without reference to him, to protect our territories and the lives and properties of our subjects; that any of his subjects who may commit offences in British territory and be apprehended there, will receive the utmost penalty of the Law.” 68
That does not mean that the British did not intervene in the feuds between the Khan and the Sardars. Often, they settled the disputes, but, each time, the Khan’s financial and administrative powers were further curtailed. The real author of this policy was Sandeman who ensured that the Khan had no right to a financial contribution from the Sardars. He was allowed income only from crown lands and custom duties, after paying the share to the local Sardars. The Sardars remained supreme in their own tribes whereas inter-tribal feuds were adjudicated by Jirga in which the Khan did not enjoy any special privileges. Thus, for all practical purposes, the Agent to the Governor-General was the real head of the Baloch Confederation. The glory of the Khan’s status was confined only to rituals of his court where “His Highness is still the nominal head, the Sarawan and Jhalawan Chiefs still sit on his right and left in the Durbars. And till he (Sardar) is invested by the Khan with the robe of succession, a Sardar, is not legitimized as a representative of his tribe”.69
With the passage of time, the AGG assumed the power of nominating the Sardars, summoning of Jirgas for the settlement of intertribal disputes, and the general observation of law and order in the country. The British believed that the AGG commanded more respect and obedience than the Khan in spite of the fact that in certain parts of the tribal areas like Sarawan and Jhalawan, the Khan was still respected.70 The presence of five thousand British soldiers at the Quetta Cantonment further strengthened the position of the AGG. The local chiefs were either ruled through the Khan or received money from the AGG, either as pension compensation for custom dues or for rendering services in the levies. Whenever either the Khan crossed his limits, in internal matters or in relation to the British interest, he was changed and replaced by a son or brother, whatever the requirement. On March 29, 1893 Mir Khudadad Khan was imprisoned and his son, Mir Mahmud Khan II (1893-1931), was placed on the throne of Kalat.71 Mir Khudadad died in captivity on May 21, 1907 at Pishin.72 The Khan functioned virtually like a dummy and the British AGG, in the name of the Khan, passed practically all court and administrative orders.
However, these measures were in no way endearing to either the Khan or some Sardars. Khan of Kalat, Mir Mahmud Khan II, for example, though weak, could not hide his feelings against the British. “He neither went to visit a British official nor went out of his way in welcoming them. On the contrary, he is reported to have encouraged many anti-British uprisings in Balochistan. Realizing his failure in regaining his lost prestige, he died in his palace on November 2, 1931”.73 His several abortive attempts to regain his powers through all possible means did not earn him a good name in the annals of Baloch history. One nationalist Baloch author however, declared all his reign of thirty-eight years as “shameful” and described him as the “Prince of Darkness.”74
The British had established themselves as rulers of Balochistan without much opposition. They received enthusiastic support from the loyal Sardars during the First World War. Official communications showed that the Khan and his associates offered recruits, camels, and, in certain cases, even cash to finance the British war efforts. Though there were reports of the presence of Turkish and German agents in Balochistan, Iran and Afghanistan, yet there was no major uprising in favour of Turkey in Balochistan during the war. The British, however, highlighted and exaggerated the German threat. In 1915, the infamous, future “butcher” of Jallianwala Bagh (1919), Amritsar, BrigadierGeneral Dyer was sent to Balochistan to deal with the threat. The British thought that Germans would invade India through Balochistan, and would ultimately break their Indian Empire. In 1916, the “German agents” allegedly killed two British officers, Lt. Horst and Lt. Hughes in Makran,75 which resulted in the unleashing of several punitive expeditions under General Dyer.76 The areas particularly hit were Jhalawan, in 1915-16 and Marri-Bugti areas in 1918.77
The whole Pashtoon belt adjacent to the Afghanistan border, including the Zhob, Qila Saifullah, Loralai, Sanjawi areas were up in revolt at the advent of the Third Afghan War in 1919. Although the war lasted hardly a week or so, the British had to face a staunch resistance from the Pushtoon freedom fighters in Balochistan. Among Pashtoons, there is a long list of such freedom fighters but the place of Shahjahan Jogazai was the most prominent of all.78
The first two decades of the twentieth century witnessed many developments that affected the people of Balochistan significantly. PanIslamic movement, the Khilafat movement, and the Third Afghan War directly affected the people, particularly the Pashtoons. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia replaced the Czarist threat to the British Empire with an ideology that was directed against the capitalist and the colonial West. The British forces were kept engaged quelling various disturbances during this period. During 1915-1919, the British faced revolts from both Baluch and Pashtoon tribes. They mounted about fifteen major expeditions and several minor expeditions to subdue the defiant forces in Balochistan.79
But there were some developments that helped ease British relations with Russia and Afghanistan, and thus allowed them more freedom to deal with the situation in Balochistan. The Durand Line80 was drawn under a treaty signed on November 12, 1893 between Sir Mortimer Durand on behalf of the British India and Amir Abdul Rahman of Afghanistan.81 In 1887, the Ridgeway Line, named after Sir West Ridgeway, fixed the northern boundaries of Afghanistan and Russia.82 Thus, Afghanistan emerged as the buffer state lying between the Imperial British India and the Czarist Empire (after 1917, the Soviet Union) in Central Asia.83

In summation, several conclusions can be drawn from the above lines. First, it can be said that by the time political activities began in India on a large scale, Balochistan was still struggling to cope with the advent of the new British administrative set-up. After the death of Mir Mahmood Khan on November 2, 1931,84 his brother, Amir Azam Khan was taken out of captivity, and installed as the Khan of Kalat. Lord Willingdon, the Viceroy of India, visited Balochistan to install the new Khan himself. A Grand Durbar was held at Quetta on April 26, 1932 for the purpose.85 Khan Amir Azam Khan died in December 1932 and his son, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, succeeded him in 1933, who eventually helped the transformation of Balochistan from a British dependency to a part of Pakistan.
Secondly, the British had employed the policy of ‘divide and rule’ by keeping the Khan under their supervision, curtailing his powers, and acting as intermediaries between the Sardars and the Khan. Instead of establishing a clearly demarcated role for the Khan and the tribal chiefs, they ensured that confusion and complications existed between their relationships. They had established their rule in Balochistan but continuously faced opposition from different tribes.
Thirdly, the British never lost sight of their initial objective in occupying Balochistan which was to guard the frontiers of India against possible intrusions from the mountain passes, which separated the subcontinent from Iran and Afghanistan.
Fourthly, since the major victims of British colonialism in India were Muslims, the British wanted to ward off any linkages between the Muslim world and Muslim India. They achieved this through a clever use of strategic points in Balochistan, demarcation of boundaries, and actively intervening in the affairs of the two neighbouring Muslim states of Afghanistan and Iran.
Fifthly, though in the traditional sense, the Russian and the French threats were over, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the emergence of Germany as a major power, and, Turkey being its ally, never let the British sit comfortably in the saddle of power. All this indeed determined the nature of administrative patterns of the British rule in Balochistan.
Finally, one has to agree with Embree in context with the continuing policy of Pakistan towards Balochistan, “In any case the new state of Pakistan, for better or worse, lives with realities that link it with the great transformation of politics that took place in the sub-continent in the mid-nineteenth century”.86


1  Louis Dupree, Afghanistan (Karachi, 1977), p.362.
2  Percy Sykes, The History of Persia (London, 1969), Vol.II, p.298.
3  Dupree, Afghanistan, p.363.
4  Ibid.
5  Fraser Tytler, Afghanistan (London, 1967), p.80.
6  Muhammad Anwar Khan, England, Russia and Central Asia (Peshawar, 1963), p.4.
7  Tytler, Afghanistan, p.81.
8  Sykes, The History of Persia, Vol.II, p.319.
9  Ibid.
10  Dupree, Afghanistan, pp.365-368.
11  Ibid., p.369.
12  Tytler, Afghanistan, pp.84-85.
13  M.E. Yapp, Strategies of British India; Britain, Iran and Afghanistan 1799-1850 (New York: 1980), p.253.
14  John William Kaye, A History of the War in Afghanistan (London: 1874, 2nd ed, New Delhi, 1999), Vol.I, p.18.
15  J.I. Norris, The First Afghan War, 1838-1842 (Cambridge: 1967), p.134. It is amazing to see that both the hostile envoys paid visit to each other and were combined together at Christmas Dinner at Burnes’ residence in 1837.
16  Dupree, Afghanistan, p.371.
17  Kaye, A History of War, p.269.
18  Ibid., pp.319-23.
19  A.T. Embree, ed. Pakistan’s Western Borderlands (Karachi, 1979), pp.30-31. He was further of the view, “to extend the British influence into Afghanistan so that Russian dominance not be extended throughout the area.”
20  Ibid., pp.404-406.
21  Dupree, Afghanistan, p.377.
22  Mir Naseer Khan Baluch Ahmadzai, Tarikh-i-Baloch wa Balochistan (Quetta, 2000), Vol.VI, pp.49-50.
23  Dupree, Afghanistan, p.378.
24  L/P&S/5. Enclosures to Secret Letters Received from India, Vol.82. January 9, 1842, No.9. India Office Records (British Library), London.
25  Baluchistan and The First Afghan War, pp.375-76.
26  For best account of the logistic and strategic importance of the area consult, M.E.Yapp, Strategies of British India.
27  Ahmadzai, Tarikh-i-Baloch, Vol.VI, pp.57-58. It must be pointed out that Alexander Burnes negotiated this treaty. For text of the treaty see, C.U. Aitchison, A Collection of Treaties, Engagements and Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries, Baluchistan (Delhi, 1933), Vol.XI, pp.350-51.
28  Ibid., pp.67-68.
29  Ibid., pp.79.
30  A.B. Awan, Baluchistan: Historical and Political Processes (London: 1985), p.62.
31  Aitchison, A Collection of Treaties, Vol.XI, pp.351-52.
32  The Press List of Old Records in the Punjab Government Secretariat, Lahore, Serial No.2346,
33  Dupree, Afghanistan, p.401.
34  Hughes, The Country of Baluchistan, pp.216-17. See also Aitchison, A Collection of Treaties, Vol. XI, pp.352-353.
35  First Administration Report of the Baluchistan Agency (Calcutta, 1886), p.4.
36  Aitchison, A Collection of Treaties, Vol.XI, pp.357-58.
37  Ibid., pp.358-60.
38  The Press List of Old Records, Serial No.2346. Dated September 16, 1863.
39  First Administration Report, pp.54-55. Also see, Aitchison, A Collection of Treaties, Vol. XI, pp.362-64.
40  H.T. Lambrick, John Jacob of Jacobabad (Karachi, 1975), p.412.
41  Ibid. p.413. T.H. Thoronton, Acting Foreign Secretary to the Govt. of India in the year 1877, states that, “while the treaty of 1854 is between the British Government and the Khan of Kalat alone, in the Treaty of 1876 the Sardars are mentioned with the Khan as parties”. Col. T.H. Thoronton, Sir Robert Sandeman (London, 1895), p.93.
42  Ibid.
43  Mir Ahmad Yar Khan ‘Mukhtasar Tareekh Qaum-i-Baloch Wa Khawanee-i-Baloch (Quetta, 1970), p.61. Also Edward Oliver, Across the Border: Pathan and Biloch (London, 1890), pp.22-23.
44  Sykes, The History of Persia, Vol.II, pp.363-64.
45  Ibid.
46  D. Ghose, England and Afghanistan: A Phase in their Relations (Calcutta: 1960), p.10.
47  First Administrative Report, p.88.
48  Dupree, Afghanistan, p.409.
49  First Administrative Report, pp.77-78.
50  Oliver, Across the Border, p.123.
51  Mir Khuda Baksh Bijrani Marri Baluch, Searchlight on Baluchis and Baluchistan (Karachi: 1974), pp.18-20.
52  First Administrative Report, p.9.
53  Ibid.
54  Political & Secret Department, L/P&S 18 A, pp.6-20 Memorandum by Sir Robert Montgomery on the Punjab and Scinde Frontier, Khelat, etc., February 7, 1870.
55  Ibid., p.7.
56  Lambrick, John Jacob of Jacobabad, p.412. The ruling Khan was Mir Khudadad Khan. The letter was written to John Jacob.
57  First Administrative Report, p.88.
58  Political and Secret Department, L/P&S 18 A.7. Major General Sir Green to Colonel Bruce, London, February, 18, 1875, pp.5-7.
59  First Administrative Report, p.56.
60  Ibid. Following it, the Government of India published its Resolution on February 21, 1877, ordering the re-establishment and extension of the Baluchistan Agency. Robert Sandeman was appointed the Agent to the Governor General.
61  A.L.P. Tucker, Sir Robert Sandeman; Peaceful Conqueror of Baluchistan (Lahore, 1979), p.58.
62 Col. T.H. Thoronton, Sir Robert Sandeman (London: 1895), p.58.
63  First Administrative Report, pp.15-17.
64  Ibid.
65  Ibid., p.31.
66  Ibid. Robert Sandeman further noted in this respect: “His Excellency in Council has long ceased to expect from the Khan any efficient action towards the establishment of even responsible Government. During the last 17 years, the British Government has done everything in its power to strengthen his hands and enable him to fulfil his treaty obligations. Extra subsidies have been given; he has received from us presents of money. The Viceroy with distinctions has received him. In short everything has been done by the British Government that could have been done to raise him in the estimation of his subjects, and enable him to discharge all the duties which devolve upon him as the ruler of the Kalat State but all has been of no avail.”
67  Ibid., p.20.
68  Ibid., p.36.
69 Ibid., p.9 “But in the essential questions of the nomination of the Sardars, the summoning of the Jirgas for the settlement of inter-tribal disputes and the general preservation of peace in the country, the Agent to the Governor General was recognized all over Baluchistan as having taken the place of the Khan, and his mandate naturally commanded a great deal more respect and obedience than did ever of His Highness (the Khan). Moreover, the Sardars looked to the AGG for protection against the Khan. The fact of the matter was that the Khan had no right to money contribution from the Sardars, though they were bound to fellow him to battle against a foreign foe. He derived his income from Crown Lands, from custom dues, to a share of which the local tribes were in place entitled, and to a very small extent from land revenue shared with local Chiefs. He had no power over the lives and property of the tribesmen outside what may be called the crown domains. The Chiefs settled disputes in their own tribes, and Jirgas of all the Chiefs adjudicated disputes between men of different tribes by Jirga. On very important occasions, the Khan presided the Jirgas. Such a state of affairs naturally led to infighting and feuds between the Khan and Sardars. Indeed since Sir Sandeman’s Missions in 1876-77, the AGG has practically taken the place of the Khan as head of the Baluchistan or Brahui Confederation.”
70  Ibid., p.9.
71  Ahmadzai,  Tarikh-i-Baloch, Vol.VI, pp.562-63. He is also blamed,” An ogre and had executed his 3500 subjects. Minor theft charges were stoned to death. Vizier’s 90 years old father was hacked to death.” Charles C. Trench, Viceroy’s Agent (London: 1987), p.87.
72  Ibid., p.569.
73  Ibid., p.216.
74  Sardar Mohammad Khan Baluch, The Baluch Race and Baluchistan (Quetta: 1958), p.45.
75  Sykes, The History of Persia, Vol.II, pp.441-53.
76  Dyer, R.E. The Raiders of the Sarhad (London: 1921), Personal account of his 18 month expedition in Balochistan.
77  Ibid., pp.454-55.
78 Abdul Rahman Ghour, Hamari Jido Jihad (Quetta: 1995), pp.11-13. The Pashtoons had been residing in Zhob, Loralai, Harnai, Quetta and Pishin districts of Baluchistan for thousands of years. They had resisted the invaders throughout the ages. In 1338, the Kakars of the area had fought against Peer Mohammad, the grandson of Amir Taimur. Ahmad Shah Abdali had assigned the Sardari of Zhob to a pious Jogazai, Baqaneka and entitled him as “Badshah-i-Zhob”. The Jogazais fought against the British also. The most active person against them was Shahjahan Jogazai. He inflicted heavy losses on them. He fought two major battles with the British. In 1879, a British force of about one thousand troops under General Biddulph challenged Shahjahan Jogazai’s 500 men at Baghao near Sanjawai. The British wanted to occupy Loralai. But the Jogazai force equipped with primitive swords repulsed the well-armed troops.  Consequently, till the next year, the British could not dare another expedition. On August 16, 1880, Colonel T.W. Pierce was sent at the head of 300 soldiers of Bombay Infantry. Shahjahan Jogazai and Sardars Faiz Mohammad Khan Panezai led Panezais, Sarangzais and Kakars of Zhob. The ill-equipped indigenous tribals repulsed the British army in three hours tough fight. The last two battles of 1883 and 1884 are very remarkable which were fought at Thal Chotali against the British. Shahjahan Jogazai stood victorious in these fights and the British had to bear heavy losses. Shahjahan fought the British till his death. The British had acknowledged his bravery.
79  Embree, Pakistan’s Western Borderlands, p.33. Also see “Frontier and Overseas expeditions From India,” Vol.III (Calcutta: 1910), pp.325-41.
80  Percy Sykes, Sir Mortimer Durand (London, 1926). The Durand Line running between Afghanistan and Baluchistan marks a common border of about 720 miles. It is considered one of the best-demarcated and easily recognizable boundary lines in the world. The British historian Fraser Tytler regards it “Illogical from the point of view of ethnography, strategy and geography.” Tytler, Afghanistan, P.188. Lawrence Ziring is of the view, “Durand Line met some of the defensive needs of the British Indian Empire”. Lawrence Ziring, Pakistan the Enigma of Political Development (Colorado: 1980), p.149.
81  Dupree, Afghanistan, p.424.
82  Ibid.
83  Ahmadzai, Tarikh-i- Baloch (Quetta: 2000), Vol.VII, p.216.
84  Ibid., p.256.
85  Ibid., p.267.
86  Embree, Pakistan’s Western Borderlands, p.40.

Courtesy: Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, Vol.XXVIII, No.2 (2007) 

Comments Off on The British Advent in Balochistan

Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Balochistan


The British Raj: Fighting The Marris And The Khetrans

The Duki Column of the Marri Field Force, Baluchistan.
February to April 1918

Baluchistan in 1918

The Baluchistan Province of British India was a large but thinly inhabited territory that bordered southern Aghanistan, south-east Persia and the approaches to the Straits of Hormuz leading into the Persian Gulf. The Province was administered directly by the Indian Political Service, as was the North-West Frontier Province immediately to the north. During the Great War both of these Provinces were targeted by German agents positioned in neutral Persia who used gold and intrigue to spread disaffection against British rule.

The Marri tribe of eastern Baluchistan had a history of resistance to the British. The tribesmen were long-bearded and long-haired and lived in a remote, barren area that was relatively untouched by economic progress or the war. In 1917 Marri chiefs had travelled to Quetta for a visit by the British Viceroy and there probably they had been led to believe by other more devious chiefs that there were no British soldiers left in India as all had gone to the war. Then the British Political Agent asked for Marri recruits for a tribal levy, this caused anger and the Marris swore to refuse this British request. In February 1918 this anger was translated into action and an attack was mounted on Gumbaz Fort.


The interior of Fort Gumbaz

The attack on Gumbaz Fort

Thirty men from the 3rd Skinner’s Horse were garrisoning Gumbaz Fort when news of trouble brewing in the Marri region was received at regimental headquarters in Lorelai.  On 17th February 1918 Major J.R. Gaussen CMG, DSO was despatched with 50 more men to reinforce Gumbaz, and this group arrived at the fort the following day.  The fort and surrounding area appeared quiet and the resident Political Officer, Lieutenant Colonel F. McConaghey, was living in his bungalow some distance away.  However towards evening Gaussen sensed impending violence and he persuaded the Political Officer to move into the fort.

Gaussen’s appreciation for the defence of the fort with just 80 men had decided him not to attempt a perimeter defence but to concentrate his men in the two flanking towers; he commanded one tower and Lieutenant H.B. Watson (Indian Army Reserve of Officers attached to 3rd Skinner’s Horse) commanded the other.  At 2300 hours on 19th December several hundreds of mainly sword-wielding Marris suddenly attacked, scaled the fort walls, and then hurled themselves against the towers.  Mullahs had promised the tribesmen immunity from infidel bullets and the Marris were fearless.  The intensity of the fighting can be gauged from the citations for the two Indian Orders of Merit (2nd Class) that were later awarded:

No 786 Dafadar Lal Singh, 3rd Skinner’s Horse

This non-commissioned officer showed the greatest gallantry and power of command in action on the night of 19th-20th February 1918.  He exposed himself continually to fire, directing fire and rallying his men, till severely wounded.  When the non-commissioned officer who had charge of the key of the magazine had been cut down, and the key lost, he at once volunteered to go down and force open the magazine, ammunition being needed.  When wounded, he was placed under the little cover available but a second bullet inside the post struck him in the brain and killed him.

No 1334 Lance Dafadar Khem Singh, 3rd Skinner’s Horse

When his post was attacked from the rear, he at once rushed out to the head of the ladder and resolutely defended it from a mob of Marris, shooting down several and holding the ladder unaided until the attack was beaten off.


Marri Country

The first assault was halted but minutes later fresh waves of Marris vigorously attacked again until they too were driven out of the fort by rifle fire.  A third and final attack was mounted at 0200 hours 20th February but this also eventually withered under the intensive rifle fire of the defenders.  As they departed the Marris showered curses on their infidel foes and carried away some of their own casualties, but even so 200 dead or wounded tribesmen were found lying in and around the fort as dawn broke.  The regimental history does not record the casualties sustained by 3rd Skinner’s Horse.

This had been a very savage action and it was later included in the Official List of Battles and Actions of the Great War.  For gallantry displayed in commanding the towers James Robert Gaussen received a Companionship of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire (CIE), as did Frank McConaghey who had been fighting alongside him, and Harold Boyes Watson was awarded a Military Cross.

The Marri Field Force

The Marris continued attacking government buildings and induced the Khetran tribe to join them; the Khetranis joined in wholeheartedly and burned down buildings at Barkhan on 7th March.  But on 28th February the government had sanctioned punitive measures.  Lieutenant General R. Wapshare CB, CSI ordered a Field Force to concentrate at two locations: Duki for operations against the Marris and Dera Gazi Khan for operations against the Khetrans.  Brigadier General T.H. Hardy commanded at Duki and Brigadier General P.J. Miles commanded at Dera Gazi Khan.  Details of the major units that were most active in the two columns can be extracted from the list of recipients of the Battle Honour shown at the end of the article.


Marri Nawab with retainers

The Deri Ghazi Khan (or Rakhni) Column

 The 1st Battalion of the 55th Coke’s Rifles (Frontier Force), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel H.E. Herdon, de-trained at Deri Ghazi Khan on 4th March 1918.  The four rifle companies were class-composed of: Dogras, Sikhs, Punjabi Mussulmans and Pathans; the Pathan company was half Yusufzais and half Khattacks.  Colonel Herdon was ordered to move to Fort Munro, 90 kilometres away and on top of a 1,800 metre-high escarpment; the battalion departed on 5th March.  The following day news was received of an impending attack on Fort Bhar Khan, 100 kilometres distant.  Colonel Herdon marched towards Fort Bhar Khan with half of his battalion but after travelling 16 kilometres further news was received that the Fort Bhar Khan garrison had escaped to Kher.  Colonel Herdon now set his compass towards Kher, and by marching through a pitch-black night accompanied by heavy rain and mist his half-battalion reached Kher at 0130 hours on 7th March.  The men had no greatcoats or blankets and no food was available, whilst the only huts there were fire-damaged.  On the next day the other half of Coke’s Rifles reached Kher, and a rudimentary supply line was established.  Over the next few days the battalion picqueted the roads to Girdo and Rakhni.

On 15th March around 3,000 Marris and Khetranis, mostly swordsmen, attacked Fort Munro.  Coke’s Rifles marched hard to get there in time, accompanied by Centre Section (2 guns) of 23rd (Peshawar) Mountain Battery.  The tribesmen got into some bungalows near the fort and occupied an adjacent hill.  Centre Section was commanded by Captain T.F. Hennessy and he provided fire support, firing 32 rounds at 1550 metres range whilst two companies of Coke’s Rifles attacked and dispersed the enemy.  Coke’s Rifles had four men wounded, one mortally, by sword cuts.

The next day more troops arrived and the Force moved to Rakhni from where punitive columns destroyed villages, cut crops, seized cattle and took many prisoners.  The 12th Pioneers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel J.S. Hooker, supported the infantry by road and camel-track construction, and often by accompanying columns to use pioneer expertise in demolishing villages.  The region was dry and very hot by day, but the temperature dropped to freezing conditions by night.

Sapper engineering support

As well as the pioneer support both the Bengal and the Bombay Sappers & Miners provided sub-units for heavier military engineering tasks.  Captain H.E. Roome, Royal Engineers, commanded the 52nd Company, Bengal Sappers & Miners, whilst Captain M.G.G. Campbell, Royal Engineers, commanded the 72nd Company, Bombay Sappers & Miners.  The sappers improved water supplies and communications generally, bridging ravines, destroying enemy fortified towers and erecting camp defences.

The Duki Column

Units in the column de-trained at Harnai and concentrated at Duki by 18th March, when the order of battle was:

·        Column Headquarters
·        One Squadron 3rd Skinner’s Horse
·        One section of 23rd (Peshawar) Mountain Battery
·        One section of Sappers & Miners
·        1st Battalion The South Lancashire Regiment
·        107th Pioneers
·        2nd Battalion 2nd King Edward’s Own Gurkhas, with one platoon from 3rd Battalion 5th Gurkha Rifles attached
·        Detachments from the 71st Punjabis, the only Christian battalion in the Indian Army.
·        A Machine Gun Company, motor cycle mounted.
·        Two sections of a Field Ambulance.
·        A detachment of Mule Corps.
·        A detachment of Bikaner Camel Corps, an Imperial Service unit provided by the Princely State of Bikaner.

Rain fell heavily on Duki and there was little shelter.  The South Lancashires, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel A. De Vere Willoughby-Osborne, was an all-British unit on the peace-time ration scale. The battalion suffered because it was impossible to make local purchases as there were no local suppliers in sight.  The British soldiers were each issued with half a kilogram of atta flour (milled from semi-hard wheats) with which to make chapatis, but they needed friendly help from the Indian units before anything resembling a chapati appeared.  At Duki it was decided to forget about the motor cycles as there were no roads ahead of the column, so the machine gun sections were converted to pack-animal transport and the ammunition belts were carried in packing cases by mules and camels.  The former motor cyclist riders had worn the soles off their boots cornering on their bikes, and being in no condition to march a long distance they persevered as far as Kohlu where they stayed as a garrison. The 107th Pioneers, commanded by Major W.P.M.D. McLaughlin initially picqueted the road by day between Harnai and Ashgara, garrisoning posts along them.  One night a company camp at Torkhan was surrounded by hostile Marris, but the pioneers’ rifle fire drove off the tribesmen at a loss of one Pioneer wounded.  The 107th then marched with the Duki column.

The column advanced on 18th March to Gumbaz, the scene of the February attack, where mules were allocated to carry greatcoats.  Meat was driven ‘on the hoof’ and the herdsmen had to be constantly chivvied to keep up with the column.  Next morning Nurhan, the entrance to the Marri country, was reached and a reconnaissance party observed many stone-built sangars (protective firing positions) on the crests of hills controlling the valley that had to be used as a route; however the sangars were not manned.  That night heavy rain soaked the greatcoats and blankets which resulted in unstable mule-loads that constantly slipped during the following day; the wet blankets froze stiff during the following night.


The two British guns lost to the Marris in 1840 

Air support

Air co-operation planes had appeared overhead. These were BE2c aircraft from Nos 31 and 114 Squadrons, Royal Air Force; two planes were based at Sibi, two more at Duki and a further five at Deri Ghazi Khan. The first sortie, on 1st March, was a plane armed with a Lewis gun and four small bombs that went looking for a reported 3,000-strong lashkar (fighting group) of Marris approaching from Chandia. The plane made no contact, and this was fortunate as the reported lashkar was in fact the audience dispersing after a sports meeting at Chandia. However operationally the planes could look for enemy groups and drop messages on the columns with details of enemy locations or directions of travel, and they could bomb villages and camps. On 24th March Kahan, capital of the Marri district, was bombed and 14 armed tribesmen were killed. The threat offered by the aeroplanes was a significant deterrent and helped in eventually subduing the inadequately armed belligerents.

Securing Watwangi Pass

On 22nd March the column secured and marched through the very steep-sided Watwangi Pass, leaving half the Gurkhas there to secure the route and operate punitive columns. Lieutenant Colonel A.B. Tillard, the Gurkhas’ commanding officer, stayed with his headquarters at Zrind at the top of the pass. The two companies of Gurkhas that marched onwards with the column were commanded by Captain E.J. Corse Scott. Kohlu was reached where the revenue and levy posts had been burned out. Here the column halted for a few days, the motor cyclists in their by-now imitations of boots were left as a Line of Communication garrison whilst infantry columns destroyed local villages and crops and collected any weapons seen.

Confiscated herds of livestock were attached to the column and moved on with it to Bor, where torrential rain all night prevented cooking and allowed the livestock to escape. To recover the stock 40 South Lancashire volunteers who claimed equestrian status were mounted on transport mules, with pack-saddles and rope stirrups, and sent back towards Kohlu. However as soon as the mules decided to move up a gear from walking to trotting the countryside was littered with dismounted soldiers and riderless mules; it took two hours to reform the detachment. The mules were then walked to Kohlu where the herds had faithfully returned, and a sheep or two or three were requisitioned to provide grilled lamb chops with the chapatis that evening.

It took all of the next day to return to Bor as the herds were very hungry and stampeded towards grazing whenever they saw it; by now few of the equestrian volunteers wanted to ever ride again. Bor was totally fly-infested and when eating, speed and dexterity with spoon and fork were essential to prevent the swallowing of swarms of flies. Also the water was brackish and purgative, keeping all ranks on the run. Everyone kept on good terms with the re-supply convoy commander who always brought a barrel of sweet water up with him.

The action at Hadb 

As 4th April dawned news came in of a strong lashkar (fighting group) of around 1,500 Marris positioned at Hadb to bar the route to Mamand.  The lashkar was occupying sangars on the crest of a long upward-running spur.  A reconnaissance was made resulting in a decision to attack directly with two companies of Gurkhas and one company of South Lancashires, supported by the mountain gunners.


Marri Nawab signs terms with General Hardy

A Gurkha company and a South Lancashire platoon climbed the spur and the steep ground at its head whilst two other South Lancashire companies manoeuvred to be able to fire into the Marris’ flank as they retired.

As the British assault troops crested the ridge and engaged the sangars the Marris broke and retreated, leaving up to 100 dead on the ground; many wounded were carried away.  Shells from the mountain guns and the kukhris and bayonets of the assaulting troops had all done deadly work in and around the sangars.  This was the only stand made by the primitively-armed Marris against the Duki Column.  Five British soldiers had been wounded.  Subadar Gamer Sing Gurung and 2403 Lance Naik Dhanraj Gurung, both of 2/2nd King Edward’s Own Gurkhas, were later Mentioned in Despatches


The Duki Column moved on to the Marri capital of Kahan without further opposition, arriving on 18th April.  During the following day the Political staff got to work and on 2nd May accepted the formal submission of the Marri Nawab and tribal headmen.  A similar acceptance from the Khetrans was accepted at Barkhan on 7th May.  By now hot weather had arrived, with temperatures reading 110 degrees in the shade.

Whilst at Kahan the gunners came across two British 12-pounder howitzers that had been spiked and abandoned after a disastrous encounter with the Marris in 1840.  The guns were hauled back to Quetta where one of them adorned the Royal Artillery mess there for several years.

As hostilities had ended the Duki Column marched back towards Duki.  The 55th Coke’s Rifles was met at Chappi Kach, complete with tents, a proper scale of rations, and beer; the 55th was generous towards its companions-in-arms.  At Harnai station a Munro Canteen had been set up, manned by ladies from Quetta; after appreciating the canteen contents and the kindness of the staff the column entrained for Quetta.  Uniforms were torn and patched, and boots were disintegrating, but after three months of marching across the unforgiving Baluchistan terrain all ranks were fit, slim, and content.

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur De Vere Willoughby-Osborne, The South Lancashire Regiment, was later Mentioned in Despatches and also received a Companionship of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire (CIE).


The Jirgah deciding Marri & Khetrani guilt for the uprising.

Battle Honour

These twelve regiments and units were awarded the Battle Honour Baluchistan 1918, but those underlined did not elect to carry the honour; the units and sub-units from these twelve that were employed in the 1918 Marri Field Force are shown bracketed:

§ The South Lancashire Regiment (1st Bn);
§ The Kent Cyclist Battalion (1st/1st Bn);
§ Skinner’s Horse (3rd Skinner’s Horse);
§ The Peshawar Mountain Battery (23rd (Peshawar) Battery);
§ The Bengal Sappers & Miners; (52nd Company);
§ The Bombay Sappers & Miners; (72nd Company);
§ Madras Pioneers (81st Pioneers);
§ Bombay Pioneers (12th Pioneers and 107th Pioneers);
§ The Frontier Force Rifles (1st/55th Coke’s Rifles);
§ The 2nd Gurkha Rifles (2nd Bn);
§ The 4th Gurkha Rifles (1st Bn).


Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India, Volume III, Baluchistan and the First Afghan War ( )

The History of Skinner’s Horse by Major A.M. Daniels.

History of the 2nd King Edward’s Own Goorkhas (The Sirmoor Rifle Regiment), Volume II, 1911-1921. By Colonel L.W. Shakespear.

History of the Bombay Pioneers by Lieutenant Colonel W.B.P. Tugwell.

The Frontier Force Rifles, 1849-1946 by Brigadier W.H. Condon OBE.

Official History. The War in the Air, Volume Six by H.A. Jones.

(The above six titles are available as re-prints from The Naval & Military Press Ltd.)

Unattributed Article in the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Museum Archives, The Marri Field Force 1918.

Ich Dien: The Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment) 1914-1934 by Captain H. Whalley-Kelly. Gale & Polden, Aldershot 1935.

Regimental Journal Article: The Defence of Fort Gumbaz February 1918 by Lieutenant Colonel K.C. Cradock-Watson, Skinner’s Horse.

Reward of Valour. The Indian Order of Merit, 1914-1918 by Peter Duckers. Jade Publishing Limited, 1999.
The Indian Political Service . A Study in Indirect Rule by Terence Creagh Coen KBE, CIE. Chatto & Windus, London, 1971.

The History of the Indian Mountain Artillery by Brigadier General C.A.L. Graham DSO, OBE, DL, psc. Gale & Polden Ltd, Aldershot, 1957. (

The Indian Sappers & Miners by Lieutenant Colonel E.W.C. Sandes DSO, MC.

The Battle Honours of the British and Indian Armies 1662-1982 by H.C.B. Cook. Leo Cooper, London, 1987.

Indian Army List, January 1919.

London Gazettes Nos 31235 (pages 3586-87) of 17 March 1919, and 31903 (pages 5581-83) of 18 May 1920.

(An edited version of this article appeared in a recent issue of Durbar, the journal of the Indian Military Historical Society . Gratitude is expressed to the Royal Geographical Society for the use of their photographs, and to Matthew Broadbridge for drawing attention to the Cradock-Watson article.)

Comments Off on The British Raj: Fighting The Marris And The Khetrans

Posted by on December 10, 2015 in Balochistan


The British Raj: Operations in Mekran 1898 – 1902


At the turn of the 19th Century, the Mekran area of northwest India (now Pakistan) and adjacent southeast Persia was a remote dry strip of land running along the northern coastline of the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. This was, and remains today, one of the most hostile and inaccessible regions in the world. Mountains rising to over 10,000 feet formed a backdrop to the coastal desert. Habitation inland followed watercourses that ran through gorges in the hills where date gardens could be irrigated. Coastal communities existed on fishing and smuggling, with Muscat, in Oman across the Straits of Hormuz, being a major source of illegally-imported weapons. The camel provided a transport resource, as well as milk and meat. The standard of living was very low, bordering on wretched, for many inhabitants. The people were hardy and lawless Muslim Baluch tribesmen who resisted outside interference and who constantly intrigued and fought amongst themselves.

In the British-administered portion of Mekran government of a sort was achieved by tribal treaty supervised by British Political Agents. The British presence was most evident on the coast where a telegraph line ran from Persia to Karachi. However, by 1898, British survey parties were working inland.

Deployment for operations in 1898

In January 1898, conflict broke out in Kej, where the Hindu Nazim Diwan Udho Das (a district administrator who reported to the ruler of the region, the Khan of Kalat) was disliked and disrespected by the Baluch sardars (leaders) Baluch Khan and Mehrab Khan Gichki. The latter, with the complicity of Baluch Khan, attacked Diwan Udho Das on 6th January, imprisoned him in Kalatuk Fort and looted his treasury. Meantime, the unsuspecting British had deployed four surveyors, with Punjabi civilian support staff, into the Kolwa and Kej valleys, depending on the Baluch sardars’ levies for security.

On 9th January, the camp of one of the surveyors, Captain J.M. Burn, Royal Engineers, was attacked by local tribesmen. The fifteen-man levy escort team, commanded by Rhustam Khan, brother of Mehrab Khan Gichki, stood aside as sixteen support staff were slaughtered. The attackers and the escort party then seized thirty-five rifles and 15,000 Rupees. Captain Burn had been sleeping on a hill three miles away, and he was alerted by one of his men who had escaped from the camp. Burn started off on foot to Balor, thirty-five miles away. At Balor he sent messengers to alert the other surveyors, and he obtained a camel to ride to Urmara, whence on 11th January he telegraphed a report to Brigadier-General T.A. Cooke, the Officer Commanding Sind District, at Karachi.

Within two hours of the report’s arrival, a military response was initiated. Lieutenant-Colonel R.G.C. Mayne, commanding 30th Bombay Infantry (3rd Baluch Battalion), was ordered to proceed with 250 men to Urmara, seventy-five miles east of Pasni. Transportation was provided by the tug Richmond Crawford, with a local boat in tow carrying followers, baggage, 400 rounds per rifle, and rations for one month. Three British officers and one medical officer accompanied Mayne. Parties from the 21st Bombay Infantry were despatched to Chabbar and Jask in Persian Mekran to protect British telegraph facilities in those locations. Meanwhile those sardars wishing to avoid direct conflict with the British escorted the three remaining surveyors and their men into Urmara. At Urmara, Colonel Mayne landed his men, horses and supplies by using local bunder boats (ship-to-shore coastal boats). More troops were being organised to join Colonel Mayne, and Pasni was chosen as the operational base. From Pasni, a direct route led north to Mehrab Khan’s fort at Turbat and the nearby fort at Kalatuk where Nazim Diwan Udho Das was jailed. Colonel Mayne marched on 19th January with his men along the 100 miles of telegraph line to Pasni, repairing the line as he went.

27th Baluch LI. On front row Lt Grant DSO is 4th from left and Subadar Hamid Khan IOM is 7th

27th Baluch LI. On front row Lt Grant DSO is 4th from left and Subadar Hamid Khan IOM is 7th

The hostile sardars had sent instructions that the British were not to be offered camels to assist with transportation, but the British Political Agent for South-East Baluchistan, Major M.A. Tighe, quickly found camels for Colonel Mayne. None of the beasts were strong due to recent droughts in the region and many died under the pressure of work. By 27th January 1898, Colonel Mayne had under his command at Pasni the 30th Bombay Infantry (400 rifles), a section of No 4 Hazara Mountain Battery (two 7-pndr guns), and eighty-eight transport mules. Two days later the following troops left Karachi to join Colonel Mayne: 6th Bombay Cavalry (half-squadron); 30th Bombay Infantry (eighty rifles, tasked with guarding telegraph facilities at Urmara, Pasni and Gwadur); Bombay Sappers and Miners (one British and one Indian officer with twelve other ranks); No 42 Field Hospital (‘C’ and ‘D’ Sections); an additional twelve transport mules.

The advance on Turbat

Colonel Mayne left Pasni with his men and the two mountain guns on 27th January, knowing that Baluch Khan intended to block his advance to Turbat.  Four dry and dusty days later at 08.00 hours, the column came across the hostile Sardars and 1,500 of their men on hills 300 feet (ninety-one metres) above the mouth of a narrow six-mile long defile.  When the advance guard under Lieutenant N.R. Anderson got within 850 yards of the enemy, it came under breech-loading rifle fire. Captain A. LeG. Jacob, with fifty rifles, was deployed onto a hill on the enemy’s left flank where he met stiff opposition.

An artist's sketch of the British Army in Baluchistan

An artist’s sketch of the British Army in Baluchistan

Lieutenant J.H. Paine and his gunners now delivered destructive blows by blasting the sardars’ forces with shells.  Colonel Mayne sent Captain R. Southey with fifty rifles to drive the enemy off low hills to the left (west) of the defile.  At that moment Lieutenant H.T. Naylor appeared with thirty-two sabres from the 6th Bombay Cavalry.  He had double-marched up from Pasni towards the sound of the guns.  He and his men were deployed dismounted to support Southey.  Colonel Mayne now moved his main body forward to seize the mouth of the defile whilst Captains Southey and Jacob got behind the enemy on their respective flanks.  The guns moved forward to support the assault and fired case shot (exploding cannisters containing metal fragments) into all the enemy positions.  This was a demoralising blow as the sardars’ men had not previously faced effective artillery fire, and after taking hundreds of casualties the enemy ranks quickly thinned out as men fled.  However some of the sardars were made of sterner stuff, as suddenly Baluch Khan and a group of his ghazis (warriors who fought for Islam) jumped out of cover, discarded their rifles, drew their swords, and shouted ‘Allah! Allah!’ as they charged at Captain Jacob’s group.  Some got to within twenty paces of Captain Jacob before they were all shot down.  Captain Jacob himself killed Baluch Khan with a revolver shot. The action was over by 11.45 hours and Colonel Mayne’s men moved tactically through the defile.  The enemy had lost up to 250 tribesmen killed and about the same number wounded.  Baluch Khan and four other Khans were dead.  The cavalry had lost one man wounded, the gunners had lost one man killed and one man wounded, and the 30th Bombay Infantry had lost two men killed and ten wounded, one of whom later died.  Lieutenant Naylor and his cavalry re-mounted and pushed on to the River Kej where they skirmished, killing four and wounding five of the enemy.  Colonel Mayne and his main body approached Turbat Fort at about 16.30 hours, fired a few shells into the fort, and camped for the night.  During the hours of darkness the fort’s defenders, led by Mehrab Khan Gitchi, withdrew into the hills. Mayne’s column occupied the fort the next day, the 1st February.


The detachment of Bombay Sappers and Miners, under Lieutenant W. Bovet, arrived twenty-four hours later, having marched forty miles that day.  There was no rest for them as they immediately marched with Colonel Mayne another thirty miles to Charbak, and blew up the towers of the fort there.  On 7th February Lieutenant Bovet’s men used their gun-cotton to demolish forts at Gushtang, Kaor-i-Kalat and Kala-i-Nao, the adjacent villages having already been burnt by the infantry on 2nd February.  Visits were made to the other valleys of the hostile sardars and a flying column under Major G.E. Even was sent north to the higher Bolida valley where the forts at Chib and Koshk were demolished, whilst the Bet fort was occupied.  Major Even then seized Kalatak fort and released Diwan Udho Das.

Colonel Mayne marched to Tump, where the fort was surrendered by the defenders, and then on towards Mand near the Persian border.  Here Lieutenant S.G. Knox, Political Assistant at Kalat, interviewed the headmen and chiefs of the area, obtaining their signatures on an agreement acknowledging their loyalty to the Khan and their willingness to remit revenue to him.  On the return journey, Phulabad fort was demolished. At Turbat Lieutenant Knox held a durbar which was attended by the headmen of Kej and Mekran.  Fines totalling 50,000 rupees were inflicted, which had to be paid within three years.  As part of the punishment, none of the local crops that the sepoys and sowars had consumed during their marches around the region were to be paid for.

The withdrawal from Mekran

Baluch Infantry in the 1890s

Baluch Infantry in the 1890s

Having acted in a decisive and energetic manner, demonstrating how lethal artillery fire can be and how damaging gun-cotton can be (a total of thirteen forts were demolished), Colonel Mayne split his force into three groups.A small detachment of the 30th Bombay Infantry remained in Mekran to support the Kalat State troops who garrisoned the forts at Turbat, Kalatak, Tumo and Bet.  A column under Captain Jacob composed of the cavalry, mountain gunners, sappers, and ninety rifles marched back to Quetta via Kalat, demolishing forts at Sharak, Nag, Ser and Hor Kalat on the way.  Colonel Mayne and the remainder of his command marched to Urmara and then sailed to Karachi aboard I.M.S. Canning.

Awards for the 1898 operations

Order of the Bath (Companion, Military Division)
Lieutenant-Colonel R.C.G. Mayne, 30th Bombay Infantry
Distinguished Service Order
Captain A.LeG.Jacob, 30th Bombay Infantry
Lieutenant J.H. Paine, Royal Artillery
Indian Order of Merit (3rd Class)
Subedar Ahmed Khan, 30th Baluch Infantry: For conspicuous gallantry in action at Gok Parosh, in Mekran [sic], on the 31st January 1898. The Subedar was with the left flank attack, with Captain A.LeG. Jacob, and showed conspicuous gallantry and courage in leading a small party of his men, in the face of heavy odds, against superior numbers of the enemy, and dislodging them from strong positions.
Brevet rank of Major
Captain Robert Southey, 30th Bombay Infantry
Mentioned in despatches
Lieutenant H.T. Naylor, 6th Bombay Cavalry
Lieutenant J.H. Paine, R.A. No 4 (Hazara) Mountain Battery
Jemadar Shaikh Khuda Baksh, No 4 (Hazara) Mountain Battery
Lieutenant H.H. Turner, Royal Engineers (Transport Officer)
Major G.E. Even, 30th Bombay Infantry
Captain R. Southey, 30th Bombay Infantry
Captain A. Le G. Jacob, 30th Bombay Infantry
Subadar Ahmad Khan, 30th Bombay Infantry
Jemadar Fazl Shah, 30th Bombay Infantry.
Lieutenant S.G. Knox, Political Agent.

The 1901-1902 operations – the situation in Mekran

In an attempt to control banditry along their common border during the cold weather of 1901-1902, the Persian government agreed to co-operate with British forces.  Local Lieutenant-Colonel H.L. Showers, Political Agent at Kalat, and his escort party moved to meet the Persians on the border.   The escort commander was Major M.J. Tighe, D.S.O., 27th Baluchis. The troops in the escort were: 27th Baluch Light Infantry (300 rifles); 5th Bombay Cavalry (Scinde Horse) (fifty sabres); a section of the 9th (Murree) Mountain Battery (two 7-pounder guns); a detachment of Bombay Sappers and Miners (twenty-one all ranks from No. 4 Company).

Illustrated London News sketches of the Nodiz action, Nodiz Fort

On 16th December 1901, Captain Showers’ party arrived in Turbat and met Colonel C.E. Yate, the Agent to the Governor-General Baluchistan.  Colonel Yate stated that cross-border outlaws had seized Nodiz Fort which was located about eight miles west of Kalatak.
The Nazim of Kej and his forces had been besieging the fort for over fifty days, but without artillery they could not assault it.  Major Tighe was requested to assist the Nazim’s forces.

The following day Major Tighe went to reconnoitre Nodiz Fort, accompanied by Lieutenant J.B. Corry, Royal Engineers, commanding the Bombay Sappers and Miners detachment.  The Nazim showed them the fort which was a substantial one, and Major Tighe decided that he needed the guns to be brought up before an assault commenced.   On 19th December, reconnaissances were made by all the infantry officers, and the next day at 09.00 hours the guns arrived under the command of Lieutenant E.G. Hart, Royal Artillery.  The gunners were given an hour to rest before the assault began.

Camp Orders regarding Attack on Nodiz Fort
Major M.J. Tighe, Nodiz, the 20th December, 1901

The attack on Nodiz fort will take place this morning, immediately after the arrival of the mountain guns from Turbat. The orders for the attack are as under.
i. A guard of forty rifles will be detailed to guard the camp. Particular attention should be paid to the karezes (underground water channels) west of the camp.
ii. The Nazim’s levies will be directed to occupy their present sangars round the fort, and on no account to leave them.
iii. The guns, with an escort of ten rifles, will take up a position to the south-east of the fort, and will have as their objectives:
(a) The loop-holed tops of the west flank towers;
(b) The top of the main tower; when the tops of the west flank towers have been demolished, the Officer Commanding the guns will sound his battery call.  This will be the signal to the infantry that the gun fire has been turned from the west flank tower to the main tower.
(c) Captain Hulseberg, 27th Baluch Light Infantry, will guide the guns to the position selected, and will rejoin the infantry.
iv. The infantry will be disposed as follows:
(a) Forty rifles, covering party—Lieutenant Grant (27th Baluch Light Infantry)
Sappers and Miners—Lieutenant Corry
Fifty rifles, supports
The whole under Captain Hulseberg
Eighty rifles reserve, at disposal of Officer Commanding. This will form the main infantry attack, which will be directed on the south-west bastion of the fort, through the date groves.
(b) Fifty rifles under Lieutenant Orton will push their way to the east side of the fort and occupy the mosque which is outside the fort, or take up such a position as will prevent the enemy escaping.
(c) The cavalry will take up a position in rear of the guns, ready for pursuit.
(d) Hospital and reserve ammunition with the reserves.
(e) The position of the Officer Commanding will be with the supports.
v. The battery call will be the signal for the gun-cotton party to advance.
vi. No bugles will be sounded except by order of the Officer Commanding.
vii. Sketch of position will be given to all British Officers.

Illustrated London News sketches of the Nodiz action

Illustrated London News sketches of the Nodiz action

Lieutenants Grant and Corry raced to be the first through the narrow breach, which only allowed one man at a time to pass through.  Naik Baryam Singh and Sapper Noor Din, both Grant’s men, followed them through and this quartet killed eight of the enemy before the defenders organised a response. By this time, Subedar Hamid Khan, 27th Baluchis, with about thirty of his men, had also entered the fort.  An enemy sniper in the tower above put down effective fire onto the attackers, and enemy groups wielding swords counter-attacked both flanks.  This resulted in Grant and Corry and three sepoys being shot and wounded.  Unable to hold their position, the storming party dragged their wounded and the loose rifles back through the breach.  The first assault had been repulsed.

Major Tighe then ordered his infantry up to the fort walls, and the sepoys used their bayonets to rive loop-holes through which they could shoot.  The guns were ordered forward into a date grove only 100 yards from the fort.  Here they had line-of-sight to the forts’ roofs – the weak points.  The roofs were shelled until they were set on fire, causing them to collapse onto the defenders. Major Tighe’s bugler sounded ‘Cease Fire’ and then ‘Attack,’ and Captain Hulseberg and his Baluch infanteers swarmed into the fort again, quickly overcoming opposition.  The surviving sixty-three defenders surrendered inside the fort or to Lieutenant Orton on the east side.  Fourteen enemy dead and seventeen wounded lay on the floor of the fort.  Thirty-three of the captured enemy were Persian.

During the assault, Major Tighe’s force expended 154 artillery shells, 1,830 rifle rounds and thirty-six pistol rounds.  The action was over at 13.25 hours.  The force had lost three sepoys killed, two British officers and six sepoys severely wounded, with a few more men slightly wounded.  The fort was now knocked down with gun-cotton.

Awards for the attack on Nodiz Fort

Distinguished Service Order
Lieutenant J.B. Corry, Royal Engineers
Lieutenant G.P. Grant, 27th Baluch Light Infantry
Brevet rank of Lieutenant Colonel
Major M.J. Tighe, D.S.O., 27th Baluch Light Infantry
Indian Order of Merit 3rd Class
Subedar Hamid Khan, 27th Baluch Light Infantry
1991 Naik Baryam Singh, No. 4 Coy, Bombay Sappers and Miners
1967 Sapper Noor Din, No. 4 Coy, Bombay Sappers and Miners

The medals of Major John Beaumont Corry DSO (held in a private collection)

For conspicuous gallantry in action on the occasion of the capture of Nodiz Fort in Mekran, on the 20th December 1901, when they accompanied Lieutenant J.B. Corry, R.E., and Lieutenant W.O. [sic] Grant, 27th Baluch Light Infantry, in the fore of the storming party, and engaged the enemy’s swordsmen.

 A heavy fire was opened on them from the towers, and both the British officers and several men fell wounded. The subedar and the two sappers [sic] named above stood their ground, and by their gallant conduct saved the lives of both officers and men.
Mentioned in despatches
Lieutenant E.F. Orton, 7th Bombay Lancers
Lieutenant J.B. Corry, Royal Engineers
Lieutenant E.G. Hart, Royal Artillery (Murree Mountain Battery)
Captain H. Hulseberg, 27th Baluch Light Infantry
Lieutenant G.P Grant, 27th Baluch Light Infantry

Major John Beaumont Corry DSO

Major John Beaumont Corry DSO

The next stage in operations was for Colonel Showers to make contact with a Persian delegation at Bampur on the Indo-Persian border in order to agree upon joint measures to limit lawlessness in Mekran. In effect, the Political Agent’s Escort became a flying column of all arms, with a total strength of close to 600 officers, other ranks and followers. Hampered by a train of more than four thousand camels required to carry the requisite ammunition and provisions for man and beast, it stretched back over ten miles. As it progressed through the harsh Baluchistan landscape, it carried out a number of diversions to survey the territory. It was fortunate that the country was generally quiet, the fall of Nodiz having made a deep impression on the local tribesmen. They were plentifully armed with magazine rifles acquired via Muscat, mostly manufactured by B.S.A. in Birmingham, and it would have been difficult to protect the column’s lengthy tail from well prepared ambush.

Lieutenant George Patrick Grant wearing his DSO

Lieutenant George Patrick Grant wearing his DSO

Forts linked with known bandits were destroyed en route, and there was only one place that threatened to put up any resistance.  Near to the meeting point with the Persians was the fort of Magas, still in outlaw hands. The Persians had been unable to negotiate the surrender of the fort, but when the British troops approached the defenders melted away into the surrounding hills. From their supposedly safe retreats, the bandits continued to menace the loyal sirdars, and Colonel Showers took the time to send the sirdars help. One of the more dangerous episodes in this process took place near Magas on the 9th February 1902.

Havildar Subhay Khan, 27th Buluch Light Infantry, with a party of thirteen men, had been sent by Colonel Showers from Magas to assist the sirdars. Taking with him three days’ food, he boldly proceeded into the hills and coming across a party of the enemy who fired at him, promptly attacked and dispersed them, killing five and wounding four. Continuing his advance, he captured over 300 head of animals, all of which he brought in safely to Magas. It was a swift and bold raid against an enemy, who imagined himself secure in his mountain fastness, and it had a most salutary effect.  For his gallantry and leadership, the havildar was advanced to the 2nd Class Indian Order of Merit. By the time the Escort returned to its depots, the infantry had marched distances varying from 1,200 to 2,000 miles. In their turn, the cavalry was proud to report that they had covered eighteen hundred miles in six months and had not lost a single horse or mule.


Although Mekran remained relatively quiet after the final departure of the British troops, the events at Nodiz had persuaded the British government that the Khan’s troops were unfit to keep order in the country, and the Mekran Levy Corps was formed.  The strength of the Levy Corps was 137 cavalry and 203 infantry.  The Headquarters was at Panjgur (180 men) with detachments at Diz, Parom, Mand, Suntzar and Jiwani.  The commander of the Corps was the Assistant Political Agent.  The expenses of the Corps were met from Imperial funds.

When the Great War started German agents in Persia encouraged insurgency over the border in India and across the Straits of Hormuz in Oman.  This resulted in disaffection in the Mekran Levy Corps and resulted in attacks on British positions in Mekran and Oman. Later in the war, in the Spring of 1918, the British had to send a Field Force to subdue rebellious Marri tribesmen in Baluchistan.


The author dedicates this article to his Baluch comrades, particularly those killed or wounded in action, who served with him in the war in Dhofar Province, Sultanate of Oman, between 1973 and 1975  Baluch men flocked in their thousands to the Sultanate’s recruiting office in Gwadur, Mekran, seeking enlistment in the Sultan’s Armed Forces.  They provided an effective temporary pool of military manpower during critical times.  Nowadays their contribution is sadly fading from military memory.  As A.E. Housman wrote:

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth’s foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth’s foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

Frontier & Overseas Expeditions from India, Volume III, Pt. 1, Baluchistan (Intelligence Branch, Army HQ India, 1908);
The Indian Sappers and Miners, Lieutenant-Colonel E.W.C. Sandes DSO, MC, R.E. (Chatham 1948);
The History of the Indian Mountain Artillery, Brigadier C.A.L. Graham, DSO, OBE (Aldershot 1957);
History of the Baloch Regiment 1820 – 1939, Major-General Rafiuddin Ahmed (Abbotabad 1998);
Capital Campaigners : The History of the 3rd Battalion, The Baluch Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel E.W. Maxwell, CIE (Aldershot 1948);
Prince of Wales’s Own, The Scinde Horse, 1839-1922, Colonel E.B. Maunsell (published privately by the Regimental Committee, 1926);
Report and Diary on the Mekran Expedition, Bt-Lieut.-Colonel M.J. Tighe, DSO (B.E.S. Press, Bombay 1902);
London Gazette: despatches; Indian Army List – various editions.

An edited version of this article appeared in a recent issue of Durbar, the Journal of the Indian Military Historical Society ( )

Comments Off on The British Raj: Operations in Mekran 1898 – 1902

Posted by on December 10, 2015 in Balochistan


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 Research Papers on Political Issues


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 a