Author Archives: Balochi Linguist

About Balochi Linguist

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

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

Posted by on March 26, 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

Posted by on March 23, 2014 in Balochistan


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

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

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


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

(Research Paper)

By Mickey Kupecz

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

Baloch Sarmachar

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 Zaidi.

10 Wirsing, 21.

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

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

13 “2006: Who’s Who in Balochistan.”

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

15 Wirsing, 22.

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

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

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

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

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

21 Kennedy, 157.

22 Jetly, 216-217.

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

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

25 Aslam, 194.

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

Pakistan (August 2006): 56.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

33 Cohen, 7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

39 Khan, Adeel. Politics of Identity, 117.

40 Talbot, 224.

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

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

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

44 Baloch, 3.

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

46 Kaplan, 74.

47 Wirsing, 4.

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

49 “Their Futures Are at Stake,” 7.

50 Talbot, 56-57.

51 “Their Futures Are at Stake,” 7-8.

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

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

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

55 Baloch, 7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

64 Nader and Lahla, 12.

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

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

67 Grare, 9.

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

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

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

70 Bajpai, 79.



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

Comments Off

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


The Negotiation of Bilateral Endogamy in the Middle Eastern Context: The Zikri Baluch Example

(Research Paper)

By Carroll McC. Pastner
Department of Anthropology,
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405
New Jersey USA

Koh e Murad Turbat

Koh e Murad Turbat


In a furtherance of a recent and laudable departure from”lineage mentality” in the study of kinship and marriage in the majority, bilaterally organized Middle East, first-cousin marriage among the Pakistani Zikri Baluch is examined in terms of marital strategies pursued by networks of siblings and their spouses. Emphasis is placed on the cumulative implications of the variant motivations parents as marital negotiators have for themselves, for their sons, and for their daughters.

IT HAS BEEN OVER A DECADE since Khuri (1970) argued that in the Middle Eastern context patrilateral parallel-cousin (FBD) marriage is preferred over matrilateral parallel-cousin (MZD) and cross-cousin (FZD and MBD) marriage for essentially social psychological reasons. The nub of Khuri’s thesis is that because FBD marriage does not create new affinal relationships, it “nullifies” the effects of marriage on the intensity of family relationships and thereby contributes to familial harmony (Khuri 1970:616).2 Among the critics of this argument, Hammel and Goldberg (1971) and Eickelman (1981:130) briefly, but correctly, object to an oversimplification of the actual complexity of kin endogamy in the Middle East. Peters (1976:61-66) indicates the fallacy in Khuri’s (and others’) attribution of familial harmony only to close paternal kin. A related and crucial point (Peters 1976:32) is that descent and lineality are not the most significant social organizational variables in the majority of Middle Eastern settings. Khuri’s inappropriate adoption of the segmentary model and the kin-extension hypothesis lie at the root of his mistreatment of kinship and marriage; he is not alone in doing so.

The context in which kin endogamy is negotiated in most Middle Eastern settings is not one of agnation and segmentation, but rather involves the reckoning of reciprocal obligations and debts between bilateral kin. That bilaterality is “indiscriminate” and therefore incapable of differentiating bounded social groupings (Peters 1976:40), complicates the analysis of marital negotiation, but offers a far more accurate portrayal of the social organization than one which attributes lineage organization to inappropriate economic and political settings. A related point of departure from the major tendency in the literature is my concern with first-cousin marriage of any order, not just the FBD variant.3 Emphasis here is more suitably placed on the fact of bilaterality, the subsequent significance of matrilaterality, and the attendant relevance of previously established affinal connections. A setting in which first-cousin marriage is very intensely practiced affords an opportunity to discuss kin endogamy in the context of a revisionist perspective which breaks away from the prevalent “lineage mentality” in the analysis of Middle Eastern social organization.

Does such a perspective indicate a complete rejection of Khuri’s thesis? My contention is that there might be a social psychological component to FBD (or any other cousin) marriage in the Middle East, deriving not so much from specific consideration of the bride and groom, but rather from the ongoing concerns of those who arrange their marriage. As Geertz (1979:374) expresses it in the Moroccan context: “Any study of the patterns of actual marriage choices must be centered not on the marrying couple, but on their parents and their parents’ situations, concepts of their social worlds, and interests.” It is not that parents disregard the potential affinal relationships of their children, but that in the context of arranged marriage, parents perceive the eventual affinal connections of their offspring initally and primarily from their own perspective.4 The present discussion stresses a point for the most part unsystematically examined in the literature: that mothers and fathers can have different motivations in negotiating their children’s marriages, both for themselves, and separately in regard to their sons and daughters. The resultant pattern is one of overall consistency between the jural level of marriage preferences and the statistical level of actual marriages among the Zikri Baluch, but with an internal variation according to male and female perspectives.

An examination of the facilitators of a high rate of bilateral first-cousin marriage among the Zikri Baluch fisherfolk of coastal Pakistan has been made previously (C. Pastner 1979).5 Kin endogamy occurs in a demographically, culturally, and religiously circumscribed universe, socially delimited as follows: (1) demographically, kin endogamy is facilitated by marital exchange between four geographically dispersed communities, which in the context of patrivirilocality serve to expand the range of kin endogamy beyond the limits of single communities; (2) culturally, the Baluch regard themselves as a distinct endogamous entity vis-a-vis contiguous cultural and ethnic groups; (3) religiously, as members of a minority Islamic sect, Zikris do not countenance intermarriage with majority Sunni (orthodox) Muslims, nor vice versa; (4) socially, marriage occurs within a nonstratified context in which endogamy is phrased and in fact operates as the preferential exchange of children between same and opposite-sex siblings.

Kin exogamy is not generally practiced by the Zikri Baluch for strategic economic and political reasons; simultaneously, kin endogamy is not motivated among the majority by corporate economic and political considerations, such as the retention of agricultural land or political office. In the presence of a high rate of close kin endogamy and the general absence of an explicit correlation between political economic strategy and marital strategy, the latter can be examined more easily in the context of consanguinity and affinity, providing a less “contaminated” view of the intersection of kinship and the negotiation of marriage. The accumulation of Zikri Baluch marital strategies reflects the outcome of compromises between (1) variant concerns of mothers and fathers in the negotiation of their male and female children’s marriages; (2) emphasis on sibling solidarity and  concomitant mutual calculations of the rights and obligations of siblingship; (3) ambivalence generated-by the normative emphasis on sibling solidarity; and (4) tactical advantages and disadvantages to the renewal of affinal connections. Because first-cousin marriage is so intensely practiced among the Zikri Baluch, compromise has had the statistical result of reinforcing the enmeshment of consanguineal and affinal ties. That is, there is more of a perpetuation of the “well-used social road” (Geertz 1979:375) than engagement in “lapsed affinity” (Peters 1976:4) On these well-used social roads, men and women effect and are affected by marital strategy in variant ways.

It should be emphasized that technically this is not an “endogamous system,” since it is not a closed system of kinship with a preference for inmarriage linked with a prohibition on outmarriage for both sexes; instead, preference is for keeping one’s daughters as close to the nuclear family as the incest prohibition permits (Pitt- Rivers 1977:165). Prohibition in the Muslim Middle East extends only to lineal and first-order collateral kin, thereby permitting marriage with not only FBC, but any first cousin. The limitations of “lineage mentality” are evident in a subsequently “disordered endogamous system,” because such a system makes ineffectual the conceptualization of a sharp dichotomy between agnatic and matrilateral kin as kin categories (Barth 1973:18). In the Zikri Baluch case, marital negotiation occurs in a particularly reticulate atmosphere, since parents who themselves are first cousins may very well contract a marriage for their child with that child’s own first cousin. The ensuing enmeshment of consanguineal and affinal connections is impossible to reduce to single-stranded bonds such as those suggested by Khuri (1970). Thus, while an important conceptual distinction between consanguine and affine is made by the Zikri Baluch, there cannot be an elaboration of behavioral distinctions between consanguine and affine (cf. Barth 1973:12), although, as will be suggested, this may be less true for women than for men. An examination of resultant “tangled networks of familial relationships” requires not a delineation of genealogical segmentation (Geertz 1979:324), but of how the content of consanguineal and affinal bonds is utilized variously in the negotiation of first-cousin marriage.

The present data were obtained in a Zikri Baluch fishing community on the Arabian Sea, thirty-four kilometers west of Karachi, Pakistan. Founded in the 1930s, the village in 1977 had a population of approximately six hundred, residing in about one hundred and fifty households. While female economic roles are restricted to the domestic sector, the vast majority of men are fishermen, using either lateen sailboats with two to six crewmen, or smaller, one-man boats. Men unable to secure positions on village boats either seek work on fishing launches operating out of Karachi harbor, or engage in migrant labor in Saudi Arabia and the gulf states.

A minority of villagers also own interest in agricultural property; they are the direct descendents of the village founder. The office of village headman (wadera) resides in this kin unit, the headmanship having passed successively to two sons of the village founder. As argued elsewhere (C. Pastner 1979), intense patriparallelism
in marriages contracted within this kin unit has facilitated unity among males maintaining joint interests in land and political office. While it may be dubious to explain FBD marriage generally as a means of preventing internal factions (Boon 1976:200), under certain circumstances it may represent a gamble that unity will be sustained,
although this is not to say that internal splintering may not occur in the future. The purpose here, however, is not to focus on this minority group, but on the majority of Zikri Baluch, who do not have such corporate economic and political motivations for patriparallel-cousin marriage.

Bilaterality in Zikri Baluch kinship is manifest in bilateral kinship terminology and a generally limited genealogical knowledge. Consanguinity, conceptualized as shared blood, includes recognition of nazdike siad (“near kin”), directly related through one’s parents, siblings, and children, along with dure siad (“far kin”), related through one’s grandparents. Consisting of both near and far kin, peskom (“father’s kin”), or posht (literally, “back,” or “spine”), are kin traced through one’s father, while maskom (“mother’s kin”), or lap (literally, “belly”), are those traced through one’s mother.

A systematic reckoning of both near and distant bilateral kin would embrace virtually all villagers, but as a result of residence patterns, there are internal subdivisions in the village. Conjugal families reside in their own one-room houses, but there is a clustering of the homes of fathers and married sons, and of married brothers at the death of the father. Conjugal families constitute autonomous commensal and economic units, although continuous exchange of food, goods, and services takes place between households, particularly those of parents and married children, and those of married siblings. For ritual purposes, such as weddings, funerals, and circumcisions, collateral kin from within and without the village are included in kin networks and the attendant exchange of goods and services. Corporate behavior necessitated by disputes also draws in kin from within and without the community. Nonkin, especially wadera (secular headmen) and pirs (living religious saints) can serve as mediators in disputes among Zikri Baluch of the same or different communities, and in confrontations with other religious and ethnic groups (S. Pastner 1978).

The calculation of debts and obligations between individuals and between households characterizes village social organization, whether the involvement is between kin, neighbors, friends, or patrons and clients. The operative premises in these categories of relationships are not contrastive since, for example, the economic dependence of a son on his father can make their relationship one of patronage as well as kinship (Geertz 1979:315). Reciprocity is what makes links, kin or otherwise, efficacious, with continuous calculation in dyadic reciprocity made necessary by the double strain-toward both symmetry and asymmetry-inherent in reciprocity itself (Lebra 1975:562). At any given time, asymmetry is possible if one in the exchange dyad is in debt to the other, even though in the long run the relationship may be in balance (Lebra 1975:557). Such strain is evident in the Zikri Baluch setting in a number of ways. For example, each household ideally consumes fresh fish every day, but this is dependent on the daily luck of individual fishermen or boat crews. Fish, therefore, frequently must be redistributed among households. While fish are often freely offered, households also engage in mahipindi (“fish begging”),which may or may not result in obtaining fish. Both hoarding and generous giving (Lebra 1975:562) on the part of men and women characterize not only the exchange of fish, but other forms of exchange, such as monetary loans, contributions to wedding expenses, donations of labor, and the provision of moral and physical support in disputes.

Exchange occurs both inside and outside the realm of kinship, but the jural weight of kin responsibility is especially heavy, since hak (“obligation”) obtains between kin, whereas between nonkin, marzi (“free choice”) applies. Relations between friends, neighbors, and patrons and clients can be transformed into relations of hak, but in this circumstance it is created deliberately, whereas it is an a priori given in the realm of kinship.6 Nonetheless, it is the summation of personal debts and obligations between kin, not simply the biogenetic distance between them, which determines effective kinship (Geertz 1979:316). Hak must be applied through reciprocal, patterned obligations if it is to function as more than simply a truism of how Zikri Baluch kinship ought to work. However, it is difficult to abrogate hak entirely when parents and children or siblings are involved. It should be noted also that while hak obtains between dyads, others can be drawn into webs of obligation and disputes arising during asymmetric phases in dyadic relationships. Thus, the relationship between same-sex siblings can be colored by the presence or lack of enmity between their spouses, and vice versa. In the short term this can be observed in the practice of mahi pindi; in the long term it is relevant to the role of siblings and their spouses in the negotiation of first-cousin marriage.

Nowhere do the contraction and maintenance of bonds of obligation between Zikri Baluch kin gain more significance than in the negotiation of first-cousin marriage. Unions are preferentially contracted between nakozak (either FBC or MBC) or druzak (either FZC or MZC). This is not a closed system of exchange, but one generally conceived of as “delayed reciprocity,” in which a bride or groom should be forthcoming from the uncle or aunt who previously received a bride or groom. The Zikri Baluch are well aware of the major detractions from attainment of this ideal: a potential mate of the correct sex or age range simply may not exist, or poor relations between siblings may prevent negotiation. What they do not always stress explicitly, but which will be considered below, is that successful negotiations depend not only upon the status of the relations between siblings, but upon those between their spouses as well.

Each marriage is negotiated individually, and involves material transactions carried out prior to the wedding, which are regarded as essential to the legitimacy of the marriage. Marital prestations are not reduced or eliminated in the instance of first-cousin marriage. Both sides donate bridal clothing and domestic furnishings, but the groom, with the aid of his father and other kin, also provides gold earrings and, importantly, a house for himself and his bride. Negotiations break down if these contractual conditions are not met or are protracted unduly. Siblings may make an informal agreement that their preadolescent children will marry eventually, but formal negotiations never commence until a girl reaches puberty, and normatively initiated by the boy’s family. Girls marry at about age fifteen, and have virtually no say in the choice of a spouse. Since males must be at least partly financially independent enough to support a household, they are ordinarily in their mid-twenties, and can exert some veto power in their parents’ choice of mate.

While fathers are involved in the more formal aspect of marital negotiation, namely, the drawing up of the marriage contract, the role of mothers should not be discounted or deemphasized; sexual segregation absolutely requires that women be fully involved (Altourki 1977). Marriage negotiation necessitates two parallel networks, male and female, because of the dichotomization of Zikri Baluch social life into male and female spheres.7 Made viable by the nonseverence of married women’s ties to their natal kin and communities, the female network is particularly significant in view of patrivirilocality. Visits, especially on religious holidays, take place regularly, and most women give birth to their first and sometimes their subsequent children in their natal homes. In addition, the wives of men working abroad often reside with their parents, not their in-laws.

It should be emphasized that mothers and fathers have separate concerns in marital negotiation, both for themselves and for their sons and daughters. Let us examine first the extent to which marital strategy is linked with economic strategy; more specifically, with the recruitment of boat crews. With the important exception of married and unmarried sons crewing for their fathers, there is little integration of kinship with the social patterning of maritime operations.8 Crew formation is highly flexible, involving frequent changes in boat affiliation, and the creation of marital links is not used explicitly as a means of maximizing this particular aspect of economic strategy. Nonetheless, in view of the absence of anticipatory inheritance, and the concern for the economic futures of their sons, fathers can be faced with too many sons and too few positions on their own boats. This concern is exacerbated by a normative emphasis on patrivirilocality. The few instances of male community exogamy (see below), appear to have provided employment opportunities for sons outside the village. An alternative and more common solution, which is being adopted increasingly, is migrant labor in the Persian Gulf.9 If reliance on migrant labor continues to augment, it would have important implications for future marriage arrangements, since it would decrease the economic dependence of sons on their fathers for the accumulation of capital necessary for marriage.

Fathers have different concerns and strategies in the negotiation of their daughters’ marriages. The option of community exogamy for females widens the marital pool, but girls should be affianced as soon as possible after the attainment of puberty, and it is up to their fathers to see that this is not delayed unduly. This temporal pressure is not as relevant in the case of sons, but, on the other hand, there are greater financial obligations in the marriage of sons. Thus, there are two major concerns faced by fathers: the financial vulnerability of sons and the moral vulnerability of daughters.

Mothers are preoccupied similarly with these financial and moral matters. However, as Rosen (1978:571) suggests in the Moroccan case, it may be that women have a more “sociological” approach to marital negotiation than do men. Zikri Baluch women overtly are aware of how individual marriages feed into and alter the networks through which they operationalize their domestic statuses. The concerns of mothers for their sons’ and daughters’ marriages differ, since, in both structural and social-psychological terms, bringing in a daughter-in-law contrasts with sending out a daughter, in a patrivirilocal context. Even in a community-endogamous union, brides reside near their in-laws, not their parents, and their introduction alters previously established female networks based on continuous interaction, cooperation, and conflict.

Mothers are concerned particularly about their female offspring, and emphasize the need for daughters, especially as new brides, to have the backing of consanguineal kin in their tenuous position of new affine. Incoming brides with only dure siad (“far kin”), or no kin at all, in their conjugal community, are severely restricted by sexual segregation, and undeniably disadvantaged if they do not get along with those adults with whom they spend the majority of their time-their female affines. One way to alleviate the susceptibility of daughters is for mothers to attempt to position them in already viable and potentially advantageous female networks. Fathers as well may attempt to aid in their sons’ network formation, but because of patrivirilocality, and because sons are older when they marry, they are in a less vulnerable position than their sisters in the delineation of personal networks.

The Zikri Baluch espousal that marriage first of all links two families, and secondarily links two individuals, is fortified by a parallel attitude that conjugality is successful if the parents of the couple get along (and if children result from the union). A low divorce rate and the absence of polygyny sustain the importance of the affinal link for the Zikri Baluch. What is significant is that they incorporate an ideal of affinal renewal which serves to convolute consanguinity and affinity. In their view marriage in itself does not constitute or create kinship, but marriage is a means of strengthening already existing consanguinity which, in turn, is reputed to maximize conditions for harmonious affinal linkages.

As recorded elsewhere (C. Pastner 1979), in a sample of 171 marriages among two generations of Zikri Baluch, 109, or 64 percent, are between actual first cousins, 40, or 23 percent, are between classificatory kin (including 17 cross-generation marriages), and 22, or 13 percent, are between nonkin.1 0 While the marriage data were collected only in the village in which fieldwork was conducted, the statistics reflect the facts of marital exchange and residential transfer by married couples among the four communities constituting the geographic boundaries of Zikri Baluch conjugality.’ 1

For the purposes of the present discussion, the 26 marriages of the direct descendents of the village founder are subtracted, because the economic and political considerations constraining their marital strategies are not relevant to the majority of villagers.12 Table 1 summarizes the remaining 145 unions, and distinguishes between community endogamy and exogamy for men and women. No significant variation was found between the two generations in marriage patterns. The vast majority of men (93 percent) marry into their natal community, while there is a slight tendency among women to marry exogamously (54 percent). While the aim here is not to measure expected and observed frequencies of cousin marriage, the statistical significance of the data for the long-term demography of kin endogamy should not be overstated. Nonetheless, while the?mphasis on community endogamy for men obviously promotes a high rate of first-cousin marriage (Gilbert and Hammel 1966), the Zikri Baluch rate is significantly higher than among the majority of Middle Eastern marriage pools, and cannot be accounted for on solely demographic grounds. 13

Kin and Nonkin Marriage( N=1 45)

———————————Community —Endogamous ——————– Community —Exogamous
———————————Men ————– Women      ———————      Men  ——- Women
First Cousin ————— 85 —————— 49 ————————————— 8 ————- 44
N=93 (64%)

Cousin———————- 32  ——————13  ————————————- 1  ————- 20
N=33 (23%)

Nonkin ——————– 18  ——————- 4  ————————————— 1 ————– 15
N=19 (13%)

Total 145 (100%) —– 135 (93%)   ——- 66 (46%)  ————————– 10 (7%)  —– 79(54%)
Table 2 summarizes actual first-cousin marriage, again distinguishing between community endogamy and exogamy for men and women. While the overall pattern is one of bilateral-cousin marriage, with community endogamy for men (eighty-five out of ninety-three marriages) and a mix of community endogamy (forty-nine marriages) and community exogamy (forty-four marriages) for women, male unions are skewed more toward matrilateral (61 percent) than patrilateral (39 percent firstcousin marriage. While patrivirilocality, and subsequently first-cousin marriage of any order, are contributive factors, there may be additional consideration in the higher rates of MBD and, especially, MZD marriage.

While genealogically identical marriages can have different meanings, because they can result from different strategies (Eickelman 1981:132), an attempt can be made to discern social patterning in the empirical marital networks of the Zikri Baluch. Keeping in mind the accumulation of social and economic debts between kin, the marriages of one’s children serve to intensify one’s own network of reciprocity if an affinal link is fed into an already existing kin linkage. In arranging their children’s marriages, fathers, in contrast to mothers, attempt to minimize the overloading of their own networks of consanguineal obligation. While male sibling solidarity is fortified by jural norms, this does not prevent competitiveness and rivalry from characterizing fraternal relationships. Residential propinquity, for example, is as likely to result in disaffection as in solidarity between brothers. Another source of conflict is inheritance, since it is only after the death of the father that boats pass on to sons, and there is no guarantee that the amount of property will match the number of sons. While adult brothers are economically independent of one another, they are supposed to be supportive of one another as well. Inequalities in wealth, however, can lead to rivalry or transform the relationship into one of patronage. Economically less successful brothers may attempt to contract FBC unions for their children in the hope of solidifying an alliance with a more fortunate brother, but this strategy may or may not work out, and in actuality men more frequently negotiate successfully with their brothers-in-law than with their brothers.

First-cousinM arriage( N=93)
———————————————–Community — Endogamous ————- Community — Exogamous
————————————————– Men  ———— Women  ——————- Men ————  Women
N=32 (35%) ——————————–  30  —————- 19  ————————– 2  ——————13
N=25 (26%)  ——————————– 22  —————- 12  ————————– 3  ——————13
57 (61%) ————————————  52 —————— 31 ————————– 5  —————— 26

N=21 (23%)——————————— 20 —————— 15 —————————- 1 —————— 6

N=15 (16%)——————————- 13 ——————— 3 —————————– 2 ——————12
Total 36 (39%) ————————— 33 ——————– 18 —————————- 3 ——————18

Reliance and ambivalence characterize the kin networks of women as well, but not in quite the same way. More specifically, female sibling solidarity appears stronger than its male counterpart. With far fewer independent economic resources, sisters cannot make the financial demands on one another which brothers can. However, married sisters residing in the same community frequently exchange services, such as child care, sewing, and housework, and if they live in different communities, they exchange gifts at regular intervals. Sisters are motivated to forge alliances in important noneconomic ways, because, along with their mother, they can provide a buffer between themselves and their respective female affines. This role is filled most effectively if sisters are married into the same community, although frequent visitations between residentially separated sisters also promote alliance. The basic source of competition and rivalry, namely, real or potential economic inequality, which can characterize male sibling relationships, is not relevant to female siblingship. Consequently, in their more “sociological” perspective on marital negotiation, women explicitly recognize that sister’s daughter makes a compatible daughter-inlaw, and that to marry a daughter to a sister’s son is likewise advantageous.1 4

Just as affinity is incapable of delineating jurally defined groups in this setting, to speak of matrilaterality and patrilaterality in marriage patterns does not assume the carving out of groups along such lines. Nonetheless, sibling solidarity can be discussed in an appropriate bilateral context. To emphasize same-sex sibling solidarity,
particularly among women, is not to minimize opposite-sex sibling solidarity. Because of sexual segregation, practiced generally, and necessitated by the intensity of first-cousin marriage (Creswell 1976:113), brother-sister relationships are the closest same-generation, cross-sex relationships likely to develop prior to the growth of social intimacy in a compatible marriage. Along with cross-sex sibling solidarity, another factor in the negotiation of MBD-FZS marriage is the relationship between the spouses of the siblings. In the presence of a second-generation first-cousin marriage, the fathers of the couple are first cousins as well as affines in the case of MBC unions, as are the mothers in the case of FZC unions. Since patrivirilocality demographically constricts the universe of marital negotiation for sons, and thereby emphasizes marriage with a first cousin of any order, the structural significance of the combined marital-negotiator-brother-in-law-cousin relationship cannot be unravelled easily. However, with the territorially more expansive network of marital negotiation for daughters, it appears that, like MZS marriage, FZS marriage, in the instance of second-generation first-cousin marriage, provides consanguineal input into both the female network of marital negotiation and the status of daughter-inlaw.

Do women in fact differentiate between sisters-in-law who are cousins and those who are not? Aside from general observational impressions, there are at least two concrete reasons for believing that they do. First, sisters-in-law who are cousins are apt to refer to one another as cousin, not sister-in-law. Second, sisters-in-law exchange sewing and such services gratis only if they are also first cousins; otherwise, payment is required. In other words, consanguineal investment is taken into account in women’s assessments of affinity. Likewise, in recognizing the vulnerability of their daughters as brides, they attempt to invest consanguinity in their daughters’ female affinal networks. MZS marriage is the best means of achieving this goal; an alternative solution is FZS marriage, in the context of second-generation first-cousin marriage.

The overall suggestion here is that in view of preferential kin endogamy, and in terms of the separate interests of men and women in marital negotiation for their sons and daughters, women try to maximize consanguinity more than men do. Relative to women, men spread out their affinal connections, while women seek to feed affinity into their consanguineal networks. While marital strategy from the male point of view is not pursued explicitly in tandem with occupational strategy, there may be advantages to creating and maintaining a variety of linkages within an overall kin-endogamous setting. For example, financial loans are often necessary for the purchase and repair of boats and fishing equipment, and to maintain a relatively wide network within which to contract these loans is advantageous to men. Women, on the other hand, are not directly concerned with such financial considerations. In their foremost concern with the effects of marriage on the composition (the internal order and hierarchy) of their networks (Rosen 1978:571), women are more intent on creating advantage in the utilization of networks in coping with their domestic status. Ultimately, of course, resultant marital arrangements represent the implementation of compromises between conjugal pairs, siblings, and spouses of siblings, as well as among the networks entailed therein.

Marriage in the Middle Eastern context constitutes a complex system based noton positive categorial preferences (i.e., marriage rules), but on preferred individual unions. Since the majority of marriages in this ethnographic context are not between first cousins, what general relevance does the Zikri Baluch case have? First, it indicates that instead of assuming that exogamy is a deviation from endogamy (or vice versa), the demographic and other facilitators, as well as the advantage of either endogamy or exogamy, must be determined empirically. Second, it serves as a reminder that in the Middle East all arranged marriages, kin or nonkin, are operationalized through personal networks characterized by alternations in relations of dominance and dependence. To focus on networks of negotiation represents a departure from most previous approaches which, in emphasizing the derivation of prescriptive rules, have overly stressed FBD marriage or “the ‘most remarkable’ marriage strategies rather than the entire range of available marriage strategies” Eickelman (1981:131). Since social, economic, and political advantage can accrue to either exogamy or endogamy, in both the kin and the territorial sense, the analytic task is to ascertain social patterning in the accumulation of marital strategies.

Hedged in only by fundamental demographic constraints and the distribution of relations between siblings and siblings’ spouses, the Zikri Baluch are unusual only in their statistical fulfillment of a moral and normative convention which is pervasive but seldom realized in the Middle East. Among the Zikri Baluch kin exogamy is not used to gain access to political arenas or agricultural and other forms of property. By the same token, among the majority of them, kin endogamy involves no explicit corporate political or economic advantage. This is not to say that marital links have no political or economic relevance whatsoever, but that in the pursuit of marital strategy, it cannot be assumed a priori that such advantages emanate from marital alliance.

Since this is a highly pragmatic system of marriage, it must be viewed not only in ideological terms, but in pragmatic terms which focus upon reciprocity and negotiation in the actualization of social relationships (Rosen 1979:101). In order to assess the demographic patterns and structural arrangements resulting from marital negotiation in the Zikri Baluch and any other Middle Eastern case, it is necessary to recognize the interconnected differences between (1) male and female networks in the negotiation of marriage, and (2) the implications of marital strategy for sons and daughters. To focus solely on males as marital negotiators and as the objects of marital negotiation in settings characterized by pervasive sexual segregation is an unjustifiably narrow view, which neglects “the intense and precarious ‘dialectical’ relationship between men and women” in the Middle East (Fernea and Malarkey 1975:197). While both men and women calculate the activation and deactivation of their kin connections, they manipulate and elaborate kinship in different ways because their kin networks serve different functions. While Zikri Baluch women seek to further the entanglement of kinship through marital strategy, men attempt to prevent an overload in their kin obligations. The overall and significant pattern, however, is of extreme reticulation in kinship.

Lastly, to separate out affinal and consanguineal connections is not to revert to the genealogical models which previously have hindered the examination of kinship and marriage in the Middle East. It simply recognizes that the Zikri Baluch conceptualize consanguinity and affinity as different, and that they deliberately seek to feed or not to feed one into the other. This is a major consideration to take into account in the examination of any Middle Eastern group engaging in intense kin endogamy. In Middle Eastern settings not so characterized, it is a question of ascertaining the alternative empirical content of the implementation of maritalstrategy through networks of marital negotiation.

1. The research on which this paper is based was conducted in 1976-77 under the auspices of a postdoctoral grant from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. I thank my colleague and companion in the field, Stephen Pastner, and acknowledge the generous and stimulating comments of Dale Eickelman and Richard Kurin.

2. According to Khuri (1970:615) MZD and cross-cousin marriage are disadvantageous because of role conflict between “joking” and “formal and reserved” familial relationships.

3. The literature is varied in theoretical intent, but focuses primarily on FBD marriage. Aside from those cited elsewhere in the text, some of the main discussions include Barth (1954), Patai (1955, 1965), Murphy and Kasden (1959, 1967), Ayoub (1959), Goldberg (1967), Keyser (1974), and Meeker (1976).

4. The extent to which marriages are parentally arranged in the Muslim Middle East must not be deemphasized (Youssef 1978:80). Guardians substitute for deceased parents in marital negotiation.

5. There is some debate as to whether Pakistan should be included ethnographically in South Asia or in the Middle East. The latter designation is accurate for the Baluch since they are historically, culturally, and linguistically linked with the Iranian and the Afghan Baluch (Gulick 1976:9).

6. Johnson and Bond (1974) remind us to be wary of societal caricatures which mutually exclusively stress the predominance of kinship obligations on the one hand, or, on the other, individual choice and self-interest. Zikri Baluch are typical in their operationalization of both premises, although ideologically kinship obligation is emphasized. See S. Pastner (1978) for a discussion of how normative and real behavior intersect in political and religious leadership among the Zikri Baluch.

7. The extent to which men and women have limited social contact with one another is made evident in sex-based territoriality which, consistent with the sexual division of labor, relegates the beach and the sea to men, and the village to women. This territoriality is enforced on children when they reach seven or eight years of age.

8. At one point in 1976, of 66 crew members on 28 multicrew boats operating out of the village, 23 were the sons of captains; only 8 of the crewmen were brothers or sons-inlaw of captains.

9. On a brief return visit to the village in 1979, S. Pastner found that 20 percent of the adult male labor force was abroad.

10. Creswell (1976:105-6) makes a case for including such unions with first-cousin marriages. A more conservative view is taken here, so that cross-generational marriages are included in the category of classificatory-cousin marriage.

11. The other three communities include a Zikri Baluch mohalla (“neighborhood”) in Karachi, and two fishing villages, approximately fourteen and twenty kilometers, respectively, to the west along the coast from the village in which fieldwork was conducted. Until fairly recently the four communities were mutually accessible only by boat or camel; bus service is now available.

12. Of the twenty-six marriages contracted in the two generations descended from the village founder, eleven are between first patriparallel cousins and six are between second patriparallel cousins.

13. Because of the overemphasis in the literature on FBD marriage, it is difficult to make comparisons. According to Antoun (1976:166-68), 10 to 15 percent is a typical rate of FBD marriage, but this provides no indication of the significance (or lack thereof) of MZD or cross-cousin marriage.

14. Khuri (1970:616) indicates such advantages for women in MZC marriage, but at the same time (incorrectly) emphasizes in a bilateral, nonsegmentary setting the incongruity of parent-in-law and uncle/aunt relationships in cross-cousin marriage. The actual reasons for the contraction or noncontraction of crosscousin marriage must be sought elsewhere; namely, in the viability of negotiation between cross-sex siblings and their spouses.

Altourki, S., 1977, Family Organization and Women’s Power in Urban Saudi Arabia. Journal of Anthropological Research 33:277- 87.

Antoun, R.T., 1976, Anthropology. Pp. 166-68 in The Study of the Middle East (ed. by L. Binder). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Ayoub, M., 1959, Parallel Cousin Marriage and Endogamy: A Study in Sociometry. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 15:266-75.

Barth, F., 1954, Father’s Brother’s Daughter Marriage in Kurdistan. Southwestern Journal
of Anthropology 10:164-71.

Barth, F., 1973, Descent and Marriage Reconsidered. Pp. 3-19 in The Character of Kinship (ed. byJ. Goody). London: Cambridge University Press.

Boon, J.A., 1976, The Balinese Marriage Predicament: Individual, Strategical, Cultural. American Ethnologist 3:191-214.

Creswell, R., 1976, Lineage Endogamy Among Maronite Mountaineers. Pp. 101-14 in Mediterranean Family Structures (ed. by J.G. Peristiany). London: Cambridge University Press.

Eickelman, D.F. 1981, The Middle East: An Anthropological Approach. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Fernea, R.A. and J.M. Malarkey, 1975,

Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa: A Critical Assessment. Pp. 193-206 in Annual Review of Anthropology (ed. by B.J. Siegal).

Palo Alto: Annual Reviews. Geertz, H., 1979, The Meaning of Family Ties. Pp. 315-79 in Meaning and Order in
Moroccan Society (ed. by C. Geertz, H. Geertz, and L. Rosen). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gilbert, J.P. and E.A. Hammel, 1966, Computer Simulation and Analysis of Problems in Kinship and Social Structure. American Anthropologist 68:71-93.

Goldberg, H., 1967, FBD Marriage and Demography Among Tripolitanian Jews. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 23:176-91.

Gulick, J., 1976, The Middle East: An Anthropological Perspective. Pacific Palisades: Goodyear.
Hammel, E.A. and H. Goldberg, 1971,

Parallel Cousin Marriage. Man 6:488-89. Johnson, A. and G.C. Bond, 1974, Kinship, Friendship and Exchange in Two Communities: A Comparative Analysis of Norms and Behavior.

Journal of Anthropological Research 30:55-68. Keyser, J.M.B., 1974, The Middle Eastern Case: Is There a Marriage Rule? Ethnology 13:293-309.

Khuri, E., 1970, Parallel Cousin Marriage Reconsidered: A Middle Eastern Practice that Nullifies the Effects of Marriage on the Intensity of Family Relationships. Man 5:597-618.

Lebra, T.S., 1975, An Alternative Approach to Reciprocity. American Anthropologist 77: 550-65. Meeker, M., 1976, Meaning and Society in the Near East: Examples from the Black Sea Turks and the Levantine Arabs. International Journal of Middle East Studies 2:243-70 and 3:383-422.

Murphy, R. and L. Kasden, 1959, The Structure of Parallel Cousin Marriage. American Anthropologist 61:17-29.

Murphy, R. and L. Kasden, 1967, Agnation and Endogamy: Some Further Considerations. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 23:1- 14.

Pastner, C.McC., 1979, Cousin Marriage Among the Zikri Baluch of Coastal Pakistan. Ethnology 18:31-47.

Pastner, S., 1978, Power and Pirs among the Pakistani Baluch. Journal of Asian and African Studies 13:231-43.

Patai, R., 1955, Cousin Right in Middle Eastern Marriage. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 11:371-90.

Patai, R., 1965, The Structure of Endogamous Unilineal Descent Groups. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 21:325-50.

Peters, E., 1976, Aspects of Affinity in a Lebanese Maronite Village. Pp. 27-79 in Mediterranean
Family Structures (ed. by J.G. Peristiany). London: Cambridge University Press.

Pitt-Rivers, J., 1977, The Fate of Shechem or the Politics of Sex. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rosen, L., 1978, The Negotiation of Reality: Male-Female Relations in Sefrou, Morocco. Pp. 561-84 in Women in the Muslim World (ed. by L. Beck and N. Keddie). Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Rosen, L., 1979, Social Identity and Points of Attachment: Approaches to Social Organiza-tion. Pp. 19-111 in Meaning and Order in Moroccan Society (ed. by C. Geertz, H. Geertz, and L. Rosen). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Youssef, N.H., 1978, The Status and Fertility Patterns of Muslim Women. Pp. 69-99 in Women in the Muslim World (ed. by L. Beck and N. Keddie). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
This article has been Published:
Journal of Anthropological Research,
Vol. 37, No. 4 (Winter, 1981), pp. 305-318
University of New Mexico

Comments Off

Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Baloch People


Investment and Translocality Recontextualizing the Baloch in Islamic and Global History

(Research Paper)

By Brian Spooner *1
Department of Anthropology

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Professor Brian Spooner

Professor Brian Spooner

The Baloch are one of the best documented ethnic communities in the modern Islamic world. But the information comes from non-Baloch, who saw them as a tribal population, with their own history and culture, separate from the people around them. This conventional approach masks the continuities in their history, from their raiding of urban populations over a thousand years ago to their current national opposition movements in Iran and Pakistan and their recent association with international terrorism. But if studied in a larger context, both historical and geographical, the available information illustrates the continuities, through qualitative changes, from the earliest available sources down to the present. Enlarging the context in this way has an additional advantage: it enhances our understanding of other world-historical processes that are currently playing out under globalization.

An important variable in this history is locality, the cultural evaluation of location, and translocality, the way locality changes as the social context becomes more complex—variables that have received little attention from either historians or ethnographers. Locality is determined mainly by investment and the social interests resulting from investment. Where there was sufficient soil and water to support investment in irrigation engineering and agricultural development, small communities settled and grew into cities. As the cities grew, they developed trade networks, which further increased their investment potential. The Baloch, like other ‘tribal’ peoples in the arid zone of the northern hemisphere, formed from people who did not find a place in this urban social dynamic.

They are people without investment, who remained historically independent of the cities, but were always there to replenish the cities demographically in times of economic growth, and to take in their economic refugees in times of decline. This history of demographic interdependence, between the cities which could increase their productivity by means of investment and the tribal people who could not, generated a culturally distinctive sense of locality throughout the arid zone, which was different from the temperate and subtropical zones to the north and south.

More recently, as translocality has accelerated with the increasing social complexity of globalization, the people without investment have been forced into political and economic dependence on the cities, but the new city-based nation-state governments responsible for them have so far largely continued to leave them without investment. In the new political framework of the information age the tribes rebel. Similar developments are evident among tribal populations in other parts of the modern Islamic world, and make interesting comparison with similar populations elsewhere.

1. Recontextualizing the Baloch
The Baloch, who form the majority population in southwest Afghanistan, southeast Iran and the west of Pakistan, may be the best documented tribal population in the Islamic world. But our knowledge of them comes from several different types of research, carried out at different times over the past century and a half. Each comes with its own assumptions and presents the Baloch in a particular way, with little or no reference to other sources, or to a larger historical context that would accommodate all the available information. In order to make the best use of all the available sources, it is necessary to consider them more holistically and historically as part of a geographically larger social process, rather than simply an isolated ‘tribal’ population. We are inhibited in this effort by the peculiar history of Baloch studies, and the fact that all our information is from non-Baloch sources.

Each source has been culturally flavored by the particular Western academic context in which it was produced. Although the data have been strung together in a comprehensive encyclopedia article (Spooner 1988), there has been no attempt to integrate it into a larger picture either of Islamic civilization or of modern society. Before we can do this, however, two theoretical issues must be addressed: the problem of change, and the use of the term ‘tribe.’

Change has always been inherent in all human situations. But in most cases until recently it has not been fast enough to be appreciable in the course of a field research project. Where historians have mainly looked for political or other narratives in literate societies, or sometimes for memory of the past in non-literate societies, anthropologists have looked for the functional interdependence of various social institutions among the non-literate. Neither has been sensitive to the underlying dynamics of longer-term qualitative socio-cultural change. Even political scientists who study the contemporary Baloch in terms of modern Pakistani politics do not ask how or why Baloch activities have changed since their Pakistani province was first formed in 19482. In fact, change has received relatively little theoretical or methodological attention in social science in general. As an ethnographer of the Baloch in the 1960s, I confess that, although I knew the Baloch had not always been the same and that some of them were currently attempting to change their situation, I focused only on the day-to-day life in which I was participating among them. Even though this was the end of the colonial period, I had not been trained to expect change or to seek to explain it. I was there to collect data that would contribute to the major anthropological discussions of the time, which concerned the social and economic organization of small pre-industrial communities and their ecological viability, not their past (which was generally assumed to be unknowable) or their political future. Furthermore, no social scientist at that time (and few since then) focused on the explanation of how people arrived at the condition in which they were observed, or what sort of trajectory of change they were on and where they were heading. We were working in the theoretical age of structural-functionalism. We wanted to understand how the system worked, not how it was changing.

Change had begun to appear in the curriculum in the 1950s, when the rate of change in the world at large began to accelerate, as the comparative study of a particular community at two different times, or later as the investigation of a ‘prime-mover’ such as population growth. But it did not appear in research design until much later, and has still not become a major focus. Even now, when the rate of social change everywhere, especially in the post-colonial world, has increased to the point where it cannot be ignored, social science has not worked out how to deal with it methodologically, except perhaps in quantitative, statistical terms, which while they provide handy analytical descriptions, do not explain. This paper selects from all the available data with the purpose of showing inter-related processes and themes over time, continuities from the earliest data down to the present, rather than a succession of discrete situations. The basic assumption is that culture grows from experience, and in order to understand the cultural factors in day-to-day life we need to investigate the historical experience that conditioned it.

The term ‘tribe’ has a long history, starting as a section of the population of ancient Rome. We adopted the term in the 17th century for all small-scale, non-literate communities outside the world’s historical civilizations, communities organized around the group experience of kinship and descent, in (for example) Siberia, Sub-Saharan Africa or the pre-Columbian Americas. Then we easily extended the term to non-literate peoples like the Baloch who, although their lives were organized in similar terms of kinship and descent, were encapsulated within a literate civilization, such as Islam, because we studied them in the same way, as isolates. We were interested in them not because they were part of Islamic civilization, but as examples of small-scale, non-literate society. But as a translation of (Ar.-Pers.) `ashira, qabila, tā’ifa, or (Pers.-Turk.) il in the Islamic world, ‘tribe’ is not the same social formation as the other non-literate peoples we call tribes outside the world’s historical civilizations, who (unlike the Baloch) before the colonial period had no dealings with markets or
administrations based on literacy, that maintain a written record of the past, providing a control for living memory and extending the cultural sense of time. That extension of the same analytical term for non-literate communities into the Islamic situation, where people who do not read or write are nevertheless aware of the larger society which is governed by literacy, has misled us into ignoring the larger social history of the Baloch.

The Baloch may have written no history of their own (at least until the 1950s), but they know they have a place in other people’s history, if only because of their awareness of Islam. They are not the same category of social formation as those who were recently given a place in the literature as “The People without History” (Wolf 1982). Most research on the Baloch has ignored this, and focused on nomadism, pastoralism and tribalism alone, because of the academic interests and assumptions of the investigators.

The Baloch are known outside their own territory from four major sets of external sources: early Arabic and Persian sources from over a thousand years ago; the Imperial Gazetteers of British India, which are based on data collected by missionaries and administrators in the second half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th; anthropological studies based on ethnographic research that was carried out between 1958 and 1978, and investigative journalism of the past three decades or so (such as Harrison 1981 and Wirsing 2008). Baloch studies began in the 1850s, following the extension of British Indian administration northwestwards through Sindh and Punjab to secure the only vulnerable land frontier of the Subcontinent by including areas inhabited by Baloch and Pashtuns. Geographical, linguistic and ethnographic studies that served British administrative interests were carried out in the following decades mainly under British government auspices, but also to some extent by missionaries, and brought together in 1908 in the publication of the eight volume Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series3. The study of the Balochi language began to be included in Iranistics in the 1930s (cf. Morgenstierne 1932, 1948). In the 1950s anthropologists were attracted to the area. First Pehrson (1966), then Nina and Warren Swidler (1973 and 1968), followed by several others (listed in Spooner 1985 and 1998), carried out ethnographic research in Baloch communities in Iran and Pakistan in the 1960s and early 1970s. These writers were pursuing questions of social organization, economy and ecology that had been posed by Fredrik Barth (1961), and were generally ahistorical. Starting at about the same time textual scholars began to pay attention to earlier information on the Baloch from pre-Islamic Persian sources and from the Arab geographers of the 9th and 10th centuries. All this information has been analytically reviewed (Bosworth 1976), and presents a very different picture of the Baloch from the Gazetteers and ethnographies. Finally, starting in the 1980s, and especially since 2001, a new genre has emerged, of journalistic political science, concerned with Pakistani national development, relations with Afghanistan, and terrorism (cf. e.g. Kaplan 2009).

Meanwhile, studies of the Baloch by Baloch authors began to appear in Pakistan, in Balochi, Urdu and English in the 1950s. The Balochi Academy was established in Quetta by the Federal Government of Pakistan in 1961, and the Balochistan Study Centre was formed in the University of Balochistan in Quetta in 1997. An increasing number of books have been published about the Baloch by Baloch authors in recent decades (of which the most notable is Baloch, 1987), which are mainly vehicles for modern nationalist ambitions4. Still relatively little attention has been given to this field beyond the Baloch themselves and the small number of European and American scholars who have studied them. The furthest they have moved towards international recognition has been in the international meetings organized by the Newsletter of Baluchistan Studies (IsMEO, Rome), and the
History of Baluch Studies meetings that have been organized at Uppsala University by Dr. Carina Jahani (see especially Jahani and Korn 2003, and Jahani, Korn and Titus 2008). Perhaps the recent UNESCO-sponsored Workshop on Baluch Identity and Culture (Brock University, Sept. 8-9, 2012) presages an upswing in international attention to the Baloch. But the focus is still on the cultural interest of the Baloch and what they can tell us about human cultural diversity, rather than the part they have played in the history of the region and in world history in general.

The early Arabic and Persian writers see the Baloch very differently from the later sources, from the perspective of what Hodgson (1974, Vol. 1, pp. 107-109) called an agrarianate citied civilization: as people who challenged the economic and political order of the city, as outlaws to be controlled or eliminated5. The Gazetteers, on the other hand, were compiled a century ago in order to facilitate efficient colonial administration. Half a century later, in the 1950s, the anthropologists were seeking answers to contemporary anthropological questions about surviving pre-industrial economies and their ecological viability. Finally, the journalists studying them more recently have been concerned with Pakistan’s current problems of national integration and international relations.

In each set of sources each author type-casts the Baloch according to his/her particular research interests. None of them appears to have studied the other sets of publications. Few recent commentators have read even selectively from all four sets. Each set, therefore, presents a synchronic view of Baloch culture and society, and fails to see them in historical perspective. Since the Baloch left no contemporary record of their own before the mid-20th century, there is no reliable guide for understanding all four sets in relation to each other. Since literacy and the literate record were organized by the urban elites, we know the Baloch historically only from the work of urban historians who were ideologically opposed to them. But since the sources cover a period of fifteen hundred years, they may be used for a historical reconstruction that will allow us to see the Baloch today in terms of a historical trajectory. Here, therefore, we attempt to develop this trajectory by setting out what seems to be the more significant data from each source. This is a historical summary only. More detail is available in Bosworth 1976 and Spooner 1988.

The people who originally brought the Balochi language to the area that after 1839 became known as Balochistan (or Baluchistan) first in British India (now Pakistan) west of the Indus valley and later in southeastern Iran, also brought with them the oral tradition of Balochi epic poetry (cf. Dames 1904, Elfenbein 2008). They appear to have arrived as one or more of a series of waves of migrants that entered the area from the northwest between roughly 1000 and 1600 CE. This immediately raises questions: what was causing them to move? Where were they coming from, and why were people moving into this area in particular? Were they displacing others or taking them over? Did their arrival change the geo-political or geo-economic relationship of this area with surrounding areas? Since it is a large area, some 500,000 square kilometers, bordering on the Persian Gulf which has been a major seaway between Mesopotamia and India since the earliest times, the questions carry some larger historical significance.

The earliest (pre-Islamic) references to the Baloch pair them with the Kuch (from Kufich or Qufs, ‘mountain people’). These sources were used in the Shahnama, the classical Persian epic, which was composed in the early 11th century. Several 10th-11th-century Arabic geographical writers mention them in the Kerman area south of the central desert of the Iranian Plateau. Linguistic evidence has been used to suggest that they had come from the northern side of the Iranian Plateau, and their language has been classified as Northwest Iranian (a category that includes Kurdish). But no one has explained why they moved south, or why they later moved east.

In most of these sources the Baloch are mentioned as fighters and outlaws, more than as pastoralists, and they appear never to be identified with any particular location or territory. For example:
“They appear above all as a bellicose and rapacious race of bandits, and this not only in the historical and geographical sources, but also in the Shah-nama of Firdausi, where the Kuch u Baluch are mentioned more than once for their hardihood and prowess in battle, e.g. as part of Kai Khusrau’s forces, and for their skill in fighting with the dagger” (Bosworth 1976: 12).

Again, Maqdisi (in the Ahsan at-taqāsim fi ma’rifat al-aqālim, in ca. 375/985) has a classic description of the barbarism of the Kufichis and Baluch, who in his time were terrorizing the caravan routes across the great central deserts of the Lut and the Kavir. Ibn Hauqal’s information of a decade or two earlier that the Baluch were a pacific, pastoralist people who helped travelers rather than preyed upon them does not accord with that of Maqdisi. The latter states, in his section on the Great Desert, which he himself had crossed:
“The whole of it [sc. the Great Desert] is a fearful place, because of a people called the Qufs, who inhabit some mountains in Kirman which adjoin the region of Jiruft. From these mountains, they sweep down to the Desert just like locusts. They are a race with no propensity whatsoever towards goodness; they have savage faces, stony hearts, fierceness and hardness. They never spare anyone, and are not satisfied with just taking money. Nor do they put to death with their weapons anyone they get hold of; on the contrary, they pound their heads with a stone, just as one kills snakes; you see them hold a man’s head down on a flat stone and pound it with a stone until it is split open. I asked them why they did this, and they replied, ‘In this way, we don’t damage our sword blades!’ Only rarely does anyone manage to escape from them. They possess places of concealment and impregnable mountains, and whenever they are cornered in one administrative region, they merely flee to another. They fight with [bows and] arrows and carry swords. The Balus used to be even worse than the Qufs, until ‘Adud ad-Daula destroyed them, and wrought damage amongst the Qufs also. He carried off as hostages 80 of their youths, and up to this present time, they are kept in imprisonment at Shiraz; every so often these are sent back home, and another 80 taken in their place. The regions of Dailam adjoining the Great Desert are safe from them, but the fringes of Khurasan are liable to their depredations. However, provided that a caravan has an armed escort from the ruler of Fars, they do not molest it. Amongst the whole of God’s creation, they have the most tenacious qualities of endurance of hunger and thirst. Their staple food is only a modicum, such as nuts from the lotus tree, from which they derive nourishment. They profess Islam, but are more savage against the Muslims than the Byzantines or Turks. When they take a man captive, they make him run with them 20 farsakhs or so, with bare feet and no food. They have no inclination for riding horses, and do not employ mounts at all; they go on foot essentially, except that sometimes they ride on swift camels” (Bosworth 1976: 14).

The fact that ibn Hauqal’s account differs from Maqdisi’s I would understand not as invalidating the former, but as validating the hypothesis that they were ready to take advantage of whatever opportunities they saw and their activities varied. We know very little about the history of Balochistan before their arrival. What information does exist suggests that before the 17th century it figured very differently in the geo-politics of the region. During the Achaemenian Empire (650-330 BCE), and later when Alexander the Great moved his army from India through Makran in 324 BCE on the way back to Mesopotamia, the area was an administrative province known as Gedrosia (though this name is not known from Achaemenian sources), which suggests that it was at least primarily agricultural (since there is no pre-modern historical example of nomads under an imperial administration). Arrian’s account of the passage of Alexander’s army suggests that the region was not prosperous, but the fact that it is named as a province under Achaemenian rule implies that its administration had been worthwhile, and it is noteworthy that both Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan today contain many small agricultural settlements which have names with apparently pre-Baloch etymologies, such as Bampur, Dezak, and Qasr-e Qand in Iran and Khārān, Panjgur and Torbat in Pakistan, and Qal`a-i Fatḥ in Afghanistan (cf. Spooner 1988). But when the Arabs arrived in the middle of the 7th century, they (like Alexander) found it generally unattractive and apparently without any local ruler, though Sasanian sources (224- 651 CE) name four administrative entities within it, each with “kings” (cf. Bosworth 1968: 1-25).

In the 13th century Marco Polo mentions Kesmacoran (i.e. Kech-Makran), suggesting that the agricultural settlements along the Kech river (now in the Makran district of the Pakistan province) were the most flourishing part of the area. Food is mentioned as abundant and good, with the full range of staples (rice, wheat, meat and milk). Again, Kech had its own king [malek], and the people, who included non-Muslims, apparently traded both overland and by sea in all directions, and spoke a language Polo did not recognize. He also makes it appear that the area is more closely connected to India than to the political centers on the Iranian Plateau to the north or northwest.

It is not surprising then that when the Baloch arrived in their current location they did not name it6. It would appear that when the area ceased to be administered from one of the major imperial centers to the northwest, the north or the east (e.g. Kerman, Qandahar, Delhi), there was nothing to give it a unitary identity, and it became a refuge area for people who lost their place under those citied administrations. People who could not find a place in those city-centered economies did not pursue tribally organized nomadic pastoral life by preference, but by default. So long as they could not find a place in the city-centered investment7 economies, they went off with their animals and took advantage of whatever resources became available to them, including raiding the cities, when feasible. Nomads in general historical terms have been people who were unable to build an economic base to support themselves in larger clustered numbers that would enable them to marshal the labor necessary for investment and engineering that would increase agricultural productivity and generate inter-urban trade. Since their society did not become large enough to develop urban institutions, it operated on the basis of the their own cultural version of the relationships that come with the life-cycle processes of reproduction and socialization, which we recognize as the tribal criteria of kinship and descent. They move from one resource to another, taking with them the only assets that are mobile, their flocks. They are not so much pastoral nomads as multiple-resource freebooters with sheep and goats and no irrigable land (cf. Salzman 1972).

When agricultural centers were available, they took them over. But control of land changed their social organization. Pastoralism depends on cooperation and collective responsibility; agriculture depends on management and labor. Management becomes land-ownership and class differentiation.

So in Balochistan some families were able to take over the existing agricultural centers (irrigated from springs, without the need for investment in irrigation engineering), and establish their own independent political centers. The Baluchistan described by the British in the late 19th century and by anthropologists in the mid-20th was one in which all the locations with some ten hectares or more of cultivable soil and surface water that could be used for irrigation had been taken over by one or another leading tribal family (khans) who managed the land with people who had been reduced to the status of peasants, helots or serfs (their status varied from place to place)8, while the remaining parts where there was insufficient surface water to irrigate crops were roamed by nomadic groups of varying sizes. Since the nomadic groups were small they looked for opportunities to serve the land-owning families, and cultivated various types of relationships with them.

This was a small-scale variant of the pattern suggested by ibn Khaldun in the 14th century as a model for the political history of most of the Islamic world up to the 19th century. Ibn Khaldun saw ruling groups rising and falling “according to the strength and weakness of their internal coherence, their ‘group feeling’ (‘asabiya); their progress from simplicity through power and wealth as necessary for civilization (‘omran) to wasteful luxury under the preeminent force of economic factors; and their inevitable replacement in endless cycles—a combination of psychological and material determinants of human society” (Rosenthal 1997; cf. Rosenthal 1967) with the result that most power centers in Islamic civilization, both large (such as the Persianate empires of the Saljuqs, Timurids, Ottomans) and small (such as agricultural centers in Makran) have been headed by families with tribal origins, and have maintained their position on average only some three generations, before personal power and land ownership disturbed their esprit de corps ['asabiya]; and they were supplanted by the next tribal group with stronger ‘asabiya.

We can now expand ibn Khaldun’s model: the advantage of the more complex urban society is that although the morale of the ruling family decays (loses its `asabiya) its investment potential still facilitates accelerated growth, which increases social complexity, whereas the population outside the cities is tribal, not because they have the `asabiya of ‘noble savages’, but because they do not have the resources or the ability to increase productivity and develop the social complexity of cities.

Before the industrial age, identity in complex societies was always in land. The overall geographical mobility of most of the world’s population has been restricted since the beginning of agriculture because the primary resource was agricultural land. When the opportunity of migration to the Americas opened up in the early modern period, the attraction was not only religious freedom, it was new land. When industrialization began to release people from land in the 18th century, mobility began to increase, and has continued to increase as attachment to agricultural land has diminished.

The groups we call tribal are groups that have no significant fixed assets such as land, but only mobile assets, or assets without investment that restricts mobility. Their identity is in their interdependence with each other, which develops in the course of the life cycle, forming a society based on kinship and descent—the social formation we call tribal. Although they develop a counter-culture outside the cities, they also emulate the activities of the cities wherever the opportunity arises. The tribal leaders who established themselves over the years in the various agricultural centers of Balochistan were following the model of tribal leaders who periodically took over the big cities of Islamic civilization. Since none of the larger cities to the immediate northwest (e.g. Kerman), north (e.g. Qandahar) or east (e.g. Lahore or Delhi) saw any advantage in investing in Balochistan and controlling it, it became identified with the Baloch from the outside, and was eventually formalized with that identity in the post-colonial era of nation-states. But because of its internal inability to generate investment, it has failed to achieve its own independent status as a nation-state. Although the people who brought the Balochi language to Balochistan succeeded in ‘Balochizing’ this vast area, they did not draw all its inhabitants into a homogeneous Baloch identity.

All Muslims who settled there came to identify as Baloch (i.e. all except some small groups of Hindu or Sikh traders), but they also claim diverse origins—as diverse as Arab, Indian, Iranian and Pashtun. Some identify with their local village and may be descended from the earlier inhabitants. All talk of the (relatively) few remaining nomads, who live away from the agricultural settlements, mainly in mountainous areas, as baloch, i.e. the real Baloch (i.e. descendants of the cultural and linguistic ancestors). Although all use Balochi as the lingua franca, many speak other languages among themselves. A form of Persian is spoken around Kalat, and in the Saravan district of western Baluchistan. A form of Sindhi (known as Jadgāli9) is the language of Dashtiāri (the extended coastal plain on the Iranian side of the modern border with Pakistan, and there are several groups of Brahui10 speakers in the area known as Saravan south of Kalat, and also scattered along the Afghan border. What makes an inhabitant of Balochistan a Baloch is Islam, the use of the Balochi language for public purposes, and a political relationship with one of the leading families in the agricultural settlements (cf. Barth 1964).

There are also a significant number of Baloch outside Balochistan, who migrated from Balochistan in pursuit of opportunity before or during the colonial period, without retaining any attachment to the area or to other Baloch. Some moved north into the Turkic areas that became northern Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, where living among Turkmen communities in the 19th century they took up carpet-weaving, developing a new genre, which has attracted the attention of collectors only in recent decades (cf. Spooner 1986). In the 16th and 17th centuries many became involved with, and exploited the presence of, the Portuguese, and later the Dutch and the British in the Persian Gulf. Some were taken on as mercenaries by the Alam family in the Qaenat11. Some migrated to Oman and other parts of the Arab side of the Persian Gulf. In Oman the Sultan of Muscat recruited them to serve as a militia for his maritime empire in the 19th century. Many settled in Zanzibar and East Africa (Nicolini 2006 and 2007). Baloch traders were operating in western Congo in 1958 (Kopytoff 1968). Many more moved into Punjab and Sindh. But their territorial identity did not spread with them. Since the middle of the 20th century many have found employment in merchant shipping and other opportunities to move further afield into Europe and America.

When European ships began to arrive in the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf in the 16th century, they found the area occupied by Baloch, with little if any control from the Persian capital in Esfahan or the provincial center in Kerman. Moreover they found the Baloch to be dangerous, but also ready to be taken on as mercenaries. It was probably the arrival of the Europeans that awakened Safavid (Persian) interest in the coastal area, and the resulting activity of the Safavids that drew the attention of the Mughals in India. The city of Qandahar (in what was later to become southern Afghanistan), which had been the closest city to the area and the most influential, actually changed hands more than once between the Safavid and Mughal Empires during this period. But the interests of both began to wane later in the 17th century, and in 1666 Ahmad Khan, a Baloch (from a Brahuispeaking family) managed to supplant the Hindu ruler of Kalat, and establish an independent Baloch political identity. Kalat was the largest agricultural center on the eastern side of the area, and it then became the major Baloch political center, a proto-city in the Islamic world, that would later become recognized as the political center of the Princely State of Baluchistan. But Ahmad Khan did not call it Baluchistan (or Balochistan). Throughout its history the political primacy of this center was under varying degrees of threat not only from Iran, India and (after 1747) Afghanistan, but also from tribal leaders in the lesser agricultural centers of the area (Kharan and Torbat). It maintained the same line of succession down to its inclusion into Pakistan in 1948. But its strongest period was the second half of the 18th century, under Nasir Khan, and its identity might not have survived through the 19th century, had the British not decided to use it for indirect rule.

It is interesting that the history of Balochistan down to this point is roughly parallel to the history of Afghanistan, though on a somewhat reduced scale. The ‘Afghanization’ of Afghanistan began only in 1747, when another Ahmad Khan, Ahmad Abdali (mentioned above in footnote 3) established a major empire from Qandahar in the area that had been known historically as Khorasan. In the 19th century when Russian and British encroachment reduced the territory of the Afghan empire to the present borders of Afghanistan, it was cut off from the inter-city trade of the Central Asian Silk Route and began to be named by outsiders (initially the British) as the separate territory of Afghanistan, and was treated by them in a way similar to the ‘Princely States’ that were directly subordinated to the British Government in Calcutta. Like Balochistan, its survival into the 20th century was the result of British support, in this case because the British wanted to maintain a buffer between themselves and the Russian Empire.

In the 19th century, the beginning of the period for which information is more abundant, although there was some armed resistance to British control, Balochistan was generally peaceful, with a mixed agricultural-pastoral economy. British influence had also spread westwards from India up into the Persian Gulf, first with the laying of the telegraph line in the 1860s, and later in order to counteract German activity at the time of the First World War. The extension of British interests into Balochistan from the east was countered by the extension of Persian interests southeast from Kerman in the north west under Muhammad Shah Qajar in the 1840s. The border between India and Iran was eventually formalized in 1871, dividing Baluchistan between India and Iran, and later (in 1893) cutting off the northeastern fringe as part of Afghanistan. Although the criteria for this division were somewhat unclear (cf. Goldschmid 1876), the line appears to have been drawn along the furthest extent of the historical influence of the Khan of Kalat.

In the following decades, on the western side of the border, as Persian attention faded again, local landowning families began to re-exert their independence. In 1907 Bahram Khan Baranzai in Dezak (in Saravan district on the Iranian side of the border) began a movement to establish a state parallel to Kalat. He was the leader of a Pashtun Barakzai group, related to the Afghan dynastic line that had migrated through Sistan into Western Baluchistan from Afghanistan in the early 19th century, probably escaping from the internecine fighting in the Afghan ruling clans in Herat at the time of the change of dynasty in the early 1820s. They had assimilated to Baloch identity, and spoke only Balochi and Persian, but remembered their Afghan heritage. When Bahram died without male offspring in 1921, his nephew, Dost Muhammad Barakzai (namesake of the Afghan Shah of 1826 to 1839 and 1845 to 1863), took his place. After the change of dynasty in Tehran in 1925 the new shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi, who had a more modern (i.e. national and territorial) orientation towards Iran than his Qajar predecessors (who had continued to think in the traditional terms of empire rather than modern terms of nationalism), turned his attention to the tribal populations around the borders. As the furthest from Tehran, Baluchistan was the last on his list. When his army finally arrived there in 1928, Dost Muhammad Khan’s forces dispersed and he was captured. Western (Iranian) Baluchistan was separated from Kerman, and became the southern part of Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan, centered on Zahedan. The Barakzai family that had led the resistance took refuge on the British side of the border for a decade before arranging a peaceful return. From then until the British withdrawal from India in 1947, Baluchistan remained calm under the Persian and British Indian administrations. On the British side the northern strip along the border with Afghanistan was administered directly from Calcutta (later New Delhi) as British Baluchistan, with a major administrative center in Quetta, while the core areas of Baloch khans in Kalat, Kharan, and Makran were ruled indirectly as a Princely State with Kalat as the main center. But the price of this calm was the subsidies that the British were paying down to their departure to several of the Khans not only on the Indian side of the border but also from time to time on the Iranian side. Baluchistan was still peripheral territory with sparse population and no investment (even in the agricultural centers), but the Baloch were becoming increasingly aware of opportunities in the cities beyond their territory.

The imposition of nation-state frameworks on the Baloch, starting in Iran in 1928, changed not only the formalities of administrative relationships with two modernizing countries, Iran and later Pakistan, but also the nature of the relationship between the Baloch and other countries in the surrounding region, especially Afghanistan, Oman and the Emirates of the Persian Gulf. On the Pakistani side, when the British withdrew in 1947, the Khan of Kalat, supported by the other Khans in Kharan and Makran assumed, like the government in Afghanistan, that everything would return to the way it was before the British arrived: Baluchistan would be an independent state. But only seven months later, in March 1948, the Khan of Kalat was persuaded to sign Baluchistan over to Pakistan, and both the Princely State and British Baluchistan together became the new Pakistani Province of Balochistan with Quetta as its administrative center, circumscribed by the borders drawn by the British12. In Afghanistan the Baloch are a small ethnic minority in the southeastern provinces of Nimruz, Helmand, and Qandahar, but they did not receive any formal recognition as an ethnic or linguistic community until after the revolution of 1978.

In all three countries the Baloch now found their status changed. They were no longer the excluded (but independent) people in a marginalized territory. They were now administratively integrated into a nation-state that they did not choose, and formally subordinated to a central urban authority in each country, with minimal representation at the center, and still experiencing the mediaeval discrimination of the cities against the people who were not part of the agricultural hinterland that benefitted from investment. Their investment potential had not changed. It was not long before opposition and hostility became evident on both sides of the border. The Afghan response to British withdrawal had been to assume that borders drawn by the British (in particular the Durand Line drawn in 1893 that divided Pashtun territory between Afghanistan and India) lost their validity and most of what had become West Pakistan would return to Afghan rule. They therefore promoted the idea of a Pashtunistan to include not only all the Pashtun lands of southern Afghanistan, but also Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and Balochistan. (The latter had been under Afghan rule during the first decade of Ahmad Shah Durrani’s rule, and continued to maintain a close relationship with Afghanistan until the arrival of the British.) It is not clear to what extent this Afghan action may have strengthened any Baloch resolve to remain independent of Pakistan.

In Iran the leading members of the Sardārzai tribe in Bahu Kalāt (the main settlement in the Dashtiāri plain) were involved with independence movements that had arisen among Baloch on the other side of the Persian Gulf, supported by Iraq, against the government in Tehran. In 1973 a cache of bombs was found in the Iraqi embassy in Islamabad (which became the capital of Pakistan in 1970), which may have been destined for delivery to the Baloch in Iran (because of Iraq’s border disputes with Iran), but was blamed on the Marri tribe in Pakistan. After Iran’s revolution in 1979, several Baloch opinion leaders in Iran took refuge again across the border, this time in Karachi, and began to seek American assistance against the new Islamic Republic. They claimed to have been funded by the CIA at an earlier time to organize raids across Afghanistan into the Soviet Union.

Another group, from the Rigi tribe in the Sarhadd (northern Iranian Balochistan), launched a new resistance movement called Jundullah in the early 2000s (designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2010 by the U.S. Bureau of Counterterrorism). In Pakistan open rebellion began before the end of the 1950s, but was contained until the discovery of the arms shipment in 1973, after which a significant number of Marri migrated across the (poorly marked) border into Afghanistan and launched the Baloch People’s Liberation Front, which later became the Balochistan Liberation Army. The Marri returned to Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the political situation between them (and an increasing number of other Baloch) and the Federal Government in Islamabad has been deteriorating ever since, to the point where it is now critical.

This synopsis summarizes some fifteen hundred years of history in a brief narrative, distinct from the separate unlinked episodes that were previously available. It achieves this by representing the Baloch as part of the history of the larger region in which they had no option but to play the part of the people excluded from the investment dynamic of the citied agrarianate civilization, reduced to making the most of unimproved resources in marginalized territory. The Baloch had been adapting historically, not to their natural environment, but to their socio-economic and political marginalization from the investment centers of the region. In order to understand this long historical process of adaptation we need to explore not how a community chooses and exploits resources, its human ecology, but how geographical space becomes defined within a civilization, how the cultural sense of locality was acquired, and how it changed as the society became more complex.

2. Investment and Translocality
The concept of translocality13 usefully alerts us to the significance of changing orientations towards location, resulting from population growth, increasing social complexity and the expansion of arenas of social interaction that comes with globalization. Translocality grows from locality. Locality is location in socio-cultural context, and translocality is the changing relationship between social life and geographical space, the cultural significance of the way geographical perceptions change according to social interests.

Cities are important in the geography of every civilization. But since the cultural core of the Islamic world occupies almost the entire Old-World northern arid zone, from the western coast of North Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia into China, the contrast between space containing cities and the agricultural hinterlands in which they have invested in irrigation engineering, on the one hand, and the space between them with no cities on the other, is greater than elsewhere and more directly and exclusively related to the development of social formations.

For this reason the various cultural traditions of this arid zone, which are all closely related by theircommon Islamic history of the past millennium and a half, are characterized by a sharp division between the areas dominated by cities and the areas between them. Although colonial administrations began to change this sense of locality a century or so ago and post-colonial nationstate administrations and economic development are changing it more decisively now, the old sense of locality still shows through, because it is rooted in the local identities of people like the Baloch. It has an important social dimension that has not been recognised, and is a significant factor underlying the way the Baloch think about themselves, how they are assessed in the cities around them, their place in the modern world, and their current opposition to the governments of Iran and Pakistan.

This assessment raises some larger questions. Firstly, why did agrarianate citied society develop when it did in the Middle East, before other parts of the world that were better watered? Secondly, when the Arabo-Islamic empire took off in the 7th century, why did it expand east-west through the arid zone, when all earlier empires, however large, had spread in different patterns? Thirdly, how did the Islamic world from the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) until the 20th century, from northwest Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia into China, maintain its cultural unity as a civilization without political centralization over such a vast area before modern communications? And fourthly, how has the introduction of Western hegemony over the past century changed the way peoples like the Baloch inter-relate with the larger society, both within the Islamic world and beyond?

1. Why did agrarianate citied society develop in the Middle East before other parts of the world that were better watered?

A city begins as an agrarian settlement that has grown large enough to develop division of labor, investment activities and trade with other cities. Archaeological evidence suggests that cities began to appear in southern Mespotamia in the 6th millennium BCE. Sedentarization had begun in the Fertile Crescent as a result of the opportunities offered by climate change following the end of the last glacial period. Sedentism increased birth rates, and before long the growing settled populations had to intensify their relationship with the land by cultivating crops in order to feed themselves (cf. Boserup 1964). As their population continued to grow, they moved from the hillsides of the Fertile Crescent down to the rivers in the arid Mesopotamian plains, so that they could further increase production by irrigation of rich alluvial soils. Cities developed in the increased clustering of population on the rivers. From then on into the first millennium BCE these cities in Mesopotamia were the primary world centers of growth in population, agricultural production and trade. It was here that the level of social complexity first advanced, increasing the potential for collective learning and innovation. Gradually, similar urban centers of investment in irrigated agriculture and trade developed where soil and water was available throughout the arid zone. This type of population growth and the clustering that would raise levels of social complexity did not begin in the temperate or subtropical zones until later.

Although other factors have played a role since then, this original social dynamic (settlement, increasing fertility rates, urbanization, investment, trade, collective learning, innovation) set the historical pattern that took off before long on all the other major arid-zone rivers: the Nile, Oxus, Indus, the Yellow River—a process that lasted down to the colonial period (when a new process that had evolved in temperate Europe, where resources were much more evenly distributed) expanded and took over, and continues to condition the relations between urban and non-urban populations like the Baloch in the modern world. It took off in the arid zone rather than the better watered temperate or tropical zones to the north and south because the emergence of the fertile crescent offered the original opportunity, the resulting population growth generated the need for food production, and the necessary soil and water was along the nearby rivers of the arid zone. The resulting clustering of population along the rivers generated the social process of collective learning, investment in the labor necessary for irrigation engineering, other technological innovation and inter-city trade. The domestication of crops and animals began as a response not only to population growth but to clustering in settlements. From then on, down to the colonial period, the population in the arid zone was divided between the investment centers of the citied society and the people who either lost their place in them or could not find a place. They did not themselves have the resources that would enable them to cluster in large enough communities to develop the necessary investment, and therefore did not experience the same rate of social change and the benefits of rising social complexity as the cities.

The people who did not find a place in the urban growth, and in the agricultural development it financed, continued to live in small mainly mobile groups organized in terms of the relationships that evolve informally in the process of socialization and are culturally formalized according to rules of kinship and descent, i.e. tribal societies. They formed counter-societies in the spaces between the cities, some of which were large, such as the areas now occupied by the Baloch, Kurds, Pashtuns and others. As the carrying capacity of the urban economies fluctuated, some lost their place in the urban economy and joined the tribes, taking their animals (their mobile assets) with them, becoming pastoral nomads on the lookout for any opportunity, such as raiding caravans or cities. From then until the colonial period the history of the arid zone was the history of urban growth and decline (resulting from a variety of factors, including periodic drought and violent conflict) and the  response of the sparse tribal populations without investment in the wilderness between them, with whom they continually exchanged population. We know from ethnographic studies (e.g. Barth 1961, Cohen 1965) that interchange of population between cities and tribes was common.

2. When the Arabo-Islamic empire expanded in the 7th century, why did it expand east-west through the arid zone, when all earlier empires, however large, had spread in different patterns, especially into better-watered areas?

Although Hodgson recognized the special ‘citied’ quality of Islamic civilization and developed a rich analytical description of the distinctive social qualities of Islamic society in his monumental work, he did not attempt to explain why it expanded east-west, throughout this arid zone (which could not at the time support growth without investment in irrigation), creating a newly configured administrative entity, rather than (like earlier empires) spreading into and through its predecessors, especially Rome and Persia, which were contemporary rivals in religion as well as empire. In the 7th century once the Arab armies from the Arabian peninsula had broken the resistance of the Roman and Persian empires in Syria and Mesopotamia they pushed not north into the better watered regions of Anatolia or the Caucasus, not into India (until much later), or up the Nile into Ethiopia or Sudan, but east through desert, into Sindh and round the north of the Himalayas towards China, and
west along the arid north coast of Africa, uniting for the first time under a single administration a vast area over three thousand kilometers in length, but relatively narrow in latitude.

The answer may lie in the particular stage of urban development and trade that had been achieved by the 7th century. The east-west trade routes, between the Atlantic and China and Japan, which had already become arterial by the beginning of our era, had never before been linked throughout politically or administratively. But now the urban entrepots throughout this zone had grown to the point where they provided seductive stepping stones for the extension of an empire supported by trade interests. By connecting the arid-semiarid zone from the Atlantic to China, even at the slow pace of camel traffic (estimated to have averaged no more than 10-20 miles a day, cf.

Knauer 1998), Islam created a uniquely new situation—a geographically homogeneous political unit in which economic growth and political stability depended on the economic trade-off between investment in local irrigation engineering and the profits from long-distance trade, each of which depended on urban growth and the trade and competition between the cities.14

In the three millennia of empire building before Islam each empire had been built out from the local power base of an aspiring leader. The objective had been economic growth by capture (a major force in history until the middle of the 20th century, since which time the expansion of trade has become a better recipe for growth). Succession on the death of the leader tended to be uncertain, and few dynasties and not many empires lasted more than ibn Khaldun’s model of three generations. The expansion of Islam in the 7th century was the first (and perhaps the only) historical example of religiously inspired expansion. The longevity of the Islamic empire was not dependent on the success or failure of any particular succession. It also benefitted from the earlier heritage of longterm political stability under the Roman Empire in the West and the interconnectedness of (what
later came to be known as) the Silk Road to the east. Its future did not depend on any local political process, but on the sense of belonging to a vast community with common legal values, an ecumene.

For this reason it became the longest lasting empire in world history, with the result that the social arrangements it supported became culturally validated to the point where they are now seriously resistant to change. But its survival is now at risk, because of new political rivalries resulting from the change in the sense of locality resulting from a new relationship with the temperate zone starting in the 19th century (under colonialism). The problem has intensified under globalization. In the `asabiyabased communities without investment, in the interstices between the cities, the long-term social inequalities between populations of different densities, that had been confirmed over the centuries, began to take on a new significance.

3. How did the Islamic world from the Umayyad Caliphate until the 20th century, from northwest Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia into China, maintain its cultural unity as a civilization over such a vast area before modern communications without political centralization?

This pattern of geographical expansion provided a relatively uniform land-use base for social relations throughout the core zone of the Islamic world, which was sustained by inter-city trade, and provided the sense of locality that underlay the culture of Islamic civilization, making the universality of the shari`a [Islamic law] more easily acceptable. It was a distinctively different sense of locality from that of the temperate and tropical zones to the north and south, which had very different social formations with different land-use histories and social formations, mostly understood in Christian or other cultural terms. All cultural traditions have peculiarities that start from historical accidents and become emblematic. But cultural process in general is embedded in social processes. The cultural unity of the Islamic world relative to the Christian or Buddhist worlds has generally been put down to the Islamic ideological emphasis on the ummah, the unitary, undifferentiated community of believers, and the hajj, the religious duty to participate in the centripetal ritual of annual pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime. But the uniform social matrix throughout the relatively homogeneous ecology of the arid zone would have been an important contributing factor15. There were no similar factors in the Western, Christian, or Buddhist civilizations.

Given this cultural basis of locality, it is likely that translocality also would work differently in the Islamic arid zone from elsewhere. Although the concept has broadened our understanding of globalization, little attention has so far been given to cultural variation in the processes it helps us to analyze. Locality has rarely drawn the attention of ethnographers or been analyzed by social or cultural anthropologists. This is a gap in the ethnographic literature16. Before the Industrial Revolution people measured time in terms of space and space in terms of time. In the last 200 years we have learned to measure them separately and come to disregard the relationship between them.

Not only the scientific discoveries of the 20th century, and the advancing technology of transportation, but the forces driving globalization, have changed the meaning of both. However, there are also other cultural factors from the past playing into the process of change. Students of the history and sociology of Islamic civilization have long been aware that locality works differently in the Islamic world compared to Western and other orientations. But there has been no comprehensive analysis. Besides the linguistic classification of land types in Arabic and Persian (which are the koines of Islamic civilization), toponyms in the arid zone, from northwest Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia into China, generally have a different range of connotations from those of other parts of the world. For example, names like Hijaz and Tihama (the Red Sea coastal regions of Arabia and Yemen), or Khorasan (historically the great northeast frontier territory of the Iranian Plateau), or Iraq (in its mediaeval sense of both the Mesopotamian lowland and the uplands to the northeast, now in Iran) are large unbounded regions, defined in somewhat vague geographical terms, but closely associated with the names of the cities located within them.

These terms would not be used to refer specifically to the territory between the cities (although they contain much of that territory), which would be something like Pers. biyābān [the equivalent of wilderness, but etymologically land without water], or perhaps Pers. kavir, Ar. sabkha [salt desert], or Pers. lut [gravel desert]. This is the locality dimension of the agrarianate citied society of the Islamic world. All such geographical terms have social connotations and imply either the presence or absence of cities17.

Locality is an important aspect of the unevenness between social arenas as they merge under globalization. Each community at the time of merging is at a different stage of translocality as well as a different level of social complexity. These unevennesses underlie most violent conflicts and other political problems in the modern world, both within the Islamic world and between Muslim communities and their neighbors. But the problems vary because of the historical difference in the conception of locality. Under the accelerating rates of modern change, geographical relationships begin to look very different. The merging of different experiences of locality into the process of translocality is part of the general merging of cultural traditions that we are experiencing in the modern world. The imposition of nation-state borders, their initial consolidation, and now their incipient loss of validity in the face of intensifying flows, not just of people that disregard them, but of information, are simply the most tangible factors in this process. The development of new resources, such as oil and gas, and changing routes of transportation are others. Apart from the annual movement of large numbers of people from all corners of the Islamic world to Mecca and back once a year, which has increased significantly in recent decades, the patterns of movement between populations in different parts of the Islamic world resulting from unprecedented changes in the markets for labor and for services are a new development that introduces new forms of

While translocality changes the relationships, it takes longer for the identities to be reevaluated according to the new conditions. For example, the Baloch were never held in high regard in the cities. But they were relatively independent and they could be valuable as mercenaries, or they might be feared as raiders. They were free to threaten. More recently, although they have not benefited in terms of investment or any other advantage from their new formal relationship with the urban government of the nation-state into which they have now been included, they are still looked down on and have now lost their independence without gaining meaningful representation at the federal level. However, the relationship between the Baloch and the state is different in each of the countries we are considering. It was first defined in nation-state terms in Afghanistan under Abdu’l- Rahman between 1880 and 1901, next in Iran by Reza Shah following their defeat in 1928, and finally in Pakistan after the accession of Kalat in 1948. The relationship has gone through phases in each country and the heyday of the nation-state is now over: each government is having difficulty controlling its entire territory.

Not only in these three countries but throughout the northern arid zone, from present-day Morocco to China, the human response to geographical relationships has changed over time as the relative ability to invest in increased productivity has changed—which has occurred as a matter of course as population has increased, and society has become more complex and more closely interrelated with activities in the rest of the world. The historical experience generates relationships and cultural values that influence the way communities interact with each other for generations ahead.

Now that under globalization the arid zone is becoming more closely inter-related with the rest of the world, its past is throwing a shadow not only over the regional present but into the global future. The relationship between cities and tribes in the arid zone has outgrown its regional context and mutated into a problematic relationship that demands international attention. We will understand the Baloch situation better if we put it into a comparative context. Other similar tribal identities in the Islamic world include the Kurds, the Pashtuns and the Tuareg18. The Kurds in northern Iraq, eastern Turkey and the adjoining parts of Syria and Iran (c. 40 million), the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan (c. 45 million), and the Tuareg in southern Algeria and Libya, northeastern Mali and western Niger (perhaps a million) are historically comparable to the Baloch, because in each case they are mainly identified with a single large area that until not much more than a century ago was a refuge area, beyond the reach of any urban control, and which within the past hundred years or so has been divided by modern nation-state boundaries. Since these territories have no historical cities and have not been included historically in the agricultural hinterland of any significant cities, they have functioned as refuge areas for people who either lost their place in the citied economies or could not find a place in them. Nowhere in these refuge areas, which in each case were named by the surrounding populations, was the population able to cluster sufficiently to support the development of an investment center that could join the urban network. We have ethnographic and historical data that suggest continuous exchange of population between such refuge areas and the surrounding cities as the carrying capacity of the urban economies fluctuated. Families in the refuge areas which succeeded in building their social position emulated the urban elites, even though the populations of the refuge areas and the cities remained ideologically opposed to each other. Occasionally, a force from the refuge area succeeded in overtaking one of the cities and forming a new government. Most new dynasties in the history of the Islamic world provide examples of this historical interdependence of urban investment centers and refuge areas unable to generate investment, as ibn Khaldun explained (Rosenthal 1967). More recently, in every case where nation-state governments have been installed in the primary cities over the past century they have failed to change the investment ratio between the cities and the refuge areas, and in recent decades the populations of the refuge areas have reacted by becoming an increasing threat to the stability and integrity of the nation-states.

4. How has the introduction of Western hegemony over the past century changed the way peoples like the Baloch inter-relate with the larger society, both within the Islamic world and beyond?

The dialectical relationship that had developed through the period of agrarianate citied civilization between the investment dynamic of the cities in locations rich in soil and water and the investment-incapable population reserves (such as the Baloch) in the resource-poor wilderness, formed opposing cultural identities of city and tribe. The city did not control the tribe, but had to make deals with it to ensure the security of trade between the cities and discourage raiding. The tribe was always on the lookout for new resources, including the possibility of raiding and even taking over a city. At the same time the cities drew on the tribes to satisfy rising labor demands, and the tribe absorbed the rejects when the city’s labor market declined. The urban population developed identities based on location and land, while the tribes developed identities based on descent and kinship. These identities became historically opposed to each other, despite their continual inter-change of population.

The colonial period introduced a new way of thinking territorially into the arid zone. The European powers were interested not in agriculture but in raw materials and trade for their industrial economies. They therefore valued land differently and introduced a new sense of locality. The change affected not only relations between the Islamic and non-Islamic societies, but also relations between the urban and non-urban Islamic societies. Most modern boundaries were drawn by Western powers since 1870 and are Western cultural constructs, but despite some uncertainties in the middle of the last century (referred to above) there is no longer any expectation that they should be undrawn. When the European powers withdrew, Islamic civilization was divided into nationstates, and the states are now accepted on the international level, even if the national identities are in some cases uncertain at the local level. Every square kilometer, from Mauretania to the borders of China, came under the authority of a national government. Every resident became the citizen of a Muslim-majority state (although such social division of the umma conflicts with the essential Islamic concept of tawḥid and the shari`a), with constitutionally equal rights guaranteed by a national government. But this fundamental reorganization of society did not change the investment ratio between the cities and the tribes. Human societies have generally used the past to provide stability and legitimacy in the present. The cultural attitudes built into longstanding relationships have always been slow to change, except insofar as social interests change. In this case the cities gained formal responsibility for the territory and resources of the tribes, but had little interest in them. The tribes are minority populations in the nation-states. They have not found a way to ensure sufficient political voice for adequate representation in the cities. It is not surprising, therefore, that to begin with, in the middle of the last century, little changed. But as information flows increased, and the tribes became more aware of what they could claim, tribal populations gradually became a major force of opposition to the perceived controllers of the status quo in the cities. Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 most conflicts were state sponsored. Since that date most have been driven by community interests against the state or against perceived transnational forces. In the last two decades all these tribal populations have become actively rebellious against their state governments.

3. The Larger Historical Significance of the Baloch under Global Urbanization

We have summarized the available data on the Baloch and reinterpreted it in terms of the social history of the Islamic arid zone and the relationship between the arid zone and the larger regional context. Starting in the 19th century it becomes difficult to explain anything regionally without reference to what is happening in other parts of the world. The closer we come to the present the more necessary it becomes to expand the framework to a global context. But although globalization is a common paradigm for the discussion of anything in the modern world, there is little agreement on its definition, what drives it and how it works.

Globalization results from the intensification of interaction among larger and larger numbers of people—a process that has accompanied accelerating population growth. It is essentially a social process, rooted in the demographic factors that have been the primary engine of change in human history. While exogenous factors, such as climate change, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters have here and there caused significant human change, differential life cycles and changing fertility and mortality rates have always been the continuous drivers of change. However, while population growth has spread the species, gradually populating almost the entire land-surface of the world, and then increased the average density of population, growth alone does not determine distribution. Increasing density is at least as likely to cause conflict over resources as cooperation in
efforts to increase their productivity. But despite the significance of conflict in human history, cooperation has won out and in recent times generated the increasing global interconnectedness that we now understand as globalization. What is driving globalization is the human response to growth. The response is to cluster in larger and larger numbers to the extent that is ecologically viable, up to the limits of carrying capacity. Carrying capacity supported only very low densities until about ten thousand years ago when climate change increased it significantly. The result was not only increased growth but increased cooperation, increasing collective learning and ambient awareness.

The larger the number of people working together, the greater the innovative capability, the more intensive the human-land relationship becomes, generating technological innovation and increasing the carrying capacity (Boserup 1964, Spooner 1972). Increased clustering (up to the limits of carrying capacity) has been an evolutionary tendency, evident in most species, since the prokaryotic age. In the human case, as numbers increase, people come into contact more. Each individual not only interacts with more others but engages in more interactions per day and interacts more intensively, in a larger social arena.

Whereas most humans, as late as fifty years ago, still lived in communities in the scores, hundreds or at most thousands, and interacted mostly face-to-face in the dozens, even in big cities, now more and more of us are interacting remotely more than face-to-face, with larger numbers of others, through a variety of media that can potentially connect us with anyone of our seven billion odd cohumans irrespective of location. Mobility has also been increasing, bringing people from different social arenas into contact with each other, increasing the proportion of interaction occurring between individuals with different cultural experience. As our range of interaction extends, everyone becomes more aware of what others (who have different experience and think differently from themselves) are doing and thinking. Our minds experience more associations, which give us new ideas, leading to more innovation. As a result the general level of social awareness rises, irrespective of formal education or training. Whereas awareness had previously been a product of education and professional training, it now rises independently of education. More people participate in the formation of public opinion, and in public decision making. The process of collective learning accelerates and expands. Rates of innovation rise. Productivity also increases, further accelerating social change.

Cities, where before the age of remote communication clustering was most advanced and interaction most intense, have always been the engines of innovation and economic growth. When the cities of China and the Islamic world were larger than those of Europe (in the later mediaeval period), they were the world’s main centers of technological innovation. But at the end of the mediaeval period European society began to grow faster. Why? Possibly because of the unprecedented series of disruptions it experienced, starting with the Black Death, which decimated the upper classes, weakened social controls, and provided new opportunities, leading to the Reformation, followed by the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries and the first age of revolutions, starting with the English in 1649. Until that time, as political structures had expanded, authority had always worked from the top down. After the Reformation in Europe top-down authority began to give way to increasing degrees of bottom-up power. The democratic process developed very slowly, but gradually accelerated, first in Europe and America and more recently in most other parts of the world.

The rate of intensification of our interactive lives has been especially significant in global cities such as New York, London or Paris. Studies of the acceleration of daily life have already been published (Rosa 2013). Urban life has begun to extend beyond the city everywhere. City-based administrations now reach out into the countryside incorporating rural populations into urban life. Scarcely any part of the world is any longer independent of urban interests. This process has been steady in rural parts of the Western world. In large parts of Africa and Asia it has been revolutionary, tearing apart the intricate systems of interaction on which traditional societies were based. In general the reaction to this intensification has been positive. Humans have without hesitation taken advantage of opportunities for more frequent interaction among more people than was possible with smaller numbers, changing the quality of life, sometimes with chaotic results. This type of change, when it accelerates to the point where everyone is aware of it, generates conflicting responses. The underprivileged in the cities, especially the young, see new opportunities. The privileged, especially those with vested interests, want to hold on to the past. The most conservative, apart from the Islamic scholars (whose social roots are often in villages), are in the least complex parts of the society, in the smaller tribal and rural communities. Where the past can no longer be restored, they seek to re-establish an idealized version of the past as they remember it, as they would like it to be.

These changes are characteristic of the modern world, but occur at different rates in each community, in each arena of social interaction—until continuing growth merges each arena into those of its neighbors. As globalization has sped up over the past fifty years, the merging process has connected arenas at more and more incompatible stages in the general process of increasing social complexity. Each community is drawn into the process at a different stage of growth, and of social complexity. When communities merge they are at different stages of growing social complexity. All dimensions of globalization, whether political, economic, or linguistic, proceed unevenly in different arenas, because each arena of interaction is at a different stage of growth, a different level of social complexity. Tribal populations, like the Baloch, are at the lower end of the spectrum of unevenness, because, so long as they continue to be autonomously tribal, they cannot grow in social complexity and awareness. However, now they have begun to benefit from the increasing flows of information, raising their awareness of possibilities.

As the rate of change increased, the thresholds19 of change into rising levels of complexity have come faster. The emergence of cities in early agrarian societies introduced the period of world history in which it was no longer necessary for everyone to be a food producer. The next threshold was crossed with the Industrial Revolution, which began to reduce significantly the proportion of the world population occupied in food production. The next came when the nation-state framework was adopted as the criterion for membership in the United Nations in 1945, which spread the idea of national societies. As imperial administrations withdrew after the Second World War, converting their colonial territories into independent nation-states, they created the global framework for everyone to have equal citizenship status within the formally delineated boundaries of a state. The arrival of the service economy in the 1980s raised the level of social complexity another degree into a condition where social service became a major economic concern in addition to production. In the past decade we crossed yet another threshold as global urbanization passed the 50% mark. Urban life became culturally dominant in every state. People now communicate and move between cities, irrespective of state borders. As a result of the growth of remote communication, the growth of social intensity is no longer restricted by location, and increasing social mobility everywhere has further advanced translocality. The level of socio-political awareness has risen globally, in tribal societies as well as in cities.

But we are still in a phase of globalization in which each society, each arena of social interaction, is at a different stage of growth and of increasing social complexity. The differences sometimes fade as the arenas merge. Sometimes they create social boundaries that become cultural borders, and potential sites conflict, sometimes ideologically opposed. Until now we have simply seen tribal societies as different, and we have studied them separately. We noticed that neighboring cities and tribal communities developed ideologically opposed attitudes toward each other, that the social difference became a social boundary, and although individuals could cross the boundary (cf. Barth 1969) the communities were opposed to each other, and the opposition had hostile implications. But we failed to draw the conclusion that each was participating in the same long-term social dialectic (between resource-rich and resource-poor communities) that was a core process of human history. The reason we can see it differently and more productively now is that the acceleration in the global rate of change in recent decades, resulting from the approaching climax in world population growth, forces us to take change into account, and as we learn to do that we see the past in longer and longer term trajectories.

The case of the Baloch spans this whole trajectory of social development. They are a sample of people who, although they served as a reserve pool for the expanding citied society, were not included in it and continued to live at a simpler level of social complexity. The current phase of change is particularly difficult for them, because they are finally being enveloped by the expanding citied society and being forced to adapt to higher levels of social complexity very quickly. At the same time relationships that were formed before the last two thresholds were crossed, while no longer determinative, have not entirely faded away. They continue to influence current developments everywhere, in a manner that is similar to racism (which is a historical product of similar factors). The Baloch are at a disadvantage in the transition to the nation-state era, both because they are relatively few in number (less than 5% of the population of each country) and sparsely distributed over a large territory (43% of the total in the case of Pakistan), which unlike that of the Kurds or the Pashtuns has relatively little economic or strategic value.

We have upgraded the status of the Baloch in the modern world from that of ethnographic curiosity (as sought out by anthropologists in the mid-20th century), and the historical source of urban insecurity in Islamic civilization (as seen by ibn Khaldun), to that of necessary player in the longterm dialectic of the social history of the arid zone. The Baloch case helps us understand how the unevenness in the historical development of social complexity in world history has become a problem in the current stage of globalization.

This account of the Baloch also provides some historical illumination of larger political problems, especially with regard to Pakistan, but also Iran, and in a different way Afghanistan. It provides a model that can be tested in other parts of the arid zone, and at a more general level it helps to clarify the current problems in the larger relationship between the Islamic world and its neighbors. These problems began with the merging of the Western (temperate) and the Islamic (arid) arenas in the 19th century. The imposition of Western imperial conceptions of locality, British and Russian to begin with, followed by French, Italian and Spanish, was the first threshold of change. The second was the replacement of Western administrations with the administrations of nation-states in territories that had been defined by imperial powers. The third has come in the last two decades with the increased mobility and information flows of the current stage of globalization. Each of these thresholds introduced a fundamental change in the relationship between tribe and city, by breaking the historical reciprocity, and restricting the options of the tribes, while subordinating them to the cities and raising their awareness of their disadvantage. The tribes are now minorities in nationstates without the numerical power to even out their relationship with the cities. The cities still look down on the less complex society of the tribes, and are not constrained to extend their investment activity into tribal territory.

The country with the largest Baloch population, Pakistan, is an improvised country. It was assembled at Independence in 1947 from the historical cities of the Indus plain in Sindh and western Panjab and large tribal areas of Baloch and Pashtuns on the fringes of the Iranian Plateau, which before the arrival of the British had been more closely related to Qandahar than to Delhi. It was reorganized in 1954 in an attempt to manage the political imbalance of its West and East Wings, and revised after the secession of its East Wing (as Bangladesh) in 1971. Since then its main political problem has been between the urban populations of the Indus plain and the tribal populations of Baloch and Pashtuns, which though small in numbers are large in territorial significance, and threaten to tear it apart. The problem is similar in Iran, though less strategically significant because the proportions are smaller (both of population and of territory), and the sense of ethnic identity and nationalism is less well developed. However, Iran has other tribal populations around its borders, each of which has had a similar historical relationship with the cities and must now be integrated into the national economy. Afghanistan’s case is different. Where Balochistan would probably not have survived politically till the British came if it had not been for the prowess of Nasir Khan (reg. 1749- 1794), Afghanistan owed its survival to Ahmad Shah. Under his rule (1747-1772) the Afghan Empire was the most powerful political entity between India and the Mediterranean. But in the course of the 19th century both Afghanistan and Balochistan would have disappeared, like the typical Islamic citycentered polities before the colonial period (e.g. Ghazni, Herat, Nishapur, Bukhara, Samarqand), if their continued existence had not served British and Russian imperial interests. The British preserved them mainly because of their different cultural approach to territory. They converted the disintegrating Afghan Empire into the nation-state of Afghanistan. Since the majority of the population were tribal, and roughly half of them were Afghan (Pashtun), the whole population became Afghanized. In British India the Baloch came under indirect British rule as a Princely State, and gradually became known as Balochistan.

The particular geographical and demographic relationship between the Baloch and the rest of Pakistan makes them a special case (a) for the Baloch in general, (b) for tribal populations in the Islamic arid zone, and (c) for tribal populations under globalization in general. Our Western efforts to understand these relationships has been hindered by the way we have formulated our research questions, which has been partly due to the fact that our research has been divided up in the modern period into separate fields of specialization, isolated from each other by discipline and method, and often further divided between subfields. But the period of history in which we could manage growth by increasingly minute classification and division is over. The continued increase in growth that has made us conscious of globalization is breaking down all these divisions in our organization of knowledge. Not only do both anthropologists and historians now have to view their material in world-historical terms, but they have to work together. Because of the speed of change and the continual merging of social arenas social scientists must look at their material historically, and historians must view their material in a larger social context. Our understanding of the modern world so far has been deficient because it is not sufficiently interdisciplinary. The importance of translocality as an analytical concept is that it draws our attention to a particular type of globalizing change in the way we understand geographical relationships over time.

By offering an interpretation of the current Baloch situation based on the use of social factors to answer questions about their history and the changing evaluation of locality under globalization, we may have appeared to suggest that all current problems are in the hands of the governments of the countries involved. But it would be possible to take this argument further and suggest that all nation-state governments are now losing the authority that would allow them to solve such problems. The idea that nation-state governments embody the final authority for their populations may never have been entirely true, but it is now visibly losing its validity.

The research presented here was part of the competence network ‘Crossroads Asia,’ funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Germany. I would like to thank the funding institution, as well as Crossroads Asia for making this possible. I am also grateful to Just Boedeker, David Gilmartin, Beatrice Manz and Dietrich Reetz for comments that have enabled me to clarify the argument. All remaining inadequacies are of course my own.

2 See Boedeker 2012 for an anthropological discussion of the change.

3 ‘Baluch’ is a transliteration from Persian [fārsi]; ‘Baloch’ is the transliteration from Balochi and Urdu. Hence ‘Baluch’ was the standard English spelling through the 19th century into the 20th, but ‘Baloch’ has now become more common outside Iran.

4 The folkloristic publications of Dr. Sabir Badalkhan are an exception.

5 In Hodgson’s words: “Even the pastoralists, including the desert nomads, who depended on the agriculturists for much of their food and goods, were part of the same social complex. Accordingly, the type of social order which was introduced into the agricultural regions (and the areas dependent on them) with the rise of cities may be called agrarian-based or (to be more comprehensive) agrarianate citied society. (I say ‘citied’, not ‘urban’, because the society included the peasants, who were not urban though their life reflected the presence of cities.)”

6 The territory as a whole (in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, and even beyond) has been called Baluchistan only by modern nationalists, beginning some fifty years ago. The part within India was named by the British in the 1840s. The part in Iran was named as part of the new province of Sistan and Baluchistan only in 1928 (see below). The name is not used in Afghanistan and there is no single Afghan province with a majority Baloch population.

7 “Investment” is used in this paper in the sense of socially organized economic investment, designed to increase the productivity of resources, as distinct from the non-economic investment—in the knowledge of their environment—made by non-food-producing communities, enabling them make better use of resources.

8 In the 19th century the East African slave trade provided an additional source of agricultural labor, and “gulams” (slaves) of African origin continue to be a significant proportion of the population of Makran.

9 In view of the phonemic importance of long vs. short /a/ in Persian and Balochi, I have added makrons where appropriate, except in place names which occur without them in the literature (e.g. Tehran).

10 Brahui is a Dravidian language. Its existence in Baluchistan has been discussed by Elfenbein (1989) and Morgenstierne (1932).

11 The Alams of the Qā’enāt in eastern Iran (in exile since 1979) are descended from one of the generals of Nader Shah (reg. 1736-1747), whose rivalry with fellow general, Ahmad Abdali, who became Ahmad Shah Durrani, the first Shah of Afghanistan, was the major factor defining the modern border between Iran and Afghanistan.

12 It was collapsed into the ‘one unit’ of West Pakistan in 1954, and reconstituted as a separate province in 1971.

13 The term was coined (Appadurai 1995, 1996) to draw attention to the increasing significance of the way our sense of geography has been changing in the modern world.

14 It is interesting here to enlarge our comparative context even further and compare the expansion of Islam with the expansion of Christianity. Although Islamic civilization began with the Arab conquest in the second half of the 7th century, conquest did not bring immediate conversion to Islam (cf. Bulliet 1979). Conversion came gradually over the following four centuries. It was not politically or militarily enforced. It was a community process (very different from the Christian experience of conversion, which was individual by individual), and seems to have been related to the practicality of Islamic law in the expansion of trade between cities, since contract is a special concern of Islamic law. Later, starting towards the high mediaeval period, when Islam began to spread further, outside the arid zone, into the Indian subcontinent, on into Southeast Asia, and southwestwards into sub-Saharan Africa, it was once again following the trade, when trade began to spread in those directions. Islam spread between partners in trade, and flourished in trade centers. The spread of Christianity, on the other hand, both before and after the historical spread of Islam, followed very different social
processes, all of which had to do political power. It began with the Roman Empire, first in the army, then in the 4th century by the emperor’s policy. From then through the mediaeval period down to the beginning of colonialism under the Spanish and Portuguese, the Pope legitimized all political authority in the Christian world, and from then until the 20th century, as the Christian world expanded, all political expansion by Christian powers actively encouraged the spread of Christianity.

15 For example, the plant communities in the Hexi corridor of western China are almost identical to those of the western steppe over four thousand kilometers away in northeastern Iran.

16 Evans-Pritchard 1940:94-138 is an exception, but even here it is time rather than locality that is the focus of attention.

17 The only historian of Islamic civilization who has contributed significantly to our understanding of this dimension of Islamic cultural history is Annemarie Schimmel (2000). Although her interest focuses on the treatment of locality in poetry, she also draws attention to the importance of cities.

18 We will omit the Bedouin in the west, and the Turkmen in the east, since they are dispersed through a number of separate areas. We shall omit also the smaller groups, mainly in Afghanistan and Iran, such as the Aimaq, Bakhtiari, Boir Ahmad, Lur, Qashqai, and Shahsavan, since they have been more closely integrated into the national administrative systems of Afghanistan and Iran over the past century and politically neutralized.

19 A concept introduced by David Christian in his periodization of “Big History” (Christian 2004).

Appadurai, A., 1995, “Public Modernity in India,” in C. A. Breckenridge (ed.) Consuming Modernity, Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.
Appadurai, A., 1996, Modernity at Large, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Badalkhan, S., 1994, Poesia epica e tradizioni orali balochi: I menestrelli pahlawan del Makran, tesi di dottorato, UniOr, Napoli. Also numerous articles listed at

Baloch, I., 1987, The Problem of “Greater Baluchistan,” Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag.
Balochistan District Gazetteer Series, 1906-1913, Allahabad: Pioneer Press.
Barth, F., 1961, Nomads of South Persia, Oslo: Universitetets etnografiske museum.
Idem, 1964, “Ethnic Processes on the Pathan-Baloch Boundary,” in G. Redard, ed., Indo-Iranica:
Mélanges G. Morgenstierne, Wiesbaden, 1964, pp. 13-20.
Idem, 1969, Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, Boston: Little, Brown.
Boedeker, J., 2012, Nation or Tribe? Some Observances about Baloch Group Affiliations in 2008 and 2010, Orient 11:76-82.
Boserup, E., 1964, The Conditions of Agricultural Growth, Chicago: Aldine.
Bosworth, C. E., 1968, Sistan under the Arabs, from the Islamic Conquest to the Rise of the Saffarids (30-250/651-864), Rome.
Idem, 1976, “The Kufichis or Qufs in Persian History,” Iran, vol. 14, pp. 9-17.
Idem, 2011, “Qofs,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica.
Bulliet, R. W., 1979, Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period: An Essay in Quantitative History, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Christian, David, 2004, Maps of Time, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Cohen, Abner, 1965, Arab Border Villages in Israel, Manchester: University of Manchester Press.
Dames, M. Longworth, The Baloch Race, London, 1904.
Idem, “Baluchistan,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1913, pp, 625-40.

Elfenbein, Josef, 1989, “Brahui,” Encyclopaedia Iranica.

Idem, 2008, “Baluchistan, iiia. Balochi Poetry,” Encyclopaedia Iranica.

Evans-Pritchard, E. E., 1940, The Nuer, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
de Goeje, M. J., 1906, Bibliotheca geographorum Arabicorum, 2nd edition.
Goldsmid, F. J., 1876, Eastern Persia: an account of the journeys of the Persian Boundary
Commission, 1870-71-72, London: Macmillan and Co.
Harrison, Selig S., 1981, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Hodgson, Marshall, 1974, The Venture of Islam, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jahani, Carina; Agnes Korn and Paul Titus (eds.), 2008, Baloch and others: linguistic, historical and
socio-political perspectives on pluralism in Balochistan, Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.
Jahani, Carina and Agnes Korn (eds.), 2003, The Baloch and their neighbours: ethnic and linguistic
contact in Balochistan in historical and modern times, Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Kaplan, Robert, 2009, Pakistan’s Fatal Shore,

Knauer, Elfriede Regina, 1998, The Camel’s Load in Life and Death, Zurich: Akanthus.
Kopytoff, Igor, 1968, personal communication.
Morgenstierne, Georg, 1932, Report on a Linguistic Mission to North-Western India, Instituttet for
Sammenlignende Kulturforskning, Serie C III, Oslo.
Idem, 1932, “Notes on Balochi Etymology,” Norsk tidsskrift for sprogviednskap, 5, 54-56 + 53 (Addenda).
Idem, 1948, “Balochi Miscellanea,” Acta Orientalia 20, pp. 253-92.
Newsletter of Baluchistan Studies, 1982-1990, Istituto universitario orientale (Naples, Italy).
Dipartimento di studi asiatici, Istituto italiano Per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente (IsMEO), Rome.
Nicolini, Beatrice, 2004, Makran, Oman, Zanzibar, Three-Terminal Cultural Corridor in the Western Indian Ocean (1799-1856), Leiden: Brill.
Idem, 2006, “The Makran-Baluch-African Network in Zanzibar and East Africa during the XIXth Century,” African and Asian Studies, Volume 5, Numbers 3-4, pp. 347–370.
Idem, 2007, “The Baluch Role in the Persian Gulf during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,”
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Volume 27, Number 2, pp. 384–396.
Orywal, Erwin, 1982, Die Balūč in Afghanish-Sīstān, Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.
Pehrson, Robert N., 1966, The social organization of the Marri Baluch, Compiled and analyzed
from his notes by Fredrik Barth, New York: Wennner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1966.
Rosa, Hartmut, 2013, Social Acceleration, New York: Columbia University Press.
Rosenthal, Franz, 1967, ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: an introduction to history, translated
from the Arabic by Franz Rosenthal, 2d ed., with corrections and augmented
bibliography, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Idem, 1997, ebn Khaldun, Abu Zayd `Abd-al-Rahman in Encyclopaedia Iranica

Salzman, Philip C., 1972, “Multiresource Nomadism in Iranian Baluchistan,” in W. Irons and N.
Dyson-Hudson, eds., Perspectives on Nomadism, Leiden, 1972, pp. 60-68.
Schimmel, Annemarie, 2000, The Poets’ Geography, London: Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation.
Spooner, Brian (ed.), 1972, Population Growth: Anthropological Implications, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Idem, 1985, “Anthropology,” Encyclopaedia Iranica,

Idem, 1986, “Weavers and Dealers,” in A. Appadurai (ed.), The Social Life of Things, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, pp. 195-235.
Idem, 1988, “Baluchistan,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica,

Idem, 1998, “Ethnography,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica

Idem, 1987, “Insiders and Outsiders in Baluchistan: Western and Indigenous Perspectives on
Ecology and Development.” In Lands at Risk in the Third World, Local-Level
Perspectives, edited by Peter Little, Michael Horowitz and A.Endre Nyerges. IDA Monographs
in Development Anthropology. Boulder: Westview Press, pp. 58-68.
Idem, 2011, “Afghan Wars, Oriental Carpets, and Globalization,” in Expedition (The Magazine of the
University of Pennsyvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) vol. 53, no. 1: pp. 11- 20.
Idem, 2012, “Balochi: Towards a Biography of the Language,” in Language Policy and Language
Conflict in Afghanistan and its Neighbors: The changing politics of language choice, edited by
Harold F. Schiffman and Brian Spooner, Leiden: Brill, pp. 319-336.
Idem, 2013, “The Baloch, in Islamic Civilization, Western Ethnography and World History,” Journal of
the Middle East and Africa, vol. 4, no. 2 (in press).
Swidler, Nina B., 1973, The Political Structure of a Tribal Federation: The Brahui of Baluchistan, Ph.D. diss., Columbia University.
Swidler, W., 1968, “Technology and Social Structure in Baluchistan, West Pakistan,” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University.
Wirsing, Robert G., 2008, Baloch Nationalism and the Geopolitics of Energy Resources: The Changing
Context of Separatism in Pakistan, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute.
Wolf, Eric R. 1982, Europe and the People without History, Berkeley: University of California Press.
This article has been Published:
Crossroads Asia
Working Paper Series, No. 14.
Center for Development Research/ZEFa
Department of Political and Cultural Change
University of Bonn

Comments Off

Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Research Papers on Political Issues


The Baluch Presence in the Persian gulf

By J.E. Peterson
Contrary to popular perception, the Persian Gulf—including the Arab littoral—exhibits a variegated mélange of sectarian, ethnic, and communal groups. Some are of recent addition to the mix, while many others can boast of an ancient presence and contribution to society. The Baluch form one of the communities most integral to society in the Gulf, with representation in all six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and a presence that, in at least some of these countries, dates back innumerable centuries. As long-time residents and as Sunnis, the Baluch tend not to stand out or to be noticed in any obvious way. Nevertheless, they maintain a clear identity shaped by linguistic and cultural factors that makes them distinct on closer inspection. Consequently, an examination of their role provides an important insight into one aspect of the multicultural mosaic of the Persian Gulf. This chapter furnishes as extensive a look at the Baluch of the Arab littoral as is possible given the extent of available information.

The term Baluch refers to a major ethnic group primarily located in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan (Balochistan) and across the border in neighboring Iran.1 The Pakistani province extends from the Makran Coast along the Gulf of Oman to the northern frontier of Pakistan with Afghanistan; there are consequently some Baluch across the border in Afghanistan as well. Baluchi tradition claims that the Baluch and the Kurds share a common ancestry originating in Aleppo. It is more certain that the Baluch lived along the Caspian Sea before migrating into present-day Iranian and Pakistani Baluchistan in the early centuries of Islam. A political identity was forged in the eighteenth century when the rulers of Kalat in northern Baluchistan created an independent state that lasted until the arrival of the British. The Baluch resisted incorporation into both Reza Shah’s Iran in 1928 and into Pakistan in 1947, and sometimes violent Baluchi opposition has persisted in both countries.2 It is estimated that between 70 percent and 80 percent of the Baluch live in Pakistan, with most of the remainder in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan and in Afghanistan.3 There are also Baluch in the Sind and Punjab provinces in Pakistan. Population figures are vague, with Baluchi nationalists claiming more than 16 million while the government of Pakistan put the total at 3.2 million in the late 1980s. One seasoned observer estimates a total of about 5 million with 4 million in Pakistan and 1 million in Iran; the same observer put the literacy rate at 6 percent to 9 percent.4 The 1996–7 census in Iran counted 1.7 million inhabitants of Sistan and Baluchistan province, although this includes many Persian speakers.5

The Baluch are mostly Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school (although some are Zikri, a sect that believes in a prophet superseding Muhammad) and speak their own language (subdivided into distinct dialects or, as is sometimes contended, languages). Their language is from the Iranian group of Indo-European languages. The Baluchi language was unwritten until the nineteenth century and is now written in Arabic script. The dialect that is most relevant vis-à-vis the Gulf is Southern Baluch. The Baluch are divided into a number of tribes, some of which are replicated, at least in name, in Oman and perhaps elsewhere. The picture is complicated by the existence of many Jadgal living among the Baluch in both Pakistan and Iran. Although close to the Baluch in many ways, their origins are a matter of dispute and they speak the distinctive language of Jadgali.

It can be conjectured that the migration of Baluch to the Arab countries of the Gulf was prompted by three motivations. The first, and perhaps the most primal, factor seems to have been the general tendency for ethnic or sectarian communities to spread into neighboring lands.

This has been particularly true up and down the Gulf with Arab groups settled on the Iranian coast and inland from it for many centuries, and with Persian groups, first as merchants and then as laborers, settling in Arab littoral towns from Kuwait to Dubai. Over the longer term this type of migration exhibits a pattern of movement from areas along the Iranian littoral to the nearest points on the Arab littoral.

Thus Behbeha-nis are predominant in Kuwait, Bushehris in Bahrain, and Bastakis in Dubai. Under this reasoning, it is not surprising that a sizeable proportion of the population of Oman’s Batinah Coast on the Gulf of Oman should be Baluch.

The second factor in the settlement of Baluch in the Gulf is related to the Baluchi martial reputation. Baluch mercenaries have served as soldiers and armed retainers in the service of more than one Gulf ruler, but especially the rulers of Oman, where their presence has been recorded with the Ya‘rubi imams in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.6

Recruitment directly from Baluchistan continued well into the twentieth century in Oman and Bahrain. A factor in this process unique to Oman was the sultanate’s ownership for more than a century and a half of the enclave of Gwadar on the coast of Baluchistan.

The third factor is part of a general migration of labor to the Persian Gulf during the oil era. While the Baluch have not been as numerous in this respect as other Pakistanis, not to mention Indians, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, and other Asian nationalities, Baluchi workers can be found in all the Gulf states. “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.”7



Oman is the one country in the Gulf where Baluch live in profusion and have done so for a long but indeterminate period of time. This is undoubtedly due to the proximity of Makran to the Batinah. Early European travelers to Oman in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mentioned the Baluch, and it can reasonably be assumed that Baluch have resided in the country for centuries before that. Omani Baluch form a large proportion of the population in all the towns of al-Batinah Coast (stretching from Muscat to the UAE border in the west), as well as in the Muscat capital region. As the Sultanate of Oman census does not break down the population by ethnicity or religion, there can be no accurate figure of the Baluch population but a reasonable estimate would reckon between 205,000 and 245,000, or around 10–13 percent of the total Omani population.8

There are smaller communities of Baluch elsewhere in Oman, notably in al-Dhahirah region (on the inland side of the Hajar Mountains opposite al-Batinah and close to Abu Dhabi). At some forgotten point in time, a group of Baluch settled in this area where they adopted the organization of an Arab tribe as well as the Arabic language. By their own explanation, the enclave was created when earlier rulers of Oman sent Baluch to the region as soldiers and guards for officials.9 Although they dressed as Arabs and spoke Arabic, they were regarded as being on poor terms with all the neighboring Arab tribes. Because they were threatened by the Ibadi imam in the early 1950s, they allied themselves with the Saudis.10 Local tradition in Manah, a town of the central, interior, Omani heartland, holds that Baluch have been among the earliest inhabitants.11

The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, ‘Oman, and Central Arabia, compiled by J.G. Lorimer for the Government of India at the beginning of the twentieth century and in some respects still the most exhaustive source of information today, noted that the Baluch in Muscat and Matrah constituted half or more of the population and served as soldiers, sailors, porters, servants, and petty traders.12 Both towns possess a Harat al-Balush, or Baluch Quarter, although most of Muscat’s population outside the walls seemed to be Baluch.13 The Baluch may still predominate in Muscat and Matrah today, in part because they tend to fall within lower income groups and because many other Muscat and Matrah families have abandoned the towns for newer residences in the suburbs.

While many Omani Baluch preserve tribal names, such as Ra‘isi or Sangur, there does not seem to be any interaction with tribes in Makran.

The second factor in Baluch immigration to the Arab side of the Gulf, that of mercenary or soldier, applies squarely to Oman. Ahmad bin Sa‘id Al Bu Sa‘idi, who had unified Oman to drive out the invading forces of Nadir Shah of Persia and subsequently served as imam, died in 1783 and was succeeded by his son Sa‘id. Sa‘id abdicated after a year in favor of his son Hamad, but other sons of Ahmad bin Sa‘id contested his leadership. When one of them, Sultan bin Ahmad, was forced to flee Oman, he was given refuge in the Makrani coastal fishing village of Gwadar by the khan of Kalat, who had assumed power in the Makran when Nadir Shah’s forces retreated. Sultan bin Ahmad continued to contest the leadership of Oman and he never surrendered his claim to Gwadar, apparently using the small port to launch attacks on the Omani coast. After his nephew Hamad’s death in 1792, Sultan succeeded in besting the other members of his family and took control of Muscat. He then sent a governor to administer Gwadar and build a fort there.14 A visit by the British political resident in the Persian Gulf and the consul-general in Muscat to Gwadar in 1952 revealed that the economic situation was satisfactory and that the opposition Baluch Reform Association— which had agitated for the return of Gwadar to Pakistan—had become defunct. A new school was planned—in addition to the existing school for Agha Khanis—and a dispensary received considerable use.

The sultan’s administrator was British, and Britain maintained an agent of Indian origin who apparently looked after the British subjects who were Hindus.15 The population of Gwadar was estimated to be around 20,000 in the early 1950s.16 Gwadar remained a dependency of Oman until 1958 when Sultan Sa‘id bin Taymur was pressured to sell it to Pakistan for £3 million. Omani sovereignty over Gwadar undoubtedly facilitated Baluchi movement to Oman in search of work and settlement.

This continued after the enclave’s return to Pakistan, as a 1962 report noted the interception of a number of boatloads of Baluch seeking to enter the sultanate illegally, possibly seeking to travel overland to the oilfields of Abu Dhabi.17 More importantly, however, Baluch have long served as soldiers throughout the Gulf and the western Indian Ocean, including Oman.

The use of Baluch as ‘askaris, armed retainers and guards, began long before Omani acquisition of Gwadar and dates at least to the early eighteenth century under the last Ya‘rubi imam. They were employed alongside Najdis, Yemenis, and black Africans, as well as men from Arab tribes allied to the ruler. Imam Ahmad bin Sa‘id Al Bu Sa‘idi was reported to have relied occasionally on Baluch mercenaries, in addition to a garrison of African slaves used for the defense of his capital at al- Rustaq and a mounted force of Arabs for mobile use around the country.

A bit later, it was said that Sayyid Sultan bin Ahmad employed about 300 armed slaves and 1,700 Sindi, Baluchi, and Arab mercenaries. The garrisons of the two forts commanding Muscat’s heights were described in the early twentieth century as being manned by some 200 Baluch and Arabs. Baluch ‘askaris also assisted Indian Army troops during their 1915 battle defending Muscat from Omani tribes.18

The first modern organized army unit in Oman was entirely Baluch in composition. The Muscat Levy Corps was formed when the British brought the redundant Sistan Levy Corps from Iran to Muscat in April 1921.19 Never more than several hundred in strength, the force, later named the Muscat Infantry, provided the nucleus of the subsequently created Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF). However, the 250 Sistani soldiers were badly affected by malaria and many were discharged in the initial year. They were replaced mostly by Makrani Baluch recruited from Gwadar. A few Omani Baluch and a handful of Arabs and Africans previously in the sultan’s service also joined, as did one member of the ruling family.20 The Muscat Infantry also served as a model and source of recruits for the Bahrain Levy Corps (which later transitioned into the Bahrain Police Force—more details below).21

By 1939, the barely effective force of about 150 men consisted of half Makrani Baluch from Gwadar and the other half Omani Baluch, with a few Arabs.22 Because of the preponderance of Baluch, the language of command was Urdu and remained so until the unit was absorbed into the SAF in 1958. Baluch soldiers figured heavily in the Jabal al-Akhdar War of the mid- to late 1950s. In 1964, the SAF consisted of 779 Arabs, 170 Omani Baluch, and 1,081 Gwadar Baluch.23 The heavy reliance on Makrani Baluch could be explained partly by the age-old reliance of rulers in the region on foreign mercenaries (who could be supposed to be more loyal and trustworthy) and a marked reluctance of local Arab tribesmen to join the British-officered armed forces—indeed, Sultan Sa‘id bin Taymur (r.1932–70) forbade recruitment in most areas of Oman. Nevertheless, the Baluch soldiers did not get along well with the local population.

At the same time, Sultan Sa‘id bin Taymur’s eagerness to create a unit in Dhufar entirely separate from the SAF led to the creation of Dhufar Force, composed entirely of Baluch at the beginning, although it later included jabbalis (mountain tribesmen) and palace slaves.24 The subsequent outbreak of full-scale insurgency in Dhufar required a rapid build-up of SAF capabilities and forced Oman to recruit even more heavily from Gwadar. Some of the Baluch received full training and status as members of the SAF, while others served as ‘askaris (irregulars) to hold small forts and picket posts.25 After 1970 the old Dhufar Force was incorporated into the SAF as a separate unit and transformed into an all-Baluch unit, while Arab recruiting was stepped up as the size of the SAF mushroomed. This led to some easily contained animosity between the Arabs and the Baluch. By the end of the war in the mid- 1970s, the Baluch in the SAF were largely grouped into three all-Baluch battalions.

After the fighting stopped, the heavily Makrani Baluch majority of SAF personnel was reversed in favor of Omanis and the recruitment of Makrani Baluch ceased in the 1980s. A number of the soldiers chose to settle in Oman rather than return home. Omani Baluch remain well represented in the SAF and the first Omani officers in the armed forces were Omani Baluch from Matrah. By 1968, there were thirty-one Omani officers in the SAF, all of them Baluch.26

Most Omanis of Baluchi background are Omani nationals by birth, although some of the soldiers recruited from Gwadar who chose to remain in Oman were naturalized. There is no official distinction between various ethnic communities in the sultanate. However, Omani Baluch are often regarded with some disdain by Omani Arabs, and their socio-economic status tends to be lower. Some Baluch are less proficient in Arabic, although the extension of universal education in Oman over the past few decades has had considerable effect in ameliorating this. Because of perceptions of discrimination, some younger Baluch exhibit signs of alienation and, interestingly, sometimes identify with “black power” expressions similar to African Americans and the Caribbean populations of the United Kingdom. This was evident in the numbers of young Baluch who some years ago frequented a CD shop in Muscat in search of a particular song by Bob Marley and the Wailers that seemed to encapsulate the self-perception of their identity.27

Discrimination against the Baluch, for the most part, appears to be relatively subtle and has no legal basis. Indeed, there have been several Baluchi ministers in government, such as Muhammad Zubayr (Baluchi father), Ahmad Suwaydan al-Balushi (the former minister of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones), and Ali Muhammad al-Musa (former minister of health). Some of the most prominent merchants are Baluchi, including Yahya Muhammad Nasib and Musa Abd al-Rahman Hasan. Baluchis have also risen in the ranks of security forces, including a former commander of the air force, Talib Miran Ra‘isi. In mid-2012, it was reported that Oman had appointed its first ambassador to Pakistan of Baluchi origin.28

Although most Omanis of Baluchi background trace their origins to what is now Pakistani Baluchistan and identify, even if weakly, with Makrani Baluch tribes, there is an element of Iranian Baluch in Oman as well. The dates of their arrival in Oman appear to be later, a result at least in part of the shah of Iran’s attempts to extend his authority to the Iranian Makran in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of these immigrants were used by the present sultan’s father as a sort of paramilitary force, in similar fashion to his use of the Bani Umar and al-Hawasinah Arab tribes.

These Iranian Baluch settled in both Kalbah in Sharjah and Shinas in Oman. For many years until the mid-1990s, Oman paid salaries to them but the practice was stopped when a new minister responsible for defense affairs took over.29 Notice should also be made of the existence in Oman of the closely related community of Zadjalis, the local variation of the name Jadgal employed in Pakistan and Iran. Some live in the UAE where they may also be known as Ziyalis.30



The Baluch community in Bahrain seems to be of far more recent arrival than the Baluch community in Oman. However, one young Baluch (who spoke Arabic and no Baluchi), interviewed in Bahrain in 1980, claimed to be head of a Baluchi tribe of “Hoots” with 28,000 members in Bahrain. These he claimed had come to Bahrain in 1782 with the Al Khalifah. He also claimed an aunt was married to Shaykh Isa bin Salman, the ruler of Bahrain.31 Traditionally, Baluch were among the fidawis (armed retainers) in the estates of the ruling Al Khalifah family up to 1920 and were regarded as part of the bani khudayr, the “green stock” who had no clear tribal origin, along with “Omanis, ‘stray’ Arabs who had lost tribal affiliation, and people of African origin.”32 In addition, Baluch were said to serve in the pearling industry as divers and pullers, along with south Persians and people of African origin, although this has been disputed.33
As in Oman, the second factor in Baluch immigration was prompted by the community’s reputation for martial service. As part of the nascent efforts to modernize the government in Bahrain, recruitment began in Muscat in February 1924 of 150 men, many of them Baluch, for service in Bahrain. Most of them were recruited from the Muscat Infantry, who were originally from the Sistan Levy Corps. In July 1924, 107 of these soldiers arrived in Bahrain as the nucleus of the new Bahrain Levy Corps (BLC). While nearly all of the force’s composition in 1925 was Baluch, they were broken down into forty-six British subjects, twenty-three Persian, thirty-nine Muscat (from Gwadar), plus one Yemeni.

The BLC was not a success, however, particularly after several noncommissioned Indian officers were shot by their men. In addition, an attempt was made to murder the head of the existing police force (apparently this was the municipal police of al-Manamah founded in 1920 and composed mainly of Persians) and the British political agent was wounded. As a consequence, the BLC was disbanded and 186 Baluch of the BLC and the old police were deported that same year. A new Bahrain Police Force recruited from the Punjab was hastily created that year to provide defense against al-Dawasir attackers from al-Dammam that the BLC was unable to do.34

The Punjabis proved to be unsuitable, and so the government began to bring in local recruits. However, many Bahrainis were unwilling to join because of the association of paramilitary activities with socially inferior minorities, so the force was comprised mainly of African stock with some Baluch, Yemenis, Omanis, Pakistanis, and Iraqis. It was not until after Bahrain’s independence in 1971 that Bahrainis, mainly Sunni Arabs from urban lower-income groups, came to predominate. In contrast, the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF), created in 1968, found its personnel among Sunni tribal groupings.35 In later years, the Bahrain Police came increasingly to rely upon non-Bahraini personnel, including Jordanians, Pakistanis, and Yemenis. Many of these, all Sunnis, were said to have been given Bahraini citizenship in a deliberate attempt, according to the Bahraini political opposition, to redress the sectarian imbalance.

Certainly, many of these have been Baluch. Recent reports have spoken of the government’s efforts to hire “hundreds” of retired Pakistani Baluch soldiers and police to join the Bahrain National Guard and the BDF.36

The Baluch community in Bahrain remains small. In Manamah, it is centered on a mosque on Palace Road, originally built by a wealthy merchant in the 1920s and later taken over by the Baluch. The Baluch Welfare Society was founded in 1973, although it was banned shortly afterwards due to fears that it would become involved in politics. It was followed by the Baluch Club, established later in 1973 as a cultural and sports club.37 As of 2013, one member of the Bahraini Council of Ministers carried the name of al-Balushi.


The Other GCC States

There is considerably less information available on the Baluch in the other Gulf states, although small communities exist in each of the GCC countries. The Joshua Project lists a population of 14,000 Baluch in Saudi Arabia, 37,000 in Qatar, and 565,000 in the UAE, but these numbers are unverifiable.38

It cannot be determined how old the Baluch community in the UAE is, but it is logical to assume that it predates the oil era that spurred the massive immigration of expatriates. At least two distinct older communities of Baluch can be discerned. One resides in al-‘Ayn, the inland second city of Abu Dhabi, and presumably is related to the al-Balush tribe of Oman’s al-Dhahirah region.39 The other community in Kalbah, on Sharjah’s Gulf of Oman coast, is comprised of Iranian Baluch who left Iran to escape claimed oppression by Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was apparently seeking to “modernize” the Baluch by abolishing old customs such as the veiling of women. Some of this group settled in Shinas in Oman and both settlements served the Sultanate of Oman as paramilitary groups, as explained earlier. Presumably in this connection, British intelligence reported in the late 1960s that a cell of the Free Baluch Movement, allegedly supported by Iraq in order to embarrass the Iranians, was in operation in Dubai, as well as Abu Dhabi and Muscat.40 Other communities of more recently arrived Baluch presumably came as menial and semi-skilled laborers during the oil boom years.

One effect of the emergence of Dubai as a transnational, cosmopolitan metropolis has been its attraction as a place of exile or second home for politicians from various parts of the Middle East and Asia. For example, Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto spent most of her time in Dubai during her years in exile and her children were also educated there. Pakistani politics in Baluchistan has produced another connection. One observer contends that “The State [of Baluchistan] is being increasingly administered not from Quetta, but from Karachi or Dubai. The members of the Baloch State Government are being increasingly seen by the people as quislings of Islamabad and are afraid of staying in Quetta.

They spend more time in Karachi or Dubai than in Quetta. Government files go to them for orders there.”41

The size of the Baluch community in Kuwait is unknown. There is a feeling that Baluch have been there for a long time, as they have in Oman, but there is no available evidence one way or the other. Because they are Sunni, they assimilate rather easily—contrary to the Shi‘i for example. Many are indistinguishable from other Kuwaitis, even in name (except for those few who call themselves al-Balushi). Interestingly, however, there has been a small revival of social or ethnic diwaniyahs (a casual social or political gathering of family, friends, or constituents), among them al-Awadi and Baluch. Yet these diwaniyahs have been established more for political than ethnic reasons. The meetings allow them to host candidates for parliament and to promise votes. In return, a successful candidate does not hesitate to listen to their grievances. The utility of this approach does not depend on the concentration of Baluch in specific constituencies but rather represents a countrywide voice.42



This chapter has introduced and analyzed the limited amount of detail available about the presence and roles of the Baluch residents of the Arab side of the Gulf. Certainly the biggest contribution to Gulf society has been in Oman where the Baluch are not only numerous but exceedingly long settled.

It is widely held that Baluch have been well represented in the creation of modern armies and police forces in various states of the Arabian littoral, not just Oman and Bahrain, although details are unavailable. In addition, Baluch from Pakistani Baluchistan and presumably the Baluch areas of Iran as well have been attracted to jobs in the Gulf over the last several decades. Again, detailed information is lacking, although it can be surmised that in general the poverty and low levels of education in Baluchistan means that most of these Baluch are employed as unskilled or semi-skilled workers. Similar to other expatriate communities, these workers play no role in local politics and, because of their extreme vulnerability to arrest and deportation, tend to eschew political activities related to their homelands. Still, this has not prevented all political activities. Baluch opposition groups in Pakistan opposed the emigration of better-educated Baluch to service in Oman in the 1970s and 1980s and prominent figures called for an end to it.43

The Baluch residents on the Arab side of the Gulf, and particularly those who hold citizenship in the GCC states, are among the least noticeable and least contentious minorities. Those of long residence have fit well into local society and have contributed significantly to their countries’ military forces, civilian governments, and large and small businesses. Their presence adds to the richness of Gulf society and politics without creating significant challenges.





1 These introductory paragraphs draw from Selig S. Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baluch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations, New York: Carnegie Endowmentfor International Peace, 1981; Selig S. Harrison, “Ethnic Conflict in Pakistan:

The Baluch, the Pashtuns, and Sindhis,” in Joseph V. Montville (ed.), Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies, Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1990,pp. 301–25; Selig S. Harrison, “Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan: The BaluchCase,” in John Hutchinson and Anthony D. Smith (eds), Ethnicity, Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 1996, pp. 294–301; Peter R. Blood, Pakistan: A Country Study, 6th edn, Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Federal Research Division,1995; Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn, and Paul Titus (eds), The Baloch and Others:

Linguistic, Historical and Socio-Political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan, Wiesbaden: Reichart Verlag, 2008; Muhammad Sardar Khan Baluch, History ofBaluch Race and Baluchistan, Quetta, privately printed, ca. 1958; M. Paul Lewis (ed.), Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 16th edn, Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2009,

2 There have been periodic attempts by some Baluch, particularly those living in Arab countries, to claim that the Baluch actually are of Arab descent. Therefore, they should be treated as other Arabs and some would even argue that the Arab world should support the movement for the independence of Baluchistan. This contention seems to be rejected by most Baluchis, however. (Harrison, In Afghanistan’sShadow, pp. 120–6; interviews in Oman, various years.) Valeri also mentions this point in this book, p. 198.

3 The Pakistani province of Baluchistan was created in 1970 by merging Kalat and Quetta districts. Robert G. Wirsing, “South Asia: The Baluch Frontier Tribes of Pakistan,” in Robert G. Wirsing (ed.), Protection of Ethnic Minorities: Comparative Perspectives, New York: Pergamon Press, 1982, p. 281. There also exists a pocket of Baluch in Soviet Turkmenistan. Ibid.
6 S.B. Miles, The Countries and Tribes of the Persian Gulf, London: Harrison and Sons, 1919, 2nd edn, reprinted in one vol., London: Frank Cass, 1966, pp. 201– 64; Willem Floor, The Persian Gulf: A Political and Economic History of Five PortCities, 1500–1730, Washington, DC: Mage, 2006, pp. 347–51. 7 Beatrice Nicolini, “The Baluch Role in the Persian Gulf during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the MiddleEast, 27, 2 (2007), p. 385.

4 Harrison, “Ethnic Conflict in Pakistan,” p. 304. Lewis, Ethnologue, gives a total Baluch population of 3,405,000 with 2,770,000 in Pakistan and 405,000 in Iran.

5 Abdolhossein Yadegari, “Pluralism and Change in Iranian Balochistan,” in Jahani et al., Baloch and Others, p.
8 J.E. Peterson, “Oman’s Diverse Society: Northern Oman,” Middle East Journal, 58, 1 (Winter 2004), p. 36; Sultanate of Oman, Supreme Council for Planning, National Center for Statistics and Information, Statistical Yearbook 2011, Muscat, 2011, These very rough estimates were calculated on the basis that one-third of the Omani population of al-Batinah is Baluch. The 2010 Omani census enumerates 773,000 residents of al-Batinah, of whom about 80 percent were Omani, with 1,957,000 Omanis in total. It is possible that the Baluch form a lesser proportion of al-Batinah’s population but, on the other hand, the numerous Baluch of the capital region were not included in this estimate. The Joshua Project, an online website proclaiming to be “a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ,” puts the total of Baluch in Oman at 434,000, However, there is no indication of date, sources of information, or methodology. Earlier estimates of the Baluch population of Oman were much lower. A compendium of information on Omani tribes and groups in the early 1950s put the total at between 15,000 and 16,000. Of these, it was estimated that 5,000–6,000 were settled in Muscat and the remainder along the Batinah. Only about 500 were in al-Dhahirah and the numbers that J.G. Lorimer had found in the Ja‘lan of the east and the Western and Eastern Hajar Mountains were considered insignificant. United Kingdom, National Archives, Kew Gardens, Foreign Office (later Foreign and Commonwealth Office), FO/1016/3 (1949–51), “Notes on Certain of the Tribes of the  Sultanate of Muscat and Oman.”

9 Interviews in Oman, various years.
10 FO/1016/3 (1949–51), “Notes on Certain of the Tribes of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman”; FO/371/156820, BC1821/1, “Tribes of Oman”; compendium updated and maintained by GSO 2 Int., HQ LFPG, Bahrain (n.d. but 1961).

11 Soumyen Bandyopadhyay, “Manh: the Architecture, Archaeology and Social History of a Deserted Omani Settlement,” PhD thesis, University of Liverpool, School of Architecture and Building Engineering, n.d., Chapter 3 (unpaginated).

12 J.G. Lorimer, comp., Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, ‘Oman, and Central Arabia, Calcutta: Superintendent, Government Printing, vol. I (1915); vol. II (1908); reprinted by various publishers in 1970, 1989, and 1998. Here see vol. II, pp. 1185 and 1200.

13 J.E. Peterson, Historical Muscat: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer, Leiden: Brill, 2007; interview in Oman, 1989.
14 Lorimer,
Gazetteer, vol. I, pp. 418–22 and 601–3.

15 FO/371/98329, EA1018/3, W.R. Hay, Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, to Anthony Eden, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 19 May 1952.

16 FO/1016/3 (1949–51), “Notes on Certain of the Tribes of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman.”

17 FO/371/162842, BC1013/6, Muscat Monthly Diary, 1–31 May 1962.
18 J.E. Peterson,
Oman’s Insurgencies: The Sultanate’s Struggle for Supremacy, London:

Saqi, 2007, pp. 38, 40, and 43.

19 For an account of the force’s activities in 1916, see the London Gazette, Supplement, Issue 30360 (31 Oct. 1917), p. 112170. The Sistan Force was formed by order of the Indian Army at the onset of World War I as the East Persia Cordon to protect British interests in Persia from German activities and it was last utilized in 1920. “Seistan Force,” Wikipedia

20 Peterson, Oman’s Insurgencies, p. 48.

21 J.E. Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, London: Croom Helm, 1978, p. 92.

22 Peterson, Oman’s Insurgencies, p. 49.

23 Ibid., p. 150. Recruitment for the Sultan’s Armed Forces over the years was regulated to prevent reliance on any one region or social stratum of Baluchistan. “The greater number of recruits are from the Kech area, but many come from the coast, especially from Gwadar, and from Panjgur. Soldiers of other areas are sometimes recruited; a few Iranian Baluch are found, some from Karachi and some Brahuis from the east of the province. Even the odd Pathan manages to be recruited. The majority of recruits are from the middle-ranking social strata, but some are from more wealthy and influential hakim families and a good many from the lower hizmatkar classes of fishermen, artisans and ex-slaves.” N.A. Collett, “Baluch Service in the Forces of Oman: A Reflection of Makrani Society and an Impetus for Change,” Newsletter of Baluchistan Studies, 2 (1985), p. 9.

24 Peterson, Oman’s Insurgencies, pp. 187–8.

25 A position to which only a small detachment of men is posted.
26 FCO/8/589, D.C. Carden, Consul-General, Muscat, to Sir Stewart Crawford, Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, 27 June 1968, “Report for 2nd Quarterof 1968.”

27 Personal observation in Oman, 1990s. See also the brief discussion of the Baluchi role in Omani society in Marc Valeri, Oman: Politics and Society in the QaboosState, London: Hurst, 2009, pp. 232–4.

28The News (Karachi), 23 Aug. 2012.
29 Interviews in Oman, 1990 and 2012.

30 Peterson, “Oman’s Diverse Society: Northern Oman,” p. 37; Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz, “A Sociolinguistic Survey Amongst the Jadgal in Iranian Balochistan,” in Jahani et al., Baloch and Others, p. 25.

31 Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, pp. 121–2. The Baluch speaker also claimed that there were 350,000 Baluch living in the Arab Gulf states. Ibid.

32 Fuad I. Khuri, Tribe and State in Bahrain: The Transformation of Social and Political Authority in an Arab State, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980,pp. 47 and 51.

33 Ibid., pp. 59–66; interview in Bahrain, 2012.
34 United Kingdom, British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections, Government of India, Political (External) Files & Collections, L/P&S/12/3719, “Administration Report of the Persian Gulf for the Year 1926”; Political Residency in the Persian Gulf Records, R/15/1/437, “Bahrain Levy Corps,” various correspondence.

35 Khuri, Tribe and State in Bahrain, pp. 114–15.
36 Bruce Riedel in the
National Interest, 2 Aug. 2011.

37; interview with Ali Akbar Bushehri in Bahrain, 2012. Bushehri believes that the Baluch in Bahrain are of recent arrival and the earliest document he has found referring to them dates only from 1930. He also contends that they were not known to be involved in pearling. Furthermore, the British agency and the government of Bahrain in the early twentieth century relied upon Minawis (Persians from Minab, near Bandar Abbas) for security duties and not Baluch. Lorimer’s Gazetteer (vol. II, p. 258) makes note of “an appreciable part of the population” from Minab district. Nelida Fuccaro, Histories of Cityand State in the Gulf: Manama Since 1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 93, asserts that Baluch, along with fellow “dispossessed” Persians and former slaves, provided casual labor for the harbor and pearling industries.

38 See comment on The Joshua Project in note 8.

39 Interview in the UAE, 2012.
40 FCO/8/1256, Abu Dhabi Intelligence Reports, Record of Abu Dhabi Local Intelligence

Committee Meeting of 12 Nov. 1969.

41 B. Raman, “Weakening Pakistani hold in Balochistan,” South Asian Analysis Group, paper no. 3958, 30 July 2010, http://www.southasiaanalysis. org/%5Cpapers40%5Cpaper3958.html. Raman quotes the The News (Karachi) of 25 July 2010 as charging that “While half of the province [of Balochistan] is inundated because of floods, killing scores of people, Chief Minister Aslam Raisani is languishing in Dubai. His staff said he was in Dubai for many days and they could not confirm when he would return. In any case, he is known to be a part-time CM as he lives in Dubai or Islamabad nearly 15 days a month and is never available, intelligibly that is …”
42 Interview in Kuwait, 2012.

43 Collett, “Baluch Service in the Forces of Oman,” p. 9.


Comments Off

Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Research Papers on Political Issues


Impersonal Constructions in Balochi

(Research Paper)

Prof. Dr.Carina Jahani
Uppsala University, Sweden
Serge Axenov, St. Petersburg, Russia

Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz
Uppsala University, Sweden
and University of Sistan and Baluchestan,
Zahedan, Iran

Maryam Nourzaei
University of ‘Olum va Ta
qiqāt, Fars, Iran


Impersonal constructions are interesting from a typological perspective. Siewierska (2008: 3–4) finds that “[t]he semantic characterizations of impersonality centre on two notions”, either “the lack of a human agent controlling the depicted situation or event” or “situations or events which may be brought about by a human agent but crucially one which is not specified.” The present article focuses on grammatical constructions for situations or events brought about by a non-specified agent in one Iranian language, namely Balochi. It draws upon four Balochi corpuses available to the authors, comprising four different dialects of Balochi and consisting of altogether approximately 130,000 words.

There are three constructions for a non-specific agent found in the corpus, those with the verb in 3PL, those with the verb in 2SG, and those with a passive verb. It seems that the 3PL construction allows the speaker to distance himself/herself from the event somehow in narrative texts, where the speaker and addressee are not included in the referential framework of this construction. The 2SG construction, on the contrary, allows an unrestricted impersonal interpretation in narrative texts. However, in procedural texts, the 2SG and 3PL constructions are used interchangeably to include the speaker, and probably also the addressee.

The 2SG construction in narrative texts and the 2SG and 3PL constructions in procedural texts are open to a truly impersonal interpretation. Thus, the 3PL construction does follow the referential properties described by Siewierska (2008: 14–17) in narrative texts but has wider referential properties in procedural texts. In Balochi, the referential properties of the passive construction seem, on the contrary, not to be as unrestricted as Siewierska (2008: 23) suggests.


1. Introduction

Impersonal constructions are interesting from a typological perspective.1 Onishi (2001: 45) notes that impersonal constructions need to be investigated for a large number of languages with different typological profiles and from different linguistic areas in order to draw far-reaching conclusions about these kinds of constructions and the typological constraints that apply to them. Siewierska (2008: 13–14) also pays attention to the lack of data for impersonal constructions in, e.g., grammatical descriptions of specific languages. The aim of the present article is to provide data concerning impersonal constructions for one such specific language, namely Balochi.2

Balochi is an Iranian language, thus belonging to the Indo-European language family, and is spoken in south-eastern Iran, south-western Pakistan, and southern Afghanistan, as well as in the UAE, Oman, and other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, Turkmenistan, India, and East Africa. In her article “Ways of Impersonalizing”, Siewierska (2008: 3–4) discusses the concept ‘impersonal’ and finds that this term has been used in a wide and not entirely well defined sense. Some scholars “conceive of impersonality in semantic terms, others adopt a syntactic approach, and yet others a morphological perspective.”

She finds that “[t]he semantic characterizations of impersonality centre on two notions”, either “the lack of a human agent controlling the depicted situation or event” or “situations or events which may be brought about by a human agent but crucially one which is not specified.” In the second category she pays particular attention to third person plural impersonal constructions and verbal impersonals and to the referential properties of these different constructions. Among Siewierska’s conclusions are that the referential range of the 3PL construction is more restricted than for other constructions and that 3PL impersonal constructions denote third person referents among which the speaker and/or addressee are hardly ever included.3 She also concludes that verbal impersonals are generally of a less restricted character when it comes to referential properties, and normally include the speaker, and that the most open reference is found in agentless passives, which she finds referentially unrestricted (Siewierska 2008: 23).

Blevins (2006) takes a morphological approach and describes the characteristics of morphologically marked impersonal constructions found in, e.g., Balto-Finnic and Celtic languages, which “represent a distinctive grammatical strategy for ‘suppressing’ reference to the subject” (Blevins 2006: 236). There are no morphological impersonal constructions of this kind (see also Blevins 2003: 486–489) in Balochi. Kitagawa and Lehrer (1990), on the other hand, ground their study in different uses of pronouns and define the concept of impersonality in semantic terms in connection with these pronouns. They discuss the distinction between referential, impersonal and vague uses of pronouns, where “[r]eferential uses identify specific individuals” , “[a]n ‘impersonal’ use of a pronoun applies to anyone and/or everyone”, and “[a] ‘vague’ use applies to specific individuals, but they are not identified, or identifiable, by the speaker” (Kitagawa and Lehrer 1990: 742).4 The distinction between ‘impersonal’ and ‘vague’ uses will here be applied to whole constructions rather than only to pronouns, particularly since Balochi is a pro-drop language.

The present article takes a semantic approach and focuses on the second category specified by Siewierska, namely situations or events brought about by a non specified (impersonal or vague) human agent. This should, however, not be taken as the position of the present researchers on what should be regarded as impersonal constructions.

Another interesting type of impersonal construction comprises those with a non-canonical subject, that is, a subject in the genitive or dative case (see Onishi 2001), which are frequent in Balochi and which will be the subject of a forthcoming study.
This investigation draws upon four Balochi corpuses available to the authors, namely Serge Axenov’s corpus of tales, reality-based stories, and procedural texts (dealing with, e.g., weaving, cooking, farming, etc.) from Turkmenistan (abbreviated BT), Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz’s corpus of tales and reality-based stories from Sistan (abbreviated BS), Maryam Nourzaei’s corpus of tales, a reality-based story, and a procedural text in Koroshi, a dialect of Balochi spoken in Fars (abbreviated BK), and Carina Jahani’s corpus of modern short stories from Pakistan (abbreviated BP). These four corpuses comprise approximately 130,000 words.5 The texts that contain the greatest number of impersonal constructions with a non-specified human agent are procedural texts, but the written texts (BP) also have a considerable number of such constructions. The tales contain, on the whole, fewer impersonal constructions. The examples are transcribed in a phonemic representation modelled on the system used by Jahani and Korn (2009).6 All examples are marked for dialect.

Different constructions for a non-specified human agent found in the corpus will be classified and discussed below. Special attention will be given to the referential properties of the agent in each construction. There could be a vague delimitation of possible agents in the context, but there could also be a totally impersonal reference to any possible agent, including the speaker and the addressee in these constructions (generic reference, see Siewierska 2008: 9–10). This difference will be discussed for each example below.

The purpose of the present article is thus two-fold: to analyse the nature of the constructions used for non-specified human agents in the corpus of Balochi under study, and to discuss whether Siewierska’s (2008) conclusions about referential properties for the agent in different types of constructions hold for this corpus.


2. Constructions with a non-specified human agent found in the corpus

In this corpus, two main types of constructions where the human agent is not specified are found, one type with an active verb and one type with a passive verb. There are three different constructions with an active verb, 3PL, 2SG, and 3SG constructions.


2.1 Constructions with an active verb, narrative texts

Constructions with an active verb are particularly common in procedural texts, but they are also found in reality-based stories and, although much less commonly, in tales. Since it seems that the constructions operate somewhat differently in narratives and procedural texts, the analysis of the procedural texts is separate from that of the narrative texts (see section 2.3). In narrative texts the verb is found either in 3PL, 2SG, or 3SG. In the ergative construction (ex. 3) the agent is expressed by a pronominal clitic. Only a limited number of examples have been included, but these examples are chosen to be representative of all the occurrences of the particular construction.


2.1.1 Verb in the third person plural

Ex. 1

Ā_____ drōgburr_____ uškit_____ ki _____bi_____ plān _____šār-ā

DEM   liar _____hear.PT.3SG_____ CLM ____in____so.and.so_____town-OBL

drōgburr=ē_______ ast_____ wa____ āī____ tārīp-ān-ā_____ bāz=a



That liar heard that in such and such a town there was a liar who was widely praised (lit. and they praise him a lot). (BT)

The speaker here is the person in the story telling the addressee (the first liar) about a second liar. The presence of a speaker is, in fact, very weak, since the verb uškit ‘he heard’ is used to refer to what was said. The addressee is definitely excluded from the referential properties of the verb kanant ‘they do’. He was not even aware of the second liar until he heard about him from the speaker. It is not totally clear whether the speaker also would praise this second liar or not, i.e. if the speaker is part of the referential framework of the verb kanant ‘they do’ or not.

Possible agents are to be found in the context of the story, which means that this is a vague rather than an impersonal or, to use Siewierska’s terminology, generic construction.

Ex. 2

Šallāx_____ ēšī____ čarm-ī-ēn_____ dāšt

Whip___ DEM.OBL ____leather-ADJZ-ATTR _____have.PT.3SG

ġadīm-ā____ zābul____ ta____ bā____ kurt-ant____ čarm-ī-ēn


A whip, he had a leather whip; in the past in Zabol, you know, they were sold, (whips) made of leather. (BS)

This sentence is found in a reality-based story. Possible agents are tradesmen in Zabol in former times, which makes the agent of kurtant ‘they did’ vague rather than impersonal. In this example, the speaker and the addressee must be seen as excluded from the referential framework of the verb, since the speaker is a storyteller from the region, and the addressee is a linguistic researcher.

Ex. 3

marō_____ zahr=eš_____ rētk-a=Ø _____mā ______xorāk=at

today____ poison=PC.3PL____ pour.PT-PP=COP.PR.3SG____ in_____ food=PC.2SG

Today there is poison poured into your food. (BK)

The context of this sentence from a folktale is that the stepmother wants to kill her stepson, but his horse has supernatural powers and is able to warn him. The speaker is the horse and the addressee is the boy. Possible agents in this ergative construction with an agent clitic instead of the verb in 3PL are the people present in the story who want to kill the addressee. Thus, both the speaker and the addressee are excluded from the referential framework, since neither of them would have put poison in the food. These restrictions of the agent makes the sentence vague rather than impersonal.

Ex. 4

Xān___ mnī___ pād-ān____ kawš-ān-ī____ tā____iškar

Khan___ PRON.1SG.GEN____ foot-PL ___shoe-PL-GEN__ in__ live.ember

rēt-ag=ant_____ ša ______dušmanāī-ā

pour.PT-PP=COP.PR.3PL_____ from____ enmity-OBL

Khan, my feet! Somebody has poured live embers in my shoes out of enmity. (BS)


This example comes from a reality-based story, and the incident with live embers being poured into the speaker’s shoes took place at a wedding. Possible agents are people present at the wedding party, thus a vague subject from which speaker is excluded. It is also clear in the context that he does not suspect that the addressee (the Khan) would be the agent.


Ex. 5

nimāzliq ___bi___ awā____ bāl kurt=u____ ēšānā_____ āwurt

prayer.rug___ in air___ wing __do.PT.3SG=and __DEM.PL.OBJ___ bring.PT.3SG
am=ōdā____ ki___ wazīr-ay___ jinikk-ā___ šōd-ant

EMPH=there ___CLM___ wizier-GEN___ girl-OBJ.VCL ___wash.PR-3PL

The prayer rug took off into the air and brought them to the place were the wizier’s daughter was being washed (lit. where they wash the wizier’s daughter). (BT)

This sentence is from a folktale. It is the narrator’s voice, which means that the speaker is excluded from the possible agents, as are the addressees, i.e. the audience, who are also outside the framework of the story. Possible agents of the verb šodant ‘they wash’ are people in the story who could be involved in washing the wizier’s daughter, which means that the agent is vague.

Ex. 6

xolāsa _____ar=r-ant ____ahmad-ī____ rannā

in.short_____ VCL=go.PR-3PL_____ NP-GEN ____after

To make a long story short, Ahmad is asked to come (lit. they go to get Ahmad). (BK) The sentence is from a narrative section in a folktale. This excludes the narrator and the audience, i.e. the speaker and the addressee, from the referential framework. Possible agents are the people at the court of the king who needs Ahmad’s services and therefore sends for him. The construction is thus vague rather than impersonal.


It is clear from ex. 1–6 that the 3PL construction is used with a vague rather than an impersonal (generic) human agent. The speaker and the addressee seem to be excluded from the referential properties of this construction in narrative discourse, which means that Siewierska’s conclusion for the 3PL holds in this type of text (see also below).


2.1.2 Verb in the second person singular

Ex. 7

bēšakkā ____ki ___pa___ xudā___ ta ____yakk=ē____ b-day-ay

undoubtedly _____CLM__ for God__ PRON.2SG__ one=IND___ SUB-give.PR-2SG

xudā____ da=a ___dant

God ten=VCL____ give.PR.3SG

Undoubtedly, if you give one (unit of something) for the sake of God, He will give you tenfold (back). (BS)

This is a generic statement meaning ‘Whoever gives something to God will get tenfold back’. The speaker, in this story the prophet Moses, definitely includes the addressee, a poor man who actually showed generosity and was rewarded, and there is no reason to believe that he would exclude himself either. Possible agents are not restricted to the framework of the story, which means that we are dealing with an impersonal construction.

Ex. 8

na-zān-ay _____čīā_____ āī ______ čamm______ ham=ē_____ kišk-ā

NEG-know.PR-2SG ____why___ DEM.GEN ____eye EMPH=DEM___ side-OBL



Nobody knows why his eyes were fixed in this direction. (BP)

This sentence is about a man who is expecting his son to come back home even long after the son has been killed. The agent of the verb nazānay ‘you don’t know’ could be anyone within the story, i.e. anybody who knew this man. But it could also be anyone hearing or reading this story. It therefore seems that an impersonal interpretation is possible here.

Thus, the speaker and the addressee can be included as possible agents in this example.

Ex. 9

Ē____ nimāzliq-ay____ sarā____ ki___ nind-ay ___ā___ bāl=a kan-t

DEM __prayer.rug-GEN __on ___CLM sit.down.PR-2SG___ DEM ___wing=VCL__ do.PR-3SG

When you sit down on this prayer-rug, it takes off. (BT)

The sentence is uttered by a man who wants to sell a magic rug, and the addressee is a person who wants to buy this rug. The intention is, of course, not that it will take off only if this buyer sits down on it, which means that the verb ninday ‘you sit down’ is not to be interpreted as referring only to the addressee. It is an impersonal construction with general preferentiality, including both the speaker and the addressee in the context where it is uttered.

Ex. 10

doros=en____ bās=en_____ ġarīb-pasand_____ be-bey

correct=COP.PR.3SG____ must=COP.PR.3SG____ stranger-accepting SUB-become.PR.2SG

Surely one must accept strangers. (BK)

This sentence is from a reality-based story and the intention of the person who said it is that everybody, including himself and the addressee, should accept strangers. It is open and generic in its referential properties, thus an impersonal construction.

Ex. 11

na-ma-bī-yā______ čūbān-ī______ kan-ey

NEG-IMP-become.PR-3SG_____ shepherd-NOMZ

It is impossible to be a shepherd. (BK)

This sentence is uttered by a shepherd boy, and the addressee is his father. The boy wants to quit being a shepherd and argues that it is an impossible job. It is therefore clear that the speaker in particular is included here. The statement is, however, made in such a general way that also the addressee (the father) and anyone else who would attempt to be a shepherd can be included. It can therefore be interpreted as an impersonal construction.


Ex. 7–11 show that the 2SG construction in narrative text has wider referential properties than the 3PL construction. In all the examples an impersonal interpretation is possible. It is interesting to note ex. 11, where the speaker refers to himself in particular with this construction. However, this example also allows for an impersonal interpretation.

2.1.3 Verb in the third person singular

Ex. 12

guš-īt ___ki ____yag____ bādišā=yē=at

say.PR-3SG ___CLM ___one king=IND=COP.PT.3SG

The story goes (lit. he/she says) that there was a king. (BS)

Ex. 13

ē____ š-ī____ ančēn____ sawt=ē___ēširā___ allā=i pāk

DEM ___say.PR-3SG___ such.ATTR___ voice=IND ___DEM.OBJ____ Allah=IZ pure



He, the story goes, the Holy God had given him such a (wonderful) voice… (BS)

Ex. 14

š-īt___ yak___ xān=ē=at

say.PR-3SG __one __Khan=IND=COP.PT.3SG

The story goes that there was a Khan. (BS)

The construction with the verb in 3SG occurs only in narrative texts in one part of the corpus, namely BS, and only for the verb ‘to say’ (in full or reduced form), but it is common in BS, both in fiction and reality-based stories.7 It is found in the introduction of a story, but also later on in the narration. It is quite clear from the way this verb is used that it is linked to epistemic modality and expresses that the narrator does not have first-hand information about what follows after the introductory verb of saying. Rather, he8 expresses some uncertainty about the contents of the narration, but not to the extent that the listener feels that he expresses outright doubt about it. Thus, this construction does not include the speaker or the addressee in its referential framework and is therefore not impersonal. It has a vague reference to people who may have been eyewitnesses to the very story about to be told or being told.


2.2 Grammatical passive construction, narrative texts

The grammatical passive construction in Balochi consists of an infinitive or a past participle with an auxiliary verb, either ‘to become’ (ex. 15–17, 19–20) or ‘to come’ (ex. 18).9 The passive is normally not used with an overt agent in Balochi (see e.g. Farrell 1995: 231, Baranzehi 2003: 100, Axenov 2006: 200) but there are two such examples in the whole corpus, which thus do not belong in the discussion of a non-specified agent.10

Ex. 15

dawlatxān-ārā___ kayz__ u___ band-ay___ sazā ___day-ag

NP-OBJ____ prison ___ and ___ prison-GEN ___ punishment ___give.PR-INF



Dawlatkhan should not be punished by imprisonment (lit. imprisonment should not be given to Dawlatkhan). (BP)

This is the verdict in a murder case. The person writing it issues an order to those involved in the process, particularly to the addressee (the receiver of the verdict), who would be the actual person to imprison Dawlatkhan. The agent here is, however, vague rather than impersonal, including the addressee as well as others who are part of the process, though not the writer himself, who stands above the process.

Ex. 16

agan māt=ē____ kuš-ag _____ma-būt-ēn______ du_____ čār

if mother=PC.3SG _____kill.PR-INF___ PROH-become.PT-SUB.3SG __ two__ four

rōč-ā___ rand___ zahg ___allamā___ wadī ___būt-ag=at
day-OBL after child surely born become.PT-PP=COP.PT.3SG

If the mother had not been killed, the child would definitely have been born a couple of days later. (BP)

A woman has been killed and the prosecutor is trying to find out more about the murder. The sentence above is spoken by the father of the killer (i.e. the agent), quoting the midwives about the birth of the child with whom the woman was pregnant.

Either the speaker did not know that his son (actually the father of the illegitimate child, who tried to conceal his adultery) killed this woman, or he did not want to disclose this information. He would hardly include himself as a possible agent though, and the addressee, the prosecutor, is definitely not one of the potential killers, which makes the agent vague rather than impersonal.

Ex. 17

ham=ē___ rōč-ā___ bēgāh-ay___ wahd-ā____ āsmān-ay___ dēmā

EMPH=DEM ___day-OBL___ evening-GEN___ time-OBL___ sky-GEN ___on

jāgah___ jāgah=ē ___jambar ___ham ___gind-ag___ ātk-ag=at

Place___ place=IND___ cloud__ also__ see.PR-INF __come.PT-PP=COP.PT.3SG

That same day, in the evening, one could see clouds in a few places in the sky. (BP) This sentence is in a narrative part of a modern short story. Here the agent includes everybody who is part of the framework, including the ‘omnipresent narrator’. The persons to whom the story is told (the addressees), i.e. the readers of this short story, are not a natural part of the framework, however.

Ex. 18

diga __āl___ bi___ man___ mālūm___ na-bū___ ki

other __state__ to__ PRON.1SG__ evident NEG-become.PT.3SG CLM

mnī ___mard___ kušt-a ___bū __yā__ na

PRON.1SG.GEN__ man __kill.PT-PP___ become.PT.3SG__ or__ no

It was actually not clear to me if my husband was killed or not. (BS)

This sentence is from a folktale and the speaker is the wife of the man who may have been killed. The addressees are her parents. The potential agents are to be found within the framework of the story, but exclude the speaker and the addressees.

The construction is therefore not an impersonal construction but a construction with a vague human agent.

Ex. 19

dēb-ay ___sarag ___ki___ sist-a____ būt ___dēb___ murt

demon-GEN ___head____ CLM ___remove.PT-PP___ become.PT.3SG__ demon __die.PT.3SG

When the head of the demon was removed, the demon died. (BT)

This sentence is found in a narrative section of a folktale. The potential agents of this construction are to be found within the framework of the story. The speaker and the addressee are excluded from the referential framework of this construction with a vague human agent.


In this corpus, the grammatical passive is the preferred strategy for a vague human agent in written texts (BP), where no instances of the otherwise common 3PL construction are attested. In the oral texts, the grammatical passive is rather rare, although not totally absent. It thus seems that the grammatical passive construction plays the same role in written literary style as the 3PL construction does in oral literary style to denote vague human agents excluding the speaker and the addressee in most instances (ex. 16, 18–19), but that it also can be used with wider referential properties to include the speaker (ex. 17) or the addressee (ex. 15). It is, however, not used in impersonal contexts in the same way as the 2SG construction is used.

Siewierska’s (2008: 22) conclusion that the most open reference is found in agent less passives, which she finds referentially unrestricted, is thus not readily applicable to this corpus.

2.3 Constructions with an active verb, procedural texts

In procedural texts, which in this corpus are available for BT and BK, the two constructions 3PL and 2SG are used interchangeably. They are therefore not separated into different sections here. Two slightly longer examples (ex. 20–21) from procedural texts are presented to illustrate the way these constructions are used in procedural texts. They are taken from a text about weaving and a text about traditional cures for various diseases.

Ex. 20

masalan __har___ raŋ=ē___ ke ___gēš ___bokān=et estefāda

for.example___ every __colour=IND__ CLM more__ want.PR=PC.2SG __use

kan-ey ____ā____ raŋ=at___ gēš=a __kan-ey___ hālā___ yā ___DEM colour=PC.2SG___ more=VCL do.PR-2SG__ now_ or

zard ___yā___ ġermez___ yā___ ke___ ez… har___ raŋ=ēābī

Yellow___ or ___red ___or___ CLM___ from… every___ colour=IND…

aksaran___ ġālī-bār-ey ____zamīn-ā____ ġermez=a ____kan-an___t hā

Mostly____ carpet-PL-GEN ground-OBJ red=VCL___ do.PR-3PL yes

ġermez=a___ kan-an

red=VCL ___do.PR-3PL

You know, any colour you want to use more, you dye more wool in that colour (lit. make that colour of yours more) now, either yellow or red or…any colour…light blue. You (lit. they) mostly make the ground of the carpet red. Yes, you (lit. they) make it red. (BK)

Here the narrator starts out by using constructions in the 2SG (bokān=et estefāda kaney, gēš=a kan-ey) and then switches to the 3PL construction (ġermez=a kan-ant, ġermez=a kan-an) in the very same passage. It is clear that she includes herself in the referential properties of these constructions, since she is a weaver and therefore sometimes herself performs the tasks she describes. She potentially also includes the addressee, the linguistic researcher, in case she would like to try the craft of weaving.

If the addressee was a weaving apprentice, she11 would definitely be included in the referential framework of the construction. It is thus possible to apply an impersonal interpretation both to the 3PL and the 2SG construction in this example.

Ex. 21

pa a__dardī-ā ___pas-ay___ pōst-ā ____gwarā=a kan-ant___ pas=ē

for___ bone.ache-OBL__ sheep-GEN __skin-OBJ__ on=VCL do.PR-3SG__ sheep=IND

ki____ kuš-ay___ pōst-ay-ā______ kašš-ay____ pōst-ā

CLM ___kill.PR-2SG ___skin-PC.3SG-OBJ.VCL___ pull.PR-2SG skin-OBJ.VCL

patāy-ant=u_____ garm=a ___sōč-ant ___šap-ā___ nājō_-ay

fold.PR-3PL=and____ warm=VCL___ burn.PR-3PL night-OBL____ sick-GEN

pučč-ān-ā___ kašš-ant=u____ pōst-ā ___bi ___gwaray-ā

clothes-PL-OBJ.VCL___ pull.PR-3PL=and____skin-OBJ___ to___ on.PC.3SG-OBL.VCL



For pain in the bones, you (lit. they) put on a skin from a sheep. When you kill the sheep, you pull off its skin. You (lit. they) fold the skin and heat it up. At night you (lit. they) pull off the clothes of the sick person and you (lit. they) put the skin on him. (BT)

This example allows for a similar interpretation as ex. 20. The speaker, who himself knows about traditional medicine and therefore can be expected to cure people with pain in the bones, is included in the referential framework. He starts out with a 3PL construction (gwarā=a kanant), then uses two 2SG constructions (kušay, kaššay), and then again four 3PL constructions (patāyant, sōčant, kaššant, dayant). The addressee, although in this case a linguistic researcher, i.e. an outsider, could probably also be included in the referential framework of this construction in case he would need to treat somebody with pain in the bones. It is also likely that the very same construction would be used to instruct somebody from within the culture who would like to learn this skill (see also ex. 20).



An interesting observation is that the two constructions with 3PL and 2SG verbs seem to be interchangeable in procedural texts, making the referential framework of the 3PL construction able to also include the speaker and the addressee, thus allowing for an impersonal interpretation. The distinctive features of the 3PL construction versus the 2SG construction encountered in narrative texts are thus not present in procedural texts. This observation contradicts Siewierska’s conclusion that the 3PL construction does not readily include the speaker and the addressee within its referential framework.


3. Conclusions

The present corpus proved to be a rich source for the investigation of constructions with an impersonal or vague human agent in Balochi. There are three main constructions found in the corpus, those with the verb in 3PL, those with the verb in 2SG, and those with a passive verb.12

It seems that in Balochi the 3PL construction allows the speaker to distance himself/ herself from the event somehow, particularly in narrative texts, but that this interpretation cannot be applied to the 3PL construction in procedural texts. Thus, the 3PL construction does follow the referential properties described by Siewierska (2008: 14–17) in narrative texts but allows for wider reference in procedural texts.

The referential properties of the passive construction do not seem to be as unrestricted as Siewierska suggests. In most examples of the passive construction a vague interpretation lies closer at hand than an impersonal interpretation. There is one example (ex. 15) where the addressee is definitely included and one where the speaker can be seen as included (ex. 17), but in most examples both the speaker and the addressee are definitely excluded.

The 2SG construction in narrative texts allows for an impersonal interpretation. It is also used totally interchangeably with the 3PL construction to include the speaker, and probably also the addressee, in procedural texts, which makes an impersonal interpretation possible for both these constructions in this type of texts. Thus, the 2SG

construction in the examples from narrative texts (ex. 7–10) and the 2SG and 3PL constructions in the examples from procedural texts (ex. 20–21) are open to a truly impersonal (generic) interpretation.

These conclusions are similar to the conclusions drawn by Shokri (in the present volume) about the use of 3PL and 2SG impersonal constructions in Mazandarani, another Iranian language closely related to Balochi.

List of abbreviations and symbols

- :                     separates a morpheme

= :                    separates a clitic

Ø:                    zero morpheme

1:                     first person

2:                     second person

3 :                    third person

ADJZ:             adjectivizer

ATTR:            attributive

BK:                 Balochi, Koroshi (Maryam Nourzaei’s corpus)

BP:                  Balochi of Pakistan (Carina Jahani’s corpus)

BS:                  Balochi of Sistan (Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz’s corpus)

BT:                  Balochi of Turkmenistan (Serge Axenov’s corpus)

CLM:              clause linkage marker

COP:               copula

DEM:             demonstrative

EMPH:           emphatic particle

GEN:              genitive

IMP:               imperfective

INCL:             inclusive

IND:               indefinite

INF:                infinitive

IZ:                   izāfa
LOC:               locative

MIR:              mirative particle

NEG:               negative

NOMZ:           nominalizer

NP:                  proper noun

OBJ:               object

OBL:               oblique

PC:                  pronominal clitic

PL:                  plural

PP:                  past participle

PR:                  present

PROH:            prohibitive

PRON:            personal pronoun

PT:                  past

SG:                  singular

SUB:               subjunctive

VCL:               verb clitic

1 In 2009, a corpus-based linguistic project comprising several languages belonging to different language families was initiated at the Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University, the aim of which is to study, among other grammatical features, impersonal constructions.
2 Sincere thanks to Agnes Korn, Frankfurt am Main, for comments on an earlier version of this article and to Guiti Shokri for interesting discussions during the writing process.
3 Siewierska (2008) does not treat 2SG impersonal constructions (see below).
4 Siewierska (2008: 9) uses the term ‘impersonal’ the way Kitagawa and Lehrer employ the term ‘vague’ reference, and ‘generic’ for the concept Kitagawa and Lehrer call ‘impersonal’. The present article follows Kitagawa and Lehrer.
5 These four corpuses will henceforth be referred to as ‘the corpus’.
6 Nasalization is not taken into account here. Pronoun forms are analysed as one unit due to the great variation in these forms. The DEM.OBJ can, e.g., occur as ārā, āīrā, āīārā, āīā. The COP.PR.3SG is explicitly given as Ø in the present perfect, but not the Ø personal ending in the past tense 3SG.
7 The 3PL is occasionally found in BS the same context, but not nearly as frequently as the 3SG.
8 All these stories were told by male storytellers.
9 For the passive construction in Balochi, see also Jahani and Korn 2009: 662–663.
10 E.g. pādišā ki kušt-a būt ša ragjan-ay dastā king CLM kill.PT-PP COP.PT.3SG from bloodletter-GEN hand mušmā ā ragjan-ā bi dār-ā jan-an PRON.1PL.INCL DEM bloodletter-OBJ to wood-OBL.VCL hit.PR-1PL When the king has been killed by the bloodletter (lit. at the hand of the bloodletter), we will hang that bloodletter. (BT)
11 In this culture it is only the women who weave.
12 The construction with 3SG verb is limited to one specific verb and is also found only in BS. Another interesting impersonal construction has, in fact, been observed by the authors in spoken Balochi, but it is not attested in the corpus. This construction uses mardum ‘people’ with the verb in the singular for an impersonal human agent. The same subject with a plural verb would denote a vague human agent (mardum= a kant ‘one does, you do (impersonal)’ versus mardum=a kanant ‘people do (vague)’).

Axenov, Serge (2006). The Balochi Language of Turkmenistan. A corpus-based grammatical description.

(Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia 10). Uppsala: Uppsala University.

Baranzehi, Adam Nader (2003). “The Sarawani Dialect of Balochi and Persian Influence on It”. In Jahani,

Carina, and Korn, Agnes (eds), The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in

Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times. Wiesbaden: Reichert, pp. 75–111.

Blevins, James P. (2003). “Passives and Impersonals”. Journal of Linguistics, 39, pp. 473–520.

Blevins, James P. (2006). “Passives and Impersonals”. In Brown, Keith (ed.-in-chief), Encyclopedia of

Language and Linguistics. Oxford-Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 236–239.

Farrell, Tim (1995). “Fading Ergativity? A Study of Ergativity in Balochi”. In Bennett, David C. et al.

(eds), Subject, Voice and Ergativity. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, pp. 218–262.

Jahani, Carina, and Korn, Agnes (2009). “Balochi”. In Windfuhr, Gernot (ed.), The Iranian Languages.

London and New York: Routledge, pp. 634–692.

Kitagawa, Chisato, and Lehrer, Adrienne (1990). “Impersonal Uses of Personal Pronouns”. Journal of

Pragmatics, 14, pp. 739–759.

Onishi, Masayuki (2001). “Introduction: Non-canonically marked subjects and objects: Parameters and

properties”. In Aikhenvald, Alexandra, Dixon, Robert M. W., and Onishi, Masayuki (eds), Noncanonical

Marking of Subjects and Objects. Amsterdam: Benjamins, pp. 1–51.

Siewierska, Anna (2008). “Ways of impersonalizing. Pronominal vs. verbal strategies”. In Gómez

González, María de los Ángeles, Mackenzie, J. Lachlan, and González Álvarez, Elsa M. (eds), Current

Trends in Contrastive Linguistics. Amsterdam: Benjamins, pp. 3–26.

Published by Orientalia Suecana LIX (2010)

Comments Off

Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Articles About Balochi language


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

(Research Paper)

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

Abdolghayoum Nematiniya

Abdolghayoum Nematiniya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1-Afrakhteh, Hassan. Social, Demographic and Cultural Change in Iranian Balochistan In: Jahani and Korn (eds.): The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 2008.
2-Baloch I. The problem of “Greater Baluchistan”: A study of Baluch. Publisher: Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden,Germany 1987.
3-Baloch M A Y. Inside Baluchistan: A Political Autobiography of His Highness Baiglar Baigi, Khan-e-Azam-XIII. Karachi: Royal Publisher.1975.
4-Baloch M S K. History of Baluch Race and Baluchistan. Quetta: Gosha-e-Adab, 1958.
5-Keiani M . Architecture, Craft and Religious Symbolism in Rural Areas of Baluchistan in Pakistan. PhD Thesis, Birmingham City University, UK. 2010
6-Bestor, J. The Kurds of Iranian Baluchistan: A Regional Elite. PhD Thesis, McGill University, Canada. 1979
7-Boedeker, Just. Cross-border Trade and Identity in the Afghan-Iranian Border Region. Bruns, Bettina. Judith Miggelbrink (Eds.) Subverting Borders Doing Research on Smuggling and Small- Scale Trade. VS Verlag Publication: Germany, 2012.
8-Bruns, Bettina. Judith Miggelbrink (Eds.) Subverting Borders Doing Research on Smuggling and Small-Scale Trade. VS Verlag Publication: Germany, 2012.
9-Donnan, H and Wilson M. Borders: Frontier of Identity, Nation and States. New York: Berg. Eastern border security worries Iran”, UPI, 14January, 2010.
URL: order Security worries Iran /UPI13631263491400/ library/ dawn/ news /pakis(October24, 2009).
10-Harrison, S. In Afghanistan’s shadow: Baluch nationalism and Soviet temptations. Publisher: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, 1981.
11-Hosseinbor, M. H. Iran & Its Nationalities: the Case of Baloch Nationalism. Pakistan, Karachi: Adab Publication, 2000.
12-Hughes, A. W. The Country of Balochistan: Its Geography, Topography, Ethnology, and History. Uk, London: Adamant Media Corporation, 2004.
13-Khan, A. H. Labor Sector Reforms in Balochistan. (Vol. VI), TA 4230-PAK: Preparing the Balochistan Resource Management Program. Islamabad: Asian Development Bank Publications, 2005.
14-Kundi, M A. Borderland Interactions: the case of Pak-Iranian Baloch. IPRI Journal IX, no.2 (Summer 2009): 90-105.
15-Malik, S. Regional Accounts of Balochistan: The Balochistan Economic. Collective for Social Science Research, Islamabad: ADB & WB ,2006.
16-Marri, Khuda Bakhsh. Searchlights on Balochs and Balochistan.Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1974
17-Matheson, S. The Tigers of Baluchistan. USA: Oxford University Press, 1999.
18-Mojtahedzadeh, P. The Small Players of the Great Game: The Settlement of Iran’s Eastern Borderlands and the Creation of
Afghanistan. UK: Routledge, 2010.
19-Nematiniya, A., B.,Karimzadeh. Social Change, Development and Modernity in Balochistan, Iran: A Sociological Analysis of Distinct Identity. Radix International Journal of Research in Social Science, 2013.
20-Pottinger, H. Travels in Beloochistan and Sinde. Karachi: Indus Publications, 1986.
21-Sepahi, A. Paper proceeding of conference on Balochistan History. Zahedan: Department of History, University of Sistan and Balochistan, 2008.
22-Shah, A. H. The volatile situation of Baluchistan- options to being in the streamline. Master thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, California, 2007.
23-Siasar, Gh. The Relations of the Baloch Tribal Chiefs, Clerics, and the Educated with Modern Government: 1906-1978. (Monasebat-e Sardaran, Ulema va Tahsilkardegan-e Baloch Ba Dolat-e Modern: 1285-1357). Iran, Zahedan: Taftan Publication. 2005
24-Taheri A R. The Sociopolitical Culture of Iranian Baloch Elites. Iranian Studies. 2013 Publisher: Routledge.
25-UNODC – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2009): World Drug Report 2009, URL: analysis/WDR-2009.html
26-United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Report, 2010
URL: omid=3f4a23d34&cid=49aea93a20&scid=49aea93a16&keywords=UN %20General%20Assembly%20Reports%20Relating%20UNHCR
Published by
Journal of Subcontinent Researches
University of Sistan and Baluchestan
Vol. 5, No.15, summer 2013

Comments Off

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



(Research Paper)

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Journal of Social and Political studies
Published Since 2000

CA&CC Press®


Comments Off

Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Baloch People


The Baloch Resistance Literature Against the British Raj

(Research Paper)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

addressed to a singer:

Keep singing, keep singing,

Let your melodies warm our blood.

Let the people of Balochistan feel ashamed.

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

Wake up, the World Revolution!

Let the genie be out of the bottle.

The rich savour chicken and the poor grass.

Destiny changes our fate;

Crush those leaders, who betray their people.

O beautiful singer! listen to this song of Freedom.

You, too, O Baloch listen!

Rise and open your eyes.

Eliminate this instant, eliminate,

Whoever is following the footprints of Changez?

Whether it is a Baloch Sardar or the Englishman,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand up, make yourself aware.

Stand up, Balochi tribes.

You are Chakar, you are Taimur.

To be without a country is not good.

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

Searching for a new life for the new Baloch,

Stand up, O Baloch,

So that all the people become one.

Now, they look like separate individuals.

May their blood be one.45

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

We will pull the Sardars out of the community,

These wolves and Nawabs, the bloodsuckers,

These biting black snakes,

These traitors to the Baloch nation.46

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

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

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

Bayu-o-Baloch, he said:

Come, O, Baloch; Come O Baloch,

I tell (you) something today.

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

A gang of robbers has attacked your land.

They have set afire your houses.

They have carried away your possessions,

But you are not aware.

Overpowered by a heavy sleep you have become unaware.

Yours hands and tongue have ceased to function.

It has fettered the manly lion.48

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

usurpers. He wrote:

Where are the skilled Mughal riders today?

Where are the brave (and) famous ones today?

Where are the heroes and Indian tigers?

Where are the fighters with Afghan daggers?

Where are the green scimitars of the Baloch?

Where are the Turks and the swift Tartars?

Let them come today to the fatherland,

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

The bitter infidels have taken our pure land.

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

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

How long will you sleep drunk on the bedding?

You see the Turks with curled moustaches.

They have tied swords and guns to their bodies.

And are going forward for dignity and fame.

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

The soldiers of the holy war have taken up weapons.

The state of Iran is in dust-storm,

See what the glory of Iran is like.

The sleeping Afghans are now alert,

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

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

“Prayer”, he says:

O my Creator! Give me courage to awaken

The Baloch from their deep slumber.

The Sardars have darkened the faces of the Baloch people.

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

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

Sardaron Say, he warned them:

Look at the horizon. Look at the thunderstorm.

The lightening has struck your boat.

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

Remember the old saying that you receive what you give.

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

Your sustainer had sailed from thousand of miles.

His ship is sunk and anchor is lost.

Your lord, Your master, whom you served,

Is leaving now and you better accompany him.

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

We are fed up with your presence.

Listen carefully; the British Sarkar is doomed for good.

It will never return, now the people will rule,

Before you fool,

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

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

This pure land will be ruled by the people.

None to prostrate, none to take the throne.

The lightening strikes again,

Do you hear the thunder, worry not,

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

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

I am chained without any fault,

Imprisoned without any conviction,

But listen Sardar! I am a son of Islam and

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

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

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

What amazing system you have given us,

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

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

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


The irony of fate with the Baloch,

Because of Jirga, eliminate the Baloch,

Strengthen Jirga, “Allah-o-Akhar”,

Has no place in Sardari system,

Disbelief and paganism shows its face in Jirga,

Patriotism and love for land becomes a crime,

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

Escape one cannot,

We are chained by Jirga,

Those who want the flowers to blossom in our desert,

Their hearts are pierced by the arrows of Jirga,

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

Straight from the Hell has come the penal code,

That is Jirga.

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

Absurd, absurd, those who say that,

God has decreed Jirga.58

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

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

The children cry of hunger,

The old men are homeless,

The mothers weep in hidden corners,

There is nobody even to borrow money from,

But Sardar is our ruler.

There is no end to cries of infants,

Lovers go to bed without food,

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

And my Sardar rules over us.

Without food, without clothes are the miserable people,

Wailing and crying is heard from every house,

But Sardar wants work without wages,

Be it a Gardner or a Bijjar.

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

Leachy creature,

Bones of ribs and skulls are his victims.

O brother! Through the instrument of Jirga.

Our Sardar rules us.

He creates feuds, banishes brotherhood,

Puts brother against brother,

And with both hands sweeps wealth through bribery.

O brother! He is our lord,

Amazing are the ways of my beloved land.

The people go hungry and naked,

But the jingle of money makes those parasites dance.

O brother! Sardar rules over us,

Our lords, these darlings of Crown,

Intoxicated with their power and wealth,

Why should they listen to our cries?

O brother! They are gods of this earth,

These Sardars rule us.60

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

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

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



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

3. Ibid., p.194.

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

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

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

8. Ibid., pp. 130-37.

9. Those who survive in the holy war.

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

12. Ibid., p.290.

13. Ibid., p.196.

14. Ibid.

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

17. Ibid., pp. 189-94.

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

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

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

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

23. Ibid., p.218.

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

27. Ibid., p.286.

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

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

30. Ibid.

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

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

34. Ibid.

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

37. Ibid., pp. 15-16.

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

40. Ibid.

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

Balochistan (Karachi: 1996), p.128.

43. Ibid., p.128.

44. Ibid., p.129.

46. Ibid., p.124.

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

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

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

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

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

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

51. Ibid., p.122.

52. Ibid., p.118.

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

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

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

59. Ibid., pp.44-45.

Comments Off

Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Balochi Classical Literature


Balochistan Factor in Pak-Iran Relations: Opportunities and Constraints

(Research Paper)

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

Sistan va Balochistan and Balochistan

Sistan va Balochistan and Balochistan


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abidi, A.H.H. (1977, August).Regional Cooperation for Development in Formative Phase. The Indian Journal of Politics.Vol.1.No.2.
Anti-Baloch’ wall on Pak-Iran border opposed. (2007, September 6). The News International. Athanasiadis, Leason. (2005, April 29).Stirring the Ethnic Pot. Asia Times.
Balochistan govt fails to deliver. (2010, April 8). The Nation.
Balochistan: Its Importance for Iran-Pakistan-India Gas pipe-line. (2010, March 23).Dawn
Bleuer, Christian. (2007, February 08).Central Asia’s Seaport: Gwadar or Chabahar.Dawn. (2005, November 12).
Burke, S.M. (1993). Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: A Historical Analysis. London: OUP.
Chasmilee, Sara. (2011 April 16).Iran Builds Security Fences along Pakistan’s Border. Al-Arabia News.
Donnan, Hastings and Wilson, Thomas M. (1999). Borders: Frontier of Identity, Nation and States. New York: Berg. Eastern border security worries Iran”, UPI, 14
January, 2010. /2010/01/14/Eastern-border- Security-worries-Iran/UPI-13631263491400/library/dawn/news/pakis… (October 24, 2009).
Escobar, Pepe. (2009, June 6).The Roving Eye. The shadow war in Balochistan. Asia Times.
Global, Yale. (2005, February).A Tale of Two Ports: Gwader display Chinese-Indian Rivalry in the Arabian Sea. Iran Focus, Vol.18, No, 2.
Haider, Ziad. (2005, Winter-Spring).Baluchis, Beijing, and Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. George Town Journal of International Affairs.
Harrison, Selig S. 2009, December 28. Tehran’s Biggest Fear. The New York Tim.
Harsh V. Pant. (2009). Pakistan and Iran: A Dysfunctional Relationship. Middle East Quarterly. Vol.16, No 2.
Howard, Roger. (2007). Iran Oil: The New Middle East Challenge to America. London: I.B.Tauris.
Iran calls on Pakistan to stem border terror activities. (2010, January 14). Xinhuanet.http:
: // Iran: Hidden agenda behind border instability. (2010, January 14). Press TV.
Iran’s Interior Minister arrives in Pakistan. (2009, October 23).Dawn
Iran to Build Fence along Pakistan Border: Iran-Pakistan Border Dispute. (2007, March 1).India Defence.
Juli A. MacDonald. (2003). Rethinking India’s and Pakistan’s Regional Intent. The
National Bureau of Asian Research Analysis. Vol.14, No.4.
Kasi, Amanullah. (2007, May 7). Debate on Iran border wall disallowed. Dawn.
Kundi, Masoor Akbar. (2002, June 9).Selling like hot cakes. Dawn Magazine.
Malik, Afzal. (2004, November 23). Pak-Iran Ink Twining of Balochistan with Seistan. Balochistan Times.
Marri, Khuda Bakhsh. (1974). Searchlights on Balochs and Balochistan.Karachi: Royalk Book Company.
Martin, Lewis W. (2001, May 13).Iran-Pakistan Border Barrier.Dawn.
Mazari,Shireen.( 2000, Spring). Iran-Pakistan cooperation in a New Strategic Environment Strategic Studies, Vol. XXII, No.1.
Najeeb, Novaria. (2005) Journey Through Iran. Islamabad: Pictorial Printers.
Neill, Alexander.(2010,February).Towards Cross-Border Security. London: The Royal United Service Institute (RUSI).
Pakistan Observer. (2003, January 17).
Pandean S.G. (2005). Energy Trade as a Confidence-Building Measure between India
and Pakistan: A Study of the Indo-Iran trans-Pakistan Pipeline Project.Contemporary South Asia, Vol.14, No.3.
Rizvan Zeb, (2003, October 22). “Gwadar and Chabahar: Competition or Complimentarily,” Central Asia- Caucasus Institute Analyst,
Shahzada, Zulfiqar. (2007, May).New Pawn Old Game. The Herald, Vol.38, No 5.
Shahzada, Zulfiqar. (2007, September).Border Position. The Herald, Vol.38, No.9.
Tensions Rise between Pakistan and Iran. (2009, October 19). CBS News.
The Express Tribune. (2011, September 21).
The News International. (2011, April16).
Wiig, Audun Kolstad. Islamist opposition in the Islamic Republic. (2009, July). Jundullah and the spread of extremist Deobandism in Iran. Norwegian Defence Research Establishment.


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


Comments Off

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



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

Javed Iqbal
 Lecturer, Pashto Department
University of Balochistan Quetta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments Off

Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Balochistan


Status of Women in the Baloch Society

(Research Paper)

Panah Baloch
Muhammad Afzal Qaisarani

The Baloch women, constitute like any other social group, about half of population. The Baloch women, as well in all communities, are more illiterate than men. Like other social groups, the Baloch women share problem related reproductive health. When primary and secondary subsistence activities are counted, women work more than men. The connectional framework to analyse women’s status comprise the seven roles women play in life and work:- parental, conjugal, domestic, kin, occupational, community and as an individual. In order to appraise the social status of women in these diverse ecological areas, the findings have been divided into subsequent categories:- (a) a girl; daughter, (b) mother, (c) married women and (d) common women. Role of women not only of importance economic activities, but her role in non-economic activities is equally important. The Baloch women work very hard, in some cases even more than men. However, in their own world women have a freedom, and self-expression. With the onset of developmental programmes economic changes are take place but Baloch women remains traditional in their dress, language, tools and resources. The Baloch women play very important and historical role in the field of politics, social, economy, literature, health etc. The structure of the society is being changing due to emerging the Baloch people from nomadic to semi-nomadic and agro-pastoral. Modernization is bringing changes, which affect man and women differently. The rapid changes and modernization in the structure of society not only bringing positive impacts but it is affecting and damaging constructive values, traditions and norms, prevails in Baloch society from the centuries, which are badly affecting the respect, honour and dignity of women. There is need of incorporation and promotion of constructive values, traditions and norms with recent rapid changes, revival of positive aspects and protection of the status women in the light of historical role and importance of women.

Baloch as a nation historically belongs to nomadic, semi- nomadic and a pastoral life style. They used to raise livestock as primary enterprise for their livelihoods, so the migration from highland to lowland was a permanent phenomenon in search of fodder for their animals. Their existence is based on collective, mutual interests, and losses. Baloch people have their own characteristics; like any other nation in terms of art, music, morals, and customs. Baloch have it own unique language and identity. Although Baloch have a history of a nomadic way of life but with the passage of time they in transitory process in settling themselves in modern life. Adoption of modern life influenced their norms and culture as they merge in a new society. However, educated and middle class generations carrying their own norms and values. Historically and socially Baloch belong to a secular school of thoughts. Hospitality is one of the best virtues among Baloch people. For instance, when an enemy entered in their house or huts for seeking protection, they are bound to give them protection and treat them with honor. There are many such stories in Baloch history; they gave the protection of their enemies. For hospitality, Baloch nomads, a century ago, has a separate tent for their guest and those whom are well off they have guest houses in Balochistan. Baloch poetry is one of the most beautiful poetry and one of the oldest in the World. In Baloch culture poetry has always been combined with music. Balochi music and folklore has been passed from generation to generation as a valuable art. Balochi handicrafts are world-renowned – be it Baloch carpets and rugs or embroidery. The Baloch are very hospitable, nice and friendly. They are generally intelligent, learned, well-informed, initiated, cultivated, socially accomplished and politically attentive. Culturally, they are rich and self-dependent.
Regardless of being a tribal society, Baloch consider their women as full partners. Baloch women have always played a major role being housewife, working in agriculture field for centuries during the cultivation period – nomadic women can help graze the flocks and much more. Women take care of feeding the livestock, cleaning the abodes and even in providing traditional care of diseases. They further involved in milking and milking process, poultry, and egg selling. Women have significant role in the development of livestock sector in Balochistan (Shafiq, M., 2008). Baloch women have helped their men during the war by treating their injuries and providing support in many ways. For centuries, Baloch do not have any segregation of sexes nor did they have veil in nomadic life. On the other hand, as respect of women in Baloch society, if she interferes during tribal feuds between two warring tribes – both parties will stop fighting. Baloch women have taken the responsibility of teaching their children moral principle and values. Particularly, killing women in Baloch culture is considered covertness. The role of Baloch women through history is of times oversimplified and misinterpreted through the lens of recent history for which there are far more records. A number of examples are on the record of our history where women have been assisted the rulers in their affairs or have exhibited tremendous intellectual efforts for the reform and betterment of the society.
Respect of mother and sister is mandatory in Baloch society. In old age, special care provided to mother. I personally observed that when old mother is sick, her son takes it in his hands. Her words never been ignored. In the tribes status of mother and wife of tribal chief is high. Tribal men have any complain against his chief then he approach the mother and wife of tribal chief then they try to provide justice to him. Baloch women are loyal to her husband. If her husband was killed, then she trained and asks her son for revenge ( Shah, 2008).
In the sixteenth century the Portuguese invaded Persian Gulf region, including the Baloch coast of Makran. Mir Hamal Jiand, a chief of Kalmat in the Makran resisted against then and finally arrested by them and they offered to marry with European girl. He refused to do so and he loves his native girls. Baloch poetess Bibi Khanun expresses his view about difference of Baloch and European girl, in her poetry ( Naseer, 1976):
On the score that they do not wash their eyes,
Nor pronounce the name of God;
They devour handfuls of dates with flies,
Their shirts are cut above the knees,
And the naval is exposed to view l;
Neither their address to God is decent,
Nor (do they) recite the Muslim way prayer;
Hamal loves his native girls having intoxicating eyes,
They wear shirts and trousers,
And cover their heads with shawls.

Before starting a discussion or any generalization of the role of Women in Baloch society, it is important to know the factors that help in interpreting the status that they enjoy in their own family.

Cultural Background
A woman life sphere consists of child to motherhood. These all stages have been discussed in the following chapter to give better understanding to the readers.

Girl Child
Girl child in Baloch tribe is called “Janekh” or Neyanrin”. Baloch too have son preference but don not discriminate against girls by female infanticide or sex determination tests. The elder sister is like mother where as they have love and respect for younger brother and sisters. Boys and girls don’t have similar inheritance laws. Baloch women do not have similar inherit land, except in matrilineal societies or under special circumstances. Nonetheless they are not abused, hated, or subjected to strict social norms. Girls are free to participate in social events, dancing and other family recreational programmes. Girls are not considered as burden because of their economic value. There is no dowry on marriage. However in some areas father of bridegroom pay a bride price in the shape of Lab to the father of girl. When there is a marriage by exchange, in which brother and sister in the family may marry a sister and brother belonging to other family, no bride price is paid. Girls care for younger siblings, perform household jobs and work in the fields with their brothers. The girls are trained to be good housewives and motherhood, together with behavioral pattern that are consistence with obedience, being ladylike and expected passive. A song sung by girl playing the game ( Dames, 1988).
The girls call you (so-and-so) to come close pleasant Gumbaz
(so-and-so) will not come, girls.
She is busy in needful work.
She is sewing her brother’s trousers.
She is sewing her father’s coat.
She is making a peg for her uncle’s bow.
She is embroidering a bodice for her mother.
She is making a close-fitting jacket for herself.

The education is a fundamental right that provides opportunities for socio-economic uplift. The girl child is deliberately denied and the future opportunity of to all development. The reasons associated with not educating girl child are financial constraints, early marriages, submissiveness, motherhood, and parental perception of education on women’s worldview. In absence of hired labour the girls, work at home and fields is of utmost importance and all considered the fact that eventually the girls have to get married and start their families. Where parents are enthusiastic about educating their daughters, they enroll their daughters in school but rarely allow them to complete their schooling. The grills study up to primary or middle level and get married. Sometimes girls are withdrawn from school after three or four years (when they have learned to write their names and able to read letter) to work, with preference for education given to boys. There is major gender disparity, in terms of more limited educational opportunities available for rural girls. Urban girls probably have benefited most from increased access to educational facilities.

Married Women
In Balochi, the wife called as “Banokh, Loghi, Halkh and Khad. Baloch behave to their wife well. Married women in the study of area carryout all types of work at home as well as outside that are required of mixed agro-pastoral economy. Apart from looking after the house, children and cattle, major portion of the agriculture is done by women who do planting, weeding, hoeing and harvesting and other indigenous Kasheedakari. Child rearing is also the responsibility of the women. There was dowry on marriage in tribal system but with the passage of time and spreading out of education in the society, the dowry system is discouraged. However in some areas father of bridegroom pay a bride price in the shape of Lab to the father of girl. Basically lab was to provide the social security to the girl. The parents of girl return back the money in shape of cloths, ornaments and other household items. However, exchange marriage is still prevailing in which brother and sister in the family may marry a sister and brother belonging to other family, no bride price is paid.
In the study of society monogamous, polygamous and polyandrous marriages are prevalent. There may be premature death, marital discard or infertility that threatens family continuation. Among some communities, it is socially expected and considered desirable that after to the death of her husband a women should marry her brother-in-law, but the women has the final say and she have right to refuse. She has also choice to marry any other person but mostly observed that she look after her kids and live with family of her late husband.
Divorce is uncommon among the Baloch society but practiced in urban areas and lower classes among whom it is given on trivial grounds, but seldom in the case of the dominant races. Both husband and wife possess the right of divorce. If the women desires divorce she loses her dower; if husband divorces her pay the “deferred haqmaher” amount (District Gazetteers, 2004).

Mother also plays a critical role in career building of her child, as mother best knows the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses in her kids and can better guide her children to choose the right profession. Mothers are the one who mould their children into bright, beautiful, pure and strong citizens. Mother in Baloch society is called “Mazh or mat”. Baloch mother have taken the responsibility of teaching their children moral principle and values. Through lullabies (loly), she teaches his son(s) and daughter(s) about the culture and tribal norms of life. In domestic affairs, the value of mother is as a king. Mother in Baloch society have strong hold decision making in the family affairs i.e. marriage of girls and boys. The son respects his mother a lot. Every kind of work is done by the advice of mother. If mother and wife quarrel, son stands by his mother, even though mother is at fault. Some lullabies (Hushabies) of mother for her boy and girl child is hereby indicated from the Book “ Popular Poetry of Baloches” M. Longworth Dames published by Balochi Academy, Quetta in 1988.
1. Hushaby to my little boy;
Sweet sleep to my son.
I will kill chicken and take of skin,
I must have a chicken’s skin.
I will make little skin bag of its legs and
Send it to my mother-in-law,
A bed of gasht-grass
I will spread in the shade of cliff.
A skin-bag full of yellow ghi,
And flesh of fat-tailed sheep,
Shall be the food of my son.
Hushaby baby;
May grow to be an old man.

2. Nazi has pitched her little tent near the boundaries of Gumbaz,
And the feathery tamarisk of Syahaf, Her grandfather’s grazing ground.
She calls to her father and her uncle, and her brother’s companions,
Fair to view, and her uncle’s tiger-like sons,
And her aunt’s well-trained children’s come all of you,
Into my tent, for the clouds have gathered overhead,
And perhaps your fine weapons and your quiver and arrows will be damp.
The shameless slave girls have gone away,
The cows have suckled their calves in the jungle,
And Gujar has driven away the herds of camels.
Lullaby, I sing to my little girl.

Common Women
Baloch is bashful nation and they respect the woman. If any male is going on the way and he sees any woman coming from opposite side, they put down their eyes. Baloch tribes consider it respectable to guard the respect of others. If any woman is in Bahot (refugee) of any tribe or person, they consider it their duty to guard her and its property. The history of Gohar (Bahot of Mir Chakar), the famous Baloch character during Chakar Khan Rind’s period which became the reason of Rind and Lashar 30 years historical feud and Sammi, a widow (Bahot of Doda, brother of Balach), becomes historical Balach and Bevargh long battle, are shows that there was respect of women and she right of personal property even in that medieval period for the women of Balochistan. Both women were living independently in the Baloch society when their property herds were killed and looted by a group of other tribal man, then long wars started for the consequences of hurting bahot.

Less work has been done on Baloch women’s role in the society. The authors took the challenge to document the role of Baloch women in the various spheres of life. The thematic concern of this study was to;
- Document the role of Baloch women in the society,
- Diagnose the women role in various sphere of practical life, and
- List the opportunities and problems encounter to them in their practical life.


Prior to conduct the social survey, secondary resources were explored to know the status of a Baloch working women. In various stages of the study, Baloch working women were approached to know their point of view about their working environment, opportunities, experiences and finally list problems when a woman enter in a job.

Baloch society generally contains nomadic, semi-nomadic and sedentary segments. Nomadism, which was one of the basic elements of Baloch socio-economic organization, retains its presence in Balochistan. Recent reports indicate that about 5% of the population in Pakistani in townships overlapping the old tribal structure of Baloch society. This Balochistan is living a mobile life. The other segment of Baloch society can be termed agro-pastoral nomads, which are roughly 15% of the population. The vast majority of contemporary Baloch live in the villages and small townships, which are scattered in the sparsely populated Balochistan. The recent development of agricultural infrastructure in several parts of Balochistan has produced a class of small feudal and small entrepreneurs in township overlapping the old tribal structure of Baloch society. This segment of society is increasingly absorbing the nomadic and semi-nomadic segments of the Baloch society as due political and ecological happening, their mode of survival is increasingly becoming untenable (Dashti, 2008).
Some working women are interviewed and they expressed that, they are facing troubles with their colleagues’ behavior. They pointed out that their colleagues who are not aware of Balochi culture and norms due to their urban background creating more troubles. It has been observed that a woman in tribal system is more protected than other societies. Combine or extended family system does not allow husband to humiliate his wife right. This is the moral responsibility of either household head or elder female members to intervene between them to solve the concern disagreement if any. Gradually this system is turn down considering many social and economic stresses.
The rapid changes and modernization in the structure of society not only bringing positive impacts but he is affecting and damaging constructive values, traditions and norms, prevails in Baloch society from the centuries, which are badly affecting the respect, honour and dignity of women. There is need of incorporation and promotion of constructive values, traditions and norms with recent rapid changes and protection of the status women in the light of historical role and importance of women.

Women’s Role in Political Sphere
There is a general perception about Baloch women that the Baloch man not allowed their wives to go outside and take part in any social, economical activities but this is not right perception. History shows that Baloch women are very much dynamic in all parts of their social life. Baloch women plays vigorous role in the history. When study the history there are so many Baloch women who were found in the social and political sphere. The role women’s empowerment for a just society was highlighted in the Beijing Conference (1995). Women in Baloch society were not only involved in the political affairs of Baloch rulers but they plays active role in the many battle field and led the battalion of tribal army from the centuries. Bibi Banari, the sister of Mir Chakar Khan, Chief of the Baloch tribes, led the battalion of tribal army in war against Dehli in late 15th century and won the throne for Mughal emperor Humayun (Mengal, 1968). Bibi Beebo the sister of Khan Mir Ahmad Khan, Khan of Kalat (1666-1696) during battle against Baruzai of Sibi, feels his brother is very tense after many unsuccessful attacks and ask for permission to play her role. She led the battalion of tribal army and attacked on her enemy and martyred near Dadhar during battle (Naseer, 2010). After some time of the martyred of Bibi Beebo, the daughter Mir Ahmad Khan, Bibi Bano led the tribal army and attacked on Baruzai of Sibi and won the war and occupied the fort of enemy. She was awarded title of Sherzal (brave women). Mother of Naseer Khan Azam (1750-1794) Bibi Maryam during the rule of her son led the women and with wife of other tribal elite took part in many battles. They treat the injured and supply arms and ration to the fighters in the battle field. Wife of Malik Deenar Khan Gichki, ruler of Makran, Bibi Roz Khatoon was a noble lady and took part in the many tribal battles with her husband (Aseer, 2005). After death of, Mir Pahar Khan, Sradar of Lasbella in 1742, his widow Bibi Chhaguli become ruler of State. However Jam Ali Khan was opposed her and tried to take over the state affairs but he becomes unsuccessful after many efforts and she rules on the state till her death in well manner (Lehri, 1955). Bibi Zainab was sister of Mir Mahmood Khan was a people loving and daring lady. She was against her brother’s policies and wants make Mir Mustafa Khan as a Khan of Kalat but her youngest brother Mir Muhammad Rahim was opposed her and killed Mustafa Khan. When she hear the sad news and together a big army at place Panjnama (Gandwah)and fight with him and killed Mir Mustafa Khan ( Naseer, 2010). Daughter of Khan Mehrab Khan, Bibi Allah Dini was chairs the Deewan (meeting) of tribal chiefs, advised them and decided the tribal feuds (Aseer, 2005).. Bibi Ganjan wife of Mir Mehrab Khan Shaheed was not only advisor of her husband but was his friend in the many battlefields and took part in many tribal wars as a comrade of her husband. She also took part in battle against British rulers on 13-11-1839 (Aseer, 1978). Bibi Mehnaz was daughter of Mir Azad Khan Nausherwani, Ruler of Kharan and married with Mir Naseer Khan II, Khan of Kalat. When 1857 Mir Naseer Khan was died and his brother Mir Khudadad Khan becomes ruler wants to marry with her, she refused to do so and goes to her father’s home at Kharan. After sometimes Mir Khudadad Khan suddenly attacked on Kharan with a big army of tribes. Ruler of Kharan when feels he is not capable to fight with him and goes to Afghanistan for help. But Bibi Mehnaz form her fort face the army of Khan of Kalat and on seventh day Khan of Kalat finally agreed for ceasefire (Aseer, 1978). Another Baloch woman Gul Bibi from Iranian border area also plays historical role, when 1916 Indian Government appointed General Dyer to curb the border baghawat. General Dyer with his tactics controls over on Baloch sardars and occupied on the forts. Gul Bibi wife of Shahsawar learned about control of General Dyer on Khawash Fort, she abuses her Sardar Jeeand and her husband on their loosing. She sent gift to General Dyer and meets with him, after talks she freed her husband and other prisoners ( Naseer, 1979).
Above indicated all women belongs to the rulers families and their efforts have been reported but I think there was large numbers of Baloch women, they plays major role but remain unknown in chapters of history. Women in Baloch society still playing important role in the social and political sphere and becomes part of upcoming history. This shows that women have more importance in public affairs and decision-making in Baloch society.

Women’s Role in Economic Sphere
In traditional societies which lack of market system, the business of everyday living is usually carried on gender division of labour (Illich, 1982). In the study of area, the division of labour is mainly between herding and agriculture. In all other tasks concerned with the rural life, such as handicrafts, house building, water collection, food and work on boundary walls, there is division between men’s and women’s work. However, the boundaries are not so clearly marked, as there is overlapping and deviations from rule. There as well as cases where rule is inflexible and times when changes.
Major portion of agriculture is done by the women who do planting, weeding, hoeing and harvesting in the fields adjacent to houses or far off fields. The other activities of women include looking after house activities, children and animals. Food processing and cooking is women’s job. It is the women who with assistance of children are largely responsible for the cattle, water, fuel and fodder. Women take care of feeding the livestock, cleaning the abodes and even in providing traditional care of diseases. They further involved in milking and milking process, poultry, and egg selling. This permits them considerable time away from home and village; they are free to talk to whom so ever they please, male or female, of the area. As a consequence, communication among women and between women is as high as it is among men.
The embroideries work of Baloch women are highly artistic and enjoy the considerable local and international reputation and source of earning of the women. A variety of pattern of embroidery is worked, and almost everyone wear some garments which has embroidery upon it. The parts of the dress which are generally embroidered are the front packet and sleeves of the pashk (women trouser), the end of men and women drawer, caps and coats. Shawls, Bed sheets and carpet badges are made. The needle work of Balochi women is very fine. There are several descriptions, which are known kantlo/katlo, kallah, Gagha, Adengo, Siho, bandola, bunhi, siahkash kopgo, Hasht Adengoen jeeg, Karch, Dahdari, Nagul, Zehgani Jamug, Cheeno, Kah yabooti, Charen Adeng, Lolowali, Zorka, Chum-o-srumag, mosam, kapogo mosam, Cheenuk or Daz, bakkali, tattuk, dagardoch, robar, chilko, pravez, pariwar, ohakan etc.
Baloch women are very strong and courageous in the handling of environmental imperatives as can be demonstrated in the trekking and work pattern under the several limitations of the harsh environment. Several studies dealing with pastoral societies indicates that the portion of women in such societies is not very high because the actual care of the livestock and handling of economic affairs is entirely a male domain. However, among some communities do not directly help in handling of livestock, they look after household work. Women play an important role in their household economy. They work in most operations of all sectors of the local economy and for the longer hours each day than man. In addition to the domestic and reproductive activities associated with household maintenance, they also collect and gather free goods especially fuel, fodder and water. Women operate effectively in most economic and social institutions, participating in the both local and migrant labour activities.
A young lady was approached to get her point of view on the subject. Actually she is working woman and supports her family. She mentioned that working women have certain problems while working in male dominated society and the same I am facing. Actually males have duel face; once he is in home, he pay respect his sister as sister, mother as mother and daughter as daughter as they deserve but away from house he thinks that every women is corrupt. They have little access to, and exercise limited control over resources; and few are free from threat and violence at the hands of their husbands. Working for wages is not necessarily an indicator of autonomy. It is further noticed that role of women in the economy was not considered at official level also. It is surprise to mention here that women’s contribution in GDP not indicated at all.

Women’s Role in Social Sphere
Role of Baloch women is not only of important in the economic activities, but her role in non-economic activities is equally important. Formation and continuity of family hearth and home is the domain of women. Women’s roles as wives, mother, and organizer are the basic foundations of other dimensions of social life have extreme importance. Among rural population, as men are out for pastoral duties, the socialization of children automatically becomes mother’s business, in the early years of their life. The role woman in child birth, funerals and fairs and festivals is an important part of rural life. In the Baloch society women are carrier of traditional information in the absence of written record. They are crucial actors in the preservation and dissemination of such knowledge. They are not only competent food producers and house makers but are transmitters of rich local oral traditions.
There is a large number of Baloch women are playing her role in social sphere as politician, educationist, doctor, engineer, journalist, anchor, social and development worker and taking part socio-economic development of Baloch society.

Women’s Role in literature Sphere
As stated in the quotation by C.S. Lewis, literature not only describes reality but also adds to it. Yes, literature is not merely a depiction of reality; it is rather a value-addition. Literary works are portrayals of the thinking patterns and social norms prevalent in society. They are a depiction of the different facets of common man’s life. Classical literary works serve as a food for thought and a tonic for imagination and creativity. Exposing an individual to good literary works, is equivalent to providing him/her with the finest of educational opportunities. On the other hand, the lack of exposure to classic literary works is equal to depriving an individual from an opportunity to grow as an individual in the society.

Literature plays a pivotal role in molding one’s thoughts, ideas and, above all, the way of life. It also helps in cultivating moderation and tolerance in the society. Similarly, literature available to a child leaves drastic impact on his/her mind and also help set the course of his/her future. Besides, it not only broadens the horizons of their imagination but also helps them in understanding their society. As, very well said by a wise man-“The mother’s lap is the first school for every child”. Baloch women have great contribution in the character building of child and literature, being mother she sing lullaby for son and daughter being grand-mother. She sings wedding songs. These are unrecognized contribution of Baloch women in the promotion of culture and literature at the initial level of life.
The loly (Lullaby) from of poetry is the function of female folk, and the versifier of lullaby, are therefore, mainly females. The art of poetry versification by the female folk is deemed most opprobrious in the Baloch society. We seldom hear the name of a Baloch poetess. It is through this branch of poetry ‘loly’ that poetess express her poetic instincts and ambitions, which are mainly devoted and dedicated to the newly born child. We can name this form of verse as the ‘poetry of cradle, foe when child is placed in the cradle, the mother starts singing lullaby. ‘Halo’ which is celebrated by the females of the family and tribe at the time of marriage ceremonies and festivals. The ‘ Halos’ are generally versified by women gifted with poetic art, and such, the names of versifiers of ‘halo’ and ‘Loly’ are unknown, unmentioned and unheeded. We reproduce a lullaby ‘ Loly’ which clearly manifests the burning zeal and impatient ambition of Baloch mother who pray for boon, regarding her infants son to become a great lover, a warrior and a highway man in the flower of life ( Baloch, 1984):

Alam Din, thou art of young man,
Dressed with white garments,
Fasten thine six war weapons,
The shield, musket and the dagger;
Gird the bow around thy shoulder,
Take the trenchant sword of Shiraz;
Beguile the youthful girls of Jat tribe,
Give them as gift the fine cloths of Dera Ghazi Khan;
Present them red-coloured cloths,
(Ask them) that ye will give them money in cash;
Feed thee with neat of young goat,
(Also) supply them sugar-candy brought from city;
When moon-faced girl of Jat feels pleased,
Then she will ask thee;
When the sun places it knees on earth (a little before sunset),
Bends on the top of the mountains,
(And) the stars shine in the darkness of the night;
(Then) at that time saddle thine sprightly horse,
Mount on the boastful steed;
Come near to my residence,
Tie the horse with the tree of tamarisk;
Sit and keep waiting under the tree,
When Punnun (her husband),
Starts going towards the cowshed;
Drives the buffaloes,
(And) the maid-servant, old and lean like saw,
Enjoy a full sleep;
Then slowly and step by step,
I will come to see thy graceful form and figure;
Will sit together with pleasing heart,
And pleasing manner,
When the morning star arises;
(Then) leave me to go away,
Perhaps the coward Punnun may come back,
Perchance the vulgar maid-servant too awake from sleep;
Ye should (then) return back to join the,
The graceful assembly of the Rinds,
The chief will send a messenger,
To bring the highway-man ‘Alam Din’;
I have to wage war against the bitter enemy,
The men of Dajal and Harrand;
We have to comb a formidable force,
Will array in fight thousands of our warriors;
Will ransack the headquarter of bloody enemy;
I sing lullaby for my son,
May god accept my prayers?

Hani, Mehnaz, Seemuk and Girannaz are not only major player in the Balochi literature but their poetry is evidence of their sadness. In the culture of previous era there were no prohibition and ban on women to express point of view through poetry. They were suitable environment regarding freely expression of their feelings (Buzdar, 2012). Lollaby, wedding songs and folk lore are a great literary creation of Baloch women, despite being part of tribal society; women of Balochistan have been expressing themselves through the medium of folk and wedding songs. Women want to raise their voice against the discriminatory attitude of tribal society, express her difficulties and negative attitude of society through her poetry. Role of the Baloch women i.e. Rabia Khuzdari, Hani, Simuk, Mehnaz, Saddo, Mehruk, Shireen, Bibi Khanun, Taj Bano, Bibi Gohar Malik,Umtul-Wajid, Neelam Momal, Abida Dashti, Ain Ain Dashti, Banul Dashtiari, Tahira Ehsas Jatak, Dr, Ambreen Menagal, Jahanara Tansum, Amna Yusf Maoj, Naela Qadri, Uzma Qadri, Naushen Qambrani, Saeeda Hassan, Mah Jabeen Baloch, Fouzia Baloch, Humera Sadaf, Sabeeha Karim, Mehlab Naseer in literature never been ignored.

Women’s Role in Health Sphere
Women have always been central in providing medical care, whether offering remedies in the home, nursing or acting as family healer and herbalist. The elderly women in Baloch household are often specialists in the knowledge and techniques of popular treatments. They have some knowledge of home remedies for numbers of problems. In sometime settlements, an elderly female of one household acts by default as the sole herbalist, masseur, and traditional midwife (Baluk) for the whole settlement. These women collect different wild herbs from the fields or surrounding jugle. Medicinal herbs are also acquired from the wandering herbalists, who trade raw medicines. These women healer transfer their expertise to their offspring or daughter-in-laws. The remedies used frequently at home could include herbs and plants that are easily available. Elaborate preparations for making home remedies (pounding, grinding, mixing and cooking) are also carried out by these elderly women. They often specialize in certain diseases for which they have specific treatments. Elderly women are also expert in extracting foreign bodies or fish bones and thorns from body. The majority of traditional midwives (Baluk) would also have knowledge of giving herbal medicine and massage (Dashti, 2008).

In practice, the herbalists working among the Baloch, besides administering medicinal herbs also use many animal extracts for treating their patients but the foundation of their knowledge is concerned with herbal therapy. An herbalist prepares medicines from various plant parts such as roots, shoots, bark, leaf, flower, seed, and fruit. The patient is also advised on diet. The herbalist makes a detail enquiry of the type of sickness or suffering from the patient. The color of eye and skin is checked. The herbalist also enquires from the patient type of food he or she consumed during the illness. Generally, all herbalists are expert masseurs. Use of mustard oil is common among the herbalist. Many of them also use pain- relieving ointments available at town chemist. (Dashti, 2008). Women are also involved in the traditional care livestock in the Baloch society.

Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behavior that frightens, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
It is reality that women in Baloch society work more than men and facilities are not available for them but study of Baloch women history is clarifying domestic violence is exist in Baloch society like other society but its shape is different because of values, tradition and norms of the society. Rapid changes in the structure of tribal society are increasing domestic violence like any other society.

Honor Killings
A form of gender-based violence, an honour killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. The killing is viewed as a way to restore the reputation and honour of the family (Goldstein, Matthew 2002). Siah Kari (Honor Killing) is an act of murder, in which a person is killed for his or her actual or perceived immoral behavior. Such “immoral behavior” may take the form of alleged marital infidelity, refusal to submit to an arranged marriage, demanding a divorce, perceived flirtatious behaviour and being raped. Suspicion and accusations alone are many times enough to defile a family’s honour and therefore enough to warrant the killing of the woman.
History of honour killing in Baloch society indicated in the fifteenth and sisteenth century. The principle of Siahkari (honour killing) in its present form was not initially a part of Balochimayar. According to the epic poetry of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, Siahkari was punishable under the law of talaq (divorce). Many Baloch warrior poets were involved in adultery, which can be noticed from the war ballads. The Baloch society of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was similar to European societies (Khan, 1987).According Arab writer Salman Tajir, honour killing is available in the Sindh from the early centuries. Discussing marriage traditions, he writes “If any man done adultery with a women, then both man and woman should be punished with the death penalty, it is mandatory in the whole country” (Memon, 1984). The limited cases of most honour killings is being reported from the southern parts of Balochistan bordering area with Sindh and Punjab, where large numbers of the cases are being reported in every year. Above mentioned statement indicating that the honour killing is transferred from the other surrounding societies in to Baloch society.

In order to appraise the social status of women in these diverse ecological areas, the findings have been divided into subsequent categories; (a) a girl; daughter, (b) mother, (c) married women and (d) common women, e) working women etc. Role of women not only of importance in economic activities, but her role in non-economic activities is equally important. The Baloch women work very hard, in some cases even more than men. However, in their own world women have a freedom, and self-expression. With the onset of developmental programmes economic changes are under way but Baloch women remains traditional in their dress, language, tools and resources. The Baloch women play very important and historical role in the field of politics, social, economy, literature, health etc.
Enrollment of female children in primary, middle, high, college and universities are enormously increasing in urban areas. Rural areas are still behind due to non-availability of girls schools in small villages. At present one can see that Baloch females are working in government and private sector. This improvement will bring healthier change in young generations.
Women’s role as wives, mother, and organizer are the basic foundation of other dimensions of social life has extreme importance. Among rural population, as men are out for pastoral duties, the socialization of children automatically becomes mother’s business, in the early years of their life. The role woman in child birth, funerals and fairs and festivals is an important part of rural life. In the Baloch society women are carrier of traditional information in the absence of written record.
This has been noticed while interviewing young females that working in offices are facing troubles with their colleagues’ behavior. Actually they are not aware of Balochi culture and norms due to their urban background. It has been observed that a woman in tribal system is more protected than other societies. Combine or extended family system does not allow husband to humiliate his wife right. This is the moral responsibility of either household head or elder female members to intervene between them to solve the concern disagreement if any. Gradually this system is turn down considering many social and economic stresses.
The structure of the Baloch society is being changing, due to emerging the population from nomadic to semi-nomadic and agro-pastoral. The rapid changes and modernization of society, not only bringing positive impacts but it is affecting and damaging constructive values, traditions and norms; prevails in Baloch society from the centuries, which are badly affecting the respect, honour and dignity of women. There is need of incorporation constructive values, traditions and norms with recent rapid changes, revival and promotion of their positive aspects and protection of the status women in the light of historical role and importance of women.

Asser Abdul Qadir Shahwani, 1978. Aeena-e-Kharan. Balochi Academy, Quetta: 125
Asser Abdul Qadir Shahwani, 1978. Balochi Dunya, Multan
Asser Abdul Qadir Shahwani, 2005. Dialy Jang, Quetta:05-03-2005
District Gazetteer, 2004. District Gazetteer Series. Directorate of Archives, Balochistan, Quetta
Goldstein, Matthew (2002). “The Biological Roots of Heat-of-Passion Crimes and Honor Killings”. Politics and the Life Sciences 21 (2): 31
Illich, I 1982, Gender. Pantheon Books, New York
Innayatullah Khan, 1987. The problems of greater Balochistan. Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GMBH, Stuttgart.
M. L. Dames, 1988. Popular Poetries of the Baloches. Balochi Acedemy, Quetta:184
Mehmood. A. Shah, 2008. Aapbeeti Balochistan Beeti. Classic Publishers, Lahore.:214
Memon Abdul Hameed Sindhi, 1987. Sindh je Tarikh ja wikhrial warq. Mehran Academy, Karachi:68
Mir Gul Khan Naseer, 1990. Balochistan ki Kahani Shairon Ki Zibani. Balochi Academy, Quetta: 257
Mir Gul Khan Naseer, 1990. Balochistan ke Srahadi Chapamar. Mr. Reprints, Quetta:172-181
Mir Gul Khan Naseer, 2010. Tarikh-e-Balochistan. Kalat Publishers, Quetta: 20-21/117
Malik Muhmmad Saleh Lehri, 1955. Balochistan One unit Se Pehle, Faizullah Khan Baloch, Quetta:168
Muhammad Sardar Khan, 1988. Literary History of Balochis. Balochi Academy, Quetta,: 474-481
Naseer Dashti, 2008. The Cultural context of Health: A Baloch Perspective. Balochi Academy, Quetta, p. 137-138.
Shafiq,M., 2008. Analysis of the role of women in livestock of Balochistan. Pakistan. J. Agri. Soc.Sci.,4:18-22
Wahid Buzdar, 2012. Mahtak Balochi, July, 2012: 11

Published: Hanken Volume, N0. 4, 2012, ISSN: 2070-5573, Annual Research Journal of Department of Balochi, University of Balochistan, Quetta

Comments Off

Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Baloch Culture


Zikri rituals in Harar, Ethiopia

By: Dr. Simone Tarsitani


View of Harar

View of Harar

Introduction to zikri rituals
Zikri is the Harari word for the Arabic “dhikr” and refers to an exercise (typical of Sufism), which consists of the repetition of the name of God in order to receive his blessing. The rituals performed in the city of Harar, important centre of Islamic learning in Ethiopia, are derived from the influence of Sufi orders, widespread in the Islamized areas of the Horn of Africa. However, the cult of saints in Harar developed particular beliefs and rules that go beyond the discipline of Sufi orders and zikri rituals can be considered an original expression and one of the unique elements of the culture of this town. The wide repertoire of texts written in the local language, the sung melodies and their rhythmic accompaniment, the ritual and social function of their performance developed distinctive characteristics. Historically and contemporaneously, zikri rituals have permeated Harari life and the repertoire of songs has expanded beyond its origin of liturgical hymns, to become one of the facets of Harari identity.

Zikri is a devotional activity characterized by hymns praising Allah, the Prophet and the Saints. The singing usually follows a responsorial structure lead by a shaykh and accompanied by drums (karabu) and wooden sticks (kabal). The term zikri in Harar means not only the chanting and its ritual context, but also the single devotional song performed in the zikri ritual. What is commonly referred to as ‘zikri ritual’ can comprise slightly different kinds of practices. The most common features consist in the reading of suras from the Quran, recital of prayers, singing of zikri songs, prolonged consumption of khat leaves, tea and coffee, all concluded by a shared blessed meal. Great importance in Harar is given to the Mawlūd, a sacred book widespread in Islamic world, which contains the poetic narration in prose and verses of the birth of the Prophet. In Harar there developed a peculiar ceremony (here described as Mawlūd recital) for the reading of this sacred text, which includes the performance of zikri songs.

Shaykh during performance of a zikri ritual

Shaykh during performance of a zikri ritual

Cultural, historical and religious considerations can highlight the role that this practice has today. In recent history, the ritual traditions have been challenged by the restrictions imposed by the Christian Empire and later by the ruling Derg military regime. More recently the reformist action of Wahabiyya, especially influent during the 1980s and 1990s, accused the ritual activities at the shrine of being un-Islamic and promoted to establish more orthodox customs. Despite all the historical vicissitudes, Harari rituals are still practiced and, over the last ten years, has been revived in the daily life and especially in the major festivities collective celebrations, becoming, more than ever before, a major symbol of the cultural identity of the community.

Places, occasions and forms of the rituals

Harari rituals are performed in a variety of places, including the numerous local Muslim shrines, local worship places called Nabi gār (literally “House of the Prophet”), private houses and public spaces. It is possible to distinguish two main ritual forms: the zikri ritual and the Mawlūd recital, associated to several different occasions. In the Nabi gār and in the most important shrines, gatherings are held on a weekly base, mostly during the night between Thursday and Friday, at the beginning of the day devoted to prayer in Islam. Rituals are also organized whenever pilgrims pay a visit (ziyara) to a holy place. All the major festivities of the Islamic calendar are celebrated with zikri rituals or Mawlūd recitals. Furthermore, Mawlūd recitals are typically performed on Sunday morning, during the celebration of weddings. Finally, specific zikri rituals, called amuta karabu, are after a funeral.

Participants and drum players during a zikri ritual

Participants and drum players during a zikri ritual

The Nabi gār is a very distinctive devotional place. It is usually built beside a shrine and a Koranic school. Nabi gār have an important value as places of gatherings. Anyone can attend zikri rituals with no distinction of social status and limited distinctions based on gender. The most common and recognised form of zikri ritual takes place here on Friday eves. It is in the Nabi gār that Harari zikri songs were developed in their highest and original form, becoming an important instrument of devotion and, through their lyrics, a way to learn religion. The zikri repertoire accompanied by rhythms that are unique of this city probably developed inside the Nabi gār to fulfil teaching needs. Still today, in the Nabi gār it is possible to find some of the best zikri singers and karabu players.

The most important rituals in Harar are based on the reading of the Mawlūd, the sacred text about the birth of the Prophet. Even if there are slight variations according to groups, places and occasions, it is possible to describe the most common features of Mawlūd recitals in Harar. After selected passages from the Koran, including the first sura al-Fātihah, sura 36 Yā-Sīn, and sura 67 Tabāraka (or al-Mulk), the reading of the Mawlūd text is alternated with the performance of zikri songs; the ritual is concluded by a shared blessed meal. Mawlūd recital is an essential part of Harari wedding celebration and is typically organised during the morning of Sunday. The reading of the Koran usually starts between 08:00 and 09:00. The recital of the Mawlūd text begins between 09:00 and 10:00 and typically ends around noon, when, after a blessing for the bridegroom, the wedding lunch is served. During the singing of zikri , most of the assembly stands and some of the men dance in a circle, joined at some point by the bridegroom. The zikri performance is considered by many one of the most intense moments and, in order to make it successful, many families invite well-reputed zikri singers to the ceremony.

There is a peculiar form of zikri ritual, called amuta karabu , which is performed during the mourning time that follows a funeral. A shaykh is invited to the mourning house where all the women of the family’s neighbourhood association ( afocha ) are sitting together. He sings for them and with them a specific repertoire of hymns with texts pertaining to death and afterlife, together with some of the ordinary zikri. The ritual takes place in the morning hours, for two or three days.

Musical elements

The religious poems performed as zikri songs form a wide selection. Most of them come from a centuries-old tradition and their texts are written in manuscripts, often hand-copied by older religious men. The body of texts, in Arabic, Harari, and other local languages, despite being largely formulaic and referring to a widespread tradition of mystical literature, was developed significantly by local authors.



The responsorial structure of these songs is given by a solo voice, usually the conductor of the ritual, and by the assembly of participants. The texts themselves, chanted by the leading voice, are rather long and their performance may last up to almost one hour. The chanting is accompanied by two percussion instruments: karabu and kabal. Karabu is a kettledrum made from a bowl of wood that is covered at the top with cow or goat hide. It is played by hand or with two wooden sticks, usually wrapped at the top with a piece of fabric. Every important Muslim shrine in Harar keeps at least two drums for the ceremonies. Kabal are handheld wooden blocks that are clapped together by any of the participants in a zikri ritual.

The accompaniment to the singing is made according to three main rhythmic models.

The qasida karabu is based on a binary form, which consists of a continuous alternation of a high-pitched and a low-pitched beat. The qasida karabu is the most common beat and is often used for dancing.

Figure 1: Qasida karabu rhythm
Audio example

The quč quč is a binary form too. Here the high pitched beat can last double than the low pitched one, generating accents that usually follow those of the text. The percussive part stops when the solo voice is singing.

Figure 2: Quč quč rhythm
Audio example

The harat chāla is a more complex model generated by combinations of four different patterns, this combination depending apparently on the organization of the text. The combination of these patterns is always repeated in the same way and it usually lasts as long as the whole refrain; during the solo singing, the percussive part stops.

Figure 3: Harat chala rhythm
Audio example

While the qasida karabu is played continuously and is suitable for dancing, the quč quč and the harat chāla , characterized by the interruption of the rhythmic part during the solo sung section, allow the participants to follow more carefully the meaning of the text sung by the main singer. The second and the third rhythmic models seem to be peculiar of the Harari performance tradition.



Systematic analysis of the zikri songs performed in Harar showed that the style of Harari chanting is usually strictly syllabic and does not present significant melodic ornamentation. Most of the melodies of the songs are based on varying ranges of a diatonic scale and they belong to three different modes, according to the pitch of their ending note.

Modes of Harari zikri melodies
Not available

Selected bibliography on zikri rituals

Banti, G. 2005 “Remarks about the orthography of the earliest c ajam ī texts in Harari” in S. M. Bernardini & N. Tornesello (eds.), Scritti in onore di Giovanni M. D’Erme, vol. I, Napoli, Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”, pp. 75-102.

Bekele, Z. 1987 Music in the Horn… A preliminary analytical approach to the study of Ethiopian Music, Stockholm.

Braukamper, U. 1980 Islamicization and Muslim Shrines of the Harar Plateau, Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa University.

Braukamper, U. 1984 “Notes on the Islamicization and the Muslim shrines of the Harar Plateau” in Thomas Labahn (ed.), Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Somali Studies (University of Hamburg, August 1-6, 1983), vol. 2, Hamburg, pp. 145-174.

Cerulli E. 1936 Studi Etiopici. La lingua e la storia di Harar, Roma, Istituto per L’Oriente.

Cerulli E. 1971 L’Islam di ieri e di oggi, Pubblicazioni dell’Istituto per l’Oriente, vol. 64, Roma, Istituto per l’Oriente.

Foucher, E. 1988 Names of Muslimans venerated in Harar and its surroundings. A list, Zeitschrifder Deutschen Morgenlandiscen Gesellschaft, Stuttgart, pp. 263-282.

Foucher, E. 1994 “The cult of Muslim Saints in Harar: Religious Dimension” in Zewde B., Pankhurst R. & Beyene T. (eds.) Proceedings of the 11th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, vol. II, Addis Ababa, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, pp. 71-83.

Gibb, C. 1996 In the city of Saints: Religion, Politics and Gender in Harar, Ethiopia, PhD Thesis, University of Oxford.

Gibb, C. 1998a “Sharing the Faith. Religion and Ethnicity in the city of Harar” in Horn of Africa, vol.16, pp. 144-162.

Gibb, C. 1998b “Constructing past and present in Harar. Ethiopia in a broader perspective” in Proceedings of the XII International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, vol. 2, pp. 378-390.

Gibb, C. 1999 “Baraka without borders: integrating communities in the city of Saints” in Journal of Religion in Africa, vol. 29, pp. 88-108.

Gori A., Bianchini R., Mohamud K.A. & Maimone F. 2003 Cultural Heritage of Harar. Mosques, Islamic Holy Graves and Traditional Houses. A comprehensive Map, CIRPS and Harari People National Regional State.

Tarsitani, S., 2007-2008 
“ Mawlūd: celebrating the birth of the Prophet in Islamic religious festivals and wedding ceremonies in Harar, Ethiopia” in Annales d’Ethiopie Vol. XXIII, Addis Ababa, French Center of Ethiopian Studies (CFEE), pp. 153-176.

Tarsitani, S., 2007a 
“Kabal” in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica Vol. 3, edited by Sigbert Uhlig, Wiesbaden, Harassowitz Verlag, p. 311.

Tarsitani, S., 2007b 
“Karabu” in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica Vol. 3, edited by Sigbert Uhlig, Wiesbaden, Harassowitz Verlag, pp. 341-342.

Tarsitani, S., 2007c 
“Mawlid in Harar” in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica Vol. 3, edited by Sigbert Uhlig, Wiesbaden, Harassowitz Verlag, pp. 879-880.

Tarsitani, S., 2006a 
“Musica religiosa islamica a Harar (Etiopia): i rituali di zikri ” (Islamic religious music in Harar, Ethiopia. Zikri rituals – article with audio and video examples on attached DVD), EM Rivista degli Archivi di Etnomusicologia, 2, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, pp. 127-148.

Tarsitani, S., 2006b 
“Zikri Rituals in Harar: a Musical Analysis”, Proceedings of the XVth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Hamburg, pp. 478-484.

Tarsitani, S., 2005 
“Dhikr in Harar” in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica Vol. 2, edited by Sigbert Uhlig, Wiesbaden, Harassowitz Verlag, pp. 158-159.

Trimingham, J.S. 1952 Islam in Ethiopia, London, Frank Cass & Co.

Wagner, E. 1973 “Eine Liste der Heiligen von Harar” in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Band 123, Wiesbaden, Kommissionsverlag Franz Steiner GMBH, pp. 269-292.

Wagner, E. 1975 “Arabische Heiligenlieder aus Harar” in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Leipzig – Wiesbaden – Stuttgart, pp. 28-65.

Waldron, S.R. 1975 Within the Wall and Beyond: Harari Ethnic identity and its future, History Society of Ethiopia, The History and culture of the peoples of Harar province (mimeograph).

Waldron, S.R. 1984 “Harari” in Weekes R. V. (ed.), Muslim Peoples: a world Ethnographic Survey vol. 1, London, Aldrich Press, pp. 313-319.

Zekaria, A. 2003 “Some remarks on the Shrines of Harar”, in Krupp & Hirsch (eds.), Saints, Hagiography and History in Africa, Frankfurt, Peter Lang, pp. 19-29.

Comments Off

Posted by on October 14, 2013 in Baloch Culture


The Archaeology of Southeastern Balochistan

By: Ute Franke Vogt

1 Introduction

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province(1). It is marked by a rugged, highly differentiated environment with many different habitats (2). The Makran Range in the south divides the interior from the coastal plain. A number of successive mountain chains run from the Arabian Sea to the Hindukush, and form a barrier towards the fertile Indus plain in the east. These mountains enclose interior highland bassins and deserts and are intersected by many river valleys (3,4).

Southeastern Balochistan is characterized by narrow river valleys which only occassionally provide space for alluviation, and thus agriculture. The catchment areas are smaller and, due to the high gradient of the tributaries, the seasonal floods are often destructive and wash away the soil (5). In such a harsh and barren environment, irrigation through channels, qanats, or seasonal flooding is an essential prerequisite for settlement (6).It thus developed early as an essential measure for the production of crops required by a growing population. The rising number of settlements from the beginning of settled life in the 6th millennium through the mid-third millennium BC witnesses the success of food production through farming and pastoralism. Pioneering archaeological fieldwork in this region was carried out by the great explorer Sir Aurel Stein, Hargreaves, W.Fairservis,B. de Cardi, J.-M.Casal, G.Dales, the Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Karachi, and a couple of other explorers. The French excavations at Mehrgarh, Nausharo and Pirak in the Kachhi plain revealed a long culturalsequence from the Neolithic Period through the Iron Age. While another French Mission resumed work in Makran after a 30 year long gap in the late 80ies, southeastern Balochistan had remained a “white spot” on the archaeological landscape.

In winter 1996-7, the Joint German-Pakistani Archaeological Mission to Kalat was founded to re-openwork in this area. To date, three seasons of exploration were carried out in the plain of Las Bela, in the Kanrach and the Greater Hab (Hab, Saruna, Bahlol, Loi, Talanga) River valleys, and long the eastern foot of the Kirthar Range, covering altogether about 1900 square kilometers. As a result of this work, more than 300 archaeological sites were discovered and documented (7,8,9). Many of them were threatened by destruction. The large number of prehistoric settlements, the size and sophisticated lay-out of some of them came as a surprise: nowadays the area is barren and inhabited by a few people. Interestingly, the sites indicate that a development from village to town and then to camp, and from agriculture to migratory pastoralism took place.

2 Background

The prehistoric period was certainly the most prosperous period in this cycle: during in the earlier 2nd millennium BC, the settlements were abandoned and no human traces left, whereas after a short intermezzo during the Historic Period, the sites clearly reflect that away from the cultural, economic, and political centers, migratory pastoralism and a nomadic life-style was the only mode of subsistence and land use. The earliest site, Adam Buthi, dates to the 4th millennium, but the early 3rd millennium BC was a period of grow thin terms of number and size of settlements (Rakhia Kot). Many sites appear to be associated with dams. The pattern is very similar during the later 3rd millennium, but then occupation was either restricted to a small area of an earlier site, or sites were newly founded. This late Kulli occupation to which the largest number of sites in southern Balochistan belong, co-existed with the Indus Civilization (Kanri Buthi). The presence of quite a number of town-like settlements added a new and unexpected dimension to this cultural complex and to an area which so far had remained in the shadow of the Indus Civilization. These new and exciting findings require a rethinking of models of interaction and center-periphery relations between these two areas.

After 1900/1800 BC the Indus Civilization disintegrated into several regional cultural complexes. In southeastern Balochistan, however, the settlements and irrigation systems were abandoned. No sites dating to the subsequent centuries were found. The only possible explanations are major population movements or a large-scale and enduring shift in subsistence economy and lifestyle. However, while the transition to a mobile lifestyle is attested to by hundreds of camp sites during the Islamic period, the second millennium BC is devoid of any human remains. Likewise, none of the known regions experienced a massive influx of people during that time. On the contrary, areas such as Sindh and Punjab obviously experienced the same development.

The next traces of settled life date to the so-called Historic Period. However, although some of the Achaemenian and Greek, Mauryan, Kushana, and Sasanian rulers and historians mention southern Balochistanin their records, archaeological correlates for their presence are rare: Settlement types, pottery and small finds are rather unknown and if no coins are at hand, dating is a hazardous undertaking (Hadera Dhan). Diagnostic links to the north, where Pirak and the Swat Valley are well explored and Buddhist sites flourished have yet to be found. Many of them were threatened by destruction. The large number of prehistoric settlements, the size and sophisticated lay-out of some of them came as a surprise: nowadays the area is barren and inhabited by a few people. Interestingly, the sites indicate that a development from village to town and then to camp, and from agriculture to migratory pastoralism took place.

The Islamic Period is marked by a few settlements and fortifications which are located in central areas of Las Bela and Sindh Kohistan or strategic positions in the Hab Valley(13), while no sites other than seasonal camps (14) which are marked by hundreds of “stone benches” and sherd clusters werefound In the interior mountain valleys. These sites date to the 12/13th century AD, the 17/18th cent. and the British Period. The transition to a tribal society, and several conflicts and raids between different tribes and ethnic groups which also caused large-scale migrations were probably major forces behind this development. The Historic and Islamic Period are times of both cultural and economic growth, and of political strength and conflicts. Many sites in Sindh, Punjab, and the NWFP mirror this development in one way or the other. Both affected the administrative and political centers, among which Bela, Nal-Kaikanan, and Khuzdar are the most important in this region, but not the remote mountain areas which until very recently were the sole domain of migrating tribes and clans.

3 Las Bela

The plain of Las Bela, or the Porali trough, is a triangular lowland embankment. Only in this plain true mounds are found. Sites located on the gravel plains have very shallow cultural deposits. Despite the rather fertile environment, the number of sites was surprisingly low. The most important prehistoric settlements are Adam Buthi, Niai Buthi, and Balakot. Balakot which is located 80km south of Bela on the Khurkera plain, is the only prehistoric settlement south of Bela. Adam Buthi, Muridaniand sites dated to the Historic period and the so-called Edith Shahr Aand B Complexes are situated north of Bela, closer to the mountains bordering the plain towards Jhalawan, while Niai Buthi lies more towards west. These zones are environmentally very different (16).

Apart from one Islamic site, Kaiara Kot, which was first noted by A. Stein, and sites dating back to the British Period, the southern central and eastern portions of Las Bela are devoid of archaeological sites. This part is flooded during rains and, south of Sirinda Lake, through tidal waters, turning the whole area into a large, in accessable mud plain (17). These conditions seem to make the presence of sites unlikely, but, considering the fact that the plain level on the Khurkera plain has risen since 3000BC by about 8m, lower sites might well be buried under sediments in the central portion. The sedimentation rate appears to be much lower there, but the palaeo-drainage pattern of the perennial Porali and its tributaries and overflow channels has not yet been studied.

4 Fourth Millenium BC:3500 – 3000 BC

Adam Buthi

Adam Buthi is the earliest site discovered in southeastern Balochistan (18, 19). It was occupied around the mid-4th millennium BC and abandoned around 3000BC, well before the height of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. It is a small (0.14 hectares), but high mound (7.5 meters). The sections revealed several phases of super-imposed, well-built stone houses terraced along the slope of the mound (20,21,22). Pottery is not very abundant.

The vessels are partly hand made, but the slow wheel was also used (23, 24). The shapes and the shiny red to violet slips resemble Kile Ghul Mohammad pottery from northern Balochistan, but, in general, the assemblage is a distinctive local production. The surface of the site is covered with several blades and flakes indicating an extensive silex industry (25,26,27).

5 The Third Millenium BC:3000-2500 BC

Niai Buthi

Niai Buthi is the most impressive early 3rd millennium BC site in the plain of Las Bela. It is 13ha large and 13m high (31). Two trenches were opened in 1999 (32, 33,34). Virgin soil was not reached, but the levels exposed at plain level correspond to the last phase of occupation at Adam Buthi. In addition to purplish slipped unpainted pottery, Togau B and Kechi Beg pottery was found (35). Two trenches were opened in 1999 (36, 37,38). During the early 3rd millennium BC. the site reached its maximum extension. Well-built stone and mud brick architecture was exposed in the sections and on the surface. In the east, several stone-lined hearths and dump pits containing animal bones and a large number of discarded and broken pots were excavated (39, 40,41).

Apart from the typical buff “Nal”-pottery with black paint, fine orange and coarser household wares (42,43),polychrome vessels, partly still complete, were unearthed (44,45,46,47). A single Faiz-Mohammad Grey ware sherd (48) and a chlorite fragment with an imtricate design are important finds since they provide cultural links to the north and the west. The pottery changes through the levels. Polychrome sherds are outlasted by monochrome Nal wares and in the upper layers of trench II carinated bowls with hammer-head rims and reddish-brownish slips foreshadow the later Kulli pottery (49). A typical motif is the single-bracket design which becomes a hallmark of the late 3rd millennium BC occupation (50, 51).

Balakot, which is located in the southeastern Bela plain, was excavated between 1973 and 1976 by G.F.Dales, of the University of California, Berkeley. It is the only properly excavated site in the region. Despite its small size (ca. 4.5 hectares), the site is thus of crucial importance due to its long Early Harappan cultural sequence which is now dated to between 3100/3000 and 2600 BC. It is the southernmost find spot of Quetta- and Nal-pottery, but has also many affinities to Amriin Lower Sindh.
Although the transition to the Harappan period (II) is stratigraphically not very clear, there appears to be a gap. Despite some pottery forms which continue into the later third millennium BC, the classical Harappan pottery appears suddenly and fully fledged at the site. Kulli elements are also present, but not as pronounced as at Nindowari or the many Kulli sites found in the Kanrach, Hab- and Saruna Valleys.

Murda Sang

Murda Sang is the largest prehistoric site in the Kanrach Valley (53). It was discovered in 1997 and trial trenched in 1998. The nucleus of the settlement consists of houses grouped along lanes and streets. This central portion is about 6ha large, but scattered occupation and a kiln area cover altogether ca. 35ha. The eastern edge is eroded by the Kanrach River (55). Two dams were found to the north of the site and we assume that fields were located there. The site and the whole valley are overlooked by a fortification built on top of a terrace hill at the southern edge of the site.

The soundings revealed two main periods of occupation, the lower with three very compact building phases, the upper one with two. The ground was terraced with gravel and pottery before construction. The ground was terraced with gravel and pottery before construction. Houses have a stone foundation, but mudbricks were also used (54,56), the roof was covered with mud-smeared reed. The pottery from the earlier occupation is very similar to that from the earlier levels of Balakot I (57,58,59,60). An AMS date run on charcoal suggests a dating into the very early third millennium BC. After 2700/2600 the site was abandoned. The uppermost, badly preserved occupation dates to the later Kulli period. Very small parts of the site were re-used during the late Islamic or British period. A very large platform-house site of the Historic Period was built over scattered houses and possibly fields north of the main settlement.

A sounding revealed a sequence of finely banded sand and mud layers (61). This evidence and the accumulation of humus above the old gravel surface indicate frequent flooding (62). Most probably, the river and wadis which have deeply cut their bed into the rock, flew at a very different level 5000 years ago. A substantial change in the topography and drainage pattern since the 3rd millennium BC thus appears likely.

6 Later Third Millenium BC Sites

Most sites in northern and central Balochistan were abandoned around 2600 BC. This development is probably related to the expansion of the Indus Civilization. Southern Balochistan, however, continued to be inhabited by a people labelled “Kulli.” This cultural complex is named after a site in Kolwa which was discovered by Aurel Stein. Since then, several other sites became known from Makran to southern Kalat, to Nausharo in the Kachhi plain, and to the eastern foot of the Kirthar Rangein southwestern Sindh. Some motifs and vessel shapes found in southeastern Iran and on the Arabian Peninsula, are sometimes also linked to the Kulliand seen as indications for long-distance contacts.

Several Kulli sites were discovered in our survey area (64). As a matter of fact, this phase coincided with the maximum number of settlements. The large number of settlements along with the developed plan and large size of a couple of sites, in particular in the Hab- Saruna Valley, added a new and unexpected dimension to this complex. The lay-out of some sites resemble the plan of Harappan sites: rows of houses are built along lanes and streets, which are sometimes paved. Sometimes, stairs provide access to upper terraces (65). Building materials were large ashlars or boulders, and the houses are often preserved to a considerable height. Many of these sites are located in strategic positions, on top of mountains or terrace hills, overlooking the valleys and controlling the plains and passes (66).Other sites are small hamlets built in the open plain. Although they have no defenses, they are of a very compact appearance. Most sites are associated with dams.

Bakkar Buthi
Bakkar Buthi is a small Harappan site located in the Kanrach Valley, a remote area bordered by the Mor and Pab Ranges. The site overlooks the valley from a terrace hill above the Kharari River, nearthe watershed of the Windar River (67). It was founded on the alluvium, but a small early third millennium BC site was discovered across the Kharari. Bakkar Buthi comprises of a fortified southern partand a couple of houses and working spaces which are obviously related to chert production to the north (68). Two trenches dug in 1998 revealed several building phases built above a fine grained alluvial silt deposit (69)). Whereas the mud, brick and stone walls of the earlier phases were well-built (70,71), the standards decline in the uppermost level where pottery and broken stones were also used for building (72).

The site is remarkable for its lay-out and the predominantly Harappan character of the pottery. Much of the pottery is identical to pottery from urban centers such as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, but wasters indicate also a local production (73,74,75,76,77). Kulli elements (78,79) are more prominent than at Balakot, but, altogether, the assemblage is clearly different from that found on “classical” Kulli sites. A date between ca.2400 and 2000 BC is supported by the radiocarbon samples. (80,81,82,83,84). About 200m to the south, in an old and now dry meander of the Kharari Riveran impressive dam blocked the river just before its entrance to the Kanrach Valley. The huge dam which is the eastern most in a series of three dams, betrays a well advanced level of hydraulic engineering (85).

Greater Hab Valley
Following the Hab River from its mouth at the Arabian Sea towards north, the wide and fertile valley slowly rises and becomes intersected by spurs and several tributaries. North of the Bhootani Petrol Station, at the entrance to the Wirahab Valley, the typical topographical features, such as large north-south running river valleys and steeply rising mountain ranges take shape. The Andhar Range (86) which is marked by a flat top and deep fissures, rises to 1250m amsl, while the Kirthar and Khude Ranges reach 1400 meters and 1600 meters above sea level. The Hab Valley is wider and less steep than the Kanrach Valley. It thus has better potential for the accumulation of sediments and agriculture.

During the surveys carried out in 1998 and 1999, 106 sites were discovered. Chronologically and culturally, they belong to the same horizon as the sites in the Kanrach Valley and the Las Bela plain. No real mounds were found, but, in general, the settlements tend to be larger than in the other areas (87, 88), and in Sind Kohistan. This is in particular true for the Kulli sites which cluster in large numbers between Dureji and Barag, and at points where tributaries such as the Loi, Bahlol, and Saruna Rivers enter the Hab Valley. Nowhere were similarly large, nucleated towns found in such large numbers (89, 90,91,92).These settlements apparently formed a network controlling the access routes between Sindh and interior Balochistan. Unvariably, they are associated with dams, some of which are true masterpieces of construction (93,94). The pottery and objects found at these sites are clearly related to Harappan types (95, 96,97,98), but the fabric is usually coarser, the variety of shapes and motifs is smaller, and a number of local elements are also present.

7 Historic Period

Subsequent to the Kulli occupation, all sites in southeastern Balochistan were abandoned. Not even remains of camp sites were discovered. The next archaeological traces belong to the so-called Historic Period. Very little is known about this time beyond the few cultural, religious, and political centers which are located in the northern areas of Pakistan, and in Punjab and Sindh. The lack of archaeological correlates to historic references dating back to Achaemenian, Greek, Parthian, Sasanian, Hindu and Buddhist times, makes the dating of these remains difficult and only very slowly a cultural sequence takes shape. The sites belong to three different structural, cultural, and probably chronological horizons.

Northern Las Bela and the Kanrach Valley produced a number of enigmatic large and small sites with a very peculiar architecture and plan. Up to 120 structures, which can reach lengths of more than 40 meters without being more than 6 meters wide, were built on rectangular boulder and gravel platforms oriented along the cardinal axes. Their lay-out makesthem look like “giant’s tombs” (99). The houses have annexes and, occassionally, stairs (100). Sometimes, two structures are linked through a shared wall. At least one circular building is usually present in these “platform house-sites”. At some sites, a couple of buildings is associated with flat extra-mural or elevated intra-mural boulder pavements. On these pavements, bone splinters, predominantly human, but also animal bones, were scattered (101).

Some structures had a small stone cists at one end. Manybone fragments carry traces of cremation. An AMS dating run on bones from Kariya Buthi in the Hab Valley provided a date of 3500-2000 BP cal. These sites cluster in northern Las Bela (Welpat) and the Kanrach Valley, while in the much larger Hab Valley only one site was found (101).Compared with prehistoric sites, the amount of pottery is very small. Most common are coarse, handmade, gritty wares. Finer fabrics are the exception. Decoration is confined to applied and then punched or impressed bands (101),or to a purplish slip.

Another historic horizon is marked by Londo pottery, a type widely found throughout Balochistan to Iran (102).The pots are made of a rather gritty fabric which carries thick, often glossy slips of various shades of red and brown. They are painted in tonesof red, brown and in black with geometric patterns, scrolls and spirals. Figurative designs were only found at some sites (103,104,105). The most typical pottery was found at large sites with mudbrick-architecture in the plains (106, 107),but also at sites like Nindowari and Londo which comprise of stone architecture. Only a few typical Londo sherds were found at large, deflated sites on the gravel plains along the Kanrach River where the pottery is usuallya coarse, unpainted fabric. Here, a black painted buff pottery is more common (108, 109, 110).Typical Londo ware was not found at platform house sites, but a couple of coarse sherds provide a link between these types of sites.

Londo sherds with spirals and scrolls were also found in Iran and Makran. There, many sherds were excavated from cairns. Although cairns are also a common feature in southeastern Balochistan, none of the cairns opened by our mission (109, 110) and by de Cardi yielded any Londo pottery. It is known that cairns were in use until recently; attributing a date without finds is therefore very unreliable. It appears most likely, that the Londo horizon in this large region is not a single, homogeneous cultural complex. Up to now, the variety which is reflected by the structures and the pottery is not more than an impression. It is sufficiently evident, however, to underline the need to differentiate this amorphous cultural complex which only slowly takes shape. Accordingly, suggested datings have widely shifted through time. Recent research has narrowed the margins to a couple of centuries before and after Christ. Two new radio carbon samples read 360 – 170 BC cal. and 180 to 50 BC calibrated. The third structural type of sites are large rectangular buildings which are built with huge ashlars. They are usually isolated. Associated with them was a coarse, red slipped pottery which occasionally also occurs at Londo settlements.

8 Islamic Period

After Mohammad Ibn al-Qasim had conquered Makran and Sindh in 712 AD, many sites continued, or started, to flourish (113,114, 115,116). However, as during the previous times, very little is known about the peripheral and remote areas. In Sindh Kohistan, the Hab Valley, and in the plain of Las Bela we found the remains of a few settlements or fortifications which can be dated to the 12th/13th and the 17th/18th century AD, but in the Kanrach, Bahlol and Loi Valleys no such sites were discovered.

The only remains are hundreds of camp sites, marked by a few stones which were aligned to benches, and by a few potsherds (117,118, 119). The pottery is similar to types found in southern Sindh, in the Indus delta and in Banbhore. The date applied to this red micaceous, black painted pottery ranges between the 13th and 18th century AD. Whether this shift to pastoralism is related to the immigration of the Baluch tribes from thewest, to the invasion of turkish tribes such as the Ghaznavids and Mongols who destroyed the oasis cultures of interior Makran and caused larger population movements towards Sindh, or to an overall change in the economic, social and political structure is unknown. In the 17th century AD, Mir Ahmad, the leader of a Brahui tribal confederation founded the Ahmadzai Khanat of Kalat, to whom the Jam of Bela paid tribute.

Comments Off

Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Balochistan


Clothing of People in Sistan during Parthian Period with Reference to the Frescos of Koh-E Khajeh

Dr. Reza Mehrafarin
Associate Professor
Archaeology Department
Sistan & Baluchistan University.

Zoheir Vasegh Abbasi
M.A Graduate of Archeology
Sistan & Baluchistan University.

Mojtaba Saadatiyan
M.A Graduate of Archaeology
Sistan & Baluchistan University.

Covering the body against various natural factors (heat, coldness, and wind) as well as doctrine, cultural, and social factors has been prevalent since old ages and with the passage of time and changes of conditions it has undergone many alterations and transformations. Iranian clothing in Parthian period following the conquest of Iran by Alexander the Macedonian and due to the effects of Hellenistic beliefs and culture has been transformed in a way that in addition to protecting the body against the natural factors and observing ethical and cultural issues, aesthetical element, shape, and color of garment have been highly considered too.
With respect to the wide territory of the Parthian dynasty, this period are divided into two extensive groups of the eastern and western territories which are different to some extent from the artistic aspect. Sistan, in the east of Iran, by having abundant works remained from Parthian period, particularlyPalace of Koh-e Khajeh,represents the special Iranians’ culture of clothing in the eastern territory. Through investigating the frescos in the Palace of Koh-e Khajeh, one can realize the different types of common clothing in this region and the neighboring areas during the Parthian period; and also, we can specify the extent to which Greek clothing has affected the clothing during the Parthian period and then it helps to differentiate it from the local and native garments.
Investigating and study of frescos in the Palace of Koh-e Khajeh suggest that its inhabitants’ clothing in addition to imitating the color and form of Greeks’ clothinghas been also influenced by natural and local factors of the region and religious beliefs.

Overthrow of the Achaemenian dynasty which occurred by the invasion of Alexander the Macedonian to Iran and defeating Darush III in 333 B.C, resulted in the expansion and penetration of Greek art and civilization in Iran (Kokh,2000:244). Alexander and his successors, Seleucids, in order to govern their extensive and wide Empire needed to Hellenize the Iranians, this could create a sense of cultural and doctorine unity among the Iranian and Greek tribes and as a result, prevent the Iranians’ revolt against the Greeks. Marriage of Greek solders and generals with Iranian girls and women, training Iranian solders with Greek war methods and clothing them with garments of the Greek army, constructing police in the Iranian strategic areas and immigration of Greek families to these polices, accommodation of blue-bloods and feudal families of Iran in these polices, building Greek temples in various parts of Iran, and spreading the Greek belief and mythical culture were part of their policy to Hellenize the Iranians. This policy of the Greeks caused their culture and civilization to penetrate into most aspects of the Iranian life: so that, its effects can be clearly observed in the architecture and art of the ancient Iran. Despite this, in 255 B.C, one of the Iranian tribes called Parthian in the northeast of Iran arose against the Greeks and in a short time they could get out an extensive part of the Iranian eastern regions from the Greeks’ hands.
Therefore, they created one of the pre-Islamic dynasties in Iran which lasted about 500 years (from 255 B.C to 224 A.D). This reign replaced many elements of the eastern Iranians’ life with the previous period namely Achaemanians, particularly their clothing. Their remained traces can be observed and investigated in the Frescos, reliefs, figures, coins, stamps, and etc.
The Parthian people in addition to using the Iranian local tradition (Persian), at first were highly influenced by the Greek culture, but by passage of time, the Iranian and Greek culture were blended and a new culture with definitely Iranian properties was emerged. One of the highly important regions of Parthian Empire was Sistan which was located in the east of the country (map. 1). In early 2nd century B.C, Sistan state (Dernigiana) was conquered by the western Greeks and Seleucids lost their domination in that region. This event occurred during the reign of Demetrius I. He started some activities in order to expand his territory towards the south of Hindu and northwest of India and made the states of Arakhozia and Dernigiana (Sistan)as parts of his Empire. Dominance of Greeks on Sistan lasted till about 145 B.C. In this year, Mehrdad I, the Parthian king, conquered Sistan and demolished the remains of the western Greek reign in his borders in about 139 B.C (Mehrafarin,2012:128).

Palace of Koh-e Khajeh and its Frescos

In the centre of Sistan and at the heart of the Hamoon Lake, there is a small mountain with the width of 2 km andheight of 120 m called Koh-e Khajeh whose distance from the city of Zabol, center of Sistan, is nearly 30 km. This mountain is considered as one of the important historical sites in this region whose specific location has resulted in the construction of many significant monuments on its flat surface and steep hillsidesince the ancient times (Fig. 1).
According to the archeological excavations performed on the surface and hillside of this mountain, some traces of Parthian, Sasanian, and Islamic periods have been identified in it (Mehrafarin et al.). One of the most important buildings of this black and basalticmountain is the Palace of Koh-e Khajeh on the eastern hillside. This palace is also known as Kaferoon castle and GhahghaheyShahr.
The first serious step to identify this work was taken by a Hungarian archeologist called Orell Stein who visited this place in 1915; and he published a primary report in 1916, and then in 1928, published a thorough report along with some pictures of the paintings existed in the main citadel (Kaferoon castle) in his famous work called “Deep in Asia” (Stein،1928). Duringhis excavation on this building, Stein cut out some pieces of the frescosand sent them to the New Delhi museum (Faccenna,1981:87).Ernest Hartsfield, the German scholar and archeologist during the years 1925 and 1929 excavated and investigated this monument, but unfortunately the complete report of these excavations was never published and information which is available about his excavations in Koh-e Khajeh has been derived from his papers and books onvarious subjects related to the history of the Iranian culture and civilization (Hartsfield,2002:297-300). He has cut out some of the paintings from this building two pieces of which are now kept in the Metropolitan museum. Palace of Koh-e Khajehinvolves a fence, two entrances, porch, veranda, and a long chamber which is believed to have some beautiful decorations according to the existing reports. In the northern parts of the yard, there is a stairway which make possible to access the structures in the northern part of the palace. In the northern section, there is a roofed long and narrow hall with dimensions of 2.5×50 m that according to Stein and Hartsfield’s reports all of which had had frescosand so, due to this reason it has been called a painting gallery. Unfortunately, many of these frescoshave been disappeared and the remains are maintained in foreign museums. In order to recognize the Parthian clothing and restructuring the garments of people of Sistan and their rulers during the B.C centuries, frescos obtained from Koh-e Khajeh and the designs which are now available will be used here. Few archeological excavations of Koh-e Khajeh indicated that this place in addition to its unique brick
architecture has had wonderful decorations too. This issue adds to artistic significance of this place. Frescos, stucco-work, clay reliefs, vault and arch, treasure and pesto, half-round column and etc. are considered as the decoration elements of this palace. Among these decorations, the frescos collection has been noticed more than the other artistic subjects and till the present time, investigators with their special purposes have researched on this field.

Color and Design in the Parthian Period

In the Parthian period, coloring and painting was expanded a lot and colors were generally pure and bright and shiny. Illustration (visual) narrative in painting can be seen in the frescosof the Parthian period for the first time;so that works of this type have been discovered in Dora-Oropus in Syria and in the Palace of Koh-e Khajeh Complex in Sistan of Iran. In the Parthian frescos of Koh-e Khajeh, mostly, mineral pigments (Batter, 2010, 333) have been used. In the early periods of the Parthian dynasty, they had been integrated with Greek naturalism and in the late Parthian periods it has been replaced with frescoswith level (flat) compositions, full-face an multi-piece (Yung et al, 2006:160).
Proportion and beauty of colors are impressive and paintings are without shade but the colors have harmony and coordination. Colors which are observed more than other colors on the frescosinclude: brown, orange, pink, red, purple, violet, green, turquoise cross, and white. Respecting the type of application of the building, the paintingsare also varied. Ritual-religious designs, imperial Glory, vulgar scenes (ordinary people, musicians, tightrope walkers, solders, hunting, collective escape of animals and etc) constitute the most main subjects of frescosin this

Frescosof Koh-e Khajeh in Sistan

According to the objective of the present study which deals with the investigation of people’s clothing in Sistan during the Parthian period, it is inevitable to study the paintings obtained from the Palace of Koh-e Khajeh in order meet this aim;because till the present time no other artistic element like human statue, relief and etc has not been discovered in Sistan region that represents people’s clothing in the intended region.
One of the features of the Parthian art is fresco. The significant example of this art which has been probably borrowed from Greeks has been realized on plaster (stucco). One of the most outstanding examples of this art related to the Parthian period can be seen in the Palace of Koh-e Khajeh in Sistan. In the long corridor of this palace, colorful remains that have been influenced by the westernare observed (Sarfaraz and Firouzmani, 2007:218). The most important scenes obtained from this place are as follows:
1. Quadrangular Frames insides of which have decorated by beautiful lily flowers or acanthus.
2. Riding on horse (Fig.2)
3. Riding on panther; probably Aurous, the god of love in Greek mythology (Fig.3)
4. Banquet scene (musician, dancer and tightrope walker)
5. Picture of king and queen (Fig. 4)
6. Effigy of three gods (Fig.5)
7. Collective picture of some people standing beside each other and some of which are holding flower or loop (Fig.6)
8. Single portrait of a young person without beard (Fig.7)
9. Single portrait of a man with beard and a branch of olive (Fig.8)
10. Portrait of a young female piper (Fig. 9)
11. Portrait of a man with a crescent on his head and light halo (Fig.10)
Fresco’s motifs of the Palace of Koh-e Khajeh can be classified into three categories: a. human motifs b.
vegetative motifs c. animal motifs. In order to recognize the clothingof the people in this period, human motifs should be mentioned. However, before this, one issue must be notice that clothing of people attending these frescos does not indicate the clothing of people of Sistan during this period. Because based on the historical and artistic studies, many of the motifs, figurative (figures) of individuals and their clothing are not Iranian and they have been affected by the western-Greek culture. Two riders that one of them is riding a horse and the other one is riding a panther, according to Hartsfield, narrate the Greek mythology. Hartsfield believes them to represent “Aurous Effigies of three gods that are beside each other and their faces have been displayed in a three-quarter side view and one of them is wearing a winged hat (Fig. 5); in Greek art, represents Hermes. This symbol here has three wings and it is the sign of war god (Hartsfield, 2002:302).
The collective painting of five people who are positioning parallel to each other and some of them are holding flower or loop (Fig. 6), reminds the motifs of Sasanian period. Picture of king and queen (Fig.4) by three gods (Fig.5) attract the attention more than other paintings in the collection of painting galleries. In the picture of king and queen, the natural and free posture of the individuals and beautiful curvature of the queen’s body is considerable and inclination of the empress’s figure is an excuse to express a sensational state. Subject of this design contradicts with Achaemenian designs. The eastern style in which the man’s head has a side view and his body has a full side view has been more significantly observed in this picture; here, face pattern which is drawn by simple lines changes its natural make-up to a decorative design (Girshman, 2000:42).
Two portraits of the beard man with an olive branch in his headband and the young man without beard with almond eyes and arch-shaped long eyebrows (Figs. 7 & 8), reflects the combination of two eastern and Greek cultures and in the single designs it is observed that the spear has three heads (Fig. 11); this design for western people is the symbol of “Poseidon”, the ruler of waters; but here, it is the symbol of “Shiva”, the Indian god (Hartsfield 2002:302). The image of people who are attending a banquet and one of them is playing the music, another one is dancing while a tightrope walker is standing on his head (Fig.12) belongs to the typical Greek style (Hartsfield, 1975:124).
In the hall’s ceiling (painting gallery), some paintings have been obtained which have been framed wholly and in every other frame, there is a vegetative decoration design and in the next frame, a human image has been placed; however, since they have been destructed, the clothing designs cannot be restructured and only their general shape is observed. In these paintings, individuals’ heads have side views and their bodies are represented in a full view; i.e. the eastern style has been observed more (Ghadyani, 2005: 200).
Frescos of the Palace of Koh-e Khajeh had been more than what Stein and Hartsfield have introduced. Most of these paintings have been covered and destructed during constructions in subsequent periods. Remains of these designs (paintings) have been demolished to a much extent by the red bees in Sistan that make nests among the clayey walls and also climatic factors (wind and rain) and human factors. However, it is likely that by archeological excavations (investigations) in the future more designs can be obtained from there, mentioning that discovering other traces representing people and their clothing would not be cancelled.

Clothing of People in Sistan during the Parthian Period

There is not much information and data about the clothing of common people. Because the role of these people in artistic works had not been so important, perhaps it can be guessed that the clothing of peasants had been the same traditional garment which has been prevalent during the history till the contemporary era (Aghajani, 2009:58).
The clothing of the Parthianis classified into four categories that each of which can be divided into smaller groups as follow:

1. Headgears
The Parthian people instead of a hat, used to fasten something like a headband around their heads that from two ends led to a long strip and they placed a deep crown which was special for Achaemenian kings on their heads (same: 58-59). Sikes also mentions that, the Parthian people used to bind something like strip around their heads instead of hat. (Mehrasa, 2008:168). Head cover in the Parthian period was itself divided into smaller groups including: crown, headband, hat, shawl and etc. Crown was special for blue-bloods and grandees and it had no status among the ordinary people, according to the paintings obtained from Koh-e Khajeh, headband and hat had been widely used in this region. In this part, only three types of head covers in the frescos of Koh-e Khajeh will be mentioned.
Picture of king and queen: the king’s crown resembles the Medians’ hat. Only differs in the way that it has lower height and is decorated by diamond-shape geometric shapes, this hat is very similar to the contemporary felt hats A cylinder-shape crown is seen on the queen’s head and in front of the hat and on her hair, there is a headband which has a four-plume shape and a symbol of sun can be seen in the middle of it which represents majesty and greatness (Tab. 1, No. 2). Picture of three gods: in this painting, three individuals are observed; the person on the right side is wearing a winged-hat which in the Greek culture represents Hermes, this half-round hat has two white wings and probably it has had a blue color (Tab. 1, No. 3). The side view of a man which has been extremely destructed is one of the other paintings of this gallery who has a headband. Probably, the headband of this person had had a tail, but due to serious destruction, nothing can be observed; the headband has been simple and ordinary people could use it (Tab. 1, No.4). In some of the other paintings which have been extremely destructed, this type of headband can be seen.

2. Shirt
The Parthian people used to have a shirt that lower part of which had been very loose from waistline downward and occasionally armpits and it had not been suitable for formal works and used only for horse riding (Saeedian,1996:75). The material of the clothes varied depending on the region and climate; in the eastern parts of the empire, due to the hot weather thin cloths had been used for sewing the garments. However, these clothing had not been suitable for farmers and laborers at all (Kalej,2001:81) so, they used to wear short clothes while fighting (Mehrin,1964:80). In the picture of the king and queen, the king’s garment has some beautiful ornamentation on the collar and sleeves(Tab. 2, No. 5). The reason for the garment to be loose was due to the heat existed in the region. Loose clothes could cause the movement of air flow on the body and prevent sweating.
Shirts can be divided into two groups of men’s shirts and women’s dress; men usually used to wear a long
costumes that an open mantle was occasionally worn under it that was put on alone (Ghavami,2004:78). Men’s shirts typically had bright colors as a remedy against the burning sun and hot weather, these loose shirts had long sleeves, straight upper part and plain collars (Tab. 2, No. 6) and the skirt of the shirt had plenty of folds.
In short, the Parthian women’s clothing can be described as a long, bulky dress which was pleated to the ankles, sleeved and with straight collar that was constringed on the waistline and sometimes, a shorter low-necked shirt was worn on it (Matin,2007:25). The underside dress was pleated, looser and longer than the second dress and it was dragged on the ground, its very tight and loose sleeves were constringed by a strip under the bosom and as a result, the entire pleated clothes were concentrated on the body and they used to wear a vial on these two dresses (Ziapour,1999:11). This type of dress had not been probably used in this region and a special kind of dress can be observed in Koh-e Khajeh: a dress without sleeves having narrow shoulder-high that were connected to each other two by two by a button or buckle and its collar is completely open (Tab. 2, No. 7), it is likely that, this type of dress had been remained in Iran influenced by Hellenism, since its equivalent has not been observed in Iran beforethe arrival of Greeks.

3. Pants
The Parthian pants are well-known due to their looseness and having abundant pleats (Matin,2004:22) and some people believe that, these pants had been worn like leather leggings to protect the legs while horseback riding.
Although in the frescos of Koh-e Khajeh the lower parts of the body have been rarely considered, according to the paintings obtained from the god of love (Aurous) who is seen riding (Figs. 2 & 3), pants of this region can be imagined as having many pleats. Ziapour, referring to the written documents and works of great scholars argues that: the Parthian people’s pans are very similar to today’s pants that are worn by people in the east of Iran (Khorasan and Sisatn), these trousers are consisted of two stalks with a broad band girdle and the pant were become tight at the lower part of two stalks on the place of ankles (Ziapour,1999:11).

4. Footgear
Our information about footgear is very insufficient, because in the paintings of the Parthian period, more attention has been given to the upper parts of the body. This tradition is also seen in the frescos of Koh-e Khajeh and only in two cases the foot gear can be observed; one is Aurous riding a horse and another his riding a pantheon that these two paintings would not give much information about this clothing due to severe destruction in the feet part.

Referring to the frescos of Dora-Uropostemple, it can be concluded that foot gears of people in Sistan Conclusion After investigating the history of Iran during the Parthian period, this era can be divided into three main parts. In the first period, which lasted about one hundred years, the Parthian people dealt with strength ening the foundations of their young government. The second period, in which the kings introduced themselves as adherents of Greece and were highly influenced by the Greek art the third period is the superiority of the Iranian art over the Greek ones and considered as a return to the traditional customs. The Parthian tribes entered to Iran from the east parts and after overcoming the Seleucid government, they established a big empire; and gradually, the Iranian culture and civilization dominated the Greek culture.
Frescos of Koh-e Khajeh related to the first century A.D, can apparently display the design and color of people’s clothing and enough attention has been pertained to the details of clothing, artists’ attention; this focus on demonstrating the details is mainly an eastern inclination. Parthian artists have had high tendency to show the details, appearance and clothing that their goal of displaying these details has been to represent the governmental or social authorities. With respect to the fact that Koh-e Khajeh belongs to the third period of the Parthian dynasty and it is located on the eastern borders, influence of the Greek art has been very insignificant, yet it cannot be ignored at all. Drawing lines with free and soft circulation, imaginativeness of some paintings as well as creating a box (frame) is specific to the Greek art and it can indicate the profound impact of the Hellenistic art and its mixing with the Iranian art.

Aghajanielizeh, H. 2008. Iran doreashkani, haghshenas press, Rasht.
Ghadyani, A. 2005. Tarikhfarhangvatamadone Iran dardor-e solukivaashkani, Farhang-e maktub press, Tehran.
Gireshman, R. 1991. Honar-e Iran dardoraneparti&sasani, elmi and farhangi press, Tehran.
Hertzfeld, E. 1975. Tarikh-e bastaniiran bar bonyadBastanshenasi, translate by Ali asgharHekmat, Anjoman-e Asare-e meli press. Tehran.
Hertzfeld, E. 2002. Iran darsharghebastan, taranslaed by HomayonSanatizade, pazhuheshgaholomeensani o motaleatefarhangiuniversiy of shahidbahonarpress, Tehran.
Kalej, M. 2001. Ashkanian, translate by masoodrajabnia, Hirmand press, Tehran.
Kokh,H. 2000. AzzabanDaryush, translated by parvizrajabi, karengprees, Tehran.
Matin, p. 2004. PoshakIraniyan,pajoheshhayefarhangi press,Tehran.
Mehrafarin, R. 2012. Bar ChekadeOshida,daryaft press,Tehran.
Mehrin, M. 1964. Tamaddone Iran Bastan, collectorrazmara,M.A,atayi press. Tehran.
Saeedian, A.H. 1996.Mardomane Iran, elmifarhangi press, Tehran.
Sarfaraz, A.A. &Firuzmandi, B. 2007.Bastanshenasivahonar-edoran-e tarikhie Mad, Hakhmaneshi, Ashkani,
Sasani, Marlik press, Tehran.
Shirkhani, M. 2002. Poosheshezan-e Iraniaz Iran bastan ta ghajarieh, bahar elm press. Tehran.
Vishofer, Y. 2006. Iran Bastan, translated byMortezaSaghebfar, Ghoghnos press, Tehran.
Yong, K. gireshman, R. bivar. amiye, P. astronakh.2006. Iran-e bastan.translated by Yaghobazhand,movla
Ziapur, J. 1999. Pooshakebastanie Iranian, Ketabmahhonar press, Tehran.

Faccenna, Damenico. 1981. A New Fragment Of Wall- Painting FromGhaghaShahr (Kuh-iHavage- sistan Iran),
East And West vol 31
Gullini, Giorgio. 1964.ArchiteturaIranicaDagliAchemenidiaiSasanidiⅱPalazzo Di Kuh-I Khawagio, Einaudi, Turin
Mosalla, masoumeh, 2006. Kuh-e khwaja, General Office of cultural offairs, Tehran

Comments Off

Posted by on August 11, 2013 in Baloch Culture


The 19th Century Slave Trade in the Western Indian Ocean: The Role of the Baloch Mercenaries1

(Research Paper)
By: Beatrice Nicolini

Trade Routes in Eastern Africa

For millennia monsoon winds and a network of interacting communities created acomplex integrated commercial system in the western Indian Ocean. Along with goods and people, religious ideas flowed through short- and long-distance trade routes in the region. These exchange networks included major slave routes, and shared cultural and religious understandings influenced the way slaves were conceptualised and used.
As in Africa, slavery played a significant role in the Islamic world. Armies of mostlyTurkish slave soldiers were raised in the Caucasus and the Central Asian steppes while domestic slaves came mainly from the coastal strip of sub-Saharan East Africa. Baloch became involved in this slave trade largely through their military association with Omani Arabs. In the 18th century Omanis began to recruit mercenary troops from Baloch tribes. These Baloch developed an enduring armed tradition and became a key element in the equations of power within Omani areas of influence in sub-Saharan East
Africa, both on the coast and inland.
This study examines the role Baloch played in sub-Saharan East Africa during the 19th century. It focuses on Zanzibar and Pemba islands where the power of the Omani Arabs reached an apogee. It discusses their influence on East African social, political and
economic systems.
Once the Omanis consolidated their military power in areas of sub-Saharan East Africa, Baloch were among those settled there and during the mid and late 19th century they were linked to the trade in slaves and the most lucrative commodity of the day, ivory.
The Baloch role in East Africa during the 19th century impacted on local societies and their values and they contributed to the transformation of traditional customs. When the British began to restrict the slave trade from Africa in the middle of the 19th century, Asia assumed greater importance as a source of slaves for sale to Arabia and to Persia. Once again Baloch would play a considerable role in that trade.

1. Slavery in the Islamic World and East Africa

1.1 Slavery from Africa to Asia
There were a number of significant slave routes throughout the western Indian Ocean during the 19th century (HOURANI 1995:89). These are generally divided into two main flows. One was from south to north, that is, from the East African coast and the Red Sea to the Arabian Peninsula, and onwards to western India and South Central Asia. The other was in the opposite direction. Consequently, slaves were not only black people from Africa but also of Asian origin. Slaves from Africa were prominent in the history of the Islamic world and beyond. In the late 9th century black slaves from East Africa, the Zanj, who were mainly employed in sugar cane plantations, revolted against the Abbasid Caliph al-Mu’tamid and became masters of Southern Iraq and Basra (POPOVIC 1999, FURLONGE 1999). Around the
middle of the 11th century there was an extensive commerce of slaves to China from Pemba and Ras Assir on the northern Somali coast (known as the Cape of Slaves), in exchange for ceramics and luxury goods. East African slaves were imported in great numbers to the Arabian Peninsula, travelling on Arab dhows (AGIUS 2002, 2005; GILBERT 2004). When the slave trade from West Africa to the Americas was banned in the middle of the 19th century there was an extensive and growing commerce of East
African slaves from Ras Asir and Pemba.2 They were bought with cloth and dates on Zanzibar and Pemba Islands and transported to the Arabian Peninsula where they were mainly engaged in fishing pearls in the Persian/Arab Gulf (SHERIFF 2005:35-45). In some cases, East African slaves also became lords of local African realms (e.g., governors of ports from Guardafui to Cabo Delgado) because their Arab masters considered them much more loyal than anybody within their own clans and tribes.

1.2 Slavery within Africa
In the Middle East, Central Asia and East Africa the social, political, and economic functions of slaves were generally divided among three categories: a) domestic – patriarchal, b) productive – agricultural and c) military – administrative. While these general categories were present, the slave trade practised in coastal East Africa had itsdistinctive characteristics. In East Africa slaves formed a separate “caste”. They were thought as less than human, and, even when they embraced Islam they were thought less than Muslim. There were three categories of slaves in the region: 1) watumwa
wajinga, who were not assimilated into the coastal populations; 2) slaves who were transported as children to Zanzibar; and 3) mzalia (pl. wazalia), who were born on the coast and fully acculturated into coastal Islamic culture (POWELS 2000:251-271). Slavery in East Africa was regulated by the principles of Koranic law and those slaves who did not come from areas of Swahili cultural influence were called mshenzi (pl. washenzi), which means “pagan, barbarian, uncivilised”. They were not Muslims, unlike most free Swahili.
Nevertheless, along the Swahili coast slavery was a very absorptive system. Domestic slaves enjoyed the most privileged conditions. Their relationships with their owners resembled more those of members of the family than items of property. Men were called ndugu yangu, “my brother”, and the women were suria, “concubines”, of their owners or “nannies”. In the spice and coconut plantations on Zanzibar and along the coasts, household slaves often became msimamizi “guardians”, or nokoa, kadamu, “first
or second head slaves”. Others had the task of leading caravans towards the interior. Slaves also worked on their owners’ plantations, called mashamba3 (LODHI 2000:46- 47). There, they worked the fields, sieved copal and carried merchandise to the ports.
Some were assigned a piece of land with which to support themselves. They worked these plots on Thursdays and Fridays, the two days of rest. The more privileged cultivated their own small piece of land, paying an annual or monthly tribute to their master (GLASSMAN 1995:79-114). They were also permitted, on payment of a tax, to get married.4 During the 19th century, however, the majority of slaves from the interior of the continent, such as the Unyanyembe and Great Lakes regions were destined to work on plantations, and consequently totally excluded from any chance of paternalistic
generosity from their masters (PÉTRÉ-GRENOUILLEAU 2004, CLARENCE-SMITH 2006). In urban centres there was the institution of the vibarua (pl. of kibarua) “slaves hired by the day”. They were extremely poor but in some cases they joined the Hadrami Arabs’ caravans and were able to improve their humiliating conditions. The trading slaves, mafundi “craftsmen”, also reached a certain level of dignity, but remained under strict control of their master. Any illegal or personal initiatives were severely punished. In East African slav