Category Archives: Balochistan

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

By Hafeez Jamali
University of Texas, Austin

District Map Balochistan


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Balochistan



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

Javed Iqbal
 Lecturer, Pashto Department
University of Balochistan Quetta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Balochistan


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.

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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Balochistan


Zikri Dilemmas:Origins, Religious Practices, and Political Constraints

By Sabir Badal khan

The Zikris (locally pronouncedzi gr¯ı) are a minority Muslim group found exclusivelyamong the Baloch population with the main concentration in south-western PakistaniBalochistan. Zikris have at times faced violence and political assaults from non-Zikris,and their beliefs and practices have been misrepresented. This trend has continued inrecent years as Zikris have come under increasing pressure from Islamic fundamental-ists. The purposes of this paper are to provide a more accurate account of the likelyhistorical development of the Zikri faith, describe Zikri rituals and prayers, andhighlight the oppressive situation Zikris face today.

Zikris in Balochistan

The Zikri faith arose in Makran in the late 16th century and later flourished there. Noprecise figures are available on the number of the Zikris because they are counted underthe general title of Muslim in the census reports in Pakistan (MALIK 2002:11). Theirpresent number may be estimated at around 600,000 to 700,000 with more than 100,000living in Karachi, and a considerable number in interior Sindh (M OHAMMAD2000).Besides Makran, Zikris are found in large numbers in the Mashkay and Gresha areas of Khuzdar district, throughout Awaran district and in many parts of Lasbela district (GULKHANNASIR1982:233; AZAD2003:371, 389). Some Zikris have also migrated to theArabian Gulf peninsula where the majority live in the Sultanate of Oman.2
Until the first half of the 20th century Zikris were estimated to be about half of Makran’s population3, and there were Zikris in almost all major towns in Makran.Owing to constant persecution and forced conversions, presently there are many townswith no Zikris at all.4
The Bulaida valley (40 km north of Turbat) in Kech district may be taken as anexample. It had entire villages of Zikris until the early 20th century. Now, however,there is not a single Zikri family left in major towns there. The last major attack onZikris in Bulaida took place in 1980 when an outlaw from Iranian Balochistan,Shahmurad (called Shahmuk5by the Zikris), declared jihad against them. He killedmany Zikris and forced others to convert to Sunni Islam until he was killed by someZikris.6
A few Zikri families escaped from Bulaida and settled in the Kech valley,others migrated to the Balgitar valley, where Shahmurad pursued them and killed fivemore. The last remaining Zikri family from Bulaida found it hard to stay there andmigrated to Turbat a few years back.7
A large number of Zikris also used to live in Iranian Makran, where Kaserkand, Gihand Sarbaz were their major centres (BALOCH1996:237; cf. CURZON
1966/II:260).However, very few are to be found in that part of Balochistan today (cf. ZANDMOQADDAM1991:322).8 The last major group was driven away from there when acertain Qazi Abdullah Sarbazi declared jihad against them in the 1930s, which resultedin a major massacre (cf. ZANDM OQADDAM
1991:252). Iranian Zikris left their home-land, abandoned their possessions, and migrated to eastern Makran where the Zikriswere still strong in number (ABDUL GHANIBALOCH1996:102; HOSHANG1991:22). Inspite of their decision to avoid conflict with the Sunni clerics, the Sunni mullahsattacked the village of Jakigwar with 100 armed men one morning in 1936, killing ShayGulabi, a spiritual leader of the Zikris, along with six of his family members(DURRAZAI 2005:102, NORAIEE, this volume). Their homes and properties were distributed as war booty (m¯ al-i ˙gan¯ımat ) (see ABDUL GHANI BALOCH 1996:103-105,110). Abdul Ghani Baloch, whose family came from Jakigwar in Iranian Makran, writes that prior to this killing and forced migration, hundreds of other Zikris were killed from time to time in the areas of Farod, Baftan and Kishkaur by fanatic Sunnis at the instigation of mullahs (ABDUL GHANI BALOCH1996:105; cf. DURRAZAI2005:102-03).The Zikris are almost exclusively speakers of Balochi.9
Some are found among theBrahui speaking tribes but none are from the other ethno linguistic groups of the region, which probably indicates a local origin of this branch of Islam. For this reason,PASTNER /PASTNER1972:235 have described Zikrism as a uniquely Baloch religion, and many Baloch nationalists and intellectuals depict it as the national religion of the Baloch, and a Zikri as the archetypal Baloch.10 Members of the Zikri sect are found in most Baloch tribes (A ZAD 2003:389),11 with the exception of the tribes living on the eastern sides of Kalat and Khuzdar districts (which more or less corresponds to the areaof Eastern Balochi as definded by E LFENBEIN 1966, 1989:637). 12

1 This paper is primarily based on my field notes taken during various trips to Balochistan when I wascollecting material about the folklore and oral traditions of the Baloch. Most of the data used herecome from interviews held at Koh-i Murad and elsewhere in Turbat, Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara andKarachi in September 2005. Very sincere thanks are due to all my informants, but especially to M.Ishaq Durrazai, with whom I spent many hours discussing issues related to the Zikris, consulting hismanuscripts and searching through his notes. Special thanks are also due to Profs. Adriano Rossi andAlberto Ventura of Università degli studi di Napoli, “l’Orientale” (Italy) for reading earlier drafts of this paper and making valuable comments. Needless to say, I am the only one responsible for anyshortcomings and the opinions expressed here.

1996:21 probably overestimates the number of Zikris at one million while H ARRISON 1981:187 putsit at 500,000 to 700,000 in the early 1980s (cf. also B RESEEG 2004:77; Library of Congress report BUZDAR 1986-87:5 writes “approximately one-fourth of theMakran population are members of the Zikri community”; A HMED 1987:51 gives the same figure.

3. SeeBDGS VII:112, B ALOCH 1996:224, and the British traveller Charles M ASSON (1844:294) on thedistrict of Kech. L ORIMER (1915/I,2:2150-2151) notes Zikris “dominated the whole of Makr¯an up toJ¯ask until 1740”, and B UZDAR (1986-87:5) says that “historically, Makran has been the bastion of theZikri sect of Islam”. He believes that “the main reason behind the invasion of Makran by NaseerKhan of Kalat was to stop the spread of this new sect”, while G UL K HAN NASIR (1993:60) opinesthat Nasir Khan’s aim was to bring Makran under his domain and unite all Baloch areas into a singleBaloch state. The Zikri state of Makran was consolidated under one of the last rulers of the Malikdynasty, continued with the Bulaidais in the early 17th century, and terminated with the Gichkis inthe second half of the 18th century. By defeating Malik Dinar Gichki, the last Zikri ruler of Makran,Nasir Khan conquered all western Baloch territories previously occupied by the Zikri rulers (cf.P
OTTINGER 1816:250; BDGS VII:47-49; S POONER 1989:626; GUL KHAN NASIR 1993:56ff.).
4 .BDGS VII:121 observes that the faith was already on the decline in the early 20th century.
5 The diminutive may be used to convey a pejorative meaning (see B ADALKHAN 2003:296).
6 .For more information on Shahmurad, see HOSHANG 1991:41, and Zikri issue of Makran 1995:2;DURRAZAI
7 .Interview with head of the family in Turbat, summer 2004.
8 .Some Zikris are said to be found in Garmen Bet, Jugri Bet, Saidabad, Kahurburz and Kishkaur areasin western Makran but their number is reported to be very small (H OSHANG 1991:22). ZAND MO-QADDAM 1991:322 also reports some Zikris in the Bahu Kalat area belonging to the Rais tribe. Saeed Saeedi informed me (Turbat, February 2006) that there are about 500 Zikris in the Garmen Bet area.His late father, Haji Karim Bakhsh Saeedi, gave them protection during attacks by a Sunni mullah.
9.Cf.KAWSAR 1968:35; DAMES 1981:340; B OSWORTH1981:222; GULK HAN NASIR1982:233; and B ALOCH 1996:248, n. 5.
10 .See A DENAG 1999:132; GUL KHAN NASIR 1982:233; BALOCH 1987:72, and MALIK2002:11.
11 .There are Zikris from the following tribes: Rind, Rais, Mullazai, Hot, Sangurr, Kalmati, Gishkauri,Nohani, Darzadag, Mengal, Bizanjo, Mahmad Hasani, Kurd, Sajidi, Maldar, Banr, Hangara, Gorgej,Shaikh Ahmadi, Sasoli, Sumalani, Kambarani, Gurgunari, Omarani, Umrani, Kahdai, Sopakk,Syahpad, Jadgal. This list is far from being complete as my 2005 stay in Pakistan was too short todo a more exhaustive investigation. This data is based on my interviews carried out in Kech, Gwadarand Karachi (in Karachi, I met office bearers of the All Pakistan Muslim Zikri Anjuman). See also GUL KHAN NASIR 1982:233; HOSHANG 1991:23; BALOCH 1996:224; AZAD 2003:368, 389.
12. SHAH M UHAMMAD MARI 2000:397 mentions about 100 Zikris among the Bugti tribe in Sui villageof Dera Bugti district, but this seems questionable, as I did not hear of any among the Bugtis duringmy visit to the region in 1991.

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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in Balochistan


Heterogeneity and the Baloch Identity

Professor Dr. Taj Mohammad Breseeg

By Professor Dr. Taj Mohammad Breseeg
University of Balochistan, Quetta


As the saying goes, “nations are built when diversity is accepted, just as communities are built when individuals can be themselves and yet work for and with each other.” In order to understand the pluralistic structure of the Baloch society, this paper begins with a critical study of the Baloch’s sense of identity, by discarding idealist views of national identity that overemphasize similarities. From this perspective, identity refers to the sharing of essential elements that define the character and orientation of people and affirm their common needs, interests, and goals with reference to joint action. At the same time it recognizes the importance of differences. Simply put, a nuanced view of national identity does not exclude heterogeneity and plurality. This is not an idealized view, but one rooted in sociological inquiry, in which heterogeneity and shared identity together help form potential building blocks of a positive future for the Baloch.

Yet the dilemma of reconciling plurality and unity constitutes an integral part of the definition of the Baloch identity. In fact, one flaw in the thinking by the Baloch about themselves is the tendency toward an idealized concept of identity as something that is already completely formed, rather than as something to be achieved. Hence, there is a lack of thinking about the conditions that contribute to the making and unmaking of the Baloch national identity. The belief that unity is inevitable, a foregone conclusion, flows from this idealized view of it.

Another equally serious flaw is the tendency among some of the Baloch nationalists to think in terms of separate and independent forces of unity and forces of divisiveness, ignoring the dialectical relationship between these forces. Thus, we have been told repeatedly that there are certain elements of unity (such as language, common culture, geography, or shared history) as well as certain elements of fragmentation (such as communalism, tribalism, localism, or regionalism). If, instead, we view these forces from the vantage point of dialectical relations, the definition of Baloch identity involves a simultaneous and systematic examination of both the processes of unification and fragmentation. This very point makes it possible to argue that the Baloch can belong together without being the same; similarly, it can be seen that they may have antagonistic relations without being different.

The Sense of Belonging

The specificity of Balochistan geography and geopolitics has affected and shaped the character of the Baloch, their vision of the world and the way they have continued to reproduce and reinterpret their cultural elements and traditions. The Baloch myths and memories persist over generations and centuries, forming contents and contexts for collective self-definition and affirmation of collective identities in the face of the other.[1]

Located on the south-eastern Iranian plateau, with an approximately 600,000 sq. km., an area rich with diversity, that also incorporates within it a wide social variety, Balochistan is larger than France (551,500 sq. km.).[2] It is an austere land of steppe and desert intersected by numerous mountain chains. Naturally, the climate of such a vast territory has extraordinary varieties.[3] In the northern and interior highlands, the temperature often drops to 400 F in winter, while the summers are temperate. The coastal region is extremely hot, with temperature soaring between 1000 to 1300 F in summers, while winters provide a more favourable climate. In spite of its position on the direction of southwest monsoon winds from Indian Ocean, Balochistan seldom receives more than 5 to 12 inches of rainfall per year due to the low altitude of Makkoran’s coastal ranges.[4] The ecological factors have, however, been responsible for the fragmentation of agricultural centres and pasturelands, thus shaping the formation of the traditional tribal economy and its corresponding socio-political institutions.[5]

Balochistan’s geographical location between India and the Mesopotamian civilization had given it a unique position as cross roads between earlier civilizations. Some of the earliest human civilizations emerged in Balochistan, Mehrgar the earliest civilization known to man kind yet, is located in eastern Balochistan, the Kech civilization in central Makkuran date back to 4000 BC, Burned city near Zahidan, the provincial capital in western Balochistan date back to 3000 BC. Thus, by the course of time, a cluster of different religions, languages and cultures coexisted side by side. Similarly in the Islamic era we see the flourishing of different sects of Islam (Sunni, Zikri and Shia), remarkable marriage of tribal and semi-tribal society enriched with colourful cultural and traditional heritage.[6]

The Baloch, probably numbering close to 15 million, are one of the largest trans-state nations in southwest Asia.[7] The question of Baloch origins, i.e., who the Baloch are and where they come from, has for too long remained an enigma. Doubtless in a few words one can respond, for example, that Baloch are the end-product of numerous layers of cultural and genetic material superimposed over thousands of years of internal migrations, immigrations, cultural innovations and importations.Balochistan, the cradle of ancient civilizations, has seen many races, people, religions and cultures during the past few thousand years. From the beginning of classical history three old-world civilizations, Dravidian, Semitic and Aryan, met, formed bonds, and were mutually influenced on the soil of Balochistan. To a lesser or greater extent, they left their marks on this soil, particularly in the religious beliefs and the ethnic composition of the country.[8]

The exact meaning and origin of the term Baloch is somewhat cloudy. Its designation may have a geographical origin, as is the case of many nations in the world. Etymological view supported by some scholars is that the name Baloch probably derives from Gedrozia or “Kedrozia” the name of the Baloch country in the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)”.[9] The term Gedrozia with the suffix of “ia” seems to be a Greek or Latin construction, like Pers-ia , Ind -ia, Kurdia, etc. Gedrozia, the land of the rising sun, was the eastern most Satrapy (province) of the Median Empire. Probably, its location was the main source of its designation as “Gedroz or Gedrozia”. It should be noted that there are two other eastern countries in the Iranian plateau, namely Khoran and Nimroz, both have their designation originated from the same source, the sun. They are known as the lands of rising sun. Like the suffix “istan”, Roz (Roch) is also a suffix for various place and family names construction in Iranian languages.

Having studied the etymology of the term “Kurd”, the Kurdish scholar Mohammad Amin Seraji believes that the term “Baloch” is the corrupted form of the term Baroch or Baroz. Arguing on the origin and the meaning of the term, Seraji says, the Baroz has a common meaning both in Kurdish and Balochi, which means the land of the rising sun (ba-roch or “toward sun”). Locating at the eastern most corner of the Median Empire, the county probably got the designation “Baroch or baroz” during the Median or early Achaemenid era, believes Seraji. According to him, there are several tribes living in Eastern Kurdistan, who are called Barozi (because of their eastward location in the region). Based on an ancient Mesopotamian text, some scholars, however, opine that the word “Baloch” is a corrupted form of Melukhkha, Meluccha or Mleccha, which was the designation of the modern eastern Makkoran during the third and the second millennia B.C.[10]

Historically, defeating the Median Empire in 549 BC, the mightiest Persian King, Darius (522-485), subjugated Balochistan at around 540 B.C. He declared the Baloch country as one of his walayat(province) and appointed a satrap (governor) to it.[11] Probably it was during this era, the Madian and the later Persian domination era, the Baloch tribes were gradually Aryanised, and their language and the national characteristics formed. If that is the case, the formation of the Baloch ethno-linguistic identity should be traced back to the early centuries of the first millennium BC.

Etymologically speaking, there are many territorial or regional names, which are derived after the four cardinal points (East, West, North and South).[12] For example, the English word Japan is not the name used for their country by the Japanese while speaking the Japanese language: it is an exonym.[13]The Japanese names for Japan are Nippon and Nihon. Both Nippon and Nihon literally mean “the sun’s origin”, that is, where the sun originates, and are often translated as the Land of the Rising Sun. This nomenclature comes from Imperial correspondence with Chinese Sui Dynasty and refers to Japan’s eastward position relative to China.
Being a Balochi endonym, the origin of the word “Balochistan” can be identified with more precision and certainty. The term constitutes of two parts, “Baloch” and “–stan”. The last part of the name “-stan” is an Indo-Iranian suffix for “place”, prominent in many languages of the region. The name Balochistan quite simply means “the land of the Baloch”, which bears in itself a significant national connotation identifying the country with the Baloch.[14] Gankovsky, a Soviet scholar on the subject, has attributed the appearance of the name to the “formation of Baloch feudal nationality” and the spread of the Baloch over the territory bearing their name to this day during the period between the 12th and the 15th century.[15]
The Baloch may be divided into two major groups. The largest and the most extensive of these are the Baloch who speak Balochi or any of its related dialects. This group represents the Baloch “par excellence”. The second group consists of the various non-Balochi speaking groups, among them are the Baloch of Sindh and Punjab and the Brahuis of eastern Balochistan who speak Sindhi, Seraiki and Brahui respectively. Despite the fact that the latter group differs linguistically, they believe themselves to be Baloch, and this belief is not contested by their Balochi-speaking neighbours. Moreover, many prominent Baloch leaders have come from this second group.[16] Thus, language has never been a hurdle for Balochs’ religious and cultural unity. Even before the improvement of roads, communication, printing, “Doda-o Balach and Shaymorid-o Hani” stories were popular throughout the length and breadth of Balochistan.

Despite the heterogeneous composition of the Baloch, however, in some cases attested in traditions preserved by the tribes, they believe themselves to have a common ancestry. Some scholars have claimed a Semitic ancestry for the Baloch, a claim which is also supported by the Baloch genealogy and traditions, and has found wide acceptance among the Baloch writers. Even though this belief may not necessarily agree with the facts (which, it should be pointed out, are very difficult to prove, either way), it is the concept universally held among members of the group that matters. In this connection Kurdish nationalism offers a good parallel. The fact is that there are many common ethnic factors which have contributed to the formation of the Kurdish nation; there are also factors which have led to divisions within the Kurds themselves. While the languages identified as Kurdish are not the same as the Persian, Arabic, or Turkish, they are mutually unintelligible. Geographically, the division between the Kurmanji-speaking areas and the Sorani-speaking areas correspond with the division between the Sunni and Shiite schools of Islam. Despite all these factors, the Kurds form one of the oldest nations in the Middle East.Tribal loyalties continue to dominate the Baloch society, and the allegiance of the majority of the Baloch have been to their extended families, clans, and tribes. The Baloch tribes share an ideology of common descent and segmentary alliance and opposition. These principles do actually operate at the level of the smaller sub-tribes, but they are contradicted by the political alliances and authority relations integrating these sub-tribes into larger wholes. In a traditional, tribal society a political ideology such as Baloch nationalism would be unable to gain support, because loyalties of tribal members do not extend to entities rather than individual tribes. The failure of the tribes to unite in the cause of Baloch nationalism is a replay of tribal behaviour in both the Pakistani and Iranian Baloch revolts. Within the tribes, an individual’s identity is based on his belonging to a larger group. This larger group is not the nation but the tribe. However, the importance of the rise of a non-tribal movement over more tribal structures should not be underestimated. In this respect the Baloch movements of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s provide us a good example.[17]

The Baloch have devised a nationalist ideology, but realise that the tribal support remains a crucial ingredient to any potential success of a national movement. By accepting the support of the tribes, however, the nationalists fall vulnerable to tribal rivalries. Tribal ties, however, are of little significance in southern Balochistan (both Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan), Makkoran, which was originally a stratified society, with a class of nominally Baloch landowners controlling the agricultural resources. The great majority of the tribes in Balochistan view them and are viewed by outsiders as the Baloch.[18]

Politically, the British occupation of the Baloch State of Kalat in 1839 was perhaps the greatest event and turning point in the Baloch history. From the very day the British forces occupied Kalat state, Baloch destiny changed dramatically. The painful consequences for the Baloch were the partition of their land and perpetual occupation by foreign forces. Concerned with con taining the spread of the Russian Socialist Revolution of 1917, the British assisted Persian to incorporate western Balochistan in 1928 in order to strengthen the latter country as a barrier to Russian ex pansion southward. The same concern also led later to the annexation of Eastern Balochistan to Pakistan in 1948.

Thus, colonial interests worked against the Baloch and deprived them of their self-determination and statehood. Confirming this notion, in 2006, in a pamphlet, the Foreign Policy Centre, a leading European think tank, launched under the patronage of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, revealed that it was British advice that led to the forcible accession of Kalat to Pakistan in 1948. Referring reliable British government archives, the Foreign Policy Centre argues, that the Secretary of State Lord Listowell advised Mountbatten in September 1947 that because of the location of Kalat, it would be too dangerous and risky to allow it to be independent. The British High Commissioner in Pakistan was accordingly asked “to do what he can to guide the Pakistan government away from making any agreement with Kalat which would involve recognition of the state as a separate international entity”.[19]

Since the early 20th century, Balochistan’s political boundaries do not conform to its physical frontier; they vary widely. Eastern Balochistan with Quetta as its capital has been administered by Pakistan since 1948; western Balochistan, officially known as “Sistan-wa-Balochistan” with Zahedan as its capital, has been under the control of Iran since 1928; and the Northern Balochistan known as the Walayat-i-Nimrooz, has been under the Afghan control since the early 20th century.

Shared History

As the Kurd, Baloch make a large ethnic community in the Southwest Asia without a state of their own. Baloch folk tales and legends points out that major shift of Baloch population to the present land of Balochistan were brought about in different times and different places. From linguistic evidence, it appears that the Baloch migrated southward from the region of the Caspian Sea. Viewed against this background, the Baloch changed several geographical, political and social environments. Thus from the very beginning they learned to adjust themselves with different cultures and way of life.

The Baloch history is a chain of unsuccessful uprisings for autonomy and independence. It tells about genocide, forcible assimilation, deportation and life in exile. Since its inception, the Baloch national identity has been seen as based primarily on such experiences. However, the early political history of the Baloch is obscure. It appears to have begun with the process of the decline of the central rule of the Caliphate in the region and the subsequent rise of the Baloch in Makkoran in the early years of the 11th century.[20] The Umawid general Mohammad bin Qasim captured Makkoran in 707 AD. Thereafter, Arab governors ruled the country at least until the late 10th century when the central rule of the Abbasid Caliphate began to decline.[21]

The period of direct Arab rule over Makkoran lasted about three centuries. By gradually accepting Islam, the scattered Baloch tribes over vast area (from Indus in the east, to Kerman in the west), acquired a new common identity, the Islamic. Thus Islam gave them added cohesion.[22] The Arab rule also relieved them from the constant political and military pressure from Persia in the north. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, they benefited materially from the growth of trade and commerce which flourished in the towns and ports under the Arabs, reviving the old sea and land-based trade routes that linked India to Persia and Arabia through western Makkoran.[23]

Under the Arab rule, the Baloch tribal chiefs became a part of the privileged Muslim classes, and identified themselves with the Arab caliphate and represented it in the region. The conflicts between the Arab caliphate and the Baloch on the one hand, and the neighbouring non-Muslim powers on the other, strengthened the “Muslim” identity of the Baloch, while the conflicts between the Arab caliphate and the Baloch contributed to their “tribal unity and common” consciousness. The threats posed to the Arab Empire and to the Baloch, would gradually narrow the gap between the warlike Baloch tribes. In this process, Islam would function as a unifying political ideology and promote a common culture among the Baloch tribal society and its different social classes as a whole. These developments appear to have played a significant role in enabling the Baloch to form large-scale tribal federations that led to their gradual political and military supremacy in the territories now forming Balochistan during the period of 11th to 13th centuries.[24] Thus, the early middle ages saw the first emergence of a distinctive Baloch culture and the establishment of the Baloch principalities and dynasties. As the power of Arabs after the first Islamic staunch victory declined with fragmentation of Islam across the Sunni and Shiites theological lines, the Baloch tribes moved to fill the administrative, political and spiritual vacuum.

Since the 12th century the Baloch formed powerful tribal unions. The confederacy of forty-four tribes under Mir Jalal Khan in the 12th century, the Rind-Lashari confederacy of the fifteenth century, the Maliks, the Dodais, the Boleidais, and the Gichkis of Makkoran, and the Khanate of Balochistan in the 17thcentury, united and merged all the Baloch tribes at different times. Moreover, the invasions of the Mughals and the Tatars, the wars and the mass migrations of the thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries, and the cross tribal alliances and marriages, contributed to the shaping of the Baloch identity.[25]

Thus, historical experiences have played an important role to the formation of the Baloch national identity. In this regards the Swiss experience shows a remarkable similarity. In the Swiss case strength of common historical experience and a common consensus of aspirations have been sufficient to weld into nationhood groups without a common linguistic or cultural background. The history of the Baloch people over the past hundred years has been a history of evolution, from traditional society to a more modern one. (“More modern” is a comparative term, and does not imply a “modern” society, i.e. a culminating end-point to the evolution.) As such, the reliance on tribal criteria is stronger in the earlier movements, and the reliance on nationalism stronger in the later ones. Similarly, the organizing elements in the early movements are the tribes; the political parties gradually replace the tribes as mass mobilization is channeled into political institutions.[26]

Culture and the Baloch Identity

Geography helps, because it accustoms the Baloch to the idea of difference. Thus, the Baloch culture owes much to the geography of the country. The harsh climate and mountainous terrain breeds a self-reliant people used to hardship; the same conditions, however, result in isolation and difficulties in communication. In terms of physical geography, Balochistan has more in common with Iranian plateau than with the Indian subcontinent. On the north, it is separated from India by the massive barrier of the southern buttresses of the Sulaiman Mountains. On the south, there is the long extension from Kalat of the inconceivably wild highland country, which faces the desert of Sindh, the foot of which forms the Indian frontier. The cultural heartland lies in the interior, in the valleys of Kech, Panjgur and Bampur in the Southern and central Balochistan.[27]

Being expressed through language, literature, religion, customs, traditions and beliefs, culture is a complex of many strands of varying importance and vitality. The Balochs’ adjustability, accommodation and spirit of tolerance enable their culture survive several vicissitudes. The Baloch people are distinct from the Punjabi and the Persian elite that dominate Pakistani and Iranian politics – they are Muslims but more secular in their outlook (in a similar fashion to the Kurds) with their own distinct language and culture. Spooner points to the importance of the Balochi language as a unifying factor between the numerous groups nowadays identifying themselves as “Baloch”. He wrote, “Baluch identity in Baluchistan has been closely tied to the use of the Baluchi language in inter-tribal relations”.[28] In spite of almost half a century of brutal assimilation policy, both in Iran and Pakistan, the Baloch people have managed to retain their culture and their oral tradition of story telling. This explains the tendency to dismiss the existing states as artificial and to call for political unity coinciding with linguistic identity. The prevailing view is that only a minority of the people of Balochistan lack a sense of being Baloch; this minority category includes the Persians of Sistan and the Pashtuns of Eastern Balochistan.[29]

It is, however, worth mentioning that the linguistic and ethnic plurality had been the rule in the almost all Baloch tribal unions in the past. The Rind-Lashari union of the 15 century, the Zikri state of Makkuran and the Brahui Confederacy of Kalat, all constituted of diverse tribal confederacies. No attempt had been made to force Kalat subjects to speak Brahui, a large number of tribes did not speak it as their first language and perhaps most Kalat subjects did not speak it at all. The Brahui tribes spoke Barahui, the Lasis and Jadgal spoke Jadgali, and the Baloch spoke Balochi.

Being a tribal people, religion plays a less important role in the daily life of the Baloch. It is generally believed that before the emergence of the Islamic fundamentalism in the region, Baloch were not religiously devout as compared to their neighbours, the Persians, Punjabis and the Pashtuns. Their primary loyalties were to their tribal leaders. Unlike the Afghan he is seldom a religious bigot and, as Sir Denzil Ibbetson, in mid-19th century described the Baloch, “he has less of God in his head, and less of the devil in his nature”[30] Thus, historically speaking, the Baloch always have had a more secular and pluralistic seen on religion than their neighbours.

Because the Pakistani state assumed the mantle of two-nation theory (Islam/Hinduism) based on Islam for its legitimacy, as a countermovement one can expect most Baloch to rely on ethno-nationalism. In 1947, Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo voiced the Baluch opinion against the religious nationalism of Pakistan: “We are Muslims but it (this fact) did not mean (it is) necessary to lose our independence and to merge with other (nations) because of the Muslim (faith). If our accession into Pakistan is necessary, being Muslim, then Muslim states of Afghanistan and Iran should also merge with Pakistan.”[31]

As mentioned earlier, linguistically the Baloch society is diverse. There are a substantial number of Brahui speakers in the central and northern Balochistan who are culturally very similar to the Baloch, and the Baloch, who inhabit the Indus Plains, Punjab and Sindh retain their ethnic identity though they now speak Sindhi or Seraiki. Although Brahui and Balochi are unrelated languages, multi-lingualism is common among them. Having considered this reality, Tariq Rahman believes, “The Balochi and Brahvi languages are symbols of the Baloch identity, which is a necessary part of Baloch nationalism.”[32]

Of the various elements that go into the making of the Baloch national identity, probably the most important is a common social and economic structure. For while many racial strains have contributed to the making of the Baloch people, and while there are varying degrees of differences in language and dialect among the various groups, a particular type of social and economic organisation, comprising what has been described as a “tribal culture”, is common to them all. This particular tribal culture is the product of environment, geographical, and historical forces, which have combined to shape the general configuration of Baloch life and institutions. Describing the Baloch economy in early 1980s, a prominent authority on the subject of Baloch nationalism, Selig S. Harrison wrote, “Instead of relying solely on either nomadic pastoralism or on settled agriculture, most Baloch practice a mixture of the two in order to survive”.[33]

A classic sociological principle proposes a positive relationship between external conflicts and internal cohesion.[34] One such exclusive focus is the constantly expressed view that the only thing the Baloch agree on is the hatred of Gajar (Persian) and Punjabi dominance. The common struggle against the alien invaders, while strengthening the common bonds, develops national feelings. According to Peter Kloos, for reasons that are still very unclear, people confronted with powerful forces that lie beyond their horizon, and certainly beyond their control, tend to turn to purportedly primordial categories, turning to the familiarity of their own ethnic background. In the process they try to gain an identity of their own by going back to the fundamentals of their religion, to a language unspoken for generations, to the comfort of a homeland that may have been theirs in the past. In doing so, they construct a new identity.[35]

The Baloch people face unique challenges contingent on the nation-state in which they reside. For example, in Iran, where the Baloch are thought to comprise more than two million are restricted from speaking Balochi freely and have been subjected in military operations by the Persian dominated state. The harsh oppression of the Iranian and Pakistani states has strengthened the Balochs’ will to pass on their heritage to coming generations. The Balochi language is both proof and symbol of the separate identity of the Baloch, and impressive efforts are made to preserve and develop it.[36] Having realized the significance of the language (Balochi) as the most determinant factor for the Baloch identity, the Persian and Punjabi dominated states of Iran and Pakistan have sought to “assimilate” the Baloch by all possible means.[37]

Globalization and the Baloch Identity

Since the early 2000, electronic media has been a continually changing forum for communicating, which has been taken up by the Baloch communities to maintain connections with their brethren all over the world. In that capacity, the technology has been an easy and innovative avenue for cultural expression. The Baloch, for instance, have established on-line magazines, newsgroups, human rights organizations, student groups, academic organizations and book publishers for a trans-national community. Some of these informative and insightful English media include: Balochistan TV,,,,,, baloch2000.orgetc. Based out of the country, they have significantly contributed to the development of the Baloch identity.

The revival of ethnic identity is converging with the emergence of continental political and economic units theoretically able to accommodate smaller national units within overarching political, economic, and security frameworks. The nationalist resurgence is inexorably moving global politics away from the present state system to a new political order more closely resembling the world’s ethnic and historical geography. Thus, the new world order may hold light of hope for oppressed ethnic communities, who have survived empires, colonization, nation building processes by brutal neighbors who systematically eroded them, reduced their existence to rival tribes. Therefore, contrary to the globalist argument, the new media are not eroding the sense of national identity but rather reinforcing and providing it with a broader and much independent context to an ethno cultural identity across the juridical boundaries of states to strengthen and solidify its distinct cultural identity.


There is a general consensus among the scholars about the Baloch community with regard to heterogeneity in Baloch political society, that voluntary association, independence, autonomy, equality and consultation had remained its basic principles and ingredients. It is the idea of an ever-ever land – emerging from an ancient civilization, united by a shared history, sustained by pluralistic way of life. In fact this way of life made it possible for people with different social realities come under the umbrella of a free, willingly accepted social and cultural code. The Baloch em braced and assimilated other minor groups to extend their strength. The pre sent-day Baloch are not a single race, but are a people of different origins, whose lan guage belong to the Iranian family of languages. They are mixed with Arabs in the South, Indians in the East, and with Turkmen and other Altaic groups in the North West.

The very survival of the Baloch, as a distinctive nation is characterised by decentralisation and diversity: diversity of racial origins, of dialects, of tribes and communities, of religions. But it’s diversity within a unity, provided by common tribal culture, common history, common experiences and common dreams. Thus, it is necessary to understand the forces of unity and the forces of divisiveness in relation to each other. These forces operate within the context of underlying conflicts and confrontations and under certain specific conditions. The Baloch identity is therefore developed to the extent that it manifests itself through a sense of belonging and a diversity of affiliations. The Baloch also recognize a shared place in history and common experiences. Similarly, social formations and shared economic interests have helped to shape the Baloch identity. And, finally, the baloch identity is shaped by specific, shared external challenges and conflicts.


Baloch, Inayatullah, The Problem of Greater Baluchistan: A Study of Baluch Nationalism, Stuttgart : Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GMBH, 1987.
Baluch, Muhammad Sardar, History of Baluch Race and Baluchistan, Quetta : Khair – un -Nisa, Nisa Traders, Third Edition 1984;
Baluch, Muhammad Sardar, The Great Baluch: The Life and Times of Ameer Chakar Rind 1454- 1551 A .D., Quetta , 1965.
Breseeg,Taj Mohammad, Baloch Nationalism: Its Origin and Development, Karachi, Royal Book Company, 2004.
Harrison, Selig S., In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baluch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations, New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1981.
Holdich, Thomas, The Gate of India : Being a Historical Narrative, London , 1910. Sabir Badalkhan, “A Brief Note of Balochistan”, unpublished, 1998. This ariticle was submitted to the Garland Encyclopedia of World Folklore, New York-London, (in 13 vols): vol. 5, South Asia, edited by Margaret Mills.

Hosseinbor, M. H., “Iran and Its Nationalities: The Case of Baluch Nationalism”, PhD. Thesis, The Amerikan university, 1984.

Jahani, Carina, “Poetry and Politics: Nationalism and Language Standardization in the Balochi Literary Movement” in: Paul Titus (ed.), Marginality and Modernity: Ethnicity and Change in Post-Colonial Balochistan, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Kloos, Peter, “Secessionism in Europe in the Second Half of the 20th Century” in: Nadeem Ahmad Tahir (ed.), The Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism in Europe and South Asia, Karachi , 1998.

Malik Allah-Bakhsh, Baluch Qaum Ke Tarikh ke Chand Parishan Dafter Auraq, Quetta :, Islamiyah Press, 20 September, 1957.

Possehl, Gergory L., Kulli: An Exploration of Ancient Civilization in Asia, Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 1986.
Rahman,Tariq, “The Balochi/Brahvi Language Movements in Pakistan ”, in: Journal of South Asian and Middle East Studies Vol. XIX, No.3, Spring 1996.

Spooner, Brian, “Baluchistan: Geography, History, and Ethnography” (pp. 598-632), In: Ehsan Yarshater, (ed), Encyclopadia Iranica, Vol. III, London – New York : Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1989.

The Foreign Policy Centre, Balochis of Pakistan : On the Margins of History, Foreign Policy Centre, London 2006.
The Gazetteer of Baluchistan: Makran, Quetta: Gosha-e Adab (repr. 1986).

The Imperial Gazetteer of India, vol. VI, Oxford : Calaredon Press, 1908.


Seraji, Mohammad Amin, leading political figure since 1950’s, from Iranian Kurdistan, was borne in September 1934, Mahabad Kurdistan, educated from the faculty of Law, University of Tehran . Interview made in Stockholm in April 2006, (on tape in Persian).

[1] Muhammad Sardar Khan Baluch, History of Baluch Race and Baluchistan, Quetta : Khair – un -Nisa, Nisa Traders, Third Edition 1984, p. 26.

[2] Inayatullah Baloch, The Problem of Greater Baluchistan, 1987, pp. 19-23; See also Janmahmad, Essays on Baloch National Struggle in Pakistan, p. 427.

[3] For a good description of the natural climate of Western Balochistan see Naser Askari, Moghadamahi Bar Shenakht-e Sistan wa Balochistan, Tehran: Donya-e Danesh, 1357/1979 pp. 3-14.

[4] Ibid., p. 9

[5] Taj Mohammad Breseeg, Baloch Nationalism: Its Origin and Development, Karachi, Royal Book Company, published in 2004, p. 64.
[6] Ibid., pp. 74-77.

[7] For more information, see Ibid., pp. 66-70.

[8] Gergory L. Possehl, Kulli: An Exploration of Ancient Civilization in Asia , pp. 58-61.

[9] Taj Mohammad Breseeg, Baloch Nationalism: Its Origin and Development, Karachi, Royal Book Company, published in 2004, p. 56.

[10] J. Hansman, “A Periplus of Magan and Melukha”, in BSOAS, London , 1973, p. 555; H. W. Balley, “Mleccha, Baloc, and Gadrosia”, in: BSOAS, No. 36, London , 1973, pp. 584-87. Also see, Cf. K. Karttunen, India in Early Greek Literature, Studia Orientalia, no. 65, Helsinki : Finnish Oriental Society, 1989, pp. 13-14.

[11] I. Afshar (Sistani), Balochistan wa Tamaddon-e Dirineh-e An, pp. 89-90.

[12] Etymology is the study of the history of words — when they entered a language, from what source, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. In languages with a long detailed history, etymology makes use of philology, the stu how words change from culture to culture over time. However, etymologists also apply the methods of comparative linguistics to reconstruct information about languages that are too old for any direct information (such as writing) to be known. By analyzing related languages with a technique known as the comparative method, linguists can make inferences, about their shared parent language and its vocabulary. In this way, word roots have been found which can be traced all the way back to the origin of, for instance, the Indo-European language family.

[13] An exonym is a name for a place that is not used within that place by the local inhabitants (neither in the official language of the state nor in local languages, or a name for a people or language that is not used by the people or language to which it refers. The name used by the people or locals themselves is called endonym . For example, Deutschland is an endonym; Germany is an English exonym for the same place.

[14] That is also the case with other similar names such as Kurdistan (the Kurdish homeland), Arabistan (the Arab homeland), Uzbakistan, etc. In these names, the Persian affix “istan” meaning land or territory is added to the name of its ethnic inhabitants.

[15] Yu. V. Gankovsky, The People of Pakistan : An ethnic history, pp. 147-8.
[16] Many prominent Baloch nationalists, such as Mir Gaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Sardar Atuallah Megal, Gul Khan Nasir are Brahui-speaking.

[17] Breseeg, 2004, pp. 195-227.

[18] Ibid., pp. 92-95.

[19] The Foreign Policy Centre, Balochis of Pakistan : On the Margins of History, Foreign Policy Centre, London 2006.

[20] M. H. Hosseinbor, “ Iran and Its Nationalities: The Case of Baluch Nationalism”, pp. 45-46.
[21] Ibid., and see Breseeg, p. 109.

[22] The Imperial Gazetteer of India , vol. VI, Oxford : Calaredon Press, 1908, p. 275.

[23] Thomas Holdich, The Gate of India : Being an Historical Narrative, London , 1910, pp. 297-301. See also Dr. Sabir Badalkhan, “A Brief Note of Balochistan”, unpublished, 1998. This ariticle was submitted to the Garland Encyclopedia of World Folklore, New York-London, (in 13 vols): vol. 5, South Asia , edited by Margaret Mills.

[24] Ibid.

[25] For more detail, see Inayatullah Baloch, The Problem of Greater Baluchistan, pp. 89-125.

[26] Breseeg, 2004, pp. 248-51.

[27] It was in Makkuran that the early middle ages saw the first emergence of a distinctive Baloch culture and the establishment of the Baloch principalities and dynasties.
[28] Brian Spooner, Baluchistan: Geography, History, and Ethography p. 599.

[29] Breseeg, 2004, pp. 361-63, 296-98.

[30] Sir Denzil Ibbeston, The races, castes and tribes of the people in the report on the Census of Punjab , published in 1883, cited in: Muhammad Sardar Khan Baluch, The Great Baluch, pp. 83-100. It is important to note that the Baloch way of life influenced the way in which Islam was adopted. Up to tenth century as observed by the Arab historian Al-Muqaddasi the Baloch were Muslim only by name (Al-Muqaddasi, Ahsanul Thaqasim, quoted in Dost Muhammad Dost, The Languages and Races of Afghanistan, Kabul, 1975, p. 363.) Similarly, Marco Polo, at the end of the thirteenth century, remarls that some of people are idolators but the most part are Saracens (The Gazetteer of Baluchistan: Makran, p. 113).

[31] Malik Allah-Bakhsh, Baluch Qaum Ke Tarikh ke Chand Parishan Dafter Auraq, Quetta :, Islamiyah Press, 20 September, 1957 , p. 43.

[32] Tariq Rahman, “The Balochi/Brahvi Language Movements in Pakistan ”, in: Journal of South Asian and Middle East Studies Vol. XIX, No.3, Spring 1996, p. 88.
[33] Selig S. Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, p. 8.

[34] See Peter Kloos, “Secessionism in Europe in the Second Half of the 20th Century” in: Tahir, Nadeem Ahmad (ed.), The Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism in Europe and South Asia, Karachi , 1998.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Carina Jahani, “Poetry and Politics: Nationalism and Language Standardization in the Balochi Literary Movement”, p. 110.

[37] Selig S. Harrison, In Afghanistan’s Shadow, pp. 95-96.

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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Balochistan


A historical survey of the Baloch of Sistan

A village in Seistan region

By: Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz

Historically, the arrival of the Baloch in Sistan is not very clear, but accord- ing to early muslim writers, the mountains southeast of Kerman were mainly inhabited by people who did not speak Persian and lived in goat-hair tents keeping flocks. In the 11th and 12th centuries, due to the invasion of Kerman by the Saljuqs, the Baloch began to migrate eastwards, beyond Makrān to Sind and Punjab in several waves. These migrations continued for the next five centuries.

On historiographic and linguistic evidence, the Baloch have probably immi- grated from the north (Spooner 1989:607). According to an early muslim geographer, Istakhri (10th century), the Baloch lived in a separate district of Kerman and in two districts of Sistan (ibid.:606). However, the first migra- tions from the Caspian area seem to have started earlier, likely in late Sasa- nian times, and to have continued in several independent waves over several centuries. Therefore, these areas, i.e. some districts in Kerman and Sistan, may have been occupied by Baloch migrants by the 8th century (Elfenbein

The Baloch in Sistan and those living southeast and southwest of them kept in touch throughout the centuries. This can be proved by the spread of heroic ballads such as those of the Čākar cycle and Mīr Hammal Jīhand which were formed mainly in the south during the last quarter of the 15th century and throughout the 16th century (ibid.:640-641) but which are also found among the Baloch in Sistan The old historical ballads of the Baloch probably go back to the 16th century and provide them with a ‘true Islamic’ genealogy (Jahani & Korn 2009:634). According to these ballads, the Baloch are of Arabic origin from Aleppo and after a seemingly imaginary period of fighting on the side of Imam Hussein against the Caliph Yazid at Karbalā, they left Karbalā and reached Sistan where they settled in the region of Rūdbār in peace under the rule of “Šams- al-Dīn” who was friendly to them. Because of the next ruler, “Badr-al-Din”, who was hostile to them, some of the Baloch went southeastward and some went southwestward (Elfenbein 1989:640).

The migrations back and forth may have continued during the next centuries because of different reasons. The last ones happened at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries from Sistan to Turkmenistan (Axenov 2006:19), as well as in Reza Shah’s time, from 1928 onwards, from Iranian Balochistan to Pakistani Balochistan. Migration also took place at different times during the 20th century from Sistan to Khorasan and Golestan provinc- es, mainly because of prolonged droughts and, in 1979 and subsequent years from Afghanistan to Iran after the Soviet invasion.

The exact size of the Baloch population in Sistan is not known since there are no statistical data according to ethnic groups, but an approximate estima- tion is possible. According to the Statistical Centre of Iran (SCI) the popula- tion of Sistan and Balochistan in 1385/2006 was 2 405 742 which is predict- ed to have increased to 2 733 205 by 1389/2010. The population of Iranian Sistan with its two cities, i.e. Zabol and Zahak according to the latest statis- tics from 2006 is shown in Table 1.1. Our estimation for the Baloch popula- tion is at least 25% of the whole population of Sistan, i.e. about 100 000. They mostly live near the Afghan border.

Table 1.1. Population of Iranian Sistan


• Zabol

Urban : 153 742

Rural : 174 593

Unsettled : 982

Total : 329 317

• Zahak

Urban : 11 401

Rural : 60 061

Unsettled : ?

Total: 71 462

• Total : 400 779

The Central Statistics Organization (CSO) of Afghanistan gives the popula- tion 148 000 for the Nimruz province in 2009, 61% of which are Baloch, i.e. about 90 000. They nowadays mostly inhabit the valley of the river Hilmand in Nimruz including five main districts, i.e. Chaharburjak, Zaranj, Kang, Chakhansur, and Khash Rod.1 The total population of the Balochi speakers is therefore likely to amount to about 200 000 both in Iranian and Afghani Sistan altogether.


1.2.1 The Balochi language

The position of Balochi among Iranian languages From a historical point of view, Balochi belongs to the so-called north- western group of Iranian languages which also includes other new Iranian languages such as Kurdish, Zazaki, Gilaki, Mazandarani, and Taleshi, whereas Persian, Lori, Bakhtiari, etc., are classified as south-western Iranian languages.2 Geographically, Balochi is now spoken in the south-eastern part of the Iranian language area. The north-western group shares some charac- teristics with each other and with the Middle Iranian language Parthian (Korn 2003:49). Korn (2005:329-330) puts Balochi, in addition to Kurdish, in a position between the north-western and the south-western Iranian lan- guages and calls them “Transitional western Iranian languages”. She further suggests more studies on the historical morphology of Balochi and the histo- ry of neighbouring Iranian languages in order to confirm this position.

1.2.2 Balochi dialects

Axenov (2006: 21-22) gives a brief history of the scientific dialect divisions suggested for Balochi from 1889 to 2003. Here we are going to mention the latest and the most scholarly accepted divisions and subdivisions of the Ba- lochi language (see Map 1.2). The three main dialects of Balochi are West- ern (or Rakhshani), Southern (or Makrani), and Eastern Balochi (Barker & Mengal 1969:I:xxv; Carleton & Carleton 1987:9; Jahani 2001:59, 2003:117; Jahani & Korn 2009:636). Elfenbein (1966) divides Balochi into six major dialects on the basis of pho- nology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. Later, he repeats the same dialect description with the correction of Loṭūnī to Lāšārī as the name of one of these dialects (Elfenbein 1989:636-637). The six dialects from north to south are:

1) Raxšānī with its three subdialects: a) Sarhaddī (including Balochi of Sistan = BS and Balochi of Turkmenistan = BT); b) Panǰgūrī; c)
2) Sarāwānī
3) Lāšārī
4) Kēchī
5) Coastal dialects
6) Eastern Hill Balochi
Jahani and Korn (2009:637) consider Sarāwānī and Panǰgūrī as transitional dialects between Western and Southern Balochi in Iran and Pakistan, respec- tively.

The Balochi of Sistan (BS) which the corpus data for this thesis are in, can be classified as belonging to the Sarhaddī subdialect of the Raxšānī or West- ern group of Balochi dialects.

1.2.3 The number of Balochi speakers

Due to the lack of appropriate census data, the exact number of speakers of Balochi is unknown. Estimations which are now twenty years old were made by Jahani (1989:93) and Elfenbein (1990/I:1). These give between 4.5 and 4.8, and 3.5 million Balochi speakers, respectively. Considering all limita-tions for such an approximate calculation, this number should have increased by up to 7 to 10 millions by 2010.

The Balochi speaking area covers a vast territory stretching north to south from Mari in Turkmenistan to the Gulf States and west to east from the south-eastern part of Iran to the lower Indus. The main areas where the Baloch live are in the Province of Sistan and Balochistan in Iran, the Prov- ince of Balochistan in Pakistan, and the Provinces of Nimruz and Hilmand in Afghanistan as well as in the United Arab Emirates and Oman. In each of the above mentioned countries, Balochi is under the influence of local languages and the national language of that country.

1.3 Previous research on the Balochi of Sistan

Studies of Balochi are numerous and date back to the nineteenth century, but almost all of these early studies are on Balochi dialects in Pakistan. For this study, we just review previous works on BS and BT since we consider them as closely related subdialects of Rakhshani. I. I. Zarubin published two col- lections of folktales, Beludžskie skazki, from BT in 1932 and 1949. The tran- scribed stories are followed by a Russian translation. In 1963 Josef Elfenbein published A Vocabulary of Marw Baluchi which contains all the words oc- curring in the published Marw texts including those of Zarubin’s texts.

Elfenbein’s work ‘Report on a Linguistic Mission to Helmand and Nīmrūz’ in 1979 drew attention to the Balochi dialect in Afghan Sistan. After that, two works dedicated to this dialect were published in 1980 and 1989, respec- tively. The first one is Baluchi by Tetsuo Nawata with short texts and a brief description of the phonology and morphology, and the second one is Aus dem Leben eines jungen Balutschen von ihm selbst erzählt by Georg Buddruss (1988) with an oral text (a life story) told by a young Baloch from Afghani Sistan plus a grammatical sketch and a glossary. During the recent decade two other articles were published in 2003 and 2009 on BS. Both of them, i.e. ‘Some Thoughts and Material on Balochi in Afghanistan’ and ‘Code-Copying in the Balochi language of Sistan’ were written by Lutz Rzehak. Rzehak and Naruyi edited Balochi Gālband: Balochi-Pashto-Dari- English Dictionary written by Abdul Rahman Pahwal and published it as new edition in 2007. This dictionary is based on the Balochi dialect in Af- ghani Sistan. There are also a number of books and articles on the Baloch ethnicity in Afghanistan (see Afghanistan Bibliography, pp. 23-24)3.

The most recent work dedicated to BT, which is closely related to BS, is a Ph.D. thesis, The Balochi Language of Turkmenistan: A corpus-based grammatical description. It was written by Serge Axenov and defended in 2007 at Uppsala University. This work is the most complete analysis of the morphology and syntax of BT so far. In addition to the above mentioned works, there are a small number of other works on ethnography of the Baloch in Turkmenistan, and the phonology and morphology of BT (see Axenov 2006:25f).

It can be seen that the works on BS are few and that no discourse study has been conducted on this dialect or any other dialect of Balochi.

1.4 Purpose of the study

A considerable amount of research has been done on Balochi syntax, pho-nology and morphology, but, as stated in the previous section, no research has been undertaken on Balochi discourse structure.

This work can therefore be considered as the first one which focuses on some discourse features ofBalochi oral narrative texts. First, the term ‘discourse’ refers to a broad area of human life, and has received various interpretations for scholars working in different disciplines such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, computa- tional linguistics, etc. A linguistic approach to ‘discourse analysis’ is taken in this study. Secondly, like any other language, Balochi, on the one hand, uses linguistic devices to produce patterns in communication and, on the other hand, these patterns have correlations with the circumstances in which they occur, which are only explainable at the discourse level rather than at the grammatical level. In other words, we are going to see how speakers of BS convey meaning in their speeches, and how the addressees understand meaning from the uttered speeches. This work deals with various discourse features, such as constituent order, grounding and information flow, cohesion, represented speech and referenti- ality realized by linguistic means in the sentence structures found in BS nar- ratives. The present study is based on a corpus of 25 oral narrative texts listed in §1.6. Appendix 2 contains ten of these texts with glossing and trans- lation. Among the significant features of these oral texts (or spoken dis- courses) we can mention are modifications to cater to the audience, sponta- neous talking and face-to-face encounters, etc., which usually leads to ex- tralinguistic signals such as gesticulation, and rhythm and intonation in speech.

As stated above, this is the first study of discourse structure in Balochi. As a consequence, this work is introductory and it follows the approach to dis-course analysis proposed by Dooley and Levinsohn (2001).

1.5 Theoretical remarks

Whereas syntactic analysis tries to determine what are the properties of well- formed sentences, discourse analysis investigates what are the properties that make for well-formed texts in a language. Hence, the alternative name for discourse analysis is text linguistics. This type of research is concerned with the structure of texts and deduces its explanations for this structure from within natural texts produced by native speakers. These can be oral or writ- ten texts. According to de Beaugrande and Dressler (1981:3-10) a text is defined as a communicative occurrence which meets seven standards of tex- tuality. These are cohesion, coherence, intentionality, acceptability, informa- tivity, situationality, and intertextuality.

There are many approaches to discourse analysis and most approaches focus on a particular aspect of text formation. The approach to text linguistics or discourse analysis taken in this work is based on Dooley and Levinsohn’s Analyzing Discourse: A manual of basic concepts (2001) (henceforth D&L). Instead of applying a narrow aspect of text linguistics they take an eclectic and practical approach to discourse research. Their work demonstrates a methodology for investigating the following aspects of text composition: coherence, cohesion, thematic groupings and thematic discontinuities, the activation status of discourse referents, the discourse-pragmatic structuring of sentences (e.g. topic and focus), foreground and background information, signalling relations between propositions, and the tracking of participant reference. Their approach has been developed over many years and has been successfully applied by field linguists to languages where little or no dis- course research has been undertaken.

According to Levinsohn (2007:2-4), text linguistics has three basic key con- cepts that motivate the analysis of texts:

1. Choice implies meaning.
2. There is a difference between semantic meaning and pragmatic ef fects.
3. There are default versus marked phenomena.
The first concept is one of the basic principles of a functional approach to text linguistics, which stipulates that any author has the option of expressing the same concept in more than one way which cannot be considered as just stylistic variations. The second principle is about the difference between semantic meaning of expressions in a given language and the pragmatic ef- fects of expressions in relation to their user. Semantics is the property of expressions in a given language: what does expression X mean? It is the inherent or natural meaning of the expression. Pragmatics is meaning in rela- tion to the user of the expression: what does the speaker mean by X? The third concept is about the contrastive use of default and marked constituents in clauses and sentences. A marked form is a non-basic or less natural form.
An unmarked form is a basic, default form. Markedness can apply in differ- ent linguistic domains, such as the phonological, morphological, syntactic, or semantic domains. At the discourse level explanations are sought for the use of marked features at this level.

Roberts (2009:51) says that D&L assume that the way a text is linguistically organized reflects how the discourse content is stored as a mental representat- ion in the mind. They also take into account that a discourse occurs in a con- text. Other things that go into the hearers’ mental representation of a discourse are their prior knowledge of the way things happen in the real world and their expectations of what the speaker means. In addition, such knowledge and ex- pectations will be based heavily on culture-specific experience.

The dimensions of discourse structure we cover in this study include:
• discourse-pragmatic structuring of sentences
• foreground and background information and highlighting
• deixis in discourse
• logical relations between propositions
• the reporting of conversation
• participant reference and activation status of discourse referents

It is important to mention that for the main research topic of this dissertation Roberts’ (2009) application of D&L’s methodology to Persian is consulted. We apply this same methodology in this study of discourse structures in our Balochi text corpus.

1.6 Material

The language data used for this work are oral narratives. These narratives include folktales, fables, parables, real-based stories, and religious stories.
They are all third person narratives. The data were recorded during 2000 to 2005 in Sistan and transcribed phonemically into a Latin script presented in Tables 1.3 and 1.4. All the language examples in the dissertation are given in this phonological transcription. More than a hundred stories, ethnographic texts, classical and modern poetry, epics and common speech on various topics were recorded and transcribed. Out of this material, 25 oral texts have been used as linguistic data for the dissertation. The data are presented in the book in such a way as to make the corpus accessible also to researchers to other fields of linguistics than text linguistics and Iranian languages. Poetic texts were not included in the present study because of the peculiarities of the poetic language.

The data were recorded from several male informants aged between 40 to 60. They are from both Iranian and Afghan Sistan although the informants from Afghan Sistan are in the majority as they still continue the tradition of storytelling. All the informants were aware that their speech was recorded for an investigation of the Balochi language and folklore, and that the texts might be published later. Only one of the informants had an academic educa- tion and the others were either illiterate or had a traditional religious educa- tion, which means that they could read and write basic religious texts.

1.7 Layout of the study

Structurally this work is organized into eight chapters, a bibliography and two appendices. The present chapter, chapter one, is devoted to a brief ac- count of the classification of the Balochi language within the family of Irani- an languages, different approaches to dialect division of Balochi, previous research on BS, purpose, method and material used in the study. In the intro duction a short historical survey of the Baloch of Sistan as well as infor-mation about their settlements in the Sistan area are also given.
Chapter two introduces the reader to the discourse-pragmatic structuring of sentences in BS. In this chapter, concepts such as sentence articulation, left- dislocated elements, right-dislocated elements, and order of constituents in the clause in BS are discussed and exemplified. The discourse functions of these various marked constructions are also discussed. Chapter three shows how different syntactic devices can distinguish foreground and background information in BS oral texts. In this chapter some devices which are used in BS narratives for highlighting are also illustrated. Chapter four examines the deixis of time and place and how the concept of proximal and distal deixis applies across a range of deictic elements. In proximal deixis the report of the event is in some way near to the deictic centre of the event and in distal deixis the report of the event is distant to the deictic centre of the event.
Chapter five examines some basic connectives and how they link proposi- tions in the discourse context. Chapter six deals with represented speech. It is found that as well as direct and indirect reported speech, some examples of semi-direct speech occur in BS texts. Semi-direct speech has properties of both direct and indirect speech. Chapter seven illustrates how different par- ticipants are introduced into a discourse and how their activation status is signalled throughout the discourse. The three activation states discussed are active, accessible and inactive. An important analysis in this chapter is find- ing out what is the participant reference tracking strategy employed in BS discourse. Finally, the last chapter of the study presents conclusions from the presentation and discussions in the previous chapters.



2. Historically, Iranian Languages are divided into three periods: Old (before Alexander’s
invasion), Middle (after Alexander until the Arab invasion), and New (after the Arab invasion
until now).

3. [Retrieved 29
July 2010]

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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Balochistan


Archaeological sites and monunents in Balochistan

1. Pirak mound, Village Kolachi, Kachhi.
2. Nindo Damb, Ornach Valley, Tehsil Wadh, Kalat.
3. Fort wall of Jalawar Pass, Jhalawar, Kharn.
4. Fort of Azad Khan (Kharan Fort), Kharan twon, Kharan.
5. Pally Kalat, Washbohi, Kharan.
6. Nauroze fort, Nauroze Kharan.
7. Aneient tomb, Jhalawar, Kharan.
8. Har-o-Goke, Garuk, Kharan.
9. Ancestral graveyard of Jam of Lasbella, Babrs, Lasbella.
10. Tomb of General Muhammad Ibn-e-Haroon, Bela town, Lasbella.
11. Tombs at Hinidan, Pir Mubarakm Lasbella.
12. Chowkhundi (Rumi) graves, Bhawani Sarai, 5 miles from Hub Chowki, Lasella.
13. Tordheri site, Tordheri, Loralai.
14. High cound, Dabarkot, Loralai.
15. Pre-historie mound, Harian Haider Zai, Loralai.
16. Damb Judeir or Judeir-jo-daro, Deh Jodher No.2 between Jhatpat and Dera Murad Jamali,
17. Mound No. 2, Village Samangali, west side of Airport, Quetta.
18. Mound No.1, Village Kotwal Near Killi Gul Muhammad, Quetta.
19. Mound No. 3, Damb Sadat, 14 miles from Quetta, Quetta.
20. Mound No. 5, Ahmad Khan Zai, Quetta.
21. Mound No. 6, Shahi Khan, near Pir Ballo or Sariab Road, Quetta.
22. Mound No. 7, Kachlak on Chaman Road, Quetta.
23. Mound NO. 8, Village Samali (Dosak-i-Khasyan), Quetta.
24. Mound No. 9, Village Metar Zai, Quetta.
25. Mound No. 10, Shaikh Manda on Chaman Road, Quetta.
26. Mound No. 11, Village Vauhisar, Quetta.
27. Quaid-i-Azam Residency Building, Ziarat, Sibi.
1. Fort of Miri
2. Fort of Tump
3. Fort of Turbat
4. Kech e Chennal
5. Koh e Murad

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Balochistan

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