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A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« on: June 10, 2006, 08:53:54 PM »
Ethnic tensions in Baluchistan and Pakistan

A status of equality is bestowed on all men who embrace the religion of Islam. As members of the ummah[1] they make a pilgrimage to the holy town of Mecca and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their equals from all parts of the world. This is the theory. In practice this equality existed only during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad and his immediate successors in Arabia. As Islam spread into new lands a number of quams[2] representing ethnic and linguistic groups strove to gain political power on a tribal basis—the ummah was further divided into numerous sects by differing interpretations of the teachings of the Prophet.

These sectarian and ethnic divisions are quite prolific among the Muslims of modern Pakistan. The Baloch and the Pashtun embraced Islam at a very early period and strove for equality with competing tribal groups like the Arabs, Kurds, and Turks. They also retained much of their pre-Islamic tribal culture and language, which their descendants proudly carried down intact to this day. The Punjabis, Mohajirs and Sindhis were converted by invading armies of Arabs and Turks and were forced to adopt some of the cultural traits of their conquerors.

Ethnic intermingling: Having lived as neighbours for several centuries it is extremely surprising to see how little these ethno-linguistic groups have mixed with each other. In the rural areas of each Pakistani province the people band together on ethnic or caste basis. Even in the cities and towns of Pakistan the various localities are dominated by different ethnic groups and sects—what little intermingling there is occurs at the very edges of these hostile groupings.

Interactions between different groups occur because of migrations. People leave their farms to move to the cities or entire families leave the tribal regions and come to the settled areas in the Indus plains—these are mostly economic migrations. Thus around 10 million Pashtun live and work in the cities and farms in the Punjab province while approximately 5 million Baloch live mostly in the rural areas of lower Punjab. The Baloch it seems had always lived in these areas, which were later made administrative parts of Punjab by the British. Large populations of Baloch are found in the rural areas of Sindh from historical migrations—these people have adapted to the local language and customs and consider themselves Sindhis. However Baloch in the city of Karachi are recent immigrants and are concentrated in the locality of Lyari—they retain their separate identity. Pashtuns in Sindh live mostly in the cities and are involved in various businesses.

All these ethnic groups were also confronted by a stream of political migrants from the cities of North India who came to take refuge in the country ostensibly created for all Muslims of India—they were eventually known as Mohajirs[3]. These Mohajirs had been the main constituents of the Muslim League—a political party that the British Empire recognized as a representative of all Muslims in India even though it had no backing in provinces such as Punjab, Sindh, and NWFP[4]. Until the 1940s the Muslim League sought protection of minority rights, autonomy for provinces and special representation for Muslim leaders in the federal government of the soon-to-be independent India. But then all of a sudden the Mohajir party began calling for a separate country for Muslims to be carved out of Muslim-majority areas of India.

These Mohajirs formed Pakistan’s political leadership and bureaucracy and migrated to cities like Lahore in Punjab and Karachi in Sindh. More waves of Mohajirs teemed into other cities including Quetta until the government of Pakistan finally shut its doors on the faces of Indian Muslims. Today the Mohajir population numbers 13 million and they are scattered across Pakistan’s urban landscape.

Ethnic relations: The Muslim League had declared Urdu to be a Muslim language and it was thus adopted as the national language of Pakistan. In reality Urdu was spoken mostly in the urban areas of North India and was the mother tongue of only the Mohajirs in Pakistan. For historic reasons[5] the Punjab province had been governed using the Urdu language and the Punjabis did not fear being overwhelmed by the miniscule Urdu-speakers from India—they regarded Urdu to be a language that ensured upward mobility. Despite their common acceptance of Urdu and despite the fact that both these groups shared power in Pakistan it is strange to see that they did not have a stronger alliance in the initial decade of Pakistan’s independence[6]. It is even more difficult to understand why they became so antagonistic in later periods[7].

Similarly the Baloch and the Pashtun share many affinities. Both were tribal groups that had not been fully modernized under the British Empire. Their conservative societies were marked by the prevalence of gun culture and subsistence agriculture. With all these commonalities it is surprising to note that the Baloch and the Pashtun did not band together to obtain a better deal for their lands and people from the dominant plainsmen. In fact they actually clashed over petty issues in Baluchistan and the Punjabis effectively used the Pashtun against the rebellious Baloch.

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2006, 08:57:46 PM »
[1] a single borderless community
[2] nationalities
[3] refugees
[4] See
[5] The Punjabi language did not have a strong literal tradition and was further hampered by the prevalence of different scripts used by Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims
[6] “Ethnic and religious rivalries were encouraged to weaken and divide the democratic opposition to the martial law regime.” Cited in PAKISTAN - Time to take human rights seriously; Amnesty International June 1997

The Bengalis in East Pakistan were geographically too far removed from modern Pakistan to be able to influence or reach out to other ethnic groups. But the province of Sindh—that suffered the most from migrations into its cities, from the forced implementation of the Urdu language, and from the usurpation of its agricultural land—did not raise its voice until it was too late. All these ethnic groups only joined together publicly in 1998 under the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM)—it isn’t certain if this grouping will ever succeed in presenting its case before the Pakistani federation or the international community.

The two ethnic groups that have much in common and have worked together in suppressing the other ethnicities are the Punjabis and the Pashtuns. Surprisingly though their differences are more acute than their commonalities—the Punjabis accepted British rule while the Pashtuns remained defiant rebels; Pashtuns are tribesmen while Punjabis are organized along caste lines; the Pashtuns cherish their language and culture and are a conservative society while the Punjabis are more adaptable to changed circumstances and eagerly embrace the ways of the victorious enemy. What then do they have in common?

The events of the recent past have brought these two groups together. From the 19th Century the influence of revivalist Islamist schools had been growing both in Punjab and the Frontier—originally based in North Indian towns like Deoband and Bareilly these schools spread their teachings among Muslim populations who had till then remained on the fringes of Indo-Persian civilization. Apart from pockets of Shias and Ahmadiyas most Punjabis and Pashtuns are Sunnis who follow the hardliners of the Deobandi School.

Secondly the lands of the Punjabis and the Pashtuns have been hammered by waves of invaders from outside—invaders from Central Asia and Afghanistan have used the Pashtun and Punjabi areas as stepping stones to reach the cherished destination of the wealthy Gangetic plains. Empires based in North India have sought to bring these two areas under their control to secure the mountainous border in the north-west. The extent of these invasions and their effects were exaggerated by 19th Century European historians for several reasons—Pakistanis fanned these wildfire theories even further to produce a new history for their country and for the Punjab in particular[8]. This process went into high gear after the events of 1971.

Elements of racism: The theory that Islam was the basis for creating Pakistan was negated by the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Reeling from the shock the Pakistani leadership made concessions for local autonomy in the provinces and began some soul-searching on the reasons for the creation of Bangladesh. They convinced themselves that this had happened because the Bengalis were physically and culturally different from the people of the Indus civilization—the lands along the river Indus and its tributaries. To foster unity among the remaining ethnic groups the Pakistani leaders and intellectuals began promoting the idea that the region of the Indus and its tributaries had always been separate from mainland India.

Such a self-image, and the flawed view of history that supports it, only creates dangerous stereotypes and causes endless socio-political tensions.

Stereotyping: When the Bengali dissidents began claiming autonomy and a just share of national resources; the Punjabis retaliated by questioning their loyalty to Pakistan and Islam. Scholars of that religion based in Punjab claimed that the Bengali demand for recognition of their language and the implied rejection of Urdu was an anti-Islamic[9] act. The Bengalis were further derided for being black, short, and spindly-legged—the army of the tall and fair was unleashed to teach the Bengalis a lesson.

Similarly the Mohajirs have at various times been accused of having Hindu blood and of thus being Indian agents. The educated and resourceful Mohajirs challenged the landed aristocracy and businessmen of Punjab for high posts in the new country—but within a few years they had been pushed out into the margins of Pakistani society. Besides they were not considered to have a warlike background or the now desirable tall and fair characteristics—in a study on ethnic attitudes conducted among Pakistani students in 1996 the Punjabis claimed the greatest social distance from the Mohajirs[10].

The inhabitants of Sindh are also regarded as being unwarlike and incapable of defending themselves. However their province is extremely important for Punjab because it provides the only access to the sea and because it is the economic engine that runs Pakistan. Whenever the Sindhis demand certain rights that are viewed as threatening Islamabad’s rule they are reminded that Sindh was the first place in India to accept Islam and that such demands are thus anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan. The implication is that the Punjabis will never allow Sindh to achieve either independence or even autonomy.

Unlike the Punjabis and the Pasthuns the Baloch have never been dominated by foreigners—this should entitle them an entry into the hallowed gallery of the tough and warlike groups in Pakistan. Unfortunately it does not. The Baloch are regarded to be primitive people living in a godforsaken land, which has kept away foreign armies by its vast barrenness. Since there has been little enthusiasm for revivalist Islam in Baluchistan the Baloch are regarded with suspicion—the leftist leanings of Baloch rebels has only deepened that suspicion. In the 1973 military operation the Punjabi General Tikka Khan had infamously declared, “I want the territory, not the people of Balochistan.”[11]

When demands of autonomy or independence began to be heard once again in Baluchistan the reaction from Punjabis was of derision and racist taunts. The Baloch are lazy[12] and illiterate, they are smugglers and drug-addicts, they are agents of foreign governments—such generalized views are surprisingly common among the Punjabis[13]. By contrast, claim these Punjabis, we are hard-working and energetic and so what stops the Baloch from being like us? The answer they say lies in Baloch society—the people are dominated by selfish Sardars who deliberately keep the population backward and ignorant[14].

The Baloch on their part have also developed stereotypes of their own from bitter experiences after the forcible incorporation of their province into Pakistan. “For some it might seem like development, but for the Baloch nationalists it is the plunder of their national, natural resources and exploitation of their people. We are not blind to not see the rape of Balochistan by the Punjabi Pakistan,” is a banner quote on this website

After the shocking rape incident at the gas installation of Sui and the fierce attacks on Pakistani Army personnel that followed, Nawab Akbar Bugti said in an interview, “The Punjabi cannot understand our culture and codes. What respect we give to a woman, irrespective of her caste, religion or ethnicity, no Punjabi can understand. The attack on the DSG camps was pure resentment against the humiliation of a woman, and nothing more. A Punjabi cannot understand these sentiments because they are alien to these concepts of the honour of a woman. You may have read about many incidents that happened in Punjab, reported in newspapers, that on the issue of personal enmity somebody entered into the house of his enemy and brought the women of his enemy naked in public, and the Punjabi public, instead of reacting or putting clothes on the naked women, clapped[15]. We are alien to this kind of culture, and therefore when our men learned of the heinous crime they bombed the criminals' nest [DSG unit at Sui] and we say, Get lost back to your Punjab and do whatever you like, but not on our land.”[16]

The Punjabis also claim that the attacks on Gwadar port and the pipelines only prove that the Sardars are afraid of development and the spread of education since they will lose their hold on the Baloch people[17]. However for the last half-century the only force with a hold on Baluchistan has been the federal government of Pakistan, which has to bear responsibility for the lack of development in the province and the spirited opposition to outsiders prevalent among the Baloch.

There seems to be an unspoken desire in official circles to teach the Baloch a lesson, to show them that demands for provincial rights is being anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam.

It is a measure of Baluchistan’s importance today that all commentators are talking in terms of a solution to the problem rather than focusing on the problem itself. It was this importance that recently prompted General Musharraf to warn the Baloch rebels “Don’t push us…this is not the seventies where you can hit and run and hide in the hills. This time you won’t even know what has hit you!”[18]

Truly it is not the 1970s when an all-out war between the Pakistan Army and the Baloch nationalists raged almost unnoticed by the international community. Baluchistan’s strategic value is even more important than its mineral wealth for the international community—the province straddles the sea-lane of communication coming out of the Persian Gulf. This fact when coupled with the presence of the International Islamic Front in the region endangers the economic security of the world.

The most talked-about solution to the Baloch problem is a proposal to make Pakistan a multi-nation federal state—each province manages its own resources and the federal government only controls defence, currency, and external affairs. Such a solution will require a rewriting of the constitution of Pakistan, an unprecedented overhaul of the administrative structure across the land, a well-meaning attitude on the part of the Punjabis, and an extraordinary spirit of self-sacrifice within the Pakistan Army. Considering the events of the past half-century this solution is a pipe dream—the federal government is actually tightening and not loosening its grip on the provinces. And keeping in mind Baluchistan’s economic and strategic importance for the Pakistan Army in the future it is likely to remain a pipe dream until that army has been tamed by an outside power.

The other more tried-and-tested solution to the Baloch problem is to create infighting among the rebels and then conciliate, co-opt, and bribe the individual Sardars—the perceived leaders of the discontented people. The Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency the ISI are past masters at these methods. Unfortunately for them the province is under the frightening shadow of the BLA and the BLF who have the capacity to strike even in neighbouring provinces. These people reflect middle-class aspirations and do not accept the leadership of Sardars.

Given the logic of population ratios the ideas of autonomy or a federal solution are non-starters. As long as Baluchistan is a part of another country its land and resources will be exploited by outsiders—it matters little if those outsiders are well-meaning angles. The temptation of securing Baluchistan’s untapped wealth will be too great especially when only a scattered and poor population guards that wealth. Far from being well meaning or generous the Punjabi Muslims have developed a racist and dominating attitude[19] and picture themselves to be the sole defenders of Pakistan—and by extension defenders of Islam.

This dangerous attitude filters down to all levels of society. The threat by General Musharraf quoted above adopts a very blunt us-against-them attitude[20] and is stark with its implication—the defenders of Islam are burning to teach a lesson to the rebels who are being portrayed as enemies of Pakistan’s development.

[7] “Kurin's study contrasting Punjabis and Urdu-speaking Mohajirs in Pakistan effectively illustrates this point. The two groups share a set of concepts for defining the person which include spirit (ruh), energy (nafs), and intellect (`aql) and they agree that Mohajirs are characterized by more developed `aql and Punjabis by more concentrated nafs. Both traits can take on both negative and positive connotations, `aql being associated with a literate and mannered way of life but one also characterized by timidity and delusion while nafs is associated with traits such as strength, health, and realism but also with violence and illiteracy.” Cited in Honor the Baloch, Buy the Pushtun:
Stereotypes, Social Organization and History in Western Pakistan PAUL TITUS University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
[9] More than Urdu it is Arabic, the language of the Koran, which can be called the language of Islam. Thus 99.9% of Pakistanis would be anti-Islamic since they don’t understand or speak Arabic!
[10] See Rehan Mullick, Joseph Hraba: Ethnic attitudes in Pakistan
[11] From Dr. Ashok K Behuria’s article titled The battle for Baluchistan at

[12] “Several of my Pushtun informants depicted the lack of Baloch economic success as caused by their laziness. `All they care about is their honor' a Pushtun bus driver told me. Baloch themselves often identify the high value placed on honor as characteristically Baloch. Several Baloch informants told me, for example, that no Baloch woman would ever dishonor herself by working as a prostitute, even if she was destitute.” Honor the Baloch, Buy the Pushtun: Stereotypes, Social Organization and History in Western Pakistan PAUL TITUS University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
[13] See Rehan Mullick, Joseph Hraba: Ethnic attitudes in Pakistan
[14] See for these attitudes.

[15] For these incidents see the annual Amnesty International Reports. Case of the gang-rape of Mukhtaran Mai of the Gujjar caste by members of the Mastoi caste following a vicious sodomy of Mukhtaran’s 12 year old brother Shakoor by men of the Mastoi caste. A false case of rape was made against the pre-teen youth to cover up the act of sodomy and his victim was supposed to be a grown-up lady of the Mastois—the Meerwala village council dominated by that caste then sanctioned the revenge gang-rape while people looked on and cheered.
[16] Cited from
[17] See The Nation, December 19, 2004, Baloch Sardars andDevelopment.
[18] Musharraf in an interview to a private TV Channel while responding to an attack on the Sui gas installation following the alleged gang-rape committed by army personnel in Sui.
[19] “Other ethnic groups considered Punjabis as a colonizer during the British Raj. At independence in 1947, Punjabi landowners acquired a considerable influence over Pakistani politics and, thus, a dominant role in the distribution of the nation's resources. Bengalis continued to view Punjabis as internal colonizers, culminating in a civil war in 1971 and the creation of Bangladesh. Does this history suggest that at least Punjabis among Pakistani ethnic groups share with westerners an historical prerequisite to biological prejudice?” Cited in Ethnic attitudes in Pakistan

Rehan Mullick, Joseph Hraba (International Journal of Intercultural Relations)
[20] In an address to the media in the town of Turbat, Western Baluchistan, Musharraf stated, “We are gathering information through intelligence and other sources that who is doing what in the area and I warn them because when the Government starts action against them, they will be crushed." This address took place on December 16, 2004.
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Thursday, March 09, 2006

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2006, 09:03:42 PM »
Foreign interests in Baluchistan

The political boundaries of the province of Baluchistan were marked out by the British in the 19th Century. In 1871 the Joint Perso-Baluch Boundary Commission drew a line across the deserts and mountains cutting off western Baluchistan from the Khanate of Kalat and leaving a small but concentrated Sunni Baloch population inside Shia Iran. In 1893 the Durand Line marked the boundaries between British India and Afghanistan—this left scattered Baloch tribes inside Afghanistan. Up to the Second World War the British were keeping their options open on their Indian Empire and were toying with the idea of an independent Baluchistan—until the Soviet victory over the Nazis.

The subsequent Soviet advance through Europe and the fear that a similar advance would tear through Central Asia and Afghanistan prompted the British to change their policies in India. To prevent Asia from falling to communism a strong state was needed to guard India’s northwest frontier. A state united by a common religion and populated by a race that had loyally served British interests—the Punjabi Muslims. The British looked on benignly as the new country sought to secure the headwaters of its main rivers by attacking the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. They were even more unconcerned when that country invaded the princely state of Kalat and effectively colonized Baluchistan. Since then many foreign countries have been interested in the troubled province—at different times and for different reasons.

Afghanistan: The modern country of Afghanistan is the remains of Ahmad Shah Abdali’s mid-eighteenth century empire and its early relations with the Baloch are noted elsewhere. The Afghans provided shelter and arms to their tribal brethren who wished to rebel against the Pakistanis and in this spirit they also welcomed the early Baloch rebels of the Kalat state. But land-locked Afghanistan never had the resources to take on Pakistan in a straight fight and was itself trapped between the Soviet Union on the one side and America’s Iranian and Pakistani allies on the other.

This tussle between the superpowers broke out into an open war in 1979 with Soviet troops entering Afghanistan—America and Pakistan provided open support to the Afghan rebels and also sent fanatics from the larger Muslim world to fight the Godless communist invaders[1]. Leaders of the Baloch war of 1973-77 had taken refuge in Afghanistan and these men naturally came under the Soviet influence—they were used to organize the BLA that began carrying out attacks within Baluchistan. In this fighting some of the Baloch tribes sided with American money and Pakistani ambitions while others either remained aloof or leaned towards the Soviet ideology. On its part the Soviet Union revived talk of a united Pashtun country called Pashtunistan to be linked to Greater Baluchistan in the south but nothing concrete came out of these threats. After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 Pakistan encouraged Pashtun students from its own madrassas to pick up the gun and create a truly Islamic State in Afghanistan. During this time Baluchistan was home to thousands of Afghan refugees mostly of the Pashtun ethnicity and Quetta had become a staging area for the Taliban[2] and for numerous terrorist groups keen to create a pan-Islamic empire.

Baloch-Pashtun relations within the province also came under strain because the Pashtun now demanded either unification with their brethren in the frontier or a separate province for Pashtuns to be carved out of Baluchistan. But the Taliban rulers quickly became unpopular because of their corruption, indulgence in the drugs trade, religious and ethnic intolerance, and for their greed—this had an echo in Baluchistan. That province had seen ethnic tensions and sectarian strife rising in its towns and cities while the federal government had become internationally isolated and was bleeding itself in a proxy war against India in Jammu & Kashmir. The Baloch and the Pashtuns thus sank their differences and formed a united front with other ethnic minorities of Pakistan. The fall of the Taliban in 2001 and the formation of an internationally recognized government in Afghanistan have created new opportunities and threats for Baluchistan.

· Although there is nominal Baloch representation in the Afghan government and Balochi is a recognized national language in that country it is highly unlikely that Baluchistan proper will ever join with Afghanistan in a federation.
· Similarly with strong American presence in that troubled country it is equally unlikely that the Baloch rebels will be able to take refuge or buy arms and supplies in Afghanistan as in the past.
· The Afghans see Baluchistan today as just another place where the Taliban and the International Islamic Front are based—on the other hand the province provides an economic outlet to the sea for the eastern regions of Afghanistan. Reconstruction of its own political and military infrastructure and economic development are the main objectives of the new Afghanistan—only after the country truly stands on its feet will the policy towards neighbouring Baluchistan become clear.

Iran: By way of language and origins most of the people of Baluchistan have some links to the inhabitants of Iran but historically the Baloch have never considered themselves subjects of the Persian Shahs. It was only in the 19th Century that the Pahlavi dynasty began to acquire territory along the Makran coast and came into conflict with the local Baloch population—their aggression was sanctified in a treaty arranged by the British. As a western ally Reza Shah welcomed the formation of Pakistan and its annexation of Baluchistan. When the Baloch resistance turned into an open war in 1973 the Iranian Shah provided helicopter gunships flown by his own pilots to attack the hideouts of the Baloch rebels[3]. Iran and Pakistan worked closely together to first crush the rebellion and then pacify the population[4].

The Islamist revolution in 1979 created a Shia state in a sea of western-backed Sunni dictatorships and gave hope to the repressed Shia populations in those countries—the same was true for Pakistan. Only a few years later the military dictators of Pakistan altered their country’s constitution and introduced strict Islamic curricula into their school system. These two moves discriminated against the non-Sunni sects in Islam and sectarian strife over the coming decades would pit Sunni against Shia in a deadly and unending conflict. For the Sunni Baloch minority in Iran the situation had changed from bad to worse—they were provided arms by Iran’s enemies like Saddam Hussein to destabilize the usurping Ayatollah regime[5]. These events were however overshadowed by the superpower clash in Afghanistan in the 1980s—here Iran backed the Shia and the Dari-speaking groups against the Soviets and was thus nominally on the same side as the Americans. The subsequent rise of the Pakistan-backed Taliban and their brutal attacks on the Hazaras and Tajiks enraged the government of Iran and further ruined its tenuous relations with Pakistan.

· Iran is home to numerous Afghan refugees and provides the safest access to the sea for their land-locked country—it is alleged that the port of Gwadar and the roads being built to southern Afghanistan from that port will be a threat to Iran’s interests. There is no real evidence to back this claim. In any case western Afghanistan will always prefer the Iranian route for its reliability and access to the Gulf markets—moreover Iran itself is a huge market and source of energy and technology for Afghanistan’s development.
· It is also alleged that American military bases in Baluchistan are a threat to Iran and that country is thus behind the renewed Baloch militancy in the province. Again, since the Baloch have not attacked the American bases and such bases are also present in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iraq, and Turkey these allegations cannot be taken seriously.
· Iran and Pakistan had planned to open an oil refinery in southern Baluchistan, which was designed to refine tanker-delivered oil from Iran. To be named the Iran-Pak refinery the unit would have had a 50-50 ownership split between Pakistan’s Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Corporation (PERAC) and Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). The deal has not matured because of financial reasons[6].
· Over the years Iran has been rediscovering its splendid heritage going back to pre-Islamic times and considers itself a fountainhead of civilization for several Persian-speaking groups—including the Baloch. But an independent Baluchistan inhabited solely by the Baloch will create problems for Iran’s own Baloch dominated areas.

Gulf States: The Arab states have maritime boundaries with Baluchistan and are places where the Baloch migrate to in search of jobs. In earlier times while the Baloch embraced the religion of Islam they nevertheless resisted invading Arab armies and were never subjugated by those foreigners. Contact with Arab merchants by the sea continued till the Europeans began dominating the sea trade from the 15th Century. The Khan of Kalat gave the island of Gwadar to the Sultan of Oman in this period and in 1958 the Sultan’s descendant sold it back to Baluchistan’s new rulers—the government of Pakistan.

Grown fat on oil revenues the Arab elite became interested in Baluchistan in the 1970s for the Houbara Bustard—a flightless bird prized for its meat[7]. By 1972 the government of Pakistan had prohibited the local Baloch from hunting the bird but they issued special hunting permits for the privileged Arab dignitaries—these permits gave each Arab VIP thousands of square kilometres of territory as his own hunting ground. The VIPs in return built mosques for the local people, constructed airports and rest houses, and donated electricity generators and other equipment—the airports eventually became property of the Pakistan government. On several occasion the Arab hunting parties came into conflict with the Baloch tribesmen and had to be escorted and protected by federal forces. Arab oil revenues also caused a spurt in construction and other development activity in the Gulf—thousands of poor people migrated to the region from South Asia and North Africa to take a small slice of this pie.

Their repatriated earnings became a major source of foreign exchange for their home countries—at about the same time the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was founded by a Pakistani citizen with its main office in London. Backed by the ISI and western intelligence agencies this bank soaked up the repatriated earnings of overseas Pakistanis and the surplus capital of the oil-rich Arabs. Several Arab, European, and American dignitaries served on its Board of Directors and the BCCI quickly became involved in laundering dirty money and financing cash transfers for the covert operations of the directors’ home countries[8]. From the Iran-Contra scandal to the laundering of drug money from the Afghan jihad—the BCCI was neck-deep in the cesspool of criminal activity until its fraudulent business was exposed by the Bank of England and the bank collapsed in 1991. The same year saw the end of the First Gulf War, which had been preceded by the sudden expulsion of foreign workers from the region and was followed by the desire of Arab states to give employment to their own people in preference to foreigners.

· The recruitment of the Baloch has however continued in the armies and paramilitaries of these states and there are thousands of Baloch soldiers and officers living in the Gulf today[9].
· Since 2001 the hunting expeditions into Baluchistan have ended and Arab financing of religious schools and seminaries is also under international scrutiny. However Sheikh Khilafa Bin Zayed of UAE still owned the airstrip at Shamsi-Kharan that was used by the Americans during Enduring Freedom.
· Countries like Oman, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia are instead heavily invested in numerous infrastructure projects mostly in the territory of Baluchistan. These countries can also expect to benefit from the eventual trade to Central Asia via the port of Gwadar.

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2006, 09:06:28 PM »
India: The shared history of India and Baluchistan and the ancient links between the two has been noted in Appendix I. Unlike the Khyber Pass in the Pashtun lands, the Bolan Pass of Baluchistan has very rarely been used by armies passing to and from India—instead it has more often served as a safe passage for trading caravans who were not harassed by the Baloch tribes as long as they paid the taxes for using the route. Indian merchants and administrators had taken up service under the Khans of Kalat in an early period and one Diwan Bucha Mull fought and gave his life in defending Kalat from the invading British in 1839[10]. Relations between the Hindu population and the majority Baloch have always been cordial. With the partition of India when the fate of the hundreds of princely states was to be decided, the Khan of Kalat tried to play both sides and enquired whether he could accede to India but the Indian leaders turned down his request since Kalat did not touch independent India’s border.

It seemed that there was a lack of knowledge about Baluchistan among the Indian peoples and government—unlike the familiarity that they had with Punjab, Sindh, and the Frontier. While the Baloch fought several battles against the Pakistan Army over the next three decades India neither raised the issue in bilateral talks with Pakistan nor was the plight of the Baloch ever highlighted among the international community. Even during the 1965 India-Pakistan war, Lal Bahadur Shastri the then Prime Minister of India raised the issues of only Pashtunistan and East Pakistan to counter the Pakistani propaganda on J&K[11]. Six years later East Pakistan became the independent country of Bangladesh with the India-Pakistan war of 1971—after that conflict the Pakistan Army became engaged in a war with the Baloch.

This time the Indian leadership opened channels of communication with the Baloch people and allegedly ran training camps for some number of Baloch rebels in the western Indian state of Rajasthan[12]. These camps were eventually closed when the insurgency in Baluchistan had petered out and the new Indian government was anxious to improve relations with its neighbours. In 1971 India had signed a Treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union and when that superpower sent its forces into Afghanistan the Indians made no protest—though it must be said that the fact of Pakistani interference in the affairs of Afghanistan must have influenced their stand on this issue. Covert contacts with the Baloch leadership may have been maintained through the agency of the Soviet Union, which was actively encouraging the Baloch to rebel in this period. Through the decade of the 90s India’s primary concern was the export of Islamist terrorism by groups that had been nurtured by Pakistan to fight the Afghan war.

· These groups had come together under the name of the International Islamic Front and had acquired bases and a following in all Pakistani provinces, including Baluchistan. Constituents of this grouping hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in 1999 and flew it to Kandahar demanding the release of their terrorist leaders from Indian prisons—to tackle such incidents in the future India will need to open and maintain contacts with recognized secular leaders among the Baloch and the Pashtuns.
· India’s growing economy can only be sustained by the import of large amounts of oil and gas, which can be cheaply and efficiently delivered through pipelines. The source of this natural wealth are Iran, Qatar, and Central Asia and the pipelines that carry such wealth will all pass through Baluchistan—the security of these pipelines is another Indian concern.
· India is deeply engaged in the rebuilding of post-Taliban Afghanistan and is investing capital and technology in Central Asian countries. Were Baluchistan to become an independent country or an autonomous part of a Pakistan federation then another rich market and source of energy will be opened up for India. Such a federation would also mean that the Pakistan Army would be unable to utilize the resources of Sindh, Baluchistan, and the Frontier in military adventures against India.

USA: The British aim of creating Pakistan to serve as a bulwark against communism with a professional army in charge, was understood and much appreciated by the United States, which was taking over the responsibilities of former colonial empires. The US made Pakistan a member of anti-communist military alliances (SEATO and CENTO) with the same purpose in mind[13]. It winked over the rule by military dictators and did not pay much concern to their actions against ethnic minorities in Pakistan. The famously callous quote, “I wouldn't recognize the Balochistan problem, even if it hit me in the face!”[14] attributed to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is a sad reflection of that mindset—unfortunately this mindset continued through to the formation of Bangladesh and to the Baloch war of 1973.

The deliberate policy of Islamization by General Zia did not receive adequate attention because at that time the Iranian revolution was hogging the headlines. It has been the western perception that the Shia sect of Islam is more religiously inclined than the Sunni and is thus more prone to fanaticism—this was the historical experience in Iran and Lebanon. This was why Sunni dictators were placed in positions of power throughout the Middle-East—but this theorem was applied in a blanket manner to other countries and the dangers of Sunni extremism in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were ignored until it was too late. The Shia sect is indeed more religious but this devotion to the almighty extends into the spiritual realm—elements of mysticism are found in the sect and tolerance of the Sufi thought and acceptance of the teachings of wandering holy men is more pronounced among the Shia.

Sunni extremists on the other hand are more rigid and intolerant and have been known to destroy shrines and tombs of Islamic holy men. During the Afghan war of the 80s Afghan rebels and these Sunni groups were armed with advanced weaponry and trained in guerrilla warfare by American and Pakistani agencies. The local Afghan groups were encouraged to grow and sell opium to pay for these services while the foreign extremists received money from Arab potentates via the Muslim charities and aid organizations[15]. They also set up direct collection centres throughout Pakistan and raised money from the faithful by claiming that they were fighting a jihad—these tactics would be repeated in the proxy war against India in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan received over $3 billion in military and financial aid from the US while western leaders openly supported the concept of jihad[16] without understanding its implications for civilized societies—to fight the Evil Empire the Evil Alliance was born[17]! During this period the Baloch question was regarded as a threat to western interests especially when the Soviet Union began taking an interest in Baluchistan. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan the Sunni extremists returned to their homes with weapons in their hands and the cry of jihad on their lips. The Pakistani groups were turned towards India while the Arab groups took on local dictators and their American backers—declaration of victory in Afghanistan had been premature and another problem was now dominating the civilized world’s concerns.

This period coincided with the Iraq War of 1990-91 and the break-up of the Soviet Union. Anxious to diversify its sources of oil the United States attempted to gain influence in the newly opened area of Central Asia. The oil and gas reserves could be best tapped by building pipelines and the shortest and most economical route lay through Iran—of course this option was rejected outright by the United States. They preferred to lay the pipelines in an east-west configuration either through the now democratic Russia or more enthusiastically through the NATO ally Turkey. By this time the Pakistanis had raised the Taliban to control Afghanistan by proxy and to spread their own footprint into the Muslim lands of Central Asia. A third route had now opened up and representatives of US oil companies began approaching the Taliban with proposals of building pipelines—in this period the US pushed the UN to provide funds to the Taliban for ending the production of drugs and itself gave aid to those extremists.

· By 2001 the Taliban were gone but the proposed pipelines still remained on the drawing board—however pipelines are only viable when they cater to a huge market economy that is able to pay big bucks for the oil and gas. For the east-west pipelines there is Europe on the one hand and China on the other—for the proposed north-south corridor there is only the rapidly burgeoning economy of India.
· To add to the American interest in the pipelines is the fact of Baluchistan’s own proven reserves that are yet to be tapped by western companies. Under Pakistani law wholly owned subsidiaries of foreign companies can take licenses to explore and prospect for oil and are also free to extract and sell that natural wealth. Western companies already in Baluchistan are BP, Eni, BHP, Ocean Energy Incorporated, Atlantic Richfield Corporation, Orient Petroleum, OMV, and Union Texas Pakistan.
· The rights of the local Baloch and the demands of the Sardars are only minor obstacles to these companies—the presence of the constituents of the International Islamic Front and the failure of Pakistan to rein in their activities is a standing threat to American interests.
· On their part the Americans too have kept their options open and have not condemned the Baloch militancy. A published report of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) bluntly stated that Pakistan would face a Yugoslavia-like fate if it embarked on military operations against the Baloch[18].

China: Pakistan was the first Muslim country to recognize Communist China in 1950 in an attempt to diversify its international links[19]. Border tensions with India leading to the India-China war in 1962 made friendship with Pakistan even more important for the communist leadership. Pakistan ceded some land that it had annexed from the J&K princely state to China and the latter country began work on a highway that would cut through the mountains and provide a land link between the two friends. Pakistan also helped China in the international forums and enabled the communist nation to establish contacts with western-backed Islamic countries.

China provided open support to Pakistan during the latter’s wars with India in 1965 and in 1971—in fact during the Bangladesh war the US was also openly supporting Pakistan even as its army conducted a pogrom against Bengali Hindus and drove out millions of Bengalis into India. Pakistan enabled the US and China to make diplomatic contacts in this period and began receiving nuclear and missile components and technology from China. Through China Pakistan also opened contacts with North Korea and began exchanging its own nuclear technology with them in return for their missile technology.

Missile transfers by China were an attempt to leverage the Americans over the latter’s arming of Taiwan and the American design of placing missiles inside the lands of its East Asian allies[20]. However despite these hiccups both the US and China joined hands to support the Afghan rebels and Islamist groups against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan—blowback for China came in the shape of the Uighur separatists in the Xinjiang province bordering Pakistan and Central Asia. Some of these extremist Muslim rebels eventually became part of the International Islamic Front and found shelter with their brethren in Pakistan. China therefore temporarily blocked the Karakorum Highway connecting Pakistan with Xinjiang and began improving relations with India—but the communist country is too deeply involved with Pakistan to abandon it—especially after the events of September 11, 2001.

· China’s interests in Baluchistan stem from concerns that Uighur militants are being sheltered here by the International Islamic Front. 3 Chinese engineers were killed at Gwadar in May 2003 and though the Pakistanis blamed local Baloch rebels China was convinced that the attackers were Uighur extremists. In October 2003 the head of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) the Uighur Hasan Mahsum was killed in the tribal areas by the Pakistan Army[21]. China has increased its military contacts with Pakistan and for the first time conducted naval exercises and anti-terror exercises with its old ally.
· China operates the Saindak mines on lease and in the past has extracted several tons of copper and gold from the remote Baloch village[22]. Chinese companies are helping to build the Gwadar[23] port and the country is invested in that port to the tune of $200 million[24]. There is talk of gas pipelines being extended to China’s western provinces via Pakistan and of the possibility that trade between the Gulf countries and China could flow along the Pakistani highways and motorways.
· China competes with the US to gain influence over Pakistan in the economic and military spheres. At the moment the US with its bases in Baluchistan and Afghanistan and military presence in the Arabian Sea has the upper hand. An autonomous or independent Baluchistan would only serve to magnify American leverage over the countries in the region and would thus not be in China’s interests.

Russia: The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988 did not end its influence in that country. In a clear contrast with the American experience in Vietnam the Soviet Embassy continued to function in Kabul and the communist government under Dr. Najibullah kept a hold over most of Afghanistan. Out of the collapse of the Soviet Union emerged a shaky but pro-western democratic Russia, which ended military and diplomatic support to Najibullah. Once the Pakistan-backed Taliban began sweeping through Afghanistan and some outrageous claims of a new Islamic Empire were bandied about, the Russians re-opened contacts with resistance groups from the Northern Alliance[25].

Through the decade of the 90s Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and India provided military, economic, and diplomatic support to the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban groups. Russia was keen to protect its assets and infrastructure in Central Asia from Islamist extremism and was looking to regain influence in that mineral-rich region. Another danger to Russia was the spread of Islamist extremism among the Muslim populations in the Caucasus region, particularly the Chechens. Thus the fall of the Taliban in 2001 was welcomed by Russia, which is now seeking to re-engage with the new rulers of Afghanistan.

· Russia’s interest in Baluchistan stems from its concern that Chechen extremists, as members of the International Islamic Front, have taken shelter in that province and in other parts of Pakistan.
· Russia has extensive goodwill and contacts among the older generation of the Baloch rebels and in an independent or federated Baluchistan Russia can leverage these contacts to benefit its companies. Russian oil companies in particular have plenty of capital and expertise, which will be gainfully employed in extracting Baluchistan’s untapped mineral wealth.Russia considers Iran an important ally and looks at that country to be its window to the markets of the Gulf and South Asia. It seeks to include Uzbekistan in that trade network and an independent Baluchistan can add its mineral wealth to service that network.

[1] See
[2] Talib is a student while Taliban is plural for Talib.
[3] See
[4] See on sale once again
[5] See Unrest in Baluchistan (Paper no. 804) B Raman
[6] See The Mineral Industries of Afghanistan and Pakistan: Travis Q. Lyday for the U.S. Geological Survey Minerals Yearbook—2000
[7] See
[8] See
[9] See
[10] See
[11] Prime Minister Shastri’s radio broadcast to the nation on September 3, 1965
[12] See
[13] After a major shift in U.S. foreign policy strategy in 1954, Pakistan turned into a key state of the American containment strategy. Pakistan became one of the largest recipients of U. S. economic and military aid and was seen, at least temporarily, as Washington’s “most allied ally”. State Formation and Military in Pakistan: Boris Wilke
[14] From Dr. Ashok K Behuria’s article titled “The battle for Baluchistan” at
[15] See
[16] “So, too, in Afghanistan, the freedom fighters are the key to peace. We support the Mujahidin.” President Ronald Reagan State of the Union Address, January 25 1988.
[17] As late as in 1998 the former NSA in the Carter administration, Zbigniew Brzezinski, justified the formation of the evil alliance in the following words: “What was more important in the world view of history? A few stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”— from Andrew Hartman, "The Red Template: US Policy in Soviet-Occupied Afghanistan," Third World Quarterly 23, no. 3 (2002): 482.
[18] “Unchecked human rights abuses in Pakistan could similarly revive latent “fissiparous tendencies” particularly among the Baluch and Muhajir minorities, obliging Islamabad to divert resources from development to containing rural rebels and urban terrorists, at no small cost to Pakistan’s international reputation and relationships.” Cited in A Report from the CSIS Project Pakistan’s Future and U.S. Policy Options
[19] See
[20] See
[21] See
[22] Dawn Features, 7 May 2001, Marked Shift in Centre’s Policy.
[23] China has pledged to develop its western regions including Xinjiang as part of its “Go West” policy. Xinjiang has demonstrated its economic potential by having registered $4.8 billion in foreign trade and $22.7 billion in GDP in 2003. Seeking to capitalize on Xinjiang’s rising fortunes and strengthen Sino-Pakistani economic ties; Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz vocally called for expanding trade links with Xinjiang and offered the Gwadar port’s services for facilitating trade during the Governor of Xinjiang’s October 2004 visit to Pakistan. Baluchis, Beijing, and Pakistan’s Gwadar Port - Ziad Haider Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2006, 09:08:56 PM »
Baluchistan's Political Leadership

In a largely tribal society like Baluchistan the head of each tribe, regarded as a father figure by his tribesmen, is called the Sardar. The Sardar looks after the interests of his tribe and protects it from the transgressions of other tribes and from assaults by outside powers. As the population of a tribe increases the inevitable result is the formation of numerous sub-tribes that move into new lands but maintain links with the parent tribe—the elders of these sub-tribes and the parent Sardar together form a judicial-cum-administrative body. All adult male members of a tribe come together in a tribal Jirga or Diwan to settle disputes and end conflicts—the final decision resting with select elders and the Sardar.

Political states with defined boundaries were formed in Baluchistan from the 17th Century onwards through wars, alliances, and intermarriages between the tribes. The capitals of these states evolved into towns where the leading men of the tribe built their houses and where merchants and administrators from India arrived to take up service under the Khans and Sardars. This slow and gradual process was rudely disturbed by the formation of the British Empire in India and the rapid advance of the new rulers to the doorstep of Baluchistan in the late 19th Century. While the British wisely refrained from interfering in the internal affairs of the Baloch, their military control over the latter was unquestioned. They built railway and telegraph lines and encouraged the Baloch rulers to introduce modern education and modern laws in their states.

Thus a small class of intellectuals emerged, which along with the numerous Sardars, provided the early political leadership of the province[1]. The forcible annexation of Baluchistan by the Pakistan Army and the emergence of the Soviet Union as a superpower provided the impetus for many left-leaning Baloch students to join politics. Then came the famous 1973-77 Baloch insurgency—the government of Chief Minister Ataullah Mengal was dismissed, as was the Governor Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo, and prominent Sardars were arrested. Political parties were banned and as a result the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) became the political nursery for the future leaders of Baluchistan.

The BSO however failed to form the base for a truly national political party covering the ethno-linguistic spectrum of Baluchistan. Through the decades of the 80s and the 90s there was a proliferation of political parties organized mostly on the tribal basis with a Sardar at their head. National political parties based in Punjab and Sindh also acquired a presence in the province but in recent years the advance of religious and sectarian parties has been quite remarkable.

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2006, 09:12:59 PM »
a) Religious Parties: The majority of the people in Baluchistan are Sunni Muslims—there are small communities of Hindus in Makran and in the Bolan and Lasbela districts. Shias are concentrated in Quetta and Zikris are found along the Makran coast. The Baloch are true to their faith but they are not fanatical—unlike their Pashtun neighbours the Baloch never experienced direct rule by Arab, Turk, or Mughal invaders. While their Pashtun neighbours favour sharia or Islamic Law to govern their lives the Baloch have a clear preference for rawaj or tribal custom[2]. During the creation of Pakistan in 1947 Muslims of Punjab and NWFP attacked and killed their Hindu and Sikh neighbours but the Hindus living in the Baloch lands were safe from such pogroms.

Mosques, old and new, are found throughout Baluchistan and Qazis are an integral part of Baloch society. Along with the tribal Diwan and Jirga the Mosque serves as a convenient place for the settlement of civic disputes. Madrassas or religious schools however were not so common in the past—all this changed with the clash of the superpowers in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Pakistan encouraged the growth of madrassas to recruit foot-soldiers for the jihad in Afghanistan and extremist organizations based in Punjab and Sindh now proliferated throughout Baluchistan’s towns and cities—their recruits brought in the culture of sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis and hatred toward non-Muslims[3]. Violence against Hindus also erupted as per a report in The Friday Times (March 23-29, 2001): “Hundreds of Hindus have been forced to flee their homes and cross over into Sindh. Three Hindus were reported to have been killed in the town of Chaman after clashes between Hindus attempting to protect their homes and Muslim mobs in October. Temples and homes were set ablaze and property, including Hindu shops, destroyed as the growing social intolerance assumed alarming new proportions in Baluchistan. In almost all cases, the increased activism by militant religious groups imposed new strains on relations between the majority Muslim and the Hindu communities, who had lived peacefully alongside each other for many decades.”

In the provincial elections of 2002 the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of religious parties, was able to secure 15 seats (out of Baluchistan’s 51) and became part of a coalition government[4]. The MMA votes came mainly from the urban areas and comprised mostly Pashtun voters who were angry at the American military campaign in Afghanistan.

Violence against Shias was rife in the rest of Pakistan and the power of the Islamic State was always on the side of the orthodox Sunnis—in 1987-88 the Shias of Gilgit rose up in revolt and were crushed by the combined action of the Wahabi fanatics of Osama Bin Laden and a SSG unit under Brigadier Musharraf[5]. The Shias took revenge by sabotaging a PAF plane carrying General Zia, the military dictator who ruled Pakistan for over a decade. Zia’s death brought a period of democracy for all of Pakistan and elections were also held in the province of Baluchistan where Benazir Bhutto’s PPP formed the government in alliance with the Islamic Democratic Alliance—both parties were based in Pakistan.

The coalition lost power after an illegal dissolution of the provincial assembly by the Bhutto regime—the Baluch Nationalist Alliance (BNA) took power in 1989 and after the 1990 elections formed the government in alliance with Akbar Bugti’s Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP). In this period the large influx of Pashtun and Hazara refugees from Afghanistan and the shifting of an agricultural university from Kalat to Pashtun-dominated Pishin had an adverse impact on Baloch-Pashtun relations. The 1993 elections saw a proliferation of political parties that splintered the Baluchistan vote leading to the election of an independent candidate, Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, to the post of Chief Minister![6]

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2006, 09:17:04 PM »
In the 1997 elections Sardar Ataullah Mengal’s Baluchistan National Party formed the government but the Sardar resigned the next year following Pakistan’s nuclear tests at Chagai[7]. Until 1998 the province remained on the edge over the issue of the census, non-payment of royalties on gas and mining projects, and the inter-tribal clashes. As described above the 2002 elections saw a low turnout among the Baloch and consequently the Pashtun backed MMA and minor pro-Islamabad Sardars formed a coalition government.

The current polity of Baluchistan is thus fragmented by tribal, ethnic, and religious groups. What is encouraging is the emergence of middle-class leaders who are intelligent, articulate, and loyal to the cause of their province. In the 21st Century Baluchistan has become crucial to the economy and strategic security of Pakistan—this has led to an influx of outsiders who will work in development projects coupled with a growing presence of the Pakistan Army that will protect these assets and tame the independence of the tribes.

A case in point is the Gwadar deep seaport. Contracts for developing the port have been awarded to Chinese and Middle-Eastern countries while much of the labour has come in from Sind and Punjab[8]. Land around the port is being grabbed by real estate mafia elements from Karachi and other Pakistani cities while the Army as usual takes prime property to develop its cantonments and also distributes land to its serving and retired officers[9]. “We have reports that they are planning to settle 300,000 people here from other provinces,” alleges Abid Baloch a nationalist leader. Even the locally elected Nazim, Abdul Hameed, regrets that federal promises of employing only local people have not been kept[10].

In response to these provocations there is an across-the-board unity among the tribes, ethnic groups, and all segments of Baluchistan society to preserve the rights of their province. Prominent Baloch tribal chiefs (Khair Baksh Marri, Ataullah Mengal, and Akbar Bugti) and the vibrant middle-class leaders (Abdul Hayee Baloch, and Hasil Bizenjo) have formed the Baloch Ittehad[11], a united Baloch front, to present their common demands to the federal government. Since 1998 the Baloch have also reached out to other ethnic groups in Pakistan and have formed the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM) against the common threat of Punjab and the federal government, which that province dominates.

[1] See Appendix II

[2] See
[3] Details of growing anti-Shia violence in Quetta can be seen at The Shia immigrants from Afghanistan formed the Hazara Democratic Party to give a voice to their grievances.
[4] Although it must be said that voter turnout in Baluchistan was as low as 28% in the 2002 elections
[5] See
[6] This interesting chronology can be seen at
[7] See
[8] See
[9] See
[10] See
[11] See agenda of the Ittehad, formed on September 14 2003 at Dera Bugti, covers opposition to military garrisons and mega-projects in the province

from seated left to right: Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, Sardar Ataullah Mengal, and Nawab Akbar Bugti.

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2006, 09:23:11 PM »
Appendix II
Political Parties

Pakistan National Party- One of the older political parties it was formed by Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo, former Governor of Baluchistan. The PNP sought regional autonomy instead of self-determination for Baluchistan and it had offices all over Pakistan. In 1997 it merged with the Baluchistan National Movement to form the Baluchistan National Party and consequently lost its base in other parts of Pakistan.
Baluchistan National Movement- Originally known as the Baluchistan National Youth Movement the BNM grew out of the cadre of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) and was headed by Sardar Attaullah Mengal. Subsequently the BNM split into the BNM-Mengal led by Attaullah’s son Akhtar Mengal and the BNM led by Abdul Hayee Baloch—the latter faction has a strong presence in the Makran coastal belt.
Baluchistan National Party- The BNP was formed by the union of the BNM-Mengal with the PNP and was headed by Sardar Attaullah Mengal. The BNP formed the provincial government in 1997 in alliance with the JWP and the JUI and resigned in 1998 to protest the nuclear tests in Chagai. It also split into the BNP-Mengal and the BNP-Awami led by Moheen Khan, the latter renaming itself, National Party to indicate its all-Pakistan interests. Eventually Sardar Attaullah Mengal formed the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (PONM) to mobilize the ethnic minorities against Punjabi colonization.
Jamhoori Watan Party- Formed in 1990 by Nawab Akbar Bugti the JWP formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Nawaz Sharif to form the provincial government. Later the JWP entered into political alliances with the BNP and eventually formed the Baloch Ittehad in league with other Baloch leaders to protest the military government’s designs in Baluchistan. The JWP has a strong presence in the Dera Bugti and Naseerabad districts and is also part of the PONM.
Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam- The JUI has always had a strong presence among the Pashtun areas of Baluchistan and has always taken part in provincial governance through alliances with Baloch parties. However in the 2002 elections it became part of the MMA and formed the government in alliance with the army-backed PML-Q. The JUI is today led nationally by Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman although another faction is headed by Maulana Sami-ul-haq—the latter though has no presence in Baluchistan.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party – The PKMAP was formed in 1987 and attempts to garner Pashtun votes by raising the slogan of Pashtunistan—a separate homeland for Pashtuns but within Pakistan. PKMAP also supports the claims of the Baloch against the federal government and is part of the PONM formation. The chairman of the party is Sardar Mehmood Khan Achakzai.
Baloch Haq Tawar- Representing interests of the Marri tribe. Balach Marri, son of the resistance leader Khair Bux Marri, was elected on a BHT ticket to the provincial assembly.
Baloch Rabita-Ittefaq Tehrik- The BRIT is headed by Prince Mohyuddin Baloch of the former ruling family of Kalat and has a presence in that mountainous region.
Balochistan National Democratic Party- Led by Hasil Bizenjo the BNDP merged with the BNP-Awami of Abdul Hayee Baloch to form the National Party. They support the army-backed PML-Q in the federal government.
Balochistan National Congress- Headed by Dr. Abdul Hakeem Lahri the BNC could not win a single seat in the 2002 elections. Dr. Lahri was chosen by the federal government to negotiate with the Baloch nationalists after the attacks on Sui and Gwadar in January, 2005.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Baluchistan — The Struggle for Identity
Baluchistan is often described as a barren land where a rag-tag tribal population is fighting for its rights against the state of Pakistan, of which it is a part. This is a very simplistic and extremely inaccurate description of the long-running national struggle in that province. In 1998 the Government of Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in the Chagai district of Baluchistan. The educated middle-class, and most notably students in the cities and towns of the province, publicly protested against this misuse of their land. On the first anniversary of the Chagai tests, while India and Pakistan were fighting a war in the heights of Kargil, the protests were even better organized and cut across ethnic and party lines.

Just as India and Pakistan have fought such wars in the past the Baloch nationalists too have risen several times against the Pakistanis in the last half-century. In 1973, while India was still celebrating its victory over Pakistan two years earlier and while the new nation of Bangladesh was struggling to stand on its feet, the Pakistan Army was fighting another all-out war against the people of Baluchistan. The war lasted four years and the Pakistan Army used massive and indiscriminate firepower to crush the Baloch nationalists. The leaders of this revolt, young and old, were tortured in jail or hanged outright—entire tribes were driven out of their homes and deprived of their livelihood.

But their forefathers had also seen such dark days. In 1948, while a ceasefire between the Indian and Pakistani armies was being implemented in the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, units of the Pakistan Army invaded and forcibly annexed the former princely state of Kalat in Baluchistan. It was defiantly declared on the floor of the Kalat assembly that, "we have a distinct civilization and a separate culture like that of Iran and Afghanistan. We are Muslims but it is not necessary that by virtue of being Muslims we should loose our freedom and merge with others. If the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to join Pakistan, then Afghanistan and Iran, both Muslim countries, should also amalgamate with Pakistan."[1]

The righteous indignation of these people stemmed from the little-known history and unique geography of Baluchistan[2].

The Land and the People
Fight against those who fight against you in the way of Allah,
but do not transgress, for Allah does not love transgressors
(the Holy Quran)

Millions of years ago as the Indian geological plate shifted north-east into the Asian plate the Himalayan mountain range was formed—in the west this friction separated the Indian plains from the mountain-ringed plateau of West Asia. The mountain ranges that separate the south-eastern portion of this dry plateau from the hot plains of the Indus River System are the Kirthar and the Suleiman. The low hills of the Kirthar rise up from the Arabian Sea coast and mark the border of the Pakistani province of Sindh from Baluchistan while further east the Suleiman range stands like a wall against Pakistani Punjab and the Pashtun tribal areas.

Unfortunately these same mountains keep the plateau dry and desolate. The life-giving monsoon showers that drench the Indian continent for three months lose much of their moisture by the time they hit these mountain ranges. Moreover the summer sun is so strong and the wind so dry that only the hardiest plants can survive sheltered near rocks. Such a land can only sustain a limited population—but people in fact are Baluchistan’s greatest assets.

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2006, 09:29:14 PM »
The human population of Baluchistan seems to have evolved from cave-dwelling Stone Age man in the mountain valleys and from fishing communities along the rocky coastline—important segments of that populace came from migrations over the centuries. However Baluchistan’s oldest living link to the ancient past is not some ethnic group but a language—the Brahui language spoken around the highlands of Kalat in the heart of the province. Alternately spelt Brahvi or Brohi this language has some similarities to the Dravidian languages of Central and Southern India but the people who speak it today do not have the Dravidian physiognomy. While retaining their linguistic identity the Brahui tribes today are indistinguishable from their Baloch neighbours.

The Balochi language is a major branch of the Indo-Iranian linguistic group and its speakers seemed to have drifted from northern Iran under pressure from the Islamic Arab and Turk invaders. Alternatively known as Baluch or Balouch the new arrivals were warlike and brave and they carved out their homes in the harsh and inhospitable terrain. This movement did not disturb the small pockets of the older inhabitants but completely altered their customs, language, and way of life—the various geographic sub-regions were now united under the new name of Baluchistan or land of the Baluch.

The Pashtuns inhabit a solid block of land north and east of the provincial capital Quetta and have close relations with their ethnic brethren in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s north-west frontier. In the late 19th Century Quetta became part of the British Indian Empire and was turned into a large army cantonment—later becoming the capital of British Baluchistan. The British marked out the boundaries of the province and brought the nearby Pashtun tribes under the Quetta administration. Unlike the other linguistic groups the Pashtuns, alternatively called Pakhtuns or Pathans, have not had the time to mingle with the other peoples of Baluchistan and they thus form a distinct identity of their own.

Migrations to Baluchistan are not from one direction only. Communities from the east move into the Makran coastal region or north into the foothills of the Kirthar and Suleiman Ranges. The most prominent of these are the Jamoot, a Jat-Baloch community of Sindh, and Hindu fishermen from that same province. Similarly the Baloch have migrated to both Punjab and Sindh in search of jobs and livelihood—it is said that the Baloch population outside Baluchistan is more numerous than that inside the province. The Jamoot and the Hindu fishermen are also integrated into the society of Baluchistan but what is most striking is the complete intermingling between the Baloch and the Brahui. Their relations are said to be that of the fingernail to the finger—one is incomplete without the other.

[1] Cited in “Balochistan: How it all began” By Sabihuddin Ghausi. The Dawn, Jan 30, 2005

[2] Author’s note: A variety of spellings are used for the name of the people and for their province. In this blog Baloch will indicate the people and Baluchistan the province.

from Map showing the ancient settlements in Baluchistan. The Kirthar Range separates Sindh from Baluchistan and rises to meet the Brahui Range. The outcrops of the Suleiman Range can be seen in the upper right corner.
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P.S. thanks to Mr. Shabir Ahmed at

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Re: A Very Detailed Article About Balochistan
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2010, 03:55:29 AM »
WOW, A wealth of info on understanding the complexities of Balochistan for non-Balochs like me.

Long Live Balochistan & may Allah swt prosper its inhabitants. Amen