Author Topic: Balochistan-cruces of history by: Maloy Krishna Dhar  (Read 4720 times)

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Balochistan-cruces of history by: Maloy Krishna Dhar
« on: August 17, 2009, 08:35:36 AM »
Balochistan-cruces of history
Posted by: Maloy Krishna Dhar on Friday, April 25th, 2008

Most puzzling problems of history-the inscrutable cruces; are creatures of history, intertwined with political geography, which often transcend to the realms of geostrategic Gordian Knots. Balochistan is such a cruces of history, which lay in the main marching tract of human civilisation, spanning the east, west and central Asian ethnic and civilisational entities. Therefore, writing about present day Balochistan cannot be confined to a few skirmishes between the Pakistani Establishment and the glorious Baloch people and other ethnic and linguistic groups, which have merged edges with their Baloch brethren. The Baloch are an ancient people, perhaps contemporaneous to the inhabitants of Moenjodaro. Before entering into their heroic struggle against the myopic Pakistani leaders and Army Establishment we need to understand about this historic people that bridged various meridians of Asian civilisations.

Historians seek approximation of truth through disagreement, finally settling down on a common minimum parameter. The Baloch riddle is no exception.

Some historians guess that they inhabited the northern regions of Elburz and east of Caspian Sea. This tract is now inhabited by Ashkanis, who claim Aryan origin from trans-Caucasian people. This school believe that the Baloch and the Kurds are of Aryan origin, as are the Iranians and certain strains of Indians. Baloch language still treasures certain traits of Indo-Aryan-Iranian roots and applications, akin to Sanskrit. Some proto-Baloch speaking people still live in Turkmenistan and surrounding areas.

Some scholars attribute migration of the Baloch people to their present geographical location around 1200 B.C. Recognition of their existence even during the times of king Cyrus and Combyses have substantiated their route of migration from Caspian Sea region through northern Iran.

Some scholars assert that the Balochs are the indigenous people of Balochistan and they had created the first civilisation of the World around Mehergarh. Some Baloch nationalists prefer to support this theory. Other historians, with a view to support supposed Semitic origin of the Baloch, maintain that they came from Halab, Allepe, and are people of old Sumerian of Mesopotamian stock. The propagators of Pakistan being a saga of the Indus alone subscribe to this theory.

Whatever the pundits say the historical Baloch tract had witnessed admixture of the Scythians, Parthians, Ashkanis, Sakas, Kushans, Huns, Turks and Mongols. Most of the pundits agree that the Baloch have more in common with the Qurdish people and other peoples of Aryan stock and they have basic ethnic differences with the Punjabis, Sindhis and Pathans.

It is also borne out of the fact that the Brahuie Balochs (Kalatis) are ethnically different from the peoples of other provinces of Pakistan. The historians also debate the origin of the Brhuies fervently and agreement amongst them is as rare as conjunction of illuminated cosmic dust bowls. It is more or less agreed that the Brahuie Balochs of Balochistan and Sind are linked to the people who inhabited the Harappan and Moenjodaro civilisational tracts along the Sindhu and Saraswati (running through Gujarat and Sind).

Most pundits however, agree that ‘the word ‘Baloch’ was derived from ‘brza-vaciya, (brza-vak)’, meaning a loud cry, in contrast to ‘namra vak’, polite way of talking. Some writers maintain that etymologically it is made of two Chandas (Vedic Sanskrit) words, ‘Bal’> ‘Och’, meaning powerful and magnificent.

History had repeatedly reshaped the geographical boundaries of the Baloch people. Besides the Pakistani part of Balochistan eastern Iran- Sistan - has a vast tract inhabited by the peoples of Baloch stock. The Saka people inhabited Sistan or the land of the Sakas-Sakastana around 128 BC. Two important ethnic groups are Barahuie and Baloch, who speak Boloch tongue with an admixture of Barahuie and Persian languages inabit both Pakistani and Iranian Baloch tracts.

In modern times Anglo-Afghan relations waxed and waned between 1838 and 1919 constantly changing and margin-skirting of the British indian and Afghan territories. The Anglo-Afghan agreement of 1893 signed between Amir Abdur Rahman, and Sir Mortimer Durand, (British Indian government) demarcated a ‘permanent border’ between the two countries. It was supposed to be reviewed after 100 years in 1993. While Afghanistan insists on a review, Pakistan stoutly asserts that the border was finally signed and sealed. This dispute has not been resolved.

Over 300.000 ethnic Baloch people inhabit the Afghan part of Balochistan, though the Pakhtoons or Pushtuns (Pathan) heavily populate the tract. The Pathan people also inhabit large tracts in Pakistani Balochistan.

The Baloch people have followed a resilient secular attitude towards religion despite growth of religious fanaticism elsewhere in Pakistan. The majority of Baloch are Hanafi Sunnis, but there is a community of an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 Zikri Baloch, who live in the coastal Makran area and in Karachi. The Zikris believe in the Messiah Nur Pak, whose teachings supersede those of the Prophet Muhammad. Their beliefs, considered heretical, have led to intermittent Sunni repression of their community since founding of the sect in the fifteenth century. The Shia majority also often harasses the Iranian Balochs.

Of the total population of Balochistan the Balochs numerically dominate the south of the province. the Pushtuns are in majority in and around Quetta and the north. the Kalat region and other parts of the region are dominated by the Brahuie. In fact, the ruling family of Kalat represented Brahuie power in this region. Persian speaking Dehwars also live in the Kalat region and further west towards the border with Iran. The coastal Makran regions are inhabited by Meds and small groups of descendents of African slaves known as the Hubshi. In addition, 769,000 Afghan refugees can be found in the province including Pushtuns, Tajiks, and Hazaras. Sindhi farmers have also moved to the more arable lands in the east. A large number of Punjabis have occupied fertile land in the east and they are prominently present in industrial complexes in Sui gas project, Port Gwadar and Port Qasim facilities and other military installations. Majority of the professional workforce in the province oiriginate from Punjab and Sind.

The Baloch society follows strict hierarchical pattern characterized as feudal militarism. The hakims, are at the top of the system and his retinue consist of pastorals, agriculturists, tenant farmers and descendants of former slaves (hizmatkar). Sardar system is firmly embedded amongst the Bugti, Marri, Mengal, and Zarakzai, Achakzai etc tribes.

It would therefore, be seen that the Baloch people of Pakistan historically walked into the modern ages as an independent people-an admixture of Baloch, Brahuie, Pathan etc people. While the State of Kalat had emerged as the kernel of Baloch political evolution, smaller States like Makran, Kharan, and Las Bela also enjoyed considerable prosperity. They were not ‘the people of the Indus’ as claimed by certain Pakistani scholars. They belonged more to Persian, Afghan and Kurdish orbits.

The British, on the eve of departure, played a neat trick with the Baloch people. They prescribed the 3rd June Plan and proclaimed that the future of British Balochistan was to be determined by a voting college comprising the Shahi Jirga -excluding the representatives of the Balochistan States-and the elected members of the Quetta Municipality. The plan virtually limited the voting exercise to certain loyal clients of he British and the Muslim League.

The Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, who dreamed of an independent Balochistan under his suzerainty, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, an emerging Baloch nationalist, and Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai, an avowed Gandhian and the leader of Indian National Congress, campaigned to prevent the voting college from opting for Pakistan. Their efforts failed on 29 June 1947 and the selected Electoral College, under pressure from the British Agents and Muslim League, voted in favour of Pakistan.

Concerned Sardars of major tribes protested against British manipulation of the sordid episode.
The British had assessed that a Pakistani Baloch province would stand them in good stead in their strategic bulwark against Iran, Afghanistan and not so distant Soviet Union. The Crown representatives persuaded the States of Kharan, Mekran and Las Bela to accede to Pakistan.

The British had declared in the Government of India Act, 1935, that Kalat was an Indian state. At the dawn of partition the Kalat ruler Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, asserted independence. He was pursuaded by his former legal advisor M. A. Jinnah and British officials to join Pakistan. A compact Balochistan political unit was formed in 1952. The States of Balochistan - Kalat, Makran, Kharan and Las Bela - were permitted to form ‘The Balochistan States’ Union’. In 1955, these States were made a part of the ‘One Unit’ or the single province of West Pakistan to facilitate the framing of a constitution on the basis of the principle of ‘parity’ between the two wings of the country. But by mid 1957 it became apparent that the political system established under the Constitution of 1956 was not likely to survive.

Formation of ‘one unit’ of Balochisatn came much later. The tract witnessed rebellion in 1948 itself. Prince Karim, brother of the Khan of Kalat, revolted against Pakistani rule. The genesis of Baloch resistance is normally traced from the rebellion of Prince Karim. It was not a mere revolt of a tribal leader. It represented the aspiration of a historical people to live as an independent entity. It is necessary to examine each phase of the important resistance wars fought by the Baloch people since their unfortunate relationship started with Pakistan, a ‘promised land’ of the Indian Muslims, created by the British. The process witnessed the emergence of another ‘promised land’ in the continent, the Land of Israel. History has supported the diagnosis–‘promised lands’ often turn cancerous.

Jinnah had coerced the State of Kalat through military pressure and deceit to join Pakistan. However, the Khan of Kalat ruled even after Jinnah’s death as Pakistani government had very little control on the area. Anti-Pakistani rallies and meetings in certain areas of the Khanate had become an order of the day. Pakistan responded by enlarging its cantonments and deploying military in areas dominated by the Bugti, Marri and Mengal etc tribes. The Government of Pakistan decided to take complete control of the administration of the Khanate of Balochistan on April 15, 1948. Several political leaders including Mohammad Amin Khosa and Abdul Samad Achakzai were arrested. The pro-Congress (INC) Anjuman-i-Watan Party, headed by Samad Achakzai, was declared unlawful.

The first struggle for Baloch independence started soon after annexation of Kalat by Pakistan and refusal to concede internal autonomy. The Balochs interpreted the Pakistani move as unilateral violation of the Sandeman system (Baloch-British agreement that allowed autonomy to the Sardars). This re¬sulted in civil unrest. Prince Abdul Karim Khan, the younger brother of the Khan of Kalat, decided to lead a national liberation movement on April 16, 1948. He invited the leading Baloch nationalist members-the Kalat State National Party, the Baloch League, and the Baloch National Workers Party etc to join for creation of an independent ‘Greater Balochistan.’

Prince Karim initially solicited Indian support. But New Delhi was not in position to extend logistics and political support in view of its involvement in Kashmir war and contrary advises from the British Governor General.

Karim decided to migrate to Afghanistan in June 1948. Prominent political leaders like Mohammed Hussein Anka, secretary of the Baloch League and editor of Weekly Bolan Mastung, Malik Saeed Dehwar, secretary of the Kalat State National Party, Qadir Bakhsh Nizamami, a member of the Baloch League, Maulvi Mohd Afzal, a member of Jamiat-Ulema-e-Balochistan) accompanied him. Some members of Sind-Balochistan branch of the Communist Party also joined him. Pakistan alleged that India had incited the Prince through Hindu Balochs (about 19% that time) and some Communist leaders of Sind, who maintained steady relationship with Indian Communists. It tried to depict the Baloch nationalist leaders as pro-Moscow.

The entourage encamped at Sarlath, Kandahar. Karim contacted Mir Ghulam Faruq (Rudini tribe), Sardar Mehrab Khan, Sardar Mir Jumma and Mir Wazir Khan Sanjrani of Chagai district (nuclear testing range), and several other chiefs. He also contacted the Afghan and the USSR emissaries for help.
Besides spreading the news of Baloch nationalism and religious tolerance Karim organized the Baloch Mujahideen, a liberation force consisting of former soldiers and officers of the Khanate’s army. The Baloch liberation army had separate wings, Jannisar (devotee), Janbaz (darer), and fidayeen (suicide) squads. His GHQ was known as Bab-i-Aali (secret war office). However, the first Baloch liberation army did not have an impressive strength.

Prince Karim’s efforts were hindered by Afghanistan and the Soviet Union’s unwillingness to offer assistance. Prince Karim appointed Malik Saeed and Qadir Bakhsh Nizamani as emis¬saries to contact the Afghan government and other embassies. The Afghan authorities refused to provide help but allowed Karim to remain in Kandahar as political refugees. Kabul was not inclined to allow Karim to operate from its soil, as it was apprehensive of its own Baloch and Pushtun population. Ahmed Shah Abdali had treated Balochistan as a subordinate territory. Only after Baloch-Afghan war of 1758 the Afghans and Balochs signed an agreement of ‘non-interference.’ Afghan rulers Shuja Shah and Abdur Rahman Khan later demanded incorporation of the Indian Baloch territory. In fact, on the eve of partition, the Afghan government kicked up the issue of creation of ‘Pashtunistan’, a region stretching from Chitral and Gilgit to the Baloch coast in the Arabian Sea. Kabul described it as ‘South Pashtunistan.’ With such susceptibilities in mind Kabul decided to play safe.

The Iranians were apprehensive of similar movement by their own Baloch nationality. The Soviets under Stalin had not yet developed a policy towards the changing situation in the Indian subcontinent and in Afghan territory. Stalin was focussed on East Europe and Central Asian territories. He did not want to antagonise the British and Afghan powers.
India was in no position to support the rebel Prince. Nehru was struggling for power within the Congress party, Pakistan’s Kashmir invasion and he was yet to determine where he belonged, to the West, East or the nowhere-Non-aligned realm.

Pakistan pressurised the Kalat ruler in May 1948 to declare his brother a rebel. Pakistan moved its army to the military posts of Punjab, Chaman, Chashma, and Rastri near the Afghan border with a view to cut off Karim from Baloch support. The first Army action in Balochstan had taken a toll of 65 Baloch lives. In the process two armed clashes ensued. However Karim’s movement was split from within. Anqa and Malik Saeed favored armed struggle in the form of guerrilla war, while Mir Ghous Bux Bizenjo and other prominent leaders wished to resolve all issues by negotiation.

The Khan of Kalat later persuaded Karim to return to Balochistan. He was, however, not yet ready to surrender. He organised a rebellion against Pakistan in the Jalawan area and received assistance from Mir Gohar Khan Zahrri, an influential tribal leader of the Zarakzai clan. Major General Akbar Khan, (Kashmir famous General Tariq) Commander of Pakistani army’s Seventh Regiment mounted counter attack and arrested Karim with his followers. General Akbar Khan, in an article published in the daily Dawn, August 14, 1960, (Early Reminiscences Of A Soldier) stated that there was a plan to invade the Khanate. He narrated the clashes between Pakistan army and Karim’s forces. Akbar claimed that under Jinnah’s instruction this news was withheld from media.

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Re: Balochistan-cruces of history by: Maloy Krishna Dhar
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2009, 08:39:16 AM »
Balochistan: Cruces of History- Part II
Posted by: Maloy Krishna Dhar on Monday, August 10th, 2009

I had written a 16 pages long dissertation on Baloch problem with the banner: Balochistan: Cruces of History. Readers may like to read the same in this website. That piece was well appreciated by most intellectuals, my Baloch friends and even a few sensible Pakistani literati.

The recent attempt of Pakistan to internationalize its domestic failure all over the country, especially in FATA, NWFP and Balochistan has come as a shocker to many international Pakistani watchers. While the FATA and NWFP were vastly affected by the Taliban movement, growing influence of Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar al Zill etc Islamist militant outfits, the Baloch territory, barring certain pockets near Quetta remained free from Islamist, jihadist and Salafist aggrandizement. This goes to prove that in spite of efforts of Pakistan to turn Balochistan to Punjabistan by implanting huge Punjabi population, the legendary Baloch Sardars of Bugti and Marri and Mengel tribes and other aboriginal Baloch people remained steadfastly secular. Even the Hindu populations of Hingol (Hinglaz famous) have never felt persecuted. Minorities in other parts of Pakistan are under threat from Sunni aggrandizement. The recent incident of killing of several Christians in Punjab is a pointer. The Sindhi Hindus are treated as slaves by the Sindhi land and warlords. Contrary to this the Baloch people has maintained appreciable secular cool.

Baloch rebellion against Pakistan is as old as the contrived birth of the artificial homeland of Indian Muslims. These points have been explained in Part I of the series on Balochistan. Musharraf did the most disservice by killing Nawab Akbar Bugti on 26th August 2006 at a place near Kohlu. Though initially it was given out that his grandson Brahamdagh and Aali also died in the hands of Pakistan army, he survived and is now piloting the Baloch resistance from outside Pakistan; possibly from Afghan soil...