Author Topic: THE BALOCH and BALOCHISTAN By NASEER DASHTI  (Read 12696 times)

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Offline AhmedHout

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« on: November 18, 2012, 09:29:11 PM »
A historical account from the Beginning to the fall of the Baloch State
Trafford Publishing
Copyright © 2012 Naseer Dashti
All right reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4669-5896-8


Chapter 1: Tracing Baloch History............................................1
Chapter 2: Major Powers of Ancient Iran......................................11
Chapter 3: The Historical Beginning of the Baloch............................30
Chapter 4: Dispersion of the Baloch from Balashagan..........................45
Chapter 5: The Arab Conquest of Iran and the Baloch..........................63
Chapter 6: Regional Dynasties of Iran and the Baloch.........................82
Chapter 7: The Baloch in Medieval Times......................................114
Chapter 8: Development of Baloch Cultural Values.............................135
Chapter 9: Birth of the Baloch State.........................................149
Chapter 10: Consolidation and Expansion of the Khanate.......................169
Chapter 11: The Khanate at Its Peak..........................................183
Chapter 12: The Period of Civil War and Decline..............................197
Chapter 13: The British Occupation of Balochistan............................205
Chapter 14: Balochistan After Occupation.....................................219
Chapter 15: Conflicts between the Khan and Sardars...........................232
Chapter 16: Balochistan Under the British Rule...............................246
Chapter 17: The Baloch Resistance Against Occupation.........................261
Chapter 18: Persian Encroachments inWestern Balochistan......................272
Chapter 19: The Division of Balochistan......................................285
Chapter 20: Political Mobilization of the Baloch.............................299
Chapter 21: The Creation of Pakistan in Context..............................309
Chapter 22: Independence and Demise of the Baloch State......................321
Chapter 23: Fall of the Baloch State:An Overview.............................341
Chapter 24: The Long Walk from Balashagan to Balochistan.....................353

Chapter One
Tracing Baloch History

Nearly three thousand years ago, a multitude of tribes left their abodes in Central Asia and moved toward west, south, and southeast directions. These people were called Aryans and a section among them became known as Indo-Iranic tribes. Some of the Indo-Iranic tribes settled in northwestern Iranian region of Balashakan. Circumstances forced this pastoralist nomadic group of tribes known at that time as Balashchik to migrate en masse and abandon their original homeland. After many centuries of wandering and sufferings, these pastoralist nomads ultimately settled in the south and eastern fringes of Iranian plateau. Here they changed from being the Balashchik to become the Baloch, and the name of the region they finally settled became known as Balochistan "the country of the Baloch." They imposed their language and culture upon the whole region and created a nation-state that lasted for nearly three hundred years in an independent or semi-independent status. The Baloch state witnessed many ups and downs throughout its existence and finally vanished from the map of the world when it was occupied by Pakistan in 1948.

It is not easy to trace the Baloch history. The mention of the Baloch in the ancient historical documents is rare. From ancient historical accounts, some aspects of the Baloch history can be reconstructed but only in a very tentative and abstract form. It appears that there has been a blackout of any description of the Baloch by the ancient historians. Most probably, it is due to the fact that the Baloch were a pastoralist nomadic group of tribes, having no direct or formidable contribution to the political upheavals of the period. Like many other pastoralist nomads of ancient Iran, who descended upon Iranian plateau from Central Asia, historical accounts are rare about the Baloch; the difference, however, is that some of these ethnic groups vanished and ceased to exist as a separate entity, whereas the Baloch emerged as a distinct linguistic and cultural entity during the medieval era.

Due to scarcity of detailed accounts, the ethnic origin of the Baloch, the exact location of their original homeland in the Iranian plateau, is still a subject of guesswork. Actual circumstances of their migration or an expulsion from their original abode could not be found in any historical documents. There are only some passing references in some of the ancient accounts of Iranian history. Only on some of the rock inscriptions of Sassanid times can one find a place Balasagan or Balashakan or Balashagan and a description of an ethnic group Balashchik from some ancient Greek and Armenian historical accounts. On some occasions, the Baloch had been described as warriors in the armies of Median, Achaemenid, and Sassanid emperors, while on many other occasions, they were branded as brigands and unruly barbarians. There are also some brief accounts of encounters between some of these emperors with the Baloch and some claims of annihilating the Baloch by many other emperors of Persian dynasties.

There is historical evidence that the Baloch were part of military forces of Emperor Cyrus, Xerxes, and Cambyses of Achaemenid Dynasty. Firdausi in his "Book of Kings" (Shahnama) described the Baloch as part of the Army of Cambyses (Siahwash), son of Kai Kaous of the Achaemenid Dynasty. The second mention of the Baloch in the "Book of Kings" is during the rule of Chosroes I (Anosharvan) from AD 531 to AD 579 of Sassanid Dynasty. From the time of Kai Kaous to Anosharvan, nothing can be found in historical documents about the Baloch for a period that spans up to a thousand years. It is not clear what happened to this ethnic group during this period—a group whose inclusion in the armies of different Achaemenid emperors had been mentioned graphically by Iranian historians of medieval times.

The paucity of documented historical and anthropological data had given rise to innumerable speculations concerning the origin of the Baloch. Different opinions and theories about the origin of the Baloch have been put forward. Earlier researchers on the origin of the Baloch deliberated on various theories and tried to align the Baloch with different racial entities of the region. Speculations were mainly focused on the lines that whether Baloch belongs to Aryan, Semitic, or Turanian group of tribes—Pottinger (1976) believed that the Baloch had Turkmen ethnic origins, Rawlinson (1873) was in favor of a Chaldean (Semitic) origin of the Baloch, Bellew (1874) aligned them with the Indian Rajput tribes, and Dames (1904) considered them as from the Aryan groups of tribes.
During the latter part of the twentieth century, extensive and authentic researches on many languages of Iranian plateau disclosed definite links of the Baloch with other ethnicities of the region.

Offline AhmedHout

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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 09:30:02 PM »
From these research works on the roots of Balochi and other languages, it became clear that theories of the Baloch origin of being Chaldeans, Arabs, or the indigenous population of Balochistan had no logical or scientific credentials. The racial origin of the Baloch is now academically well established that of coming from the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranic tribes. On linguistic and cultural grounds, it is now commonly believed that the Kurds and the Baloch come into the Median category of these tribes. Study upon the roots of Balochi language has been a very strong evidence for this opinion.

From the available evidences on linguistic and cultural aspects, it can be deduced that the Baloch migrated along with other migrating Indo-Iranic tribes from Central Asia toward the Caspian Sea region of the Iranian plateau, most probably around 1200 BC. This is believed to be part of the general historical phenomenon of Aryan migrations of that time. It has also been established that they first settled in northern Persia near the Caspian Sea and in and around the Elborz Mountain. Their area of abode had the name of Balashakan (Balashagan). The Baloch settled here along with tribes of other ethnic groups for a long time, forming alliances and making affiliations with various groups. From a linguistic and cultural standpoint, it appears that the Baloch and Kurds were two large tribal groups of common origin living in the same area. Why the Baloch, as a whole, moved from their original abode of Balashakan to the present-day Balochistan, while the Kurds remained in their original place, is not known exactly. However, some of the Kurdish tribes or part of some Kurdish tribes decided to move along with the Baloch in their eastward journey, and they are now fully incorporated into the larger Baloch national identity.

History has been mostly written from the perspective of dominant or victorious powers, and the historical accounts of the Baloch may have been infected by the Persian-centric, and Islam-centric "viruses." These writers were preoccupied with writing about the glorious deeds of their own ethnic or national entities and did not care much about their "barbarian" neighbors like the Baloch, whom they considered beyond the pale.

The Baloch were pastoralists, herding sheep and goats; like other nomadic pastoralists of the region, they were highly mobile, living in tribal communities rather in political entities. As there was a definite gulf between them and the settled communities, sometimes misgivings were inevitable where the nomadic Baloch were blamed for their harassment of settled entities. Relationship between nomadic, seminomadic, and sedentary peoples within different Persian empires has always been characterized by shifting hegemony, rivalry, wars, and alliances on various pretexts. These changing relationships played important roles in the sufferings of the Baloch tribes and frustrated attempts of subsequent identity formation as a distinct ethnic entity. As members of settled communities, who also happened to be from the victorious or dominant powers, had recorded the historical accounts; descriptions of the Baloch in these historical accounts display many discrepancies.

Persecution by strong and organized religions for the last two thousand years has shaped the secular attitude of the Baloch about religion in their social or community affairs. The Persians and Arab writers of medieval times portray the Baloch as unruly, predatory, and highway robbers. They portrayed the Baloch as least enthusiastic about their religious obligations be it Zoroastrianism or Islam. Despite their oblique perspective, they offer on the history of the Baloch, their accounts are of enormous importance in the sense that we can read between the lines from their narratives. As the Baloch were facing the genocidal acts of Sassanid and the Arabs, one cannot expect neutral accounts of the events from the historians of these conquering nations, although they tell us about the encounter of a hostile "ethnic group"; nevertheless, these writers offer at least a macrohistorical versions of the events concerning the Baloch (the version of the triumphant and victorious side). The credibility of each of these narratives, thus, must be judged on its own merit.

The origin of the Brahui group of the Baloch tribes has been investigated in order to give them a very different identity separate from the Baloch ethnic identity. The notion of Brahui speaking tribes as ethnically different from the Balochi speaking tribes began with the advent of the British colonialism in Balochistan. This was obviously aimed at developing schism among the Baloch and was in line with the time-tested "divide and rule" policy of colonial powers. However, with the limited research of Dr. Gershevitch, the picture of the origin of the Brahui tribes became clear to a large extent. He traced the origin of Bashkardi dialects to the Bradazhui tribe of Central Persia during the Achaemenid Dynasty. From the investigations of Dr. Gershevitch (1962a, b), one can safely deduce that the Brahui were among the tribal confederacy of the Baloch tribes in Kerman. They were among the Baloch tribes residing in Barez Mountain. It is most probable that they got their present name of Brahui after first being called as Barezui as they descended from their mountain abodes and began their en masse migration toward east in medieval times. By the time they settled in their present abode in Jhalawan and Sarawan (Turan) regions of Balochistan, they became known as Brahui from being Barezui. Based on the works of Dr. Gershevitch, there is a need for further research on the Brahui language, which should not be constrained by the previous focus of research linking it with a Dravidian origin.

Beginning from the invasion of Iran by the Arab tribes in the seventh century, the history of the Baloch is a history of persecution, deportation, and migration, although some of the Baloch tribes initially sided with the Arabs; however, soon, the Arabs began to persecute the Baloch on various pretexts. After the weakening of Arab power, Iran was ruled by powerful local dynasties for many centuries. The Baloch also faced some of the worst treatments during this period. Saffarids, Buyids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Seljuqs, and Mongols were among the major political powers and dynasties that have committed their share of atrocities on the Baloch. These atrocities included such genocidal acts that finally pushed the Baloch from Kerman and northern regions of Sistan toward further east into southern Sistan, Makuran, and Turan. With this huge influx of the Baloch tribes, the sociopolitical picture of the region changed drastically. During this period of intensive Baloch migrations, the area began to take on the character of the Baloch people. Language of the migrating Baloch tribes "Balochi" became the lingua franca of the region, and the whole region came to be known as Balochistan.

The landmass stretching from southeastern Iran to the east bank of River Sindh in Punjab, and from lower reaches of Helmand in Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean is called Balochistan. Spooner (1983) defined Balochistan as a semicircle of historically important cities and agricultural areas that stretches from Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf through Kerman, the Delta of the Helmand River in Sistan, Kandahar, and Sindh. It is a borderland between India and Iran and a bridge between the Iranian plateau and the Arabian Peninsula. Geographically, in the West, Dasht-e-Lut, Dasht-e-Kavir, and Kerman Mountains separate it from Persia Proper, and the Persian speaking regions of Kerman in the Southeast, Hub River, and Kirther range of Mountains separate it from Sindh. In the Northeast, the right bank of Indus separates it from Pashtunistan and Punjab. In the North, Balochistan is naturally separated from Afghanistan by the natural boundaries of Helmand and the mountain range north of Quetta. In the South, the Indian Ocean separates Balochistan from the Sultanate of Oman.

From the archeological excavations, it has been discovered that Balochistan had a bridging function between the cultures in Mesopotamia and the Iranian highland on the one hand and those in the Indus lowland on the other hand. There are archaeological evidences of overland connections between the early civilizations of the Indus valley and Mesopotamia through Balochistan. From the middle of the first millennium, the area was divided into many provinces of Achaemenid Empire such as Maka (Makuran) and Zaranka (Sistan). The Greeks during the campaigns of Alexander the Great named the southern regions of Balochistan as Gedrosia. During the Sassanid period, the regions which comprised present-day Balochistan were called Turan (Tugran, Turgestan), corresponding to present-day Sarhad, Sarawan and Jhalawan regions, Pradhan (probably modern-day Kharan and Chagai), Makuran, and Sakastan (modern-day Sistan).

Due to the huge influx of migrating Baloch tribes into Balochistan in medieval times, the demographic and political dynamics of the region changed in favor of the Baloch. There began an era of Baloch dominance in the region. Various tribal confederacies of the Baloch became powerful, and one of them established the first Baloch state known as the Khanate of Kalat in mid-seventeenth century. The Khanate was a loose union of the Baloch tribes and survived for nearly three hundred years in an independent or semi-independent status until it was occupied by Pakistan in 1948.

The history of the Baloch can be divided into different periods. The first period encompasses their migration along with other Indo-Iranic tribes into Iranian plateau and settlement into Balashakan or Balashagan. From the scanty evidence of their migration into northwestern Caspian region, their settlement in Balashakan and their persecutions by various dynastic powers of that time, it is hard to visualize a clear picture of the Baloch at that time. However, there is no doubt that they were pastoralists, herding sheep and goats, and that, like other pastoralists of Central Asia, they were highly mobile, if not entirely nomadic, and they were living in tribal communities. It was the period in which the Baloch distinguished themselves as a separate ethnic entity among other pastoralist nomadic tribes in the northwestern region of Caspian Sea. During this period, they were called Balashchik and had a territory of Balashakan named after them. Probably, Balochi language began to shape its distinguishing features from other Iranian languages at that time. During this same period, they appeared to be parts of imperial armies of Median, Achaemenid, Parthian, and, perhaps, of Sassanid empires. However, it is this same period when the persecution of the Baloch began on different pretexts, and they migrated en masse or were deported to other parts of the Iranian plateau. At the end of this period, the Balashchik and Balashagan vanished from the historical accounts.

The second part of the Baloch history begins when the Balashchik of Balashagan made their presence noted in Kerman, Sistan, Makuran, and Turan as wandering pastoralist nomads having a new identity as the Baloch. In the historical accounts of Arabs and Persians of that time, they had been mentioned as Koch o Baloch. This period of the Baloch history almost entirely consists of the tales of persecutions, genocides, migrations, and wanderings. This period can easily be termed as the darkest times for the Baloch as an ethnic entity. During this period, the Baloch were in constant conflicts with various regional powers who were trying to exert their authority over Iran after the Arab authority of Caliphate in Baghdad eclipsed, beginning from the tenth century. This period is characterized by the mass movement of Koch o Baloch from Kerman and northern parts of Sistan. Perhaps, this was the period during which almost total evacuation of the Brahui (Barezui) group of Baloch tribes occurred from eastern Kerman and their settlement in Turan begun.

With their increased diffusion into Makuran, southern Sistan, Turan, and Kachchi during medieval period, the migrating Baloch tribes individually, or in tribal confederacies, began to exert their influence culturally, politically, and militarily in these areas. During this period, despite sufferings and wanderings, the Baloch culture began to dominate the region, Balochi became the lingua franca of the region, and different indigenous tribes began to merge into the identities of various Baloch tribes or they became allied to various Baloch tribal confederacies. The whole area got the name of Balochistan in this period.


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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2012, 03:51:23 PM »
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Offline AhmedHout

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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2012, 04:31:48 PM »
Thank you for the link. Hope it will be soon translated to Baluchi.