Balochistan_(Pakistan)

Balochistan (Pakistan)

Balochistan, or Baluchistan, Pashto, (Balochi, Hazara,Brahui, Sindhi, Urdu: بلوچستان) is a province in Pakistan, the largest in the country by geographical area; it is slightly smaller than Norway. It contains most of the historical region of Balochistan and is named after the Baloch people. Its neighbouring regions are Iranian Balochistan to the west, Afghanistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the north and Punjab and Sindh to the east. To the south is the Arabian Sea. The principal languages in the province are Baluchi, Brahui,Sindhi and Pashto. The capital and largest city is Quetta. Balochistan is believed to be rich in mineral resources. It is the second major, after Sindh, supplier of natural gas to the country.

Geography

Balochistan is located at the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau and in the border region between Southwest, Central, and South Asia. It is geographically the largest of the four provinces at 347,190 km² or (134,051 square miles) of Pakistani territory; and composes 48% of the total land area of Pakistan. The population density is very low due to the mountainous terrain and scarcity of water. The southern region is known as Makran. The central region is known as Kalat.

The Sulaiman Mountains dominate the northeast corner and the Bolan Pass is a natural route into Afghanistan towards Kandahar and was used as a route during the British campaigns to Afghanistan. Much of the province south of the Quetta region is sparse desert terrain with pockets of towns mostly near rivers and streams.

The capital city is Quetta, located in the most densely populated district in the northeast of the province. Quetta is situated in a river valley near the border with Afghanistan, with a road to Kandahar in the northwest.

At Gwadar on the coast the Pakistani government is currently undertaking a large project with Chinese help to build a large port. This is being done partially to provide the Pakistan Navy with another base, and to reduce Pakistan's reliance on Karachi and Port Qasim, which are currently the only major ports

Climate

Very cold winters and hot summers characterise the climate of the upper highlands. Winters of the lower highlands vary from extremely cold in the northern districts to mild conditions closer to the Makran coast. Summers are hot and dry, especially the arid zones of Chaghai and Kharan districts. The plain areas are also very hot in summer with temperatures rising as high as 120 °F (50 °C). Winters are mild on the plains with the temperature never falling below the freezing point. The desert climate is characterised by hot and very arid conditions. Occasionally strong windstorms make these areas very inhospitable.

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Population Urban

1951 1,167,167 12.38%
1961 1,353,484 16.87%
1972 2,428,678 16.45%
1981 4,332,376 15.62%
1998 6,565,885 23.89%
2005 9,839,417 23.89%
Balochistan has a population of around 10 million inhabitants. Overall, the Baloch and Brohi tribes comprise 62% of the province's population. The rest are mainly Pashtuns, Hazaras and Sindhis. Baloch are concentrated in the sparsely populated north-west, west, east and south; Brohis in the centre of the province, while the Pashtuns are the majority in the north. Quetta, the capital of the province, has a Pashtun majority with Baloch, Hazaras and Punjabi minorities. Near the Kalat region and other parts of the province there are significant numbers of Brohi speakers. Along the coast various Makrani Balochis predominate. In addition, 769,000 Afghan refugees can be found in the province including Pashtuns, Tajiks, and Hazaras. Many Sindhi farmers have also moved to the more arable lands in the east. There are also a growing number of other(s) ethnic groups consisting of Kurdish, Punjabi, Muhajir and Iranians who have made Balochistan their home in recent decades.

Society

Balochistan has a deeply patriarchal and conservative culture, in which ' honour killings' are commonplace.

In one recent incident in August 2008, the Asian Human Rights Commission reported that five women (including three teenagers) in a remote village had been beaten, shot and buried alive in a ditch for the 'crime' of having wished to choose their own husbands. One of the tribesmen involved was the younger brother of a provincial minister from the ruling Pakistan People's Party, and local police therefore refused to take any action.

After human rights activists brought the case to national and international attention, Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Balochistan in the Pakistani Parliament, defended the killings and asked his fellow legislators not to make a fuss about the incident. He told Parliament, "These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them. Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid."

History

Balochistan was the site of the earliest known farming settlements upon the Iranian plateau bordering South Asia, the earliest of which was Mehrgarh dated at 6500 BCE. Pakistani Balochistan corresponds to the ancient Achaemenid province of Gedrosia. Balochistan was sparsely populated by various tribes, possibly of Dravidian and Indo-Iranian origin, for centuries following the decline of the nearby Harappa-Mohenjo-daro civilisation to the east. Over time, Balochistan was invaded by various Eurasian groups including the Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Kushans, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Mughals, Afghans, and the British. Aryan invasions appear to have led to the eventual demise of the Elamo-Dravidian with the exception of the Brahui who may have arrived much later as did the Balochis themselves. The Balochis began to arrive from their homeland in northern Iran and appear to be an offshoot of the Kurdish tribes that would mainly populate the western end of the Iranian plateau. The Balochi tribes eventually became a sizeable group rivalled only by another Iranian group where Brohis and Pashtuns came under influnces of Balochis.

Islamic arrival in Baluchistan

What is now Baluchistan province of Pakistan, in the 7th century was divided into two main regions, its south western parts were part of Kermān Province of the Persian Empire and north eastern region was part of the Persian province Sistan. The southern region was included in Makran. In early 644, Caliph Umar sent Suhail ibn Adi from Busra to conquer the Kerman region of Iran; he was made governor of Kerman. From Kerman he entered the western Baluchistan and conquered the region near to Persian frontiers. South Western Baluchistan was conquered during the campaign in Sistan the same year. During Caliph Uthman’s reign in 652, Baluchistan was re-conquered during the campaign against the revolt in Kerman, under the command of Majasha ibn Masood, it was first time when western Baluchistan came directly under the Laws of Caliphate and gave tribute on agriculture.In those days western Baluchistan was included in the dominion of Kerman. In 654 Abdulrehman ibn Samrah was made governor of Sistan, an Islamic army was sent under him to crush the revolt in Zarang, which is now in southern Afghanistan. Conquering Zarang a column moved north ward to conquer areas up to Kabul and Ghazni in Hindu Kush Mountains, while another column moved towards North western Baluchistan and conquered area up to the ancient city of Dawar and Qandabil (Bolan), by 654 the whole of what is now Baluchistan province of Pakistan was under the rule of Rashidun Caliphate except for the well defended mountain town of QaiQan (now Kalat), which was conquered during Caliph Ali’s reign. Abdulrehman ibn Samrah made Zaranj his provincial capital and remained governor of these conquered areas from 654 to 656, until Uthman was murdered. During the Caliphate of Ali, the areas of Baluchistan, Makran again broke into revolt. Due to civil war in the Islamic empire Ali was unable to deal with these areas until 660 when he sent a large force under the command of Haris ibn Marah Abdi towards Makran, Baluchistan and Sind. Haris ibn Marah Abdi arrived in Makran and conquered it by force then moved north ward to north eastern Baluchistan and re-conquered Qandabil (Bolan), then again moving south finally conquered Qaiqan (Kalat) after a fierce battle. In 663 during the reign of Umayyad Caliph Muawiyah I, Muslim lost control of North eastern Baluchistan and Kalat when Haris ibn Marah and large part of army died in the battle field against a revolt in Kalat. Muslim forces latter re-gained the control of the area during Umayyads reign. It also remained part of Abbasid Caliphate's empire.

History of Baloch people

Many Balochis believe that their origins are Semitic and not Iranian contrary to linguistic and historical evidence. Balochis claim that they left their Aleppo homeland in Syria at some point during the 1st millennium CE and moved to Balochistan, on the other hand it is considered more likely they are an Iranian group who have possibly absorbed some Arab ancestry and cultural traits instead, it is also believed that Baloch are of Arab blood, it could be they left the Arab world when Iraq broke from Persia in 652 AD and there is historical evidence that suggests they lived in (Khuzestan) and (Bushehr) before moving to Kerman and Hormozgan. In 15th century Mir Chakar Khan Rind became first king of Baluchistan. Balochistan subsequently was dominated by empires based in Iran and Afghanistan as well as the Mughal Empire based in India. Ahmed Shah Durrani annexed the region as part of a "greater" Afghanistan. The area would eventually revert to local Balochi control, while parts of the northern regions would continue to be dominated by Pashtun tribes.

During the period of the British Raj, there were four Princely states in Balochistan: Makran, Kharan, Las Bela and Kalat. In 1876 Sir Robert Sandeman concluded a treaty with the Khan of Kalat and brought his territories - including Kharan, Makran, and Las Bela - under British suzerainty. After the Second Afghan War of 1878-80, the Treaty of Gandamak concluded in May 1879, the Afghan Emir ceded the districts of Quetta Pishin,Sibi, Harnai, and Thal Chotiali to the British. In 1883 the British leased the Bolan Pass, southeast of Quetta, from the Khan of Kalat on a permanent basis. In 1887 some areas of Balochistan were declared British territory. In 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand negotiated an agreement with Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan to fix the Durand Line running from Chitral to Balochistan to as the boundary between the Afghans and the British.

There were two devastating earthquakes in Balochistan during British colonial rule: The 1935 Balochistan Earthquake devastated Quetta and the 1945 Balochistan Earthquake, with its epicentre in Makran region, was felt in other regions of South Asia.

On 15 June, 2006, an estimated 600 fighters, led by three commanders, agreed to lay down their weapons after talks with Shoaib Nausherwani, Baluchistan's minister for internal affairs, in Dera Bugti district. On August 26, Balochistan tribal leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in airstrikes carried out by the Pakistani military.

In 1998 Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in Ras Koh and in the Kharan desert, both in the Kharan District in north-western Balochistan. After Musharraf's coup against the Nawaz Sharif Government, the separatist insurgency resurfaced.

Government

The unicameral Provincial Assembly of Balochistan comprises 65 seats of which 4% are reserved for non-Muslims and 16% for women only.

Administrative division

Balochistan is divided into 27 districts.

Major cities

  • Loralai
  • Mastung
  • Nushki
  • Pasni
  • Quetta
  • Sibi
  • Turbat
  • Zhob
  • Economy

    The economy of the province is largely based upon the production of natural gas, coal and minerals. Outside Quetta, the infrastructure of the province is gradually developing but still lags far behind other parts of Pakistan. Tourism remains limited but has increased due to the exotic appeal of the province. Limited farming in the east as well as fishing along the Arabian Sea coastline are other forms of income and sustenance for the local populations. Due to the tribal lifestyle of many Baluch and Brahui, animal husbandry is important as are trading bazaars found throughout the province.

    Though the province remains largely underdeveloped, there are currently several major development projects in progress in Balochistan, including the construction of a new deep sea port at the strategically important town of Gwadar. The port is projected to be the hub of an energy and trade corridor to and from China and the Central Asian republics. There is considerable Chinese involvement in the project, leading some to consider Gwadar it as the Chinese outpost on the Arabian Sea. The total cost of the project is estimated at more than US$2 billion. China has also invested in a coastal highway to link Gwadar with Pakistan's largest city, Karachi.

    Further west is the Mirani Dam multipurpose project, on the River Dasht, 50 kilometres west of Turbat in the Makran Division. It will provide dependable irrigation supplies for the development of agriculture and add more than 35,000 km² of arable land. There is also Chinese involvement in the nearby Saindak gold and copper mining project.

    Education

    There are five main public universities in Balochistan, as well as several private institutions.

    This is a chart of the education market of Balochistan (Pakistan) estimated by the government in 1998. Also see

    Qualification Urban Rural Total Enrolment Ratio(%)
    1,568,780 4,997,105 6,565,885
    Below Primary 237,827 1,149,334 1,387,161 10.00
    Primary 361,760 1,427,173 1,788,933 15.87
    Middle 325,051 971,437 1,296,488 17.62
    Matriculation 318,932 846,509 1,165,441 31.88
    Intermediate 132,248 232,865 365,113 14.13
    BA, BSc… degrees 9,726 16,490 260,216 8.57
    MA, MSc… degrees 99,303 133,422 232,725 8.17
    Diploma, Certificate… 56,319 61,464 117,783 4.62
    Other qualifications 27,614 158,411 186,025 2.83

    Sonmiani test range

    Sonmiani in south-eastern Balochistan is the site of a space launch centre for suborbital rockets operated by Pakistan's national space agency.

    Baluchistan Plateau The Baluchistan Plateau is situated in the north-west part of the province of Baluchistan. It lies mainly about 1000 meters above sea-level.

    Famous people

    There are many famous people from Balochistan including the following:Historical Personalities

    Post-Independence (post-1947)

    See also

    References

    http://www.balochistaninfo.com/200604/BalochNationalismitsOriginandDevelopment.pdf

    External links

    • Geo-Links for Balochistan (Pakistan)

    Further reading

    • Johnson, E.A., et al. (1999). Lithofacies, depositional environments, and regional stratigraphy of the lower Eocene Ghazij Formation, Balochistan, Pakistan [U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1599). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.

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