April 14, 2008

Balochistan

STATISTICS

Population: The population is estimated at 7.9 million
Capital City: Quetta 
Area: 347,190 km2
Language: Urdu, Balochi, Pashto, Brahui

UNPO REPRESENTATION: Balochistan National Party

 

OVERVIEW

The Balochistan National Party is comprised of Baloch political intellectual and cultural figures, and young political activists. BNP was established in 1996 by veteran Baloch politician Sardar Attahullah Mengal after many years of political discourse among these groups and it has brought together political activists from previous political, cultural, social groups and new forces, on the platform of national self determination. The BNP is deeply rooted in Baloch society inside Eastern Balochistan, Karachi, among the Baloch diasporas in the Gulf Arab countries and among Baloch refugees and immigrants in Western countries. It has branches in most European countries and North America. It commands the support of large and important sections of Baloch people in Pakistan.

GEOGRAPHY

Balochistan, “the country of the Baloch” presently forms part of the three states of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan . It is strategically situated at the eastern flank of the Middle East, linking the Central Asian states with the Indian subcontinent and the Indian Ocean. The Baloch land served as a buffer zone between ancient empires and during the last few centuries between the Russian areas of influence in Central Asia and British India. 

HISTORY

Among the most significant invasions of Balochistan was the Arab incursion in the seventh century AD, which brought far reaching social, religious, economic and political changes in the region. In AD 644 an Arab army under the command of Hakam defeated the combined forces of Makoran and Sindh. The period of Arab rule brought the religion of Islam to the area. The Baloch tribes gradually embraced Islam, replacing their centuries-old Zoroastrian religion. 

During the anarchic and chaotic last phases of Arab rule, the Baloch tribes established their own semi-independent tribal confederacies, which were frequently threatened and overwhelmed by the stronger forces and dynasties of surrounding areas. The defeat of Baloch forces at Khabis and Bumpur (modern-day Iranshahr) resulted in the complete victory of the Ghaznavis dynasty over Balochistan. During most of the 12th century southern Balochistan was under the control of the Seljuks, before the arrival of the Moghuls. Towards the beginning of the sixteenth century the Portuguese captured several places along the Makoran coast. 

The period from AD 1400 to 1948 is notable for the decline in influence of the surrounding powers over Balochistan and the rise of Baloch influence. The predominance of Baloch socio-political and cultural institutions characterises this period.

Historically, the British occupation of the Baloch State of Kalat in 1839 was perhaps the greatest event and turning point in Baloch history. From the very day British forces occupied Kalat, the destiny of the Baloch changed dramatically. The painful consequences for the Baloch were the partition of their land and perpetual occupation by foreign forces.

The Baloch have been in constant revolt against the domination by Pakistani governments and their policies. The revolt of Prince Abdul Karin in 1948, Baloch rebellion against formation of “one unit” and the demolition of the Baloch state union in 1958-60 and the general uprising in 1973-77 resulted in thousands of deaths and displacements of Baloch tribe. 

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