Last updated
Major ethnic groups of Pakistan in 1980 borders removed.jpg
Balochistan region in pink
  Totalc. 18–19 million [1] [2] [3]
   Ethnic groups Baloch
  Languages Balochi
Minor: Brahui, Pashto, Persian, Urdu
Largest cities

Balochistan [4] ( /bəˈlɒɪstɑːn/ ; Balochi : بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan and Baluchestan) is an arid desert and mountainous region in South and Western Asia. It comprises the Pakistani province of Balochistan, the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and the southern areas of Afghanistan, including Nimruz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces. [5] [6] Balochistan borders the Pashtunistan region to the north, Sindh and Punjab to the east, and Persian regions to the west. South of its southern coastline, including the Makran Coast, are the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.



Distribution of Pakistanis who spoke either Balochi or Brahui as a first language at the time of the 1998 census of Pakistan Distribution of Pakistanis speaking Balochi or Brahui as a first language in 1998.png
Distribution of Pakistanis who spoke either Balochi or Brahui as a first language at the time of the 1998 census of Pakistan

The name "Balochistan" is generally believed to derive from the name of the Baloch people. [5] The Baloch people are not mentioned in pre-Islamic sources. It is likely that the Baloch were known by some other name in their place of origin and that they acquired the name "Baloch" after arriving in Balochistan sometime in the 10th century. [7]

Johan Hansman relates the term "Baloch" to Meluḫḫa , the name by which the Indus Valley Civilisation is believed to have been known to the Sumerians (2900–2350 BC) and Akkadians (2334–2154 BC) in Mesopotamia. [8] Meluḫḫa disappears from the Mesopotamian records at the beginning of the second millennium BC. [9] However, Hansman states that a trace of it in a modified form, as Baluḫḫu, was retained in the names of products imported by the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC). [10] Al-Muqaddasī, who visited the capital of Makran - Bannajbur, wrote c. 985 AD that it was populated by people called Balūṣī (Baluchi), leading Hansman to postulate "Baluch" as a modification of Meluḫḫa and Baluḫḫu. [11]

Asko Parpola relates the name Meluḫḫa to Indo-Aryan words mleccha (Sanskrit) and milakkha/milakkhu (Pali) etc., which do not have an Indo-European etymology even though they were used to refer to non-Aryan people. Taking them to be proto-Dravidian in origin, he interprets the term as meaning either a proper name milu-akam (from which tamilakam was derived when the Indus people migrated south) or melu-akam, meaning "high country", a possible reference to Balochistani high lands. [12] Historian Romila Thapar also interprets Meluḫḫa as a proto-Dravidian term, possibly mēlukku, and suggests the meaning "western extremity" (of the Dravidian-speaking regions in the Indian subcontinent). A literal translation into Sanskrit, aparānta, was later used to describe the region by the Indo-Aryans. [13]

During the time of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), the Greeks called the land Gedrosia and its people Gedrosoi, terms of unknown origin. [14] Using etymological reasoning, H. W. Bailey reconstructs a possible Iranian name, uadravati, meaning "the land of underground channels", which could have been transformed to badlaut in the 9th century and further to balōč in later times. This reasoning remains speculative. [15]


Large Baluch carpet, from the mid 19th century. Alternating rows depict cypress trees and Turkmen Gul motifs in offset coloration. The somber background colors are characteristic of Baluch weavings. This likely was a commission for a tribal Khan or chieftain for ceremonial use. Baluch mid 19th C..jpeg
Large Baluch carpet, from the mid 19th century. Alternating rows depict cypress trees and Turkmen Gül motifs in offset coloration. The somber background colors are characteristic of Baluch weavings. This likely was a commission for a tribal Khan or chieftain for ceremonial use.

The earliest evidence of human occupation in what is now Balochistan is dated to the Paleolithic era, represented by hunting camps and lithic scatter, chipped and flaked stone tools. The earliest settled villages in the region date to the ceramic Neolithic (c. 7000–6000 BCE) and included the site of Mehrgarh in the Kachi Plain. These villages expanded in size during the subsequent Chalcolithic when interaction was amplified. This involved the movement of finished goods and raw materials, including chank shell, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and ceramics. By 2500 BCE (the Bronze Age), the region now known as Pakistani Balochistan had become part of the Harappan cultural orbit, [16] providing key resources to the expansive settlements of the Indus river basin to the east.

From the 1st century to the 3rd century CE, the region was ruled by the Pāratarājas (lit. "Pārata Kings"), a dynasty of Indo-Scythian or Indo-Parthian kings. The dynasty of the Pāratas is thought to be identical with the Pāradas of the Mahabharata, the Puranas and other Vedic and Iranian sources. [17] The Parata kings are primarily known through their coins, which typically exhibit the bust of the ruler (with long hair in a headband) on the obverse, and a swastika within a circular legend on the reverse, written in Brahmi (usually silver coins) or Kharoshthi (copper coins). These coins are mainly found in Loralai in today's western Pakistan.

Herodotus in 450 BCE described the Paraitakenoi as a tribe ruled by Deiokes, a Persian king, in northwestern Persia (History I.101). Arrian describes how Alexander the Great encountered the Pareitakai in Bactria and Sogdiana, and had them conquered by Craterus (Anabasis Alexandrou IV). The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st century CE) describes the territory of the Paradon beyond the Ommanitic region, on the coast of modern Balochistan. [18]

The Hindu Sewa Dynasty ruled parts of Balochistan, chiefly Kalat. [19] [20] The Sibi Division, which was carved out of Quetta Division and Kalat Division in 1974, derives its name from Rani Sewi, the queen of the Sewa dynasty. [21]

The region was fully Islamized by the 9th century and became part of the territory of the Saffarids of Zaranj, followed by the Ghaznavids, then the Ghorids. Ahmad Shah Durrani made it part of the Afghan Empire in 1749. In 1758 the Khan of Kalat, Mir Noori Naseer Khan Baloch, revolted against Ahmed Shah Durrani, defeated him, and freed Balochistan, winning complete independence. [22] [23] [24] [25]

In the 1870s, Baluchistan came under control of the British Indian Empire in colonial India. [26] During the time of the Indian independence movement, "three pro-Congress parties were still active in Balochistan's politics", such as the Anjuman-i-Watan Baluchistan, which favoured a united India and opposed its partition. [27] [28]

Governance and political disputes

The Balochistan region is administratively divided among three countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. The largest portion in area and population is in Pakistan, whose largest province (in land area) is Balochistan. An estimated 6.9 million of Pakistan's population is Baloch. In Iran there are about two million ethnic Baloch [29] and a majority of the population of the eastern Sistan and Baluchestan Province is of Baloch ethnicity. The Afghan portion of Balochistan includes the Chahar Burjak District of Nimruz Province, and the Registan Desert in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces. The governors of Nimruz province in Afghanistan belong to the Baloch ethnic group.

In Pakistan, insurgencies by Baloch nationalists in Balochistan province have been fought in 1948, 1958–59, 1962–63 and 1973–1977 – with a new ongoing and reportedly stronger, broader insurgency beginning in 2003. [30] Historically, drivers of the conflict are reported to include "tribal divisions", the Baloch-Pashtun ethnic divisions, "marginalization by Punjabi interests", and "economic oppression". [31]

In Iran, separatist fighting has reportedly not gained as much ground as the conflict in Pakistan, [32] but has grown and become more sectarian since 2012, [29] with the majority-Sunni Baloch showing a greater degree of Salafist and anti-Shia ideology in their fight against the Shia-Islamist Iranian government. [29]

Various NGOs have reported human rights violations being committed by Pakistani armed forces. Approximately 18,000 Baluch residents are reportedly missing and about 2000 have been killed. [33] Many human rights abuses have been carried out by BLA and other terrorist groups against locals and people from other provinces [34] Brahamdagh Bugti, leader of the Baloch Republican Party, stated in a 2008 interview that he would accept aid from India, Afghanistan, and Iran in defending Baluchistan against Pakistani aggression. [35] Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of supporting Baloch rebels, [36] [37] and David Wright-Neville writes that outside Pakistan, some Western observers also believe that India secretly funds the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). [38]


The main instruments of Baluchi music are the sorud fiddle, the doneli double flute, the benju zither, the tanburag lute, and the dholak.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Balochistan, Pakistan Province of Pakistan

Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. It is the largest province in terms of land area, forming the southwestern region of the country, but is the least populated. Its provincial capital and largest city is Quetta.

Makran Semi-desert coastal region in Iran and Pakistan

Makran, mentioned in some sources as Mecran and Mokrān, is the coastal region of Baluchistan. It is a semi-desert coastal strip in Balochistan, in Pakistan and Iran, along the coast of the Gulf of Oman. It extends westwards, from the Sonmiani Bay to the northwest of Karachi in the east, to the fringes of the region of Bashkardia/Bāšgerd in the southern part of the Sistān and Balučestān province of modern Iran. Makrān is thus bisected by the modern political boundary between Pakistan and Iran.

Baloch people Ethnolinguistic group native to South Asia and Iran

The Baloch or Baluch are an Iranian people who live mainly in the Balochistan region, located at the southeasternmost edge of the Iranian plateau, encompassing the countries of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. There are also Baloch diaspora communities in neighbouring regions, including in India, Turkmenistan and the Arabian Peninsula.

Brahui people Ethnolinguistic group primarily concentrated in Balochistan, Pakistan

The Brahui, Brahvi or Brohi, are a Dravidian-speaking ethnic group principally found in Balochistan, Pakistan.

Prince Karim Khan

Prince Agha Abdul Karim Ahmedzai was the younger brother of the Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmedyar Khan, who was the last ruler of independent Baluchistan. After the British left Baluchistan on 13 August 1947, the Khan of Kalat declared independence on the 15th August 1947. Baluchistan was independent for six months and then it was ceded to Pakistan by baloch rulers. Baloch waged war against Pakistan when the Khan of Kalat was coerced under threats of separation of Makran from Kalat and military action, to sign the annexation papers

History of Balochistan

The history of Balochistan began in 650 BCE with vague allusions to the region in Greek historical records. Balochistan is divided between the Pakistani province of Balochistan, the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan and the Afghan region of Balochistan. Prehistoric Balochistan dates to the Paleolithic.

Sibi District District in Balochistan, Pakistan

Sibi is a district in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. The main mountain ranges are Zen, Bambore and Dungan. The climatic and topography of Sibi District is quite varied compared to other districts of Balochistan. It is also known as the "Hot spot" of Pakistan where the temperatures in the summer exceed 52.6 °C (126.7 °F). Until 2013 the district had two sub-divisions, Sibi and Lehri, further organized into tehsils and sub-tehsils: Sibi, Lehri, Kutmandi and Sangan.

The Marri are a Balochi-speaking tribe of the Baloch people, who inhabit a large arid region in northeastern Balochistan, Pakistan. The Marri area is bounded to the west by the plains of Sibi, to the north are the Kakar and Loni tribes of the Pashtuns, to the east lie the lands of the Khetrans - speakers of an Indo-Aryan language Khetrani, while to the south are found the Bugti Baloch.

Khanate of Kalat Former princely state in Pakistan

The Khanate of Kalat was a Baloch Khanate that existed from 1512 to 1955 in the centre of the modern-day province of Balochistan. Prior to that they were subjects of Mughal emperor Akbar. Ahmedzai Khan ruled the state independently until 1839, when it became a self-governing state in a subsidiary alliance with British India. After the signature of the Treaty of Mastung by the Khan of Kalat and the Baloch Sardars in 1876, Kalat became part of the Baluchistan Agency. It was briefly independent from 12 August 1947 until 27 March 1948. The khanate, a political centralization of the Baloch people, failed to survive through the colonial era and did not lead to standardization of the Baloch language.

Insurgency in Balochistan Separatist insurgency being waged against the governments of Iran and Pakistan

The Insurgency in Balochistan is a low-intensity insurgency uprising or revolt by Baloch nationalists against the governments of Pakistan and Iran in the Balochistan region, which covers the Balochistan Province in southwestern Pakistan, Sistan and Baluchestan Province in southeastern Iran, and the Balochistan region of southern Afghanistan. Rich in natural resources like natural gas, oil, coal, copper, sulphur, fluoride and gold, this is the largest and least developed province in Pakistan. Armed groups demand greater control of the province's natural resources and political autonomy. Baloch separatists have attacked civilians from other ethnicities throughout the province. In the 2010s, attacks against the Shi'a community by sectarian groups—though not always directly related to the political struggle—have risen, contributing to tensions in Balochistan.

Marri-Bugti Country Tribal region during the British occupation of Baluchistan

Marri-Bugti Country was a tribal region during the period of British colonial rule in Baluchistan. Marris and Bugtis are the strongest Baloch tribes in the Balochistan. The Marris occupied 8,460 square kilometres (3,268 sq mi) in the north, while the Bugtis occupied 10,000 square kilometres (3,861 sq mi) in the south. Today, the region is divided into three districts: Kohlu, Dera Bugti and Sibi.

Balochistan, Afghanistan Region in Afghanistan

Balochistan or Baluchistan is an arid, mountainous region that includes part of southern and southwestern Afghanistan. It extends into southeastern Iran and western Pakistan and is named after the Baloch people.

The 1973 Iraqi embassy raid in Pakistan refers to the sudden armed infiltration and investigation conducted by Pakistan against the Iraqi embassy situated in Islamabad. The raid, led by the Pakistan Rangers and Islamabad Police was a response to Pakistani intelligence uncovering information detailing covert Iraqi involvement in the supplying of armaments to Baloch militants waging an insurgency against Iran and Pakistan. The raid was a success for Pakistani forces, and an abundance of weaponry from Iraq meant for Baloch insurgents was seized. Following the incident, the Iraqi ambassador and embassy staff were immediately expelled from Pakistan as personae non gratae. Iran-Iraq relations were already at a low point at this time and following this raid, tensions drastically increased between the two nations as Iran viewed it as a blatant attempt by Iraq to destabilize the Balochistan region in Iran. Likewise, Pakistan's already unfavourable view of Iraq had been brought down even more as tensions between the two nations increased in light of what was viewed by Pakistan as an attempt by Iraq to intrude in Pakistan's internal affairs and escalate the insurgency against government forces.

Mir Noori Naseer Khan Baloch the Khan of the Kingdom of Kalat in what is now the Balochistan province of Pakistan and Iran during the eighteenth century. Naseer Khan used his eloquence and virtues to unite all the Baloch tribes and brought them under his banner.

The Anglo-Marri Wars is the name given to three major military conflicts between the Marri Baluch tribesmen and the British Empire in the independent eastern Baloch tribal belt. The conflicts took place in the 19th and 20th centuries, specifically in 1840, 1880 and 1917.

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Sewa Dynasty was a Hindu dynasty that ruled in a part of Sindh till the 7th century AD.

It is said that a Hindu dynasty, Sewa by name, ruled over this part of the country prior to the seventh century, Kalat is still known as Kalat-I-Sewa.

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Hinduism is a minority religion in Balochistan followed by 0.4% of the population of the province. It is the largest minority religion in Balochistan. The Balochistan is home to the shrine of Shri Hinglaj Mata temple, which is one of the most sacred Hindu temples. The annual Hinglaj Yatra to the temple is the largest Hindu pilgrimage in Pakistan.


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  11. Hansman 1973, pp. 568–569.
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  13. Thapar 1975, p. 10.
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  19. Fowle, T. C.; Rai, Diwan Jamiat (1923). Baluchistan. Directorate of Archives, Government of Balochistan. p. 100. The Hindus of Kalat town may indeed be far more indigenous since they claim descent from the ancient Sewa dynasty that ruled Kalat long before the Brahuis came to Baluchistan.
  20. Balochistan Through the Ages: Geography and history. Nisa Traders. 1979. p. 316. The country up to and including Multan was conquered by the Arabs and the Hindu dynasty of Sind and probably also the Sewa dynasty of Kalat came to an end.
  21. Quddus, Syed Abdul (1990). The Tribal Baluchistan. Ferozsons. p. 49. ISBN   978-969-0-10047-4. The Sibi division was carved out of the Quetta and Kalat Divisions in April, 1974, and comprises districts of Sibi, Kachhi, Nasirabad, Kohlu and Dera Bugti. The Division derives its name from the town of Sibi or Sewi. The local tradition attributes the origin of this name to Rani Sewi of the Sewa dynasty which ruled this part of the country in ancient times.
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  23. Friedrich Engels (1857). "Afghanistan". Andy Blunden. The New American Cyclopaedia, Vol. I. Archived from the original on 18 October 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010. Afghanistan ... an extensive country of Asia ...between Persia and the Indies, and in the other direction between the Hindu Kush and the Indian Ocean. It formerly included the Persian provinces of Khorassan and Kohistan, together with Herat, Beluchistan, Cashmere, and Sinde, and a considerable part of the Punjab  ... Its principal cities are Kabul, the capital, Ghuznee, Peshawer, and Kandahar
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  27. Afzal, M. Rafique (2001). Pakistan: History and Politics 1947-1971. Oxford University Press. p. 40. ISBN   978-0-19-579634-6. Besides the Balochistan Muslim League, three pro-Congress parties were still active in Balochistan's politics: the Anjuman-i Watan, the Jamiatul Ulama u Hind, and the Qalat State National Party.
  28. Ranjan, Amit (2018). Partition of India: Postcolonial Legacies. Taylor & Francis. ISBN   9780429750526. Furthermore, Congress leadership of Balochistan was united and there was no disagreement over its president, Samad Khan Achakzai. On the other hand, Qazi Isa was the president of the League in Balochistan. Surprisingly, he was neither a Balochi nor a Sardar. Consequently, all Sardars except Jaffar Khan Jamali, were against Qazi Isa for contesting this seat.
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  35. "Bugti's grandson ready to accept help from India". 24 July 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
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Further reading

Coordinates: 27°25′N64°30′E / 27.417°N 64.500°E / 27.417; 64.500