Balochistan

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This article is about the Balochistan region. For other uses, see Balochistan (disambiguation).

Balochistan or Baluchistan[1] (Balochi: بلوچستان, lit. Land of the Baloch) is an arid desert and mountainous region which is thought to comprise Pakistani province of Balochistan, Iranian province of Sistan va Baluchestan and southern areas of Afghan provinces of Nimruz, Helmand, and Kandahar.[2][3]

Etymology[edit]

The name Balochistan is generally believed to derive from that of the Baloch people.[2]

A major civilization that traded with Sumerians (2900–2350 BC) and Akkadians (2334–2154 BC) is Meluhha. After extensive analysis of historical evidence, John Hansman proposes that Magan should be identified with western Makran coast in Iran, and Meluhha with the eastern Makran coast in Pakistan extending all the way up to the mouth of the Indus river.[4][5] This is period corresponding to the Mature Harappan civilisation (2600–1900 BC) in the Indus basin. Meluhha disappears from the Mesopotamian records at the beginning of the second millennium B.C.[6] However, Hansman states that a trace of it in a modified form, as baluhhu, was retained in the names of products imported by the Assyrians (911–605 BC).[7] Al-Muqaddasī (985 AD), who visited the capital of Makran Bannajbur, states that it was populated by people called Balūṣī (Baluchi), leading Hansman to postulate "Baluch" as a modification of Meluhha and Baluhhu.[8]

Historian Romila Thapar states that, if Meluhha is to be placed in this region, then the name must be originally proto-Dravidian. She postulates mēlukku as a possibility, which means a 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.[9] Varahamihira (550 AD) states that it was peopled by mlecchas, a possible sanskritisation of mēlukku, a term that came to mean people that speak imprecise language in late Vedic texts and widely used to refer to Dravidian speakers.[10][11]

During the time of Alexander the Great, the Greeks called the land Gedrosia and its people Gedrosoi, terms of unknown origin.[12]

History[edit]

The earliest evidence of human occupation in what is now Balochistan is dated to the Paleolithic era, represented by hunting camps and lithic scatters, 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,[13] 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.[14] The Parata kings are essentially 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.[15]

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.[16][17][18][19]

Governance and political disputes[edit]

Further information: Balochistan conflict

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[20] 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 1973-77 — with a new ongoing and reportedly stronger, broader insurgency beginning in 2003.[21] Historically, "drivers" of the conflict are reported to include "tribal divisions", the Baloch-Pashtun ethnic divisions, "marginalization by Punjabi interests", and "economic oppression".[22] In Iran, separatist fighting has reportedly not gained as much ground as the conflict in Pakistan,[23] but has grown and become more sectarian since 2012,[20] with the majority-Sunni Baloch showing a greater degree of Salafist and anti-Shia ideology in their fight against the Shia-Islamist Iranian government.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Other variations of the spelling, especially on French maps, include: Beloutchistan, Baloutchistan.
  2. ^ a b Pillalamarri, Akhilesh (12 February 2016). "A Brief History of Balochistan". thediplomat.com. THE DIPLOMAT. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  3. ^ "Human Rights in Balochistan: A Case Study in Failure and Invisibility". THE HUFFINGTON POST. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  4. ^ Hansman 1973, p. 555.
  5. ^ Hansman 1975, p. 609.
  6. ^ Hansman 1973, p. 564.
  7. ^ Hansman 1973, p. 565.
  8. ^ Hansman 1973, pp. 568-569.
  9. ^ Thapar 1975, p. 10.
  10. ^ Hansman 1973, pp. 584-585.
  11. ^ Thapar 1975, footnote 34 (pp. 10–11).
  12. ^ Bevan, Edwyn Robert (12 November 2015), The House of Seleucus, Cambridge University Press, p. 272, ISBN 978-1-108-08275-4 
  13. ^ Doshi, Riddhi (17 May 2015). "What did Harappans eat, how did they look? Haryana has the answers". Hindustan Times. HT Media. 
  14. ^ Tandon 2006, p. 183.
  15. ^ Tandon 2006, pp. 201–202.
  16. ^ "Ahmad Shah and the Durrani Empire". Library of Congress Country Studies on Afghanistan. 1997. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  17. ^ 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 
  18. ^ "Aḥmad Shah Durrānī". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  19. ^ Clements, Frank (2003). Conflict in Afghanistan: a historical encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-85109-402-8. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  20. ^ a b c Grassi, Daniele (20 October 2014). "Iran's Baloch insurgency and the IS". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  21. ^ Hussain, Zahid (Apr 25, 2013). "The battle for Balochistan". Dawn. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  22. ^ Kupecz, Mickey (Spring 2012). "PAKISTAN’S BALOCH INSURGENCY: History, Conflict Drivers, and Regional Implications" (PDF). INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS REVIEW 20 (3): 106. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  23. ^ Bhargava, G. S. "How Serious Is the Baluch Insurgency?," Asian Tribune (Apr. 12, 2007) available at http://www.asiantribune.com/node/5285 (accessed Dec. 2, 2011)

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°25′N 64°30′E / 27.417°N 64.500°E / 27.417; 64.500