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Balochistan (region)

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Balochistan (region)

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


Balochistan or Baluchistan[1] () (lit. Land of the Baloch) is an arid, desert and mountainous region on the Iranian plateau in south-western Asia, northwest of the Arabian Sea. It mainly includes southwestern Pakistan, southeastern Iran and a very small section of southwestern Afghanistan. The southern part of Balochistan is known by its historical name Makran.

Balochistan is named after the native Baloch tribes who make up the inhabitants in the region and use Balochi as their native language. Persian, Pashtu and Urdu are also used as second language depending on where they live, Brahui is spoken by Brahui minority.

Etymology

The Baloch people once referred to their land as Moka or Maka, a word which later became Makran. Balochistan is referred to in Pashto as Gwadar or Godar (also Godar-khwa, i.e., the land by water). This the Greeks, who derived the names of Iranian lands from the Bactrian language, Hellenised to Gedrosia. It thus appears that the name Balochistan is a relatively recent arrival on the scene.

History


The earliest evidence of 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 (located 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 Balochistan had become part of the Harappan cultural orbit, 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.[2] The Parata kings are essentially known through their coins, which typically exhibit the bust of the ruler on the obverse (with long hair within a headband), and a swastika within a circular legend on the reverse 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, describes 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.[3]

The region was fully Islamized by the 9th century and became part of the Saffarids of Zaranj followed by the Ghaznavids, Ghorids Timurids, and Hotaki until Ahmad Shah Durrani made it part of the Afghan Empire in the mid-18th century.[4] and became part of Afghanistan[5][6][7] The Western Balochistan was invaded and taken by Iran in the 19th century, and its boundary was fixed in 1871. Omani influence waned in the east and Oman's last possession, Gwadar, was bought by Pakistan in 1958.

Geography

The landscape of Balochistan is composed of barren, rugged mountains and fertile, but dry land. Most of the land is barren, particularly on the Iranian and Afghan side of the region, and it is generally sparsely populated. In the south (Makran) lies the desert.[8]

Agriculture in this region is based on horticulture supported mostly by rain water. Cultivation is often located on alluvial fans, along river-courses, and in fertile areas which are maintained through artificial irrigation systems such as qanats (holes sunk in the ground to trap water) and gabarbands (low stone and earth mounds creating raised beds which become saturated by rainfall and water run-off from the surrounding hills). In the southern Makran and oasis region (south of the Chagai Hills) date palms are cultivated. Orange orchards are also typical in southern Balochistan, particularly in Jhalawan and Sarawan.

Demography

The population of Balochistan region is probably somewhere around 20-30 million. The Baloch are the major ethnic group in the region followed by Brahui and Pashtun. All inhabitants of the region are Muslim. Except for the small population of Hazaras in the city of Quetta, the Sistanis in the northern part of the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan, and an even smaller number of other Shi'as, the overwhelming majority of the people in the Balochistan region are followers of Sunni Islam.

Although Baloch people are mostly secular in nature, the invasive influence of foreign intelligence agencies in Balochistan and Muslim extremist religious parties in the region are propagating Islamic extremism in Baloch societies. The spread of Talibanism is also a constant threat to Balochistan and its cultural values. In the past sixty years, Balochs have persistently rejected extremism in the region.

Balochistan has very few sources of income for the native people, despite the region being rich in minerals. The main ways the people of Balochistan survive are through government services, raising livestock and smuggling. Agriculture is mostly sparse and is only present in the Khachi area.

Governance and political disputes

Further information: Balochistan conflict

The Balochistan region is administratively divided among three countries, Pakistan,Afghanistan and Iran. The Pakistani portion of Balochistan is the largest and its capital is the city of Quetta. Other major cities in Balochistan, Pakistan, include Gwadar, Turbat, Khuzdar and Kalat. Although Baloch nationalists have never accepted Balochistan as a part of Iran, the governments of Pakistan and Iran insist on sovereignty over their parts of Balochistan.

The smaller section of northern Balochistan region is part of Afghanistan since 1747 and includes the Chahar Burjak District of Nimruz Province[9] as well as the Registan Desert in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces.[10][11] The governors of Nimruz and Helmand provinces in Afghanistan both belong to Baloch ethnic group.[9]

Secessionist movements

See also

References

External links

  • The Century Company
  • Afghanistan, Beloochistan, etc. is a map from 1893 published by the American Methodist Church

Coordinates: 28°53′N 64°25′E / 28.883°N 64.417°E / 28.883; 64.417

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