Cohesive Bases of Baloch Nationalism
It has been taken from the book “Baloch Nationalism its origin and development”, written by Taj Mohammad Breseeg. Pages 55-59.
The Baloch are an ancient people. Residing in a region whose history is marked by the invasions and political designs of outside empire-builders, the origin and history of the Baloch realistically could not be other than diverse. Nonetheless, and despite some regional variation, a distinctive Baloch culture and Balochi language emerged from the 12th century on. Indeed, Baloch self-consciousness about their cultural, linguistic, and historical distinctiveness informs the expression of their nationalism inPakistan,IranandAfghanistan, the countries, in which they are significant minorities. Being an amorphous people, their economic position throughout history, their geographic position, even their language changes accordingly to circumstances.
As discussed in chapter one, in all the varieties of the interaction of people and land, it is obvious that the environment itself powerfully shapes the history, mores, and character of the nation and the life patterns of its individual members. Thus being predominantly mountainous the land has had a strong impact on the Baloch separateness from their neighbors. The formidable geography and the harsh climate of Balochistan has left its marks on all aspects of Baloch society, influencing its culture, history, socio-economic structure, and institutions and its political psychology and has led to the creation of its own psychological make-up or national character.
Living across one of the important crossroads in southwest Asia, the Baloch do not actually come from single stock, but their myths and legends affirm to their satisfaction, if not scholar’s, their essential ethnic purity. The Baloch belief in a common descent, their myths and shajras (genealogical table) which connected them with the Qurish, the tribe of Prophet Mohammad, and their assertion to be the descendants of the ancient Babylonian king, Balus or Nimrud, their segmentary tribal organization, language, code of values, and pool of distinctive cultural attributes had for centuries given them a sense of being different and special. In combination with a history as the dominant ethnic group in Balochistan, these attributes fostered and ethnic pride and self-confidence, this often gave way to chauvinism. “Whatever be the merit of their claim”, the nationalist historian Muhammad Sardar Khan asserts, “we have to admit and acknowledge that the Baloch people have kept their blood purity and distinction of character to the best of their means and efforts”. One need only look at the Baloch proverbs to see the premium they placed on their unique identity and the demanding code of personal conduct to which they insisted one had to conform in order to retain his honor as a Baloch.
The Name “Baloch” and “Balochistan”
The most inclusive Baloch ethnic identity is evident in the use if the ethonoym Baloch. The central marker that unites the Baloch community, as a whole is a more or less well-articulated conception of all Baloch as descended from a common ancestor, thus constituting a qaum (nation). Since at least the mid-seventh century the name Baloch has been applied to the people living in the southernKermanMountains, Sistan and Makhoran. It appears that the word “Baloch” is the corrupted form of Melukhkha, Meluccha or Mleccha, which was the designation of the modern eastern Makkoran during the third and the second millennia B.C., according to the Mesopotamian texts. Dr. Munir Ahmed Gechki, a history professor in Balochistan University, however, relates it to “Gedrosia” or “Bedrozia” the name of the Baloch country in the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)”. Muhammad Sardar Khan theorized that the term Baloch is a derivative of Belus, the title of Babylonian or Chaldian Kings.Nimrud the son of Kush orCush or Kooth, was calledNimrud the Belus. The followers ofNimrud were known as Belusis. Among the Arabs Belusis were pronounced Balos. Thus the word Baloch has come from Belusis or Belos, Sardar Khan and Marri argue. According to G. P. Tale, however, the name has historically meant “nomads”. It would therefore be a synonym for “bedouin”.
The name Balochistan quite simply means “the land of the Baloch”, which bears in itself a significant national connotation identifying the country with the Baloch. Gankovsky, a Soviet scholar on the subject, has attributed the appearance of the name to the “formation of Baloch feudal nationality” and the spread of the Baloch over the territory bearing their name to this day during the period between the 12th and the 15 century. Confirming more or less the above notion, Dr. Inayatullah Baloch, the most prominent authority on the subject, believes that the country of the Baloch has been known as Balochistan since the founding of the first Baloch confederacy in the 12th century.
Under the Arab rule (from the early 8th century to the end of 10th century) the Baloch country was divided into three separate political and administrative regions, namely Makhoran, Turan (Kalat highlands in central Balochistan) and Sajistan or Drangia (Sistan including Kharan). It appears that this division prevailed until 15 century. As it will be discussed in chapter 3, the successive Mughal invasions from the late 13th century on, led to mass exodus of the Baloch population eastwards, mainly to Sindh and Punjab. Probably it was during this mass movement that the entire Baloch region became known as “Balochistan” or the landof Balochfor its surrounding peoples. It should be noted that terms like “Balochistan” and Mulk Balochi (country of the Baloch) are frequently encountered in Balochi classic poetry of the 15th and 16th centuries. Moreover, a Turkish admiral, Sidi Ali Reis who visited coastal “Balochistan” the inhabitants of coastal Makkoran. The word “Balochistan” is also mentioned in the commentaries of the Mughal emperor Babar (1526-1530), the Tuzake- Babari, and by the emperor Akbar’s (1556-1605) biography, the “A’in-I Akbar”, which was completed in 1596-7 AD.
Henry Potinger, however, coincides the birth of the designation to the rule of Nasir Khan the Great in the mid-18th century. After the death of the Persian King, Nadir Shah including the Baloch country, became the dominions of Nasir Khan. Thus a vast country, which lay between the Helmand valley and the sea, and stretching fromKermanon the west to Sindh on the east, was carved out as Balochistan.
Giving the Baloch country a worldwide recognition, Nasir Khan the Great used the designation “Balochistan” in official contact with its neighbor in the mid-18th century. Defining its borders, Nasir Khan believed wherever the Baloch race is living, there is Balochistan. For the Baloch nationalists, it means the eastern region ofPersianProvinceofKermanto the western bank ofIndusRiver; the whole region in between is the Baloch country. It is mainly resided by the Baloch country. It is mainly resided by the Baloch. However, since the Nasir Khan’s era, the term “Balochistan” has meant more than just geography. It also refers to Baloch culture and is therefore a social and political concept as well. It must be borne in mind that there is a general agreement among scholars of Baloch studies in identifying the land as the cradle of the Baloch ethnolinguistic identity.