The Expansion of Baloch Ethno-Linguistic Community
The subject has been taken from book of Taj Mohammad Breseeg “Baloch Nationalism, its origin and development”.
The Baloch ethno-linguistic identity took shape through a lengthy process. As mentioned earlier the Baloch fought with many mighty. Persian kings in the fifth and sixth centuries before Christ. The Shahnamah tells us about their genocide by the most powerful Sasanian king, Anushirwan (531-578 AD) around 531 AD. During the reign of Caliph Walid bin Abdul Mailk (705-715), the Arabs captured Balochistan.
With the emergence of Arab rule over the region in the early 8th century, the Baloch gradually accepted Islam. The Arab rule brought some tremendous socio-economic changes in the region. Dealing with the province of Makkoran and its capital Panjgur of the 10th century, Le Strange quotes the literary geographer al-Maqaddasi as his authority, and states:
Bannjbur (Panjgur) according to Maqaddasi had a clay built fortress protected by ditch and town was surround by Palm-groves. There were tow gates of the city, Bab-Tiz opening south west on road to Tiz and Bab-Turan north east in the road to the district of that name of which the capital was Kuzdar [Khuzdar]. There was a stream to water the city and Friday mosque stood in the market square, thought there were really only Moslem in name being savage Balusis (Balochis) whose language was a jargon.
The britsh historian Thomas Holdich, also discussed the economic prosperity of Makkoran under the Arab rule. He states that in Makkoran the Arabs shaped out for themselves overland routes to India, establishing big trade centres in flourishing towns, cultivating their national fruit, the date, in Makkroan valleys and surrounding themselves with the wealth and beauty of irrigated agriculture. Thus the emergence of new cites and Commercial centers in Makkoran and central balochistan ( Tiz or Tis, Panjgur, Khuzdar, etc.) benefited the material growth of the people. There recruitment to the Arab armies improved their warfare skills and the tribal might. These development enabled the Baloch to from their own polity with fall of the Caliphate in the end of the 10th century. It must be borne in mind that since the 13th century, the Baloch population has constantly moved along a roughly, west-east direction. The Mughal invasion in the mid 13th century followed by Timur,s forays into the country in the breakdown of irrigation system forcing large scale tribal migration from Makkoran further north and north east where they entered Sindh and Punjab in the 14th and 15th centuries.
The largest Baloch migration eastward, however, occurred in the early 16th century. At this period the Baloch tribes of Rind and Lashari fought several memorable wars among themselves. There hostilities continued for 30 years, between 1490 A.D. and 1520 A.D in and around Sivi, modern Sibi, and Kacchi with its capital at Gandawa. Consequently, this led to a massive wave of migration towards Punjab and Sindh. The Rinds who migrated from Sibi to Punjab spread up the valleys of the Chenab, Ravi, and saltej rivers. it should be noted that the first record of the Baloch movement into Sindh is from 13th and 14th centuries. Simultaneously two other Baloch tribes, the Dubia and the Hout moved up the Indus and Jhelam in the same period from Makkran. About 1470, Multan’s ruler, shah Hossein Langah (1467-1502) allotted lands on the western bank of the Indus for the settlement of the Baloch. Since the fifteenth century, they started to put down proper roots in Sindh. In the year 1770, the Baloch overthrew the Kalhora Dynasty and Become the rulers of Sindh. The Talpur Mir, a Baloch clan formed the new Mir dynasty (1770-1843). According to the census of 1901, some twenty-three per cent of Sindhi Muslims were Baloch. It is interesting to note that the Sind Muhammadan Association, a landlord organization, petitioned Lord Montagu on his trip to India in 1917 that they wanted a separate province composed of Sindh and Balochistan. This reflected the significant number of the Baloch tribes in Sindh and the prominence of their leaders, the mirs, in the early 20th century.
Why did the Baloch disperse over the vast territory between Kerman and the Indus? The main reason according to Gankovsky was the slow but steady development of the productive forces. As a result, the Baloch clan organization was disinterring and feudal relations taking shape among them. As population grew, the grazing grounds were compelled to take in new lands. Inter-tribal wars and clashes becomes frequent, and the defeated tribes either had to submit before the victor or had to abandon their lands and look for new lands. Warcraft, which bulked large in the life of the Baloch as early as the tenth and elevation centuries, rapidly gained in prestige.
Under the reign of Shah Abbas Safavi (1585-1628), some Kurdish tribes migrated into Balochistan. Their number increased in the time of Nadir Shah (1730-1747). Simultaneously, several Jadgal tribes took refuge in Bahu and Dashtiari, western Balochistan. Their migration possibly took place in the end of the 16th century during the Malik rule in Makkoran. A vest assimilation process continued for many centuries. As observed by Spooner, it continued up to the 18th and 19th centuries. He had credited, party the success of Nasir Khan’s policies and party the later British administrative classification, for the latter integration and consolidation of Baloch national identity. Confirming the assimilation of non- Baloch tribes into Baloch society, Freoz Ahmad argues,” Sme of these tribes retained their languages, but got so thoroughly assimilated into Balochi ethnicity that there is no different between them and other Baloch people of today.” However, according to Fredrik Barth a Norwegian anthropologist, large parts of some Baloch tribes acknowledge Pathan origin.
As mentioned id earlier sections, over the course of centuries, the language and the culture of the Baloch have come to predominate throughout most of the country, so that the majority of the population may be characterized as Baloch. “See to our graveyards”., Dawood khan Ahmadzai, son of last Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan pointed,” our forefathers are engraved in their gravestones as the Baloch.” He continued, “We follow same customs from the cradle to the grave.” Even many of these early immigrations have changed their tribal names, for example Kurds to Mir- Balochzai and Saddazi( jadgal) to Sardarzai. Interviewing people with different background (the Brahvi, the Jadgal, the kurd) I realised that all of them eagerly emphasis on their Baloch ethnic origin. Speaking with Ghulam Muhammad Khanzai, a Baloch intellectual with Jadgal background,he told the other, we come from Sindh, but we are originally Baloch. It is why we migrated to Balochistan, we retuned back to our original homeland”. He continued, “For example look to our tribal names, I am a Mir all the Mirs speak Sindhi in Sindh”. According to writer and former vice chancellor of Sindh University, Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch, only the Baloch tribes are known as Mir in Sindh.
In certain parts of the Balochs country, however, such as Kalat, the Brahui language is predominant. Along the border areas of Sindh, Afghanistan and Iran, there are some minor ethnic groups, which settled, in the 19th century or early 20th century for example, jamot of Lasbela, Pashtuns of Quetta, jatts of Kacchi, Sibi and Derajat, Persian-speaking Tajiks and Dehwars Sistan Mastung are among such minority ethnic groups in Balochistan.
(To be continued)