Balochistan (/bəˈlɒtʃɪstɑːn/; Balochi: بلوچستان; also Baluchistan or Baluchestan, often interpreted as the "Land of the Baloch") is an arid desert and mountainous region in south-western Asia. It comprises the Pakistani province of Balochistan, Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and the southern areas of Afghanistan including Nimruz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces. 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.
Balochistan region in pink
|• Total||c. 18–19 million|
|• Ethnic groups||Baloch|
Minor: Brahui, Pashto, Persian, Urdu
The name "Balochistan" is generally believed to derive from the name of the Baloch people. However, 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.
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. Meluḫḫa disappears from the Mesopotamian records at the beginning of the second millennium B.C. 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). 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.
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. 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.
During the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), the Greeks called the land Gedrosia and its people Gedrosoi, terms of unknown origin. 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.
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, 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. 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.
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.
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 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. Historically, "drivers" of the conflict are reported to include "tribal divisions", the Baloch-Pashtun ethnic divisions, "marginalization by Punjabi interests", and "economic oppression".
In Iran, separatist fighting has reportedly not gained as much ground as the conflict in Pakistan, but has grown and become more sectarian since 2012, with the majority-Sunni Baloch showing a greater degree of Salafist and anti-Shia ideology in their fight against the Shia-Islamist Iranian government.
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
The 1970s operation in Balochistan was a five-year military conflict in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, between the Pakistan Army and Baloch separatists and tribesmen that lasted from 1973 to 1978.
The operation began in 1973 shortly after then-Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto dismissed the elected provincial government of Balochistan, on the pretext that arms had been discovered in the Iraqi Embassy ostensibly for Baloch rebels. The ensuing protest against the dismissal of the duly elected government also led to calls for Balochistan's secession, met by Bhutto's ordering the Pakistan Army into the province. Akbar Khan Bugti, who would be killed in a later operation in 2006, served as provincial governor during the early stages of the conflict. The operation itself was led by General Tikka Khan and provided military support by Iran, against the resistance of some 50,000 Baloch fighters coordinated by Baloch sardars, or tribal chiefs, that most notably included Khair Bakhsh Marri and Ataullah Mengal.
Sporadic clashes were intermittent throughout the conflict, with hostilities climaxing in 1974 with drawn-out battles. The Bhutto regime was overthrown by General Zia-ul-Haq on 5 July 1977, and martial law was imposed. A general amnesty was declared by military governor Rahimuddin Khan. All army action was ceased by 1978, and development and educational policies were refocused on to assuage the province.
The conflict took the lives of 3,300 Pakistani troops, 5,300 Baloch, and thousands of civilians. This period forms a pivotal chapter in the longstanding Balochistan conflict, and is often cited as creating deep divisions between Balochistan and Islamabad that persist to the current day.Alam Reg railway station
Alam Reg railway station (Urdu: عالم ریگ ریلوے اسٹیشن, Balochi: عالم ریگ ریلوے اسٹیشن) is located in Alam Reg, Balochistan, Pakistan.Azad railway station
Azad railway station (Urdu: آزاد ریلوے اسٹیشن, Balochi: آزاد ریلوے اسٹیشن) is located in Balochistan, Pakistan.Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch (Balochi: بلوچ) are an Iranian peoples who live mainly in the Balochistan region of the southeastern-most edge of the Iranian plateau in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, as well as in the Arabian Peninsula.
They mainly speak the Balochi language, a branch of Northwestern Iranian languages. About 50% of the total Baloch population live in Balochistan, a western province of Pakistan; 40% of Baloch are settled in Sindh; and a significant number of Baloch people in Punjab of Pakistan. They make up nearly 3.6% of the Pakistani population, about 2% of Iran's population (1.5 million) and about 2% of Afghanistan's population.Baloch people co-inhabit desert and mountainous regions along with Pashtuns. Baloch people practice Islam, are predominantly Sunni, and use Urdu as the lingua franca to communicate with other ethnic groups such as Pashtuns and Sindhis.Balochi cuisine
Balochi cuisine is the food and cuisine of the Baloch people from the Balochistan region, comprising the Pakistani Balochistan province, the Sistan and Baluchestan Province in Iran and Balochistan, Afghanistan. Baloch food has a regional variance in contrast to the many cuisines of Pakistan and Iran.Balochistan, Pakistan
Balochistan (; Urdu: بلوچِستان)
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. Its provincial capital and largest city is Quetta.
Balochistan shares borders with Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the northeast, Sindh to the east and southeast, the Arabian Sea to the south, Iran to the west and Afghanistan to the north and northwest.
The main ethnic groups in the province are the Baloch people and the Pashtuns, who constitute 52% and 36% of the population respectively (according to the preliminary 2011 census). The remaining 12% comprises smaller communities of Brahuis, Hazaras along with other settlers such as Sindhis, Punjabis, Uzbeks and Turkmens. The name "Balochistan" means "the land of the Baloch". Largely underdeveloped, its provincial economy is dominated by natural resources, especially its natural gas fields, estimated to have sufficient capacity to supply Pakistan's demands over the medium to long term. Aside from Quetta, the second-largest city of the province is Turbat in the south, while another area of major economic importance is Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.
Balochistan is noted for its unique culture and extremely dry desert climate.Balochistan Liberation Army
The Balochistan Liberation Army (Urdu: بلوچستان لبریشن آرمی; abbreviated BLA), also known as the Baloch Liberation Army is a Baloch militant organization based in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The BLA is listed as a terrorist organization by Pakistan, United Kingdom, Since 2004 the BLA has waged an armed struggle against the state of Pakistan for what it claims as equal rights and self-determination for the Baloch people in Pakistan, who it claims have been subjected to repression for decades. The BLA is operating mainly in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan where it carries out attacks against the Pakistan Armed Forces. The Baloch Liberation Army became publicly known during the summer of 2000, after it claimed credit for a series of bombing attacks on Pakistani authorities.Districts of Pakistan
The Districts of Pakistan (Urdu: اِضلاعِ پاكِستان), are the third-order administrative divisions of Pakistan, below provinces and divisions, but form the first-tier of local government. In total, there are 154 districts in Pakistan including the Capital Territory, districts of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. These districts are further divided into tehsils or talukas.Frontier Corps
The Frontier Corps (Urdu: سرحد واہنی) (reporting name: FC), is a Paramilitary force of Pakistan that is currently stationed in the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to maintain the law and order while overseeing the border control of the country's frontiers with the Afghanistan and Iran. It is an umbrella term for the two western provincial auxiliary forces part of the paramilitary forces of Pakistan along the western provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and are the direct counterparts to the Rangers of the eastern provinces (Sindh and Punjab). The Frontier Corps comprises two separate organizations: FC NWFP stationed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), and includes the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and FC Balochistan stationed in Balochistan province. Each subdivision is headed by a seconded inspector general, who is a Pakistan Army officer of at least major-general rank, although the force itself is under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry.With a total manpower of approximately 80,000, the task of the Frontier Corps is to help local law enforcement in the maintenance of law and order, and to carry out border patrol and anti-smuggling operations.Some of the FC's constituent units such as the Chitral Scouts, the Khyber Rifles, Swat Levies, the Kurram Militia, the Tochi Scouts, the South Waziristan Scouts, and the Zhob Militia have regimental histories dating back to British colonial times and many, e.g. the Khyber Rifles, have distinguished combat records before and after 1947. The Khyber Rifles was in fact regularized during the 1965 war and fought with distinction in Kashmir.Gat railway station
Gat railway station (Urdu: گاٹ ریلوے اسٹیشن , Balochi: گاٹ ریلوے اسٹیشن ) is located in Balochistan, Pakistan.Insurgency in Balochistan
The insurgency in Balochistan is a guerrilla war waged by Baloch nationalists against the governments of Pakistan and Iran in the Balochistan region, which covers 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 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 in the province. In the 2010s, attacks against the Shia community by sectarian groups—though not always directly related to the political struggle—have risen, contributing to tensions in Balochistan.In Pakistan's Balochistan province, insurgencies by Baloch nationalists have been fought in 1948, 1958–59, 1962–63 and 1973–77, with an ongoing and reportedly stronger, broader insurgency beginning in 2003.This insurgency has begun to weaken. In an article titled "The End of Pakistan's Baloch Insurgency" Baloch analyst Malik Siraj Akbar reported that Baloch militants began killing their own commanders. However, Akbar called anger towards Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch "growing and often uncontrollable". Baloch militants have taken some reconciliation offers from the government and offered to hand in their weapons. In April 2016, four militant commanders and 144 militants had surrendered under reconciliation. 600 rebels were killed and 1,025 surrendered after accepting reconciliation as of August 2016. In April 2017, another 500 Baloch rebels surrendered to the state, including members of BRA, UBA, and LeB.Baloch separatists argue they are economically marginalised and poor compared to the rest of Pakistan. Being crucial for Pakistan's economic future, China has invested $46 billion in the region. The Balochistan Liberation Army, designated as a terrorist organisation by Pakistan and Britain, is the most widely known Baloch separatist group. Since 2000 it has conducted numerous deadly attacks on Pakistani troops, police, and civilians. Other separatist groups include Lashkar-e-Balochistan and the Baloch Liberation United Front (BLUF).
In 2005, a rebellion by Baloch against the Islamic Republic of Iran began. The fight over the IRI Baloch region bordering Pakistan has "not gained" as much ground as the conflict in Pakistan. Human rights activists have accused nationalist militants and the Government of Pakistan of human rights abuses.The News International reported in 2012 that a Gallup survey conducted for DFID revealed that the majority of Baloch do not support independence from Pakistan. Only 37 percent of Baloch were in favour of independence. Amongst Balochistan's Pashtun population support for independence was even lower at 12 percent. However, a majority (67 percent) of Balochistan's population did favour greater provincial autonomy. The government has since taken democratisation steps, in 2013 provincial elections were held and a Grand Alliance of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pashtun and Baloch local parties were formed. The Supreme court ordered local government elections to be held which by 2015 helped to further decentralise policy making for local population regarding health, education and sanitation, the ruling coalition re-affirmed its mandate in the Balochistan province and won the majority.Mangoli railway station
Mangoli railway station (Urdu: منگولی ریلوے اسٹیشن , Balochi: منگولی ریلوے اسٹیشن ) is located in Mangoli village, Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province, Pakistan.Nushki railway station
Nushki railway station (Urdu: نوشکی ریلوے اسٹیشن , Balochi: نوشکی ریلوے اسٹیشن) is located in Nushki town, Nushki district of Balochistan province of the Pakistan.Pehro Kunri railway station
Pehro Kunri railway station(Urdu: پھیرو کنری ریلوے اسٹیشن, Balochi: پھیرو کنری ریلوے اسٹیشن) is located in Pehro Kunri village, Kachhi district of Balochistan province, Pakistan.Quetta
Quetta (Pashto: کوټه Kwaṭa; Balochi: کویته; Urdu: کوئٹہ; [kʷɛʈə] pronunciation ; formerly known as Shalkot (Pashto: شالکوټ)) is the provincial capital and largest city of Balochistan, Pakistan. Quetta was largely destroyed in the 1935 Quetta earthquake, but was rebuilt and now has a population of 1,001,205 as of 2017, while the Quetta District has a population of 2,275,699. Quetta is at an average elevation of 1,680 metres (5,510 feet) above sea level, making it Pakistan's only high-altitude major city. The city is known as the "Fruit Garden of Pakistan," due to the numerous fruit orchards in and around it, and the large variety of fruits and dried fruit products produced there.Located in northern Balochistan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Quetta is a trade and communication centre between the two countries. The city is near the Bolan Pass route which was once one of the major gateways from Central Asia to South Asia. Quetta played an important role militarily for the Pakistani Armed Forces in the intermittent Afghanistan conflict.Sheikh Wasil railway station
Sheikh Wasil railway station (Urdu: شیخ واصل ریلوے اسٹیشن , Balochi: شیخ واصل ریلوے اسٹیشن ) is located in Pakistan.Sistan and Baluchestan Province
Sistan and Baluchestan Province (Balochi: Sistàn o Balòčestàn; Persian: استان سيستان و بلوچستان, Ostān-e Sīstān-o Balūchestān), after Kerman Province, is the second largest province of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southeast of the country, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan and its capital is Zahedan.
The province is the second largest province in Iran with an area of 180,726 km² and a population of 2.5 million. The counties of the province are Chabahar County, Qasr-e Qand County, Dalgan County, Hirmand County, Iranshahr County, Khash County, Konarak County, Nik Shahr County, Saravan County, Sarbaz County, Sib and Suran County, Zabol County, Mehrestan County, Zahedan County, Zehak County, Hamun County, Nimruz County, Bampur County, Mirjaveh County & Fanuj County.
The population comprises the Baloch who form a majority in the province, followed by the relatively large minority, the Sistani Persians. Smaller communities of Kurds (in the eastern highlands and near Iranshahr), the expatriate Brahui (on the borders between Iran and Pakistan), and other resident and itinerant ethnic groups such as the Gypsies are also found in the province.Wali Khan railway station
Wali Khan railway station (Urdu: والی خان ریلوے اسٹیشن , Balochi: والی خان ریلوے اسٹیشن ) is located in Pakistan.Zhob railway station
Zhob railway station (Urdu: ژوب ریلوے اسٹیشن) is located in Zhob, Balochistan, Pakistan.
Provincial capital: Quetta