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Brief HistoryHistory of the Four Princely StatesPakistan Movement – Governmental StructureAdministrative DivisionsHistoric/Heritage Sites

Brief History Balochistan

Balochistan’s history dates back to the stone-age, evidence for which was first discovered at the Mehrgarh Archaeological site in 1974. This site is located near the Bolan Pass, west of Quetta, first discovered by an archaeological team directed by French archaeologist Jean-François Jarrige. The site was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986. After a 10 year hiatus, the team resumed excavations in 1996. Excavations on-site have revealed a 9,000 years old civilization; human settlement pattern at Mehrgarh, in fact, shows the distinct shift from hunting-gathering to a settled life for the first time in human history. Domestication of animals, cultivation of plants, and perfume exports were modern features of the Mehrgarh civilization.[1]

According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India:

One of the most striking facts in the history of Balochistan is that, while many of the great conquerors of India have passed across her borders, they have left few permanent marks of their presence. Macedonians, Arabs, Ghaznivids, Mongols, Mughals, Durranis all traversed the country and occupied it to guard their lines of communication but have bequeathed neither buildings nor other monuments of their presence. (v.6, p.274)

The earliest-known mention of the Balochistan region is in the Avesta;[2] it includes discussions of an area called the Vara Pishin-anha which is undoubtedly identifiable with the valley of Pishin. The Shahnama[3] recounts the conquest of Makran by Kai Khusru (Cyrus) and the Achaemenian Empire[4] which reached its farthest limits under Darius Hystaspes and included the entire region that is now Balochistan. The Persian hold on “Balochistan”[5] weakened after 200 years, in the 4th century BC, with the invasion of Alexander the Great.

Alexander’s retreat from India led him through Lasbela and Makran, while a second division of his army under Craterus traversed the Mula Pass (Central Brahvi mountain range, Central Balochistan) and a third sailed along the shore under Nearchus.[6] After Alexander’s death, Balochistan was conquered by Seleucus Nicator.[7]

Seleucus Nicator’s empire was defeated by Chandra Gupta Maurya. As a result of a treaty, Nicator received Para Parisade (Kabul), Aria (Herat), Arachosia (Qandhar) and Gedrosia (Balochistan) as his fiefdom; this was later passed from his descendants to Graeco-Bactrian kings who also ruled in Afghanistan and Punjab. Between 140 and 130 BC, they were overthrown by the Sakas. Around this time, Buddhism—of which many traces are still to be found—flourished in Balochistan.

The empire of the Sassanians,[8] which followed the Sakas, expanded slowly toward the east, and Balochistan was made part of its empire during the reign of Nausherwan (AD 529-77).

Makran was conquered by the Arab Muslims in 643 AD, and governed by Abdullah Bin Haroon. The conquest of Makran was preceded by the conquest of Sindh (by Muhammad bin Qasim) by about 70 years. Thus, Makran served as the true “gateway of Islam”[9] for the subcontinent. The Arab rule continued until the end of the 10th century AD. Khuzdar was the first Arab capital in Balochistan and it became a meeting point for Arabs, Persians, Makranians, and Turks (the Arabs called the region Jhalawan or Turan based on the Turks). This intermixing of races affected the demographic composition of Balochistan’s population, as well as the physical features of the populace and their language.

It is popularly believed that the origin of the Baloch people is from Aleppo in Syria, from where (it is believed) people arrived to settle in present-day Balochistan. They were comprised of 44 tribes that evolved into 5 tumans [tribes], who are direct descendants of Mir Jalal Khan Baloch who is considered to be the father of all Balochis.

According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India:

Shortly after…[the Arab invasion] Baluchistan fell into the hands of Nasir-ud-din Sabuktagin; and his son, Mahmud of Ghazni, was able to effect his conquests in Sind owing to his possession of Khuzdar. From the Ghaznivids it passed into the hands of the Ghorids and, a little later, was included in the dominion of Sultan Muhamad Khan of Khwarizm (Khiva) in 1219. (v.6, p. 275)

Mir Jalal Khan (1100-1185 AD) rebelled against the government of Sistan (present-day Eastern Iran); even though he was defeated, he had managed to unite nearly 44 different Baloch tribes, so after his defeat, he led them to Makran, where they regrouped and settled.

About 1223, a Mongol expedition led by Chagatai, Changez Khan’s son, penetrated as far as Makran. A few years later, Southern Balochistan was conquered by Sultan Altamush of Delhi, but was soon re-conquered by the Mongols. The Mongol’s conquest, and subsequent reign, was characterized by mass looting, plunder, and atrocities.

After this, the history of Balochistan centers around Kandahar and it was from this direction that in 1398 Pir Muhammad,[10] the grandson of Timur, arrived to fight wars with the Afghans of the Suleiman Mountains. Local tradition asserts that Timur himself passed through the Marri country (Northern Balochistan) during one of his many Indian expeditions. In the 14th century, the Baloch, under the leadership of Mir Chakar Khan Rind (1454-1554 AD, 10th in descent from Mir Jalal Khan) and Mir Gwahram Khan Lashari, marched toward Kachhi and Kalat. They remained united, and were, thus, able to occupy various parts of east Balochistan. The Baloch extended their power from Kalat and Kachhi to the Punjab over time. Later wars that were fought between Mir Chakar Khan, the Rind and Gwahram Lashari[11] are celebrated in Baloch verse. Mir Zunnun Beg Arghun, the Governor of northeastern Baluchistan under Sultan Husain Mirza of Herat (about 1470 AD) played a prominent part in these wars. The Arghuns were ultimately defeated by the first Mughal Emperor, Babar. From 1556 to 1595, the region was under the Safavid Dynasty (Iran), after which, it was ruled by the Mughals of Delhi until 1638, when it was again conquered by Persia.

According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India:

We have an interesting account of Baluchistan in the Ain-i-Akbari. In 1590 the upper highlands were included in the sarkar of Kandahar, while Kachhi was part of the Bhakkar sarkar of the Multan Subah. Makran alone remained independent under the Maliks, Buledais, and Gichkis, until Nasir Khan I of Kalat brought it within his power during the 18th century.

From the middle of the 17th century Baluchistan remained under the Safavids till the rise of the Ghilzai power in 1708. The latter in its turn gave way before Nadir Shah, who, during the first part of the 18th century, made several expeditions to or through Baluchistan. Ahmad Shah Durrani followed; and thenceforth the north-eastern part of the country, remained under more or less nominal suzerainty of the Sadozais and Barakzais till 1879, when Pishin, Duki, and Sibi passed into British hands by the Treaty of Gandamak. (v.6, p. 276)

During the 18th century, when the Mughal Empire and the Afrashid Dynasty of Persia/Iran collapsed, Balochistan reverted to a collection of principalities, some of which then fell under the control of Afghanistan, but most remained independent. The most important of these independent principalities was Kalat.

The British first came into contact with Kalat State during the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42), when the British Army had to advance through the Bolan Pass toward Afghanistan. Mir Mehrab Khan, who was the ruler of Kalat State, opposed the advance of this army. While the army lead by Sir Alexander Burnes was returning from a mission to Kalat, Mehrab Khan had his followers attack this envoy which violated an agreement signed between the Khan of Kalat and the Envoy. The British thus attacked Kalat in 1839. Mir Mehrab Khan was killed in this battle. In 1840 Mir Muhammad Hasan, afterwards known as Mir Nasir Khan II, was installed on the throne by the British.[12]

In 1854, Kalat became an Associated State of the British. In 1877, the British established the Balochistan Agency to deal with the Baloch Princely States, and directly ruled the northern half of Balochistan, including Quetta.

[1] Government of Balochistan; official Website retrieved 2017

[2] The Avesta is the ancient Scriptures of the Zoroastrian (or Parsi) faith.

[3] Shahnama or “The Book of Kings” is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 CE and is the national epic of Iran (Persia) and the Persian speaking world.

[4] Achaemenian empire was the first Persian Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great

[5] The name Balochistan, itself, dates back to the 18th century when Naṣīr Khan I of Kalat, during his long reign in the second half of the 18th century, became the first indigenous ruler to establish autonomous control over a large part of the area. Before then, the area has been named after the tribes that have dominated different parts of the region now generally called Balochistan.

[6] Nearchus was one of the commanders of Alexander’s fleet and later he was the Satrap (governor) of Lycia and Pamphylia, present-day Turkey’s province of Anatolia

[7] After the death of Alexander, Seleucus was nominated as the Satrap of Babylon in 320 BC; he was the founder of the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire

[8] At its height, the Sasanian Empire encompassed all of today’s Iran, Iraq, the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Israel), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkeministan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), the Persian Gulf Countries, Yemen, Oman, and Pakistan.

[9] Most historians credit Muhammad bin Qasim, who conquered Sindh in 712 AD, for bringing Islam to the subcontinent, awarding the name “bab-ul-Islam,” or gateway of Islam to Sindh.

[10] Provincial Gazetteer Balochistan 1908

[11]These wars started because the Lashari men stole the camels of a girl who was under the protection of Mir Chakar Khan Rind. These wars lasted 30 years and left thousands dead.

[12] Imperial Gazetteer of India v. 6, p. 278-79

History of the Four Princely States in Balochistan

The Balochistan province was divided into 4 Princely States by the British: Kalat, Lasbela, Kharan and Makran, and the Chief Commissioner’s Province.

Kalat State (Balochistan)

The whole of western Balochistan had been consolidated into an organized State under the Ahmadzai Khans of Kalat. All local traditions assert that the former rulers of Kalat were Sewa Hindus, who were connected with the Rai Dynasty of Sindh. The Chief of the Mirwari tribe of Balochistan, Mir Umar Mirwari, ousted the Hindu Sewa Rulers in the 15th century and established the first Baloch rule over Kalat and the surrounding areas.[1] The Mirwaris claim to have Arab origins; they used to live at Surab (Kalat) and extended their power after winning wars with Jat tribes.

They were later conquered by the Mughals, but one of their chiefs, Mir Ahmad Qambrani, regained Kalat from the Mughal Governor. In 1666 AD, Mir Ahmad Khan Qambrani was elected as ruler and designated as Khan;[2] he changed his royal name from Qambrani to Ahmadzai, and thus, the later branch of Brahvi rulers emerged as Ahmadzais. They consolidated western Balochistan into an organized State. The State remained efficient, effective, and peaceful for more than 200 years. The rulers of Kalat were never fully independent, however. There was always a paramount power to whom they were subject. According to the Balochistan Provincial Gazetteer 1908, the rulers of Kalat were at first merely petty chiefs; later they were ruled by the Mughal emperors of Delhi and then by the rulers of Kandahar, supplying men-at-arms on demand. During the rule of Nasir Khan I (1750 AD) the titles of Beglar Begi (Chief of Chiefs) and Wali-i-Kalat (Governor of Kalat) were conferred on the Kalat ruler by the Afghan kings.

As the Mughal power declined in the 18th century, Ahmadzai Chiefs became more independent and the State prospered, which led to the rulers’ desire to expand toward the plains of Sibi, Zhob, Bori, and Thal-Chotiali; they also started collecting ransom from the Kalhoras of Sindh.

At the same time, the Brahvis had been gradually gaining strength, and had acquired most of the cultivable lands. Their principality extended from Jhalawan[3] country to Wad (Khuzdar), with Khuzdar as its capital.

The British first made diplomatic contact with Kalat during the First Afghan War in 1839; they needed a safe passage through the territory. Sir Alexander Burnes tried to negotiate a treaty with Mehrab Khan, the then ruler of Kalat. Since the treaty terms were not accepted by the Khan, Sir Alexander Burnes ordered an invasion of the State and Mehrab Khan was killed. Shahnawaz Khan was appointed his successor, and Lieutenant Loveday was appointed as the Khan’s Political Agent. Once the Khan was no longer independent, various tribes revolted, and Shahnawaz Khan was forced to abdicate in favour of Mir Nasir Khan II. In 1840, Mir Nasir Khan II was forced by Colonel Stacy to submit to British rule. Nasir Khan II died in 1857, and was succeeded by Khudadad Khan who was just a 16 year old boy at that time. From 1857 to 1876, there were 7 important, and many minor, rebellions in Kalat.

In March 1863, Mulla Muhammad Raisani Sherdil (ruler of Sarawan country), the Khan’s cousin, attempted the Khan’s assassination, but could not kill him, and only ended up wounding him. A general insurrection ensued; Sherdil Khan was declared ruler, and Khudadad Khan retreated to the frontier. The Khan regained his masnad[4] in 1864. Revolt after revolt against Khudadad Khan followed, until an attempt was made by the Commissioner in Sind to arbitrate between the parties in 1873. It proved abortive, leading to the withdrawal of Major Harrison, the British Agent, from the region, and the Khan’s subsidy was stopped.

In 1876, Sir Robert Sandeman[5] was sent to Kalat and, by his efforts, the Mastung agreement (the Magna Charta of the Brahvi Confederacy) was drawn up and signed by all parties on July 13, 1876. The British Government became the paramount power, and was given the responsibility of preserving peace in the region. A new treaty was concluded with the Khan in December 1876. In the following year, Sir Robert Sandeman was appointed Agent to the Governor General. He was the first to dismantle the closed border system and to understand that the Baloch and Brahui chiefs, with their interests and influence, were a powerful factor for good in the region. His policy, in short, was one of conciliatory intervention, tempered by lucrative employment and light taxation. Peace was thus restored in the region under the British.

The British Government gave autonomy and independence to Kalat through the treaties of 1841, 1854, and 1876. The Khanate were accepted as Kings of Kalat through the Sandeman System of administration, and privileges were granted to them by the British Government due to the geo-strategic location of the State.

Lasbela State (Balochistan)

This State was formed by Jam[6] Ali Khan I in 1742 in the extreme southeast of Balochistan. His descendants ruled the State till 1955, when it was merged with Pakistan.

The statement of Ghulam Qadir Khan, the last Jam of Lasbela (historically spelled Las Bela) on signing the accession to Pakistan stated:

We hold historical ties with Sindh and share strongest cultural bond with the Province. Our People have accepted Jinnah Sahab as the leader of new Muslim homeland and we vote to merge in Pakistan.

Kharan State (Balochistan)

The State of Kharan was established in the center of Balochistan in about 1697 AD as a vassal State of Kalat, and remained a feudatory State of Kalat till 1940. The State was founded by the Nausherwani tribe, who were forced to leave Eastern Iran due to persecution. Mir Abbas Khan Nausherwani was the first to enter and settle in Kharan with his followers. Mir Abbas married into the Peerakzai tribe, who were the original settlers of the area, and slowly gained control of the area; thus, the history of this State is mainly a history of wars among various tribes.

The State became independent of Kalat in 1940. On 17 March 1948, Kharan acceded to Pakistan. Mir Habibullah Nousherwani acceded to Pakistan stating: “Kalat doesn’t have legitimacy to decide fate of Kharan. We announce our integration with Pakistan and we shall not tolerate further interference by ruling elite of Kalat.”

The State was dissolved on 14 October 1955, when most regions of the western wing of Pakistan were merged to form the province of West Pakistan under the One Unit Policy. When that province was dissolved in 1970, the territory of the former State of Kharan was organized as Kharan district of the province of Balochistan.

Makran State (Balochistan)

The State of Makran was established in the southwest of Pakistan (in the region that is now occupied by the Gwadar, Panjgur, and Kech/ Turbat districts) in the 18th century by the native Sardars [Chiefs] of the Gichki Baloch family of Makran. They remained sovereign until 1948. On 17 March 1948, Makran acceded to Pakistan, and on 3 October 1952 it joined Kalat, Kharan and Lasbela to form the Balochistan States Union. Mir Bai Khan Gichki, the last ruler of the Princely State of Makran, issued this statement on accession to Pakistan: “We will never accept Kalat’s hegemony and we declare our merging with newly born Muslim State of Pakistan.”

The State was dissolved on 14 October 1955, when most regions of the western wing of Pakistan were merged to form the province of West Pakistan under the One Unit Policy. When that province was dissolved in 1970, the territory of the former State of Makran was organized as Makran district province of Balochistan.

Chief Commissioner’s Province of Balochistan

The province, constituted by the northern parts of modern Pakistan, was originally formed over a period of 15 years (1876–1891) through three different treaties between Robert Sandeman and the Khan of Kalat, Khudadad Khan. Sandeman became the Political Agent for the British-administered areas which were strategically located between British India and Afghanistan. A military base was established at Quetta which played a major part in the Second and Third Afghan Wars. This province did not have the same status as other provinces of British India. The areas included in the Chief Commissioner’s Province are the Settled Areas and Agencies: Settled Areas are regions around Quetta and Jaffarabad, and the Agencies include Zhob and Chagai. This province also includes the tribal areas of Bugti and Marri.

Due to Balochistan’s geo-strategic position—specifically, due to the presence of the 805 km (500 miles) long sea coast, the common border with Iran, as well as a 1,159 km (720 miles) long border with Afghanistan—the province became militarily important to the British; hence, they built roads, and installed a railway line in the province.

[1] Two Essays on Baloch History and Folklore by Sabir Badal Khan

[2] Khan is a title given to the Rulers of Central Asia, Afghanistan, and certain other Muslim countries

[3] Jhalawan was part of Kalat

[4] Literally: a seat or throne of cushions used by native princes/rulers; figuratively: throne or seat of power

[5] Sandeman held various offices during his service in India, like District Officer Dera Ghazi Khan (1866-1871), Political Agent to Marri-Bugti and Mazari tribes (1871-77) and Agent to the Governor General of Balochistan in 1877

[6] Jam is the title used by the ruler of a Princely State notably born in western British India which was ruled by the Samaa dynasty and their Jadeja branch.

Pakistan Movement (Balochistan)

The Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah during 1927-1947, strove to introduce electoral reforms in Balochistan to bring it on par with other provinces of British India, since it did not have the same status as that of other provinces. Since Balochistan was considered to be an Administrative Unit, headed by the Agent to the Governor General, it was not included in the list of provinces. Jinnah asserted that both NWFP and Balochistan should be given the status of province, so reforms could be introduced in the regions on the same footing as all the other provinces.

During the Pakistan Movement, public opinion in Balochistan, at least in Quetta and other small towns, was overwhelmingly in favour of Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat lent great support to the Pakistan Movement but also desired to declare independence, which led to some difficulties between the Muslim League and the Khan of Kalat, who continued to demand independent sovereign status for his State after the departure of the British from India. In the negotiations held on 19 July 1947 with Lord Mountbatten and representatives of the Khan of Kalat and Pakistan, Lord Mountbatten made it clear that although Kalat would have gained freedom, no practical course, other than some form of association with Pakistan, was available to Kalat. This was not acceptable to the Khan.

On 11 August 1947, Jinnah recognized Kalat as an independent sovereign State in treaty relationship with the British Government, with a status different from that of Indian States. Even though the Indian Independence Act 1947 did not give the option of independence to any Indian State, Pakistan conceded such a status to Kalat. This position was incompatible with the policy adopted toward all the other States and resulted, subsequently, in strained relationship and conflict between Pakistan and Kalat.  Britain also objected[1] to this policy, and advised against recognition of the State of Kalat as a separate international entity, as it would mean that there is a State within a State; the British Representative, in fact, refused on the basis of advice from his political adviser, claiming that “The Treaties of 1854 and 1876 do not lead to the inference that Kalat is an independent sovereign state and it has in fact, always been regarded as an Indian state.”

Jinnah, however, was anxious to complete the formalities of accession with the Khan of Kalat, which he had promised to complete. Unwilling to accede to Pakistan, on the other hand, the Khan insisted on the establishment of relations on a treaty basis, and took several unwelcome steps to press his demand through his State Assembly. The negotiations between Mr. Jinnah and the Khan of Kalat became more difficult when Kharan, Lasbela, and Makran—even though they were feudatory States of Kalat—acceded to Pakistan. In February 1948, Mr. Jinnah wrote[2] to the Khan of Kalat: “I advise you to join Pakistan without further delay; and let me have your final reply which you promised to do after your stay with me in Karachi when we fully discussed the whole question in all its aspects.”

On February 15, 1948 the Quaid-e-Azam (Jinnah) visited Sibi, Balochistan to persuade the Khan of Kalat to accede to Pakistan, but the Khan failed to turn up for the final meeting with him, pleading illness. On March 18, 1948, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan issued a press-note announcing that the States of Kharan, Lasbela, and Makran had applied for accession to Pakistan, which was granted to them. The press report also stated that after the accession of these three States to Pakistan, Kalat’s territory had been reduced to half of its previous area, and had ceased to have any outlet to the sea.

What finally forced the Khan of Kalat to accede was the news broadcast by All India Radio that the Khan had been negotiating with India. The Khan issued a communiqué, which said:

On the night of March 27, All India Radio, Delhi announced that two months ago Kalat State had approached the Indian Union to accept its accession to India and that the Indian Union had rejected the request. It had never been my intention to accede to India. It is, therefore, declared that from 9 pm on March 27th, the time when I heard the false news over the air, I forthwith decide to accede to Pakistan, and that whatever differences now exist between Kalat and Pakistan be placed in writing before Mr. Jinnah, the Governor General of Pakistan, whose decision I shall accept.

While the Instrument of Accession was signed by the Khan of Kalat on March 27, it was placed before Jinnah on March 31, 1948, who accepted it.

Figure 1.4 State Emblem Balochistan

Figure 1.5 , Ahmad Yar Khan, with Quaid-e-Azam c. 1948

[1] For a detailed account of the political status of Kalat, and the dispute discussed here, please see the article by Rizwan Zeb: “The Raj and the Khan” published in The Friday Times 25 Nov, 2016

[2] For details, please see the article “How Balochistan Became a Part of Pakistan: A Historical Perspective” published in The Nation 5 December 2015.

Governmental Structure Balochistan

In the National Assembly of Pakistan, Balochistan has 14 elected members and 3 reserved seats for women. The Balochistan Assembly consists of 51 directly elected members, 11 women’s seats, and 3 seats for minorities. The government of Balochistan consists of several departments, each headed by a minister chosen from among the elected representatives of the Assembly on a democratic level, and a secretary on the bureaucratic level.

The Governor is the Executive Head appointed by the President of Pakistan under Article 101 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973. As to the certain provisions of the constitution, the Governor, in performance of the vested functions, acts in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor from among the chosen representatives of the Balochistan Assembly, who, in his opinion, must possess the confidence of one-third of the majority out of the aggregate number of members.

In 2010, the government of Balochistan adopted the Balochistan Local Government Act (BLGA) 2010 (Amended in 2011). According to this Act, the lowest tier of the local government is the Union Councils, both for the rural and urban areas, to be notified by the government for each district, to be called the Village Councils and City Councils respectively. Each Union Council is headed by a Chairman/Mayor who, in turn, supervises a Government Officer (for a Metropolitan Corporation) or a Deputy Commissioner (for a District Council), in addition to an Assistant Director (Local Government/LG) for Municipal Committee/Municipal Corporation or a Development Officer for Union Council. Each Union Council consists of 7 to 15 members determined on the basis of population, non-Muslim members, peasant, and women representatives. The members, Chairman, Mayor, women (for women seats), minority, and peasants of the Union Councils are elected directly by the constituents.

The Municipal Committees consist of anywhere between 8 and 36 members determined on the basis of population. The Municipal Corporations consist of 30 to 50 members, again determined on the basis of population.

The provincial government of Balochistan has been empowered to implement this Act. According to this Act, the province of Balochistan has been divided into District Councils, Union Councils, Metropolitan Corporation Quetta, Municipal Corporations, and Municipal Committees.

Administrative Divisions Balochistan

The total area of the province is 37,190 km2 and is divided into 32 districts as follows:

District Tehsil District Tehsil District Tehsil
Awaran 03 Kech (Turbat) 05 Nasirabad 03
Barkhan 01 Kharan 01 Nushki 01
Bolan 05 Kohlu 03 Panjgur 03
Chagai 05 Khuzdar 05 Pishin 05
Dera Bugti 03 Killa Abdullah 04 Quetta 02
Gwadar 05 Killa Saifullah 02 Sibi 02
Harnai (2007) 01 Lasbela 09 Washuk (2007) 03
Jafarabad 03 Loralai 03 Zhob 05
Jhal Magsi 02 Mastung 04 Lehri (2013)
Kalat 02 Musakhel 04 Sohbatpur (2013)
Sherani (2005) 01 Ziarat 02

Table 2.2 Balochistan Administrative Divisions

Historic/Heritage Sites of Balochistan

Uncovered evidence of human presence in Balochistan dates back to the Palaeolithic era (100,000-40,000 BC), and a number of Neolithic sites have also been discovered, which date back to 8th century BC. The most famous of these sites is Mehrgarh, which shows the habitation of the region by humans from about 8000-2300 BC. In addition to the many archeological sites that dot the landscape of the province, there are forts, tombs, and graves, as well as historic mosques and monuments. Rock art was recently discovered in caves and rock shelters which has been dated as being 20,000-30,000 years old. Since most of these are located on privately-owned land, the sites are unprotected by the government’s laws.

In 1910, the bones of the largest land mammal were discovered by the British paleontologist, Sir Clive Forster Cooper. He named this mammal Baluchitherium or “the Beast of Balochistan.” In the early 1990s, French paleontologist, Jean-Loup Welcomme, retraced Cooper’s path and discovered that the first bones had been uncovered in Dera Bugti. Welcomme came to Pakistan and contacted Nawab Akber Khan Bugti, who not only gave him the permission for further excavations, but also helped him by providing resources for his daily sustenance, as well as workers to help run the dig. In 1997, Welcomme discovered the first finger of the Baluchitherium in a stony valley near Dera Bugti, after which the experts unearthed an array of fossils. The team discovered numerous fossils in a mere 200 square meter area; these fossils have since been considered the best exposed bone-beds on Earth. They found many remains of male and female Baluchitheriums simply lying on the ground, which is a rare occurrence in paleontological findings. It has been conjectured that the massive creatures were swept away by a river and the bodies had accumulated on the banks. Scientists also found traces of crocodile’s teeth on bones which suggest that the Baluchitherium was also a common prey of crocodiles.

In 2003, the French team carefully examined every major and minor bone, and finally assembled them, building a composite skeleton of the Baluchitherium. The skeleton suggests that the giant creature was at least 5 meters tall and weighed 20 tons, which makes it almost as massive as the size of 3 large elephants.[1] A life-size model of one such animal is displayed at the Pakistan Museum of Natural History.

The following table shows the number of sites protected under Pakistan laws in each district:[2]

District No. of sites District No. of sites
Kachhi district 01 Kalat District 01
Kharan district 06 Lasbela District 04
Loralai district 03 Nasirabad District 01
Quetta District 10 Sibi District 01

Table 2.11 Balochistan. Number of Protected Sites by District

Some of the important historic places include:

  • The shrine of Baba Kharwari, Ziarat
  • Quaid-e-Azam Residency, Ziarat
  • Ruins of Mehrgarh. These are believed to be the oldest civilization uncovered in the world
  • A residency and Victoria Memorial Hall constructed during the British Raj, Jirga Hallin, Sibi. Here, annual jirgas were held. Quaid-e-Azam also presided over the annual Darbar held in the building in 1948. It is now a museum
  • Punnu’s Fort (Kech): Kech is the site of the famous love story of Sassi and Punnu. Punnu was a prince whose fort or ‘miri’ still exists near Turbat

Figure 1.26 Skeleton of Balochitherium


Figure 1.27 Mehrgarh Ruins


View from Punnu Fort, Turbat, Balochistan, Pakistan - Marc… | Flickr

Figure 1.28 Punnu’s Fort in Kech

Figure 1.29 Shrine of Kharwari Baba, Ziarat

[1], published on December 20, 2011

[2] Guidelines for Sensitive and Critical Areas, Government of Pakistan, 1997.