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The Pakhtun-Baloch relationship

Another view with historical input which sees unity of Baloch and Pakthuns of Balochistan as a tool to bargain effectively for more gains

The Pakhtun-Baloch relationship

Last Sunday, an article published in The News on Sunday, titled , was a rant about lack of autonomy of Pakhtuns of Balochistan. The author of that article has given an impression, between the lines, that Baloch are responsible for the current plight of the Pakthuns of Balochistan. Historical facts have been twisted by the author to prove his point, which need to be corrected.

The author states in the article, “Before the British occupation, the name of Balochistan never existed in history to represent a geo-physical entity.” A study of history tells us that first Baloch confederacy was formed under the leadership of Mir Jalal in 12th century. In 1666, Khanate of Balochistan came into existence which was later renamed Khanate of Kalat due to its capital city Kalat. Inayatullah Baloch, in his book “The Problem of Greater Baluchistan,” writes that at its zenith, Khanate of Balochistan stretched from Kerman in Modern day Iran to Indus River in Pakistan.

Similarly, the author has made another absurd claim about Quetta by maintaining that British handed over Quetta to Khan of Kalat in 1841, in the aftermath of first Anglo-Afghan war. This claim has no basis in history and it is an unsubstantiated claim. Quetta was known as Shaal and it was a part of Khanate of Kalat during the reign of Nasir Khan-I and this is well documented in history books.

In 1839, British invaded Kalat state and handed over Quetta and Mastung to Shah Shujah of Afghanistan. A.B Awan in his book “Baluchistan: Historical and Political Processes” writes that “in 1841 after a brief war, an agreement was reached between British and Kalat state. In that agreement Quetta and Mastung were returned back to Kalat.”

The author has asserted that British-Balochistan had 90 per cent Pakthun population which is a misstatement. British-Balochistan not only included Pakthun areas acquired through Gandamak Treaty but also Baloch areas. Quetta, Noshki, Chagai Tribal areas, Nasirabad, Sibi, Bolan and Marri-Bugti tribal areas were also part of the erstwhile British-Balochistan. Absence of historical data about demographics makes it impossible to ascertain the exact proportions of population but it is safe to assume that British-Balochistan had equal Baloch and Pakthun population, if not Baloch majority.

Furthermore, the said article makes the factually inaccurate claim that Quetta division during One-Unit had a Pakthun majority population. However, the results of 1962 and 1966 general elections for National Assembly of Pakistan, held through basic democrats system, contradict this claim. In 1962 elections, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri was elected Member of National Assembly (MNA) from Quetta division. In 1966, there were two electoral constituencies for Quetta division and both were won by Baloch candidates namely; Mir Darya Khan Khoso and Mir Nabi Bakhsh Zehri. So if Quetta division had Pakthun majority then Baloch politicians would have never won from there.

The current arrangement of Balochistan is something that Baloch leaders didn’t want either. President Yahya Khan decided to amalgamate Pakthun belt of British-Balochistan with Kalat state to form Balochistan province. Baloch leaders under the leadership of Khan of Kalat requested Yahya Khan to not include Pakthun areas in Balochistan. Yahya Khan, however, rejected their plea and proceeded with his scheme of provinces. So, it has never been the desire of Baloch to have a province with Pakthun districts in the north. That is the reason that today no Baloch nationalist opposes the demand of a separate province for Pakthuns of Balochistan.

Redrawing the borders of Balochistan can be carried out by either establishing a separate province for Pakthuns in Balochistan or amalgamating it with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). A separate province is economically not viable due to its size and small population. Amalgamation with KP poses political and geographic challenges.

Politically the people of Pakthun belt of Balochistan will be at loss as they will be having less percentage of seats in provincial assembly of KP, as compared to what they have in Balochistan Assembly. Geographic challenge is that FATA and Frontier Region are situated between Pakthun belt of Balochistan and KP which further complicates the matter.

It should also not be forgotten that all the major natural resources of the Balochistan are situated in Baloch areas. Sui gas fields, Rekodiq goldmines, Saindak copper-gold mines and coastal belt, all of these are situated in Baloch areas. It is due to the natural resources of Baloch belt that share of Balochistan in National Finance commission (NFC) has increased and Pakthun belt is also benefitting from it.

Presently, Pakthuns have politically and economically greater control on Balochistan as compared to their population. It is true that, except one, all chief ministers of Balochistan have been Baloch. However, it is also true that all Baloch CMs have always required the support of their Pakthun coalition partners. Even today the Balochistan government is equally shared by Baloch and Pakthun nationalists. Therefore, claiming that Pakthuns are not getting their due share in provincial setup is nothing but an incorrect line of argument which is also pursued by a major political party of Balochistan.

Balochistan at the moment is facing many challenges in shape of lack of provincial autonomy and control on the natural resources of the province. The unity of Baloch and Pakthuns of Balochistan is the need of the hour in order to bargain effectively with Islamabad. Blaming the Baloch will do no good to either Baloch or Pakthun cause.


  • Very wisely put in historic perspective.

  • The debate about history of Quetta (and the ethnic politics behind it) is an old one. To me, the claims and counter-claims of almost all indigenous political historians (both Baloch and Pashtuns) are just not reliable. A critical academic analysis of available historic resources, that is neutral, impartial and extensive in its review of historic archives and not merely cherry picking of selected books, is almost always missing in their work. Since the sole objective of such articles is to either Balochize or Pashtunize Quetta, they rely on hyper-nationalistic slogans and grossly exaggerated claims and don’t hesitate to distort historic facts.

    • I agree there is lack of neutral scholarship on this issue. However my article in no way can be equalled to Balochize anything. I have just corrected some basic facts.

  • For the information of the writer Known as the Cripps Mission, it arrived in India on 24th March 1946. The Khan of Kalat, on the advice of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the legal advisor to the Kalat State at the time, approached the Mission on behalf of his Government to discuss the future status of his State in the sche me of independence for India “6: Other Baloch regions like Kharan, Lasbela and the Marri, Bugti areas were part and parcel of the Kalat State as acknowledged by the British; and must, therefore, go back to it when the latter vacates”. It further cites, “The Marri and Bugti Tumandars also added their application to the Memorandum, submitted in 1946, demanding that their tribal regions be included in a “federation” with Kalat”.

    So, Quetta is never mentioned to be part of the Khan of Kalat “Kalat States Union”. Otherwise, either the people of Quetta or the Khan would have struggled to include them in his case prepared by the advise of the founder of Pakistan, Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

    You would go further that the Britishers had once proposed the name for British Balochistan as “British Afghanistan” as the Afghan historical lands were given an unnatural name to curse the Pashtun masses. You are right, the Khan of Kalat did a helping job for Britishers to provide the route for attacking the then Kandahar (Extended to the plains of Siwi [Sibbi]).

    Second, the population would be clearly stated who are living in Balochistan, once the census is given chance. Because, earlier the Baloch population was mentioned higher in documents and current “House Count” has showed Pashtun population up-to 50% (current census would be on the basis of CNIC, with finger prints and head count).

    • First correct your info Cripps Mission cam in 1942. In 1946 it was cabinet Mission Plan that came to Brish India. M.A Jinnah presented the case of Kalat state to Cabinet Mission plan. That case included Quetta and Sibi so please don’t distort the facts.

      In 1839, British invaded Kalat because it had resisted British in bolan during first anglo-afghan war. If Kalat had helped British then why would British attack Kalat. Your claim simply fails the logic test.

      In 1998 census it was the pashtun population that was overstated and this fact was admitted by Federal Secretary Stats as well. At the moment its not possible to conduct a census in Balochistan given law and order situation. Don’t forget the confession of NADRA officials that they have issued CNICs to 500,000 Afghans and its just tip of the iceberg.

  • “Blaming the Baloch will do no good to either Baloch or Pakthun cause.”

    Baloch and Pakhtun “cause” ? Really? Is that the term the author is going to use? That sounds like an exhortation to separatism. If the Baloch and Pakhtuns of the province both drop their ethno-centric racism and start to think of themselves and each other as Pakistanis first and foremost, then they will find greater unity and cooperation amongst themselves and will also become more trustworthy in Islamabad’s eyes, making it much easier for them to win back their complete legitimate ownership over their own natural resources.

  • Roy Bahadur Lala Hitu Ram, in his book Tarikh e Baluchistan , writes that:

    “As Quetta had been in the possession of Afghan people as a part of the government of Kandahar for long time past and as even now the Afghan tribes mainly of Kasi, Bazai, Durrani and Yasinzai are inhabitants of the
    country, therefore its old name was Kot”. (Tarikh e Baluchistan : p. 730)

    • There is no denying of the fact that Quetta was once a part of Afghanistan. During Nasir Khan -1′s era it was given to Kalat state. There is ample historical evidence to backup that claim.

      The line of argument that you and the article that I rebutted was pursuing is purely political with no factual and historical basis.

  • Jawwad Khan Marwat

    Sir Olaf Caroe (The Pathans, p-372) writes:-Ahmad Shah, on setting up his new kingdom in that city in 1747, enforced the submission of the Brahuis,and regarded his empire as extending almost to the sea. If any doubt were held to exist upon the point,it would be resolved by the fact that, in order, to fix his new dependant’s loyalty, Ahmad Shah proceeded to the unprecedented lengths of bestowing upon him an Afghan district, the valley of Shal, in which Quetta is situated. The settlement of Brahuis in the villages just south of Quetta, dates from that time.

    Qazi Nur Muhammad in Jang Nama 1764 AD says that Shal was granted to Mir Nasir Khan by Ahmad Shah as a reward for his jihad against the Sikhs. However, Akhund does not make mention of this grant while Pottinger (Travels in Balochistan and Sindh) says that Shal was given to Nasir Khan for his bravery in the battle of Mashhad.

    S. Fida Yunas, a knowledgeable scholar on the Afghanistan affairs, in Afghanistan, A Political
    History Vol-I, on page 105, states, With a difficult situation for the Afghans in India (1758 AD), Nasir Khan, a formally loyal Brahui Chieftain, also availed of the opportunity and declared his independence. A Brahui Baloch confederation, centered in Kalat state, threatened Ahmad Shah Abdali, Nasir Khan was defeated but was allowed to rule locally in return for the right to ask for troops to serve in time of War. Nasir Khan gave a cousin in marriage to Ahmad Shah, with Quetta and Mastung as wedding gifts. Ahmad Shah in this venture wanted to save his strength for the Mahrattas threat in India.

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