Historic map of the region.

The second migration followed the first after a few hundred years. The incoming Baloch tribes moved from Mount Elburz in the south of Caspian Sea and settled in central Balochistan areas of Khuzdar and Kalat in Pakistan.

The Baloch intellectual adds that the third and most important of all is the migration of the remaining Baloch tribes said to be living in Syrian city of Aleppo who first settled in Kerman (present day Iran), then Makran and finally in the plains of Sibi and Kachchi in eastern Balochistan. This migration took place during 12th century AD.

While I read the above mentioned information in notes given by Azizullah, he answered a call on his mobile phone. Hearing Balochi language for the first time I tried to understand a few words that are used in both Urdu and Arabic.

“Balochi is the language spoken by the Baloch people. It is a member of the Indo-Aryan languages,” he explained after sensing my curiosity about his language. “Balochi is closely related to Kurdish, Persian and Sanskrit languages but it is believed to be more ancient than these languages. We also carry a heavy influence of Arabic due to the Islamic conquests in the region during the middle age.” I was left pleasantly surprised that our languages had so many things in common including the use of same Arabic script.

An impression of Baloch warriors. (Photo: Sabee Kazmi)

While the bus moved at a high speed thanks to the recent improvements on the RCD Highway, I began grilling my friend about Baloch history and the immense pride attached to it. His answers were immediate.

“Baloch people have historically defended themselves from foreign invaders by forming loose tribal unions. The unions are linked through trade, agriculture and livestock. This cooperation helped them interact socially, politically and militarily, in case of invasions,” the young medical student explained succinctly. It was obvious that he was enjoying this conversation and knew about the history of his nation very well.

“Balochistan’s geo-political location meant it was never safe from external threats or interventions, however, the combined threat of tribal unions enabled them to ward off Persian, Afghan and other influences,” he added with a hint of bitterness in his tone.

POLITICS OF PROMISES

We travelled around 200 kms during the last two and a half hours and stopped for refueling and refreshments. My travel mate bought me a delicious fruit cake and tea as we sat on charpoy – a traditional bed consisting of wooden frame and woven ropes.

“If you count the promises made to us, we must be the richest people in the world,” Azizullah’s rant continued. “Take this highway for example. Back in 1980s, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan decided to link their countries through a highway which they named RCD. Starting from Istanbul, it crisscrossed Turkey, Iran and was supposed to end in Karachi. While Turkey and Iran completed their part of the highway, Pakistani project languished for years. Only Gen. Musharraf took interest in the project and got it completed finally.”

I was surprised to hear Azizullah, an ethnic Baloch, praising for Gen. Musharraf, the former military dictator of Pakistan who ruled the country from 1999 to 2008. However, his praise soon turned into criticism when I asked about his role in Balochistan’s society.

He dragged me to a nearby petrol station. “This is part of Pakistan, right?” He poked a question to which I nodded in affirmation. “Well, the only thing we use here is the Pakistani currency. Apart from that everything else is smuggled from Iran. Fuel, food, cosmetics, chemicals, crops, stationary, and even cars come from there,” Azizullah revealed while adding, “Fuel is dirt cheap. The Iranian fuel costs pennies if compared to the price we pay for branded Pakistani one. Not even fools will buy for that price.”