Dr. Rajkumar SinghBalochistan, the province of today’s Pakistan, originally comprises of three areas : One, the Chief Commissioner’s Province of Balochistan directly ruled by the British India, which in August 1947, immediately became part of Pakistan, two, the four princely states of feudalistic nature, namely Makran, Kharan, Las Bela, and the Khanate of Kalat, who decided to accede to Pakistan in March 1948. The Khan of Kalat agreed to join Pakistan under the condition that only defense, currency, foreign relations and finance would be controlled by the federal government. The third part was the enclave of Gwader, purchased from the Sultanate of Oman in 1958. Territorial status In line, the four princely states together formed the Balochistan States Union in October 1952. Three years later in October 1955 “One Unit” system was introduced which resulted in the merger of Balochistan States Union and the Chief Commissioner’s Province of Balochistan. The enclave of Gwader, which was still part of the Sultanate of Oman was purchased in October 1958 and all together formed the then province of West Pakistan. Again the province was officially dissolved in 1970 and the former Balochistan States Union and the former Chief Commissioner’s province of Balochistan were combined to form the new province of Balochistan. In 1977, the then Balochistan province was expanded and Gwader was incorporated. Thus now, in its present form includes the three-the Chief Commissioner’s province, the Balochistan States Union and the enclave of Gwader. In total the country Pakistan is comprised of four provinces-Baluchistan, Gilgit Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh two centrally administered areas, a territory and a capital territory. The province Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan located in the southwestern region of the country. Its provincial capital and largest city is Quetta. It shares border with Punjab and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to the northeast, Sindh to the southeast, the Arabian Sea to the south, Iran to the west and Afghan to the north. Most of the province’s inhabitants are Baloch people, Pashtuns and Brahuis, although there are small communities of Hazaras, Sindhis, Punjabis, and other settlers such as the Uzbeks, and Turkmens It covers an area of 347, 190 square kilometres, and is the largest province by area, constituting 44% of Pakistan’s total landmass. In addition, it also borders the geopolitical regions of the Middle East and Southwest Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. The climate of the upper highlands is characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. In the lower highlands, winters vary from extremely cold in northern districts to milder conditions closer to the Makran coast. Winters are mild on the plains, with temperature never falling below freezing point. Summers are hot and dry, especially in the arid zones of Chagai and Kharan districts. The desert climate is characterized by hot and very arid conditions. Social composition Gradually but very slowly the social composition of Pakistan’s province Baluchistan is changing and getting a focus world-wide. Originally they are constituted from a number of kindred groups. It has many subdivisions or clans who claim to have blood relations with one another through common ancestors. Kinship, which has its characteristic form in clan and family structure, provides the basic ordering mechanism for society. Even in the 19th century as modernization and urbanization reduced the importance of tribes and tribal organizations, the influence of tribal pattern is not destroyed. The tribal patterns are existent and paternalistic methods of control through family networks continue to have relevance. Another expert on international economic development Dr. Nek Buzdar, also confirms that the Baloch society, by and large, adheres to traditional ways of life. He believes that despite the emergence of political parties in Balochistan, tribal organization and political leadership still play a dominant role in local and provincial administration. Tribes in Balochistan are divided into Shahri (Sedentary) and nomadic units. The Shahris were the backbone of the feudal order, which was predominant in central, and southern Balochistan (Makkoran) while the nomads were the cornerstones of the tribal order prevailing mainly in the northern tribal areas. Both groups, however, were bound together by a set of historically evolved relationships based on economic, social, political, military, and lingual interactions. Of the both, the Baloch tribal system is segmentary which means that it is a set of equal lineages allied relatively and contingently for political action, decisions being made by assemblies and councils, with no offices and hierarchy of authority, and thus no top. Therefore, centralized authority is absent in such a system. Keeping the fact in view, the colonial government exercised control over the Baloch tribes, the British themselves were light on the ground, and in return for the chieftains, loyalty, gave them a free hand to keep the tribal way of life largely unchanged. Traditional social institutions In traditional Baloch society the most widely known institutions are the Sardari and Jirga. Under these systems, every tribe had its separate Jirga (council of elders) which acted as a court of law. Jirga at the tribe’s level operated under the leadership of Sardar and dealt with important matters concerning the tribes and distputes arising among them, the election of a new Khan or the eventual external threats. Providing the Baloch society a historical, social and political structure, the Jirga remained intact for a long period and helped the Baloch deal with the situation of anarchy, chaos and emergency. In line, the constitution and powers of traditional Jirga was changed under the British rule in 19th century when Sir Robert Sandeman introduced a new kind of Jirga, called “Shahi Jirga” where only Sardars and aristocrats could sit. The meeting of Shahi Jirga was usually held once or twice in a year. Its powers were expanded in comparison to earlier and now it could impose taxes in property and labour and only the Political Agent could review the decision. The new system was considered as a shrewd mechanism of indirect rule with powers vested in a few carefully selected tribal elders loyal to the British and ready to act against their own people. Another traditional Baloch social system, “Sardari” appears to have had its origin in the Mughal period of Indian history. In contrast to the system of Jirga, Sardari system is highly centralized and hierarchical. Under it, at the apex of the system is the sardar, the hereditary central chief from whom power flows downward to waderas, the section chiefs, and beyond them to the subordinate clan and sub-clan leaders of the lesser tribal units. The sardar’s extraordinary authority within this structure probably stems from the essentially military character of early Baloch tribal society. However, modernization has changed much of the tribal system. It was first challenged by the setting of international boundaries which partitioned into three states, dividing some of the large tribes between countries and prohibiting the traditional summer and winter migrations of nomads and semi-nomads. The second challenge occurred between the world wars, when the British and Persians largely pacified Balochistan. The termination of the traditional nomadic economic system devastated the tribes and as a result they move into cities and towns. This increased chieftains’ distance from the tribe. Over the course of time, the traditional social organization of the Baloch to a great extent has changed and now there is a widespread Baloch national consciousness that cuts across tribal divisions. In a tribal society, a political ideology such as Baloch nationalism would hardly gain support, because loyalties of tribal members do not extend to entities rather than individual tribes. Within the tribes, an individual’s identity is based on his belonging to a larger group. This larger group is not the nation but the tribe.
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