Balochistan Pakistan’s El Dorado

Balochistan is the largest of the four provinces of Pakistan and is spread over an area of 347,190 Sq. Kms, forming 43.6 per cent of country’s total area. Though it’s the largest province In terms of area, it has clustered population and is smallest in terms of population.

Geography
Quetta is the capital city of Balochistan. The province is divided into 6 administrative divisions namely: Kalat, Makran, Naseerabad, Quetta, Sibbi and Zhob.

Districts
Balochistan has 30 districts. Detail of their names and areas is as under:
Largest District: Chagai (44748 Sq. Km.)
Smallest District: Jafarabad (2445 Sq. Km.)

On May 21, Balochistan Government created two districts with the names of Sohbatpur that has been separated from Jaffarabad, and Lehri was carved out from Sibbi.

Facts
Balochistan coastal line extends over 750 km from Hub to Gwadar Bay. The word Gwadar is derived from two balochi words, (Gwat meaning wind and Dar that means door).
The Reko Diq is a well-known place in Chagai District. The ‘Gold and Copper’ deposits worth billions of dollars are located here.
According to French Archaeologist Professor Jarrige, by 6,000 BC farmers on the Bolan River were cultivating barley, wheat and dates using floodwater and storing their surplus in large mud bins.

Land of Balochistan
Balochistan is an extensive plateau of rough terrain divided into basins by ranges of sufficient heights and ruggedness. Balochistan’s geographic area can be divided into four distinct zones: Upper high lands, lower high lands, plains and deserts.

The upper highlands, a.k.a. Khorasan include Makran, fall mainly in districts Zhob, Qilla Saifullah, Pishin, Quetta, Ziarat and Kalat.

The Lower High Lands are located in the southeastern Balochistan. Some are extension of lower high lands that exist at boundaries of Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur, Kharan and Chaga districts.

Climate
The climate of the upper highlands is characterized by very cold winters and warm summers. Winters of the lower highlands vary from extremely cold in the northern districts to mild conditions closer to the Makran coast. Summers are hot and dry. The plain areas are also very hot in summer with temperatures rising as high as 120°F (50°C).

Did You Know?
Balochistan is located at the south-eastern edge of the Iranian plateau. It strategically bridges the Middle East and Southwest Asia to Central Asia and South Asia, and forms the closest oceanic frontage for the land-locked countries of Central Asia.

Natural Resources
Pakistan fulfils its eighty per cent economy from Balochistan’s natural resources, fifty per cent only from Reqo Diq project.

Reko Diq
In Reko Diq area of Chagai District, Saindak project is located where deposits of gold and copper exist. Reko Diq means sandy peak in Balochi language. The Project is a US $3.3 billion capital investment and produces the world first class copper-gold. This project produces approximately 600,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year, which contains 28-31% copper and 7-22 g/ton gold, which translates to about 200,000 tonnes copper and 250,000 ounces of gold per year.
Coal
Balochistan has large reservoirs of coal. These are found in Quetta, Mach, Musa Khail
Chromite
Deposits of this mineral are found at Killa Saifullah, Lasbela, Khuzdar, Kharan and Chagai districts.
Barytes
Barytes deposits are located near Khuzdar with a total reserve of over 2.00 million tonnes.  Grinding of this mineral started in 1976.
Sulphur
Sulphur is found at Koh-e-Sultan in District Chagai.
Marble
Large deposits are found throughout district Chagai, starting from Dalbandin and extending to the borders of Iran. Also some deposits are located at Zardkan, Siah-Chang, Jhulli, Patkok, Maskichah, Zeh, Chilgazi and Buttak. Onyx of superior quality, is found in Bolan, Lasbela and Khuzdar districts.
Iron Ore
Only Chagai possesses nearly 30 million tonnes of iron ore. According to reports, there are 1 to 7 metres (averaging about 2 metres) thick hematitic sedimentary ironstone bed of Jurassic age (150 million years old) at the contact of Chiltan Limestone, and Sember formation of Cretaceous age (150-65 million years old) near Johan in Dilband area of Mastung district.
Quartzite
Its deposits are found in Lasbela.
Limestone
This is found in Quetta and Kalat. Limestone is also found in Harnai, Sor Range, and Spintangi areas.
Oil and Gas
Revenue of gas is $42 billion per year. According to the Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP), there are reserves of 19 trillion cubic feet of gas and 6 trillion barrels of oil in Balochistan. Oil and gas reservoirs are also found in Panjgur, Lasbela, Kharan, Kalat and Marri districts. Gas fields in Balochistan supply 45% or 11 billion cubic metres of Pakistan’s total gas requirements that generates $1.4 billion annually, Balochistan can generate $140 million per day or approximately $40 billion per year in revenue with these deposits.

History
Recent research and archaeological excavations at Mehrgarh have revealed 9000-years-old civilization. Human settlement pattern at Mehrgarh was unparalleled and unique, inaugurating the distinct shift from a hunting gathering to a settled life for the first time in human history. Alexander the Great passed through Balochistan in 325 BC. After his death, Balochistan came under the rule of Selecus Nicator whose descendents lost power to the Graeco-Bactrians. The province has also witnessed the march of a number of great conquerors and warriors such as Macedonians, Arabs, Ghaznavies, Mangols and Mughals in the past.

The Muslim rule began in 712 AD. The parts of Balochistan which were ruled by the Arabs were called by them Turan (Jhallawan area) having capital at Khuzdar and Nudha or Buddha (Kachhi).

Modern-day Balochistan became a province of Pakistan on 1 July 1970.

‘Like other Middle Eastern ethnic groups, the Baloch claim Arabian extraction and assert that they descended from Amir Hamza, a paternal uncle of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

‘In 652 during the reign of Caliph Usman, Balochistan was reconquered during the counter-revolt in Kerman under the command of Majasha Ibn Masood. This was the first time western Balochistan was directly controlled by the Caliphate and paid taxes on agriculture.

Politics
Balochistan has its Provincial Assembly at Quetta. The Provincial Assembly of Balochistan was constituted under a Presidential order in 1972. The foundation of the present Assembly building was laid in 1973 by the then Governor Mohammed Akbar Khan Bugti. The first assembly session was held on May 2nd, 1972 with 21 members’ one woman and twenty men.
The Balochistan Assembly consists of 51 directly elected members while 11 seats are reserved for women and 3 for Non-Muslims.

Did You Know?
Mr Muhammad Khan Barozai and Maulvi Shams Ud Din were the first Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Balochistan Assembly respectively.
Sardar Attaullah Mengal served as the first House Leader and Mr Ghous Bakhsh Raisani as Opposition Leader.

The Baloch
Three major tribes are Baloch (Baloch & Brahvi) and Pashtoon. The Balochi-speaking tribes include Rind, Lashari, Marri, Jamot, Ahmedzai, Bugti Domki, Magsi, Khosa, Rakhashani, Dashti, Umrani, Nosherwani, Gichki, Buledi, Sanjarani, Meerwani, Zahrozai, langove, kenazai and Khidai.

Brahvi speaking tribe include Raisani, Shahwani, Sumulani, Sarparrah, Bangulzai, Mohammad Shahi, Lehri, Bezenjo, Mohammad Hasni, Zarakzai (Zehri) , Mengal and Lango, most of these tribes are bi-lingual and are quite fluent both in the Balochi and Brahvi Languages. The Pashtoon tribes include Kakar, Ghilzai Tareen, Mandokhel , Sherani, Luni, Kasi and Achakzai.

Facts
‘The tribal chief is called Sardar while head of sub-tribe is known as Malik, Takari or Mir. Sardars and Maliks are members of district and other local Jirgas according to their status.

‘Among the eighteen major Baloch tribes, Bugtis and Marris are the principal ones who are settled in the buttresses of the Sulemania.
‘ The Talpurs of Sind also claim their Baloch origin.

Languages
Balochi, a Northwestern Iranian language, is the principal language of the Balochistan. It is also spoken as a second language by some Brahvi. Balochi is also designated as one of nine official languages of Pakistan.
In adddition to Balochi, Pashto and Brahvi, the majority of the population understand and speak Urdu, the national language. In Kachhi and Sibi districts, people speak Seraiki and Sindhi. Quetta city, the confluence point of all linguistic groups accommodates not only Urdu, Balochi, Pashtoo, Brahvi and Sindhi speaking people but Punjabi, Darri and Persian speaking ones as well. Dehwar tribe of Sarawan sub-division in Kalat, also speaks a language derived from Persian.

Culture
Cultural landscape of Balochistan portrays various ethnic groups. Though people speak different languages, there is a similarity in their literature, beliefs, moral order and customs. The cementing factor is religion which provides a base for unity and common social order.

Brahvi, Balochi and Pashtoon tribes are known for their hospitality. Guest is held in high esteem and considered a blessing from God. Better-off people even slaughter sheep or goat for their guest. Sometimes, it so happens that where there are more houses, the guest is assumed to be the guest of the whole village. This open heartedness is the loving feature of the tribal people and is not as deep in the city or town dwellers.

Another adorable feature of Balochistan culture is faithfulness and sincerity in all relationships. There is no place or respect for unfaithful people in prevalent moral order. If fidelity is reciprocated with disloyalty or betrayal, it is never forgotten.

Festivals
Besides, religious and national festivals, numerous colourful social festivals are also source of jubilation in Balochistan. Sibi festival that traces its roots to Mehrgarh, an archaeological site of ancient human civilization, attracts people from across the country. It is attended by common folks, ministers and other government officials. Folk music performance, cultural dances, handicrafts stalls, cattle shows and a number of other amusing activities present a perfect riot of colour. Buzkashi is a peculiar festival showing valour of Baloch people. It is celebrated on horse-back by two teams that use their skills to snatch a goat from the each other.

Tourist Attractions

‘Quaid-e-Azam Residency
Quaid-e-Azam residency is of historical importance, as the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, stayed here during his last days. It houses the relics of the Father of the Nation. The Residency was built in 1882 by the British and used by the Agent to the Governor General as his summer headquarters.

‘Hazarganji Chiltan National Park
In the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 kilometres South-west of Quetta, Markhors have been given protection. The park is spread over 32,500 acres, altitude ranging from 2021 to 3264 meters.

‘Hanna Lake
A little short of the place where the Urak Valley begins at 10 kilometres from Quetta is the Hanna Lake, where suitable rest rooms and pavilions on terraces have been provided. Golden fish in the lake comes swimming right up to the edge of the lake. A little distance away, the waters of the lake take on a greenish blue tint. Right where the water ends, have been planted pine trees on the grass filled slopes. The greenish-blue waters of the lake provide a rich contrast to the sandy brown of the hills in the background.

Quetta
Quetta, 1692 meters above sea level, lies at the mouth of Bolan Pass. It has large craggy mountains including Chiltan, Takatoo, Murdaar and Zarghoon. The main thoroughfare and the commercial centre of Quetta is Jinnah Road.
Ziarat
A visit to Quetta is incomplete without a trip to Ziarat. Situated 133 kilometres (3 hours by car) from Quetta at an altitude of 2449 metres above sea level, Ziarat is a holiday resort amidst one of the largest and oldest Juniper forests in the world. It is said that some of the Juniper trees are as old as 5000 years. The name Ziarat means ‘Shrine’. A local saint, Kharwari Baba, is believed to have rested in the valley and blessed it. After his death he was buried here.
Other Places to visit:
1. Zindra    2. Shrine of Baba Kharwari
3. Fern Tangi    4. Sandeman Tangi
5. Chutair Valley  6. Lak Pass
7. Bolan Pass    8. Khojjak Pass
9. Harnai Pass    10. Sibi

‘The 3.91-kilometres long Khojak Tunnel a.k.a. Sheilla Bagh Tunnel is located in Killa Abdullah district of Balochistan.

Famous Baloch Personalities

Prime Ministers
Sardar Mir Balakh Sher Mazari (Caretaker)
Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali
Mir Hazar Khan Khoso (Caretaker)

Chief of Army Staff
General Muhammad Musa

Sportsmen
Shakeel Abbasi (Hockey), Abdur Rehman (Cricket), Haider Ali (Boxer), Zeeshan Ashraf (Hockey), Shahid Zaman (Squash)

Showbiz
Rabi Peerzada, Abid Ali, Kader Khan (Bollywood), Zeba Bakhtiar, Ayoob Khoso, Suresh Oberoi (Bollywood), Humaima Malick, Jamal Shah, Veena Kumari (Bollywood) and others.

Other Famous People Born In Balochistan
Nawab Akbar Bugti, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Ataullah Mengal, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Jam Yousuf, Mir Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo, Nawab Khair Buksh Marri, Habib Jalib Baloch, Sir Edward Ian Claud Jacob (Military Assistant Secretary to Winston Churchill’s war cabinet), Ali Ahmad Kurd, Zulfikar Ali Magsi, Justice Amir-ul-Mulk Mengal, Mahmood Khan Achakzai

Folktales
Hani and Shah Murad Chakar, Shahdad and Mahnaz, Lallah and Granaz, Bebarg and Granaz, and Mast and Sammo

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