Sunday, September 18, 2022

A Note on Balochistan's History

Hawan at Shri Hinglaj Mata

Balochistan accounts for nearly half of Pakistan’s land mass and it is rich in natural resources. Most Indians, and even Pakistanis, would not know that Balochistan became independent four days before Pakistan: on 11 August 1947. After declaring independence, the leader of Balochistan, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, the last Khan of Kalat, tried to make a favorable impression on the British government by nominating Douglas Fell, a British, as his foreign minister. 

Balochistan and Pakistan existed side-by-side as two independent nations till March 1948, when the Pakistani military invaded Baluch territory. The badly trained Baluchi irregulars were easily defeated by the Pakistani military which took control of the political institutions, and forced Mir Ahmed Yar Khan to sign a treaty of accession, submitting to the federal government. But the Khan’s younger brother, Prince Agha Abdul Karim Baloch, refused to accept the Pakistani takeover of his country. He fled to Afghanistan to wage a lonely struggle against Pakistan. He surrendered to the Pakistani military in 1950. 

Since 1948, this region has been under continuous military occupation. The Baluch insurgents refuse to submit to Pakistani rule. They have made several attempts to free their homeland. In the late 1950s, the Baluch insurgents were being led by Sheroo Marri, also known as General Shroff. In the 1970s, they were being led by leftist politicians and revolutionaries. In 2006, the Baluch separatist leader Akbar Bugti was killed by Pakistani military in an encounter. His death sparked massive protests which continue till this day.

Till the ninth century, Balochistan was being ruled by the Brahmin dynasties of Sind. Hinduism was the dominant religion. Now only 0.4% of the population is Hindu. One of Hinduism’s holiest shrines, the Hinglaj Mata Temple, also known as the Hingula Devi, is located in Hinglaj, a town in Balochistan’s Lasbela district. This temple is one of 51 Shakti Peethas in the Shaktism denomination of Hinduism. There are two other Shakti Peethas in Pakistan: Shivaharkaray (near Karachi) and Sharada Peeth (in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir).

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