Baluchistan

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Baluchistan

Baluchistan (bəlo͞oˈchĭstăn) or Balochistan (bəlôˈ–), province (2017 provisional pop. 12,344,408), c.134,000 sq mi (347,000 sq km), Pakistan. The country's largest and least populous province, it is bounded by Iran on the west, by Afghanistan on the north, and by the Makran coast of the Arabian Sea on the south. The larger historical region of Baluchistan includes neighboring areas of SE Iran and SW Afghanistan. Quetta is the province's capital; it is connected by railway to the main Indus plains corridor of Pakistan. Lying outside the monsoon zone and with few rivers usable for irrigation, Baluchistan is largely desert basins with inarable hills and mountains. In most cases groundwater is the only source of water. Outside of urban areas, tribes who speak languages related to Persian constitute most of the sparse population; the Baluch are dominant except in the northeast, where the people are largely Pathans (Pashtuns).

Some cotton is raised and processed; grains are grown in some valleys, and fruits in the highlands. Sheep and goats also are raised. Extensive mineral resources include coal and lignite, gypsum, chromite, limestone, sulphur, and lead. Natural gas and oil discoveries are being developed and exploited. On the coast there is trade in fish and salt; a modern deepwater port has been created at Gwadar.

Many invaders going India have crossed Baluchistan; the return route of Alexander the Great (325 B.C.) from India to Persia was through S coastal Baluchistan. During 7th–10th cent., Arabs held most of area; in early 17th-cent., the region was under Mughal control. Baluchistan was later ruled by tribal chiefs, the most important of whom was khan of Kalat. During the Afghan Wars (see Afghanistan) the British began to establish control over the area. By the treaties of 1876, 1879, and 1891 the northern sections (later known as British Baluchistan) were placed under British control and a military base was established at Quetta.

The area was incorporated (1947–48) into Pakistan and then (1955) into West Pakistan prov. It was returned to full provincial status in 1970. In 1976 the Pakistani central government revoked the authority of local chiefs to administer their own peoples, touching off a significant popular revolt against the government; there had been several more minor tribal uprisings in the previous decades. Guerrilla fighting between local groups and government forces re-erupted sporadically, resuming in 2004 over proposed economic and military development that seemed likely to bring large numbers of Punjabis into the province. A truce from Sept., 2008, to Jan., 2009, ended when it failed to lead to meaningful negotiations. There also has been feuding between local Baluch tribes and killings by Sunni extremists (directed mainly at Shiite Hazaras) and progovernment paramilitary death squads.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Baluchistan

 

a region in Asia, in the southeastern Iranian Highlands. Area, over 500,000 sq km. East Baluchistan (348,000 sq km) is part of Pakistan, and West Baluchistan is part of Iran. Population, approximately 2,000,000 (1969, estimate), including Baluchis (1,500,000), Brahuis (350,000), and others.

From old Persian and other ancient sources, it is known that, in antiquity, the territory of Baluchistan was settled by the Makas, Gedrosians, and other peoples. In the Middle Ages, Baluchistan was successively part of the Arabian Caliphate and the states of the Ghaznavids, Seljuks, Hulaguids, and Timurids. At the beginning of the 17th century, several feudal principalities arose in the Baluchistan territory, the rulers of which were vassals of the Safawids and the Great Moguls. The ruler of Kalat (East Baluchistan), the strongest of these principalities, Nasir-khan Baluch (1750–95), united the entire territory of Baluchistan under his rule, declaring himself vassal of the Afghani shahs, the Durrani.

In the beginning of the 19th century, Britain began its penetration into Baluchistan. According to treaties of 1854, 1876, and 1879, forced on the rulers of Kalat and Kabul, East Baluchistan was subordinated to Britain and partitioned into so-called British Baluchistan and the Federation of Baluchistani Principalities (Kalat, Kharan, Mekran, Las-Bela). From 1849 to 1857, West Baluchistan was part of Iran. British Baluchistan became part of Pakistan in August 1947 and of the Federation of Baluchistani Principalities in March 1948. The border between East and West Baluchistan was defined by the Iranian-Pakistani treaty of Oct. 29, 1956.

IU. V. GANKOVSKII [3–473–l]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Baluchistan

, Balochistan
1. a mountainous region of SW Asia, in SW Pakistan and SE Iran
2. a province of SW Pakistan: a former territory of British India (until 1947). Capital: Quetta. Pop.: Pop.: 7 450 000 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005