I was born in Quetta. I love the land of beautiful hills, deserts, beaches, orchards, blue skies , unique foods, great traditions, particularly Baloch traditions of extending respect and hospitality, enriched with natural resources (still untapped due to political disharmony) and strategically the most important part of Pakistan. Balochistan is the future of Pakistan.
Today a tiny segment of Baloch youth being misled by Indian intelligence network RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), aided by some US funded Pakistani TV channels and Indian built internet sites, is spreading an impression that this best part of Pakistan was about to separate. But, the ground reality is the other way round.Balochistan attained status of a province way back in 1969 during the tenure of military President General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan. Balochistan’s geopolitical location attracted Marxist leadership of the dismembered Soviet Union. Baloch leadership remained in touch with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union before the independence of Pakistan. Soviets always dreamt of gaining access to ‘warm waters’ through Balochistan. Some late Sardars of Balochistan were in touch with successive leadership of the dismembered Soviet Union. Others flirted with former Emperor of Iran, Raza Shah Pehlvi.
Two surviving journalists from Quetta Fasih Iqbal and Ghulam Tahir hold important positions in Baloch set up. These two men always held direct access to Balochistan’s governors, chief ministers, chief secretaries and other key persons. But they think whatever they say should be universally believed.Province of Balochistan produced very mature political leadership mainly comprising traditional tribal heads with large followings. Balochistan is jointly shared by Balochs and Pashtuns with sizeable population of Hazaras from Afghan provinces of Bamiyan and Hazarajat, Brahvi speaking and Khetrani speaking Balochs, Punjabi and Urdu speaking settlers, some Uzbecks and Tajiks, Afghan Pashtuns and Persian – speaking Iranians and Afghans who visit Quetta regularly.
Tribesmen from Achakzai, Ghebezai, Khlijis, Popalzais, Nurzais (Mullah Omar happens to be a Nurzai), and Tarins travel between Pakistan and Afghanistan without passport or other travelling documents.
The largest city and capital of Balochistan, Quetta has always remained a hub of friendly and hostile intelligence agencies. It is known as the ‘Fruit Basket of Pakistan’ and is very rich in plant and animal diversity. Quetta sits near the Afghan border and is quite far from Iranian border Mir Jawah. The city also serves as a hub for Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan trade.The city is situated at an average elevation of 1,654 metres (5,429 ft) above sea level, making it Pakistan’s only high-altitude major city. The city is in a seismically active area, and was flattened by 1935 earthquake.
It is also an important military location occupying a vital strategic position for the Pakistan’s armed forces, which have their best establishments in Quetta. The city now houses Headquarters of 12 Corps of Pakistan, Regimental Centre of EME (Electric Mechanical Engineers of Pakistan Army), Infantry School, Staff and Command College and Headquarters of Frontier Corps. General Ziaul Haq, former military chief and president of Pakistan had raised 12 Corps after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.
Communist movement of Nur Muhammad Tarakai, who engineered ‘Sour Revolution’ in Kabul, operated from Quetta.
Vote of 1970 did bring an era of democracy in Balochistan with democratic minded leadership of the defunct National Awami Party. Towering leaders from Balochistan were mainly tribal heads including Nawab Khair Bux Marri, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Ghaus Bux Bizenjo, Nawab Yousaf Magsi, Sardar Doda Khan Zarakzaia and Sardar Muhammad Khan Barozai (who later joined Pakistan People’s Party and his ancestors were Revenue Collectors of Ahmad Shah Abdali), and farming land owners of Jamali clan which remains with the right side of the civil and military establishment. Nawab Ghaus Bux Raisani, Chief of Sarwan, who made first Governor when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over broken Pakistan in December 1971).Practically Balochistan always maintained three capitals. Ziarat is Balochistan’s summer capital and in winter leadership of Balochistan shifts to Sibbi for grand Jirga and ‘Jashan-e-Sibbi’.Province of Balochistan was dominated by 5 Nawabs, one Pashtun and four Baluchs, with Khan of Kalat as head of all the Nawabs and Sardars.Presently, Balochistan has Nawab Khair Bux Marri, Nawab Aslam Raisani, Nawab Zulfikar Magsi while Bugti Nawabship is disputed after the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. The only Pashtun Nawab is Ayaz Jogezai.