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An Indigenous Horizon

Traditions

traditionsBaluch differ from their neighbors not only in their language, literature, religion, and feelings, but also in their traditions and habits.

Traditions play an important role in the making of a nation. Arab Islam failed to assimilate the Persians into Arab traditions. Iranians fought and resisted Arab domination and though they converted to Islam, they formed a new sect (Shia) in Islam. They maintained their separate language, literature and traditions. Turks and Afghans also refused the domination and influence of Iranian Islam. The same is true of the Baluch, who maintain their own traditions and customs, which are different from Punjabi, Sindhi, Iranian, and Afghan Muslims.

When we compare the rational traditions of the Baluch to those of his neighbors, we see that though they are Muslims, they wear a different dress, eat different food, etc. The Baluch prefer to eat meat without chilies, while the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent spice their food with these peppers. The
 special and common diet of the Baluch is “Sajji” (grilled meat on the fire),
which is not partaken of by Indo-Pak Muslims. In fact, the Muslim Punjabis’ and Sindhis’ way of life has more in common with that of the Hindu Indians, with the exception of religion. In the following paragraphs we will examine the major Baluch traditions, which differ from those of neighboring Muslim nations or ethnic groups.

Haal (Information)

An important Baluch custom is known as Haal, which means the exchange of information and current news. According to the usage, a traveller is duty-bound to provide news to those whom he may chance to meet on his way. The recipient or the host in his turn reports the news to the first person or traveller he meets. This way all sorts of news are circulated in the Baluch society.

The Haal must be given and received in strict order. The Haal covers a wide range of subjects – business, tribal or inter-clan clashes, weather conditions, rain, availability of grass and other foodstuffs for cattle, current politics, etc. Thus all the important news and information is spread across the country within a few days. The tradition of the exchange of information keeps each tribe on the alert against dangers or enemies. Anyone who avoids furnishing Haal is regarded either as a spy or an enemy and is duly treated as such.

The Baluch system of collecting and passing news is unique. It is unknown to their neighbours, Persians, Pushtuns, Punjabis, and Sindhis.

Pride in Heroes

The common heroes of a particular nationality serve the cause of unity and solidarity. In the history of modern nationalism, the heroes play an important role in the creation of a nation state. Each nation has its national heroes: Charlemagne and Napoleon Bonaparte in France, Bismarck in Germany and Lenin in Soviet Union. In the East, Iranians regard Cyrus the Great and Naushervan, the founders of the Iranian empire, as their great national heroes; Turks esteem Sultan Muhammad the Conqueror, Sulaiman the Magnificent, Khair-ud-Din Barborosa (Admiral of the Turkish Navy), and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The Baluch pay homage to Nimrod in Babylon, Abu Saeed Baluch of Jiruft, Mir Jalal Khan, Mir Chakar Khan Rind, Mir Sohrab Khan Dodai, Mir Abdullah Kahar, Mir Nasir Khan the Great, Mir Mehrab Khan II, Mir Dost Muhammad Khan Baranzai, Mir Hammal Jiand, and Mir Yusuf Ali Khan Aziz Magassi, the majority of whom are either unknown to Pakistanis and Persians or are detested by them. (For instance, Nasir Khan the Great and his father Abdullah Khan Kahar, who invaded Iran and Muslim India.) Dost Muhammad Khan is regarded as a rebel who wanted to re-establish an independent Baluchistan in Iran. Mir Yusuf Ali Khan Magassi led the modern Baluch national movement striving for the realization of Greater Baluchistan, which is a repudiation of the state-nation concept of Iran and Pakistan.

The role of the Baluch heroes is either minimized or completely ignored in the textbooks and history books of Iran and Pakistan. Sometimes their role is misinterpreted; for instance, Yusuf Ali Khan Magassi is taught in terms of the Pakistan movement.

The following Baluch heroes are unknown to Pakistanis and are regarded as enemies of Iran:

1. Mir Jalal Han

2. Mir Chakar Khan

3. Malik Sohrab Dodai

4. Mir Abdullah Khan the Subduer

5. Mir Nasir Khan the Great

6. Mir Mehrab Khan II

7. Mir Yusuf Ali Khan Magassi

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