The State of Kalat
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The State of Kalat

Not much is known about the origin of the Balochs. Writer Sardar Muhammad Khan calls Balochistan "an insoluble riddle of history".

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 19:00 IST

"Mountains are the Balochi's forts,
The peaks are better than any army,
The lofty heights are our comrades,
The pathless gorges our friends,
Our drink is from the flowing springs,
Our bed the thorny bush; and, the ground we make our pillow."

-An ancient Balochi war song

One of the largest provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan is an arid region located in the Iranian plateau in South West Asia, between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It was the site of the earliest known farming settlements between South Asia and the Iranian plateau.

Archaeological discoveries confirm that Balochistan was a part of the Persian Empire (records refer to it as 'Maka'), until it was overthrown by Alexander the Great.

In 325 BC, Alexander led part of his army back from his Indus campaign to Babylon across the Makran Desert.

The Khan of Kalat and the Sardars, in a picture taken in Quetta, 1906

Thereafter the province lay for centuries on the shadowy borderlands of the Zoroastrian rulers of Iran and the local Buddhist and Hindu dynasties of the North Western Indian subcontinent.

Islam was brought to Balochistan in 711 AD when Muhammad bin Qasim led an army which was to conquer Sind across the Makran route.

But the area was always too remote for firm control to be exerted by any of the later local dynasties.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 21:18 IST