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Posts Tagged Hazara people in Balochistan



Of love, revenge Camels & Jat woman

The folktales and myths of the Baloch constitute an archive of authentic material. Until very recently they possessed no written history or literature only a vast treasure of epic and romantic ballads and tales handed down through the centuries. 
These constitute an oral tradition from which their history is drawn: and demonstrate the physical and, moral capabilities of the Baloch, his expertise in war, his skill, powers of endurance, his generosity. They also have a darker side highlighting covertness and his overwhelming passion for revenge.

The fifteenth and early sixteenth century was the golden age for Baloch. In spite of its being a time of fratricidal war; the great rivalry between the Rinds and the Lasharies ,under their chiefs Mir Chakar Khan Rind and Mir Gowhram Lashari. Both descended from a common ancestor. Amir Jalal Khan of Siestan. Most of the Baloch’s greatest stories and Balads relate to his period.

Chakar Khan Rind is the demigod, the larger than life figure, flamboyant and chivalrous. Like King Arthur ruling from his castle and presiding over an array of valiant knights. Only the venue is Sibi and not Camelot, and the knights are Bhivragh, Shahdad, Mirhaan instead of Sir Galahad Lancelot and Perceivable.

In spite of its comparative decentness, this era is clouded in the mystery and we can only rely on the Ballads to tell its tale. Like King Arthur, Chakar has become an almost mythical leader. These tales are of war, love and revenge, and like all love have many variations there being no one-authentic version.

Mir Shahdad Rind was the eldest son of Chakar, a brave and noble warrior. It is said he commanded the Baloch forces when they helped Humayun recapture his throne from the Suris. The love of his life was Mahnaz, his second wife. They were inseparable, delighting in each others company, exchanging poems and token of love.
Murgo his first wife ! overcome with jealousy, conspires to bring about Mahnaz’s downfall .By intrigues and charades (disguising herself as a man), she convinces Shahdad that Mahnaz, his most devoted wife is in love with the shepherd Umar.

Shadad’s fury is uncontrollable, he curses and beats Mahnaz, accusing her of identify. She plead s, implores that she innocent, for it is only him that she loves. but to no avail. Shahdad is unmoved by her pleas. Mahnaz heartbroken, leaves Shahdad and returns to her family.

To prove her innocence and restore her family honor she agrees to undertake a trials by ordeal. The stage is set, both the families are there to witness the trial. Mahnaz has to retrieve a ring from a pot of boiling oil, if she does this without scalding herself she will prove her innocence. Calmly she puts her hand in the pot and removes the ring, without injury to her. Shadad is over joyed and rushes to embrace her, but she turns away. He begs forgiveness, but now Mahnaz has lost her! faith in his love and insists that Shahdad divorce her. He is shattered and cannot believe her intransigence but faced whit no option, complies with her request.

To further wound Shahdad’s pride she marries the shepherd Umar. This distresses him deeply; Mahnaz has chosen a shepherd and rejected him, a prince. He vents his feelings through verse, which he sends to Mahnaz.
Umar is like the hyena, Who inhabits the mountains. Who feeds on carcasses and lives in caves. 

And goes on in similar manner, ridiculing Umar. The proud and honourable Mahnaz in her reply addresses Shahdad:
O’ prince you are now incapable of any thing. But to sit in thin house and criticize later Umar is the sword-wielding horseman.

He is the leader of the herd. And further on Shahdad intelligence for believing Murgo. Your intelligence is like water that drips, From a Shepherd’s Mashkizeas.

Down to his heels, Mahanaz is regarded as the finest Balochi poetess. She is by all accounts a truly remarkable woman. Poor Shahdad having lost his love repents his folly for the remainder of his life.

The Sir Galahad of these tales is Bivragh Rind (the name is a distortion of Abu-Bakar). This valiant knight was the nephew of Chakar, an accomplished poet, musician, fighter and lover. He played havoc with both the enemy and women’s hearts. He traveled to distant lands and his exploits and loves were many.

Once whilst visiting Kandhar, he is put in jail for some misdemeanor. His cell is next to the Governor’s palace, from where he witnesses an apparition. This vision of loveliness is Granaz, the Governor’s daughter. Bivragh is love struck, and from that night he sing to her from his confinement. The power and beauty of his voice moves Granaz to ask her father to pardon him. Once free Biragh is not to be denied. He visits Granaz at the palace and both decide to elope. On his trusted horse Mal they frees, with the Governor and his army in pursue! it. Bivragh decides to go to Gandhava, and seek refuge with Mir Gowhram and the Lasharis (his bitter enemies), instead of Sibi to Chakar Khan and his own tribe the Rinds. For he knows that Gowhram will be honour bound to protect him as his ‘Bahot’.


Bahot is a custom of the Baloch whereby cannot be denied to one seeking it, be they even enemies. In fact the refugee giver becomes duty bound to protect with his life his “Bahot:. Thus Bhivragh clever move ensure that both Lasharies and the Rind come to his rescue.

The combined armies of the Baloch are ready for battle against the army from Kandhar, under Shuja-ud-din-Zumun. But now Bhivragh realizes that due to his folly thousands may perish, therefore he will not let his happen. So the night before hostilities are to commence, Bhivragh steals into the enemy camp, seeks out the Governor’s guard tent and after slaying the guard enters his tent.

Bhivragh awakes the sleeping Governor and tells him:
O’ King I am Bivragh – the truth full one.
And a heinous deed I hath done.
I come now to seek forgiveness.
For Kings are truly magnanimous.
But, if thou does not pardon me.
Then take thy sword – and stay me.

Shuja-ud-din-Zumun. Over whelm! ed by Bivragh’s bravery and courage forgives him. And willingly accepts this gallant Baloch his son-in-law. The armies return, no blood is shed, Bivragh’s valor wins the day.

Another instance of Bivragh’s wisdom is when he advice Chakar, not to stake the Baloch race for a Jat woman’s camels. The Jat woman is Gohar who having rejected Mir Gowharam’s amorous advances seeks ‘bahot’ with Chakar. Offend by her act Ramen (Gowhram’s son) and a group of Lasharis kill a few of Gohar’s camel. The Rind chief is furious and vows revenge for this dishonour. This leads to the thirty years war between the tribes, destroying the power of the Baloch and leading a poet to exclaim.
“War has been the curse of the Baloch”.

Of the many battles fought during this war. Nali is most often evoked by the balladeers. At this battle thousands perished. The Rindhs suffered heavy casualties and even Chakar would have lost his life it was not for the chivalry of a Lashari nobleman, called Nodband! agh. In Balochi lor, he is like Hatim generous in the extreme, and also known as “Zarzawal” (Gold Scattered). But Nobbandagh is supposed to have had a Rind mother. For when Gowhram shows his displeasure at his act of rescuing Chakar, Nodbandagh says that it was his mother who used to sin him.

Lullaby’s of Chakar and pray that one day he would help Chakar.”I cannot go against the milk of my mother “,he says.
Jat woman feature prominently in the Baloch story tellers repertoire. They are acclaimed for their beauty, spirit and independence.

Shali is a jat woman of great wealth. She hears of Hassan Maulanagh of the phuze-Rindhs,his noble character and other virtues, for he is the epitome of Baloch manliness. In spite of many suitors she send a proposal of marriage to Hassan !He also falls in love with her and they are engaged to be married. But before the conjugal rites can be performed, Hassan along with his brother, Mohammad is killed by a rejected suitor of Shalli. Sha! lli is heartbroken and spends the rest of her days as Hassan Maulanagh’s widow.

The wrath of Harim descends on his brothers murderers. His lust for vengeance abates only once he has slain a hundred of the Lasharies (sad murd gut geerum kuto”)
An interesting aspect to this tale is that when Harim is asked to marry Shalli his brother “widow” (a common custom amongst the trebles, both Baloch and Pathan), he refuses. For she was his brother’s love and he will not impose himself upon her. And it is because of this refusal that even today amongst the Gishkori tribe (direct descendants of the Phuz Rind )widow are not married to their brother in laws.

These are just a few tales of the Baloch. The dry and barren land of the Balochistan evokes the rich and diverse imagery that transcends time and place and speaks directly to the soul.


By Qazi Azmat Isa


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The News on Sunday: Hazaras’ Thousand Woes



Hazara peopleBy Rahimullah Yusufzai

Pakistan has become a killing field of people from different communities in recent years, but one community that has suffered the most and has been singled out for target-killings are the Hazara Shias.

The Hazaras are a distinct ethnic group living mostly in Afghanistan and having a visible presence in Pakistan and Iran. Lately, a growing number of members of the community have settled in Western countries in search of security and livelihood.

The Hazaras have traditionally faced persecution at the hands of some Afghan kings, primarily Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, and other ethnic groups due to sectarian and ethnic reasons. They were originally living in central Afghanistan, but many had to migrate to neighbouring countries, such as Iran and undivided India to escape attacks. In due course of time, the Hazara community gained a foothold in Quetta by serving in the British army and doing other tough jobs. Soldiering has been part of the Hazara life and a proportionally high number having been serving in both the Afghan and Pakistani armed forces.

According to Professor Nazir Hussain, who opted for retirement as the first principal of the prestigious Government General Musa College, Quetta Cantonment in December 1995 after serving for five years, the Hazaras first settled down in the plain at the foot of the Koh-i-Murdar mountain range in Quetta and set up the Marriabad, named after the Marri Baloch tribe who were herders and lived seasonally in huts in the area. “The Hazara population grew after 1920s and from Alamdar Road, previously known as Barnes Road, to the lap of the Koh-i-Murdar houses were built across the mounds and seasonal streams. It was known as Ward No 7 of the municipality and was sited close to Quetta Cantonment. It later became part of the provincial assembly constituency, PB-2 Quetta, from where Hazara candidates have often been elected,” he explained.

Prof Nazir Hussain said new colonies of the Hazaras, such as Gulistan, Brohi (Brewery) and Hazara Town also sprang up and members of the community with money mostly sent from abroad were able to buy or build houses there. He said Hazara refugees from Afghanistan, too, settled in these new colonies and many used Quetta as a staging point for migrating to some Western country, mostly Australia.

Hussain said until recently the Hazaras lived in peace achieving the highest literacy levels in Balochistan and prospering as businessmen. “We had excellent ties with the Pashtuns and Baloch. It was during the General Ziaul Haq era that his policy of segregation brought a change in the situation. Now we are suffering from social anarchy and the Hazaras in particular are living in “Jewish ghettoes,” he remarked.

Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, the extremist Sunni militant group banned by the government in 2002, has been claiming responsibility for the attacks against the Hazaras primarily due to the fact that they are Shias. Like the other outlawed militants groups, it has managed to operate and carry out attacks by selecting its targets at will.

Analysing the situation, a Hazara elder Air Commodore (Retd) Shaukat Hyder felt many hands were involved in the violence raging in Pakistan and directed at the Hazaras and others. He said the names of certain institutions were also mentioned, but it would be incorrect to do finger-pointing without evidence. “Nobody knows who is fighting whom and at whose behest in these battles of proxies. But we know that the Hazaras have been mercilessly killed and still there was no reaction by those with power to protect them. There was controlled deployment of the Frontier Corps and the police was helpless,” he argued. “Finally, the Hazaras decided to stage peaceful protest by putting up the bodies of their loved ones on the road in sub-zero temperatures. We showed patience and it paid off,” he opined.

Members of the Hazara community have risen to high positions, particularly in Pakistan’s armed forces. The most prominent was General Muhammad Musa Khan, who served as Chief of Army Staff from 1958-1966 and led the troops in the 1965 war against India under the overall command of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, who at the time was also President of Pakistan.

Musa was loyal to Ayub Khan as he continued to oversee the professional development of the army to enable the latter to concentrate on his politics without giving up his military uniform. Musa was a religious man and had left a will to be buried in Mashhad, the Iranian city sacred to the Shias as the burial place of their eighth Imam Reza. Musa’s body was taken to Mashshad and buried in the cemetery in the Imam Reza shrine complex. Incidentally, his grave is close to that of Raja Sahib Mahmoodabad, a freedom fighter against British colonial rule in India.

Musa’s son-in-law Air Marshal Sharbat Ali Changezi was another member of the Hazara ethnic group who occupied a high position in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Many other Hazaras served as officers in the armed forces and some are still in service. Saira Batool, one of the four female pilots inducted for the first time into PAF, is also an ethnic Hazara.

According to Air Commodore (Retd) Shaukat Hyder, three military officers of his Hazara community won the gallantry award, Sitara-i-Jurat, in the 1965 and 1971 wars along with many other lesser awards in recognition of their bravery on the battlefield. “In terms of numbers and keeping in view the population ratio, there are more Hazaras in Pakistan’s armed forces than any other ethnic group in Balochistan,” he added.

The Hazaras have also excelled in sports. In particular, they have done well in soccer, boxing, body-building and the martial arts. Air Marshal Sharbat Ali Changezi’s brother Shaukat Ali Changezi was a high class body-builder. Prior to him, another Hazara body-builder, Mohammad Ishaq Beg, was adjudged “Mr Pakistan” in the 1960s and was also able to compete and do well in the Asian championship. Qayyum Changezi, a popular footballer was the captain of Pakistan team for a number of years. There is a story how Qayyum Changezi as the full-back thwarted the Chinese players during a soccer match in China and some Chinese referred to him as Pakistan’s “Great Wall” in reference to the “Great Wall of China.”

The case of the late Safdar Ali Babal, also an ethnic Hazara, was unique as he played for both the national soccer and hockey teams. Boxer Ibrar Hussain Shah was well-known due to his prowess in the boxing ring but he was tragically gunned down in Quetta because he happened to be a Hazara.

Many other Hazaras have faced a similar fate. The killings have prompted the younger generation of Hazaras to migrate to the West and many have been risking their lives by attempting to reach countries liking Australia in ill-equipped boats. (CourtesyThe News on Sunday)


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