The Sardars of Balluchistan : Are they Balluch?

The Sardars of Balluchistan : Are they Balluch?

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Naveed Tajammal

In 1910a Scottish-American Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the ‘Steel Industry.’ He left a $10 million Endowment for international peace-which is the fore-runner of other Carnegie related ventures, However, whatever his intentions had been, and whatever the Endowment ended up creating  are two different aspects, The Carnegie Journalist program was launched in 1974,though with an outward image to anticipate ‘Near-Horizon’ problems, but, in reality it was to induct journalists from world over to create a hype and to keep a check on the Soviets (USSR) global moves. However, the area of influence expanded to include areas where the Americans wanted a hype created.

Hence started the ‘Awareness of the Baluchistan issue’. To quote one example only, Selig Harrison was appointed to Head the Journalistic programme & the first book” In Afghanistan’s Shadow, Baluch Nationalism & Soviet Temptations” published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace by Selig Harrison in 1981 .

The British legacy had left their created Sardars, who while retaining their feudalistic powers wanted to gain the political legitimacy as well. They followed the policy of what is mine is mine and what is yours( of the people of their tribes) is also mine! The royalties taken as concessions technically for the welfare of the people, within the tribal setups, but spent by the Sardars as their own bounty, while the poor people had no recourse but move in a exodus, from the regions, as is seen in the last over 100 years, to seek a living elsewhere.

The tribes of the Sindh Valley Basin have been in a constant state of movement for the last 1600 years or so. Natural calamities, plagues and wars took their toll. The transformation from one major tribal setup to another had been a question of survival.

The geographic boundaries which Pakistan was thrust with were legacy of our past rulers, though with reference to region under study its bulk area came affiliated with either old Alor or Multan Administrative boundaries, Even in the Jam Nizam ud din Nandah period,(1461-1508). In the west, till Bolan inclusive of the Kaachi Plains was the part of the throne of Sindh. As were the Tal-Chotiali, Chacha,and Barkhan regions, wherein come the present Mari and Bugti areas. It was in Akbar’s time that Qandhar province limits were extended till Duki. Rest being part of Multan Subah ,as was Bolan and Kaachi areas .

The areas were well populated and fertile, with Sareiki speaking people, when Naseer Khan Barrohi was given these areas in 1740, for the services rendered. He pushed out the old people and transplanted them with people of his own Confederacy, the Eastern passes of the Roh- e -Suleiman Range that  had been gateways of Trade, since Ancient Times, In the Mughal era with opening of Khyber pass, the majority of Trade routes suffered, the cause, being the Movements of Bayazids , Ansari, heretics and expansion of Safavid’s in the East.

This brings us to the most pertinent question : is the present head of Bugti tribe and its clans actually Baluchi ???

For that a study of the Notes on the Balluchi , Barrohi and the Sindhi tribes should suffice.

Immediately after the creation of Baluchistan entity by the British, the Government ordered that the data be made of the Ethnic composition of various tribes of the region and inter-related ones, all the Mukhtiars and Mahalkars, in the revenue departments of the districts concerned were ordered.

(Members of Bugti tribe chant slogans in favor of their demands during a protest demonstration at Karachi press club-PPi). Picture published:

The reports compiled was from the communications histories, manuscripts, and the popular oral accounts which also covered profession of various tribes, matrimonial and other related customs, were submitted to Dr. U. M. Daudpota, Member Sindh Public Service Commission, and published in 1901.

The excerpts of the report state (p-26/27),covering the Bugti tribe in January 1890,on the recommendation of Robert Sandeman; Shahbaz Khan was conferred with the title of a Nawab. He was also later given a large tract of land on the Jamrau Canal for rendering assistance during the outbreak of the HUR in 1896/1897.Here without going in the details of the 24 Sept or clans of Bugti Confederacy, the report states, that the Chief of the tribe is Nawab Shahbaz Khan Rahejo Bugti, son of Ghulam Murtaza Khan Rahejo Bugti, A popular account says that Rahejo or more commonly called Rahuja, are from the Major Sindhi tribal set up of the ‘Samma’,to which the great ancestor of the present Bugti Chief belonged and that by Association with the Baluchi’s and settlement in the old Bugti hills and streams his descendants became Bugti Baluch. If we study the Samma,tribal Sept’s/clans which number in all 766,we find Raheja, very much so part of their entity (pages-44 to 53,and for more details in minor off shoots, pages 89 to 97 ).

The writer has 28 years of experience in investigative historical research.

Yasmeen Ali

Pakistan to expose US, Indian interference in Balochistan

Islamabad—In a tit for tat, the government has started preparation for providing proof of US and Indian intervention in Balochistan to Parliamentary Committees and Parliament House after the introduction of a resolution in US Congress on Balochistan.

Highly reliable sources, said that the US has been active for a long time to encourage extremist elements for separation of Balochistan from Pakistan through India, which is active as a front man.

In order to avoid further tension in relations with US and India, the government in the past kept silence over the interference of the two countries in Balochistan and FATA but now it has decided to take the parliament into confidence with solid proof. For this purpose, special briefings would be held for the Parliamentary committees. It is also being considered to raise the issue of foreign intervention in Balochistan at different international forums.

The sources said the US encouraged India to strengthen its spy network in Afghanistan by facilitating the opening of Consulates close to Pakistani borders which in reality are the centres for intelligence agency “RAW”. Through these centres, RAW was openly extending financial and materialsupport to the anti-state elements. Some of the activities of these elements are also being financed by the US government.

The US has been pressing Pakistan for the opening of a consulate in Quetta and deployment of CIA staff there under the pretext that Washington needs to keep an eye on the so-called Taliban’s Quetta shoora. However, the government fully aware of the US intentions did not allow the opening of Consulate in Quetta.

The sources pointed out that when Shahzain Bugti, the grand son of late Nawab Akbar Bugti, was arrested by Frontier Constabulary in Quetta, he first of all contacted the US Embassy in Islamabad. They said it was a clear proof that the Americans were in league with separatist elements in Balochistan and providing them arms and finances for the attainment of their nefarious designs.—INP

Russian Oil Boom Ending Signals Lower Energy Tax That Risks Unrest: Energy

By Stephen Bierman

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister. Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

Lukoil Deputy CEO Fedun

Leonid Fedun, deputy chief executive officer of OAO Lukoil, said “the cream has been skimmed off the top.” Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Bloomberg

Russia’s 12-year oil boom is nearing its peak, forcing the next president to decide whether to cut taxes and revive production or use the windfall from $100 oil to boost public spending and quell mounting unrest.

As Vladimir Putin campaigns for a second stint in the Kremlin, the nation’s existing fields are losing pressure and oil companies OAO Rosneft, OAO Lukoil and TNK-BP (BP/) say production taxes give little incentive to invest. Since Putin first became president in 2000, crude output has grown 57 percent to 10 million barrels a day, surpassingSaudi Arabia and flooding the state treasury.

“The cream has been skimmed off the top,” said Leonid Fedun, the billionaire deputy chief executive officer of Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil company. “Further steps require taxes based on different principles,” or production will start falling within three years, he said.

Any cuts in the oil and gas industry’s 5.64 trillion rubles ($190 billion) in taxes mean less cash to combat the biggest anti-government protests since the 1990s. Deputy Energy Minister Sergey Kudryashov said Feb. 2 the need to strike a balance between revenue and oil output levels is one of the most difficult questions facing the state.

“Being the world’s largest energy producer keeps Russia at the top table of global politics, that’s why it is non- negotiable,” Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Moscow-based investment bank Troika Dialog, said in a phone interview. “While a lot of rhetoric will be about reform and diversification, maintaining oil output is so important that it doesn’t have to be stated.”

Opinion Polls

Putin, seeking a return to the presidency in March 4 elections, leads polls with about 55 percent voter support, according to a survey of 1,600 voters by the All-Russian Center for the Study ofPublic Opinion. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov polled 9 percent and Vladimir Zhirinovskyof the nationalist Liberal Democrat Party 8 percent.

The oil and gas industry accounted for almost 50 percent of the state’s income in 2011, and Rosneft’s tax bill last year ran to about half its $92 billion revenue.

Russia’s Soviet-era Siberian fields are maturing, and producers face eroding profitability related to the higher cost of maintaining output. Crude extraction in the Khanty Mansiysk region of western Siberia, which began in 1964 and now contributes roughly half of Russia’s oil, fell 1.7 percent in 2010, according to the regional government’s website.

Declining Prospects

The prospect of decline can be seen on the Moscow stock exchange. Rosneft, the state-controlled company that’s the biggest oil producer, dropped 17 percent in Moscow trading over the past year, a time when crude prices gained by 13 percent to about $120 a barrel.

The Moscow-based company was downgraded at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and Troika Dialog this year on concern capital spending is rising on fields and refineries as production stalls.

“We have difficulty finding catalysts for the stocks amid elevated capex levels,” analysts at Troika said. Lukoil slid 4.3 percent during the past year, while TNK-BP gained 3.2 percent.

Oil producers want tax breaks to boost returns from bringing new fields on line and spending on existing deposits. Rosneft has pushed for tax breaks before deciding to develop the Yurubcheno-Takhomskogo site in East Siberia. OAO Gazprom (GAZP) Neft, the oil arm of the world’s largest gas producer, has threatened to slow work on three remote fields because of taxes.

Without tax holidays five years ago Russia would already be in decline, Lukoil’s Fedun said.

Oil Funds

Russia used windfall revenue to build two oil funds to more than $225 billion in December 2008, cash Putin used to bail out the banking industry during the global credit crunch and fund deficits that grew from increased spending on weapons, pensions and railways.

Putin, who wants a return to the presidency after four years as prime minister, is unlikely to receive a second oil windfall. Reserves in the two funds dropped to $150 billion at the end of January.

“Two to three percentage points of our annual growth used to come from the oil and gas sector,” then Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said during a meeting with members of Putin’s All- Russia People’s Front in June. “That’s just gone now.”

Russia’s strategy to keep output above 10 million barrels a day for the next decade will initially depend on its ability to increase the amount recovered from existing fields, Kudryashov said. No major projects are scheduled to come on stream in the next four to five years, he said.

Pinning Hopes

After that, Russia is pinning its hopes on the development of untapped deposits in eastern Siberia and the Arctic. The state will create a special regime for its offshore deposits, Kudryashov said.

Reductions in tax rates on crude exports, introduced last year, which increased profitability of mature deposits, have helped. Producers’ ability to slow decline rates at older fields underpinned Russia’s surprise record output last year, Troika Dialog wrote in research on Jan. 10. The bank expects the trend to continue and forecasts marginal output growth this year to 10.4 million barrels a day.

It may be difficult for companies to sustain this without accelerating developments, said Alexei Kokin, an analyst at Uralsib Financial Corp. said.

Forecasts for a plateau in oil production around current levels for the next decade “may be a bit optimistic,” said Kokin. “All the risks are to the downside.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Bierman in Moscow

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at

New game on West Asian chessboard

New game on West Asian chessboard


For India, whose stakes are high not just in Syria but the entire region, the time has come to demonstrate a new form of non-alignment, between Saudi Arabia and Iran

In an article published in The Hindu titled “Syria, slow descent into chaos,” (November 19, 2011), I wrote about the danger of Syria being slowly engulfed in a civil war. By now, the civil war is well set.

Two facts are evident in the situation in Syria. The “international community” is determined to topple Bashar Al Assad’s regime, and there is heavy and undisguised involvement of external forces, with active encouragement and assistance including financing and arming of anti-regime elements. There are reports of Libyan fighters having been brought to join the dissidents in Syria. The Al Assad regime — the father and the son — has been a thorn in the side of some countries, especially Israel — and hence America — because of its alliance with Iran and resultant backing of the Hezbollah, its alleged role in the assassination of pro-West Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Hariri in 2005, its initial alleged support of the Baathists in Iraq, as well as its continuing alliance with Russia. (Did the Cold War never really end or has it revived?) Saudi Arabia, which has never been comfortable with Syria because of its tendency to follow an “independent” line, was particularly upset with Bashar following the murder of Hariri, who was a protégé of the Saudi ruling family. Given Saudi domination in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it is logical for this group also to be opposed to Syria.

The Turkey factor

When the United States, major European countries and nearly all Arab states, the largest repositories of crude oil, combine against him, what chance does Bashar have? How long can he hold out? The Russians and Chinese can perhaps help in preventing sanctions being imposed on Syria in the Security Council, and Russia can give Assad more weapons because they have their own interests in the Middle East, not least being the Syrian port of Tartous on the Mediterranean. But once the dissidents in Syria manage to seize control over some territory anywhere in the country, the external involvement will become decisive in tilting the scales against Bashar, as happened in Libya. In addition to acquiring a foothold in some parts of Syria, the opposition would also need to put together a coalition of their own so that foreign aid can be channelled to them — again on the lines of what happened in Libya. Once the objective of getting rid of the regime is achieved, the opposition can go back to squabbling among themselves, once again like in Libya.

What we are witnessing in relation to Syria is a manifestation of the great game in the Middle East, namely the Shia-Sunni hostility which translates largely into Iran-Saudi Arabia rivalry, but in some respects it transcends that. Turkey, for example, cannot be on the side of Saudi Arabia in so far as the competition for dominance in the region is concerned because Turkey has its own ambitions in this regard. Turkey has joined — in fact it is the major regional power in the anti-Assad coalition — because of several reasons, the anti-Shia campaign, the Syrian support for PKK, the banned Kurdish party in Turkey and Syria’s lack of gratitude for Turkey’s good offices for hosting the negotiations with Israel.

It may be recalled that a few years ago, the U.S. had encouraged the formation of a coalition of moderate Sunni states in confrontation with Iran. There are reports of the Sunnis in Iraq readying themselves to go to the aid of their fellow Sunnis in Syria. Al-Qaeda is waiting in the wings to acquire one more base in the region which ought to give considerable discomfort to the monarchy in Jordan.

Support for Assad

There are a few factors working for Bashar Al Assad also. He continues to enjoy popular support in the country. Forty per cent of Syria’s population consists of minorities of different kinds, all of whom are united in not wanting a hard-line Sunni establishment taking over power in the country. The army, which is largely Sunni though the officer corps consists mainly of Alawites, is by and large, still loyal to the regime. The number of defectors is most likely exaggerated in the western media. And then there is diplomatic and limited military support from Russia. He can also count on the strong support of Iran which itself has a huge stake in Bashar’s survival, but it is not clear how helpful Iran’s support means in practical terms. He can also perhaps enlist the Hezbollah on his side to make life a bit difficult for Israel, but the same may not be true of Hamas whose leadership is making its own calculations on the advisability of continuing to put all its eggs in the Assad basket. Bashar also presumably continues to have enough leverage to destabilise Lebanon, and not only through the Hezbollah. On the whole, however, the odds are stacked against Bashar. His capacity to fight the combined onslaught is not unlimited; his finances are dwindling just as those of his opponents are increasing and will increase even more, and his diplomatic supporters might not stand by his side for too long depending on what other pieces come into play on the international chess board,

One more fact is certain. Bashar Al Assad is not going to give up, because the stake for him is nothing short of his life. Bashar could hold out for much longer than expected. Once again the analogy of Libya comes to mind. This means prolonged civil conflict which will take the lives of thousands. That region is not unfamiliar to civil war, Lebanon having endured 14 years of a bloodbath among its various confessions. If he concludes that the army will always remain with him, he will decide to fight it out, but that cannot last too long because of diminishing coffers, etc. Will he then seek refuge abroad?

Russia’s last ditch effort to bring all Syrians parties together around a negotiating table reminds one of the desperate attempt to stall the first Gulf War in 1991 when Primakov, a former Prime Minister and the best Soviet expert on Arab affairs and a friend of Saddam, tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Saddam Hussein to make some compromise gesture. The present effort also is not likely to succeed, first because the opposition is divided and second because the opposition has much more to gain by not cooperating with Russia and remaining on the side of the U.S. and the rich Gulf states. What can Russia offer to the dissidents? The other side can offer a great deal. Further, Bashar has made it difficult for those who might wish to help him for their own reasons by failing to carry out reforms which he has had ample time to implement since succeeding his father a decade ago. Since the principal though indirect target of the anti-Assad movement is Iran, there is almost no chance of the Russian effort succeeding. Similarly, the difficulty with the Arab League idea of a U.N. peacekeeping operation is that it presupposes existence of peace or ceasefire which peacekeepers can keep or maintain. However unpalatable and deplorable, there may be no alternative to the civil conflict playing itself out until the bitter end.

The Arab Spring

The brief history of the phenomenon which goes by the dubious name of “Arab Spring” has established a clear trend. Every successive country involved in this development has witnessed increasing levels of violence. Tunisia’s was the least violent revolution. Egypt has suffered many more casualties than Tunisia. In Libya, hundreds and possibly thousands have died, in Yemen even more. The Syrian revolution, if it can be called that, has cost thousands of lives on both sides — it is essential to emphasise this point, the number of dead on the government side is not much smaller than on the opposition side — and will surely claim thousands more.

Muslim Brotherhood is the only party, besides the official Ba’ath party, with a reasonable base in Syria and will almost certainly be the largest beneficiary should the Assad government fall at some time. It is reported to be receiving large-scale help from some affluent Sunni governments. This ought to be a cause for concern for Israel, Jordan, Iraq and the West in general. However, for Israel, the highest priority is to isolate and weaken Iran; Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists can be dealt with later. It should be stated that Israel has every justification for its total hostility towards Iran, given some of the anti-Israeli statements of its leadership.

For India, the stakes are high, not so much in Syria by itself but in the whole region, especially the sub-region of the Gulf. As was mentioned by this writer in an article entitled: “The new great game” (The Hindu, April 28, 2011), India might have to practise a new form of non-alignment or dual alignment between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The time for this has come. Continued instability in Syria might make the region unstable, affecting the production and export of oil, and, most importantly, the situation of the six-million Indian diaspora working in the region. India’s vote in favour of the resolution which was vetoed by Russia and China on February 4 should not be seen as “no longer sitting on the fence”; rather, it was, one likes to think, a demonstration of our readiness to adapt our positions to changed circumstances. Consistency is not a virtue in international relations. It is quite possible that future challenges might produce yet different responses.

(The writer served as India’s special envoy for the Middle East and is a former U.N. Under Secretary General.)