It would be difficult to match the stately dignity and imposing presence of a Baluch chief of the Marri or Bugti clans. His Semitic features are those of the Bedouin and he carries himself as straight and as loftily as any Arab gentleman. Frank and open in his manners, fairly truthful, faithful to his word, temperate and enduring, and looking upon courage as the highest virtue, the true Baluch of the Derajat is a pleasant man to have dealings with. As a revenue payer he is not so satisfactory, his want of industry and the pride which looks upon manual labour as degrading making him but a poor husbandman. He is an expert rider; horse-racing is his national amusement, and the Baluch breed of horses is celebrated throughout northern India. Like the Pathan he is a bandit by tradition and descent and makes a first-rate fighting man, but he rarely enlists in the Indian army. He is nominally a Mahommedan, but is neglectful of the practices of his religion. The relations of the modern Baluch with the government of India were entirely transformed by the life work of Sir Robert Sandeman. (q.v.).
The strategical position of Great Britain in Baluchistan is a Strategic interest. very important factor in the problem of maintaining order and good administration in the country. The ever-restless Pathan tribes of the Suliman hills are held in check by the occupation of the Zhob valley; whilst the central dominant position at Quetta safeguards the peace and security of Kalat, and of the wildest of the Baluch hills occupied by the Marris and Bugtis, no less than it bars the way to an advance upon India by way of Kandahar. Nominally all the provinces and districts of Baluchistan, with the exception of the ceded territory which we call British Baluchistan, are under the khan of Kalat, and all chiefs acknowledge him as their suzerain. But it may be doubted if this suzerainty was ever complete, or could be maintained at all but for the assistance of the British government. The Baluch is still essentially a robber and a raider (a trait which is common to all tribes), and the history of Baluchistan is nothing but a story of successful robberies, of lawless rapine and bloodshed, for which plunder and devastation were accounted a worthy and honourable return.
Extensive changes have taken place in the climatic condition of Climate. the country - changes which are some of them so recent as to be noted by surveyors who have found the remains of forests in districts now entirely desiccated. Possibly the ordinary processes of denudation and erosion, acting on those recent deposits which overlie the harder beds of the older series, may have much to say to these climatic changes, and the wanton destruction of forests may have assisted the efforts of nature; but it is difficult to understand the widespread desiccation of large areas of the Baluch highlands, where evidences of Arab irrigation works and of cultivation still attest to a once flourishing agricultural condition, without appealing to more rapidly destructive principles for the change. There is ample proof throughout the country of alterations of level within recent geologic periods; and there have even been compressions, resulting in a relative rise of the ground, over the crests of anticlinal folds, within historic record. "Proof that this compression is still going on was given on 20th December 1892, when a severe earthquake resulted from the sudden yielding of the earth's crust along what appears to be an old line of fault, west of the Kawaja Amran range, whereby an adjustment took place indicated by a shortening of some 2&FRAC12; ft. on the railway line which crossed the fault." Nor should the evidences of active volcanic agency afforded by the mud volcanoes of the coast be overlooked.
It is probably to climatic changes (whatever their origin may have been), rather than to the effects of tribal disturbances, that the Arab's disappearance from the field of trade and agriculture must be attributed.
The total area of Baluchistan is 132,315 sq. m. and its population Population. in 1901 was 914,551. The population is largely nomadic. The fact that so many as 15,000 camels have been counted in the Bolan Pass during one month of the annual Brahui migration indicates the dimensions which the movement assumes. The religion of the country is so overwhelmingly Mahommedan that out of every 100,000 inhabitants 94,403 are Mussulman, and only 4706 Hindus, while the balance is made up by Christians, Sikhs and other denominations. Out of the total number 280 in the thousand are literates. The chief languages spoken are vernaculars of Baluchistan, Pushtu, Panjabi, Urdu and Sindhi, The Baluchi language belongs to the Iranian branch of the Aryan subfamily of the Indo-European family. It is divided into two main dialects which are so different that speakers of the one are almost unintelligible to speakers of the other. These two dialects are separated by the belt of Brahui and Sindhi speakers who occupy the Sarawan and Jalawan hills, and Las Bela. Owing probably to the fact that Makran was for many generations under the rule of the Persian kings, the Baluchi spoken on the west of the province, which is also called Makrani, is more largely impregnated with Persian words and expressions than the Eastern dialect.
In the latter the words in use for common objects and acts are nearly all pure Baluchi, the remainder of the language being borrowed from Persian, Sindhi and Panjabi. There is no indigenous literature, but many specimens of poetry exist in which heroes and brave deeds are commemorated, and a good many of these have been collected from time to time. The philological classification of the Brahui dialect has been much disputed, but the latest enquiries, conducted by Dr G. A. Grierson, have resulted in his placing it among the Dravidian languages. It is remarkable to find in Baluchistan a Dravidian tongue, surrounded on all sides by Aryan languages, and with the next nearest branch of the same family located so far away as the Gond hills of central India. Brahui has no literature of its own, and such knowledge as we possess of it is due to European scholars, such as Bellew, Trumpp and Caldwell. Numerically the Brahuis are the strongest race in Baluchistan. They number nearly 300,000 souls. Next to them and numbering nearly 200,000 are Pathans. After this there is a drop to 80,000 mixed Baluchis and less than 40,000 Lasis (Lumris) of Las Bela. There are thirteen indigenous tribes of Pathan origin, of which the Kakars (q.v.) are by far the most important, numbering more than 100,000 souls.
They are to be found in the largest numbers in Zhob, Quetta, Pishin and Thal-Chotiali, but there are a few of them in Kalat and Chagai also. The most important Baluch tribes are the Marris, the Bughtis, the Boledis, the Domkis, the Magassis and the Rinds. Owing partly to the tribal system, and partly to the levelling effect of Islam, nothing similar to the Brahmanical system of social precedent is to be found in Baluchistan.