Review: “The Baloch and Balochistan: A Historical Account from the Beginning to the Fall of the Baloch State” – Naseer Dashti

Naseer Dashti’s “The Baloch and Balochistan: A Historical Account from the Beginning to the fall of the Baloch State” is an absolutely outstanding scholarly work not only on the Baloch people and Balochistan, but of the whole Middle East, South and Central Asia.

In the first part of the book, Dashti, who holds a Ph.D. in anthropology, traces the origin of the Baloch to the Aryan migrations between 2100-1800 BCE. He examines the linguistic, cultural, religious, and socio-economic evolution of the Baloch, from nomadic Zoroastrians to Sunni Muslim agriculturalists, and their migration/displacement/deportation under various empires (Persian, Parthian, Arab, Saka, Hephthalite, Sassanid, Ghaznavid, Greek, Mongol, Mughal, etc.) to present-day Balochistan.

Dashti then examines the rise of the first Baloch state, the Khanate of Kalat, from 1666 to its occupation by the British in 1839. Not only does Dashti provide a fantastic analysis of the rise and fall of the first Baloch state, the he also offers a fascinating history of some of the empires and historical figures Kalat had to contend with and how major historic events, such as the assassination of Nadar Shah in 1747, influenced internal and regional developments for Kalat.

Finally, the Dashti examines Kalat under British occupation, including how Kalat was thrusted into Britain’s ‘Great Game’ with tsarist Russia in Central Asia, how the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution inspired independent Balochi nationalism and anti-imperialism (a Baloch delegation participated in the Soviet-sponsored ‘Congress of the Peoples of the East’ in 1920), the short-lived independence of Kalat again in 1947 and its occupation by Pakistan in 1948.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone interested in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and anti-colonial liberation movements.

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