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Baluchistan Tribal System

The social organization of the Balochis is based on blood kinship. Different groups of people mostly descend from a common ancestor. Members of each group share common interests and liabilities. This has made clan organization the basis of Baloch society. Every sub-clan (paro) represents a family, and a few sub-clans or paros together constitute a clan. Several clans grouped together make a tribe (tuman).

Although Khans of Kalat introduced and developed the institution of army but as regards the recruitment of army men, there was no specific critarion. Every able-bodied tribesman was supposed to take up arms in an emergency. Major Pottinger in a visit to court of the Khan of Kalan in 1810, seeing a register reported Baloch armed strength to be 250,000 men.

Baloch people are patriarchal in nature. They pay a deference successively to their elders or headman, of the household (paro), tent or of the village, of the clan and of the tribe. These chiefs are the main custodian of the Baloch society. They are the martial administrator as well as judicial head. They enjoy distinct superiority over their fellows and are never challanged in their unlimited powers.

In this perspective of the Baloch society a chiefless tribe, if any, occupied in the lowest position devoid of any honor, safety and protection. The social tie among the members of one tribe implies unconditional sincerity to the members of clan fellow. The chief of a paro (sub-clan or family) is usually its eldest member and is known as Wadera. The chief of a clan known as Muqaddam or Tukkri is either nominated by the sardar (tribal chief) or is elected by the Waderas. However, this mostly use to be a hereditary institution and election or nomination is made from amongst the descendants of the former Mugaddam or Tukkri.

The tribal chief or "Sardar" is always hereditary and is mostly the eldest son of a deceased Sardar. However, if the eldest son is undeserving or disliked, election amongst other sons or brothers of the deceased can be made. This election is made by Tukkries or Mugaddams. Once the election or nomination has been made it is unanimously accepted by all and for ever. It had been very rare that people have revolted against sovereignty of their chiefs.

The tribal system has given rise to the institution of Jirga. Jirga or its equivalents "Punchayat" of India or "Baradari" of India and Punjab had been an essential part of all primitive societies. In this ancient institution, elites gather together and dispose of the disputes of people in accordance with the prevailing customs, keeping in view, the seriousness of the crime and the respective faults of the parties. The decisions handed down by the Jirga (mostly Sardars) are fully respected by all members of the society and are fully enforceable.

Disputes with another tribe have always been a common feature of all tribal societies. The offence committed by an individual is considered to be committed by whole of the tribe and the affected one is not an individual but the whole tribe. It is responsibility of the Sardar or Tukkri to take revenge, on behalf of the tribe, even though the chief himself or his family members may not be directly affected.

The history of Balochistan is full of inter-tribal feuds, conflicts and disputes. Mostly tribal conflicts give rise to wars. The war between Mir Chakar of Rind tribe and Mir Gohram of Lashari tribe was also of the same nature. Raman, son of Gohram and Rehan, a nephew of Mir Chakar went to a horse race. As per decision of some Rind elders, Rehan was declared winner; Raman Lashari was not satisfied with the decision and thus attacked the horses of Gohar, a lady who had sought refuge with Mir Chakar Khan Rind. This attack was taken as an attack on Rind tribe and Lashari tribe was attacked in revenge. This led to wars extending for thirty.years and costing thousands of lives. In the recent past, Marri and Bugti tribes fought for twenty years, costing hundred and thirty lives. Similarly Bugti and Jakhrani tribes, in a feud of thirty years, lost two hundred lives.

The inter-tribal disputes have given rise to the institution of "Mairh" or "Marka". Usually these feuds continue for years till either one party is completely destroyed or the party at fault realizes and accepts its crime. If crime is accepted, tribal elites of the accused side go to the elites of the other party to settle the issue. The elites of the other side either forgive them or impose a reasonable fine. The sending of tribal elites to the other party to settle an issue is known as Mairh. The importance of the institution of Mairh can be realized from the fact that twenty years long Marri-Bugti war was settled just in three days.

People of Balochistan have resisted enforcement of criminal procedure code or police administration, just because they feel a sense of security in this apparently backward system of Jirga and Mairh. Even by the mid-1990s, out of an area of 134,000 square miles, police system was applicable only to 220 square miles while rest of the Balochistan was ruled under the old system.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:02:32 ZULU