History Professor, University of Balochistan
Interview by Karlos Zurutuza
Nov 3, 2009
between the clans have disappeared; today our people
are united in the fight against the state.”
All those interested in the history
of the Baloch people should read “Baloch
Nationalism, its origin and development” (RBC, 2004)*
by professor Taj Mohammad Breseeg. Born in Chabahar (West
Baluchistan), today Dr. Breseeg teaches History at the
University of Balochistan, Quetta (East Baluchistan),
after several years of working at the University of Uppsala
in Sweden. Both his life trajectory and his work
in the field of research give him a unique perspective
on his people. He shares a bit of it with us in the following
What is the general situation in Tehran-controlled Balochistan?
National minorities like the Kurds, the Turks, the
Baluch...not only are not represented in the Persian
state, but also suffer a constant assimilation by the
Persian nationalism. Added to the terrible repression
our people have to suffer, Iran has replaced the original
Baloch toponymy and has also included historic Baluch
areas within the border regions of Kerman and Khorasan.
West Balochistan is the paradigm of brutal assimilation.
Can the situation be extrapolated to Pakistan?
No doubt. Replace previous minorities by Sindhis, Pashtuns
and Baluch, and you can also talk of a 'Punjabi nationalism.'
However, the Baluch in Pakistan have a provincial government
and some political recognition. In Iran, however, no
Baluch party is legal. Apartheid in Iran is comparatively
higher because Shiism is the only official religion.
What about North Balochistan?
Afghan Baluch live mainly in the provinces of Helmand
and Nimruz, two areas hard-hit by the war. Their
first and main handicap is their low numbers. However,
they have recognition in the Afghan Constitution:
the Baluch have a regional language category and
there is even a minister in the government,
The Baluch are not only divided by three states
but also suffer the consequences of living in a distinctly
tribal society. What are then the unitary traits
of your people?
We have a language and a common history in the
region, as old as the Punjabi or the Persian. The tribal
system is more powerful in Pakistan and is a direct
manifestation in both local government and in the various
armed organizations. Iran is a more prosperous, more
developed state, therefore tribes have little real
power in the Persian society. In any case, the antagonisms
between the clans have disappeared, and today our people
are united in the fight against the state.
The Baloch resistance
movements are active on both sides of the border.
However, they seem to have different agendas…
All of them are fighting against a totalitarian state,
call it Iran or Pakistan. However, there are big differences
between the armed movements. The resistance in East Baluchistan
is a secular and leftist movement which struggles for
total independence of Baluchistan whereas in the west,
the People's Liberation Army of Iran (formerly 'Jundallah')
has a strong Sunni ideology and seeks greater degree
of autonomy as well as recognition of national rights,
but without breaking the rule of Iran.
Note: Prof. Taj Mohammad Breseeg is also the author of “Standarization of the Balochi language” (in farsi)
Karlos Zurutuza is a freelance correspondent and writes
in Basque, Spanish and English. His work has been published
in several newspapers and magazines.
antagonisms between the clans have disappeared; today
our people are united in
the fight against
Professor Taj Muhammad Breseeg
photo by Karlos Zurutuza