DIFFERENT TRIBES, THEIR CHARACTERISTICS
AND TRIBAL CULTURES
1. Historical Background of Tribal System. The history of tribal system is as old as of mankind. From the very beginning, individuals lived in different groups of their choice mainly for survival. These groups with the passage of time converted into different tribes and shifted to various parts of the world as suited to their requirements. Like many other parts of the world, Balochistan is known as the Land of Tribes since centuries. All the tribes are settled in different parts of the province having little variation in their culture and traditions. In few tribes, the tribal chief gets more importance like Bugtis and Marri tribes and in few, the tribe itself is more important like tribes of Pashtoons and Mekran areas.
2. Internal Dynamics of Balochistan. A large number of big and small communities with ethnic diversities live and influence the socio-political psyche and internal dynamics of the Province. The major communities are Pakhtoons, Brahvis and Balochis. The details about these ethnic groups are:-
a. Pakhtoons. They are 40% of the population and occupy about one fifth of the area in North and North Eastern parts of the Province.
b. Brahvis. They are 25% of the population and concentrated in Western and Central parts of the Province.
c. Baloch. They are 28% of the population and are mainly concentrated in Eastern and South Western parts of the Province.
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d. Remaining 7% are mostly Hazaras and other settlers.
3. Pakhtoon Tribes. Ref Annex A. The Pakhtoons are a dominant community in Balochistan in terms of education, economy and share in government services and have almost monopolized trade entirely. Even in the field of agriculture, the main produce of Balochistan comes from Pathan areas. Most of the professional fields like teaching, medicine and engineering are dominated by them. Different tribes, back ground, areas of influence and social characteristics of the Pakhtoon Tribes are as under:-
a. Kakars. Besides Quetta and Zhob they inhabit the Toba Kakari circle of Pishin, Musa Khel, Dukki and parts of Sibi District. They are divided into five clans namely Ahmed Khel, Sonzer Khel, Masezai, Essa Khel and Musa Khel. They are land owners, tenants, and shepherds. The approximate population of the tribe is 4, 50,213. Details are attached as Annex B.
b. Sheranis. The Sheranis (or Meranis) are perhaps the most uncivilized tribe on Dera Ismail Khan– Zhob border. They are not as cheerful and joyous as their neighbours (Mahsuds), who are very lazy. In appearance the Sheranis are ill-favoured, low- sized and wiry with high cheek bones. The tribe has the population about 75,712. Details of various sub tribes are attached as Annex C.
c. Achackzais. Owing to their connection by blood with a ruling family of Afghanistan (Abdali) and to their area of influence on Pakistan – Afghan Border, most of them live in Afghanistan. The Achackzais are politically one of the most important tribes of Balochistanis Pathans. The tribe consists of two main clans, the Badinzais and the Gunjanzais and occupies the North Western part of Balochistan i.e. Pishin, Chaman, Gulistan and partly Quetta. They mainly depend on smuggling across the border and maintain close ties in Afghanistan. The approximate population of the tribe is 1, 29,170. Various sub tribes are attached as Annex D.
d. Tareens. The Tareens are Saraban Afghans, the descendants of Sharif-ud-Din and has Spin Tareens and Tor Tareens as their sub tribes. The Spin Tareens were originally settled in Pishin but they migrated southwards to Sibi District, Sanjawi and Dukki Thesils of Loralai District. The Spin Tareens are mostly found in Dukki and Harnai and is a fine looking race resembling Baloch rather than Afghan. They are mostly shepherds and agriculturists and have population about 1, 53,912. Details are attached as Annex E.
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e. Lunis. The Lunis are descendants of Miani, living in close proximity of the Baloch tribes (Marris) and are often at loggerheads with them. They are mostly found in Dukki, Musa Khel and Barkhan. The majority of Lunis are engaged in farming. The approximate population of the tribe is 19, 425. Details are attached as Annex F.
f. Pannis. The Pannis were originally a nomad tribe of the Ghurghust Afghans. They are found mostly in Zhob, Qilla Saif Ullah and Loralai Districts. They are not aggressive both in their relations with government and their neighbours. The approximate population is about 15, 389. Details are attached as Annex G.
g. Ghilzais. The Ghilzais are not an indigenous tribe but migrated from Afghanistan and have settled in Zhob, Qila Saifullah and Loralai Districts. Their main clans in Loralai District are Nasir, Kharot, Mallakhel and Sulaimankhel. Details are attached as Annex H.
h. Dumars. Though Dumars are included among the Sanzar Khels but their claim to direct descendant is questioned. They are distributed over Bori and Sanjawi Tehsils of Loralai District. Their principle clans are Hassan Khel, Umarzai, and Rakhpel and total population is about 27, 718. Details are attached as Annex J.
j. Kasis or Kansis. Kasis belongs to the Saraban division of the Afghanistan. They migrated from Takht-i-Suleman in Central Asia to Sambi, a village in Kuchlakh and are mostly settled in Quetta. Though numerically insignificant, the Kasis came into prominence with the arrival of British in the Subcontinent. They are better educated however among other tribes their reputation of bravery, trustworthiness and generosity is said to be indifferent. Details are attached as Annex K.
k. Zarkuns. Zarkuns claim connection with the Pannis. They occupy Tehsil Dukki of the Loralai District and Kohlu Valley of the Sibi Division. Till as late as 1894, Zarkuns were the sole dwellers of Kohlu. The Marri ingress has now reached absolute majority and Zarkuns live as a minority in Kohlu. Zarkun have always been pro government and assisted the British against the Baloch. They remain loyal to the government till today but maintain no loyalty/affiliations towards any political party. The population of the tribe is about 36, 363. Details are attached as Annex L.
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l. Jaffars. The Jaffar is a small tribe in Musakhel owning lands along the borders of Dera Ghazi Khan. They are divided into four clans, the Khudrani , Balilani, Mohar and Umrani. The Jaffars are weak and innocuous against their powerful neighbours. Jaffars are very less in number. Details are attached as Annex M.
m. Zamarais. The Zamarais is a small tribe living in Musakhel District. Their habits are nomadic and most of them return to the Afghan highland for the summers, coming down to trade in the plains during winters. They are remarkably fine race of men superior to any other Afghan in physique, intelligence, adaptability and perseverance. They have no political affiliations and have less population as compared to other sub tribes of Pakhtoons. Details are attached as Annex N.
3. Characteristics of Pakhtoon Tribesmen
a. They are tall, robust, active and well formed.
b. Their complexion is ruddy and the beard is usually worn short along with their hairs.
c. Their general bearing is resolute and almost proud.
d. They are courageous as well as cruel, coarse and pitiless.
e. They speak a different dialect of Pashto than the Pathans of NWFP, which is also called Kandahari dialect.
f. They are industrious and hardworking people.
g. They are honest, upright and straight forward people.
j. Mainly they are followers of Sunni Sect and are staunch believers in the faith, exceedingly religious minded, occasionally to the extent of being fanatics.
k. They hardly fail to respond to the call of Jihad against unbelievers. They are kind in friendship but fierce in enmity.
l. They are good warriors and exceptional marksmen.
m. The tribesmen usually wear loose tunic, baggy drawers, a chadar or blanket, sandals and an overcoat with loose sleeves.
4. Tribal Cultural and Customs of Pakhtoons
a. The Pathans wear mostly Shalwar and Kameez with a waistcoat and the women are dressed up in dark colour clothes.
b. The Pathan culture is rich in music and dance and the most common dance is “Atan”.
c. Mostly relishes the “Rosh”, “Painda” and “Dampukh” food and Pathans are not prone to use vegetables.
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d. The most commonly used intoxicants by the Pathans are “Charis” and “Niswar”.
e. The Malik or Khan act as tribal chief and always help out their tribesmen during the needy times through all possible means.
f. The Malik or Khan are selected by the Local Jirga out of the most influential families of that specific area.
g. The number of male fighting members determines the strength of the tribes and the tribes are recognized likewise for their influences.
h. As compared to Balochis, the area of domination and strength of a Khan or Malik is much smaller with a relatively weak tribal holds.
j. The Pathans have special system of recreation on holy days in which male members participate in shooting; horse ridings and females enjoy singing, dances and music.
k. The weapon is integral part of the body of each Pathan and is considered inseparable from him regardless of the consequences.
l. Like Balochis, Levies force exists in Pakhtoon parts of Balochistan. In tribal areas of NWFP, the Khasadars exist as local law enforcing agencies. These agencies mostly act on the tribal voices rather than acting as state institution.
m. The Pathans observe “Navawati” tradition of solving their tribal differences. Through this way, the cases of all natures including murders are solved amicably amongst the tribes.
n. The Pathans also have Jirga System at the higher level and “Hujra” System at the local level to amicably solve their problems.
6. Brahvi Tribes. The derivation of the word Brahvi is obscure and some people believe it to be the corruption of the Persian word Ba Rohi, a Hillman. Brahvis can be divided in three major sub-groups. The Brahvi nucleus, the Jhalawan Brahvis and the Sarawan Brahvis. The Brahvi nucleus tribes include the Achmadzai, Gurguari, Iltazai, Kalandari, Kambrani, Mirwari, Rodeni, and Sumalari. The Achmadzai Tribe occupies the top of the social hierarchy among Brahvis, and is the tribe of the Khan of Kalat, but a Jhalawan tribe, the Mengels, have become the most powerful player in Balochistan politics.
a. Brahvi Tribal System. Brahvi tribe is based, primarily not upon agnate kinship like an Afghan tribe but upon common goods. Around a nucleus, several groups of diverse origin including Afghan, Baloch, Jat even sometime free slaves gathered together in time of emergency and ultimately became consolidated into a tribe. The process of admission to a tribe is easy and it could take the form of admission to kinship with the tribe. The tribe, locally called “Kom” is divided into a number of groups. The division or clans are called Takkar, their sub-division or sections are known as Shalver. They are excellent mountaineers and shoot well with their inferior weapons.
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b. Brahvi Tribes. The significant sub tribes of Brahvis are:-
1) Raisani. The Raisanis are the most influential among the Brahvi Tribes. The tribe is divided into Sarajzai, Rustamzai, Rahusainzai, Isiani, Mehrani, Pandrani and Suahizais sections. With the exception of Sardar Khels, Jogzai and Rustamzais who reside in Mithri, Rustamzais and Mungachar respectively, the main tribes live in Kahnak. The nucleus of the tribe originally came from the Spin Tarin Afghan of Ahmadun in the Sibi District. The Raisanis have the population about 5, 940. Details are attached as Annex O.
2) Muhammad Hasnis of Chagai. The Muhammad Hasni also known as Mamasanis are migratory and nomad people found in all parts of Chagai District from the Ras Koh to Sistan. They are also to be found in Kharan, Luristan and along the valley of the Helmand. With the exception of the Haruni who are engaged in agricultural pursuits in the Nushki Tehsil and the Mandozais who work as tenants in Chagai, the rest of the clans are pure nomads. The Mamasanis have the reputation among neighbours of being bad friends and bitter enemies.
3) Muhammad Hasnis of Kharan. A portion of Muhammad Hasnis Tribe lives in Kharan. This is a purely nomad tribe, moving from place to place in search of pasturage for their flock and camels. The Nausherwani have always had good relations with Muhammad Hasnis living in Kharan and support each other in their feuds with other tribes.
4) Muhammad Hasnis of Jhalawan. The Mamasanis are the most important tribe in Jhalawan. They are found scattered every where in the area and are famous for their bravery and notorious for being bad neighbours.Their numbers alone make them a most formidable tribe to deal with. They are mostly shepherds of nomadic habits. Their sub tribes such as Haruni, Mizarzai and Shahdadzai are settled in Surab. The overall population of Muhammad Hasnis is about 1,40,818.
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5) Mengals. There are two distinct tribes of this name in Balochistan, first being the Mengals of Jhalawan and second the Mengals of Nushki. The tribe, at present comprises of sub tribes namely Tuk-Shahizai, Pahlwanzai, Shahmanzai, Branzai, Mahmudzai, Mardoi, Sheikh and Lahris. The Headquarters of the Mengal tribe is at Wadh, where the Sardar resides and owns a small fort. The Mengals have always been at feud with their neighbours including Bizenjos, Jamots and Zehris. The approximate population of Mengals is 1,27,000. Details are attached as Annex AA.
6) Zehris. The Zehri Tribe has principal clans as Zarakzai, Khidrani, Jattak, Sasoli, Musiani, Bajoi and some other minor clans. Some of these clans, though sharing in the good and ill of the Zehris, may be regarded as forming practically independent units. The population of tribe is approximately 76,000.
7) Bizenjos. The Bizenjo Tribe comprises of four main clans i.e. Hammalari, the Tambrari, the Umrani and Siahpad. Each of these clans has a headman of its own, while the Hammalari Sardar is the Chief of the whole tribe. The Bizenjos occupy the area along the banks of the Hingol River from Nal to the Jau Valley. The Headquarters of Hammalaris clan, which is the dominant clan, is at Khyan in Nal. Details are attached as Annex BB.
7. Characteristics of Brahvi Tribesmen
a. A Brahvi is of middle size, frank and open, square built and sinewy, sharp face, high cheek bones, narrow eyes, thin and pointed nose.
b. Though active, hardy and roving; they are not comparable with a Baloch warrior.
c. Brahvis are said to be mean, parsimonious and avaricious and are exceedingly idle.
d. They can be predatory but not a pilferer, vindictive but not treacherous and generally free from religious bigotry.
e. Their extreme ignorance is proverbial in the country side, “If you have never seen ignorant hobgoblins and mountain-imps, come and look at Brahvis”.
f. They wear a short smock descending to the knees and fastening on the right shoulder with wide trousers often dyed black or brown.
8. Baloch Tribes. The Balochis are traditionally nomadic tribes which migrated from the area known as Aleppo in the Euphrates and Tigris River areas of Iraq. The Baloch were warlike and subsisted by armed forays into settled areas looting trade caravans plying between the cities of ancient Persia. The economy of the tribes was totally based on livestock, sheep, goats, camels and cattles. For this reason they continue to move from one area to another looking for the best pastoral lands, which brought them into constant conflict with the locals of the area where they migrated. Moreover their warlike behaviour has always led to destruction of local settlements. Major Baloch Tribes are as under:-
a. Marris. Marri is the largest Baloch Tribe occupying the hilly country (Kohlu Agency) to the East of Sibi. They are originally a confederacy of heterogeneous elements, many of them being outlaws and exiled from other tribes and are said to have originally migrated from Makran. They are turbulent and fanatical and are known for resisting any outside influence. They neither like to serve in a regular army nor do they accept any other service, except in local Levies. They are least religious minded, illiterate and primitive in life and have mostly been suppressed by the Sardars. Marris are known for hospitality, insolence, pride, over sensitiveness and good fighting abilities. The major sub tribes are Bijarani, Gazini and Loharani with their further division into sub-sub tribes and clans. The population of Marris is approximately 96,291. Details are attached as Annex CC.
b. Bugtis. The Bugtis generally resemble the Marris to whom they are hereditary foes. They are not religious minded and are normally illiterate and primitive in life. The tribesmen are generally under the extreme influence of their Sardars and depend upon cattle breeding and unskilled labour works in gas installations at Sui, Loti and Pirkoh. Unlike recent past, the Bugti Tribe has generally not been very hostile towards the government; the reasons for this may be attributed to better livings conditions and job opportunities. The Bugtis especially Akbar Bugti tribe, have mostly raised the issue of gas royalty and maintained an anti government stance whenever they were not in government. During the recent years, especially in 2005/06, Bugtis have resorted to the violence, bomb blast activities and attacks on the gas pipelines. The sub tribes are Rahija, Pahi, Mondrani, Kalpar and Masooris having further divisions into sub-sub tribes and clans. The Bugtis have the maximum population among all Baloch tribes. The approximate population is 2,58,556. Details are attached as Annex DD.
c. Rakhshanis. The tribe represents about twenty two percent of the total population of Nushki, Chagai and Jamaldini. The Rakhshanis is further divided into two sub tribes namely Badini and Jamaldini. Details are attached as Annex EE.
d. Nausherwanis. The Nausherwanis, though in minority are the dominant class of Kharan and some of their sub tribes/families also live in Kolwa, Panjgur in Makran areas. The tribe has the population about 25,118.
e. Rinds. Rinds constitute the most important division of Baloch race; their Persian name signifies turbulent, reckless and daring tribesmen and they occupy the Mand area in Makran. Askanis are the most significant clan of the Rinds in Makran and are at times termed as an independent tribe. The Rinds of Mand are a notorious race of outlaws and enjoy an unenviable reputation for treachery. Rinds are also found in the Sibi and Naseerabad Division and from here, many Rinds have migrated into Sind. Their important clans are the Jams, Khosas, Umranis and Lasharis. The approximate population of Rinds is 52,280. Details are attached as Annex FF.
f. Magsis. Magsis are also known as Lasharis and the whole tribe lives at Jhal and its neighborhood. All the clans are settled and are engaged in agriculture. Magsis have been the enemies of Rinds for generations and fighting has been taking place between the two tribes from time to time. The population of the tribe is about 75,000. Details are attached as Annex GG.
g. Jamalis. They chiefly live in Dera Murad Jamali and Jaffarbad Districts and are good farmers. Local tradition asserts that they originally came to the area with Mir Chakar Khan Rind. Jamalis have the population about 1,07,000. Details are attached as Annex HH.
9. Characteristics of Baloch Tribesmen
a. In his build, a Baloch is shorter, more spare and wiry. The face is large and oval with an aquiline nose.
b. The hair is worn long, usually are oily and curly.
c. They have a bold bearing, frank manners and are truthful.
d. A Baloch looks on courage as the highest virtue.
e. He considers hospitality as his sacred duty.
f. Balochis are expert riders and usually carry a sword / rifle, knife and shield.
g. Generally Balochis are not extremely religious in nature.
10. Other Tribes in Balochistan. These include a few indigenous and other tribes which have migrated from neighbouring Afghanistan and Iran. Most prominent are Lasis, Jamots, Loris, Gichkis and Meds with number of sub tribes. All these tribes are mostly living in the surroundings of the Lasbela and coastal areas. Apart from this, another prominent tribe is Hazaras, considerably well educated and civilized. A number of Hazaras are also serving in the Armed Forces and few have also risen to the highest ranks in the Army and Air Force.
11. Tribal Culture of Balochis
a. The tribesmen (not all) are truthful, honest, believe in social equality, exceptionally brave, hospitable and helpful.
b. Proud and conscious of their noble birth, the Balochis do not prefer to be married into an alien caste.
c. The Baloch wear a long shirt down to heels with waistcoat and Shalwar and a Pagri. Shal or Chadar which is a mark of distinction is used by elderly persons.
d. The tribal women mostly wear dark colour dresses which are exquisitely embroidered in front and on the sleeves.
e. The tribal areas have rich musical culture and their interest in music is of highest degree. Local dances on special occasions namely “Jhumar” is popular among men and women alike.
f. The Baloch is not prone to use vegetables, “Sajji” or roasted meat is the dish of Baloch hill tribes, especially Marris and Bugtis.
g. Use of drinks including liquor and intoxicants, especially Bhang, made from hemp-leaves, is common.
12. Tribal Traditions of Balochis
a. Bijjar. The concept envisages generating funds on the orders of Sardars through subscriptions and helping out the needy ones at different occasions like marriage, death, house construction, natural hazards and embankment of lands. Initially, the Sardars and his subordinate chiefs also received contributions under this system but later on it was institutionalized and the Sardars were helped regularly after every harvest.
b. Hawachk. It is help in the form of manual labour for the other tribesmen on the occasions of building a house, reaping of crops or to cultivate his land on reciprocal basis.
c. Hal Ahwal. The customs envisages exchanging the current news, by which a travelling Baloch is required to communicate the news to those whom he meet on his way. The recipient in his turn reports the news to the first person he meets and in this way all sorts of news are circulated amongst the tribesmen within a few days.
d. Distribution of Booty. Apart from the system of distributing the land and property on the basis of male population, there is a separate method for distribution of plundered goods. The foot-man, for instance, normally has one share; but if he has a weapon like a gun or sword and shield, his share is increased to one and half; and if has a horse in addition to weapons, he is given two shares.
e. Tribal Hospitality. A Baloch tribesman considers hospitality as a sacred duty and part of his religion. A tribesman’s door is open to all and even an enemy.
f. Tribal Recreations. Hunting of deer and wild animals, horse riding and target shooting is a popular occupation among the men.
g. Carriage of Weapons. Men of adult age must carry a sword; a leather shield studded with silver or brass; a dagger; a country made gun and a lance.
13. Crimes and Punishments System Amongst Tribesmen
a. In tribal society an offence against the individual such as theft or robbery is considered corporate offence against the entire tribe. This has been the cause of many tribal wars.
b. There are evidences of awarding punishment of tearing to pieces by horses and hanging especially amongst Balochis which were awarded to traitors and the enemy agents. Beheading was the common mode of inflicting the sentence.
c. A very peculiar personality trait has been witnessed in the criminal or offender that when apprehended, would never tell a lie even in the face of instant punishment. This is considered against the sense of honour and pride of the tribesmen.
d. Among the ancient Baloch, like other Aryan groups, the culprit had to prove his innocence by walking through the fire or putting his hands on a hot rod.
e. In most tribal cultures any child of less than ten years is usually considered incapable of guilt on the ground that he or she was too young to differentiate between right and wrong.
f. The home of any tribal elder is considered as a safe refuge and place of protection for all the offenders of law till the decision of the dispute is taken and accepted through the Jirga.
14. Rules of Honour Amongst the Tribesmen
a. To avenge blood.
b. To fight till death for a person who had taken refuge with him.
c. To pardon an offence on the intercession of women, of the offender’s family.
d. To refrain from killing a man who had entered the shrine of a Pir.
e. To cease fighting when a Mullah or a woman bearing the Holy Quran on his or her head intervened between the parties.
f. To punish an adulterer with death or by cutting off his ears and nose especially by Balochis.
15. Tribal Superstitions. The tribesmen are very superstitious people. Certain superstitions which exist in almost all tribes are as under:-
a. Tribesmen mostly believe that the rain or climate could be forecasted by keenly observing the stars.
b. Iron or anything made of iron such as sword, knife or dagger are considered to have an impact on Jinn or other evil forces. Mothers still never forget to have knife below a new born’s pillow.
c. A person ready for a journey or has just started it, if called from behind, is considered inauspicious. In this case he would discontinue his journey.
d. During military movements for attack on enemy if a hare or cat runs ahead of the lashkar or cross it, it was considered a bad day for the combat.
e. Primitive Balochis used to put some pot full of water in deserted place, especially on the mountains. It was believed that the water, if drunk by birds, would become sacred and if given to infants, they could understand the language of the birds.
f. A light bluish stone, “Perkoza” could help ward off evil eye. Yet another white stone was hung around the neck to heal tonsil infections. Similarly, onion was used for the treatment of jaundice.
g. Momendi, a liquid obtained from mountains is considered sacred. It was believed to be the best treatment for backache.
h. Among some tribes, women do not make new clothes on Tuesdays and believe that clothes prepared on this day would have short life