Balochhal: The First online Baloch English newspaper

I am very glad to announce the launching of the first online Baloch newspaper in English language.

The Balochhal will bring a Baloch perspective to its readers on different issues. The online newspaper will objectively report from Balochistan, offer candid opinion, in-depth analyses, revealing interviews, investigative reports and fresh photographs.

The picture from Balochistan is too large to cover. The eyes of the whole world are currently focused on Balochistan which is, at the same time, one of the most underreported regions in the world. The need for Balochhal was desperately felt in the wake of an increasing demand for news and information from Balochistan.

The Balochhal, which is a Balochi word for Baloch news, intends to bring the news from Balochistan as it happens. We are a team of young media professionals without biases towards any religion or political ideology. Ours is a liberal and secular policy under which we will provide equal coverage to all stakeholders in Balochistan.

I know the site still looks very chaotic at the moment. Worse still, it appears to be a one-man show. I am sure we will overcome our shortcomings very soon and manage to operate like a regular online newspaper. Firstly, we waited to get all facilities — the money, a big office, experienced English language journalists, a network of bureau offices, stringers and correspondents in all district headquarters —before starting. Then I realized that I was not being very realistic. After all, I am working in Pakistan’s poorest province where people are striving to get clean drinking water and basic education. Therefore, it was unreasonable to expect the people of Balochistan to give up their “priorities” (search for water and education, among many others) and come to help us.

Thus, my team reached to the conclusion that no matter what circumstances prevail in Balochistan, we desperately needed an online newspaper. Until we put something to the people, people will not move forward to cooperate. The only answer we will probably get from them is, “you carry on, we are always with you.”

I hope my people will help to make this newspaper a success.

18 Responses to “Balochhal: The First online Baloch English newspaper”
  1. Baloch says:


    Let us know how we can help.

  2. Mr. Khosa says:

    What kind of cooperation, sir?

  3. Wasay Baloch says:

    I went through the website “The Baloch Hal”, and found it amazing beyond my imaginations. Sir; you are playing a significant role by establishing an online newspaper for oppressed Baloch Nation. The newspaper appears to become a milestone in highlighting Balochistan’s issues in a proper manner. Baloch Nation direly needs a platform which could present its miseries and backwardness, committed by successive rulers of Pakistan, to world community. I am 101 % sure that your efforts will yield fruits and encourage Baloch Nation to write down issues and problems of their respective areas.

  4. Zakol says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH SIRAJ JAN!. I am so glad that my brothers have taken a step. I always wanted an online news website from Baloch prespective, written by the Baloch people themselves. I was sick of information where intellectuals from other part of country tried to convey their perspective about Baluch issue, I always wanted to know how it’s really felt from within ourselves. Thanks again! It’s a great initiative, I am very glad you guys have put it into work. I’ll be glad to donate whatever I can regularly, if possible, for the prosperity of this project. Please let me know. Thank You so much! baaz baaz minnat waaran! Sarbaaz ba mey ganjey Baluchistan!

  5. Aftab Baloch says:

    Dearest malik siraj akbar,
    i really appreciate this effort of u on behalf of my all friends and i am quite hopeful that the FIRST ONLINE BALOCHI ENGLISH NEWS PAPER “THEBALOCHHAL’ would prove to be a major break throw in awkening the baloch nation as we can see that all other balochi sites ate restricted to be accessed.

  6. baloch says:

    siraj u have taken a golden step, i hope u will complete ur this step. there should be a corner for youths.

  7. Kabir Baloch says:

    salamalykum dear sir,
    it is really a remarkable and creditable work you are doing in balochistan, providing us such vast informations in english online for the first time, your efforts are really comendable may Allah give u strenth and his assistance to u to do alot more. i am proud to be one of your students still i am learning from u here abroad and despite being much busy i ready ur online articles. it is really estimable and thank u very much. may Allah bless u.

  8. BROHI says:

    Aslam Alaikum ,,
    Realy I Appreciate you Mr Malik Siraj , M glad to read baloch news, getting informations about Balochistan Sitution , We Baloch can share our ideas, perspectives, GOD will accept your Hard Working and sucsess in your path , (Ameen) ,

  9. i love u balochistan my hart and my life i love u balochistannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
    gulahmed baloch malir city karachi

  10. ——————————————————————————–

    bras o goharan man salama goshan be shoma wa ye abarana pa dard dely lekkin(nebisin)
    sarhadde molkey balocheyn mardom baaz sha sawata pada ant wa tanga lahteyn shawan swatey arzesha nazanant wa zabreyn daneshgah cho zahedane daneshga ha baloch bazz kamm o beydarant ammey shahrey jwaneyn collge baloch kam daranto sha darsi o sabakkyen emkanatan yed…

  11. Balochi is spoken in south-western Pakistan, south-eastern Iran, southern Afghanistan, the Gulf States and Turkmenistan. There are also communities of Baloch in East Africa and India, as well as in several countries of the West, e.g. Great Britain and the USA. It is very hard to estimate the total number of speakers of Balochi, especially since central governments do not generally stress ethnic identity in census reports, but statistics available give at hand that at least between five and eight million Baloch speak the language. Linguistically Balochi belongs to the western group of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages, and is closely related to Kurdish and Persian.
    The main dialect split is that between eastern, southern and western dialects. Eastern Balochi dialects are spoken in border areas to Indian languages in Punjab, Sind, and the north eastern parts of Pakistani Balochistan, and are heavily influenced by Indian languages, e.g. Sindhi and Lahnda. Southern Balochi is spoken in the southern areas of the Balochi speaking parts of Iran and Pakistan, including Karachi, as well as in the Gulf States. Western Balochi is spoken in the northern Balochi speaking area in Iran and Pakistan (except in the north east), in Afghanistan and in Turkmenistan.
    The Balochi language is a north-west Iranian language but is nowadays spoken in the south eastern corner of the Iranian linguistic area. According to the epic tradition of the Baloch themselves, they are of Arabic origin and migrated from Aleppo in Syria after the battle of Karbala, where, despite being mainly Sunni Muslims, they fought on the side of the Shi’a Muslim imam and martyr Hussein. Even if these legends must be seriously questioned they may at least carry some truth in them. It is possible that the original home of the Baloch was somewhere in the central Caspian region, and that they then migrated south-eastwards under pressure from Turkic peoples invading the Iranian plateau from Central Asia. It is also possible that tribes and groups of various ethnic origin, including Indo-European, Semitic, Dravidic, Turkic, and others have been incorporated into the very heterogeneous ethnic group known as the Baloch.
    The Balochi language has long been regarded as a dialect of Persian, and has not until recently been used as a written language. Balochi possesses, however, a rich oral literature of both poetry and prose. As a written language Balochi can be divided into two periods, the colonial period with British rule in India, and the period after the Independence of Pakistan. During the first period most of the existing written literature was produced as a result of British influence. The literature of this time on and in Balochi consists of grammar books and collections of oral poetry and tales, compiled in order to provide samples of the language and to make it possible for British military and civil officials to learn Balochi.
    With the withdrawal of the British and the Independence of Pakistan in 1947, the Baloch themselved became increasingly concerned with the development of their language. Baloch poets, who had previously composed in Persian and Urdu started to write poetry in their mother tongue. Literary circles were founded and publication of magazines and books in Balochi got underway. This use of Balochi as a written language has mainly been limited to Pakistan, where Quetta and Karachi soon developed into the two main centres of Balochi literary activities. In Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the Gulf States Balochi is still basically an oral language, despite sporadic attempts at writing and publication.
    Balochi, thus, has a very short tradition of writing. The works written in the 19th and early 20th centuries by Englishmen are in Roman script. The orthography used today by the Baloch in Pakistan is based on the Arabic script with Persian-Urdu conventions. There is no standard written language, and therefore no fixed alphabet. Depending on which dialect is written the number of letters in a proposed alphabet may vary. The complete Arabic alphabet has, however, been adopted for Persian/Urdu and thereby also for Balochi, and Arabic loanwords in Balochi are generally spelled in accordance with their spelling in Arabic. This leads to overrepresentation of consonant phonemes. Vowel phonemes are, on the contrary, not fully represented.
    Balochi was more widely spoken in the 19th and early 20th centuries than nowadays. Especially in Punjab and Sind there are today many people who recognize themselves as Baloch but speak Indian languages. There are also Baloch both in the Gulf States and in East Africa who have switched over from speaking Balochi to speaking (and writing) Arabic and Swahili respectively. On the other hand, several Brahui tribes, both in Iran and Pakistan have switched over from speaking Brahui to speaking Balochi.
    Education in the Balochi speaking areas is invariably in a second language, namely in Urdu/English (Pakistan), Persian (Iran and Afghanistan – if there is any education at all in present-day Afghanistan), Arabic (the Gulf States) and Turkmen/Russian (Turkmenistan). This means that Balochi is used only in certain language domains, and by most of its speakers only as a spoken, not as a written language. It also happens that e.g. Baloch from Iran use Persian among themselves for discussing subjects such as science or politics, which are taught in school or acquired through reading books in Persian and other languages. Balochi is thus a language mainly of the home and the local community. In education, administration, and in urban areas, often also at work, other languages are used.
    Baloch are also to be found in the Iranian diaspora after the Islamic Revolution. Thus, a limited number of mainly well educated Baloch live in several European countries, the USA, Canada and other countries where Iranians have taken refuge.
    Balochi is surrounded by languages belonging to at least five language families. In the Balochi mainland it meets other Iranian languages, Persian (Farsi and Dari) in the west and north-west, and Pashto in the north and north-east, as well as Indian languages, e.g. Punjabi, Lahnda and Sindhi in the north-east and east. All these languages belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European languages. In the Gulf States Balochi stands in contact with Arabic (Semitic) and in East Africa with Bantu languages (e.g. Swahili). In the central parts of Pakistani Balochistan the Dravidian language Brahui has lived in symbiosis with and been dominated by Balochi for centuries, and in Turkmenistan Balochi meets the Turkic language Turkmen. In the diaspora in Europe and North America, Balochi meets new languages, mainly of the Indo-European family.
    Balochi is not an official language, i.e. not a language of education and/or administration in any of the countries where it is spoken. Efforts to preserve and promote the language are therefore mainly initiatives taken by individuals lacking the authority that official decisions would have been invested with. This can easily be seen e.g. in the lack of a standard written norm for the language.
    However, a number of educated Baloch, mainly in Pakistan, have since the 1950s actively attempted to preserve their language, creating a literature in it, and promoting it as a literary vehicle and in the area of education. Quetta and Karachi are the main centres of these activities. There is a Balochi Academy in Quetta, founded in 1961, receiving some financial support from the Government. Its most important literary activities are publication of books, mainly in Balochi, and arranging literary meetings. There are also other “Academies”, publishing houses and individuals active in these fields. A number of periodicals have been published in Balochi for a shorter or longer period of time. Some of the Baloch in the diaspora are also concerned with the preservation and promotion of Balochi, publishing magazines and arranging literacy classes, cultural evenings etc.
    There have been some attempts at starting primary education in Balochi. In 1991 a state programme for mother tongue education in the Province of Balochistan, Pakistan, was established, but it did not carry on for long, neither did it result in any official decision on matters of language standardization. Private initiatives have also been taken to teach Balochi, especially in the main Baloch residential area of Karachi, Lyari. It is also possible to study Balochi for an M. A. degree at the University of Balochistan, Quetta.
    The issue of a Latin based script for Balochi was very fervently discussed among young Baloch intellectuals especially in the 1960s and early 1970s. There was also a considerable number of neologisms coined during this period for new phenomena in society and to replace loanwords.
    In the present volume different aspects of the Balochi language and its role in society are treated. Josef Elfenbein describes a self-lived process of trying to work out a Latin based script for Balochi in the 1960s and 70s. The issue of script is also addressed by Serge Axenov, who describes the different scripts that have been used for Balochi in Turkmenistan. Vyacheslav Moshkalo, too, describes the role of the Baloch and their language in the Turkmen society. The role of the Baloch in another border area, namely East Africa, is the topic of Abdulaziz Lodhi’s article. The issue of mother tongue education in Balochi is treated by Tim Farrell and Eunice Tan, and Carina Jahani also touches on this question when she describes language attitudes and language maintenance among the Baloch in Sweden. As for Jan Muhammad Dashti, his contribution is an analysis of the relation between Balochi poetry and society from the beginning of the literary movement up to 1985.
    Each writer has been free to use his or her own preferred system of transcription. Some homogenisation has, however, been carried out. Thus, Baloch, Balochi, and Balochistan are the spellings that have been adopted, rather than Baluch, Baluchi and Baluchistan. The system for references and bibliographical data has also been unified. A common bibliography was preferred, since several references occur in more than one of the articles, and would have had to be repeated if each article was to be accompanied by its own bibliography. Baloch authors are placed in the bibliography according to their first name. Thus, for example, ‘Atā Shād is placed according to ‘Atā, not according to Shād. Geographical names are written without diacritics throughout the book. Several of these have an established spelling in English, and for the sake of consistency it was decided to omit all diacritics on geographical names. On proper names of persons who normally employ the Arabic script (i.e. not persons from Turkmenistan and East Africa), on the other hand, diacritics are used to indicate the correct spelling of these names in the Arabic script. Exceptions are names of persons well known in Europe, e.g. Bhutto, which are spelled according to the English convention. Also in references to books or articles written in English the name of the author is written in accordance with the spelling used by the person himself.
    The aim of the present work is by no means to give a total picture of the status of the Balochi language in the different countries where it is spoken. There is, for example, no reference to Balochi in the Gulf States or in Afghanistan, mainly due to the limited character of the symposium of which this work is the result. Field research, especially of a sociolinguistic character is furthermore a very sensitive issue in all the countries where Balochi is spoken.
    On the other hand, the articles all treat subjects that have hardly been studied, let alone described up to the present. This volume wants to shed some light on how a minority group, like the Baloch, try to preserve and promote their language and culture within the framework of the states where they live. This has not always been an easy task, and although it is only in Pakistan that one can actually talk about the existence of a written Balochi language and literature, Baloch in other countries, too, inspired both by the literary movement in Pakistan and by cultural and ethnic movements among other minorities in their neighbourhood, e.g. the Kurds, are eager to see the development of a standard written Balochi language and the creation of a corpus of written Balochi literature

  12. Of the estimated 6,500 languages in the world today it is reckoned that the majority will cease to exist within fifty years or so. In the history of the world, languages have always come and gone, but in the present time there are some factors which have never existed previously, and which threaten many of the world’s languages in a way they have never been threatened before.
    The first is that, with the growing world population and with ever increasing mobility, there are getting to be very few people who have had no contact with speakers of other languages, and the vast majority of people have regular contact with speakers of other languages.
    The second is that the spread and use of electronic media and communications is growing exponentially. At times it appears that Balochi, spoken largely by semi-nomadic shepherds or rural farmers and fishermen in the huge open expanses of Balochistan would be unaffected by the developments in urban business and leisure communications. But it is salutary to note that among the Baloch in Lyari within a single generation storytelling has been replaced by radio, then by television, then video, then satellite as a means of family entertainment. This has occurred among a community without extensive economic resources. The development and electrification of population centres in Balochistan, such as Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur etc. means that this process is rapidly extending throughout the Balochi language area.
    It is hard to predict the future, but one scenario would be that this explosion of the mass media, coupled with national language education, would relegate Balochi to being spoken only in the sparsely populated rural areas, and in cities and towns only at home by the older members of the family.

    Language domains
    Kathryn Woolard observes that studies of minority languages have shown that bilingual speakers where topic/domain determines which language they talk in, the minority language is showing signs of weakness and decline, but where the language to speak in on a particular occasion is chosen according to the participants in the exchange to minority language is not showing sings of shift to the other languages.
    So, for example, if a Baloch feels compelled to write letters in Urdu to other Baloch, this is a sign of retrenchment of Balochi. But if a Baloch writes letters in Urdu to non-Baloch, but in Balochi to Baloch, this type of bilingual performance is not a sign of language weakening. Contact and second language use per se are not a threat to a minority language.
    This presents a challenge to the Baloch community, since trade, television, newspapers, and education will increasingly be a factor in the lives of more and more Baloch, bringing ever more domains in which they function in languages other than Balochi. The way to meet this challenge is clearly to extend the use of Balochi to as many of these domains as possible, and perhaps the single most powerful instrument in achieving this in mother tongue education, since mother tongue education would be a means of extending Balochi usage of many academic domains. Even if mother tongue education did not extend through the entire school curriculum, the effect of literacy and use of the mother tongue in formal situations would be to greatly increase its domains of use.
    Mother tongue education has traditionally been seen as the great hope for reversing language shift, so much that Joshua Fishman has warned against seeing it as a way of reviving a language unless active home use of the language is not also established. So, for example, in Ireland Gaelic is taught at school and used in many government contexts, but it is still not widely used in the home or community. Fishman thus points out that mother tongue education cannot be expected to revive the language on its own. But Balochi is widely spoken in the home and community. What is needed for Balochi is not so much increased use in the home, but increased use outside of the home, especially in formal situations. Thus it is hoped that with mother tongue education and literacy Baloch will increasingly write letters, post signs, notices and bulletins, read newspapers and magazines in Balochi, as well as doing business and government administration
    Mother Tongue Education
    For many years it has been recognised that the mother tongue is the best language for education, especially for the early years. The UNESCO monograph The Use of Vernacular Language in Education says: “On educational grounds we recommend that the use of the mother tongue be extended to as late a stage in education as possible. In particular, pupils should begin their schooling through the medium of the mother tongue.”
    Going to school for the first time can be quite a difficult experience for young children, being away from the informal atmosphere of home, and suddenly being in the very structured and disciplined environment of school, being required to perform taxing exercises to order. Learning to read and write, and to cope with the concepts in maths and subjects with their own terminology and paradigms is daunting task. If all of this rakes place in an unfamiliar language it can be a very confusing experience, and if you add the fact that children are often beaten for not saying or doing the requires thing, then it becomes an experience that many children do not wish to continue with.
    Thus the UNESCO report says: “We consider that the shock which the young child undergoes in passing from his house to his school life is so great the everything possible should be done to soften it, particularly where modern methods of infant teaching have not yet penetrated to the school.” The upshot of this in the large Baloch community in Lyari, Karachi is that the drop-out rate for the early years of schooling is possibly as high as 50% (not forgetting the fact that not all children even begin schooling), and other children drop out in later years.
    In Lyari we find that, because of the limited number of places at school, reception children are required to sit a test in Urdu and maths before being admitted. In practice this means that they are often enrolled in private school or tuition for a year or two before applying for entrance to the state schools. So they often start their schooling a year or two later than other children, which can be a demoralising experience.
    Another thing that suffers because of non-mother tongue education is the quality of education. Visiting a rural school near Gwardar, I remember hearing a child read fairly fluently from his Urdu text book, but when he was asked to tell the meaning of what he had read he had no idea. This state of affairs continues with students for many year. Even intelligent and studious pupils may find that they are not really grasping the content of their lessons until way up in secondary school. Where Baloch students are competing for jobs and places in higher education with students whose mother tongue is the language of business and education, they are clearly at a disadvantage. During the bitter inter-ethnic violence in Karachi over recent years the notion of all places and jobs being allocated according to merit rather than quota was often adduced. In itself the notion of merit is a good one, but to have Baloch and other ethnic minorities, struggling with education in a language not their own, competing with those who have done all their education in their mother tongue is not really according to merit either but according to ethno-linguistic bias.
    This lack of education in the mother tongue is one of the reasons why education is seen by so many as a matter of rote learning, exams, and merely a means to a better job. The idea that the student should understand and think about the subjects studied is often lacking, as is the idea that learning in an enjoyable life skill that one can continue with for its own sake even after finishing formal education. One of the interesting aspects of the establishment of Balochi language academies and literary publications is that a number of Baloch have developed an interest in learning, reading and writing in the Balochi language without it having been part of a formal education programme. They are interested in the subject for its own sake.
    There have been a number of non-government publications designed to promote literacy and children’s education in Balochi. Apart from these a number of academies have published children’s books and easy reading material aimed at new readers. The Balochi Academy in Quetta has published a large number of books for children. Some have also been published by the Kalakot Coaching Centre, the Azat Jamaldini Academy and the Balochi Labzanki Diwan among others.
    Of these, as far as I am aware, La’l Bakhsh Rind’s books were used in a formal literacy programme for a while, and the Azat Jamaldini Academy books are at present being used in a literacy programme. Apart from those, the Shal Association’s Buni kitab was used in a small number of schools in Balochistan and Sweden.
    At present state education for the Baloch is in Persian in Iran, Urdu in Pakistani Balochistan and central Karachi, largely Sindhi in Sind, and Arabic in the Gulf. The borrowing of lexicon and structural features from these different languages presents a problem of increasing divergence, and thus weakening, for the Balochi language. To these languages which are used in education and official domains can be added Brahui, Pashto and Saraiki, which although not used in education, form part of the picture of areal influence on the language.
    In 1991 a state programme for mother tongue education in Pakistani Balochistan was established. Teaching was to be available in Balochi, Brahui and Pashto, as well as Urdu. The programme was to begin in year one and work up the school with the children. For the Balochi programme a committee met to determine the content, style and orthography of the text books. Because it was seen as desirable to have a single course and set of text books for the entire Balochi area, an attempt was made to harmonise both Eastern and Western dialect vocabulary and orthography. This included the creation of five new combined characters to combine phonological usages in both dialect groupings.
    One of the possible causes for the failure of the Balochi mother tongue education programme in Pakistani Balochistan is a political one. Without wishing to get involved in the arcane and complex issues of politics, the situation was that in Balochistan province the large influx of Afghan refugees was, and is, threatening to significantly alter the demography of the province. Many of the refugees have settled in Pakistan and have not found it difficult to gain Pakistani identity papers. Most are ethnically Pashtun, and blend in with the already sizeable Pashtun population in the province. The Baloch and Brahui population combined is larger than that of the Pashtuns. The Baloch and Brahui are ethnically one people, but linguistically quite distinct. Thus, while Urdu is the means of instruction in school in Balochistan, their ethnic unity is not questioned, but when there are separate Balochi and Brahui schools established the distinctiveness of the two language groups is more in focus. If the Baloch and Brahuis were seen as two peoples, rather than one, then it was feared that the Pashtuns might claim to be the single largest people in the province. With demography being one of the most powerful forces in politics, it was felt by some that it would be better to carry on with Urdu education in the province so as not to raise the linguistic profile of the Baloch/Brahui people.
    Reference: Tim Farrell,“Mother tongue education and the health and survival of the Balochi Language”, in Jahani, C, ed., Language in Society – Eight Sociolinguistic Essays on Balochi

  13. There is at present no official mother tongue education of Balochi in the main areas where it is spoken. Official attempts at mother tongue education have been carried out in Pakistan[1] and in Afghanistan.[2] In Turkmenistan there is an attempt to establish a Cyrillic script for Balochi, put together primers and start mother tongue education.[3] For the moment there is no official mother tongue education in Balochi, either in Iran or in Pakistan. There have, however, been a number of private initiatives taken in the area of Balochi mother tongue education in Pakistan.[4]
    The dismal living conditions in the Baloch quarters in Karachi, especially the main Balochi residential area, Lyari, are well pictured by Richard Slimbach in his article “Ethnic binds and pedagogies of resistance: Baloch nationalism and educational innovation in Karachi”.[5] The fact that the Baloch children meet a foreign language already on their first day in school, of course, put them at a disadvantage from the very beginning. Slimbach quotes the words of a Baloch college student who is remarking on and criticizing the lack of mother tongue education in Balochi. He says: “Go and visit all the schools in Lyari and give a language test to the children. You will find that they cannot speak good Urdu or good English. It is due to their mother tongue. If you get education in your mother tongue, you can understand everything. If you don’t, you cannot understand anything.”[6]
    The aim of the present article is to describe one of the unofficial mother tongue literacy programmes in Balochi underway in Pakistan. This programme is at present running in one of the suburbs of Karachi. We first started our literacy work among the Baloch in the community of Singo Line in 1993. A leader of the community there had approached us to help them in their literacy work. There was already a functioning anjuman ‘society’ in the community which also functioned as a tuition centre.
    Singo Line is situated near Lyari, south-west of the Karachi city centre, where the bulk of the Baloch people live. There are about 5 000 people in this community, and about 55 % of them are from a Zikri background, the rest being Sunnis. Many of the men in this community are labourers working at the port or in Hub Chowki, which is an industrial centre at the Sind-Balochistan border. Some of the men operate a small private business, while a large majority of the male working force are unemployed or perform odd jobs. Unlike other Baloch communities there is a rather high percentage of young women in this community performing jobs in the city and nearby areas.
    Many of the children of Singo Line are enrolled in school nowadays, but the drop-out rate remains very high. In the early eighties about half of the students dropped out before reaching the fifth grade in school. Still only about two thirds of the girls who enroll in the first grade move on to the second grade and more than half of these girls drop out after the sixth class. Most of the children are enrolled in Urdu medium public schools, while some of the more well-to-do send their children, especially their sons, to English medium schools nearby. About 40-45 % of the male young adults are literate while most of the older men are illiterate. The rate of literacy amongst the women is much lower, with about 25-30 % of the young adults being literate.
    A couple of the well-educated women from the community worked closely with me in the production of the Balochi primer that we were to use in the literacy programme. After a while we felt that it would be advantageous to test the primer in actual literacy classes, and at that point we decided to start our first literacy class.
    Our students
    Seven women came to our first literacy class, but one of them dropped out halfway through the course due to mental illness. The oldest member of the class was about fifty years old. She was able to read the Quran, but did not know how to read and write Urdu or Balochi and therefore decided to join the class. The rest were either mothers with small babies or single girls. Three of them had never learnt to read or write, and the other two had only gone to school for a very limited number of years and could by no means be considered even semi-literate when they started this class.
    The women had expressed an interest in learning to read and write in order to be able to support their children better in their education by helping them with homework etc. Some were also motivated by the fact that we had promised to teach them embroidery after they had completed the reading course. Some had expressed an interest in seeking a job to help sustaining the family after completing the course, while others felt that they would be more able to cope with the needs of their families, like reading a doctor’s prescription, other instructions and notices etc. if they were literate. Some just came to be with their friends, as our classes were seen as social occasions as well.
    Classes were held only twice a week, and very often we had to postpone classes due to the social obligations of the participants. However, the result was good, and within eight months they were able to read quite fluently in both Balochi and Urdu. One of the aims of the mother tongue literacy programme was namely to be a bridge to learning to read and write Urdu.
    In the beginning I noticed that the students came to class with their books well hidden away, and when I asked about the reason why they did so, they told me that they were shy to let others know that they were learning to read. They were also afraid that they would not succeed in learning to read and write. However, when one of the women’s husband after six months found out that she had learnt to read in such a short time he thought that his wife was very clever and told her so. Even more impressive was the fact that his wife had learnt to read in two languages, Urdu and Balochi. Many people in the community had gone to school for three or four years and they had not been able to read after that. Many people have told me that it was not until after some six or seven years of schooling that they could understand what they were learning in school. Up to that point they had just memorized seemingly meaningless things that they were asked to learn.
    When we decided to start another class it was the students in our first class who invited their friends to come. Another class was started, also this time comprising of seven women. All except one were single women.
    Altogether four classes for women have been run in this community. A total of twenty five students have started attending a class, and fifteen of them have completed the primer and are able to read and write. Four of the students had to leave the class towards the end of the course because of various reasons. Getting married was one such reason. Six students dropped out of the classes earlier. They soon found out that they were too busy or not motivated enough to continue, and some did not have any companion to follow them to classes (see below).
    In the classes students are taught in Balochi for the first three months, and after that Urdu is also introduced. As the transition gap is very minimal, students generally pick up reading in Urdu without difficulty. Some actually read better in Urdu after a while provided they are able to speak the language. One of the reasons for this may well be the greater availability of books in Urdu than in Balochi. The aim is that at the end of the course students should be able to read independently in both Balochi and Urdu.
    Language attitudes among the students
    Almost all the Baloch I have met in Karachi speak Balochi. They are very proud of their language, and the Balochi language is used both in the homes and in the market place of the Baloch residential areas in Karachi. It is also used in announcements and in sermons in the mosque in predominantly Balochi areas. There have also been several efforts to promote Balochi mother tongue education in Karachi, but many of these endeavours have met with numerous obstacles and have eventually fallen through.
    One general misconception about mother tongue literacy is that the students are taught to speak their own language, something which they point out that they already know. In fact, there was a woman whose father was a Baloch and mother a Bihari, and who did not know Balochi even though she considered herself a Baloch, who approached me and asked about literacy in her “mother tongue”. It was evident that she expected to be taught Balochi in the classes.
    Most people are indeed ignorant as to how literacy can be carried out in Balochi and what the benefits to read in their mother tongue are. Parents are generally convinced that it is necessary for their children to learn Urdu and/or English at school in order to be able to advance in Pakistani society, and that they should not waste their time learning to read and write Balochi, which anyway is of no use to them in their future career. However, most of the Baloch would not give up speaking Balochi at home. Still, the women of the older generation hardly know any Urdu, whereas the younger generation of the Baloch in Karachi, especially educated persons, master Urdu well.
    Many Baloch are rather proud of the existence of books and other reading materials in Balochi, but whether they are able to use them is another matter altogether. According to my observations, they somehow think that writing and reading in Balochi are activities only limited to the “elite or scholastic group”. Most of the young adults I have met hardly know how to read Balochi magazines or books, and do not really feel any need to acquire the skill either. Most of those who have heard about Sayyid H®shim¬ respect his works, but generally most people outside the “Balochi literary circle” have little knowledge about and take little interest in these literary issues.
    When it comes to dialect, it has been observed that persons moving to Karachi from other parts of Balochistan generally retain their native dialect, even if they are married into a family that speaks another dialect than their own. This seems to be a totally acceptable thing to do. However, some dialect groups consider their dialect superior to others. This was especially noticed among persons from the Makran coast, who resisted the primer based on the Karachi dialect, complaining that it was not written in their dialect. When modifications were made and more allowance for the dialect of the Makran coast was given, however, the obstacle was removed, since most students accept this dialect as a prestigious one even if their own dialect deviates more or less from it. It is also interesting to note that the students generally read and pronounce the words in accordance with their own dialect.

    Educational material and reading theory
    Even though there already existed a number of primers in Balochi[7] it was found necessary to construct a primer for the course. This primer was, as already mentioned, compiled in close cooperation with well educated women from the target community. This was necessary in order to make a primer that would be culturally acceptable and contain reading material that was related to the women’s everyday life.
    It was also felt that the best testing of the preliminary version of the primer would be to actually use it in a literacy class. It then appeared that some changes had to be made, especially when it came to the dialect forms used. Karachi-isms had to be avoided in favour of the more prestigious dialect of the Makran coast (see above).Some stories also had to be simplified or changed to be culturally acceptable.
    As for the orthography used in the primer an attempt was made to make transfer to Urdu as easy as possible. That is why the orthography builds on Urdu conventions, and the hamzas[8], for example, which are quite established in the Balochi orthography nowadays but not found in Urdu, were avoided in our primer. There are, however, also some transfer pages to Balochi orthographical conventions at the end of the primer in order for the learners also to become familiar with the Balochi writing system, including the hamzas. The primer is thus meant to serve a double purpose both of transfer into Urdu and into “semi-standard” Balochi.
    In the same way the spelling of loanwords, mainly from Arabic, which are also found in Urdu, is generally kept in the same way as in Urdu. In fact they are also generally spelled the same way in Balochi too. Thus, the whole Arabic-Urdu alphabet is also used for Balochi even if this means overrepresentation of several consonant phonemes.[9] The basic reason for this is to reduce confusion in spelling for the students when they go to school and learn the Urdu spelling of these words and help the transition to the national language.
    After going through the primer it was felt that the students needed more material to read in order to retain their newly learnt skill of reading Balochi. We have therefore continued by producing a number of easy readers using the same Urdu-based orthography as in the primer. These books are e.g. collections of Aesop fables for children and adults, so as to stir their early interest in reading. We have also produced some books on health and simple reading materials on topics based on the customs, food, games and daily events of the Baloch in order to help promote the Balochi culture and to stimulate the new readers to go on reading.
    About half of the students who have been taught in our classes are linear thinkers. This means that they learn to read new passages readily by putting syllables together, and that they remember alphabets and syllables and learn to read by decoding. This group went on to read in Urdu without difficulty and eventually attempted reading story books and new material.
    The other half of the students are global thinkers. They find it easy to read whole words and whole syllables, but find it difficult to build new words from known syllables. They memorise the text and recognise words in the process. Global thinkers read more by guessing than by putting syllables together. They also ask more questions related to the story and memorise the story in a way that the linear thinkers don’t. It was therefore necessary to talk about the story and tell it over and over again in order to make reading meaningful also to the global thinkers.
    In fact, after learning to read the text, the global thinkers generally read it more fluently than the linear thinkers, as these students sometimes had to pause to put syllables together. The process of reading and telling the story several times also encouraged all the students to think the text through in a critical and constructive way.
    The primer was written in order to cater for the needs of both the linear and the global readers. Meaningful stories help the global students, while charts to show syllables help the linear students. At the end of each lesson, the students are also encouraged to write a short text using the words that they have learnt. Sometimes the teacher tells a story using words and syllables they have learn, and the students record it. Sometimes the students write their own stories. Teachers were encouraged to identify the learning style of the different students in the group and to cater for the needs of the group as well as to help individual students in their learning process. For both groups of learners, our primary objective is to teach the students to read for meaning and gather information through reading. Reading is complete only when comprehension is attained.[10]

  14. I’m really thankful to you in deed that you encourage and support every one. I’ve told you before that you are working for Balochi with a honest heart which is praise worthy. I’ve not seen such hard work on Balochi which you have done, but I’m surprised why people don’t give your reference in their writings? I’ve also seen your learning course you have made on Balochi and I’m way too impressed. Regarding such course I’ve met many Baloch scholars but I couldn’t find any guts in them. I’m not satisfied with their work. I’ve also made Balochi Grammar course and I’m teaching them to foreigners. If you don’t mind, can I take your course and teach my students? Kindly to me this favour.
    I can judge that you have linguistic qualities. If you have not done master in Balochi then I’d suggest to you please do it. I can see your bright future in Balochi language Field. Every one doesn’t have the qualities to teach foreigners. You should start online Balochi Teaching through your site. In fact you can find Balochi literature teachers for local students but not Balochi language. Once again I suggest you to do Master in Balochi.

  15. What is the adjective of “Baloch” in English? Our country is called Balochistan, that point is clear. We live in Balochistan. We speak Balochi, we have severalBalochi dialects, we weave Balochi carpets, we ride Balochi camels, we (hopefully!) give Balochi names to our children. We read Balochi poetry which ispublished at the Balochi Academy.
    However, I have also noticed that often “Baloch” is used as the adjective:

    Baloch cultural tradition
    Baloch Students’ Organisation
    Baloch authors
    Baloch ethnicity
    Baloch nationalism
    Baloch National Movement
    Baloch men
    Baloch ethnic group
    Baloch people
    And what about the noun? Am I a Baloch or Balochi? Are my parents Baloch, Balochs, Balochis or Baloches?
    Baloch: Baloch is generally known as a noun. The native people who live in Balochistan are called Baloch. Generally Baloch people speak Balochi, but even if native people can’t speak Balochi, they are still called Baloch. They can migrate and live in other parts of the world. They can still refer to themselves as Baloch. So, I believe that it is now accepted that “Baloch” is noun in this context.
    Mistakenly, some non-Baloch scholars use the word “Balochi”, instead of “Baloch” when referring to people of Balochistan. For instance, they may say: “Baaraan is Balochi”. It is wrong. “Baaraan is a Baloch” is the right expression. One my say that “Baaraan is a Balochi name”, which is a correct phrase to say.
    So, I am a Baloch, not Balochi (likewise, Hazhaar is a Kurd. Hazhaar is a Kurdish name. But saying “Hazhaar is a Kurdish” is a rather an inaccurate expression).
    On many occasion, it is rather use a “the” before Baloch, when we refer to people of Balochistan (in national adjective usage). For instance, national adjectives ending in “ch” or “sh” e.g. the Dutch, the Spanish, the Welsh (see The Oxford Library of English Usage, Chapter I, 1990. Similarly we can say “the Baloch” etc.
    Other parallel examples:
    Javier is a Spaniard. He speaks Spanish. He eats Spanish food. He is a Spanish person. (But although one may say that “He is a Spanish”, the more accurate way is to say it is “Javier is a Spaniard”, instead of “Javier is a Spanish. The same applies for Scot (native Scottish person from Scotland) etc.
    Please remember that there is not a universal rule about this issue. e.g. ” Shah Latif was a Sindi (Sindhi). He spoke Sindi (Sindhi) and he was from Sind (Sindh). As you see in this case the word “Sindi” is used both as the noun for naming people from Sind and the language.
    As for Plural version of the word “Baloch”, there is no universal accepted form. Some people use “Balochs”, other use “Baloches”. Increasing number of people use “Baloch” as both singular and plural. In my view, using “Baloch” as both singular and plural is somehow a better way to use it. A parallel in English language is the word “Dutch” (people and language of Holland). When referring to people from Holland, they are called ”Dutch”, whether one or many people. I have never seen expressions such as “Dutchs” or “Dutches”. I think it looks nicer in a sentence to use “Baloch” as both singular and plural form. One can understand from the sentence, whether we talk about one person or many. It is a personal preference, but words “Balochs” or “Baloches” do not appeal to me. I rather use “Baloch” only. (Some people may write it as “Baluch”, “Balouch” etc. Again “Baluchs/Baluches” or “Balouchs/Balouches” do not sound “attractive”.
    Balochi: Anything related to the Baloch (people from Balochistan) can be described as Balochi. It can have genitive form or simply used as an adjective.
    Languge of the Baloch is called Balochi. Not only, we the Baloch, call it “Balochi”, but every other non-Baloch person also called it “Balochi”. At least, there is unanimous acceptance about this issue. There are still variations in spelling “Balochi” such as “Baluchi” and “Balouchi”. But it is not a big deal.
    “Balochi” is mainly used as an adjective e.g. “Balochi dress”, “Balochi book”, “Balochi dance”, etc. “Baloch” cannot be used in the same context. It is, however, to be noticed when one refers directly to people, i.e. the Baloch, it is rather use “Baloch” not “Balochi” in any compound nouns. e.g.
    Baloch Students’ Federation (not Balochi Students’ Federation) as it refers to Baloch people (in this case, students). Also “Baloch women” but NOT Balochi women (again Baloch refers to people, women) etc.
    In the meantime, there is a need for a flexible approach towards this issue, as there is no standard/universal rule especially with regards to “Baloch”, “Balochi” etc. The same applies to Balochi orthography (both in Persian/Urdu and Latin/English alphabets). At this stage, there is no excuse for exclusion of any approach, style and preferences. As for various dialects of Balochi language, there is an even greater need for flexibility

  16. tariq mehmoodmahl says:

    slam to all of u.
    its great to see this sort of constructive work being done by some honest people like you. i think this will shake the slumber mind of youth a bit. i feel it was the dire need to build a general perception among the masses that what actually is happening in balochistan and proud natives of this region. which can be done through online news paper or blog.
    one thing i must clear here that as i m not a boloch , but a punjabi but born in balochistan , educated from balochistan , and my love for balochistan is as like you people expressed . and there are many others who own this province like me , and want to play there role in building balochistan a heaven on this part of the earth.
    quality education is the only key which could lead to success..
    we must say no to cheating system from metric to master level
    this is prerequisite to b well this only we will be able compete not on national level but aboroad as well.
    in building up balochistan we must joint hand with hand to see prosperous and flourishing balochistan
    because tow heads are better then one .
    unity and believe in Allah only can accomplish our goals.

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  1. […] Since May 2, 2011, Pakistan has been in a state of undeclared, multi-pronged war. It is something of a pincer movement, with one flank being external to the country, while the other is internal but commanded by certain regional as also extra-regional powers. There is no convincing reason to believe that the May 2 raid conducted by the United States at a residential place in Abbottabad Cantonment did, a) take out Osama Bin Laden, or, b) that the same was conducted without the prior knowledge and/or approval of Pakistan. All that has come out so far suggests otherwise. The unfolding narrative has necessarily to be seen in the perspective of the divorce made by Islamabad consequent to the capture of CIA operative Raymond Davis in Lahore on January 27 and his interrogation at the hands of the notorious Punjab Police about which many South Asians share a joke. That has to do with how a certain stolen donkey of a village influential was ‘recovered’ by cops from this force in the form of a poor elephant shouting all the way on top of his voice from the wilderness to the habitation: ‘I am that same donkey’. So this particular White elephant of ours sang like a canary after being feted by studs at the dingy Old Anarkali Police Station overnight. He compromised in the process not only his own mission; which was but one string of the covert war launched by the CIA to destabilise Pakistan; but also numerous cells of fifth columnists spread all over the country. That turned the tables on both America and its quislings within Pakistani political and diplomatic echelons. All strategic decisions came under the firm grip of the military leadership. It still suited the latter to let the democratic circus go on. Having ended the marriage of inconvenience with Uncle Sam that it had been coerced into at gunpoint following 9/11, Islamabad effectively broke off whatever little cooperation it had been obliged to extend to the pathological sex offender. It was time for the Ugly American to pack his bags and go back to where he had come from. The United States was for once desperate. It still beseeched a less than dishonourable exit (of most but not all of its military presence) from Afghanistan. Pakistan obliged with the caveat that Washington would utilise it strategic partnership with New Delhi to arrive at a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Kashmir, with Pakistan’s water lifeline of the Indus River System emanating overwhelmingly from the territory of the former Princely State under India’s illegitimate control, has become a concern of the State’s survival. India has persistently, albeit not surprisingly, been eating up Pakistan’s share as the lower riparian recepient of the Indus Water System allocated by the 1960 Treaty brokered by the United States. The large number of new projects it is currently working on upstream pose a real and present threat to Pakistan. If these schemes are made operable now, India would be in a position to remove the only physical obstacle in the way of launching a military assault to have a handle on Pakistani Punjab’s narrow waist: it could dry up the canals; most crucially, the Bambanwala Ravi Bedian (BRB) Link Canal to expose Lahore; this summer by storing more water in its planned reservoirs upstream. Pakistan has delivered on its word to the United States; it has let Uncle Sam take the purported trophy of Osama’s head so that the former’s espoused ‘graceful’ exit can be materialised. ‘We had gone to war in Afghanistan to take out the big bad guys; we have achieved the mission. Time for our brave soldiers to be reunited with their families!’ Obama would declare triumphantly. Loud applause all across the United States. Obama’s popularity graph has already started going up. Upcoming midterm Congressional elections are finally not such a big problem for the Democratic party; the President’s re-election next year also appears a less formidable challenge. What of India? New Delhi is squirming. Deliver it must. It would not be easy for the bloated self-image of ‘Shining’ India that cannot feed well over its billion-plus population to come to terms with the changed geo-strategic realties. Then came the attack on the Karachi naval-cum-army base of Mehran on May 22, crippling Pakistan’s naval surveillance arm by destroying two P-3C Orion aircraft; India and India alone has the motive for the cowardly crime. But then, what else is new in New Delhi? Meanwhile, China has, taking a break from its long-held policy of not going public on diplomatic messages to India, clearly sounded an unmistakable warning for India to keep its hands off Pakistan. The writer is a senior journalist currently working as project consultant/editor at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). The views expressed in this write-up are his alone. He can be reached at: I am very glad to announce the launching of the first online Baloch newspaper in English language. The Balochhal will bring a Baloch perspective to its readers on different issues. The online newspaper will objectively report from Balochistan, offer candid opinion, in-depth analyses, revealing interviews, investigative reports and fresh photographs. The picture from Balochistan is too large to cover. The eyes of the whole … Read More […]

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