Khuzdar Cantonment

Muhammad Raza Shah Pehlavi, the Shah of Iran had sent F-14 fighter jets along with his pilots, to help Pakistani army suppress the Baluchis. The Pakistani army killed more than 4000 Baluchis in these operations

It was during the days of Sardar Akbar Bugti as governor that the decision was taken to set up the Khuzdar cantonment. It was during his governorship that army operations were undertaken in Balochistan. Bugti joined Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government as the governor of Balochistan on February 15, 1973. He remained in office until January 1, 1974 when he resigned because of differences with Bhutto on the PM’s Balochistan policies. The army had deployed 100,000 men in Baluchistan and with the help of the Iranian airforce had resorted to wholsesale murder of the Baluchis. Muhammad Raza Shah Pehlavi, the Shah of Iran had sent F-14 fighter jets along with his pilots, to help Pakistani army suppress the Baluchis. The Pakistani army killed more than 4000 Baluchis in these operations. Bugti was inducted as the chief minister of Balochistan on February 4, 1989.

In Balochistan province there are dozens of military detention centers, where people after their arrest are detained and tortured to force confession statements about their alleged activities against the army in the province. These are said to include the safe house of the ISI at Khuzdar Cantonment area. The Khuzdar district is in southeast of the province and all detained or arrested persons by the state intelligence agencies from south and southeast districts are reportedly brought and kept here. The place is notorious for torture. On August 26, 2006 Nawab Akbar Bugti, chief of the Bugti tribe, veteran politician, and senior Baluchistan leader, was killed in a shootout between “tribal militants and government forces” in Balochistan. The octogenarian has been at the head of a tribal campaign to win political autonomy and a greater share of revenue from Balochistan’s gas reserves. Born on July 12, 1927, Nawab Bugti was a ‘tribal’ who was educated at Oxford, England, Aitchison College, Lahore and Karachi Grammar School and has served as Governor and Chief Minister of Baluchistan. Bugti dominated the political scene in Balochistan for nearly six decades. He succeeded his father Nawab Mehrab Khan Bugti as the chief of the Bugti tribe. He was a staunch sub-nationalist who challenged the rule of Generals Ayub Khan and Pervez Musharraf.

In 1903, the British government appointed a political agent at Khuzdar to carry out the administrative affairs of the government .This administrative system continued till the partition of India. Before March 1974, Khuzdar was a sub-division of Kalat district. To serve the people and solve their problems at their doorstep, Khuzdar was awarded the status of district on 15th March 1974. Now, Khuzdar is divisional headquarters of Kalat. The district headquarters is 302 kilometres from Quetta. It lies at an elevation of 1,249 meters above sea level and is situated on the RCD highway connecting it to Iran and Karachi. Khuzdar was notified as a separate district on 1st March 1974. Previously, it was included in Kalat district.

Khuzdar, known as the heart of Balochistan, is situated on National Highway linking Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. It is at a distance of about 400 kms from Karachi and 300 kms from Quetta, both of them being main cities of the country. The city is facilitated with an Airport, near the university. The former college, now university is constructed on the foot-hills and is spread over an area of 200 acres. The clean and calm environment makes the university an ideal place for academic and research activities. Khuzdar used to be the main city of Jhalawan state. The history of Khuzdar, like that of the rest of Balochistan, is in great obscurity. Very little definite information is available about the area before the advent of the Arabs who ousted the Rai dynasty of Sind in the 7th century. It is possible that some parts of the army of Alexander the Great traversed the country when the conqueror was in the Indus valley (presently upper Sind).

The central position of Khuzdar, as the point of convergence of roads from Multan (via the Moola pass), Makran and Kandhar (province of Afghanistan), made it a very important place for the Arabs invading India. It is probable, too, that its moderate climate made the locality acceptable to them. In the time of the Arabs, Khuzdar was protected by a small fortress. The strong fortress was probably on the peak overlooking the valley, which is now known as Biradari (Shahi Bagh). An Arab poet wrote about Khuzdar, “what a beautiful country is Kusdar (Khuzdar). How distinguished are its inhabitants.”

Therefore, the Arabs made frequent attacks upon Khuzdar and in 664 AD, in the caliphate of Muawiya, Al-Manzar, son of Al-Jarud-al-Abdi, who had been appointed to the frontiers of India after conquering Nukan and Kikan, captured Khuzdar. Al-Manzar is said to have died here. During the caliphate of Al-Mutasimbillah (833-41 AD), Umar, who was nominated as governor of Sind, transferred the inhabitants of Kandabel (Gandava) to Khuzdar.

In 976 AD, Khuzdar was governed by an Arab named Muin bin Ahmed. A year later Amir Nasir-ud-din Subuktegin commenced a series of invasions to India. He conquered Khuzdar, but its possession was restored to its previous rulers through a treaty. The treaty stipulated that immediately a sum of money was to be paid and that the ruler would thereafter send a tribute every year. Subuktegin again attacked the recalcitrant ruler. During the days of Mahmud Ghaznivi, the rulers of Khuzdar again became disaffected and withheld the tribute. Mahmud Ghaznivi marched to Khuzdar and took the rulers by surprise. It was indeed owing to Mahmud’s possession of Khuzdar that his subsequent conquests in Sind were chiefly effective. Khuzdar was included in Mahmud’s territory in 1031 AD.

With the downfall of the Ghaznivids, Khuzdar passed to the Ghorids and then to Nasir-ud-din Kabacha. In 1225 AD Khuzdar submitted to Shamsuddin Altamash. Afterwards, the country appears to have passed to the suzerainty of the Mughals. In 1590 AD Abdul Fazal speaks of the Zehri section of the Baloch tribe. Decline of the Mughal power was followed by the rise of the Brahvis to a position of greater or lesser independence. During the reign of Mir Mahmud Khan, Pottinger visited Jhalawan in 1810 AD, travelling to Kalat via Bela and Khuzdar. He described Khuzdar as a small town not having more than 500 houses.

The influence of Hindus from Multan and Shikarpur appears to have been very great, so much, that the keys of the town gate were entrusted to the then senior Brahmin every night. During the 18th century, the people of Khuzdar were very religious. The rulers of that period seriously implemented the Islamic Laws. Since the death of Gauhar Khan, chief of Jhalawan, the area has enjoyed a long period of repose.

Khuzdar region was full of karezes and lush green cultivation at the times it was a province of Khurasan. Khuzdar was situated on the route for caravans taking merchandise on camel back to the port Makran for export to middle-east countries. The forces of Muhammad bin Qasim passed through this area gaining access to Sind through the Moola pass. The mud-fort in Khuzdar was built by the Khan Khuda Dad Khan in 1870, during a war with Jams of Lasbela.

A number of mounds of archaeological interest have been found in Khuzdar. The most important one is Meri Bhar or Palace Mound. It is believed to be the seat of the last Mongol governor of Khuzdar, Malik Chap, who was killed by Kurd inhabitants of Khuzdar. The “Shahi Bagh” at Khuzdar gives an indication of its condition in ancient times. Many old dams and tombs are scattered throughout the district. A beautiful mosque, symbol of modern Islamic architecture on the RCD highway in Khuzdar, attracts many people.

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