Balawaristan (Urdu:بلاورستان), meaning the 'country of heights', is a name used by the Gilgit-Baltistan separatists to refer to their region. The term was coined by the Balawaristan National Front in the aftermath of the 1988 Gilgit massacre. But it has its roots in the historical names Bolor or Boloristan, with documented usage in Chinese sources from the 8th century AD. According to the present day activists, 'Balawaristan' includes Chitral, Gilgit, Skardu, Hunza, Nagar, Ishkoman, Punial and Yasin (see Districts of Gilgit-Baltistan). In addition, the regions of Baltistan and Ladakh (including Kargil) are also claimed to be part of Balawaristan by the nationalist parties of Gilgit.
Origins of the nameEdit
Historically, the Baltistan region was called "Great Bolor" and Dardistan and parts of Brooshal (e.g. Gilgit Valley) were called "Little Bolor." Great Boloristan is known to have sent ambassadors to the Chinese court. The Mons, an Indo-Aryan group, made the region as a hub of Buddhism.
Chinese historian Faxian mentioned it as Pololo or Palolo, Tibetans called it Nang-khod, where Arab historians mentioned it as Baloristan, moreover Theodre Foster in his The London Quarterly Review has stated that to Muslim geographers the name of the region was not known, use of the name in very rare cases is found. Phunchok Stobdan says Mughal historian called it Tibet-i-Khurd.[page needed] The people of this region though belonging to various ethnicities, have historically been referred to as Balors, which means the highlanders or mountain people, a reference to the high-altitudes prevalent in this area. An alternative theory links the name to a mythic ancient king called Bolor Shah, who had first united the region and from whom local rulers in turn often claimed descent.
The name is originated from Polore. Polore was an ancient state consisting of Baltistan, Gilgit, Ladakh, Chitral and Kohistan. Chinese traveller Faxian (337–c. 422 CE) mentioned it as "Pololo". Arab historians[who?] mentioned it as Blore. The people of this region have historically been referred to as Balawars (or highlanders), which is said to have come from the term Bala, which means high, a reference to the high-altitudes prevalent in this area. An alternative theory links the name to a mythic ancient king called Bolor Shah,[unreliable source?][failed verification] who had first united the region and from whom local rulers in turn often claimed descent. Yet a third theory was proposed by the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research of Pakistan that "the name is most probably derived from the title Patola, the Buddhist royal dynasty which was powerful in the region from to 8th centuries AD."[unreliable source?]
Historically, the Baltistan region was called "Great Bolor" and Dardistan and parts of Brooshal (e.g. Gilgit Valley) were called "Little Bolor." Great Boloristan is known to have sent ambassadors to the Chinese court in the 8th century.
Political status movementsEdit
In more recent times, the name Balawaristan is found used by minor political party like Balawaristan National Front led by Nawaz Khan Naji. The party is seeking to declare Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan. It also wants to give the people of Gilgit Baltistan representation in the Pakistani National Assembly and Senate, and to extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to the region.
Some Balawar groups, such as the Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement, have limited their demands to total autonomy and a respect for their distinctiveness.
The Balawaristan National Students Organisation, in April 2008, raised a demand for Balawaristan to be constituted into the fifth province of Pakistan (the other four are Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
However, Balawaristan National Front-Hameed Group (BNF-H) led by Abdul Hamid Khan had demanded independence of Balwaristan region from Pakistan. BNF-H led by Abdul Hamid Khan was the only group in Pakistan who was seeking independence of Balawaristan region. However, Abdul Hamid Khan had unconditionally surrender to Pakistan security officials on 8 February 2019. Since Abdul Hamid Khan surrender, no group or individual has asked for independence of Balwaristan region. The fate of Balawaristan National Front (Hameed group) is also unknown.
- Sökefeld, Secularism and the Kashmir dispute (2012), p. 111.
- Osterreichishe Leo-Gesellschaft, Görres-Gesellschaft, Anthropos Institute, Görres-Gesellschaft zur Pflege der Wissenschaften im Katholischen Deutschland, Bonn, Leo-Gesellschaft, Vienna (1984), Anthropos, v.79 no.1-6, retrieved 2009-01-24,
A more indigenous label for the same territory is Bolor (or Boloristan); this designation had appeared in Chinese sources already in the 8th century.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Behera, Demystifying Kashmir 2007, p. 205.
- Minahan, James B. (2012). Ethnic groups of South Asia and the Pacific : an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-59884-659-1.
- Stobdan, P.; Chandran, D. Suba (2008), The Last Colony: Muzaffarabad-Gilgit-Baltistan, India Research Press with Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu
- Foster, Theodore (1866). "The London Quarterly Review". Leonard Scott. Missing or empty
- Tikoo, Tej K. Kashmir: Its Aborgines and Its Exodus. Lancer LLC.
- Amanullah Khan (1999), Gilgit Baltistan, a Disputed Territory Or a Fossil of Intrigues?, retrieved 2009-01-24,
... Princes of Gilgit-Baltistan assumed to be descendants of Bolor Shah ...
- "Seminar demands independent Bolor state", Daily Times, 2005-03-03, retrieved 2009-01-24,
Speakers from the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) demanded an independent Bolor state at a seminar ‘Great Bolor State and Kashmir Issue’ at the Rawalpindi Press Club on Sunday.
- "The Palola Shahi Dynasty (6–8th C. AD)". balkhandshambhala.blogspot.it.
- National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research (Pakistan) (1988), Pakistan Journal of History and Culture, v.9, retrieved 2009-01-24,
As the name Bolor suggests, Gilgit has been the most ancient kingdom in the area. The name is most probably derived from the title Patola, the Buddhist royal dynasty which was powerful in the region from to 8th centuries AD.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Centre for the Study of the Civilizations of Central Asia (Pakistan) (1979), Journal of Central Asia, v.2 no.1, Centre for the Study of the Civilizations of Central Asia, Quaid-i-Azam University, retrieved 2009-01-29,
The eastern half, Great Bolor, could afford to send several embassies to the Chinese court during the first half of the 8th centuryCS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Ali, Manzoor. "Gilgit-Baltistan shocker: Nationalist candidate wins Ghizer by-poll – The Express Tribune". Tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
Naji said that the federal government should declare Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan, give its people representation in the National Assembly and Senate, and extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to the region
- "Provincial status sought for Gilgit, Baltistan", Daily Dawn, 2008-04-01, retrieved 2009-01-24,
Historically, geographically and politically, Gilgit-Baltistan deserves to be a province. The people of the region should have the right to send their representatives to the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan, of which they have been deprived for the last 60 years, said speakers at a seminar organised by the Balawaristan National Students Organisation here.
- "RAW network busted in GB". The Nation. 21 May 2019. Archived from the original on 21 May 2019.
- "Pakistan security forces say they busted subversive network in Gilgit". Times of India. 21 May 2019.
- Behera, Navnita Chadha (2007), Demystifying Kashmir, Pearson Education India, ISBN 8131708462
- Sökefeld, Martin (2012), "Secularism and the Kashmir dispute", in Nils Ole Bubandt; Martijn Van Beek (eds.), Varieties of Secularism in Asia: Anthropological Explorations of Religion, Politics and the Spiritual, Routledge, pp. 101–120, ISBN 978-1-136-66864-7