Reviving a forgotten tradition | Political economics


BBritish administrators on the subcontinent drafted meticulous district toponyms during their service in India, from the Khyber Pass to Bengal. The gazetteer was the most authentic document for a given district. It contained the necessary information about the people, places and practices that prevailed there. However, little work has been done in Pakistan on gazetteer compilation since independence in 1947.

Mehboob Ahmed, a bureaucrat stationed in Balochistan, revived the tradition by writing and publishing the gazetteer of Mastung district while serving as its deputy commissioner. It is a pioneering achievement. The book will be officially launched at an event this week.

“During our DMG (now NOT) training programs, our instructors, who were mostly seasoned bureaucrats, told us about the tradition, beauty, and benefits of district schedules that were once written and compiled by the sous -colonial-era commissioners,” says Ahmed, who now serves as an additional secretary in the chief minister’s secretariat.

“A deputy commissioner should know their district well and be able to profile it,” he says. Sunday news.

Ahmed, who held the post of Mastung DC for 16 months, took seven months to compile the gazetteer. He says he hopes this will help neighborhood officers, researchers and residents understand the dynamics of the area in the future.

Mastung district is located in the Kalat division of northwestern Balochistan. It borders Quetta to the north via the Lak Pass; Kalat to the south via Kadkucha; Kachhi to the east via Dasht; and Noshki to the west via Kirdgap. Prior to its establishment as a separate district in 1991, Mastung was part of Kalat district.

Sarawan Balochistan District Gazetteer series volume published by British rulers in 1907 dealt with Mastung.

The Mastung District Gazetteer 2020 includes eighteen chapters with a preface and photo gallery. Each chapter provides basic data and information on important aspects of the main topics.

Separate chapters have been devoted to the brief profile of Mastung, geography and climate, administration and security, health, education, social protection and accounts, agriculture, irrigation, water supply and energy, livestock, forestry and wildlife, development activities, communication, information technology and telecommunications, customs and excise , archives and literature and natural disasters.

Reviving a forgotten tradition

The Mastung District Gazetteer 2020 includes eighteen chapters with a preface and photo gallery. Each chapter provides basic data and information on important aspects of the main topics.

One chapter deals with the history of the district in a timeline, starting with the Greek period and the Arab period and going through the Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Mongols, Arghun, Mughals and the reign of Ahmedzai till British entry and post-independence governance.

Another chapter mainly deals with the main tribes living in the district and data on their population in the three tehsils – Mastung, Dasht and Kirdgap based on information available from the district administration tax staff.

Mastung was once famous for being the seat of Sarawan, a division of the former princely state of Kalat in Balochistan. Sarawan’s chef himself is from Mastung. During the British period, the political agent of Kalat sat in Mastung.

Bangulzai, Shahwani, Kurd, Lehri, Dehwar, Raisani, Muhamamd Shahi and Sarparah are the major tribes in the district. Other Brahvi tribes that live in the area include: Sulaimani, Mengal, Rind, Muhammad Hasani, Sasoli and Langov. The Pashtun tribes include Babri, Tareen and Kakar. Information on the languages, clothing and tribal and family structure, nomadic lifestyle and customs and traditions of the district are also included in the gazetteer.

An entire chapter deals with the district’s property tax system, its history and its evolution. The three main sources of revenue collection are the Zamindari system, the Ryotwari system and the Mahalwari system. These remained in practice during British rule and in Kalat State and have survived since independence.

The gazetteer also discusses the security situation in Mastung, which has remained one of the hotspots of militancy and insurgency since 2007-2008. The Gazetteer observes that the district’s sociopolitical conditions, tribal structure and geopolitical location, particularly proximity to Quetta and the fact that three major highways pass through it further complicate the problem of insurgency in Mastung,” making the district a trophy for religions and ethnic communities. – Nationalist insurgents. However, it says the law and order situation has improved following a crackdown on activists in 2014-15.

It is hoped that the Mastung District Gazetteer will motivate other field administrative officers in the country, especially in Balochistan, to follow suit.

The writer works for The News in Karachi. E-mail:

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Twitter: @zalmayzia

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