Wild, rugged, sparsely populated mountain and desert, Balochistan (بلوچستان) covers a vast portion of south-west Pakistan. Much of it is high barren plateau between 1,000 and 1,250 metres (3,000-4,000 feet) above sea level, barricaded in the west along the Afghan border by the Tobakakar Mountains of Balochistan and in the east by the Suleiman range that borders the Indus River.
In the extreme south lays the Makran (مکران) Balochistan, one of the cruellest, most inhospitable deserts in the world, which so weakened Alexander the Great when he marched through it on his way home that he died within weeks of arriving.
These great empty spaces and daunting mountains and the nomadic character of most of the Baluchi people (بلوچی لوگ) make Baluchistan one of the World’s greatest but least known wilderness regions, imposing and dramatic.
Covering 347,190 square kilometres (1 34,000 square miles), Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan but, with little more than five million people, the least populated with only twelve persons to the square kilometre (0.386 square miles).
Bordered in the west and north-west by Iran and Afghanistan, in the north by the provinces of North-West Frontier and the Punjab, in the east by Sind (سندھ) and in the south by the Arabian Sea, Baluchistan is a land of contrasts of lofty mountains and vast, barren deserts; of lush green valleys and sunny beaches; of verdant juniper forests and gaunt mountains.
Year round temperatures register extremes at both ends of the scale: rainfall seldom exceeds thirty-five centimetres (14 inches) and often reaches no more than seven centimetres (three inches).
With the capital at Quetta (کوئٹہ), Balochistan province is made up of six administrative divisions — Quetta, Sibi (سبی), Kalat (کلات), Makran (مکران), Loralai (لورالائی), and Nasirabad (نصیرآباد). Quetta Division is composed of Quetta, Pishin, and Chagai districts. The Loralai Division consists of Zhob and Loralai districts.
The Sibi Division is composed of Sibi district and the Kohlu and Dera Bugti tribal agencies. The Kalat Division is made up of Kalat, Khuzdar (خضدار), Kharian, and Lasbela districts; and the Makran Division comprises Turbat (تربت), Panjgur (پنجگور), and Gwadar (گوادر) districts.
Over the centuries, the region was dominated by various rulers and Sardars (سردار) (tribal chiefs) more concerned with maintaining their authority than with development. During their rule, the British also confirmed the powers and privileges of the Sardars while retaining overall control.
In 1947, the states ruled by the Sardars acceded to Pakistan and the Baluchistan States Union formed in l952 was given the status of a fully-fledged province in l969.
How to reach there:
From Sukkur (سکھر), the main road to Balochistan leads, via Jacobabad (جیکب آباد) and Sibi (سبی), over the Bolan Pass (بولان پاس), is crossing the Brahui Mountains, to Quetta. The road north from Karachi via Khuzdar is forbidden to foreigners, as is the Makran desert.
But driving in Balochistan is best avoided anyway. Unless you have the instincts of an intrepid explorer and a distinct dislike of creature comforts, take the plane or train to Quetta. Assuming you do drive, however, your exploration begins at Jacobabad.