Kohlu, also known as Marri country, has
always been an arena of political insurgence or tribal vendettas. It was a
deserted area and there was no permanent human settlement before inhabitation of
Marris in this area. That is the reason that the history of Kohlu district is
primarily a history of the Marri tribe. However, Kohlu town and its surroundings
have been predominantly occupied by Zarkoons.
It is said that in early times Kalmati
Kupcháni and other Baloch tribes roamed this land. Mir Chakar Khan, the Rind
hero of Baloch romance, is the person from whom history of this area starts.
After his quarrels with Lasharis and his expulsion from Sibi, he took refuge in
this area. After some time he migrated to the east of Indus along with his tribe
but a small section of Puzh Rinds opted to stay in this area under the
leadership of Bijar Khan. He had with him Ali Khan, Mando Khan and Khalu Khan,
Rinds, a blacksmith (lohar), a gardener called Kangra, and a negro named
Shaheja. These men founded the Marri tribe in the first quarter of the sixteenth
century. The Bijarani clan was founded by Bijar Khan, the Loharani by the
blacksmith and the Ghazani by Gazzo or Ghazan, a Buledi boy adopted by Ali Khan.
These small groups gradually increased and began a career of raiding and
conquest, but later on as their strength became constantly lessened by raids and
incursions it became necessary to recruit from outside. Thus Brahuis, Balochs
from other parts of Balochistan, Khetrans, Afghans and Jats gained easy
admission to the tribe. There were many blood feuds and tribal wars in which the
Marri tribesmen were killed. An easy admission to Marri tribe helped the tribe
to maintain its strength.
The other remarkable tribe in Kohlu is
the Zarkoon tribe. This tribe was once forced by the Bugti tribe to desert Kohlu
but later Marris offered them a defensive and offensive alliance. According to a
treaty the area surrounding Kohlu town was given to the Zarkoons.
It is claimed that the Marris were
subjects of the Khan of Kalat and it was after the death of Mir Nasir Khan I
that the Marris felt themselves free of any control. They started devastation in
all directions and got engaged in wars and blood feuds with different tribes.
The Marri tribe gave much trouble to the
British government and kept on attacking the British interests. The British army
occupied Kahan in May 1840 but shortly afterwards they were forced by the Marris
to evacuate the place. On and off the British authorities signed treaties with
the Marris but the law and order situation could not be improved. The Marris
always thought the British as illegal occupants of their territory. Thus
everything related to the British – men, allies or installations – was supposed
to be attacked. In 1898 AD, Sardar Khair Bakhsh Khan Marri along with many of
his tribesmen migrated to Kabul as a protest against the British occupation.
However they came back after some time unconditionally.
After the Indo-Pak partition, this area
remained a political agency. The tribal leadership started voicing for unity of
Baloch tribes and an independent Balochistan. Nationalist sentiments grew
rapidly and after the arrest of the Khan of Kalat in 1958 the tribesmen started
a guerrilla – although on limited scale – against the government. The army was
sent to control the movement but its presence further deteriorated the
situation. Mir Sher Muhammad Marri took the leadership of the movement which was
called ‘farrari movement’. This movement ended in 1969.
After the dismissal of the first elected
government of Balochistan in 1973, a serious conflict started between the
government and the political leadership of the province. While responding to the
situation, the tribesmen in Kohlu started a large scale insurgence in the area
and after a strong military operation they migrated to Afghanistan along with
their leaders. Coincidentally, the history repeated itself and Sardar Khair
Bakhsh Khan Marri (Chief of Marris now-a-days) went into voluntary self-exile
and reached Kabul in 1981.
Since the up-rising in Kohlu the
presence of military forces has been considered necessary to keep the situation
in control. However, the government made many efforts to develop rapport among
the tribesmen. Various incentives and concessions have been awarded to the local
elders. Although the Marris returned back from Afghanistan in 1991 responding to
an appeal by the Pakistani government, the political situation still cannot be
called satisfactory. Development activities are still hard to be carried out
independently of tribal elders. The tribal-political leadership is of the view
that the land of Kohlu district is communal property of the Marri tribe. Thus
before exploiting any natural resource, the government should negotiate with the
tribal elders. However, this and some other issues have resulted in internal
dissension and the Bijarani clan has opted its own stand point. The law and
order situation is not satisfactory. This is evident from an attempt by the
Bijarani tribesmen to occupy the district headquarters in 1997.
Kohlu was given the status of district
on 6th February 1974 and reshaped in July 1983. At present the
district is comprised of three sub-divisions – Kohlu, Mawand and Kahan – with
its headquarters at Kohlu.
The shrine of Mast Tawakali at Maidan
Gari near Kohlu is a place of interest in the district.
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