Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Mir Chakar Khan Rind

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Mir Chakar Khan Rind, the heroic Baloch leader of the 16th century, is among my favourite stars. For the Baloch he is a demigod, almost to be worshipped. If it were within my province, I would follow him from his exploits upon arriving in Makran, across the vast and wonderful land of Balochistan, to his final resting place in Satghara near Okara. But that cannot be done, at least not in the current setting with the Baloch out for the blood of any Punjabi. My Baloch friends tell me that the man behind the gun that kills me will not be bothered that I am struggling to glorify that great ancestor they all worship.

In 1994, I got to travel to a place called Tadri Tal in the outback of Kohlu district. It is a place so beautiful that it brings tears to your eyes: The hills, low, broken, folded and contorted without any vegetation to speak of, are coloured as if from the palette of a master. They come in dark chocolate browns, mauves, pastel pinks and creamy yellows; they seem little like barren rocks, more like huge dollops of icing from a giant’s cake.

Here the rivers, mere cracks in the arid rocky ground, sometimes flowed in tiny streams. Mostly they were simply dry channels waiting for the rare fall of rain to slake them. The sky was blue and the air was frequently broken by the call of the three or four species of hawks and eagles we saw either quartering the ground from high above, or roosting on the crags. The month was June, that year when I travelled with friends to visit Mir Hazaar Khan Mari (not the politician of the same name). Of middling stature, fair of skin with a snow-white beard and deep, penetrating brown eyes, Mir sahib was a very good-looking man. He wore a dress as white as his whiskers and the traditional Baloch turban to match. From the hilltop village with its couple of dozen huts and tents, he ruled over his little world.

Over one of the several meals we ate under his roof, I asked if it was possible to reach Sibi from his village by camel. It was, he said, and it would take three days en route. I was tempted. Though he had a camel for my disposal, my kindly host did not permit me to undertake the journey. In the tortured, broken contours of the Bambor Ghar hills, where water was hard to come by, the heat of June could be a killer, especially for a city boy, he said.

Then Mir Hazaar Khan told us the legend. On this ancient byway, there is a tangi, a narrow gorge with a shallow stream at the bottom, named after the Chakar-e-Azam, the great Rind. In the narrow, twisting confines of Chakar Tangi there is somewhere a shelf some ways above the floor of the gorge and difficult to reach. Upon it, unseen by anyone since his time, rest the armour and weapons that Mir Chakar Khan used in battle.

The Baloch — and it must be a Baloch — who finds that gear, said Mir Hazaar Khan, and uses it will be magically endowed with the strength and prowess of the legendary Baloch hero. Such a man will then lead the Baloch nation to the glory they have long since forfeited and so yearn for.

If the simple journey had tempted me, I was now completely sold. But Mir sahib would have none of that. He would not permit me to travel in the heat of June. Now, I am no Baloch, nor indeed do I have any desire or even the faculties of a leader, my interest was purely academic.

I was and still am attracted to this story because of its similarity with that episode in the life of Alexander the Macedonian. He acquired the armour of Achilles from the ruins of Troy, and it is believed that it was this that saved his life after he received an arrow wound in Multan. If that armour was enchanted, could the one belonging to Mir Chakar Khan, the great Rind chieftain, have similar powers?

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 22 December 2013 at 16:20, Anonymous محمد ریاض شاہد said...

میں نے کچھ کتب اور انیٹر نیٹ سے چاکر خان کی زندگی پر یہ کہانی اخذ کی ہے

At 22 December 2013 at 23:54, Anonymous tariq said...

Salman rasheed. Don't worry one day will accompany you for searching sardar chakar footsteps. We baloch respect Punjabi friends like asad rehman, najam sethi, Asma jahangir n you too, for their honesty n services to the baloch. Some misguided youth Blindly accuse punjabis of discrimination but its the aparthied mindsets dominating the nations of their rights. That class is every where in all ethnic groups. Salute to all punjabis who respect sardar chakar grave in their hub n not showing any reaction to misguided miscreants.

At 25 December 2013 at 14:22, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Tariq, Thank you. Nice to know your feelings.

At 29 December 2013 at 19:21, Anonymous tariq said...

Salman rashid sb, I am here in lahore to attend our architects council , pcatp, executive commitee meeting. I ve a plan to visit okara to see mir chakar grave and plan a rehabilitate it with support of influencial my friend, arch. Mazhar munir khokar. Though its a tribal feeling to see a leaders grave but your articles' romanticism has attracted me here.

At 30 December 2013 at 07:48, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Tariq, I am very glad to hear that my article stirred a desire to visit the grave of Chakar the Great.

At 13 October 2014 at 08:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a king, but a chieftain who plundered, killed and looted the native punjabis. A bandit chief

At 26 October 2014 at 05:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would recommend the following well-researched article on Chakar Rind. He was actually a subordinate of Haibat khan Niazi.

At 2 January 2016 at 14:57, Blogger Unknown said...

Am thank full for such a beautiful comments and tribute to our ancestor Mir Chakar Khan. Ahmad Sultan Khan Rind

At 3 January 2016 at 13:28, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you, Ahmad Sultan Khan


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Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

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