The Makran coast is
Balochistan's southern strip and stretches for 754 kms. Long sandy
beaches, rugged promontories and tidal creeks characterize the
coast-line. There ranges of hills, rising to over 1500 meters
(5000feet), run parallel to the coast: the Coastal Makran Range, 30 kms
inland; the Central Makran Range, 130 kms inland; and the Siahan Range,
200 kms away from the sea. There is very little rain in the Makran
region; the few villages and towns along the coast and between the hills
are sustained by spring water.
Many of the Makran people are dark-skinned and have
African features. They are probably descended from slaves brought by
Arab merchants to the subcontinent. They subsist on fishing, date
farming and camel breeding. Most of the men work part-time in the gulf
state and Oman, and send money home to their families.
Alexander the great marched half his army home along
the inhospitable Makran coast in 325 BC, and Muhammad bin Qasim came
from Baghdad to Sindh through Makran in 711 AD. The Makranis stood firm
against the Mughals, but bowed nominally to the British Raj. It is only
since 1971 that some effort has been made to develop the region.
There is no road along the coast, but daily flights
connect the four main coastal towns of Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and Jiwani
with Karachi, and there are flights to Quetta three times a week, Gwadar
and Jiwani, both picturesque towns flanked by cliffs and beeches,
belonged t o Oman for about 200 years. The Khan of Kallat gave them as a
present to the sultan in the 18th century, and in 1958 they were sold
back to Pakistan. Ormara is currently being developed as a major port.
Turbat, the divisional headquarters for Makran, is a
small inland town near the hills, with little to recommend it but its
300 varieties of dates. Turbat is accessible by a rough road from
Lasbela, and by daily flights from Karachi and Quetta. Panjgur, the
principal date-growing area further north, can also be reached by air.
The track from Khuzdar to Panjgur is very rough