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Directorate of Archives, Balochistan

History Balochistan with an area of 134052 square miles is the largest of the four provinces of Pakistan. It possesses a rich variety of climate, soil, languages, resources, races, civilization and culture. As far as archives are concerned, it happens to be one of the richest archival areas in the country. On the recommendation of the Department of Archives of Pakistan, the Government of Balochistan initiated action for the establishment of Directorate of Archives during the financial year 1976 (NAP, 1976, p. 2).

According to Moir (2002) “The Directorate of Balochistan Archives was created in 1976. However it started functioning properly in 1985 when an archivist was appointed. This Archives has the distinction that an Archivist having a master degree in archives from University College London was appointed” (p. 14). This Directorate started functioning in the Balochistan Secretariat record room.

Mr. Moir commenting on the Directorate of Archives in Balochistan (as cited in Sheikh, 1983) says:

It might be sensible to develop the archives there as part of an integrated and comprehensive program for preserving the cultural heritage of Balochistan, as a whole a heritage that embraces museum objects, manuscripts, libraries specializing in reference works for the study of the region as well as archives. (p. 331)

Building

At present, the Archives is functioning in a single room on the ground floor of the Balochistan Secretariat. A piece of land approximately 42000 sq. ft. has been purchased and the construction work is in progress. The covered area for archives is planned to be 13238 sq. ft. for basement, 13627 sq. ft. for ground floor and 13627 sq. ft. for first floor. The communication and works department has been assigned the construction of archives building (Subhpoto, 2005, pp. 136-137).

Mission and Responsibilities

The function of this wing is to acquire and maintain records for research and administrative purposes. It is the custodian of a substantial archival material produced during the colonial period. Chief functions of this wing are:

  1. Acquisition/collections of important archival, cultural and education resources, which are presently lying in different departments, divisional & district headquarters of Balochistan.
  2. Management and preservation of the archival records of the Government.
  3. Utilization of records for historical research, administration and planning purposes.
  4. Development of a record management system so that all departments should transfer their all non-current records/files to the Directorate of Archives & District Headquarters for proper weeding, classification and maintenance.
  5. Preparation of finding aids, guides for easy access of the researchers, historians, journalists and general public.
  6. Acquisition and preservation of private collections of historical importance such as important tribal families’ papers.
  7. Maintenance of oral archives i.e. collection of sound recordings of speeches, interviews of eminent provincial leaders.
  8. Microfilming of sensitive records of government and other private records of national importance.
  9. Acquisition of government printed material/ publications, newspapers and periodicals and their maintenance.
  10. Maintenance of archival library for use of research scholars and readers.
  11. Organizing seminars, exhibitions, and short term practical training courses for awareness about archives and its importance.

Departmental Committee

Balochistan Archives has a departmental committee comprises of Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Additional Secretary from Department of Finance, Controller from Government Press, Director Public Relations and the Director of Archives. The committee meets at the desire of the Director of Balochistan Archives as and when required.

Organization

In 1985 an Archivist was appointed, who subsequently had the distinction of being the first Archivist in Pakistan having been awarded a master's degree in archives administration from University College London” (Moir, 2002, p.14). The first Director of Archives was Abdul Aziz Luni a bureaucrat from 1988-1990 and the present Director is Habib Ahmed, a professional archivist from 1999 to date (Habib Ahmed Khan, personal communication, January 18, 2008). The detail of the staff working in the Balochistan Archives is given in Appendix 2-J.

Arrangement System

The Balochistan Archives has collected the British records and rare books of British period including a small collection of the reference books. This material is arranged in traditional way and the classification of archival record is under process. The detail of the arrangement is given in Appendix 2-K.

Provincial Library

In 1956, a Usis Center was established to serve as library. It was handed over to Education department Balochistan in 1971 and was renamed as Provincial Library in 1985. The Provincial Library has a collection of 67251 books. Fourteen newspapers / magazines have been subscribed to the library. The Provincial Library has long been a precious source of diverse information embodied in books, magazines, newspapers, periodicals, encyclopedias and other reading material. The library has facilities like photocopying and scanning etc (Balochistan, 2008, Library section, Para. 1).

Achievements

The department has catalogued 27,000 files for research papers in addition to 29,000 files of defunct commissioners’ office. It has established the Balochistan Secretariat Library of rare books.

Holdings

The Balochistan Archives has the:

  1. Archives with the activities of the agent to the Governor General in Balochistan are known as essential records (1862-1945) and General record (1831-1947). It seems probable that these designations were roughly equivalent to the categories of Part A (for important policy materials) and Part B (for more routine materials) adopted from the late 19th century in most other provincial governments within British India. Both these series seem to deal mainly with indirectly controlled states in Balochistan, such as Kalat, Kharan and Las Bela.
  2. Two further series, also known as essential records (1870-1937) and General records (1855-1955), both of which originally belonged to the revenue commissioner in Balochistan and were apparently concerned with British control.
  3. Two more series called records of the chief commissioner (1910-1937) and the records of the Balochistan secretariat (1903-1954). The exact scope of these series is not yet clear but it is likely that they mostly cover the Chief Commissioner’s general administration of the directly governed territories (Moir, 2002, p. 13). The archival record in the Directorate of Balochistan Archives is given in Appendices 2-L & 2-M.

Finding Aids and Publications

The archives department has so far reprinted/distributed the following historical/rare books:

  1. Gazetteer of Balochistan 1906 (12 volumes).
  2. Balochistan agency administration reports 1886-1944 (47 volumes).
  3. Kandhar newsletters 1883-1905 (10 volumes).
  4. Confidential diaries of Balochistan (1900-02, 1905-08, 1930-33), (3 volumes).
  5. Census reports of Balochistan (1901, 1911, 1921, 1931, 1941) (5 volumes).
  6. Report on earth quack 1935.
  7. Report on McMahon Museum at Quetta.