Sibi District

Report onthe Archival Records of Sibi District

The district underwent reorganization in the post-independence period to create Nasirabad division, Dera Bugti district, Kohlu district and Ziarat district. Following the post-1947 administrative re-organisation, the district's territorial jurisdiction has shrunk from 11,390 sq. miles as it was in 1903, to 7.796 sq. miles. The old description of it being a district covering vast and varied climatological zones, as it once was, is no longer true. In 1974 the district was subdivided to create Naseerabad and Kohlu districts, in 1983 Dera Bugti District, and in 1986 Ziarat District. Until 2000, except for Naseerabad, these new districts were part of Sibi Division ofPakistan.

Historical Background:

The British colonial influence started extending to Sibi region in the late forties of the 19th century, when in 1839, Misri Khan, the head of Panri tribe, tendered his services to Shah Shuja, and was taken into British service with a number of his followers, who were styled the "Baloch Levy. Subsequent events are a story of long and intense tribal wars that paved the way for ultimate annexation of the Sibi region to the British colonial empire. An entertaining account of the political events after Misri Khan's induction into British service is given in an old (undated) Gazetteer of Sibi; of which relevant excerpts are presented below:

"In March 1841, Mr. Ross Bell, the Political Agent in upper Sind, deputed one of his assistants with a detachment of troops, under the command of Colonel Wilson of the Bombay Cavalry, to collect the arrears of revenue due from Khajaks of Sibi on behalf of Shah Shuja. The detachment was accompanied by Misri Khan, and on the Khajaks refusing to comply with the demands, attacked the town, but were repulsed with heavy loss....... Reinforcements from Bagh were sent up under General Brooks. But before they could arrive the Khajaks abandoned their town, the defences of which were then demolished. The Khajaks were permitted to return during the following year and the town was rebuilt. From November 1841 to September 1842 an Assistant Political officer, resided at Sibi. When the British troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan on the termination of the war, the district was handed over by the British to the Khan of Kalat, but it does not appear to have been occupied by him, and in 1843 again came under the Baruzai rule ----. Up to the second Afghan war Sibi continued to be held by the Baruzai chiefs as governors of the Afghan rulers; but owing to the constant raids and encroachments of the Marris, the country was, at the request of the Sardars and people, occupied at the commencement of the war by a detachment of troops from Jacobabad...... In November 1887 the Kach-Kowas and Harnai valleys, Sibi, Duki and Thal-Chotiali were declared parts of British India...... Owing to the disputes between the Zarkuns and the Marris, Kohlu was brought under the British protection and added to the Thal-Chotiali district in 1892. In February 1891 Sanjawi was again transferred to Thal-Chotiali, and Barkhan was added in April 1892. On reconstruction of the district in October 1903, the Barkhan, Duki and Sajawi tehsils were transferred to the new Loralai district, and the name of the Thal-Chotiali district was changed into that of Sibi district."

Arrangement of Archival Records:

The recordsof Sibi District are kept in the old Deputy Commissioner Office- now Assistant Commissioner Sibi Office- in two separate record rooms. English Records are kept in the English Record Room which is supervised by a senior clerk, BabuEssa Khan. This record room is a brick-and-mortar structure and the records are relatively safe and well-organized. The record-keeper is a seasoned official who understands the importance of the record and is aware of his responsibilities. The record was properly organized and detailed index and hand-lists for most records were available.

The English records of Sibi District are extensive and date back to the creation of the office of the Political Agent, Sibi District. They contain important information on the decisions of the Shahi Jirga, the formation and working of the Levies Force, the political management of the Marri and Bugti tribes, and the protection of the Sibi-Harnai-Quetta railway line. Balochistan Archives team obtained copies of the Index Registers of the records which are available for reference in the Directorate of Archives in Quetta.

The Urdu and other vernacular records are kept in the Vernacular Record Room that is a mud-brick structure. These are supervised by a junior official, Mr. Pervez, who was on the verge of retirement. The record room was in disrepair at the time of the visit by the Archives team and rain water had seeped into it in the previous monsoon season. The records were organized into numbered Bastas bound into cloth. The records had been damaged by moisture, mold, and termites. On the intervention of the Archives team, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Aziz Jamali, carried out essential repairs of the Vernacular Record Room and also provided the record-keeper with cloth for new Bastas. However, unless a proper record room is constructed, the vernacular records are liable to be damaged and lost permanently.

The vernacular records of Sibi District are also important and contain Revenue Records, Judicial Records, settlement operations, and decisions of local and Shahi Jirga’s. A large part of the Revenue record covers revenue matters pertaining to former Nasirabad sub-division.

Detailed List of Important Files in the Archival Records of Sibi District