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Dr. Baloch - An icon of achievement

April 08, 2011

Dr. Prof. Nabi Bux Baloch. –Photo montage by Suhail Yusuf

Dr. Prof. Nabi Bux Baloch is no more with us. He breathed his last on Wednesday morning April 6, 2011.The news of his demise shocked the nation because he was a polymath of history, literature, lexicography, geography, education, culture and civilization.

Baloch was born on December 17, 1917, in the impoverished village of Jafar Khan Leghari, Sanghar district of Sindh. He traveled many miles every day on a bull cart to reach his primary school as there was no school in his village.

In 1941, he did BA honors first class from Bombay University, then an MA first class (first) and LLB from Aligarh University, where he made the company of luminaries such as Dr. Sir Ziauddin Ahmed, Nawab Bahadur Yaar Jang and Allama Inayatullah Khan Mashriqui and also joined the Khaksaar movement. Here he was inspired by his Arabic teacher Abdul Aziz Memon , a great scholar of Arabic. Dr Baloch even noted his daily conversation with Memon and even his quotes in a diary!

Baloch then moved to the US where he completed his MA and then took on a PhD in education from Columbia. He was a pioneer of the education department at Sindh University and was also appointed as VC of International Islamic University and Sindh University.

Baloch was also appointed as a member of Hijra committee and decided to translate 100 top books in Urdu in different western languages, but due to some hurdles he left the project.

He worked as a secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Education and also served the nation as the Chairman of National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research. Baloch was elected as a member of UNESCO’s international scientific committee on the history and civilization of central Asia.

A workaholic scholar

The inner thirst, dedication and passion of Dr. Baloch resulted in wonderful masterpieces.

He did immeasurable research work on a spectrum of disciplines such as ancient history of Sindh, Sindhi Lexicography, folklores, Makran civilization, Islamic history, literature, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s work, languages of Kohistan and many more. Dr. Baloch has contributed some 150 books in Balochi, Sindhi, Saraiki, Persian, Urdu, Arabic and English.

Simple living and high-thinking were the rules of this great man. Some of his contributions are listed below:

He is the first person to point out the ancient city of Debal where the final battle between Muhammad Bin Qasim and Raja Dahir took place. In early 1950s the Bhambhor excavations confirmed his analogy.

After his doctorate, he returned to Pakistan but failed to find any job for more than a year. In the meantime he traveled to every corner and village of Sindh to hear and write old folklores and turned the oral literature into a 46 volume opus.

When renowned scholar Dr. Prof. Hameedullah asked him to find a plant in the Sindh Delta, he traveled in a boat and finally discovered the tree which was mentioned in 10th century literature by Iraqi scholar, Abu Hanifa Dinwari.

In 1988, he presented a rare literary piece of Balochi literature in the Golden Jubilee ceremony at Baloch Academy, Quetta. He actually hired the manuscript from the British Library, UK.

He traveled to all the public and private libraries of Interior Sindh to make a bibliographical chart. He mentioned the title, author, subject, year and even condition of the thousands of books- all by himself!

He also compiled a small book about the sayings of the father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, for the students and teachers.

Sindhi-Urdu and Urdu-Sindhi dictionary and his work on Shah Latif is another major triumph which took three decades of hard work.

Dr. Baloch caught rare deadly snakes from Tharparkar and other areas of Sindh and handed them over to the experts to produce anti-venom.

A few months ago, at the Karachi Literature Festival, I met Michel Boivin, a French expert on Sindhi culture. When I asked if he knew Dr. Baloch, he exclaimed, “Oh! Dr. Baloch is a mount of knowledge!” Indeed he was a scholar of international repute.

Dr. Baloch was always miserable about the education conditions in Pakistan. He was a strong advocate of literacy for all the children of Pakistan.

He said that not only Urdu but Sindhi, Balochi, Saraiki, Brahvi, Punjabi and all other languages are also the national languages of Pakistan as they successfully served the needs. However, he considered the Urdu language as state language. He was also a tireless discoverer of old manuscripts.

A year ago, he gifted me a book called ‘Gulshan-e-Urdu’ with his autograph and gave me remarkable advice for success. He said, “For research you should always look upon the original source, you will never fail.”