A map of Balawaristan, and its three regions
A map of Balawaristan, and its three regions

Balawaristan (Urdu: بلاورستان), meaning the 'country of heights', is a name used by the Gilgit-Baltistan people to refer to their region. The term was coined by the Pakistani political party Balawaristan National Front, founded by Nawaz Khan Naji, in 1989. But it has its roots in the historical names Bolor or Boloristan, with documented usage in Chinese sources from the 8th century AD.[1] According to the present day activists, 'Balawaristan' includes Chitral, Gilgit, Skardu, Hunza, Nagar, Ishkoman, Punial and Yasin (see Districts of Gilgit-Baltistan). The leader of BNF Nawaz Khan Naji declared that Balawaristan (Gilgit-Baltistan) is not a part of Kashmir region.[2]


Balors means "highlanders", it is believed to have come from "Bala" meaning high or upper. Thus it means land of highlanders.[3]

Historically, the Baltistan region was called "Great Bolor" and Dardistan and parts of Brooshal (e.g. Gilgit Valley) were called "Little Bolor."[4] Great Boloristan is known to have sent ambassadors to the Chinese court in the 8th century.[4] The Mons, an Indo-Aryan group, made the region as a hub of Buddhism.[5]

Chinese historian Faxian mentioned it as Pololo or Palolo, Tibetans called it Nang-khod, where Arab historians mentioned it as Baloristan, moreover Theodre Foster in his The London Quarterly Review has stated that to Muslim geographers the name of the region was not known, use of the name in very rare cases is found.[6] Phunchok Stobdan says Mughal historian called it Tibet-i-Khurd.[7][page needed] The people of this region though belonging to various ethnicities, have historically been referred to as Balors, which means the highlanders or mountain people, a reference to the high-altitudes prevalent in this area. An alternative theory links the name to a mythic ancient king called Bolor Shah, who had first united the region and from whom local rulers in turn often claimed descent.[8][9]

Political status movements

Main article: Balawaristan National Front

In more recent times, the name Balawaristan is found used by Gilgiti political party like Balawaristan National Front led by Nawaz Khan Naji. The party is seeking to declare Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan. It also wants to give the people of Gilgit Baltistan representation in the Pakistani National Assembly and Senate, and to extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to the region.[10] The party has been represented in the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly by a single member, the aforementioned Nawaz Khan Naji, since 2011.[11][12][13]

Some Balawari groups, such as the Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement, have limited their demands to total autonomy and a respect for their distinctiveness.


The Balawaristan National Students Organisation, in April 2008, raised a demand for Balawaristan to be constituted into the fifth province of Pakistan (the other four are Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).[14]

See also


  1. ^ Anthropos. Vol. 79, no. 1–6. 1984 https://books.google.com/books?id=Lil_AAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 2009-01-24. A more indigenous label for the same territory is Bolor (or Boloristan); this designation had appeared in Chinese sources already in the 8th century. ((cite magazine)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Contested status | Political Economy | thenews.com.pk". www.thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  3. ^ Minahan, James B. (2012). Ethnic groups of South Asia and the Pacific: an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-59884-659-1.
  4. ^ a b Journal of Central Asia. Centre for the Study of the Civilizations of Central Asia. 2 (1). 1979 https://books.google.com/books?id=3HpxAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 2009-01-29. The eastern half, Great Bolor, could afford to send several embassies to the Chinese court during the first half of the 8th century ((cite journal)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Stobdan, P.; Chandran, D. Suba (2008), The Last Colony: Muzaffarabad-Gilgit-Baltistan, India Research Press with Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu, ISBN 978-81-8386-067-3
  6. ^ Foster, Theodore (1866). The London Quarterly Review. Leonard Scott. ((cite magazine)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Tikoo, Tej K. Kashmir: Its Aborigines and Its Exodus. Lancer LLC.
  8. ^ Khan, Amanullah (1999), Gilgit Baltistan, a Disputed Territory Or a Fossil of Intrigues?, retrieved 2009-01-24, ... Princes of Gilgit-Baltistan assumed to be descendants of Bolor Shah ...
  9. ^ "Seminar demands independent Bolor state", Daily Times, 2005-03-03, retrieved 2009-01-24, Speakers from the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) demanded an independent Bolor state at a seminar 'Great Bolor State and Kashmir Issue' at the Rawalpindi Press Club on Sunday.
  10. ^ Ali, Manzoor (29 April 2011). "Gilgit-Baltistan shocker: Nationalist candidate wins Ghizer by-poll – The Express Tribune". Tribune.com.pk. Retrieved 2012-05-31. Naji said that the federal government should declare Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan, give its people representation in the National Assembly and Senate, and extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to the region
  11. ^ "Nawaz Khan Naji wins G-B by-elections". Nawaz Khan Naji wins G-B by-elections | The Express Tribune. The Express Tribune. 29 April 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2020. Nawaz Khan Naji from the Balawarastan National Front won the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly by-elections in the L-A 19 constituency of Ghazar on Friday.
  12. ^ "GBLA ELECTIONS-2009" (PDF). contested 2009.pdf. ELECTION COMMISSION GILGIT -BALTISTAN. 2009–2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Nawaz Khan Naji takes oath of GBLA membership". Nawaz Khan Naji takes oath of GBLA membership - PAMIR TIMES. Pamir Times. 6 June 2011. Archived from the original on 22 September 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Provincial status sought for Gilgit, Baltistan", Daily Dawn, 2008-04-01, retrieved 2009-01-24, Historically, geographically and politically, Gilgit-Baltistan deserves to be a province. The people of the region should have the right to send their representatives to the National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan, of which they have been deprived for the last 60 years, said speakers at a seminar organised by the Balawaristan National Students Organisation here.


35°35′N 75°9′E / 35.583°N 75.150°E / 35.583; 75.150