Pakistan conducted at least one
underground nuclear test on 30 May 1998, in a vertical shaft at a site
in the Kharan Desert, about 100 kilometers from the site of the first
test at Ras Koh. The test was conducted near settlement of Wazir Khan
Khosa, not far from the Unharwah railway station in the Jacobabad
District. Other nearby populated placed include Jumma Dakhan and Bari.
The Kharan Desert, also known locally as the Sandy Desert, is located in
northwest Balochistan. Pakistan, a mostly a dry country characterized by
extremes of altitude and temperature, has three main river basins:
Indus, Kharan and Mekran. The Indus Plain extends principally along the
eastern side of the river, and the Balochistan Plateau lies to the
south-west. The Kharan Desert area consists of shifting sand dunes with
an underlying pebble-conglomerate floor. The moving dunes reach heights
of between 15 and 30 meters. Level areas between the dunes are a
hard-topped pan when dry and a treacherous, sandy-clay mush when wet.
The barren wastes that occupy almost half of Iran, with its continuation
into Kharan in Pakistan, form a continuous stretch of absolute
barrenness from the alluvial fans of the Alborz mountains in the north
to the edge of the plateau in Baluchistan, more than 1,200 km to the
southeast. In altitude these central deserts slope from about 1,000 m in
the north to about 250 m on in the southwest.
The Thar desert of District
Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan lies in the south eastern arid zone of Sindh.
It is bounded on the eastern side by the border with India, in the North
by district Khairpur and in the West by the districts of Mirpurkhas and
Badin. Tharparkar is comprised of the four administrative units (known
as talukas) of Mithi, Nagarparkar, Diplo and Chachro and is further
divided into union councils and deh (village clusters). The highest
Government Official for the district is the Deputy Commissioner who is
responsible for all revenue collection as well as administrative
The name Thar is derived from Thul the general term for the region's and
ridges. The land area of Thar is spread over about 22,000 sq. km. Apart
from south-eastern part of Nagarparkar taluka which consists of granite
hills with plain cultivable lands, most of the desert consists of sand
dunes with flat plain between them where agriculture can take place.
At the moment the Thar region is inhabitated by about 1.0 million
people. There are two main religious groups namely Hindus and Muslim who
have peacefully lived side by side for centuries. Among the Hindu there
are various caste and sub-caste groups. Bheel, Meghwars and Kholis are
considered low castes or scheduled caste and they are in majority among
the Hindus who are at present about 40% of the entire population of Thar.
The so called upper caste Hindus are Lohanas, Sutars, Meheshwari and
Thakurs. The Muslim population at present is about 60%. This comprises
of various zat and tribal group such as Khosas, Nohris, Bajeers, Samas
and Mangnihars etc.
Of the total land area of 4.5 million acres, 3.4 million is cultivable
land and the remaining 1.1 million constituting about 24% is the grazing
land for cattle and livestock and the waste land.
The rain is the main source of water in Tharparkar arid region. It is
very erratic and the annual rainfall varies from 0-300 mm. All
agriculture and livestock activities are dependent on rainfall. The
failure of monsoon would mean no agricultural crop and no fodder for the
Thari cattle and livestock. The main crop of Thar is bajra and guwar. In
good rainy years, the lintels, melons and sesme are also grown as mixed
crop with the main crop of bajra and guwar.
Baluchistan held one of the
earliest human settlements in the subcontinent in Mehrgarh around 7,000
- 3,000 B.C. It was later conquered by Alexander the Great. Islam was
brought here in 711 A.D. when Mohammad Bin Qasim led the army which was
to conquer Sindh across Makran route. Makran Desert is known for its
intrinsic hostility of its landscape and climate which cost Alexander
the Great terrible sufferings and high casualties.
Baluchistan covers some 343,000 square kilometers. It is the largest
province of Pakistan, accounting for about 42 percent of its total area.
Known for its terrible Makran desert and other rugged ranges, the
province is very sparsely inhabited. In the south of the province,
Makran is almost entirely desert with low, dry hills rising from 300
meters to 2500 meters in the north. In the west there is a large salt
lake, Hammum-i-Maskhel, and more expansive desert plains.