Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Quetta:(Urdu: کوئٹہ) is the capital of the province Balochistan in Pakistan. The spelling of 'Quetta' is an erroneous English derivation from kwatta meaning 'fort' in the Pushtu language. Quetta is also known as the "fruit garden" of Pakistan. It is located in the densely populated Quetta District, which lies in the northeast of the province, and is situated in a river valley near Afghanistan's border, with a road to Kandahar in the northwest.


Quetta (the word derives from kwatta, fort in Pushtu) is a natural fort, surrounded as it is by imposing hills on all sides. The encircling hills have the resounding names of Chiltan, Takatoo, Mordar and Zarghun.
Quetta was first mentioned in the 11th century when it was captured by Mahmood of Ghazni on one of his invasions of the subcontinent. In 1543 the Moghul emperor Humayun rested here on his retreat to Persia, leaving his one-year-old son Akbar until he returned two years later. The Moghuls ruled Quetta until 1556, when the Persians took it, only to be retaken by Akbar in 1595.
In 1828 the first westerner to visit Quetta described it as a mud-walled fort surrounded by 300 mud houses. Although occupied briefly by the British during the First Afghan War in 1839, it was not until 1876 that Quetta came under permanent British control and Robert Sandeman was made political agent in Baluchistan. Since Partition the population of Quetta has increased dramatically. Because of its military base and trading activities, and the introduction of commercial fruit farming, Quetta District can now support about half a million people.
Quetta, before the devastating earthquake of 31 May 1935, was a bright and bustling city with multi-storey buildings. Those couple minutes of the earthquake seemed like hours to the people of Quetta. It was almost completely destroyed in this earthquake and was virtually razed to the ground in the small hours of the morning of that fateful day, when about 40,000 people perished. Today, houses are generally single storey and quake proof, built with bricks and reinforced concrete. The structure is generally of lighter material. Incidentally, the bricks of Quetta have a yellowish tinge unlike the red variety of Sindh and the Punjab.

Geography and climate:

Quetta city is comprised of a valley surrounded by three different mountain ranges. It is north west of Karachi and south west of Islamabad.
Quetta has minimum winter temperatures ranging well below freezing point and as low as -13˚C (8.6˚F), while maximum winter temperatures seldom crosses 20˚C (68˚F). Snowfall was a common feature in month of January till late eighties but after that snowfall has become rare in winters. While summer maximum and minimum temperature hover around 40˚C (104˚F) and 12˚C (53˚F) respectively. Unlike to the rest of the country, Quetta does not have a fertile rainy season during monsoon time. In general Quetta has a dry climate.


According to the 1998 census Quetta was the ninth biggest city of Pakistan with a population of 565,137. The city is dominated by a Pashtun majority, a Balochi and Hazara minority with an eclectic smattering of smaller groups. The Pushto, Balochi, Persian (Hazaragi dialect), Brahui, Sindhi, Punjabi and Urdu languages are spoken in large parts of Quetta, giving the city a very multicultural feel.
Quetta was the outskirt of Kandahar till it was captured by the British in Second Afghan war. Most of the Baloch settled in Quetta after 1970 when a new province by the name of Balochistan was created after One Unit system was abolished in Pakistan. Quetta was made the capital city of Balochistan.


The inhabitants are mainly Pashtuns. Quetta tribesmen are known for their friendliness and hospitality. Making visitors comfortable is an integral part of their local traditions. The main bazaar on Jinnah Road is full of Pashtun traders, many of them wearing turbans. Hazara traders sitting in their shops, Baloch hawkers with red embroidered caps, and full-skirted nomad women carrying bundles of imported cloth for sale.


Football is popular in Quetta, which has produced more renowned players then any other part of Pakistan. Mali Bagh is the best-known football ground. Teams in Quetta include the Hazara, Baluch and Afghan football clubs. In boxing, Olympian sportsmen are Syed Ibrar Ali Shah, Asghar Ali Changezi and Haider Ali Changezi. The three boxers belong to the Hazara ethnic group.

Educational institutions:

Quetta has many higher education institutions. The prestigious military

Command and Staff College, which was founded by the British, recently celebrated its hundredth anniversary.

University of Balochistan was established in 1974. The
Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences
Command and Staff College
Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University
University of Balochistan
Tameer-i-Nau public college
Government College of Technology Balochistan

Although Quetta is on the western edge of Pakistan, is well connected with the country by a wide network of roads, railways and airways.

Air Transport:
Pakistan International Airlines, Shaheen Air International and Airblue all have regular flights between Quetta and other major cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar. Pakistan International Airlines has a direct flight between Dubai and Quetta. Other international passengers traveling to Quetta can reach Quetta via any of the other main hubs of Pakistan, i.e. Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad or Peshawar.

Road and Railways:
The extensive network of Pakistan Railways connects Quetta to Karachi in south, by a 863 km (536 miles) track, Lahore in northeast (1,170 km or 727 miles) and Peshawar further northeast (1587 km or 986 miles). A metalled road is also present along the railroad that connects Quetta to Karachi via Sibi, Jacobabad and Rohri. A track from the Irani city of Zahedan links to Quetta via Taftan, but the train service were temporarily disabled in 2006 due to unrest in Balochistan.
Even though the linear distance from Quetta to Lahore is merely 700 km, there is no direct railroad track on this route because of the Sulaiman Range that lies in the east of Quetta. So all northeast-bound trains for Punjab or NWFP must go 350+ km south upto Rohri, Sindh (near Sukkur) first, before continuing north to Punjab and/or NWFP.

Telecommunication:PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Limited) provides the main network of landline telephone. Many Internet Service Providers and almost all major mobile phone companies operating in Pakistan provide service in Quetta.

Tourist Attractions:
Quetta is a major tourist attraction for tourists from abroad. It is advertised as a thrilling location, full of adventure and enjoyment. Some prominent bazaars of Quetta are located on the roads Shahrah-e-Iqbal (the Kandahari Bazaar) and Shahrah-e-Liaquat (the Liaquat and Suraj Gang Bazaar Modern Electronics), Alamdar road (little Tokyo), Toghi Road (Safest Place for Punjabis) and Hazara town. Here, tourists can find colourful handcrafted art, particularly the Balochi mirror work embroidery, Hazaragi Chapal, Norozi and Hazaragi Carpets which are admired all over the world. For those interested in local cuisine, there are many sumptuous dishes to feast upon. The "Sajji" (leg of lamb), Hazaragi Aash, Mantho is said to be very good by locals. The Pathan tribesmen of the valley also enjoy "Landhi" (whole lamb), which is dried in shade and kept for the winters. "Kebab" shops are very popular, the best being Lal Kabab, Tabaq, Cafe Farah and Cafe Baldia. They serve Pakistani and Continental food, while Cafe China specializes in Chinese cuisine. Some of the finest mutton in the country is raised around Quetta. It has a delicious smell which can be sampled in the "Pulao" that most of the eating houses offer. Small and clean hotels in Alamdar road provide real comfort for tourists in peaceful environments.

Pishin Valley:
About 50 km, from Quetta is the valley of Pishin, which is surrounded by thousands of acres of vineyards and orchards, made by boring holes into rocks to bring to the surface the deep water. The rich harvest of apples, grapes, plums, peaches and apricots is loaded at Yaru railway station, seven miles from Pishin.

Hanna Lake:
Hanna Lake nestles in the hills ten kilometres (six miles) east of Quetta, a startling turquoise pool within bare brown surroundings. There is a lakeside restaurant with picnic tables shaded by pine trees. At one end, the irrigation dam rises out of the depths like battlements of a fort. It is very attractive for holidaymakers, and is crowded with hikers and campers in holidays. You can hire a boat and paddle on the lake and round the island in the middle.


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