Quetta also spelled Kwatah city is a variation of kwatkot, a Pashto word meaning “fort”. is the largest city and provincial capital and district of Balochistan Province, Pakistan.
The city is the provisional and district headquarters and is an important marketing and communications centre between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Situated at an elevation of 1676-1900 meters above sea level in north-western Pakistan, Quetta is also known as the fruit basket of Pakistan.
Quetta, derived from Kwatta, meaning fort in Pushtu, no doubt is a natural fort, surrounded as it is by imposing hills on all sides. The encircling hills have the resounding names of Chiltan, Takatu, Murdar and Zarghun.
Quetta was first mentioned in the 11th century when it was captured by Mahmud 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 it was taken by the Persians, only to be retaken by Akbar in 1595.
The powerful Khans of Kalat held the fort from 1730. 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 Balochistan. 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 half a million people. Quetta, before the great earth-quake of 31 May, 1935, was a bright and bustling city, having multi storied buildings, it was almost completely destroyed in this great earthquake and was razed to the ground in the small hours of the morning of that fateful day, when about 40,000 souls perished within the twinkling of an eye. After the great calamity that overtook Quetta, houses are generally single storeyed and quake proof. These houses are 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.
Quetta has a dry and healthy climate with no factory chimneys to pollute its fresh and invigorating mountain air. Winter sets in by November and lasts till end February. Snowfall is light, though it is not unusual to have one as late as March. Quetta winters are severe and minimum temperatures of minus 12 degrees Celsius (10 degrees Fahrenheit) are not uncommon. Providentially the College is closed during the peak winter period.
Quetta can boast of the best spring and autumn in Pakistan. Although summers are warm, the maximum temperature rarely exceeds 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit). The evenings are extremely pleasant, characterised by a cool breeze that springs to life an hour or two after sunset. Fans are required during the months of May through August or sometimes September.
It is unknown when Quetta was first inhabited, but most likely it was settled during the 6th century. The region remained part of the Sassanid Persian Empire and was later annexed by the Rashidun Caliphate during the 7th century Islamic conquest. It remained part of the Umayyad and Abassid Empires. However the first detailed mention of Quetta was in the 11th century when it was captured by Mahmud of Ghazni on one of his invasions of the subcontinent. In 1543 the Mughal emperor Humayun rested here on his retreat to Persia, leaving his one-year-old son Akbar until he returned two years later. The Mughals ruled Quetta until 1556, when the Persians took it, only to be retaken by Akbar in 1595.
The British era
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.
Very little is known about the human settlement in the district. However, it is certain that the Afghans and Brahuis are recent immigrants. The Pashtuns appear to have entered the district from the north east, emigrating from their home round the Takht-i-Sulaman. Kansi’s (A branch of Afghan) are said to have migrated from their home around the Takht-i-Sulaman about eight centuries ago. They made their first settlement at Samali, a village near Quetta city. The Brahuis are an offshoot from the Kalat territory and their presence in the district dates back to the eighteenth century. In the 1880’s and 1890’s Hazaras from Afghanistan also immigrated from Hazarajat to Quetta. Until 1947 Quetta was a small town. People used to call it small London. But rapid population growth in terms of rural – urban migration, and an influx of Indian refugees increased the population of Quetta. Additionally, the influx of Afghan refugees during the 1980s helped the slums to grow. New settlement in the form of housing schemes emerged at Satellite Town, Jinnah Town, Samungli Town, Model Town and Shahbaz Town. In Kachi Abadies, slums also begun to develop. The process of settlement continues. Now Quetta has turned into an over-populated city.
Quetta, before the devastating earthquake of 7.1 magnitude on 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 consists of a valley and is a natural fort, surrounded as it is by imposing hills on all sides. The encircling hills have the resounding names of Chiltan, Takatoo, Murdar and Zarghun. 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 -18°C, while maximum winter temperatures seldom crosses 25°C. Snowfall is a common feature in months of December – February. Summer maximum and minimum temperature hover around 42°C 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. It receives rainfall during the winter season from December – March. Bibi Nani is nearby.
According to the 1998 census Quetta was the ninth biggest city of Pakistan with a population of 565,137 (however according to non-governmental census the population of Quetta along with Afghan immigrants is over 1,500,000). The city in general is dominated by a Pashtun majority, a Balochi and Hazara minority with an eclectic smattering of smaller groups. However the city is also a home to millions of Afghan immigrants. 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 outskirts of Kandahar until it was captured by the British in Second Afghan war. Most of the Balochis 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.
Beside millions of Afghan immigrants, the local inhabitants are mainly Pashtuns. Others include Baloch, Brahuis, Hazaras and large number of populations of Punjabis,Hindko, Mohajirs and Sindhis. During the summer season main bazaars are full of people from all over Pakistan. The merchants are mainly Pushtun people. The Hazaras mainly live in Mariabad, Syedabad, Alamdar Road, Brouri/Brewery Road & surrounding areas. Most Hazaras/Changazis immigrated from Afghanistan during the 1880’s and 1890’s due to persecution by King Abdur Rahman Khan and instability. It is one of the hot spots of Hazara migrants especially for Hazaras of Bamiyan province & its surrounding areas. Quetta tribesmen are known for their friendliness and hospitality. Making visitors comfortable is an integral part of their local traditions. The tribes include Kakar, Tareen, Bazai, Ghilzai, Mandokhel, Sherani, Looni, Kansi and Achakzai. The main bazaar on Jinnah Road is full of Pashtun traders, many of them wearing turbans. Hazara traders sitting in their shops with their distinct facial features, Baloch hawkers with red embroidered caps, and full-skirted nomad women carrying bundles of imported cloth for sale. During the summer season main bazaars are full of people from all over Pakistan. Quetta is a multi-Cultural city.
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 Afghan football, Hazara green football and Baluch football clubs and Quetta Bazigars. Hiddy Jahan Khan is a squash player who was ranked among the top-6 players in the world from 1970 through to 1986. In recent years, Hiddy has been a very successful squash player in veteran’s events. He has won British Open titles at Over-35, Over-40, Over-45 and Over-50 level. Hiddy’s younger brothers Zarak Jahan Khan and Zubair Jahan Khan also became successful professional squash players on the international circuit. In boxing, Olympian sportsmen are Syed Ibrar Ali Shah, Asghar Ali Changezi, and Haider Ali Changezi.
” Ayoob Khoso Famous actor
” Aimal Kasi Executed on Nov 14, 2002 in Viginia, USA, for the alleged murder of two CIA agents
” Hameed Sheikh TV artist
” Hiddy Jahan Legendary squash Player
” Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan
” Jamal Shah Famous actor, director, painter and social worker
” James Cassels (British Army officer) Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army and served as a Brigadier on the General Staff of 21st Army Group during World War II.
” Justice Javaid Iqbal Ali (Jr.) Former justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
” Kader Khan Popular Indian film actor, comedian, script and dialogue writer. Acted in over 300 films
” General Mohammad Musa Khan Hazara Former Chief of Army Staff Pakistan
” Qamar Zaman British Open Squash winner
” Suresh Oberoi Famous Indian actor who is also father of Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi
” General Abdul Wahid Kakar Former Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army
” Zeba Bakhtiar Famous TV and Film artist
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 is also located in Quetta.
” St Francis Grammar School, Quetta.
” St Joseph Convent School Quetta
” Balochistan Institute of Technology
” DAR-E-ARQAM School Of Islam & Modern Sciences
” Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences
” Command and Staff College
” Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University
” University of Balochistan]
” Iqra University
” St. Mary’s YMCA High School Quetta Cantt.
” Beaconhouse School System,Quetta Branch.
” F.G Degree College Quetta Cantt.
” Model Public School & college
” Tameer-i-Nau public college]
” Government College of Technology Balochistan
” Army public school and college
” Bolan Medical College Quetta
” General Mohammad Musa Khan Hazara Inter College Quetta
Quetta is on the western edge of Pakistan and is well connected with the country by a wide network of roads, railways and airways.
At an altitude of 1605 meters above sea level, Quetta Airport is the fourth highest airport of Pakistan. 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.
Road and Railways
Quetta railway station is one of the highest railway station of Pakistan, at the height of 1676 meter above sea level. The railway track was lined in 1890s during the British era to link Quetta with rest of the country. 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.
Recently the new project has been proposed for constructing a railway track that will link Gawadar to China, this will also link Gawadar with Quetta via Kalat. 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 the North-West Frontier Province must go 350+ km south down to Rohri, Sindh (near Sukkur) first, before continuing north to Punjab and/or NWFP.
PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Limited) provides the main network of landline telephone. Many Internet Service Providers and all major mobile phone companies operating in Pakistan provide service in Quetta.
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, Alamdar road (little Tokyo). Here, tourists can find colourful handicrafts, particularly Balochi mirror work and Pashtun embroidery which is admired all over the world. The Pashtun workers are prominently expert in making fine Afghan carpets, with their pleasing and intricate designs, fur coats, jackets, waist-coats, sandals and other creations of traditional Pashtun skills. local handicrafts, specially green marble products, mirror work and embroidered jackets, shirts, and hand bags, pillow covers, bed sheets, dry fruits, etc. Balochi carpets are made by the nomadic tribes of this area. They are generally not nearly as fine or expensive as the Persian city products, or even the Turkoman tribal rugs from further North, but they are generally better than Afghan carpets and more authentic than the bad copies of Turkoman and Persian designs that the cites of Pakistan produce. They definitely have a charm of their own. They range from relatively crude rugs that can, with some bargaining, be had at very reasonable prices to quite fine and valuable pieces. Many are small enough to be fairly portable. 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), and Khadi Kebab. “Landhi” is a 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.
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.The most papular areas of Pishin is Bostan,Kanozai,Yaru and Barshor.
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.
Quetta Consists of Several Small Housing Areas.
1. . Gulistan Town (On Main Major M.Ali Road near Alamdar Road)
2. . Quetta Cantt (Primarily for Ex and Serving Armed forces Personnel)
3. . Satellite town (Known as Heart of Quetta)
4. . Jinnah Town (One of the most Developed Housing Schemes of Quetta)
5. . Samugli Housing Scheme (On Main Samugli Road near Jinnah Town)
It is the Biggest Park of Quetta with Children Playground/Toys and Entertainment Point, Present on Airport Road Near Custom House Quetta. Its being Administrated by Army. Built in mid 90s, Askari Park is equipped with modern rides with “Dragon” being the main attraction.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park
In the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 km south-west of Quetta, Markhors have been given protection. The park is spread over 32500 acres, altitude ranging from 2021 to 3264 meters. Hazarganji literally means “Of a thousand treasures”. In the folds of these mountains, legend has it, there are over a thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great armies down the corridors of history. The Bactrains, Scythians, Muslims, Mongols and then the great migrating hordes of Baluch, all passed this way.