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Quetta, more commonly known as the fruit garden of PAKISTAN, is the capital of Balochistan and one of the most beautiful cities 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, Takatoo, Mordar and Zarghun.
Mainly Baloch and Pathans occupy the the province of Balochistan. The common religion of the Baluch (or Baluchi) & Pathan (Pakhtoon) people is Islam, and they speak Baluchi & Pashtoo, a member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. In the drier areas they make use of tents, moving when it becomes too arid. Although they practise nomadic pastoralism, many are settled agriculturalists, growing wheat, barley, millet, maize, and potatoes.
It is an important trade center; other industries include fruit canning and chromite mining. In 1876 the British acquired Quetta by treaty with the khan of Kalat. The city was capital of the British province of Baluchistan until that province became part of Pakistan in 1947. Pop. (1981 prelim.) 285,000. Quetta is also widely know as the summer resort of Pakistan. Quetta lies at 1,525 m/5,000 ft above sea level, 35 km/20 mi northwest of the Bolan Pass; population (1991) 350,000.
It has rail links with Afghanistan and Iran, and in 1982 a gas pipeline to Shikarpur in Sind was built. Quetta is a centre for fruit growing and trading in wood, carpets, and leather. There is a military staff college and a university.
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
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 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 early 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 is the legendary stronghold of the western frontier.
Geographically, Quetta lies at 1,680 metres (5,500 feet) above sea level.
Geographically Quetta also holds a vital and strategic position, and is one of the most
important military stations of the country. Boundaries of Iran and
Afghanistan meet here, and the Bolan Pass controls important lines of communications.
Baluchistan, a Mountainous desert area, comprising a province of Pakistan, was earlier a part of the Iranian province of Sistán and Balúchestan, and a small area of Afghanistan. The Pakistani province has an area of 347,200 sq km/134,019 sq mi and a population (1993 est) of 6,520,000. Sistán and Balúchestan cover an area of 181,600 sq km/70,098 sq mi and has a population (1986) of 1,197,000; its capital is Zahedan. The Quetta region has become important for fruit-growing. Coal, natural gas, chrome and other minerals have also been discovered and exploited. The 1,600 km/1,000 mi rail network has strategic as well as economic significance.
Although Quetta is on the western edge of PAKISTAN but still it is connected
with the country through a wide network of roads, railways and airways.
The port of Gwadar in Pakistan is strategically important, situated close to the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Hormuz. The 1,600 km/1,000 mi rail network has strategic as well as economic significance.
Quetta is connected to LAHORE by 727 mile long railway line. Similarly it is also
connected through railways with PESHAWAR (986 mils away) and KARACHI which is 536 miles away.
It is also connected with Zahidan (Duzdab), Iran, by railway.
Quetta is well connected by roads to the rst of the country. A recently built road connects it with Karachi through Mastung, Kalat, Khuzdar and Las Bela. Another road connecting Quetta to Karachi follows the Sibi, Jakobabad, Sukur and Hyderabad route.
Quetta and Lahore are also connected through two routes. The older route is the Sibi, Sukkur, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur and Multan route. Another route is via Loralai, Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan.
Quetta is also connected with Afghanistan through Chaman; and to Iran through the Mastung, Nushki, Dalbandin and Tuftan route.