Mustafas Quetta in Pakistan Directory
A short introduction to Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan. Originally a loose tribal confederation, Baluchistan was later divided into four principalities that were sometimes under Persian, sometimes under Afghan suzerainty. In the 19th century British troops tried to subdue the inhabitants until a treaty in 1876 gave them autonomy in exchange for British army outposts along the Afghan border and strategic roads. On the partition of India in 1947 the khan of Khalat declared Baluchistan independent; the insurrection was crushed by the new Pakistani army after eight months. Three rebellions followed, the last being from 1973 to 1977, when 3,300 Pakistani soldiers and some 6,000 Baluch were killed. 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.