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Quetta is also spelled Kuwatah which is a variation of Kot,Pashto word meaning “fortress.” It is believed the city’s name is derived from the four imposing hills (Chiltan, Takatu, Zarghoon and Murdaar) that surround the city and form a natural bulwark. Quetta, is the provincial capital of, the Balochistan province of Pakistan. It is also Known as the Fruit Garden of Balochistan due to the diversity of its plant and animal wildlife, Quetta is situated at an average elevation of 1,680 meters (5,500 ft) above sea level, making it Pakistan’s only high-altitude major city. The population of Quetta was 11,000 in 1891 to a total of between 1,865,137 and 2.8 million according to the 2012 reports which makes it the 6th largest city in Pakistan.
Quetta was a part of Afghanistan but in 19th century it was made part of British Raj. Quetta mainly comprises of Pashtun, It also have Baloch, Hazaras, Punjabi and other Minority Groups. Pashto is the language spoken by majority of Quetta residents. Other languages include Brahui, Balochi, Urdu, Punjabi, Saraiki, Hazaragi, and Sindhi.
The area of Quetta is 2,653 km2 , which is surrounded by Four Mountains which acts as a natural fort. Quetta has an imported strategic location, because it act as a trade route between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bolan Pass is also located there which is the gate way to South Asia.
The area was in control by Kasi Tribe Pashtun. The first important incident of Quetta is from the 11th century when it was captured by Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi during his invasions of South Asia. In 1543, the Mughal emperor Humayun rested in Quetta on his retreat to Safavid Persia, leaving his one-year-old son Akbar in the city. In 1828 the first westerner visit Quetta. Quetta originally belongs to Afghanistan. It was briefly captured by British during First Afghan War in 1839, in 1876 Quetta became part of British Empire. British Troops constructed the infrastructure for their establishment as it was a strategic location. By the time of the earthquake on 31 May 1935 Quetta had developed into a bustling city with a number of multistory buildings. The epicentre of the earthquake was close to the city and destroyed most of the city’s infrastructure and killed an estimated 40,000 people. After many years the city has been rebuilt mainly with local funds.. However multi-story buildings are also built, while a number of buildings of three to five floors are being constructed in the city.
The predominantly Muslim population supported the Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement. On joining Pakistan, Quetta was made the capital city of the newly created province of Balochistan before it was combined with other Balochi princely states (Kalat, Makran, Lasbela and Kharan) to form the Baloch province. Quetta remained the capital of the province until 1959 when the provincial system was abolished under Ayub Khan. After the 1971 war, the provincial system was re-instated, and Quetta was once again made capital of Balochistan. Most of the Population of this City belongs to Pastun Tribes i.e., Alizai, Kasi, Kakar, Khilji, Syed, Durrani.
Quetta as a city has a vast historical background due to which there culture and tradition are very strong. There are many ethnic groups in Quetta but there cultural values are closely linked. The reason can be the same religion they share.
People of Quetta are not violent as they are portrayed in previous years, they are loving, caring and very welcoming. It has been only a decade or two when the people have turned like this. Maybe it is their necessity to protect themselves and their families from the hostiles which have entered their city and creating violence.
The mode of dress among the Balochi, Pashtun and Brahvi tribes is very similar having a few minor dissimilarities. Turban is the common headwear of the men. Wide loose shalwar and knee-long shirts are worn by all. The dress of the woman consists of the typical shirt having a big pocket in front. The shirt normally has embroidery work with embedded small round mirror pieces. Big ‘Dopatta’ or ‘Chaddar’, a long rectangular piece of cloth cascading down the shoulders and used to cover head, are used by the women.
Traditional Pashto music is mostly klasik ghazals, using rubab or sitar, tabla, portable harmonium, flute and several other musical instruments. The famous two dance of Pashtuns is the Attan and Khatak dance, which was mainly done in the war time for the leisure time but later on being made a part of their culture. And now it is famous all over the world. Where ever Pakistan is been represented these dances are shown not only part of Quetta but a part of Pakistan Culture.
As Quetta being part of Muslim State, the two Eid festivals which mark the end of fasting and the end of the Hajj allow the majority Muslim community to put on musical shows, distribute sweets and presents among the relative and the poor.
Buzkashi is a festival or sport celebrated by Pashtuns in which two teams ridding on horse, attempt to snatch a goat from each other. The people of Quetta like football as a sport more than cricket or hockey which is National Game of Pakistan.
Quetta’s bazaars specialty are colorful handicrafts, Balochi mirror work and Pashtun embroidery. Afghan rugs, fur coats, embroidered jackets, waistcoats, sandals, and other traditional Pashtun items are also famous and imported in western countries as well.
The soil of Quetta is also very rich, as they are one of the biggest exporter of Fruits and Dry fruits, as well almonds. Much of the fruit is been distributed from Quetta alone in Pakistan. The famous dry fruits products are also distributed from Quetta.
The Pashtun traditional dishes such as Kadi kebab and Lamb Roash and Balochi Saji and other traditional delicious dishes are available around the city especially at Prince Road, Jinnah Road, Serena Hotels. The Pashtun tribal cuisine “Roash” which non-locals call “Namkin” is to be found in both city restaurants as well as in the outlying areas. Some of the finest mutton in the country is raised around Quetta and is a mainstay of local cuisine. The Pashtun tribal dish, “Landhi”, is made of a whole lamb which is dried and kept fresh during the cold winters. “Khadi Kebab” is a lamb barbecue while “Sajji” and “Pulao” are other local dishes.