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Rich fruit basket
Pishin Valley consists of thousands of acres of fruit orchads. The artificial irrigation channels in the area, made by boring holes into rocks to bring to the surface the deep water called Karez and modern agricultural methods have done wonders in the area. The rich harvest of apples, grapes, plums, peaches and apricots is loaded at Yaru Railway Station and or Quetta Airport to different destinations. I discovered the area (and the taste of the fruit there) during my stay in School of Infantry and Tactics Quetta when we used to walk miles and miles in training manoeuvres.
Legend attributes the origin of the name Pishin to a son of the Emperor Afrasiab. Up to the middle of the 18th century, when Quetta finally passed into the hands of Brahvi rulers, the history of Pishin is identical with the province of Kandahar. The earliest mention of Pishin is found in the ancient writing in which Pishinorha is described as a valley in an elevated part of the country and containing a barren level plain.
Little is known of the history of Pishin up to the 13th century AD. It was in 1221 that Kandahar and its dependencies passed into the hands of the Mughals. During the first half of the 15th century, Kandahar was under the rule of the Timurs successors and it was probably at the beginning of this century that the Tarins emigrated from their original homes in the Takht-i-Sulaiman and made their way into Pishin.
Between 1530 and 1545 the province of Kandahar was in the possession of Mirza Kamran - the brother of the Emperor Humayun. After his death in 1556, Kandahar and its dependent territories were restored to the Safavid kings of Persia and they remained under Persia until 1595, when they were again acquired by the Mughals. It is mentioned in Ain-i-Akbari that Shal and Pushang (Pishin) were included in the eastern division of the Kandhar Sarkar. In 1622 Kandahar was again brought under the Safavid dynasty and with the exception of a short period remained under Persia. The Safavid Monarch Shah Abbas gained possession of Kandhar in 1622. He conferred the government of Pishin and tribal adjacent areas upon Sher Khan.
The end of the 17th century witnessed the rise to prominence of the Brahvis power and Quetta and Pishin both suffered from the encroachment of Brahvis fell into their hands in the time of Mir Ahmed whose reign lasted 30 years, from 1666 to 1696. Mir Wais obtained possession of Kandhar in 1709 and it is curious that this feat was accomplished in connection with Pishin Brahvi history relates that around 1725 Pishin has been annexed by Mir Abdullah. However, in 1733 Shah Hussain Ghilzai made a move against the Brahavis and he garrisoned in Pishin. Moving forward, he crossed the Ghaza Bund and took Quetta. He advanced to Pishin where the Brahvai submitted. Quetta remained after that time under Kandahar and was transferred to Nadir Shah on his taking that place. Later on it is said that Ahmed Shah Durrani finally conferred it on the Brahvis after the campaign in eastern Persia in 1751, when he received gallant aid from Nasir Khan-I. Pishin meanwhile remained under the Durranis. Ahmed Shah is said to have given Pishin as a jagir with the condition of the supply of military services, to Pakar Khan. From the Durranis Pishin passed into the hands of Barakzai.
During the period of the first Afghan war, Quetta was annexed by the British in 1839. After the British retired in 1842, Pishin and Shorarud were occupied by the Afghans. The first phase of the Afghan war closed with the signing of an agreement in May 1879 stating that the district of Pishin along with some other districts was to be ceded to the British government. It was in 1882 that final orders were given for the permanent retention of Pishin and British authority was extended over the Valley.
When Quetta district was handed over to the British government on April 1883, it was combined with Pishin into a single administrative charge and H. S. Before its occupation in 1878 and its subsequent assignment in 1879, Pishin always formed part of the province of Kandahar. The Batezai Tarins played important part as Governors. Before the British occupation and up to 1882 it was under an assistant to the Governor General. From 1883 onwards, when Pishin was combined with Quetta, together they fell under one political agent, the Deputy Commissioner. Till 1975 Quetta Pishin remained a single administrative unit when Pishin was separated from Quetta and was given the status of a district. In 1993 Pishin was bifurcated into Pishin district and Killa Abdullah district. Now there are three districts Quetta, Pishin and Killa Abdullah which before partition came under one administrative division, known as Quetta Pishin. The district consists of one tehsil, Pishin, and three tehsils: Huramzai, Barshore and Karazat.
An old Balochi war ballad describes the land of Balochistan. It reads Mountains are the Balochis forts; the peaks are better than any army; the lofty heights are our comrades; the pathless gorges our friends; our drink is from the flowing springs; our bed the thorny bush; and, the ground we make our pillow. But one sees a splash of colour in Pishin Valley in spring when most of the plants are in bloom. Nomadic tribesmen pass through the Valley during spring and autumn with their herds of sheep and camels and their assorted wares for sale. This seasonal movement also adds colour to the life of the town.
Apart from fruit, quaint little market town is famous for eating joints. Sitting on ground, we use to have their famous mutton dish known as Rosh specially made in lamb fat. Curry used to be charged whereas Rotis (bread) were free. Among the delicacies Sajji (leg of lamb) is the most famous, which is roasted to a delightful degree of tenderness and is not very spicy. The people also enjoy Landhi (whole lamb), which is dried in shade and kept for the winters. Kabab shops in town are very popular.
Water is the major problem in the Valley. The ground water present in the mountains, rocky hills, gravely pediment fans and aprons and piedmont plains is most likely safe for irrigation, domestic and livestock consumption. The quality of ground water also varies from place to place. In Karazat tehsil from Kily Qasim Bostan to Choormian, the water is of very good quality, whereas in Pishin bazaar and its surroundings the quality of water is poor. The water from saline basins - Karbala, Khudaidad zai - is not suitable for drinking and irrigation. In Pishin Valley water is supplied through different sources: tube-wells, hand pumps, wells, karezes and springs. Tube-wells by far have become the major source of water supply. Children and women are still seen fetching potable water from far-flung areas. If the water problem is solved, Pishin is a rich fruit basket of the country.


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