Rich fruit basket
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.