Pishin ranks 18th in Balochistan, with an area of 7874 Sq. Km. Pishin is a modernized form of ‘Pushang’,24 which is an Old Persian version of the Arabic name ‘Fushang’. The district is located in the North of Quetta City, the provincial capital of Balochistan, sharing its boundaries in the North-East with Afghanistan and Killa Saifullah in the East, Killa Abdullah on the West and Quetta District is in the South. Pushto is the prevailing language in the district. The Tareen tribe in Pishin speaks the same language as spoken in Quetta, Gulistan and Dukki. It is similar to the language spoken in Kandahar. Those, who have settled away from Pishin, speak local languages (Pushto).
6.1 Land, Climate and Water
The climate of Pishin is pleasant in summer, and dry and bitterly cold in winter. The district experiences storms in the winter season. The rainy season is mostly in the months of December, January, February, March and April. Pishin falls in the tropical agro-ecological zone bearing a total potential agricultural area of 153,443 hectares (Development Statistics of Balochistan, 2012-13), which is approximately 19 percent of the total geographical area. Water scarcity is a major constraint to agricultural development, although 188 tube wells were installed by the government and 4,178 installed by the private sector. Ground water is the main source of drinking water in the district, combined with water supplies through tube wells, hand pumps, wells, karazes, and springs. According to the Public Health Engineering Department, only 57 percent of the population has access to drinking water. And in many areas the quality of water is saline or brackish.
The total forest area of Pishin district is 73,775 hectares.25This includes range lands, and part of the Surghund forest. There are two types of forests found in Pishin; natural and artificial forests, made up of conifers, and other type of trees. The demand for wood for heating during winter increases the pressure on these forests, and combined with a water shortage, the forests are a threatened environmental resource. The major tree species found in the district are Obusht, Wild Ash and Shina. The main shrubs Janglee Badaam, Sparae, Tharkha, Kala Zira, Makhi, Khakshir.Kala Zirais are used for spice. Oman and Khakshir are found in large quantities and have medicinal value. Extracts of these plants are largely used, by villagers as well, for treatment of cough and asthma.
6.3 Wildlife and Protected Areas
In Pishin the data of wild animal species is not available, but studies show that the number of animals have declined for several reasons. Illegal hunting, rapid population growth, and the absence of government policy on wildlife protection has led to a decline in the wildlife of the district. Most game species indigenous to Pishin such as the ibex, markhor, and chinkara, have disappeared. Two protected areas in the district are the; Maslakh Game Sanctuary, which was established in 1968, where birds are the main attraction, and the Bund Khushdil Khan Game Reserve established in 1983. This reserve is a shallow water storage dam, a water bird habitat, and a recreational area.
6.4 Environmental Hazards
Flash Floods: Floods are common in Pishin district, as the water recharge capacity of forests, rangelands and cultivated areas has decreased significantly26. Parts of Pishin are prone to flash floods during heavy rains. The floods caused extensive damage to houses, standing crops, orchards, livestock and water supply schemes affecting thousands of people and settlements, while cutting and damaging road networks.
24 District Development Profile 2011, District Pishin Planning and Development Department, Govt. of Balochistan, in collaboration with UNICEF
25 Pishin District Government 2011, Pishin Integrated District Development Vision, IUCN Pakistan, Quetta.
26 Pishin, Integrated Development Vision, IUCN, Balochistan Program Office
District Profile Pishin
Heavy Snowfall: Heavy snowfall, though infrequently, cause extreme cold and immobilize some parts of Pishin27. Even areas that normally experience mild winters are hit with major snowstorm or spells of extreme cold weather. Precautionary response measures can the reduce damage to the health of citizens, livestock and natural resources.
Earthquakes: Balochistan lies in a seismically active region28. The province has experienced catastrophic earthquakes in the past. Many areas of Pishin district, in particular areas around Khanozai are vulnerable to earthquakes. The Suleiman range, a part of the Hindu Kush which lies south-west of the Himalaya is tectonically active.
Major earthquakes in Pishin include Shahrigh and Mach earthquake of 1931, the Quetta earthquake of 193529. The Ziarat Earthquake in 2008, and recent earthquakes in Pishin include one in 1993 and in 2000 (6.0 on Richter Scale).