With its temperate climate and clean mountain air, Quetta has always been a ‘Switzerland in Pakistan’ to those who live there. But thanks to a series of viral snowfall photos, the provincial capital has found itself back on the map for domestic tourism.
“Anyone who grows up in Quetta grows up with an admiration for the mountains that surround it,” Murad, the more experienced of the trio, said. “Me and Sadat, being childhood friends, often visited them as kids,” he recalled. “As members of the Hazara community, it was often not safe for us as children to go out in the city a lot. The best outing we could go for revolved around these peaks and how to climb them. That is what lit the mountaineering fire in us.”
“We have, until now, climbed Chiltan Shakh and Zarghoon Range on the outskirts of Quetta along with Khilafat Peak in Ziarat,” added Sadat. “When they climbed Char Shakh in 2008 and Zarghoon Peak in 2011, I didn’t even have a DSLR camera. But as soon as I got one in 2013, I started snapping pictures from the top of Kotli Hill in Mariabad.”
According to Sadat, his first landscape photograph of Quetta went viral with a case of mistaken identity. “When people started sharing and reposting it, many of them suggested they depicted Islamabad, Lahore or Rawalpindi,” he said. “I had to intervene and inform as may people as I could that the city in the photo was actually Quetta.”
There is more to Quetta than terrorism. It is unfortunate that the city and the province has only been in the news for tragic reasons,” Even though our community has borne the brunt of sectarian violence here, for a few years now the city and the province has been really safe for everyone, and we want to show that.”