The strike of the main ridges forming that system is almost due north and south till it touches 30° N. lat. Here it assumes a westerly curve, till it points north-west, and finally merges into the broad band of mountains which hedge in the Quetta and Pishin uplands on the north and east.
At this point, as might be expected, are some of the grandest peaks and precipices in Baluchistan. Khalifat on the east of Quetta, flanking the Harnai loop of the Sind-Pishin railway; Takatu to the north; Chahiltan (Chiltan) on the south-west; and the great square-headed Murdar to the south - all overlook the pretty cantonment from heights which range from 10,500 to 11,500 ft. Lying in the midst of them, on an open plain formed by the high-level tributaries of the Lora (which have also raised the Pishin valley to the north), 5500 ft. above the sea, is Quetta. The mass of twisted flexures, the curved wrinkles that end the Suliman system, is occupied by true Baluchis, the Marri and Bugti sections of the great Rind confederation of tribes owning an Arabic origin. There are no Pathans here. To the north of them are the Bozdars, another Rind clan; and these Rind tribes form the exception to the general rule of Pathan occupation of northern Baluchistan. Amongst the Pathans, the Kakars and Dumars of Pishin, with the Mando Khel of Zhob, are the most prominent tribal divisions.
The curved recession of the Suliman Ranges to the north-west Central. leaves a space of flat alluvial desert to the south, which forms a sort of inlet or bay striking into the Baluchistan mountain system. The point of this desert inlet receives the drainage of two local basins, the Bolan and the Nari. Both drain south-eastwards from the central Quetta-Pishin plateau and both have served for railway alignment. Being fed by tributaries which for the most part drain narrow valleys where gradual denudation has washed bare the flat-backed slopes of limestone ridges, and which consequently send down torrents of rapidly accumulating rainfall, both these central lines of water-course are liable to terrific floods. The drainage of the Bolan and Nari finally disappears in the irrigated flats of the alluvial bay (Kach Gandava), which extends 130 m. from the Indus to Sibi at the foot of the hills, and which offers (in spite of periodic Indus floods) an opportunity for railway approach to Baluchistan such as occurs nowhere else on the frontier. Kach Gandava, whilst its agricultural development has in no way receded, is now rivalled by many of the valleys of the highlands. Its climate debars it from European occupation.
It is a land of dust-storms and poisonous winds; a land where the thermometer never sinks below 100° F. in summer, and drops below freezing-point in winter; where there is a deadly monotony of dust-coloured scenery for the greater part of the year, with the minimum of rain and the maximum of heat. The Quetta and Pishin plateau to which it leads is the central dominant water-divide of Baluchistan and the base of the Kandahar highway.
An irregularly-shaped block of upland territory, which includes all British. the upper Lora tributaries, and the Toba plateau beyond them; resting on the Kwaja Amran (Kojak) Range (with an advanced loop to include the Chaman railway terminus) on the west; reaching south through Shorarud to Nushki; including the basins of the Bolan and Nari as far as Sibi to the south-east; stretching out an arm to embrace the Thal Chotiali valley on the east, and following the main water-divide between the Zhob and Lora on the north, is called British Baluchistan. It is leased from Kalat, and forms a distinctive province, being brought under the ordinary forms of civil administration in British India. Beyond it, north and south, lies independent Baluchistan, which is under British political control. Its administrative staff is usually composed of military officers. The degree of independence enjoyed by the various districts of Baluchistan may be said to vary in direct proportion to their distance from Quetta. No part of Baluchistan is beyond the reach of the political officer, but there are many parts where he is not often seen. The climate of British Baluchistan is dry and bracing - even exhilarating - but the extremes of temperature lead to the development of fever in very severe forms.
On the whole it is favourable to European existence.
South-west of the dividing railway lies the great block of Southern Southern. Baluchistan. Within this area the drainage generally trends south and west, either to the Arabian Sea or to the central swamps of Lora and Mashkel. The Hab river, which forms the boundary west of Karachi; the Purali (the ancient Arabus), which drains the low-lying flats of Las Bela; the Hingol (the ancient Tomerus) and the Dasht, which drain Makran, are all considerable streams, draining into the Arabian Sea and forming important arteries in the network of internal communication. An exception to the general rule is found in the Mulla, which carries the floods of the Kalat highlands into the Gandava basin and forms one of the most important of the ancient highways from the Indus plains to Kandahar. The fortress of Kalat is situated about midway between the sources of the Bolan and the Mulla, near a small tributary of the Lora (the river of Pishin and Quetta), about 6800 ft. above sea-level, on the western edge of a cultivated plain in the very midst of hills. (See Kalat.) To the north are the long sweeping lines of the Sarawan ridges, enclosing narrow fertile valleys, and passing away to the south-west to the edge of the Kharan desert.
East and south are the rugged bands of Jalawan, amongst which the Mulla rises, and through which it breaks in a series of magnificent defiles in order to reach the Gandava plain. Routes which converge on Kalat from the south pass for the most part through narrow wooded valleys, enclosed between steep ridges of denuded hills, and, following the general strike of these ridges, they run from valley to valley with easy grades. Kalat is the "hub" or centre, from which radiate the Bolan, the Mulla and the southern Lora affluents; but the Lora drains also the Pishin valley on the north; the two systems uniting in Shorawak, to lose themselves in the desert and swamps to the west of Nushki, on the road to Seistan. Sixty miles south of Kalat, and beyond the Mulla sources, commences another remarkable hydrographic system which includes all southern and south-western Baluchistan. To the west lies the Kharan desert, with intermittent river channels enclosed and often lost in sand-waves ere they reach the Mashkel swamps on the far borders of Persia. To the south-west are the long sweeping valleys of Rakshan and Panjgur, which, curving northwards, likewise discharge their drainage into the Mashkel. Directly south are the beginnings of the meridional arteries, the Hab, the Purali and the Hingol, which end in the Arabian Sea, leaving a space of mountainous seaboard (Makran) south of the Panjgur and west of the Hingol, which is watered (so far as it is watered at all) by the long lateral Kej river and several smaller mountain streams.