Context of Wakhan Corridor

 

The Wakhan Corridor (Pashto: واخان دهلېز, romanized: wāxān dahléz, Persian: دالان واخان, romanized: dâlân vâxân) is a narrow strip of territory in Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, extending to Xinjiang in China and separating the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan in the north from the northern areas of Pakistan in the south. From this high mountain valley the Panj and Pamir rivers emerge and form the bigger Amu River. A trade route through the valley has been used by travellers going to and from East, South and Central Asia since antiquity.

The corridor was formed after an 1893 agreement between Mortimer Durand of British Raj and Emir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan, creating the Durand Line. This narrow strip acted as a buffer zone between the Russian Empire and the Britis...Read more

 

The Wakhan Corridor (Pashto: واخان دهلېز, romanized: wāxān dahléz, Persian: دالان واخان, romanized: dâlân vâxân) is a narrow strip of territory in Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, extending to Xinjiang in China and separating the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan in the north from the northern areas of Pakistan in the south. From this high mountain valley the Panj and Pamir rivers emerge and form the bigger Amu River. A trade route through the valley has been used by travellers going to and from East, South and Central Asia since antiquity.

The corridor was formed after an 1893 agreement between Mortimer Durand of British Raj and Emir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan, creating the Durand Line. This narrow strip acted as a buffer zone between the Russian Empire and the British Empire (the regions of Russian Turkestan, now in Tajikistan, and the part of British India now in Pakistan and the contested region of Gilgit-Baltistan). Its eastern end bordered China's Xinjiang region, then claimed by the Qing dynasty.

The corridor is in the Wakhan District of Afghanistan's Badakhshan Province. As of 2020, it has 17,167 residents. The northern part of the Wakhan, populated by the Wakhi and Pamiri people, is also referred to as the Pamir. The closest major airport for the residents to use is Fayzabad Airport in the city of Fayzabad to the west, which can be reached by a road network.

More about Wakhan Corridor

Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 12000
  • Area 10300
History
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    Although the terrain is extremely rugged, the Corridor was historically used as a trading route between Badakhshan and Yarkand.[1] It appears that Marco Polo came this way.[2] The Portuguese Jesuit priest Bento de Goes crossed from the Wakhan to China between 1602 and 1606. In May 1906, Sir Aurel Stein explored the Wakhan and reported that at that time, 100 pony loads of goods crossed annually to China.[3] There were further crossings in 1874 by Captain T.E. Gordon of the British Army,[4] in 1891 by Francis Younghusband,[5] and in 1894 by Lord Curzon.[6]

    Early travellers used one of three routes:

    A northern route led up the valley of the Pamir River to Zorkul Lake, then east through the mountains to the valley of the Bartang River, then across the Sarikol Range to China. A southern route led up the valley of the Wakhan River to the Wakhjir Pass to China. This pass is closed for at least five months a year and is only open irregularly for the remainder.[7] A central route branched off the southern route through the Little Pamir to the Murghab River valley.

    From a non-Afghan point of view, the corridor is in part a political creation from The Great Game between British India and Russian Empire. In the north, an agreement between the empires in 1873 effectively split the historic region of Wakhan by making the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border between Afghanistan and the then-Russian Empire.[8] In the south, the Durand Line Agreement of 1893 marked the boundary between British India and Afghanistan. This left a narrow strip of land ruled by Afghanistan as a buffer between the two empires, which became known as the Wakhan Corridor in the 20th century.[9]

    The corridor has been closed to regular traffic for over a century[10] and there is no modern road. There is a rough road from Ishkashim to Sarhad-e Broghil[11] built in the 1960s,[12] but only rough paths beyond. These paths run some 100 km (60 mi) from the road end to the Chinese border at Wakhjir Pass, and further to the far end of the Little Pamir.

    Jacob Townsend has speculated on the possibility of drug smuggling from Afghanistan to China via the Wakhan Corridor and Wakhjir Pass, but concluded that due to the difficulties of travel and border crossings, it would be minor compared to that conducted via Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province or through Pakistan, both having much more accessible routes into China.[13]

    The remoteness of the region has meant that, despite the long-running wars of Afghanistan since the late 1970s, the region has remained virtually untouched by conflict and many locals, who are mostly composed of ethnic Pamir and Kyrgyz, are not aware of wars in the country.[14]

    ...Read more
     

    Although the terrain is extremely rugged, the Corridor was historically used as a trading route between Badakhshan and Yarkand.[1] It appears that Marco Polo came this way.[2] The Portuguese Jesuit priest Bento de Goes crossed from the Wakhan to China between 1602 and 1606. In May 1906, Sir Aurel Stein explored the Wakhan and reported that at that time, 100 pony loads of goods crossed annually to China.[3] There were further crossings in 1874 by Captain T.E. Gordon of the British Army,[4] in 1891 by Francis Younghusband,[5] and in 1894 by Lord Curzon.[6]

    Early travellers used one of three routes:

    A northern route led up the valley of the Pamir River to Zorkul Lake, then east through the mountains to the valley of the Bartang River, then across the Sarikol Range to China. A southern route led up the valley of the Wakhan River to the Wakhjir Pass to China. This pass is closed for at least five months a year and is only open irregularly for the remainder.[7] A central route branched off the southern route through the Little Pamir to the Murghab River valley.

    From a non-Afghan point of view, the corridor is in part a political creation from The Great Game between British India and Russian Empire. In the north, an agreement between the empires in 1873 effectively split the historic region of Wakhan by making the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border between Afghanistan and the then-Russian Empire.[8] In the south, the Durand Line Agreement of 1893 marked the boundary between British India and Afghanistan. This left a narrow strip of land ruled by Afghanistan as a buffer between the two empires, which became known as the Wakhan Corridor in the 20th century.[9]

    The corridor has been closed to regular traffic for over a century[10] and there is no modern road. There is a rough road from Ishkashim to Sarhad-e Broghil[11] built in the 1960s,[12] but only rough paths beyond. These paths run some 100 km (60 mi) from the road end to the Chinese border at Wakhjir Pass, and further to the far end of the Little Pamir.

    Jacob Townsend has speculated on the possibility of drug smuggling from Afghanistan to China via the Wakhan Corridor and Wakhjir Pass, but concluded that due to the difficulties of travel and border crossings, it would be minor compared to that conducted via Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province or through Pakistan, both having much more accessible routes into China.[13]

    The remoteness of the region has meant that, despite the long-running wars of Afghanistan since the late 1970s, the region has remained virtually untouched by conflict and many locals, who are mostly composed of ethnic Pamir and Kyrgyz, are not aware of wars in the country.[14]

    The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan asked the People's Republic of China on several occasions to open the border in the Wakhan Corridor for economic reasons or as an alternative supply route for fighting the Taliban insurgency. The Chinese resisted, largely due to unrest in its far western province of Xinjiang, which borders the corridor.[15][16] In December 2009[update], it was reported that the United States had asked China to open the corridor.[17]

    In July 2021, the area came under Taliban control for the first time during the group's summer offensive.[18] It was reported that hundreds of ethnic Kyrgyz nomads along with their livestock attempted to flee north into Tajikistan.[19] It is patrolled by forces of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which took over responsibility from the previous NATO-trained Afghan National Security Forces.[20][21]

    ^ Stein, Mark Aurel (1907). "Ancient Khotan". Nature. 76 (1981): 619–620. Bibcode:1907Natur..76..619H. doi:10.1038/076619a0. S2CID 3999325. ^ The Travels of Marco Polo, Book 1, Chapter 32 ^ Shahrani, M. Nazif (1979 and 2002) p.37 ^ Keay, J. (1983). When Men and Mountains Meet. pp. 256–7. ISBN 0-7126-0196-1. ^ Younghusband, F. (1896, republished 2000) "The Heart of a Continent" ISBN 978-1-4212-6551-3 ^ "Geographical Journal" (July to September 1896) ^ Townsend, Jacob (2005). "4. Routes into Xinjiang". China and Afghan Opiates: Assessing the Risk (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 July 2012. ^ Cite error: The named reference IBS1983 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Jacobs, Frank (5 December 2011). "A Few Salient Points". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 July 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2017. ^ Cite error: The named reference reu was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ "2004 Mock & O'Neil Wakhan Expedition Report". Mockandoneil.com. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2021. ^ "United Nations Environment Programme (2003) Wakhan Mission Report" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2010. ^ "China and Afghan Opiates: Assessing the Risk" (Chapter 4). June 2005 ^ "Wakhan Corridor: The Afghanistan Province Untouched by Government, War or Terror". 10 February 2018. ^ Afghanistan tells China to open Wakhan corridor route. The Hindu. 11 June 2009 Archived 8 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine ^ China mulls Afghan border request Archived 10 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News Online. 12 June 2009 ^ "Southasiaanalysis.org". Southasiaanalysis.org. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2021. ^ Juanola, Marta Pascual (23 July 2021). "The Taliban conquest of a thin strip of land could change Afghanistan". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 27 August 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (29 July 2021). "These Herders Lived in Peaceful Isolation. Now, War Has Found Them". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2021. ^ "Cabinet orders military deployment, services in Wakhan valley". Pajhwok Afghan News. 20 November 2022. Retrieved 21 December 2022. ^ "Wakhan: The Corridor of Complication between Taliban, Pakistan and China". India Today. 1 August 2022. Retrieved 21 December 2022.
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