M41 highway

The M41, known informally and more commonly as the Pamir Highway (Russian: Памирский тракт, romanized: Pamirsky Trakt), is a road traversing the Pamir Mountains through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with a length of over 1,200 km. It is the only continuous route through the difficult terrain of the mountains and is the main supply route to Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. The route has been in use for millennia, as there are a limited number of viable routes through the high Pamir Mountains. The road formed one link of the ancient Silk Road trade route. M41 is the Soviet road number, but it only remains as an official designation in post-Soviet Uzbekistan, as confirmed by official decree. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have passed decrees abolishing Soviet numbering of highways and assigning their own national numbering.

Old Pamir Highway

At the end of the 19th century — the beginning of the 20th century in Central Asia between the British and Russian empires continued a sharp geopolitical rivalry for influence in the region, which received the name "Great Game" in world history. The military department of the Russian Empire, concerned about the activity of the British in the Pamirs, decided to build a strategic military road along which it would be possible to quickly transfer troops from Fergana to the Alay Valley and carry out their effective supply. The construction was planned and carried out in deep secrecy and for a long time the existence of a road through the Alay Range in Russian Turkestan in Europe was not known.

In the summer of 1903, an officer of the Russian army, military geographer Nikolai Korzhenevsky, climbing the Taldyk Pass (Kyrgyzstan) with a height of 3615 meters, discovered a memorial pillar with the names of people who took part in the design and laying of a road along the Hissaro-Alay in the "Russian" of Turkestan. They were Lieutenant Colonel Bronisław Grombczewski, railway engineers Mickiewicz, Burakovsky, Zarakovsky and Podporuchik Irmuth. For a long time, Europeans believed that the first road through the Taldyk Pass was built in 1916 by Austrians captured in the First World War. Korzhenevsky's diary testifies to something else. He believed that in 1893 it was built by Russian sapper units. However, according to other sources, the first road connecting Osh and Gulcha in Kyrgyzstan through the Taldyk Pass was built in 1876 by a Russian detachment under the command of General Alexander Konstantinovich Abramov. Later, this small section of the road (88 versts - 1.1 km) from Fergana to the Alay Valley of Kyrgyzstan was called the "Old Pamir Highway". According to the testimony of Korzhenevsky, in 1910 only a dangerous pack trail went further from Gulchi to the south, through the Eastern Pamirs. Along the Panj, from Darvaz to Rushan in 1915, Russian units, with the help of the local population, also laid a pack trail, cargo was transported by packs on horses and donkeys. Rockfalls, landslides, avalanches, waterfalls, floods often destroyed the trail. By 1930, according to eyewitnesses, this trail was in terrible condition, even packhorses could hardly pass through it, they had to be constantly unloaded in order to transfer them to the ovrings.

With the completion in 1937, in Soviet era, of the construction of a highway connecting the cities of Osh and Khorog, the Old Pamir Highway became an integral part of the large Pamir Highway.

By the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of March 5, 1941, the tract was named after Stalin.

2022 Tajik protests

During the 2022 protests in Badakhshan Mountainous Autonomous Region [tg], the Pamir Highway was temporarily blocked by a group of protestors led by Muhammadboqir Muhammadboqirov. Muhammadboqirov was later killed on 23 May 2022, and the road reopened.[1][2]

^ "Tajikistan: Local residents say Pamiri leader killed by government troops". Eurasianet. 2022-05-22. Retrieved 2023-04-08. ^ Levi-Sanchez, Suzanne (2022-08-03). "The assassination that shook the Pamir Mountains to the core". openDemocracy. Retrieved 2023-04-08.
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