The rules that apply to the rest of Afghanistan are often irrelevant in the Wakhan Corridor – a frigid, finger-shaped stretch of land squeezed between Tajikistan, Pakistan and China that is cut off from the Afghan heartland by the icy ramparts of the Hindu Kush.
The Wakhan was not always sealed off from the currents of history. A branch of the Silk Road once ran through here, bringing influences from different civilizations. Outside the village of Sarhad-e Broghil, the ruins of an eighth-century Tibetan fort sit on a knoll. In terms of religious belief, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Islam have all been prevalent in the region at different times and have left their mark.
Wakhan corridor is of immense importance for Pakistan, because it is Pakistan’s gateway to Central Asia. Pakistan, through Wakhan corridor, can connect to Central Asia. If Pakistan is successful in penetrating the Central Asian markets, it can be a major trade corridor through the seaports of Karachi, Port Qasim and Gwadar.
China is opening its narrow border with Afghanistan with roads and probably a tunnel under the Pamir ranges. Pakistan and china cooperation in the region will boost transit trade and will offer the landlocked Central Asian states an opportunity to connect to Gwadar and the Kashgar economic corridor.
These developments are disturbing for India, because India is investing heavily in Chabahar port of Iran to gain access to the Central Asian market, but due to its strategic impotency, India is unable to undo the Pak-China cooperation in the Wakhan region.
India’s design to circumvent Pakistan from Central Asia is a distant dream, provided our policy makers devise such a policy to best utilize the Wakhan and Pamir region with China.
In the past, there were few announcements on the Pak-Tajik road link via Wakhan, but it was in doldrums; Pakistan’s future lies in its natural ability to be a transit trade hub of the entire region.
The newly appointed Tajik envoy to Islamabad, Sherali Jononov said that Tajikistan was interested in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, adding that the Tajikistan government had completed the Pakistan-Tajikistan road link work of their side.
If our planners became late in recognizing the importance of Wakhan corridor, India may hurt Pakistan’s interests badly.
- The Geo-Political Significance of The Southern Passes of The Wakhan Corridor by InayatUllah Faizi
- Wakhan, a window into Central Asia by Inayatullah Faizi.