Afghan Wakhan corridor: no Taliban violences but fragile survival and worries for the future

Cover image CC Tom Hartley at Wikipedia

On December 13, 2021, we had a conversation with an Afghan citizen living in the middle of the Wakhan corridor. He says the situation under Taliban order is calm and safe. But he also describes the difficulties encountered due to degraded livelihood conditions. He shares his anxiety about the fact the current context does not offer sustainable perspectives for the future.

Although we personally know this gentleman and we have no reasons to question his testimony, we want to underline that we did not have the possibility to double check his statements, knowing that the perception of the reality may differ from one person to another one, especially in an isolated and segmented region facing winter with scarce transmissions. We may also have misunderstood what was orally told to us. Newertheless, the text of this article was reviewed by our interlocutor. We share the news we received for those who feel concerned with the fate of the remote Afghan Wakhan corridor.

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A non-conflicting situation

Taliban in the Wakhan corridor are Tajik Taliban from Warduj district (Badakhshan province). They are based in Khundud (also spelled Khandud, medium Wakhan). They enter unfrequently into Wakhan villages. The communication is possible between local population and Taliban. There were already some contacts in the past, before the fall, between Warduj, under Taliban regime, and Wakhan corridor, under the Republic regime. Moreover, there were no military actions in and from Wakhan against Taliban. A certain level of trust exists on both sides.

Warduj

Khundud

Difficult life and concerns for the future

Resulting from what is presented above, people are safe. But the price of basic goods is very high, while revenues dropped. Afghani currency versus dollar is low. All borders of Wakhan are closed with Tajikistan, China and Pakistan, as a consequence of political decisions or as a consequence of weather conditions. Even Irshad Pass (4,799 m) is inaccessible due to the snow level. People worry about the future. The current situation is quiet but it is not sustainable on a long-term point of view for issues such as economic situation, education, etc. Moreover, there are concerns about the fact the peaceful context could become less stable.

Ishkashim border between Tajik Badakhshan & Wakhan Corridor. The baazar on the no man’s land is vital for trade between the two communities. It is closed.

Irshad Pass (4,799 m) between UpperWakhan/Pamir & Chipurson valley (Pakistan) is closed.

Environment concern

If Taliban decide to kill the protected wildlife, nobody could stop them. But, nowadays, Taliban chief is opposed to illegal hunting. Taliban oppose, also, to wood or bush collection in the mountain to contain erosion. However, with animal dung, it is the only fuel available. There are no electricity and no gas in Wakhan.

Marcopolo sheep endangered species from Afghanistan
Marcopolo sheep endangered species from Afghanistan
Snow leopard endangered species from Afghanistan
Snow leopard endangered species from Afghanistan

Border frictions with Pakistan, local consequences

In Broghil, Pakistan army built three border pillars in concrete. Local Wakhi workers were hired for this construction. The pillars are erected 300 meters inside Afghan Wakhan. Taliban want to punish Wakhi workers involved in this job.

Broghil Pass (3,882 m) is one of the two passes (with Irshad Pass) between Afghan Wakhan & Pakistan.

Discussions with Taliban about Wakhan, Tribune by Thomas Lund - Pamir Institute

Taliban-samtaler i Oslo

Vestlige land må samarbeide med Taliban til tross for deres hatefulle og voldelige ideologi. Akkurat nå er Taliban nøkkelen, dersom vi skal lykkes med å nå frem til isolerte områder og folk som har et desperat behov for hjelp. Det er dette Thomas Lund fra Norge mener er plikt.

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Discussions with Taliban about Wakhan, Tribune by Thomas Lund - Pamir Institute

Taliban Talks in Oslo

Western countries need to coordinate with Taliban, regardless what their ideology of hatred and violence inspire them. For the time being, Taliban are the key if we want our support being brought to the Afghan isolated populations in desperate need of help. This is what Thomas Lund, from Norway, presents us as a human duty, based on his personal experience and local acquantancies of an expedition leader and activist in the mountains of the remote Wakhan corridor.

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Pamir Institute Life has always been very difficult in Wakhan. It is one of the poorest regions of Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries of the world. Until recently, it was safe and peaceful. The fall of Wakhan dismantled the fragile balance which allowed the population to satisfy its reasonable and limited daily needs.

Afghan Wakhan livelihood. The road to hell

Life has always been very difficult in Wakhan. It is one of the poorest regions of Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries of the world. Until recently, it was safe and peaceful. The Taliban invasion dismantled the fragile balance which allowed the population to satisfy to face its daily reasonable and limited needs.Asad Wakhi is a young man from central Wakhan. Today, he gave us some direct insight about the struggle his people is facing

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Afghan Wakhan is the corridor stretching between the town of Ishkashim (Afghanistan) and Chinese border. It has no public infrastructure such as hospital, actual car road and phone network. However, from Ishkashim (Afghanistan) to Gaz Khan (Afghanistan), it is possible to use the TCell network going from Ishakahim (Tajikistan) to Langar (Tajikistan), on the opposite bank of th Panj River, but buying units became a nightmare since Taliban invasion..

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Published by Afghan Contributors

Afghan contributors and authors whose identity is protected, on Pamir Institute wbsite, for safety purposes.

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