The origin of the less than 100,000 Wakhi people is Wakhan corridor from where they emigrated but also where they, sometimes, partly came back. Their movements are explained by religion changes (Zoroastrian, Buddhism, Islam), trade, pastoralism, wars (Chinese, Tibetan, Arabs…), oppressions from local rulers (Wakhan Mirs), or more distant ones (Badakhshan Emirs, Bukhara Emirs, Yarkand Khan…), Afghanistan’s harsh annexion with the Pashtun Abdur Raman, Russian and Chinese communism, etc.
The Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), also known as the “New Silk Roads”, is a work in progress that raises many questions. Yet in Pakistan, the Karakoram Highway, commissioned in 1979, may provide us with some answers. Parallel to the challenged sovereignty of the country, it could be observed, until these last months, a religio-patriotic discourse with a questionable consistency and an expensive open or latent state of war seeming to assure a form of national cohesion.
Chapursan Valley, Pakistan, between Hindu Kush, Pamir and Karakoram ranges is mostly inhabited by Wakhi people, a small minority living in China and in Afghan or Tajik Wakhan. Not surpringly this population share a same faith and same religious traditions regardless the recent (on an historical point of view) borders.
In this Ex-Libris are some selected readings about history, traditions, religion, way of life and geographical locations of Wakhi people in High Asia. It was prepared for the travelers who intend to visit the Gojal Valley (Upper Hunza, Pakistan) or Wakhan Corridor (Tajikistan & Afghanistan). It could, also, be a post-travel tool to organise ground observations and to see them in a wider perspective.
The last act of the “Great Game” or “Большая Игра” (Bolshaya Igra), was played where the Tsarist Empire, the British Empire and the Chinese Empire joined in one of the highest and, at that time, one of the most inaccessible places of the planet. There, bristling with giant mountains, Pamir, Hindu Kush and Karakoram ranges converge.