Sanitizing the infestation in the Wakhan Salient [2 of 2]

Dr.  Ahmad Hassan Dani in his book “History of Northern Areas of Pakistan”, states: “Wakhi is spoken in Chitral (Upper Yarkhan valley), in Upper Ishkoman valley and in the Upper Hunza valley (above Gulmit)..the Wakhi speaking communities settled in the northern Areas of Pakistan, came there (more than one hundred years ago?) from their Upper Oxus previous location through the Irshad Pass, which connects the Wakhan, Yakun, Ishkoman and Chapursan Valleys”. He continues “Wakhi is an ‘Iranian’ language but Wakhis are inhabiting for a long time in the Pamir Valleys (Wakhan). They are not Iranians and do not stem from present-day Iran. ‘Iranian simply means that 4000 years ago some groups were speaking a language related to that of Zoraster very different from Wakhi as we know it, but which evolved in course of centuries and is now Wakhi”. The British conspiracy separated Tajikistan from Pakistan.



by RupeeNews


The prodigiously brilliant article by Dr. Naveed Tajammal sheds light on a subject which has rarely been discussed in Pakistani or world history books.

The birth of the new geographic entity of Afghanistan was based on global events as they started to unfold, and so the British Empire the ’’ King Makers’’ from the turn of the 19th Century set about creating new states, by awarding them new names, and thereby delinking them from their past heritage, Khurassan, too met the same fate as did the Sindh Valley, whose integral part it always had been, Sir. Thomas Holdich, writing in 1901 was correct when he confessed the same in his book,” The Indian Borderland’’, ’’We have contributed much to give a National Entity to that Nebulous Community which ‘’WE’’ call ‘’AFGHANISTAN’’ (but which the Afghan, Never, CALL, by that name) by drawing a boundary all around it and elevating it into a position of a Buffer State, between ourselves and Russia, all this has been done at great expense, and with infinite pains……….’’.

In 1805, Napoleon, had declared war on Russia, and by 1807, Fateh Ali Shah of Persia, had accepted the French proposal ,’’To appoint an Army to march on India by the way of Kabul and Kandhar,’ ’The British, however, succeeded in thwarting the French Alliance. Yet, the danger remained, for the future. So the British felt the need for  new buffer states or ‘Corridors’ that led in to the British Indian Empire from Persia as well from the North. So, Mountsuart Elphinstone,’ of the book fame, ’’An Account of Kingdom of Cabul’’ was sent to meet Shah Shuja in 1809, and a treaty was signed between the British and Cabul Kingdom, by terms of which French and other Europeans were to be rigorously excluded from the ‘Kingdom of Cabul’. However, the rupture between, France and Russia, which occurred at this period, removed all fears of an invasion of India by the two powers.

Then came the First Afghan War, with it came the threat again from the Russian side, as by late 1830’s, the tentacles of the Russian Empire were being felt all over the Central Asian Chess Board. The Russian ‘’Menace’ was a cause for watchfulness & anxiety, though the British boundary till then was limited to Cis-Sutlej Regions, and the show of Flag. The rationale of the first Afghan War, was the danger that, Russia was again becoming predominant at the court of Shah of Persia, and so an apprehension was felt by the British, that there may be a move in the ‘’Corridor’, as Persia, by then,was demanding the return of its old provinces of HERAT, KANDHAR & KABUL and the Russians were ready to help .

From the Russian point of view, it was considered that if Persia took ‘’Herat’’, she would ultimately absorb Kandhar and Kabul. And that, through Persian Agency and without any cost whatsoever to the Russian Exchequer, but a heavy strain would be placed on Britian, to meet the new situation. This was seen, in the Persian Policy of the next twenty five years,1832 till 1857 – it was solely focused on capture of Herat. By now the Afghan Entity had been created at least on papers, but the boundaries had yet to be drawn. All this was done to thwart any claim on the old provinces of Persia by Shah of Persia, with the backing of the Czar of Russia. Dost Mohammad of Kabul, was still not in full command of the new entity, so he appealed for help from Lord Auckland, the Viceroy of British India.

The appeal was to allow him to take over the Trans-Indus regions, and thus force out Ranjit Singh, to remain confined in the CIS-INDUS and Trans-Sutlej belt, and a final plea for weapons and cash to help him fight the Persians. The brothers of Dost Mohammad – seeing, the change, in air, sent envoys to the Shah of Persia with Letters of Submission and a request to the Russians for an intervention. Both were pleased. The Russian sent a Captain Vitavich, and thus started a new round of the Great Game, and with it came the First Afghan war, as has been highlighted above with reasons why.

The flexing of British muscle power, though in vain, as was seen, the greatest disaster suffered by British Arms, in Asia till then. The Russian Empire on the other hand continued its moves across by the Central Asian Chess board. By 1844 the Sea of Aral had been explored, a massive fort built on the mouth of Syr-Darya at Akmasjid, the Khanate of Kohkand fell in 1853, Tashkent in 1865, Bokhara in 1868, and then fell Samarkand, followed by Khiva, and soon the Russains were in contact with old districts across the OXUS which had been part of Bokhara state now with the Russians.

The internal feuds between the rival candidates of Afghanistan continued meanwhile, Sher Ali was now installed on the throne of Kabul, and his relations with the British improved, as he met Lord Mayo in 1869 and was awarded a subsidy of pounds 60,000/. And the work on demarcation of the new Afghan state on paper between two Empires took off, between Lord Granville of British Government and Prince Gortchakoff, the Russian Ambassador in London. Unknown were these things to Sher Ali sitting in Kabul, so between 17th Oct. 1872 and 19th to 31st Jan. 1873, a paper on the new boundary had been drafted in London between the two representatives. [The boundaries as drawn between Persia and Afghanistan and British India are not being discussed in this article].

The new face of the state of Afghanistan on its North west and North East was to be composed of the following districts: To the North East, Badakhshan, and the District of Wakhan, from old Upper Kaskar State, the lower was declared by the British as Chitral Kunduz. The old Turkistan now Afghan Turkistan, having the districts of Kunduz, Khulm, and Balkh, the new Northern Boundary between the empires would be the OXUS river as it followed a path, from the junction of the Kokcha river to the post of Khoja Saleh, inclusive of the High Road from Bokhara to Balkh, the internal districts of AKCHA, SAR- EPUL, MAIMANA, SHIBARGAN and ANDKHUI. The latter was to be the extreme Afghan frontier possession, to the north west, the desert beyond was to belong to independent tribes of the Turkomans. However, this was the British Demand then.

In 1873, the Russians eventually agreed on it but, not before a long period in which they objected to this new map of Afghanistan, as the Russians, now the legal heirs to the old state boundaries of Bokhara felt cheated out of its Trans-Oxus territories, and also of other districts as they had grave reservations on the writ of Amir Abdur Rehman of Kabul on them. In 1893, twenty years hence from the date the final papers on the new face of Kingdom of Afghanistan had been drawn, when Amir Abdur Rehman of Kabul had tried to impose his writ in the Wakhan, in the greater interest of the British.

His forces had been soundly thrashed by the Czars Cossacks, at Somatash, on the banks of Allchur river further north of Wahkhan. He had then realized how powerless he was to retaliate and so had refused to accept Wahkhan, as his new territory, subsequently, a larger money grant to the tune of RS. 18 lakhs, were offered, to induce him to accept it, with promises of the British intervention if and when anybody tried to dislodge his forces. So a part of our Sindh Valley was taken from us. As stated earlier, many new states had been created by the British as buffers, some were front line & some the second line, to safeguard the Northern Gates to the Indian Empire, hence came into being another State, that of Dogra Kashmir.

In 1846, a Hindu kingdom which then composed of  90% Muslims, that we will discuss later on. But coming back to the Wakhan corridor, the object of this long arm in these high altitudes or on the roof of the world, as it was not much of a buffer, as it could be easily ridden in a hard days ride across from its extreme width. So it presented no vast physical obstacle to an advance of any sort, as that already had been catered for earlier by creation of the new Kashmir State under the Dogras of Jammu, that being the second line. Wakhan was a ‘’Hedge’ as it was the piece over which the Czar of Russia could not step, without violating Afghanistan, and violation of Afghanistan was to be regarded as a ‘’Casus belli’’.

Since the creation of the Kashmir State our people had been in a state of REVOLT, that by itself was an alarm, to the British, or its policy makers, so the new Maharajas of the state like Abdur Rehman in Afghanistan tried to impose their writs, but revolts continued. British tried all methods to keep the situation in control. In 1882, however, fresh disturbances had been created by the ruler of upper Kaskar State, Pahlawan Bahaduar, who ruled Yasin, Kuh, Ghizer and Ashkuman ranges and lands, Hunza and Nagar inclusive. Mir Ali Mardan Shah held Wakhan and was also resisting the Afghan writ. Both got removed. Pahalwan Bahadaur lost his state, while MIR Ali Mardan Shah, was compensated with Ashkuman, and so in 1906,Yasin, Kuh, and Ghizer were made one district.

Mehtar Abdur Rehman, the eldest son of (late) Pahalwan Bahadaur, was made its ruler. However, Hunza, Nagar and Chilas, the old territories of the late ruler were made independent of Kashmir ruler, vide Foreign Department letter No. 1800 dated 24 July 1901 with express orders that no official of Kashmir had any suzerainty over them, and were forbidden to interfere directly in their internal administration, as they came directly under the Foreign Office of the British Empire.

The second line buffer, the Dogra Kashmir was created by a treaty dated 16th March 1846 signed at Amritsar. It had 10 Articles, streamlining the yoke of the British king, through its British East India Company. It included the clauses like the amount of payment, limits of territories, arbitration, not to hire or engage the services of any British subject, nor any subject of any European or American State, without consent of the British; that the British Government will protect the state of the Maharaja, from external enemies, and the Maharaja acknowledges the supremacy of British Government, and in token will pay, ONE horse, 12 perfect Shawl GOATS, later an amendment took place, on 13 MARCH 1884, THAT, in Future the Maharaja will ensure that, he will present instead of 12 GOATS, it would be 10 lbs of PASHM in its natural state, as bought to Kashmir, from Leh – 4lbs of Picked and Assorted black wool; 4 lbs of ditto-ditto grey wool, ditto-ditto, white wool, and 1 lbs each of the three best qualities of white Yarn.

How humiliating could they be when the British wanted to be, such was the nose binding rule of the British on this Hindu Maharaja of the second line buffer state, now with India.

Lastly our claim on the lost northern territory is very vital keeping in view the new geo political affairs, and by our right it should be returned to us, but as the verse of Oliver Wendell Homles describes exactly the men, who are needed to achieve this end:


Great Hearts, Strong Minds, True Faith, and Willing Hands. Men Whom the Lust of Office Does not Kill. Men Whom the Spoils of Office Cannot Buy; Men Who Possess Opinions and a Will; Men Who Have Honor, Men Who Will Not Lie.

According to Dr. Dani in his book “History of Northern Areas of Pakistan”, he states: “Wakhi is spoken in Chitral (Upper Yarkhan valley), in Upper Ishkoman valley and in the Upper Hunza valley (above Gulmit)..the Wakhi speaking communities settled in the northern Areas of Pakistan, came there (more than one hundred years ago?) from their Upper Oxus previous location through the Irshad Pass, which connects the Wakhan, Yakun, Ishkoman and Chapursan Valleys”.

Dani adds “Wakhi is an ‘Iranian’ language but Wakhis are inhabiting for a long time in the Pamir Valleys (Wakhan). They are not Iranians and do not stem from present-day Iran. ‘Iranian simply means that 4000 years ago some groups were speaking a language related to that of Zoraster very different from Wakhi as we know it, but which evolved in course of centuries and is now Wakhi”


The British conspiracy separates Tajikistan from Pakistan. The British-Russian Boundary Commission demarcated the land as a buffer between the British Empire and the Russian areas of Central Asia. This happened in 1895-1896 and Lenin took over the Central Asian Republics right after the October Revolution of 1917. It was an integral part of the Silk Road. Pakistan wants to build roads and railways through it to Tajiksitan and Uzbekistan. The route has to be opened if Afghanistan wants any trade package. The corridor is sparsely populated with only 10,600 Wakhi farmers and Kyrgyz herders.

Afghanistan should make territorial adjustments with Pakistan giving Pakistan the Wakhan corridor for some land in Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhawa. The Wakhan corridor separates Pakistan from Tajikistan and was created by the British as a separation of British colonial territories and Tzarist Russia. Both empires have now gone from the scene, so Afghanistan should hand over the Wakahan corridor to Pakistan.

Dr. Babur Zahiruddin adds:

I must say that many of THE writers have emphasized that these passes must be opened.

There are 3 important passes which give us an easy access into the Wakhan Corridor: They are the Nowa Pass in Mohmand Agency, the Arundo Pass going from Garm Chashma, in the Chitral valley into Nooristan into Afghanistan but these are farther and are an indirect access to the Wakhan Corridor.

The most important of all these passes are the Dura Pass via Zupu Zarkhoon and Broghil Pass. These passes give us direct access into the Wakhan Corridor and on to TAJIKISTAN.

The other passes which give inlet into the Kishmanja valley are the Cilangi Pass and Karumbar Pass.

Similarly there are other passes like Kilik Pass, Mintaka Pass and Parpak Pass but these open from the Hunza state (Valley) into CHINA. Now What I would like to emphasize is that from Chitral to Bunni to Mastooj to Brep to Ghazin to Lashat and on to Broghil is hardly a distance of 240 kilo meters. But the time taken to travel this distance is about 3 days.

First by Jeep to Mastooj 8 – 9 hours and then on to Kishmanja by Jeep 14 hours and then onwards on horseback and trek for about another 8-10 hours to TERI-DAST and finally to Broghil at the height of 14, 300 feet. An important feature of Broghil / Teri -Dast is that it is the only place in the world where polo is played on the back of yaks.

The conditions of the road, the hazards and the impediments on the way again will not be discussed, but what I want to emphasize here is that the WAKHAN corridor will give us the shortest road link to the Central Asian Islamic States and on to the Tundra region.

Opening of this route will make the gas and natural resources of the Central Islamic States and cross border trade available to us which will be mutually beneficial for Pakistan as well as these states. Since we are dependent on GAS from IRAN to overcome our energy problems by 2015, but Iran may face UN / USA sanctions very soon……

The idea of this comment is to apprise my fellow thinkers of the geostrategic importance of Pakistan and what the future planners of Pakistan must do in the long run.

Ansar-ul-Haq adds:

Bold diplomatic moves need to be taken by Pakistan with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and China to secure this very important area in the magical Pamir Valley. Similarly Pakistan needs to secure Pakthunkwa and Baloch working with Afghanistan and Iran. It is a rational comment to assume that peace and progress across the region is dependent in a stable Pakistan and access to China via all routes and paths that make up the network of paths that was once The Great Silk Route.

Pakistan must also work with all parties concerned to flush out terrorist training camps set up by the Indians jointly with the Americans, the Israelis and the British. Pakistan has the right to attack these terror camps deep inside Afghanistan directly by Pakistan Air Force and working with the government of Afghanistan and local intell via Afghan National Resistance. A secure Pakistan is but a reflection of what the outcome will be inside Afghanistan.

I have mentioned the importance of the recreation and unification of Khorrasan as this is strategically vital for peace, security and prosperity and it is the right thing to do. By this I am not calling for dissolving sovereignty of independent nations that exist but Khorassan of a modern age. A vast trading block from Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and all of Central Asia all the way back to the Caspian. Integrated rail and road links inter governmental co-operation, celebration of a common history, geography, ethnicities, language and cultures. Greater economic co-operation, joint projects, people to people exchange and joint defence pacts with stronger ties with China and genuine understanding and compromise with Russia.

Men who have honor, men who will not lie.

Moin Ansari is a 50-something US-raised Pakistani American living in the US. His political background is well to the eft of the centre, and has a deep interest in investigative history, international relations, immigration, cultural integration and lanhuage policy issues. H eis presently working on a long term doctorate in history.

Related Post:

Pakistan’s lost territory, the Wakhan Corridor 

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