Pamir Highway security Q&A

Is the road, border or area open and accessible to foreigners? Is there danger?
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cal79
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General security advice - GBAO

Postby cal79 » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:39 pm

I would like to travel to the GBAO in Tajikistan this summer (along the Pamir Highway from Dushanbe, the Wakhan Valley, then explore the Murghab region, before exit to Kyrgyzstan), but note that the UK Foreign Office (I'm British!) advise against non-essential travel to GBAO. This seems to be based on the unrest/violence in Khorog last May. I am interested that they would advise against travel to the entire of a sizeable region based on this, rather than issue a more local warning for Khorog, so perhaps the warning is based on broader issues, but it really gives little detail/context so it is hard to know. I have contacted them for further information but had no response. Interestingly I note that the US State Department does not advise against travel to the region.

I'd be very grateful for any informed views on:

the Foreign Office's advice
the current security situation and whether people consider it safe to travel there
Any news/stories about travellers experiencing difficulties there

Many thanks in advance!
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby steven » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:16 am

I think the British base their warning on the idea that something could happen again, rather than that something dangerous is happening right now. It's winter time, very peaceful and cold. What happens later is of course, unknown to anyone, British or American. The British think the frozen conflict will flare up once the snow melts, the Americans are not too bothered by it, it seems.
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby Mathias » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:29 pm

Hi Steven,

First of all, thanks a lot for this brillant forum, really helpful.
I will be in three days in Dushanbe, for cycling the pamir highway to Osch.
I'm a little worried about security in the GBAO region. Reading the media, the potential presence of the Islamic State (DAESCH) is mentioned...
What are the security situation now? It should be better to avoid to drive along the Afghan border? Does the Wakhan Valley presents dangers? What are the most sensitive areas?
Thank you for your valuable advice.
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby bwv812 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:42 pm

Personally, I think the autocrats running countries like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have plenty of incentive to play up the dangers of Islamic terrorism, as this gives them relatively free rein from the west to do whatever they want so long as they can claim to be combating this alleged terrorism. Ismaili Muslims in Badakhshan are the least likely group of potential Islamic terrorists I can imagine, and I would personally have no IS-related worries about traveling to the GBAO.

Taking the northern route/M41 from Dushanbe is probably more scenic (and difficult), but it will also follow the Afghan border for much of the way. I don't think either route is much of a security risk, though, even in the areas outside Badakhshan.
Last edited by bwv812 on Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby steven » Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:23 am

I second bwv. Where did you read IS is active in Tajikistan? I read about this police captain from Tajikistan who defected and left for Syria, but that's it. Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for your actions or misfortunes taken on the basis of this advice. you never know :-)
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby Jerome » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:45 am

Hi ! Thank you for all the useful info

Are there any updates concerning that topic ? I really don't know what to think of such news but I also heard about potential threats from ISIS and Talibans, especially near the Afghan border and in Khorog, who was arguably mentionned as "out of control" by this western medium in January 2016:http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/central-asia/tajikistan/b078-tajikistan-early-warning-internal-pressures-external-threats.aspx

Would you say that the situation deteriorated ? I plan to cycle the Pamirs from Osh to Dushanbe in early May.
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby steven » Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:54 am

I have to say I also read alarming news, but people are still traveling there. I am not there at the moment so cannot assess the situation properly and don't want to give any advice. In this case I would have to refer you to your government's foreign ministry assessment of the danger. Or, for a more leisurely view of the situation, people who are there right now.

Sorry, I know that's quite a useless answer.
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby Anja » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:12 am

Hi Jerome!
Me and some friends travelled the pamirs the last couple of weeks and did not hear or see anything unusual (as far as I know). We crossed the Afghan border at Khorog for a daytrip and were told there were no problems with Taleban in a 100 km radius from there. I guess it can change fast, but that was the situation in mid-april. Hope that helps!

- Anja
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby tabf2010 » Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:42 pm

Does anybody know if the border market in the visa-free zone between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is open now? I'll also be going this route soon, probably by hitchhiking. Anja did you guys have Afghan visas or just went to the border zone?
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Re: General security advice - GBAO

Postby steven » Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:56 am

Hi tabf, I advise asking META ecotourism association, they are usually up to date on this.
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