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Khunjerab Pass–Sost


N 36° 51′ 37′′, E 75° 25′ 38′′
4,934 MASL
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Demobilized soldiers from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (bingtuan) constructing the Chinese section of the Karakoram Highway. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, roughly 810 Pakistani and 200 Chinese workers lost their lives, mostly in landslides and rock falls, while building the secret Project 1601, as the road was then known. Over 140 Chinese workers who perished during the road construction are buried in the Gilgit Chinese Memorial Cemetery in Pakistan.

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Trucks in line waiting to be ferried across Lake Attabad. Located in the Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, the 20-kilometer-long, 100-meter-deep lake was formed in January 2010 by the Attabad Landslide, completely blocking the Karakoram Highway. The highway connection was finally restored in 2015 after the completion of a new route with 5 tunnels with a combined length of 7 kilometers, aptly named the Pakistan-China Friendship Tunnels.

1799: Despite the barriers of great mountains and inhospitable terrains, Kashmir was a major trading junction in the Indo–Central Asian commerce. The southern route of the ancient Silk Road followed the Yarkand River, a tributary of the Tarim River. It connected Aksu, Yarkand, and Tashkurgan before crossing the Karakoram Mountains via one of the western passes (Kilik, Mintaka, or Khunjerab) to reach Gilgit along the Gilgit River in northern Kashmir, a tributary of the Indus River. During the first half of the 19th century, most of the Kashmir was controlled by the Sikh Empire (1799–1849).


1846: After the defeat in the Anglo-Sikh War (1845–1846), the Sikh Empire had to cede Kashmir to the English East India Company. Through a sale deed, the territory was sold to the influential noble Gulab Singh, and the Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu (1846–1952), a Muslim-majority state with a Hindu Dogra ruler, was thus formed.


1865: The unstable region around Kashgar to the northeast of Kashmir attracted Russia and Britain as a base from which to resist influences from their counterpart and Qing China. Russia and Britain quickly recognized the Kingdom of Kashgaria, established by the Muslim adventurer Yaqub Beg in 1865.


1877: Qing China reconquered Xinjiang after General Zuo Zongtang defeated Yakub Beg.


1880: The Pamirs and Hindu Kush has become the forefront of the British-Russian Great Game since the mid-19th century. Afghanistan functioned as a buffer state in the Great Game between the British and Russian empires since it became a British protectorate after the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–1880).


1884: Russia and Britain agreed to the demarcation of Afghanistan’s northern border. Russia and China also signed a protocol to the Treaty of St. Petersburg (Treaty of Ili), which specified that from the Uzbel Pass, the Russian boundary runs to the southwest, and the Chinese boundary runs straight south. The protocol made a wedge of no-man’s-land encompassing most of the Pamirs.


1893: Durand Line was established in the Hindu Kush by Russian and British design, running through the tribal lands between Afghanistan and British India, marking their respective spheres of influence. Slightly modified by the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919, the line marked the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan following the 1947 partition of India.


1899: Britain proposed a new boundary between China and British India, which broadly followed the main Karakoram crest that divides the watersheds of the Indus and Tarim Rivers.


1947: The partition of India resulted in the formation of the independent nations of Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. The Kashmir region has been the subject of a dispute between the two countries since then.


1949: Following the Indo–Pakistani War (1947–1948), the Karachi Agreement of 1949 was signed. A ceasefire line in Kashmir was established, which was redesignated as the Line of Control in 1972. Gilgit-Baltistan, which constitutes the northern portion of the larger Kashmir region, is administered by Pakistan.


1954: Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County was established. The county came under the direct control of Kashgar in 1956.


1959: Pakistan started the Indus Valley Road project.


1960: India and Pakistan signed the Indus Waters Treaty, which fixed and delimited the rights and obligations of both countries concerning the use of the waters of the Indus River system.


1966: After the 1965 Indo–Pakistani War, Pakistan decided to extend the Indus Valley Road to the Chinese border. China and Pakistan reached an agreement to build the Karakoram Highway (KKH), or the China–Pakistan Friendship Highway, in 1966. The highway connects Kashgar in Xinjiang and Gilgit in Pakistan, crossing the border at the Khunjerab Pass.


1974: The work on the KKH was abruptly interrupted by the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War and resumed in 1974. The Ministry of Foreign Trade of China approved the establishment of customs at the border checkpoint (5,100 MASL).


1979: The KKH was completed.


1982: The port at Khunjerab Pass was established. The Chinese customs moved to Pilale (4,200 MASL).


1986: The KKH was officially opened to traffic, and the China-Pakistan Boundary Marker No. 7 was erected at the Khunjerab Port.


1993: The Khunjerab Customs moved down to Tashkurgan Town (3,100 MASL).


2010: A 20-kilometer-long barrier lake cut off the KKH as the result of massive landslides in Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan.


2013: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was launched. Reconstruction and upgrade works on the Pakistani portion of the KKH became part of the CPEC.

2015: The China Road and Bridge Corporation completed four large tunnels along the south shore of the barrier lake and traffic flows on the newly diverted KKH.

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