Taliban Conflict Getting Closer to China

The recent takeover of Pakistan's Swat Valley by the Taliban is bringing the Islamist unrest in Afghanistan and Pakistan closer to the Chinese border, and seems certain to impact Chinese-Pakistani trade.

According to the website valleyswat.net, "The valley is an integral part of the strategic and significant region where three parts of the Asian continent?outh Asia, Central Asia and China, meet." The famed Karakoram Highway, linking China's westernmost city of Kashgar with the Pakistani capital Islamabad, runs through, or at least very close to, the Swat region. It will be interesting to see how trade between the two countries is impacted on what is the only land connection between them. In addition, China and Pakistan agreed in 2006 to widen the highway, but with unrest growing in the region, these plans may be impacted as well.

Already the important tourism industry in the Swat Valley has been decimated, and certainly neighboring portions of the Karakoram will see significant drops in tourism. It does appear from Lonely Planet bulletin boards that adventurous tourists are still braving the Karakoram. Personally, I cancelled a trip to that region in 2007 after several bombings in Islamabad.

There is an interesting New York Times web documentary about the Swat Valley. However, it is very difficult to find reporting on how this spreading conflict is impacting Pakistan's connection with China, if at all, so anyone who has anything to add on this, please leave something in the comments section.

Luke @ 15:59 | .(467) |

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