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Afghanistan, center of Silk Road’s transit

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Afghanistan, center of Silk Road’s transit
 Silk Highway has 5,000 years history. The first stages of the road’s operation was 3500 BC. Due to political changes in 9th century and Crusader wars in 11th and 12th centuries and discovery of ocean routes, the importance of the road has decreased and eventually the road was discorded in 15th century. So, the road was the biggest trade route from 2nd century BC to 15th century AC for 1700 years.
The significance of Silk Road
- From 2nd century of BC – 2nd century AC, Silk Road knotted four huge empires of the world as Persian, Koshan, Greece and Rome and China.
- Silk Road was a connecting bridge for three big continents of the world such as Asia, Africa and Europe.
- Silk Road was not only a route for transit of goods but for exchanging cultures. It was Silk Road through which Buddhism reached from Afghanistan to China.
- Exchanging of cultural values and big cultures of the world such as Greek culture, culture of Rome, Aryayee, Koshani, Chinese and others were exchanged through this road.
- Principles ways of Silk Road 
Ustad Ahmad Ali Kuhzad in a book “Afghanistan History” wrote: trade routes with China, Ganga zone and Indian sea were all on hand of Bakhtar kings in 2nd century BC. Thus, all routes to south, east and west were passed from Aryana.
We can say that what Silk routes with centralization of Bakhtar were? How routes were connecting from China to Bakhtar and so on? There are the following particular routes:
- Route from Yarkand to Wakhan and Badakhshan
- Route from Kashghar – Farghana and Balkh
- Route from Bakhtar – west to Hariroad, Partiya and Hamadan
- Route from Bakhtar – southern Hindukush of Kapisa, Nijrab, Tagab, Laghman, Kunar, Asmar, Chetral, Swat, Peshawar to Texila.
- Another route from Bakhtar to Kabul zone and from Kabul zone to Khurd Kabul and Nangarhar-Indus zone.
- There was a route from Kashgar and Khutan and Farghana – Takharistan.
- There was also a route from Mediterranean seas and ‘Mesopotamia Binan Nahrain’ – Hamadan, Marwa, Herat, Balkh, Wakhsh, Kashghar and Taram.
Centralization of Afghanistan on Silk Route
- First that Aryana or ancient Afghanistan is a center of human civilization. Start of civilization of this land reached to 20,000 before, so it is clear that trade route passes from center of civilization rather than empty deserts.
- After the death of Alexander the Great, Greece and Bactarian series conquered and captured the whole land of eastern Turkistan, Khutan, Yarkand and Kashgar including with the centralization of Balkh and Sughd. This shows that Silk Route by exiting from China entered Ariana territory and inevitably Bukhdi passed from its center.
- According to Ahmad Ali Kuhzad, in 206th BC, Persian was captured by Greek and Bactarians. It was believed that Rome’s convoy by entering the Persian territory had to moved towards Balkh, center of empire.
- In 190 BC, capital of the Maurya Empire Pataliputra – Texalla, was captured by rulers of Bakhtar. Therefore, Chinese convoys passed from center of Bakhtar Empire to South Asia and from South Asia to China territory.
- Historic incidents show that the Persian and the Byzantine Empires had no good relations and rarely fought with each other. Such battles had started since 604 BC. It was clear that the convoys of Greek and Rome were not interested in transiting from lands the rulers of which had enmity with them.
- The Persian Empire used to increase price of trade goods to impose economic pressure on the Rome Empire. This had caused that the Kushanids Empire would have always been chosen as the best option.
- In the course of history, when Yaftalian and Sughdian governments were established, the governments tightened good relations with the Rome Empire.
- Another important thing is that always trade routes pass through big cities which are centers of trade. Therefore, Silk Route encompassed Bukhara and Samaqand and later to Balkh, Herat and Kabul.
- The Kushanids Empire was the safest environment for trade convoys. Traders and trade convoys always chose Kushanids territory as transit route.
- Transferring of Buddhism through Afghanistan to China is another element that can prove centralization of Afghanistan in transit of Silk route. 
Presence of Buddhism’s hovel in Xinxang and north-western cities of China as Donghua, Longsun, Loyan clearly shows transferring route of Bhuddism religion from old Ariana through Silk route.
- According to Mir Ghulam Mohammad Ghobar, in Greek and Bakhtari time, Central Asia, Chinese Turkistaan and India were considered as one territory. Also, in Yaftali time, central Asia and India with Ariana were ruled by one empire.
- Ghubar names BainunNahrain, Mediterranean, Palestine, China, Ariana, India, Greece and Rome as seven old civilizations. Later on, he wrote: “The civilization of China and India was close with each other, while Egypt and Rome as well as Bainun Nahrain and Iran were further acquainted with each other; but, from among them Ariana and Bactarians had close connection with each other. This shows that Ariana with centralization of Bukhdi was center of eastern territory (KhawarZamin) with which the Chinese Empire had transit relations and through which reached to Europe and Africa. It is worth mentioning that Bactarians were introduced as traders by all historians and tourists in the past.
Ustad Ahmad Ali Kuhzad wrote: Chinese knew residents of Bakhtar as the people of trade and business.
A famous Chinese tourist Huantsung in 128 AC wrote: Bactarians loved trade and business very much.
Rawolson in his book titled ‘Bakhtaria’ wrote on markets in Balkh: markets in Balkh were full of honest traders that were speaking various languages.
All these prove that Bactarians were businessmen and run their business through Silk Route, passing the center of the empire.
One Belt One Road
China has decided to revive old Silk Route. This time the route will not be for convoys. China would like to revive the route by the name of ‘One belt One Road’ through ground, sea and air and invest $ 1,000 billion on the project. Only ground route of the road is significant for Afghanistan as it connects Afghanistan to other countries of the region rather than air and sea ones. 
One Belt One Road has been designed from three routes:
1. China – Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, Belgium and Europe.
2. Kashgar – Gawader port of Pakistan.
3. Kazakhstan – Russia – Ukraine – Poland – Germany – Paris – Landon. 
The above routes specify that Afghanistan is not included in main route of the road. The new road begins from China and passes through Uzbekistan, Iran and Pakistan and has connection to Europe and Central Asian countries. 
Our recall from the history of Silk Road is to specify that the real pathway of the route was Aryana or Bakhtar and today the pathway can be the real transit road of Silk Route. Some points are as follows in this regard: 
Why Afghanistan should be the real transit road of the new Silk Route?
- Previous review and history of Silk Route shows that Afghanistan has been the real transit crossroad of Silk Route.
To be continued
- Aryana or today Afghanistan is the natural center of the region. It connects Central Asia, South Asia, Middle East, China and Europe.
To be continued
- Why Alexander the Great went to Central and South Asia through Afghanistan if Afghanistan had not been center for connection of East and West?
- Why Genghis Khan wanted to storm Europe through Balkh and Herat if Khurasan or Afghanistan had not been a natural passage for connection of East and West?
- If Afghanistan had not been natural passage in past, why Britain did call the country as door to India and made Afghanistan as barrier against Soviets?
- If Afghanistan is not the center to connect east and west and south, why do Turkmen gas and Central Asia’s electricity extend to South Asia?
- Afghanistan is the heart of Asia and the region and though Afghanistan we can easily reach to China, India, Pakistan, Iran and Europe. The distance between Balkh and Pakistan is 500 – 600km, while the distance from Afghanistan to Europe is 2500km. Afghanistan is considered as crossroad for east, west and south, but why it is not considered as the center for transit in Silk Road?
The above points show that from all historic, natural, economic and social perspectives, Afghanistan is the cheapest transit route connecting east to west, so Silk Road as the most natural and cheapest transit route can connect three continents through Afghanistan.

Benefits of the route for Afghanistan
When Silk Route extends through Afghanistan, it will have big achievements for Afghanistan and our nation besides that it is the cheapest and shortest transit road for other countries in the region:
- Afghanistan will become center of transit of Asia, Africa and Europe.
- Economic development is institutionalized in the country.
- Afghanistan will change to a modern and developed country.
- Transferring of cultures and getting acquaintance with values of the world culture can save us from religious, tribal and other prejudices.
- Security will be maintained in Afghanistan. No country can interfere in internal affairs of Afghanistan. All world countries will make effort for peace in Afghanistan as interests of the world will relate to security in Afghanistan on that time.
- Afghanistan will really change to Swiss of Asia.
Preparation of Afghanistan in Silk Route project
Review of incidents and projects of new Silk Route shows that Afghanistan has no particular project in this regard and has not delivered any plans to China, which is the main part of the project. 
There are some remarks of former officials of Afghanistan government:
- One of ministers of foreign affairs has said Afghanistan had made five plans in this regard, but none of which was implemented. We know nothing what and how were those plans?
- Anwarul Haq Ahadi, former minister of commerce and industries, has said Afghanistan had no particular plans for renovation of Silk Route.
- Hamidullah Farooqi, former minister of transport and civil aviation, has said: “Rehabilitation of Silk Route is difficult in current situation as we do not have roads, railways as well as security.” He added that Afghanistan has not had an economy that would be based on transit and transport policy in the past ten years.
- Former minister of public works has said that 40% of the project’s railway passes through Afghanistan.
- Former minister of commerce and industries has said: “The route is beneficial for development of various areas in Afghanistan. This shows that Afghanistan has no plans for Silk route. We want Afghanistan to be center and crossroad for the region. Extension of regional countries’ railway to Afghanistan is for their own transit facilities and has no direct connection with Silk Road.
Obstacles towards extension of Silk Road from Afghanistan 
Extension of new Silk Road through Afghanistan will result in big change in various economic, social, cultural, political and security sectors of Afghanistan: 
- Afghanistan will become the economic center of three continents of the world such as Asia, Africa and Europe.
- Afghanistan’s economic development will improve and become one of the developed countries of the world.
- By extension of new Silk Road, eastern countries will get capability for producing, extraction and processing of raw materials which will be used in the region.
- New economic union of eastern countries will be created.
- Social, political and cultural unity will be maintained among eastern countries in the region.
- Middle East, south and southeast Asian countries, China, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan will reach unity and understanding under this charter.
- Crisis in Middle East, Asia and Africa will decrease.
- Possibilities and mine resources of central Aisa, Middle East and Caucasus will be spent within One Belt One Road.
A number of researchers believe that a number of countries will see their regional and world interests in danger and even some countries are not interested in extension of One Belt One Road through Afghanistan. 
Obligation of Afghanistan
In current situation and in consideration to the points mentioned above, Afghanistan national interests make us try our best to take part in the new project of One Belt One Road, which is considered as the biggest project in 21st century. 
Afghanistan should deliver and prepare a comprehensive plan for participation in centralization of the new project. If it is necessary, Afghanistan should owe billions of dollar in order to take part in the project but it should never lose this concession. By extension of One Belt One Road through Afghanistan, all regional disputes will be addressed and regional cooperation will further increase among the countries. Moreover, Afghanistan will reach stability and won’t be considered as a poor country in the region.