SHIMSHAL VALLEY: Life in a Pakistani village so remote, kings once banished prisoners to it
SHIMSHAL VALLEY, Pakistan — For centuries, this tiny village in the far northern tip of Pakistan has been known as the home of some of central Asia’s toughest inhabitants.
From this rugged, 10,000-foot plateau in the Karakorum Mountains, residents used to have to walk for up to a week to reach another settlement. The journey, which involved crossing an icy river dozens of times, was so grueling that monarchs banished prisoners to live here — assuming they survived the walk.
About a decade ago, the opening of a one-lane road — after 18 years of construction — brought comforts such as factory-made blankets and water filtration systems over the mountains, as well as some concern that the route that freed the village from isolation would doom it as younger residents left in search of jobs and Internet access.
“We need mobile systems and we need the Internet,” said Perviz Armin, 26, who said he wants to move to a Pakistani city. “Nowadays, the Internet is important. But to use it, I have to book a car and drive” to a city three hours away.
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