Children of Ishkashim

Ishkashim Persian: اشکاشم‎, also transliterated Ishkashem or Eshkashem, is a town in Badakhshan Province in north-eastern Afghanistan,[2] the capital of Ishkashim District. It lies on the Panj River, at a point where its direction turns sharply north. Ishkashim lies opposite a town of the same name in Tajikistan, although the Tajik town is normally transliterated Ishkoshim following Tajik practice. A bridge linking the two towns was reconstructed in 2006.[3]
The town of Ishkashim lies in a fertile valley at an elevation of 3037 meters.[4] There are roughly 20 settlements in the valley, but, considering the cultivation in the valley is contiguous, it could also be considered one single, larger settlement. The total population of the valley is 12,120.[4]
The valley has only one harvest per year. Wheat and barley are cultivated.[5] Poplar and chinar trees grow as well, but there is little firewood.
The climate is generally cold, but much warmer than that of neighboring areas, such as Wakhan.[1]
The people of the town are predominantly Nizārī Ismā’īlī, and are called Ishkashimi. Most of them speak the Ishkashimi language.[1]
The valley lies in an important strategic area, as it commands the only route between Badakhshan, Shighnan, and Wakhan accessible during the winter. There had been a mud fort located in the central village.[1]
Ishkashim was earlier a state of the Emir of Badakhshan on the Upper Oxus River. The lands of the state stretched some 16 miles north of the town of Ishkashim, on both sides of the river, to the border of Gharan. Together with Zebak, Eshkashem was under the direct rule of the naib of Zebak, thus also placing them indirectly under the governor of Badakhshan.[1]
On July 4, 2021 Taliban forces captured the town as part of their nationwide military offensive, forcing local Afghan government forces to flee to neighboring Tajikistan.[6]
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