Huma Arshad

Silk Route, the lifeline of the trade from ancient times to medieval times from east to west is the historical trade route. This route had played a pivotal role in the establishment and growth of civilizations in both east and west in the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The historically famous silk route is dated back from 130BC during the region of the Han Dynasty of China. Silk Route or the famous  Silk Road is stretched up to 4,000 miles has become the biggest source of transporting goods, exchanging cultures, and contributing to the history of the world in trade and culture.

Importance of Silk Route in Ancient and Medieval times

The precious fabric of silk originated in China and then had been distributed to other parts of the world from China. So, The Silk Route refers to the routes leading west out of China to Central Asia, the Middle East, the subcontinent, and beyond.  The Route got its name on the name of precious fabric ‘silk.’ Here it is important to mention that the Silk Route had not been restricted to the trade of silk only; the trade of spices, fabrics, animals, fruits, and vegetables, precious stones, and other valuable items also took place through this famous Silk Route. Chinese has a prominent contribution in using and developing the Silk Route. Since ancient times, gunpowder and paper invented by China during the ruling period of the Han Dynasty used to export from China to the rest of the world mainly via Silk Road since the 3rd century. The invention of paper and then its transportation to Europe had brought a revolution in communication as written words became the main form of communication for the first time and resulted in the form of the first printed press in the world named, “Gutenberg’s Printing Press.”

Many explorers had used the Silk Route from west to east and east to west to transfer knowledge, religion, and history.  Marco Polo the famous explorer came from Italy to China and had spent twenty-four years altogether in the court of Kublai Khan the Mongolian emperor. Marco Polo went back to Italy by using the same Silk Route. Marco Polo’s memoirs gave a clear understanding of Asian culture, traditions, and economy to the rest of the world. Silk Route had contributed to spreading religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism, and other small religions from ancient times to medieval times. Missionaries of different religions had used to use the Silk Road to spread their religions.

Modern-day Silk Route and new avenues of trade and commerce

 The Silk Route was always in use from ancient to modern times but with the rapidly growing economic world, China in 2013 announced to restore the original historic Silk Route to improve China’s cordial relations in terms of trade and culture with the rest of the world. Behind all this, the main aim of China is to improve its domestic growth. The project of connecting China with Asia, Europe, and East Africa is known as Belt and Road Initiative(BRI). The maritime Silk Road plan of China is sea-based connecting China’s southern coast to the Mediterranean, Africa, South East Asia, and Central Asia.

If we talk about Pakistan particularly we came to know that with passing years Silk Route was replaced by the Karakoram Highway. The road passes through our famous mountains of Himalayas, Hindukush, and Karakoram ranges in the same direction of Silk Road. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the project to promote trade and commerce via Gawadar Port. CPEC will link the Xinjian region with Gawadar port in Balochistan. This mega project of 64 billion dollars includes a network of roads and railway infrastructure along with a hydropower plant. CPEC project is a milestone in the economic history of Pakistan and is opening new avenues of economic stability in our country.

 “Silk Road embodies the spirit of discovery and exchange . We want to encourage people to look for what unites them instead of what divides them.”  ( Laura Field )