When you think of Afghanistan, you probably think of wars, maybe Al Qaeda, and maybe the Taliban. Basically, you probably think of bad things. The Wakhan Corridor, however, has historically been known as an area that was free from any of the troubles the rest of the country faces (in terms of wars and violence). It was this historical fact that assured me that my visit to Afghanistan would be trouble-free. I wouldn't need to worry about the Taliban, who would reportedly kill a foreigner on-sight. Or, would I?
After being in Afghanistan for more than a week, and my only problems being a little snow and a bad ankle, time was coming for my visit to end. The plan was to meet with another tourist on my last evening in Sarhad-e Broghil, then share a car back towards Ishkashim with him. So, after returning from my hike to the Broghil Pass that borders Pakistan, several people in town mentioned to me that this tourist, "Powell", was already in town. Great! A few minutes later I was talking to "Powell", where I then learned his name was actually Paul. We quickly introduced one another and asked how our travels had gone. His were fine, except for the part where he was shot at. Say what!?!?
Apparently, just after he crossed the Darviz Pass on the first day hiking, a pass I had crossed a few days after him, and a place in which I had hiked alone on my return to Sarhad-e Broghil, he was shot at. It was most likely a warning shot, just to scare him. However, it was still a gun with a bullet being shot in his direction. He was hiking with a guide (who was scared for his life at this point) and his donkey's owner (who didn't seem to care what was going on). As they only had one place to go, they walked down the pass to the men who had shot at them.
Based on Paul's account, he tried to ask them questions, but he did not get any clear answers. They motioned that he should not be wearing his beanie, as he was in Afghanistan and should be wearing a traditional scarf instead. One clearly looked to be in charge, and the other men were also the type you do not want to mess with. They claimed to be hunters, though by their appearance they did not fit the part. In the end, though, they told Paul not to go any further because the Taliban were there. Paul, even though he had never been there before, didn't believe them and kept going.
Nothing else happened to Paul after that, and he was just as curious as I as to who it was that shot at him. A little later that night, as I spoke with my guide and a driver, I found out that the local border guards in the area had also spotted that group of men. And, they knew who it was: Taliban. I don't think I ever felt as scared on a trip as I was at that moment. I immediately went back to Paul's guest house and told him what I had found out, and he gave me a long, silent stare before saying, "Huh, I talked with the Taliban."
Paul and I now tried to figure out why the Taliban were there. The only reasonable explanation we had was that they use the Wakhan Corridor as a way to smuggle themselves or supplies from Pakistan into Afghanistan, or to reach other parts of Pakistan without being noticed. I had heard that Taliban would kill foreigners on sight, so why didn't they kill Paul. Again, we only could assume that maybe it was because they didn't want to bring unwanted attention to that area, an area they used as a smuggling route.
So, if you're thinking about going to the Wakhan Corridor, and are wondering about the safety situation, I can honestly say you will most likely have zero problems. Paul's incident with the Taliban was probably a one-in-a-million chance. I did not meet any other tourists, and have read of no other tourists with such an incident. If you're lucky, though, you may cross with Taliban on their smuggling route and get a chance to speak with them.
Paul, the man I met in the Wakhan, re-told his tale of talking to the Taliban in the following article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1225982/How-I-tea-biscuits-Taliban-British-novelist.html