This article asks, (1) Why did Afiyatabad, a nondescript bazaar along the Pakistan-China border, emerge along an uninhabited stretch of the Karakoram highway?, and (2) How did Afiyatabad adapt—through bazaar infrastructure, local capital investment, and labor migration—first to state-led development, and more recently, to the promise of economic corridor development? The article illustrates how Afiyatabad emerged from unfolding border regimes on Pakistan's central Asian margins since the 1980s. More recently, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), one of six corridors under Beijing's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is channeling upwards of $50 billion of Chinese investment into Pakistan. Yet this border locale has seen little benefit. This article argues that current transborder investments, corresponding infrastructure development, and new assemblages such as economic corridors are moving capital between increasingly distant nodes, in the process leaving places such as Afiyatabad behind.

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