PAKISTAN: The night was dark and the patrolling sentries on the check post vigilant as ever. The smugglers pushed slowly against the razor-sharp barbs that inflicted great pain, but they kept silent to avoid detection. In their gunny bags, they carried the booty that the guards were supposed to keep from going undetected — a white substance. Cocaine had not been chemically isolated back then but nevertheless, the substance being smuggled was a valuable commodity.
Salt (also known as sodium chloride) — the grainy white substance we lavishly sprinkle over our sunny-side ups every morning has been used as a currency, taxed, created towns, led to wars and even carved trade routes on world maps long before the Silk Route was woven. And the smuggling scene is not drawn out from a jungle in Colombia but what could very well have transpired here in the Indo-Pak subcontinent during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
From ancient times well into the industrial age, this crystalline condiment was much sought after and not easily available. It was only as recently as the twentieth century that modern geology and extraction techniques tapped into the virtually inexhaustible salt sources and made it widely available.
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