GBAO permit for Pamir Travel
If you want to travel in the Pamir region (and if you are in Tajikistan you just have to go there), you need to get a GBAO (Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast) permit. This will be checked on various military checkpoints along the Pamir Highway.
A GBAO permit can be obtained at the embassy when applying for the Tajikistan visa (just will cost some extra, though getting it in Tajikistan through local travel agencies might be slightly cheaper), or in Dushanbe at the Migration Police (OVIR). In Dushanbe, the permit can be arranged in 1 day for around 50$ with a travel agency, or 4$ if you do it yourself.
Your passport will be checked on entering GBAO and frequently at checkpoints within the province as well. If you do not have the requisite permit you will not be ale to continue your journey.
The GBAO permit can cover all areas of GBAO, but this must be specifically requested in the application – to cover all possibilities, put the following on the form: Khorog, Murghab, Darwaz, Ishkashim, Vanj, Rushan. Once you are in possession of the complete GBAO permit, you can travel freely (except for Sarez and perhaps Zorkul – see below); any attempt by over-zealous or greedy officials should be resisted – self-confident bluff is a good weapon. Apart from the GBAO permit, special permission is required for travel only for Sarez.
All other areas should be covered by the GBAO permit, although it is prudent to check with the Tajik border guards or local travel agent in Khorog before travelling to Zorkul. The Sarez permit can be obtained free of charge at the Committee for Emergency Situations at Lohuti Street in Duhanbe, opposite the Tajik Sodirot Bank.
For Zorkul, you can obtain the permit in Khorog and Murghab. In Murghab, the building is down near the hospital: your homestay provider should be able to point you to the right place. Alternatively ask at the tourist information office and they’ll point you in the right direction.