September 09, 2009

Indo-Tajikistan Relation on a convergence course

http://www.dayafterindia.com/sep109/international5.html

Quaisar Alam


Tajikistan is on a high prism of India’s foreign policy radar for quite sometimes. With India heralding its presence globally, strategically, economically, and diplomatically, the resonance is bound to reflect on the geo-strategic continental shift. Yes, Indo-Tajikistan Relation is on a convergence course!

The current visit of Indian President Pratibha Devising Patil to Tajikistan on September 6 provides a rare backdrop to pin our thoughts on India’s perception to regional security issues in South and Central Asia. The area is caught in the vortex of security threats and security challenges that may emerge episodic but are formative. The major threat to regional stability originates from Afghanistan-Central Asia border in the sphere of drug traffickers and radical extremists besides, commonality on a host of issues underlining between India and Tajikistan.

Agreements

After making her successful trip to Moscow, Indian President, Pratibha Devising Patil is in Dushanbe on a state visit. India considers Tajikistan as one of the important strategic areas for the present and long-term geo-strategic partnership. India already is on a developmental trajectory mode with Tajikistan in Central Asia. With the present visit to Tajikistan it will only cement further.

Way back, in 2006, India and Tajikistan had signed four bilateral pacts resolving to fight global terrorism and agreed on strengthening cooperation in the fields of science and technology and energy, besides, culture and foreign office consultation. The agreement had been signed between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and then visiting Tajikistan President his Excellency Emomali Sharifovich Rahmonov in New Delhi on the issues convergence of regional and bilateral international developments.

Background

Historically, Tajikistan gained independence from the Soviet Union in September 1991. Tajikistan is bordered by Uzbekistan to the West, Afghanistan to the South, China to the East and Kyrgyzstan to the North. The country is largely (93%) mountains, with around half its territory lying above 3,000 meters. The highest peak in the former Soviet Union, Peak Somoni is found in the Tajik Pamir mountains. However, what is Tajikistan today, much of what if not all was part of ancient Persia’s Achaemenid Empire (sixth to fourth centuries B.C).

Tajikistan was created in 1924 as an autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within the Uzbekistan (SSR). In 1929 Tajikistan was detached from Uzbekistan and given full status as a Soviet socialist republic. In many respects, Tajikistan was one of the least developed of the Soviet Republics, and has suffered particularly severely from the collapse of the previously unified Soviet economy.

Issues of Bilateral Interest

During the visit, Mrs.Patil will hold talks with the Tajik leadership on a number of issues including efforts to tackle terrorism and participate in the country’s Independence Day celebrations. Akil Akilov, the Prime Minister of Tajikistan received Mrs Patil and was accorded a ceremonial welcome on her arrival in Dushanbe. This is the maiden visit for any Indian President to Tajikistan. She will have discussions with her Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmon, the Prime Minister, the speaker of the Parliament Sadullo Khairullayev.

The talks, which will figure prominently during the talks in Dushanbe with Tajik leadership, will be of bilateral significance as well as on the developmental modes in the whole of Central Asia and the world, aimed at consolidating the ties in economic and political spheres. Though, no bilateral official documents are hoped to be signed during the current visit.

Defence and Security

There are warm relations between India and Tajikistan regarding defence and security. India and Tajikistan enjoy a close strategic relationship and Tajikistan plays host to India’s first overseas military air base. Both countries are fighting tremendous problems over the issues of terrorism and Taliban resurgence along with the international coalition forces. New Delhi has a well-established and clearly stated policy over the issue of fighting terrorism. Needless to underscore, India has been a victim of terrorism for quite a longer period, be they external security, cross terrorism or internal thereat. Precisely on that assumption, the consistent effort of New Delhi’s foreign policy related to North east, Kashmir or Naxalites, or terrorism and violence of any sort, India is along with international community regarding combating terrorism.

Independence Day

It’s a great honour for India as Tajikistan has accorded Indian dignitary whereby the President of India would be the special guest in the Independence Day celebrations in Dushanbe. International analyst believes that India has great stakes in this part of the world in the changing dynamics of the global paradigm shift. The joint efforts of the two countries India and Tajikistan would make concerted efforts against extremism and terrorism. This would greatly contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Analysis

In near future, as Washington, political engagement of the Taliban grows traction; U.S will definitely hope New Delhi to maintain a low-key affair. Since India’s communication of Tajikistan is also linked with Af-Pak policy of Obama administration, so, India may have common factors confronting with a regional security paradigm with contradictory tendencies.

Obviously, there is a need to keep the lines of communication open with Pakistan, name it composite dialogue, consultations, or exchange of views, come what may we have no options but ‘sense the urgency of the needs of the region.’ A saving grace is that, in retrospect, India rejected any Indian military deployment in Afghanistan which could have bearing in Tajikistan, though sections of our strategic community rooted for some adventure in geo-political frontiers. Finally, one hopes the current visit of Indian President will have far reaching ramifications on the bilateral discourse between India and Tajikistan.

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