Changing regional security
PRESIDENT of Tajikistan H.E. Emomali Rahmon has just completed his two-day official visit to Pakistan in which he met with various high officials including Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and thoroughly discussed matters of mutual interest, regional stability, Afghanistan and, of course, economic cooperation.
Ironically, the visit of the Tajik President has opened a new hot debate in most of the regional capitals and international media groups in which timing, purpose and utility has now been questioned having valid direct correlation mainly with the Afghanistan issue.
Some of the media reports suggest the US military will seek to reposition some of its troops in Central Asia after its big decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.
The New York Times (April, 2021) reported that US officials had been in contact with Kazakh, Uzbek and Tajik authorities about the possibilities of using bases in the region.
Diplomatic sources have also confirmed Pakistan’s alleged support of a US military base in the country.
But foreign and interior ministries have categorically denied it and termed it un-factual, untrue and baseless.
Consequently, the warning given by the Taliban to the regional countries to stay away from this kind of scheme of arrangement with the USA seems to be effective and decisive. However, rigorous track-II diplomacy is still being carried out.
The Tajik President has a great vision to revolutionize the macro-economy of the country by pursuing diversified but integrated policies of massive industrialization, green energy, innovation, artificial intelligence, reducing the dependence of the country’s economy on agriculture and current chairmanship of the SCO would provide it befitting propositions to achieve the desired goals of socio-economic prosperity and sustainable growth in the days to come.
While meeting with Tajik President, PM Imran Khan stressed the need to improve defence ties with Tajikistan, as the two countries signed MOUs for cooperation in various sectors, including defence.
MOUs pertaining to academic cooperation agreement between Tajik Technical University named after academician MS Osimi and Indus University of Pakistan, agreement on cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industry, agreement on cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Memorandum of Understanding between Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Tajikistan, Memorandum of Understanding between Agency for State Financial Control and Struggle against Corruption of the Republic of Tajikistan and National Accountability Bureau of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were signed.
Moreover, agreement between the two countries for Cooperation in the Field of Prevention and Liquidation of Emergency Situations, agreement between the Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan in the field of Art and Culture, Memorandum of Understanding between Tajik Institute of Languages, Dushanbe Tajikistan and National University of Modern Languages of Pakistan were also inked.
Furthermore, Memorandum of Understanding between Technological University of Tajikistan and Comsats University Islamabad, agreement on International Road Transport, Cooperation Program between Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tajikistan and Joint Declaration on Next Steps in Building Strategic Partnership for Regional Solidarity and Integration were also agreed, signed and penned
The wide range of MOUs and agreements compromising trade and commerce activities, economic cooperation, education, cultural collaboration, regional stability and peace and last but not the least sciences and arts clearly indicate sincere efforts of leaders to further strengthen bilateral ties.
The premier upheld peace in Afghanistan essential for regional connectivity, socio-economic prosperity and energy cooperation with Tajikistan.
He said both countries shared a concern over Afghanistan delving back into instability with no political settlement after the withdrawal of US forces.
Even non-state threats, mainly climate change, were also discussed since they posed a common threat to Tajikistan and Pakistan due to the two countries depending on glaciers for their water supply.
The Tajik president also highlighted the policy measures initiated by his country to combat climate change and preserve glaciers such as calling for declaring 2025 as the “International Year of Glaciers Preservation” to which Prime Minister Imran Khan also affirmed Pakistan’s support.
Speaking on other regional issues, Prime Minister Imran stressed that the potential of the whole area could only be fully reached when there was peace in the region, pointing to Pakistan’s relations with India.
The two leaders also discussed issues surrounding Islamophobia and the reasons why it continued to spread.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and linking Islam with terrorism were the main reasons for its spread.
Being a prominent regional expert of Tajikistan & CIS, I submit that the signed MOUs would strengthen the legal framework of bilateral relations between the states which would further enhance chances of investment, trade, agriculture, connectivity and healthcare.
Rapidly changing geopolitical and geostrategic scenarios have forced all the regional countries especially in the line of fire to devise a joint strategy during and post-US military withdrawal from Afghanistan otherwise its spill-over ramifications would be colossal for all the regional countries.
The Republic of Tajikistan now holds the chairmanship of the SCO which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the organization.
Tajikistan’s SCO chairmanship has very valid plans in the field of security ie assistance in strengthening practical cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism, drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime
. Most recently, Pakistan’s Energy Minister Omar Ayub Khan and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) President Dr Bandar Hajjar inaugurated the construction of the 113 kilometre electricity transmission lines from Pak-Afghan border to Nowshera under the South Asia Central Asia Regional Trade and Transmission Project (CASA-1000) during a virtual event.
CASA-1000 Project is a 1,270km power transmission line that exports excess hydropower generated in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan.
Transmission components under the project are being financed by IDB, World Bank, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, UK’s Department for International Development, and USAID at a total cost of $1.17 billion.
The CASA-1000 involves building a mega power transmission line to carry some 1,300 MW of electricity from hydropower plants in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into Afghanistan (300 MW) and on to Peshawar in Pakistan (1,000 MW).
—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics Member Board of Experts, CGSS.