India–Tajikistan relations

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Indo-Tajik relations
Map indicating locations of India and Tajikistan

India

Tajikistan

The bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Republic of Tajikistan have developed considerably owing to both nations' co-operation on security and strategic issues. India has set up its first overseas military base in Tajikstan.[1][2][3][4]

Background[edit]

Diplomatic relations were established with Tajikistan's independence following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, which had been friendly with India. Tajikistan occupies a strategically important position in Central Asia, bordering Afghanistan, the People's Republic of China and separated by a small strip of Afghan territory called the Wakhan Corridor from northern Gilgit–Baltistan (Pakistan-controlled Kashmir). Both Russia and China have sought to cultivate ties with Tajikistan, which has also been seen as important in the war in Afghanistan against the Islamist Taliban and Al-Qaeda.[1][5] India's role in fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and its strategic rivalry with both China and Pakistan have made its ties with Tajikistan important to its strategic and security policies.[1][5] Military presence in Tajikistan and its neighbouring Central Asian Republics has been coveted by the United States, Russia and China apart from India.[1][5]

Bilateral cooperation[edit]

Despite their common efforts, bilateral trade has been comparatively low, valued at USD 12.09 million in 2005;[6] India's exports to Tajikistan were valued at USD 6.2 million and its imports at USD 5.89 million.[6] To expand economic co-operation and trade, Tajikistan and India established an inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical co-operation and have encouraged investment and trade in hydroelectricity, transport, mining, food processing, construction and tourism.[6] India has also offered to repair and modernise the Varzob-1 hydroelectric power plant.[1] In 2006, the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmanov made an official visit to India that resulted in bolstered efforts to expand trade and cooperation on anti-terrorism issues.[1]

ITEC Assistance[edit]

As a lesser developed country, and one of the poorest nations in the world, Tajikistan is one of the largest beneficiaries of the ITEC programme. Till date, 381 Tajik personnel have been trained under the ITEC scheme. Similarly, 160 students have received Government of India scholarships for higher studies, till date. So far, 35 Tajik military cadets and 67 young officers underwent training at National Defence Academy in Pune, Indian Military Academy in Dehradun and other training establishments and the first batch of Tajik officers graduating out of NDA and IMA returned to Tajikistan in June 2007 and were inducted into the Tajik Defence forces.

Strategic and military ties[edit]

India's military presence and activities have been significant, beginning with India's extensive support to the anti-Taliban Afghan Northern Alliance (ANA). In 2002, India built a hospital at the Farkhor Air Base, located 60 km from the Afghan border, to treat wounded ANA fighters;[1] the leader of the ANA Ahmed Shah Massoud had been rushed there after the fatal attack on his life on 10 September 2001. After the United States declined Tajikistan's offer to use the base, the Indian government began talks over utilising the base, and the then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee signed an agreement with the Tajik president to that effect on 14 November 2003.[2] India began renovating the base and stationed aircraft of the Indian Air Force there.[2] The use of the base was speculated to include the acquisition of military and energy assets from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, given India's primary reliance on Soviet/Russian weaponry.[2] India also sees the bases providing access to the oil and energy resources of Central Asia.[4] India also promised to aid in Tajikistan's defence and is providing training to the Tajikistan Air Force.[1][2] Indian presence at Farkhor has been objected to by Pakistan, which sees it as a threat.[2] The Farkhor Air Base became fully operational in 2006, and 12 MiG-29 fighters and trainer aircraft are planned to be stationed there.[1][4] India is only the fourth nation after the US, Russia and Germany to have a military base in Central Asia.[1] India has established a military hospital in southern Tajikistan. The hospital with capacity of 50 beds will treat military personnel as well as civilians.[7]

Cultural ties[edit]

Indian films are the most popular foreign films in the nation, and Hindi-Urdu departments are very large in the country.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "India's foray into Central Asia". Asia Times. 2006-08-12. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "India to base planes in Tajikistan". The Tribune, India. 2003-11-15. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  3. ^ Mahendra Ved (2004-10-01). "IAF's base in Tajikistan will be ready by '04" (PDF). Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Times of India. Archived from the original on 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  4. ^ a b c "India to station MiG-29s at Tajikistan base". Daily News and Analysis. 2006-04-20. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  5. ^ a b c "Scramble for Central Asian bases". Asia Times. 2003-04-09. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  6. ^ a b c "India, Tajikistan to further bilateral trade". The Economic Times, Times of India. 2006-08-02. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  7. ^ Pandit, Rajat (2013-04-18). "India airlifts military hospital to Tajikistan to strengthen geo-strategic footprint in Central Asia". timesofindia.com. Times of India. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 
  8. ^ "Central Asia is best place to host centenary of Indian cinema next year". The Times Of India. 2012-04-01.