Farkhor Air Base
|Farkhor Air Base|
|Type||Air force base|
|Owner||Tajikistan Air Force|
|Controlled by||Tajikistan Air Force
Indian Air Force
|Occupants||Tajikistan Air Force
Indian Air Force
Farkhor Air Base is a military air base located near the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan, 130 kilometres (81 mi) south east of the capital Dushanbe. It is operated by the Indian Air Force in collaboration with the Tajikistan Air Force. Farkhor is India's first military base outside its territory, the second being in Paro Valley, Bhutan.
In 1996/97, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) started negotiations with Tajikistan to use the Farkhor Airbase to transport high-altitude military supplies to the Afghan Northern Alliance, service their helicopters and gather intelligence. At that time, India operated a small military hospital in the Farkhor region. The hospital at Farkhor was used to treat Afghan Northern Alliance members injured in fighting with the Taliban, including military leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was rushed there after the suicide attack against him. In 2002, India acknowledged that it was setting up an airbase in Farkhor. It was secured with assistance from Russia. The airbase was in a dilapidated condition and was not used since the 1980s. The Indian Government awarded a $10 million tender to a private builder in 2003 to restore the airbase by 2005. After the builder defaulted, the Border Roads Organisation stepped in to complete the work. The hospital was later shut down and replaced with the India-Tajikistan Friendship Hospital at another location. Currently no credible information about activities at Farkhor is available.
Strategic location and geopolitical implications
The Farkhor Air Base would give the Indian military the required depth and range in seeking a larger role in the Indian Subcontinent and is a tangible manifestation of India’s move to project its power in Central Asia, a policy goal formally enunciated in 2003/04.
The potential implications of this base go far beyond the Indo-Pakistani rivalry on the subcontinent. Pakistan fears being encircled by India with the base in Farkhor operational. Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf raised concerns to the Tajik government of the fact that Indian planes if stationed there would be able to reach Pakistan within minutes using the air base.
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