India on 03SEP12 increased its relations with Tajikistan when PM Manmohan Singh elevated the countries relations to that of a “strategic partnership.” Announced during the visit of President Emomali Rahmon, the talks between the two leaders included the ongoing transition in Afghanistan as well as the creation of a counter-terrorism mechanism, according to the TOI.
Bordering countries like China, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Tajikistan will become a key partner in India’s recently announced “Connect Central Asia” policy.
(Back on 12JUN12, India had its first India-Central Asia Dialogue in Bishkek where Minister of State, E. Ahamed, outlined the elements of the policy; see the link to the speech below).
In short, India’s policy in the region focuses on various political, security, economic and cultural dimensions promoting both bilateral and multilateral cooperation including support for military training, joint research, and economic development.
That said, the Times of India (TOI) highlights that the strategic partnership “emanated mainly from Tajikistan’s fear of the Taliban and the possibility of their comeback in Kabul after the drawdown of international forces in 2014.”
While that’s certainly a part of the equation, India and Tajikistan have had regular exchanges throughout the years deepening relations:
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil visited Tajikistan in September 2009. Prime Minister Vajpayee visited Dushanbe in November 2003 and President Rahmon visited India (for the fourth time) in August 2006. The two countries have consultative mechanisms: (a) India-Tajikistan Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientificand Technical Cooperation (b) Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and (c) Foreign Office Consultations.
Beyond state visits, solid economic development and capacity building initiatives have been initiated by India including 1) the rehabilitation of the Varzob-1 Hydro Power Station, 2) the creation of the India-Tajikistan Modern Engineering Workshop, 3) the construction of a fruit processing plant, as well as 4) the establishment of an Information Technology Center to name a few.
(Of course such developments have not gone unnoticed by China. China most recently in June 2012 allocated nearly $1bn to Tajikistan in the form of grants, technical assistance and credits on preferential terms, announced after Tajikistan’s participation in the SCO summit meet.)