For a number of years the governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan prepared for a possible change in government in Afghanistan, particularly how it would affect their security. While it appeared that both governments might be reluctant to engage with the Taliban following the change in government, the accompanying excerpted articles provide a look at how each is reacting to the recent change.
The articles from independent Tajik news website Asia Plus, report on a number of developments in Tajikistan. The first article reports on the Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s visit to “a military parade of the Border Guards, service members of the ground forces of the Ministry of Defense and law enforcement” at the end of September. The parade took place in the town of Khorog near the Tajik-Afghan border, and the article notes Rahmon told service members “to continue to protect peace and stability in their home land like the apple of their eye.” While the parade appeared to be limited in size, it marks another example of the Tajik government promoting border security. The other Asia Plus article reports that Tajik officials are closely watching what is happening in Afghanistan and quotes a source in the government, who said “the situation in Afghanistan has caused concern” and noted the defensive preparations the government has been putting in place. The article also notes that President Rahmon “has repeatedly supported the Panjshiris”—a reference to an Afghan province dominated by ethnic Tajiks that served as the stronghold of the anti-Taliban National Resistance Front of Afghanistan against the Taliban. Tajikistan remains the only Central Asian state that has not met with officials from the new Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Uzbek government is more inclined to cooperate with the new Taliban government. The article from Uzbekistan based news website Kun.uz reports on what the Uzbek government has done following the change of government in Afghanistan.
The article reports that Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister recently met with the Taliban regime’s deputy head of the interim government for political affairs in Kabul. The article notes how the Afghan delegation appreciated assistance from Uzbekistan “in restoring the operation of the Mazar-i-Sharif international airport” and said that they will soon meet to negotiate carrying out construction projects that include the “Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar rail line.” A decade ago Uzbekistan constructed a rail line from Termez (a city on the Uzbek-Afghan border) to Mazar-i-Sharif with funding from the Asian Development Bank using 1520mm Russian gauge track. The proposed Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar line will be constructed with the same gauge.
On 7 October, a delegation from Uzbekistan led by Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov held talks in Kabul with the leadership of Afghanistan, led by the deputy head of the interim government for political affairs, Mullah Abdul Kabir.
Source: “Эмомали Рахмон призвал солдат и офицеров беречь мир в Таджикистане как зеницу ока (Emomali Rahmon called on soldiers and officers to protect Tajikistan like the apple of their eye),” Asia Plus (an independent news website in Tajikistan), 30 September 2021.
As part of a working trip to GBAO (the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast) today in Khorog, the president took part and spoke at a military parade of the Border Guards, service members of the ground forces of the Ministry of Defense and law enforcement…
…The president called on the soldiers and officers “to continue to protect peace and stability in their home land like the apple of their eye.”…
Source: Avaz Yuldashev, “Источник: Таджикистан не наблюдает скопления боевиков на границе с Афганистаном (Source: Tajikistan is not observing a group of militants on the border with Afghanistan),” Asia Plus (an independent news website in Tajikistan), 1 October 2021.
…He said the situation in Afghanistan has caused concern…“About 10 years ago, Tajikistan created three lines of defense on the border with Afghanistan: border guards are the first line, soldiers are on the second, and reservists are the third,” the source said…
The President of Tajikistan has repeatedly supported the Panjshiris and demanded the creation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan with the participation of all minorities, including Tajiks…