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tajikistan

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TAJIKISTAN


 

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
143,100 

Population 
6,578,681

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Tajiks 62.3%
Uzbeks 23.5%
Russians 17.6%

Capital 
Dushanbe

Currency 
Tajik Somoni

President 
Imamali Rahmonov

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Background:
Tajikistan has experienced three changes in government and a five-year civil war since it gained independence in 1991 from the USSR. A peace agreement among rival factions was signed in 1997, and implementation reportedly completed by late 1999. Part of the agreement required the legalization of opposition political parties prior to the 1999 elections, which occurred, but such parties have made little progress in successful participation in government. Random criminal and political violence in the country remains a complication impairing Tajikistan's ability to engage internationally. 

Update No: 266 - (27/02/03)

The Tajik president, who had just made his first trip to Washington, went to Kiev to the meeting of CIS leaders in early February. There Imamali Rahmonov argued for a free economic zone among CIS members. Tajikistan is raising its international profile, considerably boosted by the events of 9:11. It now has US air bases on its soil, used for patrols in Afghanistan.

Tajik-Indian axis
One of the most interesting outcomes of the anti-terrorism struggle has been a new strong relationship with India. New Delhi had established a military base inside Tajikistan on the Afghan border before the US war in Afghanistan, indeed before 9:11. On September 9th 2001 Massoud, the Tajik-Afghan leader, was assassinated just the other side of the border, whereupon unavailing efforts were made to save him by the Indian medics at the camp's hospital.
India's External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, became the first Indian foreign minister to visit Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan earlier this year. He stayed two days in Tajikistan, setting up a joint working group on terrorism. This is to be a key theme of India's "Focus Central Asia" programme in April.
At the Tajik National State University Mr Sinha blamed a lot of what had happened in the civil war in Tajikistan upon the epicentre of terrorism in the neighbourhood, a reference to Pakistan.
India has offered a credit line of US$75m to Tajikistan, and another US$25m for supplies. The credit lines are likely to be used for the renovation of roads, including building a portion of the road from Chah Bahar to Central Asia. Tajik Air will soon start services to India and Tajikistan is to establish a consular office in New Delhi as a precursor to a full-fledged embassy, both plans which have been held up way beyond their proposed dates.

The Pakistan connection
The appalling civil war Mr Sinha was referring to occurred in 1991-94. It emanated from Afghanistan, rather than Pakistan; indeed the main protagonists were the Tajik Afghans, such as followers of Massoud, the Lion of the Panshir, on the one hand (themselves the enemy of the Pashtun in the south), and the ex-communists in government. The Pashtun Taleban were indeed, in league with Islamicist Baluchis on the north-west frontier of Pakistan.
Mr Sinha's fixation with Pakistan as the source of all evil in Central Asia is akin to President Bush's identification of Iraq and Iran as the "axis of evil" in the Middle East, to which Syria and Libya were added in March 2002.

The economy recovers
The economy is doing well, all things considered. GDP grew at 9.1% in 2002. Inflation rose at a rate of 14.5% in the year.
What is particularly encouraging is that, after years of drought, agricultural output rose by 15%. The economy is heavily dependent on cotton and gold for its trading performance. But with the help of funds from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank it is finally diversifying.

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ENERGY

Tajik power supply system attracts investment

Investors, among which are the Aga Khan Foundation for Economic Development (AKFED), the World Bank and the Swiss government, plan to invest over US$30m in the development of the eastern Tajik Badakhshon electric power supply system, Varorud News Agency quoted the Pamir Energy Co as saying. Pamir Energy has been managing the region's integrated power supply system since December 1st, 2002. 
At present the region's power supply system is in a deplorable state. Its equipment is completely worn out, and glitches happen frequently, which result in unplanned interruptions in the supply of power every day. It is recalled that AKFED had allocated about US$450,000 for the reconstruction of the facility over the past two years.

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FOREIGN LOANS

IDB mission arrives in Dushanbe, talks focus on financing

A mission of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) visited Dushanbe recently to discuss the financing of social and economic projects being implemented in the country; ITAR-TASS News Agency reported the National Bank of Tajikistan had said.
The mission was scheduled to meet the heads of a number of Tajik ministries and departments, as well as the heads of the offices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) upon arrival. The mission intended to familiarise themselves with the progress of projects in the energy and public health sectors.
At the end of 2001, the IDB gave Tajikistan over US$9m for the reconstruction of substations as a part of the project to restore the country's energy system.
The IDB allocated another US$2.5m credit for purchasing and installing equipment at medical establishments in Dushanbe and suburban areas.

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