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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 1,303 1,208 1,100 148
GNI per capita
 US $ 190 180 180 197
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Tajikistan

Update No: 328 - (26/01/12)

Russia is taking steps to gain more military control over Tajikistan once US troops leave Afghanistan in 2014, while spats between the governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, popular discontent caused by poverty and the authoritarian regime of President Emomali Rahmon look set to destabilise Central Asia further.

On 20 December, members of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – reached a tentative agreement that would require the say so of all seven member states if any foreign military forces want to be based on any of their territories.

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan all currently host foreign troops as part of NATO’s military operation in Afghanistan and the CSTO move looks set to prevent that from happening in the future. Speaking at a meeting of the heads of state in Moscow, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said: "From now on the deployment of military infrastructure facilities on the territory of our countries by non-CSTO countries will be possible only with the agreement of all CSTO allies.”

While the leaders did not sign any agreement binding them to this arrangement and it was not clear when the issue would come up for formal approval, its a clear sign that Russia – which unofficially holds the reigns of the CSTO – is keen to make sure that America's 13-year presence in Central Asia isn't repeated.

With NATO’s presence dwindling, the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan gaining strength and extremism growing in the region, Central Asia is likely to destabilise further in the coming years. Russia's nerves appear to be tweaked by Tajikistan as more than one million Tajiks work in Russia at any given time and increasing numbers of people in the Central Asian republic are turning to radical Islam (see New Nations October 2011).

On December 26, a regional court in Tajikistan handed 53 people sentences ranging from 30 years to life for involvement in a bombing in 2010 in which a man rammed a car packed with explosives into the organised-crime fighting unit of the police directorate in the northern city of Khujand. Two policemen and two civilians died in the attack and 28 people were injured.

The court declared that 43 of the defendants are members of the outlawed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which wants to establish an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia and is thought to have cooperated closely with Al-Qaeda in the past. Some reports have suggested that the defendants were tortured to extract confessions and so the IMU link to the bombing isn't certain. However, discontent with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon's authoritarian regime – another possible motivation behind the attack – poses a risk to stability because he refuses to concede power.

Free and fair elections have never been held in Tajikistan and opponents to Rahmon are squashed. On 12 January, Tajik opposition activist Dodojon Atovulloev was stabbed twice by an unknown attacker near his home in Moscow and is currently in intensive care. Atovulloev owns an independent newspaper critical of Rahmon, called “Charogi Ruz” and he left Tajikistan in December 1992, continuing to criticise Rahmon's government through his writing. When Atovulloev last visited Tajikistan in 2004 he fled after three days because the authorities threatened to arrest him.

His brother-in-law, Doro Zabehov, told Radio Free Europe that Atovulloev had been "under constant threats and pressures" for years.

Relations between Tajikistan and its neighbours are further feeding discontent. Even though Tajikistan is one of Central Asia's largest producers of hydroelectricity it suffers from power shortages, particularly in winter. Despite the deficit back home, the Tajik government is looking to export more electricity abroad.

On 2 January, Tajik Ambassador to Pakistan Zubaidullo Zubaidov met with the head of the upper house of Pakistan's parliament, Fahmida Mirzo, in Islamabad, to discuss exporting electricity from hydropower plants in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The proposed project, called CASA 1000, is backed by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, but it still needs an estimated $950 million to come to fruition. About 25 percent of that amount ($251 million) is needed to build power transmission lines in Tajikistan.

The uncompleted massive Roghun hydropower plant in Tajikistan would need to be operational for Tajikistan to supply the prescribed volume of electricity for the CASA 1000 project. But the controversial Roghun project has run into obstacles, including a lack of funding and strong objections from neighbouring Uzbekistan over its concerns that creating a reservoir for the Roghun dam would divert water away from Uzbekistan's lucrative agriculture industry.

There is a chance that domestic power will be cut further if Tajikistan stretches itself too far to supply Pakistan or that spats with Uzbekistan will escalate if Roghun becomes operational. Ordinary Tajiks are already suffering after Uzbekistan blocked the passage of freight trains bound for Tajikistan in December over the Roghun issue.

Uzbekistan claims it has only blocked construction materials for the disputed Roghun hydropower plant, but the head of the UN's World Food Program (WFP) office in Tajikistan said on 13 December that 23 of its aid trains were stuck in Tashkent. There are fears that the move will create severe food shortages and and prices have already risen to a level where many Tajiks cannot afford basic goods. Without proper heating, food or hope for democracy, discontent in the volatile country looks set to escalate, leaving Russia with more potential problems than it is currently bargaining for. Without a Western presence, they could get a lot worse.  

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