Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 300 - (01/01/06)
Tajikistan is perhaps the most remote place on Earth, but one
of the most sublime, incredible mountain tops and incredible mountain drops. A
fabulous, but a perilous place.
In the long-run it is obviously a great location for tourism. That is its
What a history!
But it is worth looking at its past.
It once formed an eastern part of the empire of Alexander the Great of
Macedonia. But by the 8th century CE the Tajiks were established as a distinct
ethnic group, with semi-independent territories under the tutelage of the
Uzbeks, to the west representing the easternmost spread of Islam, as it so
happens, a momentous event in history
By the 13th century it had been conquered by Genghis Khan and became part of the
Mongol Empire, another monumental event. To be Mongol and yet Islamic is no
small occurrence, an admixture of martial ferocity and spiritual openness of a
The ultimate imperial ruler eventually, however, was of course Russia. In
1860-1900 Northern Tajikistan came under tsarist Russian rule, while the south
was annexed by the Emirate of Bukhara.
In the period of Russian revolution everything naturally changed. Attempts to
establish Soviet control after Bolshevik revolution in Muskovy were initially
resisted in 1917-18 by armed guerrillas (basmachi); but in 1921 it duly became
part of Turkestan Soviet Socialist Autonomous Republic. In 1924 the Tajik
Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed - autonomous is what it was not.
A more bizarre development it is difficult to conceive. Out of tribalism into
communism, skipping over feudalism and capitalism, according to the Marxist
But this now had the entire centre of the continent in its grip, an iron grip at
The Stalinist era of collectivisation led to widespread repression of Tajiks,
who detested their subjection to Moscow thereafter. In 1978, 13,000 participated
in anti-Russian riots.
Then in the late 1980s came a resurgence in Tajik consciousness, stimulated by
the glasnost initiative of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1989 the
Rastokhez ('Revival') Popular Front was established and Tajik declared the state
language. New mosques were constructed. But by 1990 violent interethnic clashes
took place in Dushanbe; and a state of emergency was imposed.
In 1991 President Kakhar Makhkamov, the local communist leader since 1985, was
forced to resign after supporting the failed anti-Gorbachev coup in Moscow.
Independence was declared. Rakhman Nabiyev, communist leader 1982-85, was
elected president. All sorts of new initiatives became possible.
Tajikistan joined the new Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), naturally.
But in 1992 it also joined the Muslim Economic Cooperation Organization, the
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE; now the Organization on
Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE), and the United Nations (UN).
Independence went to their heads. Violent demonstrations by Islamic and
pro-democracy groups forced Nabiyev to resign.
Civil war between pro- and anti-Nabiyev forces claimed 20,000 lives, made
600,000 refugees, and wrecked the economy. But by 1994 a ceasefire was agreed.
The saviour at hand
Emomali Rahmanov, a communist sympathetic to Nabiyev, took over as head of
state in 1993. Government forces regained control of most of the country. CIS
peacekeeping forces were drafted in to patrol the border with Afghanistan, the
base of the pro-Islamic rebels.
Rakmanov was popularly elected president under a new constitution in 1995.
Parliamentary elections were won by Rahmanov's supporters in the same year. It
should be understood that elections here have never been other than flawed.
In 1999 constitutional changes approved the creation of a two-chamber
legislature. President Rahmanov was popularly re-elected and appointed Akil
Akilov as his prime minister.
2006 sees a presidential election, expected to be deeply flawed in democratic
terms, as a result of which no one doubts the re-election of the incumbent by a
The following gives a current perspective on the country - and indeed the
Tajikistan, NATO to Boost Ties
By Agence France-Presse, Dushanbe
Tajikistan and NATO (due to replace US Forces as the western military presence
in Afghanistan) are to boost cooperation in the region, a high-ranking NATO
official said during a visit to Dushanbe, commending the Central Asian state for
its fight against the inflow of drugs and terrorists from neighbouring
"We both agreed on the importance of the increasing cooperation between
NATO and Tajikistan. We look forward to ways to increase the number of
activities in partnership," the NATO secretary general's special
representative for Caucasus and Central Asia, Robert Simmons said.
"Tajikistan's continuing cooperation particularly as the transit point for
forces in Afghanistan is important, and the president (Emomali Rahmonov) assured
me that they will do that," Simmons said.
"I thank Tajikistan for doing a better job itself in dealing with border
security and recommended ways to help Tajikistan improve its capability in
border security," he added.
"NATO is not actually going to station forces or make itself border guards
in Tajikistan," Simmons said, adding that NATO would instead provide
technical help to the interior ministry.
Authorities in Tajikistan, a frequent transit point for Afghan heroin bound for
the European and Russian markets, have seized 2.7 tonnes of Afghan narcotics
since the beginning of the year and have arrested hundreds of traffickers.
Afghanistan produces about 87 per cent of the world's opium, very little gets
interdicted and most of which ends up as heroin on the streets of Europe and the
ADB approves loan for Dushanbe-Kyrgyz Road
The Asian Development Bank will help to boost regional trade and cooperation in
Central Asia through a US$29.5 million loan that will help rehabilitate a
critical part of the road linking Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan to
Kyrgyzstan, New Europe reported.
This project is the second phase of the Dushanbe-Kyrgyz border road
rehabilitation project. The main aim of the project is to improve about 89
kilometres of the central and border sections of the project road, along with 60
km of rural roads.
Jeffrey Miller, ADB senior project economist, said that by improving the key
sections of the road from Dushanbe to Tajik-Kyrgyz border, the project would
help to remove barriers to trade, which were due to poor road conditions and
will also promote regional trade and cooperation. He added that with improved
roads, the valley's inhabitants will have better access to markets in Dushanbe
and other cities in the region.
The road is part of a network in Central Asia that directly links Kazakstan, the
Kyrgyz Republic, and People's Republic of China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and
Uzbekistan. It is also part of a larger network providing links to the ocean
ports of Iran and Pakistan to the south, and to the Russian Federation into the
The road also serves as the link between Dushanbe and the Rasht Valley, an area
in Tajikistan where the level of poverty is high. The Rasht Valley used to be a
large producer of fruit but production has declined due to poor road conditions.
The project will also help increase road maintenance financing for Tajikistan's
road network and procure road maintenance equipment for use on the project road.
The Ministry of Transport will receive capacity building support for financial
management, and road safety will be improved by strengthening the Transport
Safety and Security Unit.
The ADB loan is accompanied by a US$500,000 grant for an integrated,
community-based programme to address the increased vulnerability of communities
to HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases that may arise during construction and
after project completion. ADB's loan and grant come from its concessional Asian
The loan carries a 32-year term, including a grace period of eight years.
Interest will be 1 per cent per annum during the grace period and 1.5 per cent
per annum for the rest of the term. The government will finance US$9.5 million
equivalent of the project's total estimated cost of US$39.5 million.
EBRD issues new Tajik strategy for 2006-2007
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) recently issued a
new two-year strategy for Tajikistan, and assessed the country's progress
towards a market economy. According to a press release, the bank reported that
macroeconomic conditions in Tajikistan have improved during the past two years.
The economy grew by 10 per cent a year while there was a decrease in inflation.
Although Tajikistan is one of the poorest of the Bank's countries of operation
the bank reported that the state budget is near balance and the country's
poverty reduction is a positive sign.
Tajikistan's external debt to GDP ratio has shrunk from 82 per cent to 40 per
cent following bilateral agreements with Russia, Pakistan and Iran and strictly
observed limits on new borrowing. Tajikistan progressed in small-scale
privatisation and trade and price liberalisation in a difficult environment
during the 1990s but still has to face challenges to move ahead. However there
is not much progress in large-scale privatisation, enterprise restructuring and
governance, and market-oriented development of infrastructure.
Despite rapid development over recent years the financial sector remained weak
and does not yet offer the corporate sector sufficient financing resources.
Government capacity to introduce and implement new laws remains weak and the
functioning of domestic markets is still impeded by informal and physical
In its new strategy for Tajikistan, EBRD has focused on private sector
development through enterprise restructuring and large-scale privatisation,
along with improvements in the business environment; strengthening the financial
sector; and attracting investment in public infrastructure projects especially
to realise the potential of Tajikistan's hydropower sector and policy dialogue
with the authorities geared towards improving the investment climate and
governance. To promote the private sector, the Bank will expand its micro and
small business credit lines to SME and agricultural lending, pursue
opportunities for direct financing in services and industry, encourage foreign
trade and seek to attract outside investors.
Tajikistan is one of the seven lower-income Early Transition Countries
identified by the Bank in the ETC Initiative launched in 2004 to stimulate
market activity by using a streamlined approach to financing more and smaller