Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 312 - (20/12/06)
Profile of Rahmonov
Former Communist functionary Emomali Rahmonov, who won his third seven-year term
as leader of this impoverished Central Asian nation on November 6th, is the only
president that many Tajiks have ever known in a republic of very young people.
The 54-year-old has the right to stay in office until 2020 after disputed
constitutional referendums - a prospect that seems plausible amid continuing
suppression of dissent and the independent media in the ex-Soviet republic.
A former cotton farm boss, Rahmonov has been at the helm of the landlocked
Muslim nation bordering Afghanistan since just after the 1991 Soviet collapse
and through a vicious five-year civil war that erupted in 1992.
With the scars of that war - which pitted Islamic forces against the
Moscow-backed government, killed more than 30,000 people and displaced nearly 1
million - still raw, he has portrayed himself as the guarantor of peace even as
the country continues to be plagued by poverty and corruption. "As always,
I voted for peace, for concord, for the well-being of the people of Tajikistan
and prosperity for Tajikistan," Rahmonov said after casting his ballot at a
Dushanbe polling precinct.
Rising from rural roots to become head of a collective farm (the size of an
English county), in southern Tajikistan, he joined the republic's Soviet-era
Supreme Council and became the de-facto head of state in 1992, after Communist
leader Rahmon Nabiyev was forced to resign through ill-health.
Fighting broke out in late 1992 as Islamic rebels took up arms against the
Moscow-backed government in a vicious war that pitted, in some cases, clans
against clans and neighbour against neighbour. He led some government units in
battles in southern regions.
Rahmonov was elected to a five-year term as the president in 1994, and
participated in the peace talks that led to the U.N.-brokered cease fire in
1997. Months before the deal was signed, he survived an assassination attempt
and two alleged coup attempts.
The long-term presidency
Two years later, after a disputed referendum that extended the term in
office to seven years, he was re-elected with an officially reported 97 per cent
of the vote. Both the referendum and the election were criticized by foreign
observers and in the following years, another referendum changed the mandatory
retirement age for the president.
Opposition parties say Rahmonov has already served the maximum two terms in
office. Rahmonov, however, says that limit was valid only under the old
constitution - meaning potentially, with his officially reported victory in the
recent vote, he could serve as president until 2020. The government-backed
ruling party all but controls parliament.
Under Rahmonov in recent years, the government has tightened the screws on
dissent, harassing the media into docile submission and jailing potential
would-be challengers. Opposition parties, including Central Asia's only legal
Islamic party, have howled in protest at the changes, and either boycotted or
refused to field candidates in the vote.
Critics say Rahmonov's policies have done little to alleviate grinding poverty
and fears are growing that the illegal drug trade from Afghanistan could
overwhelm the country. More than half of the 7 million-strong population is
estimated to be under the age of 18.
Rahmonov is married and has nine children. Moreover he has only one wife, not to
be taken for granted any longer in this Muslim land.
The following article, indeed, makes this point and is self-explanatory:-
After a Century, Public Polygamy Is Re-emerging in Tajikistan
Gulya Ismoilova cannot say exactly when men in Tajikistan broke with a
century of tradition and began taking second and even third wives, but she
remembers precisely when her husband announced he had married again.
"Two years ago he took a woman to his brother's house," said Ms.
Ismoilova, her hand trembling as she lifted a cigarette to her lips.
"That's when my life ended, when I became a first wife. "Ms. Ismoilova
said she could not have imagined her present circumstances when she married 11
Polygamy existed in this overwhelmingly Muslim and rural country in the 70 years
when the Soviet Union enforced a fiercely secular governing ideology that
continues to be the law of the land. But it was very rare, and occurred in
secret arrangements by people living shadowy lives.
But then came the break-up of the Soviet Union and Tajikistan's civil war, which
claimed as many as 100,000 lives in the 1990s, an overwhelming majority of the
Since then, as many as a million Tajik men have migrated to Russia to work,
according to Tajik and Russian government statistics, leaving behind a stark
imbalance of men and women in this nation of 6.5 million people.
Seizing on this disparity, men have begun to practice polygamy openly, citing
Islamic law and the desire among women for partners to justify the illegal
practice. Tajiks say polygamous marriages can now be found in nearly every
apartment block in Dushanbe, and few Tajik families seem to be without a recent
"These girls require a husband or their families are shamed," said Ali
Fidhoum, 37, an engineer here. "Our religion allows it as long as I have a
job and I treat both my wives equally. My second wife's family is thankful for
me, and they should be."
But not all wives are as grateful as Mr. Fidhoum supposes. Ms. Ismoilova said
her husband's second household had left her humiliated and impoverished, and
undermined her authority over her children.
"He tries to get our kids to move to his new wife's apartment because she
can't have babies," Ms. Ismoilova said. "These are my children he
wants to take away from me. And I can do nothing. First my husband said I can't
work. Now he won't let me leave the house without his permission." She
spoke slowly, her face distorted with anger.
Ms. Ismoilova said she once sought help from a women's legal advocacy group but
it offered no practical solution. Nor is her family a way out: her only relative
in Dushanbe is her elderly mother, who subsists on a small pension. "I am a
slave," she said. "And now this society accepts it."
Even those men who disapprove of polygamy say they understand why it has
re-emerged. "I wouldn't consider it," said Zafer Mahmoudov, 24, a
professional. "But for many men here, they are in arranged marriages with
girls coming from villages. They have nothing to say to them. These girls do not
know how to behave in the city. So they don't tell their wives, but they go and
marry a second one. They just do it and eventually everybody knows."
The revival in Tajikistan of polygamy - which has been outlawed by the
government but is supported by many imams - underscores a surprisingly swift
return to traditional cultural and religious practices in all the former Soviet
republics of Central Asia.
"We are in a country where 95 per cent of the population is very
religious," Said Shmadov said, the adviser for religious affairs to
President Emomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan. "So I think we need to have an
Islamic society that is not an Islamic state, where religious organizations do
not interfere with the politics of the state, where the government has the trust
of the mosque but where our rich secular history is observed."
Ibodat Yatimova, 25, was 14 when her parents placed her in an arranged marriage.
Her husband divorced her after five years, forcing her and her two children to
move to her parents' home. To ease the financial burden on her parents, Ms.
Yatimova accepted the proposal last year of a 45-year-old labourer who worked in
the office where Ms. Yatimova is a secretary.
But there was a catch. "I didn't know he already had a wife," Ms.
She said she was resigned to the arrangement, at least for now.
"It's important that I show my parents that I have a husband," she
said. "He pays the rent for my apartment. My children show him respect but
he doesn't help them. He has his own children. We don't really matter to him.
When he buys me an apartment, I will leave him. Let him go to his first
Miriam Cooke, a professor of Arab culture at Duke University, said polygamy was
an emerging trend across the Islamic world, including Indonesia, "where
there is a huge controversy about the perceived growing trend in polygamous
marriages." But she warns against treating it as a black-and-white issue.
"It is complicated," Ms. Cooke said. "There are some women who
consider themselves to be feminists who think it's perfectly acceptable to be a
second or third wife and to be a professional woman, a good Muslim and to have
all her rights. But I would say that I would agree with the majority of Islamic
feminists who consider this to be a setback."
For educated professional women in Dushanbe, polygamy is often a source of
dismay and embarrassment.
"This is a matter of women being educated and being financially
independent," said Rokhshona Nazhmidinova, 26, an outreach coordinator at a
non-profit organization here. "It's a sign that society is heading down.
Just look at the countries that allow multiple wives. I wouldn't want to live in
Tajikistan's inflation nears 10% in 2006
Inflation in consumer prices totalled 9.8 per cent in Tajikistan for the first
nine months of 2006, Asia Plus-Blitz recently reported, cited by website
Prices for food products rose 10.1 per cent, non-food products 4.2 per cent, and
services to the population 19 per cent. Inflation in 2005 came to 7.1 per cent,
the report noted.
Dushanbe-Tehran to boost cooperation
The vice-speaker of Tajikistan's House of Representatives met Iranian Parliament
Speaker, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, on November 13th to discuss bilateral
relations. During the talks, Adel stressed that the two nations' bonds serve as
a strong base for mutual cooperation, Irinnews reported.
Dolatov said he was pleased with the growing cooperation the two countries' and
said that consolidation of mutual ties with Iran sets a priority for
Tajikistan's foreign policy and is emphasised by all the leaders of that
country. Appreciating Iran's aids granted for the restoration of peace in
Tajikistan, the lawmaker reiterated that the aids and assistances provided by
the Islamic Republic have played a remarkable role in the establishment of peace
and stability in Tajikistan.