The land of Zaheeruddin Babur is in turmoil again. Ferghana valley in on fire once again. The dictators in Dushambe have been challenged again on the Afghan border. There is trouble for America across the Pyandzh river, in the Tajik autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan.
Tajikistan is a former province of the Ottoman Empire. It is mislabled as a former republic of the USSR. It was forcibly occupied by Russia while the Ottomans were weak. Since then, they have struggled to bring about unity among the Central Asia states–and are still doing that.
Tajikistan is separated by the Wakhan corridor–Pakistani Indus Valley territory that was given to the artificially created buffer state of Afghanistan. This thin panhandle separates the Wakhi people. Pakistan must demand the return of this territory to Islamabad, or take it over if Afghanistan does not allow Pakistan direct access to Tajikistan. Today the Wkahan is infiltrated by foreign agencies who track China and Pakistan.
Rebels in Tajikistan are locked in a standoff with the government after President Imomali Rakhmon, America’s man in Tajikistan sent troops into the area trying to root out rebels loyal to the Talibs and the IMU. When the civil war broke out in Tajikistan in 1992, Gorno-Badakhshan declared independence from the Republic of Tajikistan–however the uprising was brutally crushed. Tajikistan went thorough a massive uprising which was crushed a decade ago by strong arm tactics. Thousands of Tajiks were massacred in its civil war, in which Rakhmon’s Moscow-backed troops fought the people of Tajikistan which included the IMU and the Talibs. The region saw a series of clashes between the Tajik military and militants loyal to former warlord Tolib Ayombekov after the latter was accused of murdering a Tajik general.
President Rakhmon called a ceasefire late on Tuesday, declaring an amnesty demanding that the rebels hand over Tolib Ayombekov, the wanted former warlord, along with three other fighters.
Ayombekov, who fought against Rakhmon’s troops in a 1992-97 civil war before receiving a government job in the peace deal that ended the conflict, denied any involvement in Nazarov’s killing and other acts of defiance against the government.
Fearing additional infiltration of Taliban-linked fighters who support Ayombekov, the Tajik president has since closed all border crossings with Afghanistan. The only exception is NATO troops ostensibly carrying non-lethal cargo.
Prior to 1895, today’s Gorno-Badakhshan province consisted of several semi-self governing statelets, including Darwaz, Shughnun-Rushan and Wakhan, who ruled over territories that today are part of Gorno-Badakhshan province in Tajikistan and Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan. The same people also live in Pakistan. The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province was created in January 1925. It was attached to Tajik SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic) after the republic’s creation in 1929–after it was occupied by Lenin in 1917.
It is pedagogical to note that most of its 250,000 inhabitants of Gorno sided with Rakhmon’s opposition during the civil war. Penury stricken Tajikistan is the poorest of 15 former Soviet republics. The main ethnic group in GBAO are Pamiris (not Tajiks).The remainder of the population is ethnic Kyrgyz and other nationalities. The largest city in GBAO is Khorugh, population 29,00. The second largest is Murghab, with about 4,000 residents.
Imperial master Moscow till has 6,000 troops stationed in Tajikistan in a base.This base is supposed to fill the vacuum on the Afghan border when NATO pulls its troops out in 2014.
Analysts believe that Rakmon is living on borrowed time and it only a matter of months (after NATO leaves) that his government will fall to the Talib-IMU illaince. The rest of the dominoes in the neighborhood are also hanging by a thread. All want to be united with each other under a single government. They see the separation as scheme by colonialists to keep them down.
The Central Asia states have the same dream of unity–captured by Alama Iqbal and Chaudhry Rehmat Ali.