How will the support of the Taliban from Qatar, Pakistan and China affect Tajikistan?

Payrav Chorshanbiev

The Taliban, recognized as a terrorist organization in Taj-ikistan, invaded Afghanis-tan and officially declared their government.

How will the still uncertain relations with the Taliban and the neighboring countries that supported them affect the economy of Tajikistan?

Afghanistan

Tajikistan is the only country (apart from the belated and not entirely convincing statement of the Iranian Foreign Ministry) that has officially announ-ced that it will not recognize the Taliban’s rule if an inclusive government is not created in Afghanistan, that is, without the participation of other political forces in the country.

The composition of the new Afghan government was announced at the beginning of September; only ethnic Pashtuns were included, except for 3-4 Tajiks who are members of the Taliban movement.

How the Tajik authorities will build relations with such a government is still unknown. The length of the Tajik-Afghan border is more than 1.3 thousand kilometers, 46% of the population of Afghanistan, according to the recent statement of the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, are Tajiks. Tajikistan does not have any significant trade and economic ties with the ISA, this is explained by the unstable political situation in the neighboring country for over 40 years.

The annual Tajik-Afghan trade turnover is no more than 1.5% of the total volume of Tajikistan’s foreign trade. Trade between the two countries consists almost entirely of the export of Tajik products, the main export commodity being electricity. By the way, deliveries of Tajik electricity to Afghanistan continue, despite the statements of the republic’s leadership about non-recognition of the Taliban power and open verbal support for the Panjshir militias.

China

In the international media space, China is called one of the countries that allegedly sponsored the rise of the Taliban to power. But, of course, there were no statements on this issue at the official or even semi-official level.

The possible support of Islamic terrorists by China is a kind of nonsense in world politics. Most international experts associate such actions with two interests of China:

  • withdrawal from the region of the United States, which at the moment are the main economic rivals of the Celestial Empire;
  • the huge natural resources of Afghanistan, which, due to constant wars on the territory of this country, remain practically untouched.

A possible cooling of Tajik-Chinese relations due to the probable non-recognition of Dushanbe by the Taliban Kabul could cause serious damage to the Tajik economy.

China is one of the three main trading partners of Tajikistan. About 90% of the Tajik-Chinese trade turnover falls on the import of Chinese goods.

But it’s not even a matter of trade, because we don’t import any vital Chinese products from there. A significant blow, in case of cooling of Tajik-Chinese relations, can be expected in the investment direction.

China is the main investor in Tajikistan, although the first investment from its eastern neighbor came relatively late – in 2007 ($ 216 million).

According to the State Committee for Investments and State Property Management, in 2007-2020, the Tajik economy received Chinese investments worth more than $ 3 billion, which is 30% of all foreign investments over these years. Chinese capital investment has increased in recent years and regularly fluctuates between 70% and 75% of the total foreign investment portfolio.

In addition, China is the main creditor of Tajikistan, the amount of debt to which is about $ 1.4 billion, which is more than 40% of the total foreign debt of our country. The attractiveness of Chinese loans lies in the fact that they are issued on concessional terms, practically on the same terms that are used by international financial institutions to finance the poor countries of the world.

Moreover, China regularly provides Tajikistan with multimillion gratuitous financial assistance. For example, he allocated $ 220 million for the construction of new buildings for the government and parliament of our republic.

Pakistan

Pakistan has always served as a transit point for the military intervention of third countries in Afghanistan. This was the case during the British invasion in the 19th century, the same was done by the military support of the United States and Arab countries to the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet occupation at the end of the 20th century, the same thing, experts say, was observed during the recent seizure of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

It is significant that the main slogan of the current demonstrations in Afghan cities is “Death to Pakistan”. Tajikistan has nothing to do with Pakistan in terms of investment, at least not in the official Tajik statistics. True, two years ago Pakistan provided Dushanbe with $ 5 million as gratuitous aid for the construction of avalanche galleries on the Dushanbe-Khujand highway. The volume of Tajik-Pakistani trade in 2020 was only about $ 40 million, and in the first half of this year – almost $ 19 million. Trade between the two countries mainly consists of the supply of Pakistani medicines and agricultural products to Tajikistan. In the medium term, Tajikistan was counting on the supply of its electricity to Pakistan in the summer after the completion of the construction of the CASA-1000 transmission line. The countries participating in this project (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan) have even agreed on the cost of electricity among themselves.

Thus, an agreement was signed that Pakistan will pay 9.4 cents for each kilowatt of Tajik energy (5.1 cents to the producer and 4.3 cents for transit). For comparison: at the moment we sell 1 kilowatt of energy to Afghanistan for 4.5 cents. However, at the end of August this year, Pakistani media reported that the authorities of this country are planning to revise the terms of supply of Tajik energy – to reduce the price of 1 kilowatt to 3 cents.

The publications said that China had started the construction of two large hydropower plants in Pakistan. In general, 10 such stations are expected by 2030, the total capacity of which will be approximately 20 thousand MW. The total capacity of the power plants operating in Tajikistan is only about 6 thousand MW.

It is noted that in 2015, Pakistan and China entered into an agreement on the creation of an economic corridor CPEC (China-Pak-istan Economic Corridor). China is allocating more than $ 62 billion to implement a package of projects within this corridor.

Qatar

Before coming to power in Afghanistan, Taliban leaders were stationed in the capital of Qatar – Doha, where they opened their office in 2013. It was expected that this office will contribute to political reconciliation between the parties to the conflict. However, peace talks were suspended due to objections from the Afghan government.

The annual trade turnover between Tajikistan and Qatar does not even reach $ 1 million, and the total volume of Qatari investments is about $ 300 million. These funds were used to build the Diyori Dushanbe residential complex in the capital of Tajikistan.

In 2010, the Emir of Qatar provided over $ 100 million in gratuitous financial assistance for the construction of the largest mosque in Central Asia in Dushanbe. By the way, the official opening of this facility has been postponed for the second year.

Central Asian countries and Russia

Tajikistan should value its relations with Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which are the main trade and economic partners of our republic. Even small changes in the volume of Russian and Kazakh fuels and lubricants this year led to a significant increase in the cost of not only these products, but also other goods. And, as you can see, the Tajik authorities are following this policy. According to Tajik political scientists, therefore, the republic no longer accepts Afghan refugees …

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have already expressed their readiness to cooperate with the Taliban, and, most likely, other countries of Central Asia and Russia will adhere to the same position.

It will be much more difficult for Tajikistan to build normal relations with the new authorities in Afghanistan, as the Taliban, whose core is ethnic Pashtuns, continue to oppress and kill ethnic Tajiks.

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