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Rethinking Tajikistan: An Energy Powerhouse In The Making!

Updated on January 16, 2014
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In this article I will be examining the country of Tajikistan, Tajikistan is a relatively unknown country in Central Asia, it is an “h” shaped country, which was under soviet rule for quite some time. There is very little known about Tajikistan to the common man, theirs not particular lime light given to Tajikistan in the international media, nor is Tajikistan considered a major global partner in world affairs. It does, however, with the agreements Tajikistan is making in trade, and fostering relationships with key players in the region such as Russia and China, Tajikistan will become very influential in the region. In this paper I will examine why is Tajikistan making the alliances it is making and of what importance they carry to Tajikistan. I will examine the political, social, and economic sphere of Tajikistan. We will also look into the history of Tajikistan and look at the role that Tajikistan plays in the region. We will also look into the strategic importance of Tajikistan and its relations with other countries. This paper will look into the important factors that surround Tajikistan, factors such as, the economy, and history of the people of Tajikistan. We will look at the origins of the people of Tajikistan, and further look at how does the history of the people. Tajikistan is of geostrategic importance, and will become even more important as Tajikistan enters new trade agreements. This article seeks to highlight the importance of Tajikistan, and give it proper respect in context to world affairs.

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Tajikistan, officially the Republic of Tajikistan is located in the center of the Asian continent. Tajikistan borders Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. It has 4 administrative divisions namely; Sughd, Khatlon, Gorniy-Badakhshan and the District of Oblast (which has since changed to District of Republican Subordination) (Briller 3).

Tajikistan became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union (Bergne 1), Dushanbe is the capital of the country. Tajikistan is not very ethnically diverse, 80% of the population are considered Tajik, 15% Uzbeks, and the remaining 5% are mixed with Russian, Kyrgyz, and other minorities (Briller 2). According to Richard Frye the Tajik’s ancestors were from the Bactrians and Sogdians, who are ethnic Persians. The history of Tajikistan has been one of conquer and subjugation, in their early which goes back to about 2,500 years, where central Asia was inhabited by Tajiks early ancestors the Bactrians, and Sogdians (Country Profile: Tajikistan 1), some where between 6th and 4th century Tajikistan (Present day) was part of the Persian Empire (Country Profile: Tajikistan 1). Towards the end of the 4th century Tajikistan would be conquered by Alexander the Great (Country Profile: Tajikistan 1) and would later on in its modern history become part of the Soviet Union leading to outright independence from the Soviet Union.

The Tajik people are a blend of ethnic bloodlines from Persia present day Iran suggest that the ethnic group of “Tajiks” have common ancestors with the Middle Eastern ethnic tribesmen, they have also through intermarriages intermixed the Tajik blood line with other ethnic groups such as the Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, and Russian blood line, this however, is rare. Tajiks or people of Tajik origin are well spread out in the region, Pamela Arlund in her PHD dissertation titled: An Acoustic, Historical, and Developmental Analysis of Sarikol Tajik Diphthongs, that there are as many as 25,000 Sarikol Tajiks, a sub group of Tajiks in China today. Their official language is Tajik, according to Pamela Arlund in her PHD dissertation titled: An Acoustic, Historical, and Developmental Analysis of Sarikol Tajik Diphthongs, the Tajik language originates from eastern Iranian languages, which further originates from Iran, further proving the closeness of the two groups of people in blood, culture, and language.

History of Government

Tajikistan was under the Soviet Union until 1991, the Soviet Union kept Tajikistan under tight raps, they did, however, invested in education and healthcare keeping inline with their socialist policies. Even though Tajikistan was undergoing a modernization effort by the Soviet Union it was still one of the poorest states in the Soviet Union. The Tajiks were forced to accept a new identity under the Soviet rule, a new identity of Uzbeks (“Country Studies Program”1). This period of Soviet rule would leave a lasting impression on the Tajiks. In 1991, The Republic of Tajikistan became independent, on the 9th of September, Tajiks announced their entry as a sovereign state to the world, (Library of Congress Country Studies), However, that victory would be short lived, soon after gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Tajikistan had a bloody civil war. Between 1992-1997 Tajikistan was mired with war, lot bloodshed occurred during this 5-year period, one of the leading forces of the civil war were the United Op. The people of Tajikistan have had to go through a lot to get to where they are today. Understanding the history of Tajikistan will help us understand the way the government works, understanding the inner workings of Government.

The system of Government is much like that of the US in that Tajikistan has 3 branch’s of Government, a Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branch. The legislative branch, is elected to a 5-year term, it is a unicameral legislature which has 230 seats available. The Executive branch of Government headed by the President of Tajikistan(Country Studies : Tajikistan). The president doesn’t control the day to day activities of the Government, however, the President does appoint the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers with the approval of the legislature (Country Studies: Tajikistan).

Branches of Government

The presidency has been controversial primarily because Imomali Rahmonov, who is a soviet loyalist and has made it clear through his actions that he wants to have a rubber stamp government for the Russians. In November of 1994 Imomali Rahmonov ran for the Presidency, there were swift calls for free and fair elections after reports of poll rigging came to light, and this election was classified as rigged by the opposition parties and the observers who were present (Country Studies:Tajikistan). Rahmonov’s only oppentant was Abdumalik Abdullojanov, Abdullojanov formed his opposition party after he was forced to resign as prime minister by President Rahmonov (Country Studies:Tajikistan). With an obvious crisis on their hands the Tajiks established the Council of Ministers, this is council has 6 deputy prime ministers and has various cabinet ministers such as: Economic Affairs, National Security, and Chairmen of the National Bank (Country Studies: Tajikistan). This council of course has to execute the laws enacted by the legislature and have input from the President (Country Studies).

The second branch of Tajikistan is the judicial branch of government, it essentially consist of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Economic Court, and the Military Court (Country Studies: Tajikistan). Unlike the United States in which the Supreme Court is empowered by the constitution to interpret the laws, it is theoretically the Constitutional Court in Tajikistan which is empowered to interpret and strike down laws (Country Studies : Tajikistan).

According to the Inter Parliamentary Union, there are several political parties involved in Tajikistan national politics, for example The United Tajik Opposition which consist of Muslim and secular leaders, the other parties are as follows and are considered major stake holders in the Tajikistan Parliament: The Communist Party of Tajikistan, The Islamic Renaissance of Tajikistan, and the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan. All of these parties are essential to the running of the Government, and many of the policies adopted by the Tajikistan parliament have led a steady economic growth.


Tajikistan has had stable economic growth due to their exports of Hydro-power electricity, according to the World Bank, in 2011, Tajikistan’s GDP was 6.522 billion dollars, in 2012 Reuters reported a 7.4 percent growth of the Tajikistan economy, increasing the GDP to 7.6 billion dollars. Tajikistan per capita income reached an all time high of 934.8 USD in 2011, in 2012 that increased to $2,103 dollars (GSMA Tcell Feasibility Study). Tajikistan doesn’t have many natural resources, however, Natural Gas was discovered in the Sarikamysh Field by Gazprom, a Russian company. reported that Sarikamysh field could produce up to 60 billion cubic meter of Gas, which could supply Tajikistan for up to 50 years, said Aleksei Miller, spokesman for Gazprom, Tajikistan also has proven gold, and silver deposits in the country (CountryProfile : Tajikistan). While Tajikistan cannot become dominate in the region with the amount of natural gas it has discovered or its gold, and silver deposits, it is however, a powerhouse of electricity, through hydro-power Tajikistan has seen increased revenue, hydro –power, according to Satrapia, the gazette of Central Asia, Tajikistan “possesses vast and unique reserves of hydro-power resources and occupies one of the first places in the world on hydro resources. Glaciers cover 6% of the total country area and contain 550 km³ of water reserves. Hydropower plants produce more than 52.2 kWh of electricity every day.” The same article states that Tajikistan, exports 2.4 million kWh/a day of electricity to Afghanistan, and 500,000 kWh of electricity to Kazakhstan, negotiations on the pay rate were long and tedious, however, both countries reached an agreement, Kazakhstan will pay Tajikistan $0.2/ kWh (Satrapia : Tajikistan starts to electricity export to Kazakhstan). The turn over between Kazakhstan and Tajikistan amounted to 405.2 million dollars in 2011, which was an increase of 22.8 percent over 2010. Tajikistan is keen to increase its export of the electricity to Pakistan. In 2012 Satrapia reported Tajikistan and Pakistan were in the final stages of an accord, which would allow Pakistan to import electricity from Tajikistan at subsidized rates. Tajikistan is making headway in its export of electricity.

Tajikistan is working with the Asian Development on several projects such as the Sustainable Cotton Subsector Project, which will produce sustainable cotton sector in Tajikistan. Another project Tajikistan has been working expanding 3G cellular networks of TCell in its country; TCell is it was one of the first countries in Asia to have a 3G network in Asia. According to The Agha Khan Development Network has provided funding through the Agha Khan Fund for Economic Development to increase the network nationwide and strength the economy by creating jobs in the telecom sector. One of the most important projects of Tajikistan is the modernization of its electricity meters and basic infrastructure Tajikistan uses to export electricity. The European Bank has been considering a project in Tajikistan to “ providing a loan for the installation of new electricity meters, meter reading system and automated billing system in the Sugd region of Tajikistan. The Project will reduce distribution network losses, improve quality of supply and increase energy efficiency” , this will further help improve Tajikistan’s ability to provide electricity to its citizens and its clients abroad by making the network more efficient. One of the most interesting projects the Tajiks is the partnership with the Chinese to build tunnels and roads at various parts of Tajikistan, these contracts are strengthening ties with China.

Final Notes

In conclusion I believe Tajikistan can become a regional power player in central Asia, with the newly discovered natural gas, and vast amount of trade agreements Tajikistan is entering in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan; Tajikistan will position itself as an influential partner of the EU, because of the extensive ties Tajikistan has established with globally important countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan it will be looked more closely as partner in the region by major developed nations, and as partners to help in times of conflict. Tajikistan has another great advantage because of its past historical ties to Soviet Union, Tajikistan has a strong relationship with Russia today, and because of its socialist policies, the Tajiks have developed a good working relationship with the Chinese. These relationships have already solidified the position of the Tajiks in its region and continue to propel Tajikistan to prosperity, Tajikistan is progressing forward at a fast rate, and with the help of a stable economy, a growing economy become a reliable partner in the global economy. Tajikistan will enter the world stage through its several important trade agreements and ability to play a key role in arbitration of conflict in an area where its partners are Aghanistan,Pakistan,Russia, and China.

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