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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Indian Tajik Airbase is Ready?

The "India Tajik air base" was reported again by Indian's indianexpress. The title is Tajik air base is ready, gives India its first footprint in strategic Central Asia.

The report says that:
Conceived in 2002 under the NDA regime, the Ayni air base allows India rapid response to any emerging threat from the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan arc including a terrorist hijacking like the IC-814. It also gives New Delhi a limited yet significant capability to inject special forces into a hostile theatre as and when the situation demands.

The other aspect is India’s role in the energy security calculus in the region with prospects of Central Asian natural gas reaching the subcontinent and negotiations with energy-rich countries like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Energy security is now a major concern with the Strategic Policy Group under Cabinet Secretary discussing the issue with the service chiefs, Home, Defence and Foreign Secretaries on February 7.

Lets talk about the geopilitics of Tajikistan first.

In geography, Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. It borders Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. India does not share any border with Tajikistan at all.

Politically, Tajikistan is a member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an intergovernmental organization which was founded on June 14, 2001 by leaders of the China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The aim of the organization is the copperation on security, economy and culture.

Indian media have been bragging this air base for a long time, The base had been "ready" once in 2004 in Indian media . Ridiculously, As Indian newspapers continue to speculate that the country will secure a military base in Tajikistan, Officials in Tajikistan immediately denied the reports. A defence ministry source told NBCentralAsia that the Indian military has been providing training and technical assistance to the Tajik army for some years, but there is no agreement to set up an airbase. (Source)

No matter the "Indian airbase in Tajikistan" is real or not. But the Indian's bragging shows that India has no sense of diplomacy.

First of all, Tajikistan belongs to several regional security groupings including the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and it would need the approval of other member states - Russia, other former Soviet states, and China – which would be unlikely to give their assent to an Indian military presence in the region. Nor would the idea be favoured by the United States, which is currently promising to invest substantial funds in Tajikistan. (See the above link)

The second, If the airbase is true, it would be viewed as a very unfriendly act by Pakistan, an India's rival. Tajikistan also would run into the risk of becoming embroiled in the confrontation between these two countries.

The third, India does not border with Tajikistan. Does Pakistan or China allow India's fighters to fly over to Tajikistan? furthermore, It could be difficult for India to provide logistic support to the Indian airbase if it is true. This will limit the airbase's scale and capability. In other words, the airbase serves India nothing.

The fourth, the airbase is not Tajikistan's interest either. India is hostile to both Pakistan and China. Tajikistan has much closer relationships with China than with India geographically, politically and economically. Today, India's political influence is largely limited south Asia. Even in the south Asia, India has bad relationships with almost all of its neighbours. India's experience in the 13th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit proved that India's influence in south Asia is limited.

The Indian airbase in Tajikistan could be Indian's bragging and hype of a big power again.

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