Tajikistan likely to seek anti-terror help


Chief Minister (5k+ posts)
By Qaiser Butt
Published: March 8, 2011


President Asif Ali Zardari with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon upon his arrival at Aiwan-e-Sadar. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: As the Afghanistan and Pakistan-based al Qaeda continue to pose a serious challenge to the Central Asian republics, Tajikistan is seeking help from Pakistan to combat this threat. Tajik President Emomali Rahmans four-day visit, which kicked off on Monday, is being viewed in this context.

According to the Foreign Office, the issue of international war on terrorism will figure high on the agenda of the Tajik presidents talks with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
They are likely to discuss how to enhance cooperation in the fields of hydropower, investment, medicine, education, transport, communication, trade, tourism and cooperation against terrorism.
The Express Tribune has learnt that top military officials and Interior Minister Rehman Malik will also have separate meetings with the Tajik president at his request.
Analysts say that Central Asian republics, particularly Tajikistan, are concerned about the scheduled withdrawal of US-led Nato troops from Afghanistan this year.
They believe that the troop pullout is likely to encourage al Qaeda and their Taliban cohorts in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and aggravate the terrorist threat to Central Asia.
The regions home-grown extremist groups Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Islamic Jihad Union want to topple the regimes of secular post-Soviet leaders and establish Islamic rule in the region.
The militants affiliated with IMU had been forced to flee into Pakistans tribal regions after the civil war in Tajikistan in the 1990s. In the tribal belt, they established close ties with al Qaeda, an intelligence official told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity. Besides attacking US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, these militants also carry out attacks in the country of their origin, he added.
President Zardari hosted a banquet in honour of President Rahman on Monday evening. A business delegation, accompanying the Tajik leader, will also visit Karachi where they will interact with their Pakistani counterparts in an effort to explore ways to increase cooperation between the business sectors of the two countries. Pakistan and Tajikistan are likely to pursue a trilateral trade agreement with Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2011.