Kyrgyz-Tajik border divergence: Conflicts in Central Asia harmful for regional peace

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Kyrgyz-Tajik border divergence: Conflicts in Central Asia harmful for regional peace

agha-iqrar-haroonAgha Iqrar Haroon
Regional Observer for Central Asia and Eastern Europe



Islamabad: There are reports of increasing armed conflicts on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border and a recent conflict took place near the village of Ak-Sai Batken region of Kyrgyzstan resulted injuring of people at both sides. Each side blames the other for what happened. Year 2013 indicates that border conflicts among Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are rising day by day and such situation can provide a “heaven on earth” for Islamists terrorists who are already waiting for withdrawal of ISAF forces from Afghanistan so they can move easily in the region and they wish to establish their base again in this “weakest and most unchecked” region of Central Asia.

In April 2013, Kyrgyz roadwork in Ak-Sai sparked a clash between villagers of both sides. In May 2013, hundreds of villagers blocked roads after Kyrgyz border guards detained a Tajik citizen. Six were reportedly injured in the standoff. Latest conflict in December 2013 arose after Kyrgyz workers began construction of a road near the Tajik enclave Vorukh and Tajik border guards, demanded to stop the work and this situation led to armed conflict. Such situation is one of the main reasons for lack of development in the region because no big or small development project can be initiated in this area where border between the two countries is not marked and decided.
This belt of land is one of the most complex border areas of the world. Vorukh, home to approximately 30,000 Tajik citizens, is surrounded entirely by Kyrgyzstan. Though the status of the enclave is not in dispute, the land surrounding it, including most of Ak-Sai, is disputed land.


Tajikis and Kyrgyzs have weak economies and Kyrgyzs are depending upon tourism as their bread earner and such situation is disastrous not for two countries rather whole Central Asian region because tourists run away from region where reports of conflicts are coming to media. None of the two countries are taking responsibility and it is almost impossible to find out who is right and who is wrong in the armed clashes.

This land has a long history of border conflict pulling back to Soviet times. Ferghana Valley, Central Asian’s “trouble spot,” has always been a kind of layered cake mixing national enclaves. Post-Soviet history of inter-ethnic and inter-state demarcation in Central Asia finally cemented the existence of “Fergana enclaves” – land belonging to one country but located in the neighboring country.

Conflict area is not small rather a huge mass of land. Eighteen villages five rural districts Batken district of Batken oblast border with fourteen densely populated villages of the Tajik Republic … Leilek district of Batken region shares borders with six districts of the Republic of Tajikistan. The length of the land border between the villages of the district and villages Leilek Tajik Republic 250.0 km. In Leilek area has 640 hectares of disputed territories between the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan. ”

Tajik enclave Vorukh relating to administrative Isfara district of Sughd region of Tajikistan. On an area of ​​about 130,000 square kilometers is home to over 20,000 people, 95 percent of whom are Tajiks and 5% are Kyrgyz.

Tajik experts claiming that land on the southern outskirts of Pasco-irrigation ditches belongs to Dushanbe. In turn, the Kyrgyz side takes the opposite position and show documents of 1956 stating this is Tajik SSR land in past. The result – a regularly flashing several times a year. Roads, rivers, water sources, grazing pastures, electricity lines and main power grid lines—all are in dispute so how development is possible in this region?



Everyday common sense says that the higher the fence, the better the relationship with the neighbor.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan should understand instead of encroaching inside neighbor, they should resolve border issues because no development and no tourism dollar will arrive in this region without resolving issues.

Central Asian experts believe this region can become a hub of non-state actors because criminals and terrorists always find areas where laws are weak, states are in conflict and local population is divided. There is no doubt that concerns of Bishkek about “creeping migration” and “quiet expansion of Tajiks is valid and terrorists those tried to capture Tajikistan last year can creep inside Kyrgyzstan through this migration spree. We must not forget that Ferghana Valley has been a hub of Islamists terrorists in past due to its unresolved issues disputed borders, high corruption in the border areas, ethnic conflicts and drug trafficking

Central Asian experts are of the view that neither Bishkek or Dushanbe alone can fight against any possible intruding of terrorists and this should be the CSTO to involve itself for resolving issues among Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and to protect this land physically otherwise this region can again become a hub of terrorism after post withdrawal of ISAF forces from Afghanistan. There are reports that Taliban have already built up their positions in Tajik areas on Afghan-Tajik border. It is a wakeup call for a possible destabilization in the Ferghana Valley at any time.

There must be strong presence of CSTO in the south of Kyrgyzstan by establishing basis of the CSTO in conflict areas bordering centers. Mobile teams from the participating countries of the CSTO should be present to combat drug trafficking, anti-terror and providing assistance in resolving border disputes. The sooner these options CSTO structures will be studied and adopted for implementation, the greater the likelihood that serious conflicts and presences of terrorists can be avoided.

Commenting on this situation, Aftab Kazi Central Asian Political Observer from United States said:

Indeed, perceived threats of pos- 2014 infiltration of extremist militancy are looming, particularly in Ferghana Valley regions. SCO ant-terrorist framework, CSTO engagement and broader CIS level cooperation can block that. Central Asian countries and leaders are very intelligent and already have resolved 95 percent border related problems, 5 percent persist in the form of enclaves/out-claves. A fifty-fifty solution is needed on the China-Russia model. I am sure that good offices of China and Russia and other neighbors can resolve these problems in a very short time. Nevertheless, the national integration policies in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for over the last seven years have been disastrous. KR abandoned progressive policies after President Akayov, which ultimately led to the Osh tragedies.. Tajikistan is also following an outdated policy of national integration and need to focus more upon cultural pluralism. The second most important aspect is that both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan need to start political education campaigns teaching the public that democracy means tolerance and conflict of resolution., just like the responsible government of Uzbekistan started a political education campaign to educate people about democracy and voting during the summer of 2004 prior to the Parliamentary elections. Please understand that the recent Mayoral election in Osh and participants’ conflictual pot election behavior is already sending shockwaves through the region. I request the brotherly governments of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to restrain from restless feelings and both governments need to introduce liberalization reform side by side with strong culturally pluralistic political socialization processes so that in a decade or two social fabric of people in both countries is strengthened. I hope that common senses will prevail.