The resistance against the Taliban is building up slowly, but certainly, as Iran and Tajikistan have started taking steps to counter the Sunni hardliners’ group in the region, a report said.
Tajiks are predominantly (95 percent) Sunni of Hanafi school of Islam, with barely three percent Shias, and Iran is predominantly Shia, religion appears to have been set aside to protect the Persian language and culture that has come under threat in Afghanistan and thanks to the resurgence of the Taliban, in the entire region, including Pakistan, London based writer Valentin Popescu wrote for the Policy Research Group.
Popescu further added that Tajiks and Hazaras of central and western Afghanistan (with a significant presence in Pakistan) have been targeted by Sunni extremists in the region. Resistance to the Taliban is their fight for survival. It is also an effort to protect various Sufi sects that by their very ideology are against sectarian violence and extremism.
Emphasising that Tajikistan which has emerged as the nerve centre of resistance has disavowed any connection, Popescu mentioned that the country has denied the presence of Ahmed Masoud, son of Ahmed Shah Masoud and former Afghan Vice President, Amrullah Saleh. Dushanbe said they were there only briefly for talks, but have since left.
Referring to the credible reports, the writer further said that Masoud and Saleh are moving between Dushanbe and Tehran. “They met Ismail Khan, the long-time Shia fighter from Herat in Iran. But the snag, diplomatically, is that Iran has taken no public stand. Iran has been part of the diplomatic moves by China and Russia that are helpful to the Taliban, mainly out of hostility against the US and its long imposed sanctions,” wrote Popescu.
Stating that physical threat from the Taliban is maximum for Tajikistan even without its playing any role in the resistance to the Taliban, Popescu noted the country has a long border where, for the first time since declaring independence in 1991, it has rushed 20,000 soldiers and has called its military reservists back on duty. “A high alert is enforced along difficult-to-defend mountainous terrain. But the Tajik army is the weakest in the region, already troubled by the Islamists at home,” the writer added.
Tajikistan is a transit stop for most of the drug traffic from Afghanistan to Russia and Europe, and the country has suffered numerous terrorist attacks in the last few years. Yet, Dushanbe is more ready to take some risks than others in the region. Its long-time President Emomali Rakhmanov “is counting on boosting popularity, both at home and abroad,” a study by Carnegie Moscow Centre said. (ANI)