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Tajik Border Region Awaits Afghan Poll Outcome

By Sadunsho Janobalisho, Mirzojalol Shohjamolov











In the south and southeast of Tajikistan, people are watching to see what happens next as Afghanistan prepares to hold a final run-off in its presidential election.

The April 5 presidential and provincial elections went off peacefully, raising hopes that Afghanistan is on the way to recovery after years of war.

For Tajikistan, an improved security situation south of the border would bring many benefits, not least trade with the country and transit routes through to Pakistan, India and Iran. If the run-off vote between candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai results in more rather than less factional conflict, however, Tajikistan will have to tighten up border controls to deal with a possible flood of refugees, as well as the ever-present influx of heroin made from Afghan-grown opium

In the southeastern Badakhshan region, the Tajik authorities say their contingency plan for refugees would be to deliver tents, foodstuffs and medical assistance to camps located south of the river Panj that forms the border.

The commander of border guards in Badakhshan, Kholbash Kholbashev, told IWPR that this sector, although located in inaccessible territory, was now safe thanks to cooperation with his Afghan counterparts.

“The drug gangs that used to bring across large consignments under armed guards are no longer able to do so,” he said. “In collaboration with the Afghan law-enforcement services, we have weakened them, and now there are no illegal crossings in our section of the border.”  

Sadonsho Janobalisho is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan. Mirzojalol Shohjamolov is an IWPR-trained radio journalist in Badakhshan,

This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.  

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