Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Thin Green Line Defends Tajik-Afghan Frontier

By Laylo Nafassho











Tajikistan’s thinly-spread border guards force service is struggling to cope with incursions from Afghanistan.

Murodhuseyn Aliyorov, who heads the Badakhshan branch of Tajikistan’s Drug Control Agency, says the Ishkashim district in the mountainous southwestern region of Badakhshan is seen as a key route for Afghan heroin smugglers, because the rugged terrain is so difficult to patrol.

The frontier service insists the border is better protected than in previous years, but Surat Moshalamova, a resident of the nearby Shugnan district, says the smuggling continues.

“When we see narcotics smuggling still going on unabated in the town [Khorog] and districts, it indicates that the border is not yet secure,” she said.

The smugglers, who travel to Ishkashim from the northeastern Afghan town of Faizabad, have are equipped with weapons and high-tech satellite communications so that they can plan border crossings forewarn each other of Tajik patrols.

Aliyorov says the Drug Control Agency plans to open a branch in Ishkashim, although it will have a staff of just four.

In the last year, four Afghan nationals have been convicted on charges of illegally crossing the border or drugs smuggling in Badakhshan.

The Afghan consul in Badakhshan, Nisar Ahmadi, alleges that some frontier guards on either side are complicit in drugs trafficking.

“The authorities in both countries must pressure the border guards and the heads of the security agencies to stop them collaborating with the drug traffickers and with those who cross the border,” he said. “It isn’t ordinary people who cross the frontier and engage in trafficking.”

Farmon Sharifov, the military prosecutor with the garrison in Khorog, Badakhshan’s main town, says better funding and resourcing has improved border units’ capacity to keep watch and mount patrols.

The audio programme, in Russian and Tajik, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.