Recently, a ceasefire on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan appeared to be holding after a day of intense fighting between the two countries that has killed about 40 people and wounded about 175.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan belong to the central asia region. Other countries of the region are Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Border Tension:
- Both nations have claimed the area around the water supply facility in Kok-Tash, a dispute dating back decades to when they were both part of the Soviet Union.
- The current configuration of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border is the product of Soviet mapmakers drawing the dividing lines for Soviet republics, after the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed in late 1991.
- The meandering boundary between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is particularly tense as over a third of its 1,000-km length is disputed. Restrictions on access to land and water that communities regard as theirs have often led to deadly clashes in the past.
- International Response:
- Russia and European Union (EU) welcomed the ceasefire deal and emphasised the need for a lasting and peaceful solution.
- Importance of Central Asia for India:
- India has a very wide array of interests in Central Asia covering security, energy, economic opportunities etc.
- Security, stability and prosperity of Central Asia is imperative for peace and economic development of India.
- Central Asia serves as a land bridge between Asia and Europe, making it geopolitically axial for India.
- Both India and Central Asian Republics (CARs) share many commonalities and perceptions on various regional and world issues and can play a crucial role in providing regional stability.
- The region is rich in natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, antimony, aluminum, gold, silver, coal and uranium which can be best utilized by Indian energy requirements.
- Central Asia has huge cultivable areas lying barren and without being put to any productive use, offering enormous opportunity for cultivation of pulses.
- CARs are fast getting linked to the global market for production, supplies of raw materials and services. They are also increasingly getting integrated into the East-West Trans-Eurasian transit economic corridors.
- Indian Initiatives:
- India intends expansion of International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
- It will act as a vital gateway to access Eurasian markets and optimally operationalize its use, requiring a Central Asian state joining the project as a direct stakeholder.
- India-Central Asia Dialogue:
- India has proposed setting up of ‘India-Central Asia Development Group’ to take forward development partnership between India & Central Asian countries.
- This group will help India to expand its footprints in the resource-rich region amid China’s massive inroads and to fight terror effectively, including in Afghanistan.