Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: Role of Tashkent

Role of Tashkent

Recognising the crucial role that Tashkent will play in the NDN, the US has already warmed up to Uzbekistan. In fact, it was the sharp US reaction to the troubles in Uzbekistan's Andijan province in 2005 that led to Tashkent accelerating its involvement with the SCO.

A beginning with the SCO Regional Forum, it is felt, would stand the US and NATO in good stead especially with the beginning of the drawdown of troops and equipment which arrived over nine years. But bulk of it will now have to be sent back in a much more compressed time frame of three years.

The NDN is much costlier and circuitous. However, greater reliance on it would reduce the dependence of the supplies on routes going through Pakistan that have frequently been attacked. The NDN routes go through several countries, in the case of supplies from the German base of Germershiem as many as 10. Despite these challenges, the upfront involvement of SCO countries and Turkmenistan, would greatly help in the efforts to resolve the Afghan conflict which has players linked to neighbouring countries by ethnic bonds. So far, all these countries have promised to deal only with Kabul and its nominees rather than cut deals with warlords with shared ethnicity.

In the coming days, sources expect the NDN to expand to include China. There have been reports of NATO and Beijing opening talks on a supply route via Xinxiang Province.

It is in line with this thinking that India is planning to reopen a hospital it had set up on Afghanistan's northern borders to treat Northern Alliance fighters when they took on the Taliban. India already has an air base in Tajikistan which it neither confirms nor denies. But sources speak of a base with developed infrastructure which has been used by the Tajik security forces for heavy duty operations against Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) militants.

Currently, India is taking an active interest in the SCO's Tashkent based counter terrorism centre where it gets to discuss the subject with four Central Asian countries besides Russia and China. It is a great forum to do joint exercises with, ‘’ said the sources.

The New York meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bodes well for the development of an alternative route to Pashtun dominated areas of Afghanistan in which India has played and will play a major role.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India