India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Tajikistan from March 30-31, 2021 at the invitation of Foreign Minister of Tajikistan H.E Mr. Sirojiddin Muhriddin. This was his first official bilateral visit to the country.
During his visit, Dr. Jaishankar and Mr. Sirojiddin Muhriddin discussed India-Tajikistan bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest. The leaders emphasized on greater economic cooperation between two countries.
He also attended 9th Ministerial Conference on “Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process” (HoA-IP) on Afghanistan in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe on 30 March 2021 at the joint invitation of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. While discussing “durable peace” in Afghanistan, he emphasised it is necessary to harmonize the “interests of all, both within and around that country.”
He also held discussions with Defence Minister of Tajikistan Colonel General Sherali Mirzo. They discussed the common interest of India and Tajikistan in maintaining peace and security in the region and defence and security cooperation between the two countries.
Dr. Jaishankar in his speech informed that development cooperation has also become an important pillar of bilateral relationship between India and Tajikistan. India has provided grant assistance to a number of projects over the years in Tajikistan. These include IT equipment in schools, food processing plant, engineering workshop, pharmaceutical plant, IT centres, rehabilitation and modernization of the Varzob-1 hydroelectric power plant etc.
India is also involved in the 8-laning of the Dushanbe-Chortut highway, which is expected to be completed in 2022. This highway is expected to decongest Dushanbe. India has also provided Line of Credit for community development grant projects, projects in the energy, and in transport sectors in Tajikistan. Dr. Jaishankar assured training and capacity building would continue to be one of the focus areas of cooperation between India and Tajikistan.
India established diplomatic ties with Tajikistan in 1992. Since then, several high level visits have strengthened bilateral diplomatic and political relations between the two countries. Four key bilateral consultative mechanisms guide the bilateral cooperation between Indian and Tajikistan. These are Foreign Office Consultations, Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism, Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, and Joint Working Group on Defence Cooperation. India’s 1992 “Look North Policy” and 2012 “Connect Central Asia Policy” emphasised India’s relations with Central Asia. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Central Asia in 2015 rejuvenated India’s ties with Central Asian countries. India’s first military base outside Indian soil was established at Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan in early 2000s.