Events in Kyrgyzstan and Their Pros and Cons for Tajikistan

by Botur_Kosimi on 4/18/2010 · 13 comments

Five years after popular tulip revolution, Kyrgyzstan is once again in the midst of protests, violent uprising, and instability. The revolution carried out on the tide of people’s dissatisfaction with corruption and deception of Askar Akaev’s family rule and with the purpose of bringing more equality and justice, unfortunately, did not help promote democratic and economic development in Kyrgyzstan.

Contrary to expectations, the new leaders set in place after the successful coup d’etat quickly forgot their popular slogans and became very much like the officials of previous regime by putting their self interests above national priorities and population’s wellbeing. In so doing, President Bakiev made 3 major mistakes.

First, his government actively persecuted many members of opposition groups, human rights activists, and journalists critical of his restriction of freedom of expression. Second, his son and relatives were appointed to powerful government positions in order to control investments and wealth in and out of the country. Third, the prices for public services and utilities were sharply increased adding an unbearable burden to already difficult living conditions of the majority of country’s population.

A country that strives to achieve steady and sustainable development must first provide freedom of expression and respect for different viewpoints. Then, proven specialists and experts young and old from all parties and parts of the country should be involved in high level administrative positions, so that society is invested in power sharing structures rather than split into North vs South or East vs West. Finally, government’s efforts should be constantly and transparently communicated to public, so it is clear what positive impacts are being achieved. In summary, it is crucial in matters of managing a country to pay serious attenttion to opposition’s voice, engage wide range of specialists in administration and certainly, show accountability towards public interests and wellbeing.

It seems like if these three mistakes take place at the same time and continue for a while, almost any nation will rise up against its “leadership.” In the context of Central Asia, for example, if we examine Uzbekistan, even though the opposition is crushed and government is being controlled by Karimov’s regional clan, the available natural resources and economic capacity have helped the ruling elite maintain its population’s living standards at a level not worse than before. The situation in Turkmenistan is pretty similar to this case. Kazakhstan seems to be better off based on these 3 criteria evaluation. Its abundant hydrocarbon reserves have helped the government provide improved econonmic opportunities and better living conditions for its population, opposition groups have been less harassed, and younger professionals educated abroad have been more involved in country’s leadership.

In the instance of Tajikistan, the oppression of opposition leaders and attacks on relatively independent media have become an ordinary thing and definitely, made the freedom of expression more resticted than before. The influence of president’s family members and regional favoritism in executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government has been out of control and the “government of the elderly” reigns. In addition, sky-high prices, involuntary contributions (not profit-oriented investments) for Roghun, and introduction of toll fees for roads have all increased public disapproval of Rahmon’s government to a dangerous level. Therefore, Tajikistan may be the next potential hot spot and land of instability. This time Kyrgyz people showed their impatience compared with over-patience of our nation. But everything has beginning and end to it and if “water keeps pouring, it will eventually overflow the bowl” as a Tajik proverb says.

However, no such violent uprising and regime change as in Kyrgyzstan is going to be easy or useful for Tajikistan since the lack of political stability causes tremendous harm to economic, social, and cultural life and inevitably halts progress for some time. So, it is the duty of everyone of us, above all President Rahmon and his top officials, not to let our country get into turmoil and chaos, but rather to strive hard to avoid making these three mistakes in governing the state. We need to learn from others, especially from our neighbors, and the people’s protests in Iran and now second time in Kyrgyzstan should be serve as good lessons.

Although, most of us desire to see a new, patriotic, well-educated, and strong-minded leader for the country, it is not yet for the best interest of our nation to resort to force and weapons or calling people to the streets in order to achieve this goal. We need to take a slightly different path and God willing, we will succeed.


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{ 13 comments }

Grant April 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm

While I do wish the best for people wishing for change in Tajikistan, I can’t imagine it happening any other way but painfully.

Ozodi April 19, 2010 at 8:11 am

Hi,
Would you be interested to re-publish your article in Ozodi.tj? Is yes, can you plz reply to tajikweb@rferl.org?

Best,

Ozodi April 19, 2010 at 8:13 am

……if yes…..

estrella April 19, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I often wonder if there is any other way around the situation in Tajikistan. Revolution sounds so frighteningly painful for everyone. The problem is this fear of violence is being used by the authorities to supress any sort of dissent or attempt to change things. So is revolution avoidable?

Tajik April 19, 2010 at 11:01 pm

One major way of changing the current political structure in Tajikistan is through strengthening non-for-profit organizations (NPOs) at the grass-root level. Building the NPOs and changing peoples’ way thinking is a key factor. When we say NPO’s it should be clear that these institutions truly care about their roles as representatives and guardians of the ordinary and citizenry values.

Another way would be to empower the role of a free mass media, which would come through financial security and result in transparency, which in turn would exposing the core of many problems.

These may not be achieved ‘throughout the night’ but everything has a beginning.
In theory one could offer many models (and as every country is unique the model that worked for Kyrgyzstan may be detrimental for Tajikistan and visa versa).

One could argue that foreign investment (in the absence of domestic financial capital) would provide financial security for both mass media and the NPOs to achieve their respective goals, but considering the long and short-term objectives, and geopolitical interests of foreign investors the risks may outweigh the benefits. Therefore extreme caution is needed when assessing the latter option (model).

Toryalay Shirzay April 20, 2010 at 12:50 am

Tajikistan has already experienced a devastating civil war with great loss of material and human life.What factors and which groups played key roles in precipitating this war?? You are absolutely right in advocating extreme caution about receiving foreign financial “investment” because like or not ,this was a critical factor in fueling the fires of the civil war.Right from the beginning of the independence of the Central Asian States,the enemies of these States ,poured in money and weapons and Islamic fascist ideology to start wars so that these States be under the control of Pakistan,Saudi Arabia or Iran and using the country of Afghanistan and its people to carry out their dirty wars.And the Tajik civil war has set back the development of the country by at least 2 decades if not more.Thus it is incumbent on Tajiks and other central Asians not to seek finance or money from any Islamic country whatsoever or risk your independence. However,there are other countries whose financial investment may not pose a danger to the independence and sovereignty of central Asian States and these include India,European Union,US,China and Latin American countries.

Tajik April 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

If we take the issue of “foreign investment” one step further, I’d be cautiously optimistic about the EU and other “International Community” in the Central Asian countries. This has several reasons, one of them being the funding issue. Whenever the so-called Donor Organizations by that I mean EU, DFID, Norway, SIDA, CIDA, and USAID to name a few, finance a project or a program, they pursue their own goals rather than addressing the immediate problems of their country of operation. For instance, when the EU wants to finance a project it’s funds can only be used for that EU developed projects only which leaves aside some crucial needs of the country unattended. Such issues may be insignificant in the short run, but in the long run they amount to a lot of money and scarce resources wasted, and time and opportunities lost. Although they reconcile their mandate with the governments of the host countries when getting accredited (for the lack of a better word), they rarely abide by those initial mandates.

Now, I strongly disagree with people’s use of the term ‘Islamo-fascism’. This term is invented by people, again, filled with hatred and bigotry towards Islam and a concept of religion as a whole. I think its wrong to use the word fascism together with Islam or Christianity or Judaism knowing the true meaning of these religions.

Grant April 20, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Islamo-fascism is essentially a buzzword created by the right-wing seeking to (obviously) link Islam to fascism. In other words it was never anything more than a ploy for elections.

Turgai Sangar April 20, 2010 at 10:32 am

Exactly, Tajik! Not to speak of these international financial institutions like EBRD, IMF, … and the armies of overpaid whore- hopping ‘consultans’ who, in cahoots with cleptocratic kafir elites, ruined and indebted Kyrgyzstan and other countries with their neo-liberal ‘r/deforms’.

Metin April 20, 2010 at 10:46 am

maybe it would correct to put blame on ‘kafir’ governments for listening to bad advice of international consultants?

Grant April 20, 2010 at 11:01 pm

While the consultants did advise Bakiyev to rise prices on things such as heat and water which were subsidized in a fashion that wasn’t sustainable they probably didn’t think he was going to increase the prices beyond the average monthly wage (which goes against any economic sense imaginable). Also, the corruption in the Akaev and Bakiyev which contributed to the problems is well documented.

Tajik April 20, 2010 at 11:12 am

An alternative to ‘kafir’ governments has not been practiced in Central Asia, except in Afghanistan, which I do not find as an ideal role-model to base on. No do I find any form of religious autocracy, or hereditary government appealing, given the cultural and traditional factors in CA.

Turgai Sangar April 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

Rahmat kalon Tajik. Why does the alternative to the kafir regimes has to be ‘Afghanistan’ per se?

What happens in Afghanistan does stand symbol for the fact, that the Muslim Ummah will never be at peace as long as it remains a battle ground for colliding great power interests.

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