Brussels, Berlin (21/3 – 42.86)
Tajikistan, a small fragile country in Central Asia, has been facing a multitude of issues in recent years. With a population of just over 9 million, the country has been plagued by corruption, crimes against humanity, violation of human rights, and impoverishment of the people.
The neighboring Taliban regime in Kabul is threatening Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan over water resources with constructing a 258-kilometer Kosh Tepa canal. The hydraulic dam structure will deplete the central Asian states water resources. War preparations are continuously reported in local central Asian news outlet after defense ministers from the region met.
In the face of these challenges, the need for government reforms has become increasingly apparent. In neighboring Kazakhstan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has instituted a series of reforms aimed at addressing similar issues. It is time for Tajikistan to follow suit or face fragility that leads to the demise of the regime.
Corruption is one of the most pressing issues in Tajikistan. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Tajikistan ranks 167 out of 180 countries. Corruption is rampant in the country’s public sector, with bribery and nepotism being common practices. This has resulted in a lack of transparency and accountability, as well as a loss of public trust in government institutions.
“To address corruption in Tajikistan, it will be important to strengthen institutions, promote transparency and accountability, and encourage civil society participation in governance processes”
Besides the mass corruption perpetuated by the despotic rule of President Emomali Rahmon and his extended family, gross violations of citizen’s human rights have flourished as Rahmon seeks to consolidate his rule and prepare to pass the power onto his young son Rustam Emomali, who is popularly known as “The Mute” for his unsmiling photos and near total lack of public speaking engagements.
Tajik bloggers writing anonymously for fear of landing in the torture cells of Tajikistan’s notorious prisons describe how the family power struggles could be the subject of an action-packed Hollywood film entitled, “Legacy of the Playboy Prince,” in reference to Rustam’s preference for soccer, fast cars, and women, and his older sister’s impatience with his immaturity.
“Legacy of the Playboy Prince”: A Film in the Making
We follow the story of an aging ruler who, facing his own mortality, becomes increasingly determined to pass the mantle of leadership onto his playboy son. Despite the son’s lack of interest and experience in governance, and preference for soccer and sports cars, the father believes that the son is the only one capable of carrying on the family’s legacy.
However, the ruler’s seven daughters and oligarch husbands, who have long been vying for power and influence in the country, are not willing to relinquish their claims to the throne. As the playboy son is groomed for leadership, the daughters grow increasingly resentful and begin to plot against him.
As tensions rise and the country becomes increasingly divided, the playboy prince must navigate a treacherous political landscape, and overcome the challenges posed by his own family members and a devious elderly head of the secret police who has been collecting all the family secrets. Will he be able to terrorize his subjects as effectively as his brutal father, or will he be consumed by the ruthless ambition of those around him?
“Legacy of the Playboy Prince” is a gripping drama that explores themes of lust for power, family dynamics, and the corrupting influence of wealth and privilege. With a talented cast and a compelling storyline, this film is sure to captivate audiences and leave them on the edge of their seats.”
In Kazakhstan, President Tokayev has made fighting corruption a top priority. Since taking office in 2019, he has established an anti-corruption agency, strengthened asset disclosure requirements for public officials, and initiated a crackdown on high-profile corruption cases. These efforts have led to a significant improvement in Kazakhstan’s ranking on the Corruption Perceptions Index, from 124 in 2019 to 94 in 2021.
Tajikistan could learn from Kazakhstan’s example and take similar steps to combat corruption. The establishment of an independent anti-corruption agency, strict asset disclosure requirements, and increased transparency and accountability in public institutions could go a long way in addressing the issue.
Human rights violations are another major concern in Tajikistan. The country has been criticized by the United Nations and Amnesty International for its treatment of political dissidents, journalists, and civil society activists. There are confirmed reports of torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Freedom of speech and religion are severely restricted, and independent media is virtually non-existent.
In Kazakhstan, President Tokayev has made some progress in improving human rights. He has released political prisoners, allowed greater freedom of speech, and created a human rights ombudsman position. However, much more needs to be done to fully address human rights abuses in the country.
Tajikistan should follow Kazakhstan’s lead in promoting and protecting human rights. This could include releasing political prisoners, allowing greater freedom of speech and assembly, and establishing an independent human rights ombudsman. The government should also work to create an environment in which civil society can thrive, with independent media outlets and a robust network of non-governmental organizations.
Finally, Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in Central Asia, with a GDP per capita of just $925. Poverty is widespread, with many people lacking access to basic necessities such as clean water and sanitation. The country’s economy is heavily reliant on remittances from migrant workers, leaving it vulnerable to external shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Kazakhstan, President Tokayev has initiated economic reforms aimed at diversifying the economy and reducing reliance on natural resources. These reforms include investing in infrastructure, promoting small and medium-sized enterprises, and improving the business climate. While the reforms are still in their early stages, they hold promise for the country’s long-term economic development.
Tajikistan could benefit from similar economic reforms. The government should work to diversify the economy and promote entrepreneurship, with a focus on creating jobs and reducing poverty. Investment in infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, could help to improve access to basic necessities such as clean water and electricity.
In conclusion, Tajikistan faces a range of challenges that require urgent attention from the government. Corruption, human rights abuses, and poverty are widespread, and the country’s institutions lack transparency and accountability. President Tokayev’s reforms in Kazakhstan offer a potential roadmap for addressing the challenges Tajikistan faces.