DUSHANBE, January 22, 2010, Asia-Plus  -- Professor Abdunabi Sattorzoda, head of the foreign policy and foreign economic development department within the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of Tajikistan, considers that a number of external and internal factors now pose threat to Tajikistan’s security.

According to him, the majority of these factors are the external ones.  “First of all, the vicinity of Afghanistan poses threat to Tajikistan’s security,” said Professor Sattorzoda, “The main threat is in the fact that our country is located on the transit route for Afghan narcotics to other countries of the region and Russia.”  He stressed that Afghanistan produced a record volume of narcotics last year.

Besides, surge in Taliban activities in Afghanistan may cause development of religious extremism in Tajikistan and the Central Asian region as a whole, the senior expert from Tajik think tank noted.

In the meantime, the January 6, 2010 Eurasianet.org item titled “Afghanistan: Taliban operating close to Afghan-Tajik border” reports that Kunduz Province, once a relative calm corner of Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan, is developing into a hotbed of conflict between coalition forces and Taliban militants. According to the article, Taliban insurgents have stepped up operations in northern Afghanistan in recent months. Some political experts attribute the increase in activity to the opening of the Northern Distribution Network, an overland resupply route for US and NATO forces that connects Western Europe to Afghanistan via Central Asian states.

During the late 1990s, when the Taliban held power in Kabul, Kunduz was one of the Islamic militant movement’s main hubs in the North. The US-led invasion in late 2001 drove Taliban fighters from the area, which remained relatively militant-free until mid-2009, the article noted.

Sattorzoda named “strengthening of elements of religious fundamentalism in the country” as one of main domestic factors posing threat to Tajikistan’s security.  “For example, many official Islamic clerics now mainly focus on unimportant issues such as wearing a hijab and other religious attributes instead of thinking over improvement of the socioeconomic situation,” Tajik pundit noted.

Sattorzoda added that some 90 non-Islamic religious organizations now function in the country and they not always act within the framework of Tajikistan’s legislation, and therefore, they also pose threat to the country’s security.