Tajik political scientist Parviz Mullojonov has shared his thoughts on ways to resolve the situation in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).   

According to him, the protest movement in GBAO is purely internal phenomenon being of socioeconomic nature.

It's still not a political movement and tries to distance itself from political opposition and various groups of influence, both internal and external ones.   However, if the problems of the region and the needs of the population are not addressed, then in the future it will be difficult to avoid the radicalization and politicization of the protest, the expert notes.  

“It seems to me that the policy of the Tajik government in the regions is explained by the desire to control the situation in the country and society.  The authorities have clearly set themselves the task of eliminating all centers of potential public mobilization in the country, which could serve in the future as the basis for destabilization and anti-government protests.  That is, the point here is not so much in GBAO, but in the distrust of the authorities in civil society and their intention to control all manifestations of its activity,” Mullojonov writes on his Facebook page.  

According to him, the Tajik authorities were able to relatively successfully solve this problem in all regions of the country, including GBAO, already by 2012.

“If not for the military-police operation of 2012, which stirred up the region, GBAO would still remain one of the most peaceful regions of the country.  This operation itself as well as the policy pursued [by the central government] in the region in subsequent years have led to formation of protest moods among the population of the region.  In other words, the Tajik authorities with their own hands have turned and continue turning the region that has so far been loyal into a base for critical and oppositional sentiments.  And the further they continue to pursue a purely coercive police, the wider the protest movement grows.  It turns out a vicious circle, which leads not only the region but the whole country nowhere,” the expert says. 

Beginning from 2012, a social base of protest in GBAO has expanded and many so-called informal leaders no longer enjoy their former prestige in the region, he notes.  

“Now the authorities have to deal in GBAO not with five or six informal leaders and several dozens of their supporters but with a fairly broad protest movement, in which it is difficult to identify new clear leaders.  Therefore, the old approach no longer works.  Accordingly, no attempts at "surgical sweeps" will not be successful either, while large-scale enforcement actions will only exacerbate the crisis,” Mullojonov says

In this situation, it would be more correct and efficient to change the approach and transfer the authority to negotiate with protesters from law enforcement authorities to politicians – civil administration, especially appointed representatives of President’s Executive Office, influential representatives of Badakhshan community and so forth, the expert noted.  

“Back in 2012, experts advised to strengthen political control over the initiatives and actions of law enforcement agencies and local authorities in the regions, key sectors of the economy and social life.   International experience shows that in difficult conditions of the socio-economic crisis, it is necessary to establish tighter control over activities and projects of separate officials, business groups and security forces.  Each action or initiative of them must undergo examination and analysis “upstairs”  in terms of compliance with political realities, expediency and degree of influence on the course of events,” Mullojonov notes.  

Recent events in Kazakhstan, where price collusion between several large companies has led to a social outburst, must serve as useful warning, according to him.  

It means that is politicians who must weigh all the pros and cons before setting tasks for officials and law enforcement agencies.

But the most important for a complete and final settlement of the situation is to carry out real socio-economic reforms in the region and in the country as a whole, solve the problems of unemployment and lack of jobs, filling local budgets with investments, implementation  of socially significant projects and so forth, the expert says.