Oct 12, 2021
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Afghan pilots in Tajikistan – Dushanbe has bargaining power

It is not known whether he will raise the topic of Afghan pilots who fled to Tajikistan Emomali Rahmongoing to Charles Michel and Emmanuel Macronbut the question suddenly became relevant.

Radio Ozodi reported that one of the pilots who fled from Afghanistan was pregnant and needed urgent medical attention. She was taken to the hospital, where, after providing assistance, the woman stated that “Afraid of having a child in conditions that resemble captivity”… A small scandal made me remember the pilots again.

As you know, the fate of the pilots who fled from the Taliban * to Uzbekistan has been decided, they were taken to the UAE. Another 143 Afghans flew north after the capture of Kabul and landed at Bokhtar airport in southern Tajikistan on August 15. The border was crossed by 17 Afghan Air Force aircraft: 11 Cessna 208, three AC-208 and three Pilatus PC-12.

Almost immediately, the government of the Taliban * banned in Russia demanded that Tajikistan and Uzbekistan return pilots and military aircraft to Afghanistan, and Zabiullah Mujahid promised that the pilots would not face reprisals if they returned home. The pilots did not believe it and refused to return.

The Afghans, some of whom are women, were housed and isolated in a government sanatorium near Dushanbe.

Evidence is emerging that the pilots are unhappy with their plight in the sanatorium, where they are poorly fed and kept in cold and crowded rooms. Former American accomplices dream of comfort in the United States.

Initially, it was believed that these Afghans, like those who fled to Uzbekistan, would be taken out by the Americans. However, the departure was repeatedly postponed without explanation. According to the pilots, telephones and identity documents were seized from them.

In the US Congress, the topic of Afghan pilots in Tajikistan was already the subject of a hearing in the Committee on the Armed Forces on September 28, and the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressed concern about the fate of former allies and pupils. His colleague John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, says they are trying to fix the problem.

At the same time, the parties are not too active in commenting on the situation of the pilots.

On October 7, information appeared in the media that representatives of the State Department visited the place where the Afghans were forced to stay and are now in constant contact with them, and are also negotiating with the Tajik authorities. Press Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan Nusratullo Mahmudzoda reported that Dushanbe is doing “Everything possible to create an adequate and proper environment for the pilots”

If we assume that the Americans, trying to save face, are really ready to take out their former wards, then the slowdown in this process lies with the Tajik authorities. For Tashkent, which immediately began to normalize relations with the new masters of Kabul, the issue of pilots was resolved quickly: the problem disappeared, Washington is satisfied, the Taliban have no complaints.

However, President Rahmon is looking for leverage on the Taliban. That is why the game arose – to keep the United States in an uncomfortable position, detaining the pilots, and at the same time to demonstrate to the Taliban and fellow citizens “independence” in solving a simple issue.

Own. corr. FSK
* Terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation and Tajikistan.

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