Al Qaida planned to make Tajikistan hub of activity from 1992-97

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New Delhi, Apr 1 (UNI) Al Qaida had planned to make Tajikistan the hub of terrorist activity in entire Central Asia from 1992-97 but the crucial peace accord between the Tajikistan government and the Tajik Islamic Opposition in June 1997 foiled all their designs, Tajikistan Ambassador to India, Salohiddin Nasriddinov, said today.

''From 1992-97, Tajikistan was the arena of war. But on June 27, 1997, an agreement was signed in Moscow between the then Tajikistan government and the Tajik Islamic Opposition which closed all options for terrorism. Al Qaida planned to make Tajikistan the centre of its activity for spreading terrorism in Cetral Asia,'' the Ambassador said.

Tajik peace efforts had shown that the world community, especially the UN, is the only institution that could prevent political and armed conflict in any part of the world. However, it could sucessfully carry out its mission only if it was to act as an independent entity, not under the influence of major powers.

He said terrorism from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan spilled over into Tajikistan, as a result of which from 1992-97, it witnessed rise in terrorist activity.

Lauding India's role in the fight against global terror, the Ambassador called for a ''club'' of India and the Central Asian countries for more effective development of the entire region and elimination of terrorism.

A similar group was estatablished in 2005 between Japan and Central Asian countries.

''We can have a club of India plus Central Asia countries.

But the initiative must come from India,'' he added.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Terrorism and Extremism in Central Asia,' Mr Nasriddinov said the experience of 9/11 had shown that the scourge knew no boundaries and could be fought through cooperation between developed and developing countries.

He said terrorism had acquired a new face in the 21st century as it enjoyed the patronage of ''influential investors and entrepreneurs.'' ''In Central Asia, during the past ten years, the face and methods of terrorism had undergone major changes. Today terrorism has turned into such a dangerous force manifesting itself in a variety of ways...in addition to destruction and killing of innocent people, it could lead to collapse of economy and destruction of the unique cultural and historical heritage,'' he said.

Denouncing the practice of identifying terrorist activity with Islam, Mr Nasriddinov said it would be a ''gross mistake'' to put the blame on Islam.

''In fact, Islam has nothing to do with terrorism and extremism--on the contrary, precepts of this religion are directed against such hazards,'' he said.

He said the Taliban who have declared themselves as true defenders of Islam, are actig contrary to the provisions of Shariah and are involved in the movement of drugs to other countries including Central Asia. He asserted that the region would foil all such attempts.

Observing that drug smuggling had helped support and finance terrorist activity in various parts of the world, he said border guards were much more concerned about drug smuggling.

UNI RB MSJ HS1437

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