Today Tajik president Emomali Rahmon began a two-day tour of the Rasht valley in eastern Tajikistan (Asia Plus, Avesta). The working visit occurs despite warnings that high-profile militants who had escaped the State Committee for National Security’s (GKNB) detention centre in Dushanbe earlier this week were likely to seek refuge in Tavildara, one of the troubled valley’s districts.
President Rahmon’s trip to Rasht is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, it indicates that the Tajik security agencies know for sure that the 25 fugitives are not presently in Rasht. If there was any reason to think otherwise, Rahmon would most probably not travel to the valley with a very rigid terrain where each turn of the road can serve as an ambush spot. Despite predictions that the fugitives would head for the Rasht valley, there has been no evidence to support this forecast. The last trace of the fugitives that security agencies have are the four cars that the escapees had used to leave Dushanbe and later abandoned in the Romit valley and Fayzobod district not far from the capital. From there, the fugitives have most probably headed to the Afghan border through mountainous passes. Tajik security agencies suggest that most probably, the fugitives have broken into several smaller groups and are now heading in different directions (Avesta).
Second, president Rahmon’s trip to Rasht demonstrates to Tajiks – as well as neighbouring countries which are watching carefully – that the central government has full control over the security situation in the country. Despite hasty warnings voiced by some observers that the escape of high-profile prisoners might destabilize the country, the authorities have rapidly deployed additional military and police units to eastern Tajikistan and organized president Rahmon’s visit to the valley. This tour undoubtedly confirms that president Rahmon’s government maintains a tight grip on the security situation in Tajikistan.
Meanwhile, Russian and Afghan security services have pledged to assist Dushanbe in tracking down the fugitives.