Tajikistan using electricity as a weapon against Afghanistan
“Tajikistan continues to supply electricity to Afghanistan, but in a reduced volume via one 110-power transmission line, in the amount of up to 180 megawatts per day,”
Earlier on Monday, the Wall Street Journal, citing the former head of the Afghan state energy corporation Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), Daud Noorzai, said that the supplies of electricity to the Afghan capital Kabul could be cut off by winter, as the Taliban did not pay the bills to the Central Asian energy suppliers and did not resume collecting money for the energy from the Afghan consumers.
According to the spokesman for the Tajik energy provider the Afghan company’s management assured them that it would continue to comply with the terms of the contract, although their budget is still frozen.
After the Taliban took over in August and the US-backed Afghan government collapsed, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have suspended financial aid to the new Afghan government, which previously accounted for nearly 75% of Afghanistan’s public expenditure, while the US has frozen billions of dollars in assets belonging to the Afghan Central Bank. According to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the country faces a humanitarian and socio-economic crisis.
Energy and geopolitics are closely linked. Energy is a critical factor influencing a country’s foreign, security and economic policies – both for import-dependent nations seeking to ensure sufficient, affordable supply, and for energy exporters seeking “security of demand.”
Energy can be a tool used by both importers and exporters to exercise and project power. Energy can be an incentive for peace and can be used as a political tool. In this case Tajikistan an erstwhile; Soviet republic is acting as a satellite state for regional geo-political interests by using electricity as a weapon to mend its ways through rough waters in which Afghanistan is currently in for geo-political ends which contributing to the resolution of deep-rooted political conflicts.
Afghanistan ranks among the five per cent of countries with the lowest per capita energy consumption in the world, and is still a net energy importer. In 2014, for example, more than 80 per cent (1,000 megawatts [MW]) of its total power supply (1,247 MW) came from Iran (16%), Tajikistan (25%), Turkmenistan (12%), and Uzbekistan (27%), with the rest generated through indigenous hydropower and thermal sources (see a 2015 ADB report). According to the same report, the “lack of domestic generation remains the key challenge for energy security in Afghanistan,” which often “create disparities in economic development; and fuel ethnic and regional tensions, insecurity, and discontent.”
AISSC’s perspective on this crisis is that the conflict related to TUTAP was already brimming due to the controversy over transmission line location which was contested by Hazara ethnic groups residing in the region of Bamyan which was opted out from the main line project and lost its planned en-routed connectivity to the alternate of Salang Pass for Kabul. The project already fall prey to the local ethnical dividing lines contested majorly by leaders of Tajik, Hazaras, Pashtuns and few Uzbek groups.
So, this was expected as a response from the government of Tajikistan at the moment of chaos who has been a major supporter of Tajik political groups in Afghanistan, to bring Taliban Government towards accountability and create major setbacks to the gains not only made by Taliban but to its regional ally Pakistan which too is a major beneficiary party to TUTAP power supply agreement.