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Friday 23 September 2022

Taliban situation triggers debate on India's airbase in Tajikistan

  Taliban situation triggers debate on India's airbase in Tajikistan

About two years after the Indian Airlines plane hijack incident of 1999, India came up with what is loosely called the Ayni Project to open its first airbase outside the country. It is in Tajikistan, in the neighbourhood of Afghanistan. The Pakistani terrorists had hijacked the plane and taken it to safety under the previous Taliban regime.

In 2002, the Ayni Project began as a collaborative effort between the external affairs ministry and the security-intelligence establishment. Over the years, it developed into an Indian Air Force (IAF) base, known as Gissar Military Aerodrome (GMA).

It is located in a village called Ayni, not far from Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe. India and Tajikistan jointly manage it.

With protests erupting in Afghanistan against the Taliban-Pakistan combine, social media is abuzz with suggestions that India should use its airbase in Tajikistan for humanitarian help if not to push back Pakistan.

Amitabh Mattoo, Padma Shri awardee Professor of International Relations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote on Twitter complaining that India chose "to abandon our allies" despite having the capacity to "access Mazar-i-Sharif within minutes". He called it "a shame".

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