Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Agence Global - Article

Agence Global - Article: "Good News from Tajikistan
by William O. BeemanReleased: 13 Aug 2004

Most Americans would have a hard time identifying Tajikistan on a map, but this small Central Asian nation is a ray of hope in a troubled region. With a rising economy and increasing personal freedom, there is genuine good news here. Tajik citizens, who have suffered greatly in the past, are cautious, however. They wonder if the positive developments will last, and hint that there may be a dark side to the current improvements in their lives.

A review of the recent history of Tajikistan reveals a grim litany of social, political and environmental problems that justify a cautious look at the changes taking place in Tajikistan. Concerns about political corruption, media censorship, drug trade and its accompanying HIV/AIDS afflictions, water pollution, and economic desperation are endemic to this region of the world, and Tajikistan has more than its share of these problems.

But I have been working in Tajikistan for the past seven years, and having spent a month this summer visiting every region of the country, I can state unequivocally that life has been visibly improving from year to year with a big spurt in the last year. Civil liberties have increased significantly since the debilitating civil wars of the mid 1990�s. Food is abundant, and construction is active everywhere. The cities are looking very spiffy, and the countryside is green and lush. Internet cafes -- the modernization symbol of choice these days -- are abundant, even in smaller towns.

Tajikistan has always had extensive natural resources. The dramatically beautiful Fan and Pamir mountain ranges are the sources of water for abundant hydroelectric electricity. Although the amount of arable land is small, it is highly fertile. Agricultural production has increased"

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