Jha also theorizes on why everyone is keeping this quiet: to avoid offending China and Pakistan.
India has spent almost $70 million, including equipment costs, to completely repave and extend the runway at Ayni, set up air traffic control and perimeter fencing and build three hardened shelters -- all, the Indian official confirmed, with an eye to supporting fighter-jet operations. That might be the real reason behind Tajikistan’s reticence to officially clarify the status of the base. While Ayni will allow India to watch over northern Afghanistan in the aftermath of a NATO withdrawal, it can also provide coverage for Indian fighter aircraft over northern Pakistan and western China, areas that lack robust air defense networks. Tajik officials might be downplaying their involvement in the base out of deference to Beijing and Islamabad’s sensitivities.All this actually sounds plausible, and jibes with what what India's defense minister AK Antony hinted at when he last visited Dushanbe in October:
India, Tajikistan and Russia are in negotiations on the joint use of the Ayni Air Base, close to the Tajik capital Dushanbe which is set to acquire strategic significance after US withdrawal from Afghanistan, sources said...Curiously, there is still no word about what may have transpired during Antony's subsequent visit to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, nor any mention of India's recently reported interest in using a different air base in Tajkistan, Farkhor near the Afghanistan border. The intrigue just keeps getting thicker...
When asked if India was a partner in the use of the base, Antony merely described Ayni as the best air base in entire Central Asia.