On Thursday September 2, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon issued decrees on awarding former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani and former Afghan Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud the Order of Ismoili Somoni 1st Class posthumously.

According to the Tajik president’s official website, they were awarded Tajikistan’s highest distinction for their assistance and mediation in organizing inter-Tajik peace negotiations in 1993-1996 and their great contribution to reestablishment of peace in the Republic of Tajikistan.

The Tajik president’s official website notes that the decrees have been issues on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Tajikistan’s Independence, which will be celebrated on September 9, 2021.    

The Order of Ismoili Somoni is Tajikistan's highest distinction.  It is named after Isma'il ibn Ahmad, also known as Ismoili Somoni.

Burhanuddin Rabbani

Burhanuddin Rabbani (September 20, 1940 – September 20, 2011) was an Afghan politician and teacher who served as President of Afghanistan from 1992 to 2001 (from 1996 to 2001, Rabbani and his Islamic State of Afghanistan government was forced into exile by the Taliban, and he then served as the political head of the Northern Alliance, an alliance of various political groups who fought against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan).

After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served briefly as President from November 13 to December 22, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was chosen as his succeeding interim leader at the Bonn International Conference.  In later years he became head of Afghanistan National Front (known in the media as United National Front), the largest political opposition to Karzai's government.

Rabbani was assassinated on September 20, 2011 by a suicide bomber entering his home in Kabul.  Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai gave him the title of "Martyr of Peace".

Ahmad Shah Massoud

Ahmad Shah Massoud (September 2, 1953 – September 9, 2001) was an Afghan politician and military commander.  He was a powerful guerrilla commander during the resistance against the Soviet occupation between 1979 and 1989.  In the 1990s, he led the government's military wing against rival militias; after the Taliban takeover, he was the leading opposition commander against their regime until his assassination in 2001.

During the Soviet–Afghan War, his role as a powerful insurgent leader of the Afghan mujahideen earned him the nickname “Shiri Panjshiri” (Lion of Panjshir) among his followers, as he successfully resisted the Soviets from taking the Panjshir Valley.  In 1992, he signed the Peshawar Accord, a peace and power-sharing agreement, in the post-communist Islamic State of Afghanistan.  He was appointed the Minister of Defense as well as the government's main military commander.  His militia fought to defend Kabul against militias led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and other warlords who were bombing the city, as well as later against the Taliban, who laid siege to the capital in January 1995 after the city had seen fierce fighting with at least 60,000 civilians killed.

Following the rise of the Taliban in 1996, Massoud, who rejected the Taliban's fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, returned to armed opposition.  He became the military and political leader of the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan or Northern Alliance, which by 2000 controlled only between 5 and 10 percent of the country.  In 2001 he visited Europe and urged European Parliament leaders to pressure Pakistan on its support for the Taliban.  He also asked for humanitarian aid to combat the Afghan people's gruesome conditions under the Taliban.  Massoud was assassinated at the instigation of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in a suicide bombing on September 9, 2001.  

Massoud was posthumously named "National Hero" by the order of President Hamid Karzai after the Taliban were ousted from power.  Massoud has been described as one of the greatest guerrilla leaders of the 20th century.