Long-Awaited TAPI Gas Pipeline Launched

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani launched a 1.814-kilometre gas pipeline on Friday that will feed Turkmenistan gas to Afghanistan as well as Pakistan and eventually to India.

The first part of the inauguration took place in Turkmenistan. on the border with Afghanistan’s western province of Herat. followed by a ceremony in Afghanistan. The launch was shown live on Afghan television.

Heavy security will guard the pipeline construction through war-weary Afghanistan. said Jelani Farhad. spokesman for the Herat provincial governor’s office. “It’s a golden day for Afghanistan.“ Farhad said. “It will help our economy and create thousands of jobs.“

The long awaited pipeline project. which is known by the acronym TAPI. is expected to take two years to complete. but it has been several years in the planning.

The United States has advocated the pipeline as a source of much needed gas to all three countries over an alternative pipeline. which is also being negotiated. bringing gas from Iran through Pakistan and into India. The TAPI pipeline is a rare show of cooperation between often hostile neighbours Pakistan and India as well as the often contentious neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Abbasi attended the ceremonies along with a representative of the Indian government.

Security has been a concern leading up to the inauguration but Farhad said Afghanistan has devised a detailed security plan to protect the pipeline construction as well as the pipeline.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the movement was ready to guarantee the pipeline’s security. “We are ready to protect TAPI. It is good and important and vital for the economy of Afghanistan.“ he said. noting the pipeline had been under consideration during the Taliban rule that ended in 2001.

Ghani told the gathering that the pipeline is a message to future generations. “We hope our next generation will see this pipeline as the foundation of a joint position in our region which is aimed at improving our economy. providing jobs and increasing our security. all in our fight against extremists.“ he said.

The pipeline will have a capacity to carry 33 billion cubic metres of gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan’s Herat. Farah. Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

Turkmen strongman Berdymukhamedov. whose country currently depends heavily on China as a market for its natural gas exports. called diversification of gas deliveries an ‘important part of the politics’ of the isolated Central Asian country.

And he said work on the Turkmen section of the pipeline was still ongoing.

India’s commitment to the pipeline has previously been questioned over its relationship with Pakistan and easy-access to liquified natural gas markets seen as potential stumbling blocks. But its external affairs minister hailed the project as ‘a symbol of our goals’ and ‘a new page in cooperation’ between the four countries in a speech at the ceremony.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the project was vital for prosperity of the region. “Let today be the start of a new era of peace. trust and prosperity in the region.“ he said at Herat on the second leg of the ground breaking of the TAPI pipeline project’s link-up with road. rail and fiber-optic network. He said the historic project would impact hundreds of millions of lives of the people of the region. He appreciated the vision of presidents of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan and congratulated the people of the countries involved in the project.

He was of the view that interdependence in the region was vital for sustainable peace. Appreciating the role of Afghanistan in the ambitious project. he said TAPI could not be materialized without Afghanistan’s cooperation. He expressed gratitude to President Ghani for ensuring success of this project and for bringing the people of the region closer.

The prime minister believed that no country was more interested in peace and stability in Afghanistan than Pakistan. He told the gathering that Afghanistan would not find any better partner to peace than Pakistan. “Your success is our success. Your development is our development. Peace in Afghanistan is like peace in Pakistan.“ he remarked.

Earlier. addressing the ground breaking ceremony of the link-up projects of electricity transmission lines and fibre optics in Serhatabad. Turkmenistan. the prime minister said the TAPI gas pipeline project would unite people. boost socio-economic development and bring in peace dividends to the entire region. Abbasi said he was grateful to President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow for turning into reality and particularly for recreating the historical linkages of this region.

The said the project would help meet 10 percent of Pakistan’s energy needs. 20 percent of its natural gas requirements and would be equivalent to its nine million tonnes of imports. He said TAPI would provide Pakistan the much-needed gas security.

He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was the most efficient connectivity link for the Central Asian States and its linkage with the One Belt One Road would open a new world of opportunities.


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