Long-awaited TAPI gas pipeline launched

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Project historical opportunity to reestablish regional ties, says Abbasi

Herat

The President of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s prime minister launched a 1,814 kilometer 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 today,” 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 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.
Security has been a main 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.
The gas pipeline was inaugurated by Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar.
Adrressing on the occasion, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, noting the critical role of Afghanistan in the success of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, 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.” The inauguration at Herat was the second leg of the ground breaking of the TAPI pipeline project’s link-up with road, rail and fiber-optic network.
Prime Minister Abbasi 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 also thanked the leadership of the respective countries for bringing the people closer to each other by enhancing connectivity in the fields of energy, power, air, IT, rail and economic zones. He
viewed that the interdependence in the region was vital for sustainable peace.
The prime minister, appreciating the role of Afghanistan in the ambitious project, said TAPI could not happen without Afghanistan.
He expressed gratitude to President Ashraf Ghani for ensuring success of this project and for bringing the people of the region closer.
He was optimist that the project would strengthen historical ties and reiterated Pakistan’s full commitment to Afghan peace and assured that the commitment would remain unchanged. The prime minister believed that no country was more interested in peace and stability in Afghanistan than Pakistan.
He told the international 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.
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.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday said that the TAPI gas pipeline project was a historical opportunity to reestablish regional ties.
Earlier in the day, Abbasi reached Mary, Turkmenistan, on a two-day visit to participate in the TAPI Gas pipeline ground breaking ceremony in Turkmenistan Friday morning.
He said that the port of Gwadar, which is under development, will provide the most efficient sea linkage for the whole of Central Asia.
Abbasi and Berdimuhamedow talked matters of mutual interest, the security situation in the Central and South Asian region, as well other issues pertaining to the TAPI gas pipeline project.
The premier went on to offer Turkmenistan assistance in its defence requirements from Pakistan.
Afghan President Ashraf 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,” Ghani said.
The pipeline will have a capacity to carry 33 billion cubic meters (43 billion cubic yards) of gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan’s Herat, Farah, Helmand and Nimroz provinces.
Ghani said the next big project being readied is the laying of Afghanistan’s first railway tracks, from the Turkmenistan border to Iran. He added he hoped the pipeline would signal the start of better regional cooperation.
“Our message is one of cooperation throughout our region,” said Ghani. “We, Afghans have suffered but now we are looking to our future and we have no hostility with any country and want only our national interests to be protected.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the AP in a telephone interview that the religious movement was ready to guarantee the pipeline’s security.
“We are ready to protect TAPI. It is a 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.
The statement, carried by an Afghan news agency, the Taliban said: “The TAPI pipeline is an important regional project whose groundwork was initiated during the Islamic Emirate’s rule.”
However, the statement claimed, the project had faced delays due to America’s military presence in the region. The launch of work on the Afghan section of the pipeline was happy news for all Afghans, it added.
“In areas under its control, the Islamic Emirate announces full cooperation on implementation of the project and associated dimensions of the pipeline draw attention to the principle of the Emirate,” the rebel movement added.—Agencies

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