TAPI pipeline remains incomplete after 3 decades

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The major gas pipeline project known as TAPI– for Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India–has yet to be completed despite being “in progress” for the past three decades. During this time Afghanistan has seen the collapse and establishment of various governments.

TAPI is considered one of the major development projects in the region.

After Turkmenistan was separated from the Soviet Union in December 1991, it sought to develop economic projects and transfer its most valuable resource to South Asian nations.

The Islamic Emirate came to power in its first term in 1996, and its officials then started negotiations over the Turkmen gas pipeline, which begins in Dawlat Abad in Turkmenistan.

Abdul Salam Zaif was deputy of the Minister of Mines and Industry during the Islamic Emirate’s first term and was one of the participants in the talks over TAPI in Ashgabat.

“Turkmenistan sought to give the Bridas Corporation priority (for the project’s contract) as Bridas Corporation made investments in Turkmenistan, but the Americans opposed it,” he said.

The Islamic Emirate claims that although it was pushed from power, it remained involved in meetings over TAPI held outside Afghanistan.

“Many areas in Afghanistan over the past 20 years have been under the Islamic Emirate’s control. No one was able to participate in the projects without engagement with the Islamic Emirate,” said Shuhabuddin Delawar.

The leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and India in 2010, 2015 and 2018 discussed TAPI.

The latest meeting over TAPI was held in 2018, in which several other projects including electric power facilities, a railway, and fiber optics were inaugurated.

“Our neighboring countries look at these projects from a political angle. They (neighboring countries) will never allow Afghanistan stand on its own feet,” said Abdul Naseer Rishtia, an economist.

TAPI was expected to be inaugurated in 2020 but the construction of the project has remained unfinished.

Meanwhile, the Afghan and Turkmenistan officials held a conference in the western province of Herat, where they discussed the practical work of joint projects between the two neighboring countries.

The participants included acting minister of mines and petroleum Mohammad Isa, Turkmenistan ambassador to Afghanistan, Ovezov Hoja Sapargeldiyewich, and other officials from the two countries.

“If you give us funds the paths will be opened for TAPI, fiber optics and the railway,” said the acting minister of mines and petroleum.

The Turkmenistan ambassador to Kabul reiterated his country’s support for TAPI and other mutual economic projects.

“We, on behalf of Turkmenistan, come here to discuss the TAPI, TAP, Fiber Optic and Railway with the Afghan officials. A few committees were made by the two countries to work together to solve problems and for the resumption of these projects”, he said.

“We discussed the technical aspects and field work of the TAPI project. It will be implemented in the near future,” said Noor Ahmad Islam Jar, provincial governor.

 

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