PM returns to country after two-day visit of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan

Pakistan, India to attend TAPI groundbreaking ceremony

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.

While in Turkmenistan, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project would unite people, boost socio-economic development and bring in peace dividends to the entire region.

The 1840-kilometer (1140-mile) TAPI pipeline is to carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas a year, an important new export outlet for Turkmenistan whose economy centers on its vast natural gas reserves.

This was the first leg of the ground-breaking ceremony, which was also attended by Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and India's Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, according to information received here.

President Ashraf Ghani said that "TAPI is a sign of transforming Afghanistan from a confrontation point into a regional and global cooperation point, and the nation not only welcomes the project but most importantly the concept".

Iran has repeatedly called on the energy-starved Pakistan to initiate work on its part of the gas pipeline, but those pleas have fallen on deaf ears except for pledges from some Pakistan officials that they were still committed to the project.


The Afghan president in his address said Afghanistan will leave no stone unturned to implement the project.

The pipeline will traverse war-wracked Afghanistan, raising security concerns.

"It [TAPI] will provide gas pipeline, power transmission, roads and rail and an economic zone". However, there are indications that security of the project would not be a serious issue as Taliban spokesman too has given assurance to protect the pipeline because of its significance for Afghanistan. He assured the Turkmen, Afghan and Indian leaders of Pakistan's full cooperation in making TAPI a success.

TAPI has been supported by the United States and the Asian Development Bank and been promoted by Turkmenistan since the 1990s but has been shrouded in delays because of the problems crossing Afghanistan.

The project is more than the sum of four nations' interests and creates a benchmark for regional cooperation, he added during an implementation committee meeting in Turkmenistan. The ADB is acting as the facilitator and coordinator for the project.

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