ASHGABAT: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan and leaders from India, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan on Friday inaugurated the construction work on the Afghan section of an $8 billion natural gas pipeline that will link the energy-rich Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.
Speaking on the occasion, the premier said that the TAPI gas pipeline project was a historical opportunity to reestablish regional
Abbasi reached Mary, Turkmenistan, earlier today on a two-day visit to participate in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project’s inauguration ceremony.
“I assure you of Pakistan’s full commitment to the project,” he told the attendees of the inauguration ceremony.
“We are turning TAPI into a reality and there will not be one gas pipeline here but several pipelines.”
He stated that Pakistan has been able to overcome its challenges and it is on the path of economic progress.
“We will achieve six percent growth this year and you are all aware of the reality of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is to provide the most efficient connectivity to the region.”
He further said that the port of Gwadar, which is under development, will provide the most efficient sea linkage for the whole of Central Asia.
Abbasi had earlier met the president of Turkmenistan and stressed on the need for the two countries to bolster their military and defence cooperation.
The premier was received by Rasit Meredow, the Deputy Chairman of Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, at the Mary International Airport, as per a press release issued by the Prime Minister House.
During his meeting with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, the prime minister highlighted the importance of the TAPI gas pipeline project, especially with regard to Pakistan’s rising energy needs.
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.
Further, Abbasi underscored that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a significant part of the One Belt One Road Initiative.
The premier went on to offer Turkmenistan assistance in its defence requirements from Pakistan.
The TAPI project, supported by the United States and the Asian Development Bank, has been touted by Turkmenistan since the 1990s. But the start of work was delayed because of the problem of crossing Afghanistan.
The pipeline will run for hundreds of kilometers (miles) through areas of southern Afghanistan largely controlled by Taliban fighting the Western-backed government in Kabul but the movement has signaled that it will not hinder the project.
The Taliban issued a statement on Friday, pledging its cooperation with TAPI, which it said would be an important element in building up Afghanistan’s economic infrastructure.
Ex-Soviet Turkmenistan holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves but has been heavily dependent on gas exports to China after Russia cut back gas imports in the past few years.
The project is expected to transport 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas a year along an 1,800 kilometer route from Galkynysh, the world’s second-biggest gas field, to Fazilka near the border with Pakistan in northern India.
Afghanistan, which suffers from chronic energy shortages, is expected to take five billion cubic meters of gas itself, with the rest divided equally between Pakistan and India. In addition, Kabul will earn hundreds of millions of dollars in transit fees.