Construction begins on Afghan leg of Trans-Afghan pipeline

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov joined Pakistani premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India's External Affairs Minister Shri M.J. Akbar for the ceremony at gas-rich Turkmenistan's border with Afghanistan.

Work for the project, created to transfer 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Galkynysh natural gas reserve of Turkmenistan annually along an 1,800 km route to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan, was formally inaugurated at a ceremony Friday. The ambitious natural gas pipeline project entered its practical phase in Pakistan after the process of initiating front-end-engineering-and-design (FEED) route survey was formally inaugurated past year.

Ex-Soviet Turkmenistan holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves but has been heavily dependent on gas exports to China after Russian Federation cut back gas imports in the past few years. He said the Afghanistan government's policy is a policy of "connectivity" and South Asia is being connected with Central Asia through Afghanistan, TOLO News reported.

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Terming the project a message for future generation, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said: "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".

Mufti also said that Afghanistan will get 500 million cubic meters of gas for the first ten years and one billion cubic meters for another 20 years.

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

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The pipeline mostly runs through parts of southwestern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency controls or influences many districts.

The Turkmenistan President, meanwhile, stressed on the need for increasing his country's cooperation with Afghanistan. He said the Turkmen president owing to his vision converted the TAPI project into an energy and communications corridor which would have IT connectivity, besides road and rail links.

Political analyst Framurz Tamana in talks with local media asserted that TAPI as an economic corridor could enhance regional cooperation.

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  • Ryan Wade