Work on TAPI gas pipeline starts in Afghanistan's Herat province

India ‘Strongly Committed’ To TAPI Pipeline Project Akbar

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.

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.

"Afghanistan believes in a policy of connectivity, not separation", Ashraf Ghani, the country's president, told the gathered dignitaries.

One of the boldest efforts to date to stabilize Afghanistan through economic development began Friday with a ceremonial start to construction on a $22.5 billion natural gas pipeline crossing the country's war-ravaged south.

India's commitment to the pipeline has previously been questioned over its relationship with Pakistan and easy access to liquified natural gas markets, which are seen as potential stumbling blocks.

Officials say India and Pakistan would buy around 14 billion cubic meters each, while the remaining five billion would go to Afghanistan.

"Today, given the energy requirements in India, there are several gas pipeline proposals before us". Kabul is expected to earn up to $500 million annually in transit duties and the project will help create as many as 25,000 jobs, local media quoted Afghan analysts. But a spokesman for the insurgent group, Zabihullah Mujahid, says it supports the project and will ensure the pipeline's protection.

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

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

Pakistan and Turkmenistan need to bolster their military and defence cooperation, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said Thursday, as he met with the Central Asian country's president, Geo News reported. Given these positive signals, it is hoped that the project would now be completed as per schedule and the four countries as well as the United States and other friendly countries would lend a helping hand in clearing hurdles, if any.

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