KABUL-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project would positively impact Afghanistan’s security and help the war-torn country stabilize its economy, create thousands of jobs and earn in millions of dollars in revenue.
President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday landed in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the $10-billion natural gas project along with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Indian vice president Hamid Ansari and their host Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on Sunday to press a button that will forge the first pipeline to supply Turkmen gas to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Of the nearly 1,800 km pipeline, 750km would be passed through Afghanistan’s Herat, Farah, Helmand and Kandahar provinces reaching Pakistan.
Afghanistan Regional Studies Centre director Rafiullah Niazi, referring to the project’s importance, said the project would play a key role in mitigating the political and security tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan and between Pakistan and India. “For this reason, we can call it a peace project.”
He said Afghanistan would annually earn $400 million in transit fee and the project would create jobs for thousands of people in the country. He said people in areas where the pipeline would pass would benefit from the gas. He said roads would be constructed in Afghanistan as part of the project and that would result into improved economy.
He said Afghanistan would benefit from the natural gas in developing two major mines – the Hajigak iron mine and Mes Ainak copper mine. He believed the completion of TAPI project would help boost Afghanistan economy and new townships would be constructed and many insecure areas would see improvement in their security situation in the years to come.
Niazi called the TAPI project a historic chance for residents on both sides of the Durland Line and said it could help relieve the masses from the prolonged conflict.
Fazl Ahmad Joya, economics teacher at Kabul University, told Pajhwok Afghan News the groundbreaking for the pipeline’s construction in Turkmenistan was a great achievement for the partner countries because it was the harbinger of regional economic, political and security cooperation. “The project is of great importance from political and security perspectives and for economic development and creating jobs the project has its unique importance.”
He said thousands of people would find jobs directly and indirectly and Afghanistan would earn millions of dollars in net revenue from the project. He said Afghanistan’s easily access to natural gas would help improve domestic revenues and prevent import of other gases and help stabilise the Afghan currency. The project will encourage local and foreign investors to make investments in Afghanistan, he believed.
Military affairs expert former general Abdul Wahid Taqat called the project launch “a good omen” and a “new chapter” in security and intelligence cooperation among the partners and said the project has huge economic importance. He suggested the partner countries should sign separate agreements on intelligence cooperation for making the project a success story. He advised the Afghan government to establish a special security department for the pipeline’s security.
Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on Saturday briefed the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament about the groundbreaking ceremony for the project and its importance for security and economy.
Pakistan’s Defence Ministry had said the country would hold talks with the Afghan Taliban about the project’s security because the project is of great importance for the four partner nations, particularly Pakistan facing energy deficit.