TAPI, CASA 100 projects to spur regional development: Envoy

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan Janan Mosazai has said Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) pipeline project and Central Asia-South Asia (CASA) 1000 projects would usher in new era of development in the region besides bringing peace and prosperity to especially Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Afghan ambassador expressed these views while giving an exclusive interview to DNA on Tuesday.

He said, there was a dire need to bring energy from the Central Asian region to the South Asia because the latter is an energy-deficient region. Both in Afghanistan and Pakistan demand for energy has increased considerably, therefore, projects such as TAPI and CASA 1000 have acquired added significance.

The TAPI project was initially conceived keeping in view needs of the energy-deficient countries, but unfortunately owing to turmoil in some of the regional countries, lack of agreement and understanding among countries involved and the role of large multi-national companies that had to be brought on board to accomplish this multi-billion dollar project, it was delayed for a long time. It is said that the TAPI is the longest planned pipeline project in the world.

The ambassador said, the encouraging aspect was that there exists a wholesome understanding and agreement between both the buyer countries including Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and the seller country Turkmenistan, to accelerate the pace of work on the project for export of the natural gas to the South Asian region.

While Afghanistan needs the natural gas it is also ready to act as a transit country. In the recently held steering committee meeting there was an agreement to see an early selection of multi-national company as the leader of the consortium, which we hope will happen in the near future, paving way for further progress on the project.

“Once we successfully complete the legal and contractual process, I am fairly optimistic that the project would be completed sooner rather than later”, he added.

To a question the said, this project will have massive impact on the region because once in place, it would usher in a new era of progress besides giving an added impetus to business activities.

It may not be possible to give a time frame for completion of the project at this particular stage, nevertheless one should hope people of the region would start reaping benefits of this project in the short term.  We are holding next meeting of the steering committee in March this year in Kabul in order to review the progress since the last meeting held in Islamabad and what needs to be done in the coming days.

“We do not foresee a major security concern for the TAPI project because this project will follow the Highway 1 route which is generally considered quite safe and secure allowing   thousands of vehicles to ply on this road every day”.

Additionally, we will ensure security of the pipeline by deploying well trained security personnel along the route.  Moreover, we plan to engage the communities through which the pipeline will pass so that not only they benefit from the project but must also take care of it. In a nutshell, security will hopefully not be a major issue for TAPI project, the ambassador added.

To yet another question, he said, “I must say here that security is an issue for both Afghanistan and Pakistan and the region at large”.

We have been bearing the brunt of terrorism, extremism since long. We direly need to tackle this menace for the safety and security of the region. This is a rare moment of opportunity right now since we have established a government of national unity in Afghanistan, Ambassador Janan concluded.=DNA

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