Work on the TAPI gas pipeline to transfer natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India through Afghanistan was inaugurated in the western Herat province amid tight security on Friday.
Among hundreds of guests attending the ceremony in Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi hall of Herat Province, were President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar.
Addressing the opening ceremony in Herat, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani congratulated the day to all Afghans and the people of Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India
“Today Herat sends message of hope and rehabilitation to the region. This is not only gas project, but includes electricity, Fiber Optic and Railway,” President Ghani said in the gathering.
“A new chapter of economic growth and regional connectivity starts right here in the economic and cultural hub of Afghanistan,” President Ghani added.
“We don’t have enmity with any country. National interest is our priority and we want to be the focal point of regional cooperation,” the President said.
President Ghani also praised Turkmen counterpart’s efforts for implementation of the project.
Meanwhile addressing his remarks, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow called TAPI a model for regional cooperation, adding the project would create international communications on business and economy.
“Such economic project to have positive impact on Afghanistan’s economic growth and will bring peace and stability in the country,” the Turkmen President added.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi congratulated the inauguration of the project in Afghanistan, saying TAPI was a dream and is now being implemented and would change the situation in the region.
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Mubashir Jaweed Akbar said TAPI would change people’s life in these countries, calling the project beginning of the economic growth and end of the poverty.
Pakistan is accused of not doing enough to stop terrorist groups from using its soil for attacks against the neighboring countries, which Islamabad denies.
Highlighting security concerns surrounding TAPI, officials in Herat Province on February 22 paraded a group of 10 Afghan militants claiming to have been trained by neighboring Iran to sabotage events related to the planned pipeline.
Herat Governor Mohammad Asif Rahimi told RFE/RL that the insurgents changed their minds at the last minute and surrendered. Iranian officials have not commented on the claims.
The pipeline would mostly run through parts of Afghanistan where Taliban poses most of the threats. However, the group has declared its support for TAPI, calling it an “important project” for the country.
TAPI project, according to officials, would transport 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Galkynysh gas reserve of Turkmenistan annually along an 1,800 km route to Fazilka near the border with Pakistan in northern India.
Afghanistan would earn 500 million U.S. dollars as royalty each year from the TAPI project, according to officials.