PM attends groundbreaking ceremony in Turkmenistan — TAPI

Construction has begun on the Afghanistan stretch of an ambitious pipeline that is to carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs, MJ Akbar, has compared metaphorically Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project to "a dove in a storm", saying, "we must protect it with all our will and capacity".

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.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Ghani said the pipeline would "unite [the] countries".

The Afghan president in his address said Afghanistan will leave no stone unturned to implement the project.

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Afghanistan has always been suffering from an unstable political situation due to the activity of different terrorist groups. Aerial operations accounted for 6 percent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan a year ago , the report said.

Afghanistan would earn $500 million as royalty each year from the TAPI project, according to Afghan officials.

The pipeline will traverse war-wracked Afghanistan, raising security concerns.

He said he does not see just one gas line, but several gas pipelines to overcome energy shortages.

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". "It is good and important and vital for the economy of Afghanistan", he said, noting the pipeline had been under consideration during the Taliban rule that ended in 2001. The prime minister stated that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was the most visible part of the Belt and Road Initiative and stressed on enhancement in bilateral cooperation between the two countries while exploring new avenues for trade, particularly in livestock, information technology and agriculture. He assured the Turkmen, Afghan and Indian leaders of Pakistan's full cooperation in making TAPI a success. 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.

The Prime Minister also congratulated the ADB for its role in making the project a reality.