Insurgency? What insurgency? Setting aside concerns about Islamic militants, the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, along with India’s petroleum minister, Murli Deora, have signed an inter-governmental agreement pledging to construct a 1,735-kilometer natural gas pipeline connecting all four states.
The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline would supply 33 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas a year from the Dauletabad gas fields to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan’s volatile southern provinces, according to the semi-official Turkmenistan.ru website. In doing so, Kabul could reap billions of dollars in transit fees.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, speaking at a signing ceremony on December 11, hailed the pipeline as “a real and effective stabilizing factor with long term positive impact on the overall situation in Central and Southern Asia and adjacent regions,” according to Turkmen state-controlled media.
“This resource-rich region can complement the economies of our countries,” added Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.