The governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India have signed an accord for a new transnational pipeline to take Turkmen gas to India.
The presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were present for the signing in Ashgabat while India was represented by the country's energy minister.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said after the signing that "this gas communication will relieve Pakistan's economy of its weakness and help battle extremism," he said after the signing.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai said he would "put in efforts to ensure security both during construction and after completing the project."
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov said ahead of the summit that the 1,700-kilometer TAPI pipeline is in line with the country's energy policy "which is a factor of stability and keeping balance on the European and Asian energy markets."
Long Time Coming
The concept of the $7.6 billion gas-pipeline project dates back to 1995 but made little progress until India joined the project in 2008, providing a major market along with Pakistan for the gas exports along with the prospect of lucrative transit fees for Afghanistan.
The TAPI pipeline aims to transport over 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Dauletabad gas fields in southeast Turkmenistan.
An Islamabad-based economy analyst Ikram Hoti told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that he is optimistic that TAPI “will help a lot in solving energy problems in Pakistan.”
Hoti also said that TAPI could mean a new era of trade between Pakistan and India, which could also bring benefits to Afghanistan. “Both Pakistan and India will have stakes in Afghanistan, so will try to bring political and economic stability in Afghanistan,” Hoti said.
Backers hope to build the pipeline by 2014, but analysts says instability in Afghanistan could make it difficult to meet that deadline.
with agency reports