Leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India broke ground on December 14 on a $10 billion natural-gas pipeline that they hope will ease energy deficits in South Asia and stem tensions in the divided region.
Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani attended the ceremony in the Karakum desert outside Turkmenistan’s southeastern city of Mary, marking the beginning of work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) link.
They were joined by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari.
The proposed 1,735-kilometer TAPI pipeline is intended to carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year alongside Afghanistan’s Herat-Kandahar highway, then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan -- ending up at the India-Pakistan border town of Fazilka.
It would start from the Galkynysh Gas Field, formally known as the South Yolotan-Osman field, near the town of Yoloten in Turkmenistan’s eastern province of Mary.
Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan have all repeatedly stated their commitment to the natural-gas project despite the bilateral tensions that New Delhi and Kabul have with Islamabad.