Taliban pledge mega gas pipeline project’s security in Afghanistan

Assurance comes after acting defense minister and Turkmenistan’s top diplomat meet in Kabul to discuss TAPI, bilateral ties.

Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqub, the acting Taliban defense minister in the interim Afghanistan administration, said on Saturday that he has taken direct charge of security for the multibillion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India) gas pipeline project.

Yaqub, the son of the Taliban’s founding leader, Mullah Omar, made the comment following a meeting with Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, who arrived in Kabul in the morning for talks on the project and bilateral relations with Afghanistan.

“I am directly responsible for and overseeing the security of the TAPI project. We will not hesitate to make any sacrifices for the implementation of this national project,” Yaqoob tweeted after meeting with Turkmenistan’s top diplomat at the presidential palace in the capital.

The visiting Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan also met with Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, acting prime minister of the Taliban’s interim administration at his office.

“During the meeting, both sides discussed bolstering relations, economic, trade, security, and humanitarian assistance,” said Zabihullah Mujahed, the Taliban spokesman and deputy minister for information and culture.

In 2018, Afghanistan hosted top officials from Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and India back for the groundbreaking ceremony of the TAPI project, which will also connect the four countries with roads, railways, and fiber optics.

The mega project, which connects energy-rich Central Asia with energy-starved South Asia via Afghanistan, was envisioned in the 1990s and practical work on it began in 2015.

In line with this $10 billion project, up to 33 billion cubic meters of gas would be carried from the Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan to the town of Fazilka in Indian Punjab via the 1,814-kilometer pipeline passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Afghanistan is expected to earn $500 million annually from this project.

Alongside TAP, another project named the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan 500 kilovolts Line (TAP-500) will transfer Turkmenistan’s electricity to Pakistan through Afghanistan. This project would also generate $110 million annually as transit-free for the country. Kabul and Ashgabat have also agreed to build a 13-kilometer railway link between the two countries.


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