TAPI gas pipeline: Kabul turns to Taliban for pipeline security

Published: May 22, 2012

ISLAMABAD: 

The administration of President Hamid Karzai has assured Pakistan and India that it has reached an ‘understanding’ with Taliban insurgents to ensure the security of the multi-billion-dollar Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.

“The Afghan Taliban have assured that they would not sabotage the project,” a senior official told The Express Tribune quoting Afghan authorities. “The Afghan government would also deploy troops to ensure the security of the pipeline,” the official added.

Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are scheduled to meet in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on May 23 to sign the Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA). The proposed pipeline will pass through Herat, Kandahar, the birthplace of the Afghan Taliban and the most volatile province of Afghanistan, then Balochistan and Multan before entering Indian Punjab.

There is also the issue of mines on the proposed route. In 2008, Afghanistan was tasked to clear the mines on the route area within two years. Currently, officials are also unclear whether the Afghan government has succeeded in removing these mines or not.

Due to Taliban’s involvement in insurgency on the proposed route, Pakistan had earlier also proposed Turkmenistan to supply gas via Iran using the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline instead of laying a pipeline through Afghanistan, under a swap arrangement. But the proposal never materialised due to unprecedented opposition from the US against Iran.

Under this proposed arrangement, the imported gas volume agreed between Pakistan and Turkmenistan was to be supplied to the northern provinces of Iran in lieu of which Iran was to supply equivalent gas volume through the IP pipeline to Pakistan.

According to the official, an alternative western route of constructing the pipeline between the Afghanistan-Iran and Pakistan-Iran border was also proposed that was agreed by the Afghan government. Pakistan had floated this proposal as it believed that more than 72% insurgency-related cases by the Taliban take place on the earlier proposed TAPI gas pipeline route.

“After assurance from the Karazai government that Taliban will not blow up the pipeline, participating countries have agreed to lay the pipeline on the earlier proposed route,” the official said.

Participating countries including India were also concerned about security situation in Balochistan.”We have assured them that the government would prepare a force of local people to deploy in the area of the pipeline in Balochistan to ensure security,” the official added.

When the participating countries meet in Turkmenistan on May 23, they will ink the formal deal on the transit fee and GSPA. Pakistan, India and Afghanistan had agreed on a transit fee rate at 49.5 cents per million British thermal units (MMBTU), during the talks held in Islamabad earlier.

India will pay 49.5 cents per MMBTU as transit fee to Pakistan and Pakistan will pay an equal amount to Afghanistan.

“Pakistan will get $217 million as transit fee from India, which will be paid to Afghanistan,” the official said.

Pakistan and Turkmenistan have also agreed at a gas price rate equal to 70% of crude oil against the 78% of crude oil with Iran under the IP gas pipeline project.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.

Reader Comments (21)

  • Afghan Perspective
    May 22, 2012 - 10:10AM

    Salute to Afghan Taliban If they have truly agreed not to sabotage the project.

    Recommend

  • MyHeartSpeaks
    May 22, 2012 - 11:20AM

    this statement shows the strength and control of Taliban in the region…..

    Recommend

  • May 22, 2012 - 11:46AM

    Pay them for protection of pipeline.

    Recommend

  • WhatisThetruth
    May 22, 2012 - 11:51AM

    SO have elements of the Taliban and the US come to a secret deal?

    Recommend

  • May 22, 2012 - 11:55AM

    It’s just like asking the naughty street boys not to throw stones at their neighbors’ windows – NOT asking them to secure them. It does not show “influence and control” of the Taliban in the country.

    Recommend

  • vigilant
    May 22, 2012 - 11:56AM

    If Taliban are stakeholders in every major deal why there were not invited in NATO summit?

    Recommend

  • Chandio
    May 22, 2012 - 12:02PM

    Looks like an idea to strengthen war lords and terror groups in Afghanistan.

    Recommend

  • ahmed
    May 22, 2012 - 12:40PM

    to keep the taliban peaceful, some share of the transit fee will have to be given to them, if money is given they will buy more weapons, which in turn will make them more strong.

    Recommend

  • Zamir Malik
    May 22, 2012 - 12:48PM

    In Pak-Iran Gas Pipe line there are not any problems and we are focusing on a Pipe Line from Afghanistan so that we could be blackmailed at any instance of time. America and Afghanistan will blackmail us in future with this pipeline as they can threaten to cut our supplies whenever they want. The viable option is Pak-Iran Gas Pipe line but We are Beggers and Slaves and we cannot be Choosers.

    Recommend

  • Uza Syed
    May 22, 2012 - 1:00PM

    It can’t get more ridiculous!

    Recommend

  • Tariq
    May 22, 2012 - 1:02PM

    Interesting article considering that the war in Afghanistan was primarily about building the natural gas pipeline. Hamid Karzai was a top adviser to the UNOCAL Corporation, now part of Chevron, which was negotiating with the Taliban in the 1990s to construct a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline from Turkmenistan through western Afghanistan to Pakistan and finally to India. The fact that after over 10 years of war the Afghan government still requires Taliban assurances to build the pipeline is testimony to total failure of the war on all objectives.

    Recommend

  • MyHeartSpeaks
    May 22, 2012 - 1:04PM

    @vigilant

    If Taliban are stakeholders in every major deal why there were not invited in NATO summit?

    Ask this ques to US and NATO. IMHO, Taliban don’t give damn to these ‘useless and resultless’ conferences…. Afghanistan’s fate has to be decided in the battle field, not in fancy conferences halls.

    Recommend

  • Concerned
    May 22, 2012 - 2:23PM

    Thank you Taleban, for your verbal assurances for security of the pipline. We Indians would be looking for more co-operation at your end on our ongoing development works and future mining ventures in Afghanistan beyond 2014. An Indian friend who is a well wisher of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Aristo
    May 22, 2012 - 5:16PM

    11 years of bloodbath and back to square one.

    Recommend

  • Omer
    May 22, 2012 - 6:15PM

    This is the future of Afghanistan after NATO. Afghan Government will outsource security to the Taliban. Hilarious!

    Recommend

  • Palvasha von Hassell
    May 22, 2012 - 7:40PM

    @Omer:

    You put it in a nutshell. That’s indeed what it boils down to.

    Recommend

  • Hammad
    May 22, 2012 - 10:43PM

    Rest assured Taliban will use the protection money to buy more weapons, and a day will come when Pakistan and Afghanistan will not be able to fight them back. On that day, I will buy a ticket to Canada and wish good luck to the poor Pakistanis still left behind in a talibanized/Yemenized/Somalized Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • antanu
    May 23, 2012 - 2:26AM

    <p>Wow….its always back to taleban consent…karzai is having good relations with them.then why blame pakis for everything?</p>Recommend

  • John B
    May 23, 2012 - 10:56AM

    contrary to the reports published in Pakistan, two things are clear in this news story.

    TAPI gas is cheaper than Iran gas , and India is not involved in Balochistan unrest, as she is concerned about the Baloch unrest and its impact on pipe line security. I came to this conclusion after waiting so long for the appropriate evidence against India as promised by PAK interior minister Mr. Rehman Malik.

    Recommend

  • Abdullah
    May 23, 2012 - 1:48PM

    There will be no security threat if Pakistani government stop supporting Afghan government opposition.

    Recommend

  • زمری خان asad khan
    May 23, 2012 - 11:26PM

    salam to all
    congratulation to all afghans for the gas pipeline and to turkmenistan.
    and thanks from taliban…..and wish for build the humanity….
    wasalam.

    Recommend

More in World