Interview of Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan to ITAR-TASS on Trans-Afghan Pipeline
– How does Islamabad see the current perspectives for the participants of Trans-Afghan Pipeline /TAPI/ project to reach the common view on time and conditions of putting in
– The prospects of TAPI have improved in the recent past. During the December Summit in Ashgabat last year, an inter-governmental agreement on TAPI was signed. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan have always been keen to start and complete this pipeline. It can be the new Silk Road or a peace pipeline between Central Asia and South Asia. Now the US, India and Russia also seem to be getting more interested in the project. So, in terms of political will the critical mass is there. The time should be ripe by 2012 to start this project.
– What the main problems now of implementation the TAPI agreement?
– Security of this pipeline must be ensured. Therefore, as this project proceeds, we should work for creating conditions of peace and security in the three countries, but especially in Afghanistan. The financing issues should be amenable to resolution. All participants should remove strategic underbrush to allow this project to take off as it will benefit the entire region and enhance connectivity between South and Central Asia. The project in particular will make immense contribution to Turkmen, Afghan and Pakistani economies and create new jobs and technological platforms in the region. It will also enhance energy security of the region.
– It is well known that India strongly opposes China’s participation in the project (construction etc.). So who, according to Pakistani side opinion, is most likely to be the primary subcontractor of the project?
– We would welcome China’s participation in the construction of the pipeline. China has valuable experience in this field in Central Asia and Chinese corporation has worked for decades in Pakistan. These things have yet to be discussed, but we understand that ADB has encouraged such a role by China. We think that there should be no opposition to China participation from any quarter because we are all working for win-win partnerships. The project spinoffs will benefit all nations including India.
– What are the main guarantees of security the sides need to put the TAPI project in practice?
– Guarantees for security would be assured by the determination by all major players that their interests converge in case of TAPI. This will make the project a unifier. Local communities should be given incentives to participate in the defense of the pipeline. Besides, security personnel in adequate numbers have to be deployed along the pipeline route. For Pakistan the project is very important. It will help meet some of our energy requirements expected to reach 200 million toe by 2020. It will also turn Pakistan to a gateway to Central Asia.
– Do the sides have the common view on the question of the final gas price now?
– The total cost is estimated at around US $ 8 billion approximately but pricing has yet to be finalized.