CASA-1000 : From Economic Prosperity to Regional Security
The $1.2 billion, 750-kilometre-long transmission that will allow Pakistan to import electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan via Afghanistan to minimize its electricity shortage, also brings an economic interdependence to the region.
"A more interconnected region can serve as a driver of economic development and as an anchor of peace and security," said Prime
Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who recently launched the CASA-1000 alongside the Tajik, Kyrgyz and Afghan leaders, in Tajikistan.
Nawaz Sharif believes that energy diplomacy can be used for peace-building in the region."As the interests of stakeholder countries converge, such develpment projects help overcome the trust deficit [between Pakistan and Afghanistan]," he said, adding that countries cannot prosper in an atmosphere of hostility.
On challenges to CASA-1000 owing to precarious security situation in Afghanistan, Nawaz Sharif mentions that Afghan government has given a sovereign guarantee to protect the section of the transmission line passing through it.
He says that Pakistan and Central Asian states are for the first time serious in strengthening their bilateral relations and transforming these into economy-based ties.
Pakistan will consume about 1,000MW of the exported energy while 300MW will be used by Afghanistan. Around 16 per cent of the transmission line of will pass through Tajikistan, 75pc through Afghanistan and 9pc through Pakistan.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan - the world's third largest producer of hydroelectric power - have
been pursuing the development of electricity-trading arrangements
and the establishment of the Casa Regional Energy Market (CASAREM) since 2005, starting with the supply of 1,300MW which may go up
to 2,800MW in subsequent years.
Officials believe that by increasing the economic interdependence of the countries involved, CASA-1000 will help lay the foundation for regional peace by fundamentally changing incentives for leaders in the region.
"When all the concerned parties will pursue with peace as their common objective, the outcome would be an improved situation in the region," Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Muhammad Asif, who also holds the portfolio of Defence Minister, told APP.
The Minister mentions that CASA-1000 covers the relevant needs of the countries with Afghanistan receiving the transit fee besides 300 MW electricity and Pakistan getting 1,000 MW electricity during its sweltering summer season.
According to the World Bank, which is one of the main financiers of CASA-1000, all country governments have agreed to provide adequate security to contractor's personnel and goods.
"Each country has prepared a Security Management Plan for both the construction and operation phases of the line in their respective areas of ownership," a report of the Bank said.
Also, the community support programmes, being developed for local communities living near the line for the whole CASA-1000
Project corridor, will serve as an incentive for communities to preserve its safe operation.
"These Programmes will cover more than 600 communities along the transmission line. Financing of US$40 million has been approved for Afghanistan, where the longest length of the HVDC (high-voltage direct current) line will pass and US$30 million support for the 9 other three countries," the report mentions.