KABUL - Afghan Taliban have vowed to protect Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, hailing it as a landmark scheme for the country’s economic prosperity.
Construction work on the Afghan section of the multi-billion dollars natural gas pipeline — linking energy-rich Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India, got underway in Western Herat province today.
President Ashraf Ghani, his Turkmen counterpart Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar attended the opening ceremony.
In a statement, carried by an Afghan news agency, the Taliban said: “The TAPI pipeline is an important regional project whose groundwork was initiated during the Islamic Emirate’s rule.”
However, the statement claimed, the project had faced delays due to America’s military presence in the region. The launch of work on the Afghan section of the pipeline was happy news for all Afghans, it added.
“In areas under its control, the Islamic Emirate announces full cooperation on implementation of the project and associated dimensions of the pipeline draw attention to the principle of the Emirate,” the rebel movement added.
Under the Afghan government, holding a global record of corruption and embezzlement, no game-changing economic development scheme has been carried out so far and that was why the TAPI pipeline was also marred by massive graft, the Taliban alleged.
The insurgent movement vowed to check corruption in implementation of the scheme if it found signs of acts that infringed on people’s rights or showed misappropriation by the rulers.
The group blamed the US for indirect meddling on a massive copper project in central Logar province. To achieve their designs, it feared, the Americans might try to impede the TAPI pipeline.