Pakistan and Turkmenistan has signed the finalised version of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas network project worth billions of dollars for which bulk of the financing requirements will be met by the supplier country with the assistance of multilateral donors’ agencies. The total cost of the project is $ 25 billion out of which Turkmenistan will arrange 85 percent finances. $15 billion will be incurred on developing gas fields and $10 billion will be spent on the construction of pipeline. The equity participation of buyer countries will be five percent.
The natural gas which will be supplied by Turkmenistan will be 20 percent cheaper than the liquefied natural gas imported from Qatar under the shady deal which was made by the previous PML-N government. The agreed transit fee is 49.5 cents per Million British Thermal Unit. Buyer countries will get gas according to agreed quota through 56 –inch diameter 1680 kilometer long pipeline. The network will supply 3.2 billion cubic meter feet of natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian border.
Addressing a joint press conference with his Turkmen counterpart, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was optimistic about the financing of the project by Asian development Bank and Islamic Development Bank, ignoring the fact that the United States wields clout over the Manila based multilateral donors’ agency. It is pertinent to mention that the Asian Development Bank had agreed to provide $ 300 million for Diyamer Basha dam in 2007 but later imposed the condition that Pakistan should get No Objection Certificate as the site of dam lies in the disputed territory. Later, print media reported that the strange condition was imposed on the advice of the World Bank.
It was the US pressure that India threatened to walk out of Iran-Pakistan-India gas in March 2007 on the pretext that Pakistan wanted an inflated transit fee although it ignored the US and its western allies economic sanction on Iran while doing bilateral trade with it worth billions of dollars under the open ended currency exchange arrangement of free convertibility of Indian rupee into Iranian Riyal. India may pull out of TAPI gas supply project by citing security threat to the project in Afghanistan. The transit route of the project inside Afghanistan is still littered with landmines which the present regime in Kabul has assured to clear. A question about the security concerns about TAPI gas pipeline was asked from the then Pakistan’s minister of water and power Khawaja Muhammad Asif after former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif performed the ground breaking event in 2017 alongside with the Afghan and Turkmenistan and Afghan President and Vice President of India. His reply that Afghan Taliban will be asked to protect the pipeline inside Afghanistan was not well received in Washington. Hence the necessary civil work cannot be stared this year inside Afghanistan till a political settlement of this war torn country is achieved. To counter Russia’s and Iran’s influence over the energy trade in the region, the US may again exert pressure on India to pull out of the TAPI projects making it illusive like the Iran Pakistan gas pipeline project.