TAPI ON THE REVIVAL MODE

SHAMIM RIZVI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Sep 6 - 12, 2010

Pakistan and Turkmenistan have agreed to revive the Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan and India (Tapi) gas line project and decided to hold a meeting of the steering committee on the project from September 15-17 in Ashgababad.

This decision was taken at the second session of Pakistan Turkmenistan Joint Governmental Commission held in Islamabad last week with full blessings of the heads of the two governments. Pakistan delegation was led by Nawabzada Malik Ahmed Khan, Minister for State for Foreign Affairs while Turkmenistan delegation was led by Rashid Meredov Vice Prime and Minister for Foreign Affairs Turkmenistan who earlier held meetings with President and Prime Minister of Pakistan.

A week earlier the leaders of Afghanistan to Turkmenistan had a meeting at Ashgababad and decided to push forward the stalled project to build a gas pipeline from the energy rich ex-soviet state to Afghanistan and India. The concerned government had agreed in the year 2002 to build a 1700KM long pipeline to deliver Turkmen gas to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan. The project was however started because of the conflict with the Taliban.

President Asif Ali Zardari in his meeting with Turkmenistan Foreign Minister urged for taking steps on an urgent basis. The President said that early completion of regional connectivity projects was not only a key to the development of the region but would also promote mutual relationship among the countries.

He said that the industrial and infrastructure development hinged upon energy and ever-growing energy needs of the region could only be fulfilled if the available resources were fully utilised for maximum mutual advantage of the countries. He said that early completion of gas connectivity projects would not only cater for energy requirements of the regional countries but would also improve the standards through creation of employment, economic opportunities besides infrastructure and industrial development.

Rashid Meredov thanked the president for meeting and expressed sympathies of his government and people over the losses due to recent catastrophic floods. He said that Turkmenistan was keen for an early completion of ongoing regional projects, which would further improve mutual relations between the two countries, meet the growing energy needs of Pakistan and also create win-win situation for all the countries involved in the project.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani has stated that Pakistan fully supports Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India gas pipeline project and will like this project to materialise without further delay in order to meet Pakistan's growing energy shortage.

Talking to Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov at the Prime Minister's House the Gilani expressed the hope that the pending issues relating to security of the gas pipeline in Afghanistan required financing for the project and other technical matters would be resolved expeditiously through the meeting of Technical Working Group and the Steering Committee. He noted that Pakistan and Turkmenistan had all along enjoyed cordial and fraternal ties based on the common culture and history.

Gillani called for building up on these solid foundations to expand the cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially oil and gas, energy, agriculture infrastructure science and technology and education.

He said that it was gratifying to note that the second meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission formed in 1994 has been very useful for bilateral cooperation in diverse fields and in identifying ways and means to strengthen the ties to these areas. He hoped that the Joint Ministerial Commission's meeting would be held on a regular basis and the Joint Working Group being formed for cooperation in various areas would be instrumental in promoting cooperation in their respective fields.

Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Rashid Meredov conveyed the best wishes and gratitude of his President to the Prime Minister along with sincere condolences and sympathies of the government and people of Turkmenistan to their Pakistani counterparts in the latter's hour of trial while facing the catastrophic consequence of floods in the country.

During discussion in the second meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission, the two countries presented various proposals to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, agriculture and livestock, science and technology, education, health, sports and tourism.

They also agreed for the formation of joint working group in the fields of trade and commerce, agriculture, science and technology, and power sectors for identifying areas of mutual cooperation and making concrete proposals to enhance the level of cooperation between the two countries in these areas.

Pakistan side handed over draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Turkmenistan and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) for participation in the trade fairs, expo and exhibitions in the two countries.

The Pakistan side also presented proposal for bilateral cooperation for gas import from Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan also offered export of at least 1,000MW to Pakistan. A joint working group between relevant organisations has been established, which will start deliberations on the subject.

The two countries also agreed to establish academic links between renowned educational and research institution of their countries.

The prospects of cooperation for export medicines and surgical equipment from Pakistan also came under discussion. Pakistan side proposed that the shipment in bulk can be repacked in Turkmenistan according to its norms and specifications.