Pakistan seeks US’ help for TAPI gas pipeline security

Proposed pipeline will transport natural gas from Central Asia to South Asia.

Islamabad: Pakistan has sought help from the United States to ensure security for the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.

Pakistan`s Finance Ministry said in a statement that it had informed a US delegation led by David Lipton, senior adviser on economy to President Barack Obama, about its concerns over the security of the proposed gas pipeline, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The proposed 1,680 kilometre-long pipeline that will transport natural gas from Central Asia to South Asia through war-ravaged Afghanistan has been under discussion for about two decades and has the US backing, as it will provide job opportunities as well as millions of dollars to Afghanistan in the form of transit fees.

It will also cut down South Asia’s dependence on Iran, which has been seeking to supply gas to India and Pakistan through another proposed pipeline.

However, analysts are sceptical about the TAPI project, as financing and security remain key concerns.

About 735 kilometres of the pipeline will pass through Afghanistan, including the violent Kandahar province that has high Taliban presence, and 800 kilometres will pass through Pakistan, including its militant-infested tribal areas, posing a big security challenge to the project.

"The road ahead is long for this project, but the benefits could be tremendous and are certainly worthy of the diligence and interest demonstrated by these four countries so far," US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Robert Blake said earlier this month.