Islamabad: Construction of much-anticipated TAPI gas pipeline will begin from December 13 in Turkmenistan, said an official of Interstate Gas Systems Private Ltd. (IGSP) on Tuesday.
Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project will commence next week, some 25 years after the inception of the project, told Mobin Saulat, managing director of IGSP.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with Afghanistan and Indian leaders will attend the groundbreaking ceremony of $10 billion projects in Ashgabat.
Saulat said the dialogue to import gas for energy-starved Pakistan was initiated with Turkmenistan in 1990, and added that work on the pipeline will finally begin next week.
Pakistan’s Interstate Gas Systems, along with Turkmenistan’s Turkmengas, Afghanistan’s Afghan Gas Enterprise and India’s Gail Ltd, has equal share-holding in the TAPI Pipeline Company Limited (TPCL).
Saulat comments that gas supply to Pakistan by TAPI project would start in 2019. Pakistan and India will get over 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas from TAPI while Afghanistan will get 0.5 billion cubic feet.
India will pay $200-250 million in transit fees to Pakistan while Pakistan will pay the same amount as transit fees to Afghanistan, he said. Pakistan and India have both purchased five percent shares of the TAPI project.
The pipeline has a stretch of 1,800 km and is likely to cost more than $10 billion. Turkmenistan media said the government expects the gas link, with an annual capacity of 33 billion cubic metres, to be fully operational by the end of 2018.
The TAPI project could help ease growing energy deficits of Asian giants Pakistan and India. The project is politically complex, requiring cooperating governments, and logistically challenging, as the pipeline would pass through areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan plagued by Taliban and separatist insurgents.
America have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time Pakistan is housing the very terrorists they are fighting
Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye on the issue of safe havens to Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network
Top leaders of both groups-Taliban and the Haqqani network enjoy the ability to live freely in certain parts of Pakistan
Washington, USA, September 2, 2017: In his South Asia strategy speech last week, President Donald Trump publicly puts Pakistan on notice that it must stop providing sanctuaries to armed groups that are fighting in Afghanistan.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” said Trump, laying out his “condition-based approach” to defeating terrorism in Afghanistan.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting. But that will have to change and that will change immediately,” he vowed.
Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of turning a blind eye on the issue of safe havens to Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
Analysts charge that sanctuaries in Pakistan have helped the militants sustain a bloody insurgency in Afghanistan against the Western-backed Afghan government.
“Top leaders of both groups [Taliban and the Haqqani network] enjoy the ability to live freely in certain parts of Pakistan — mainly Baluchistan province, but also some of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” Michel Kugelman, a South Asia analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, told VOA.
“It is not just the leaderships of these groups that enjoy Pakistani largesse; it’s the fighters, too,” he added.
Afghan Taliban’s leadership council, known as the Quetta Shura, is reportedly based in the Pakistani southwestern city of Quetta, which shares a border with Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, the traditional stronghold of the Afghan Taliban.
The Haqqani network, one of the most notorious terror groups in the region, is reportedly based in Miram Shah, a town in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northern Pakistan. The group, which has been blamed for numerous deadly attacks inside Afghanistan against U.S.-led NATO forces and the Afghan government, is reportedly operating with impunity from across the border.
The Afghan government charges that militant sanctuaries are the main reason behind the country’s instability.
“Neighbor countries have been a major part of the problem in Afghanistan. Terrorists’ safe havens and sanctuaries are out of Afghanistan, where they get support, training, and equipment,” Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a defense liaison at the Afghan embassy in Washington, told VOA.
Pakistan maintains that the Afghan Taliban controls large swaths of territory inside Afghanistan and does not need to have sanctuaries inside Pakistan.
“They don’t need hideouts or sanctuaries in Pakistan. They have vast territory [under their control], which is beyond Kabul’s writ, at their disposal. Why would they come to Pakistan for sanctuaries?” Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said over the weekend.
Following Trump’s speech, Pakistan denied the allegations that it harbors militants and cited its sacrifices in the ongoing war against terror as an example of how the country itself has been a victim of terrorism.
In an effort to illustrate its displeasure at the U.S president’s speech, Pakistan postponed Asif’s planned trip to Washington and also delayed a planned visit to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells to Islamabad.
Could the U.S. take unilateral action?
As the administration is weighing its options to deal with the issue of sanctuaries in Pakistan, some analysts doubt Pakistan will take action against militants operating from its soil unless more rigorous pressure is applied on the country.
“The Trump administration will need to deploy new forms of pressure. Previous forms of pressure — threats, aid conditionalities and aid cuts — have not worked. The administration will need to step up its actions and make them much more draconian — and this is clearly already under consideration,” Kugelman, of the Woodrow Wilson Center, told VOA.
Meanwhile, David Des Roches, an associate professor at the National Defense University in Washington, believes that while it is unlikely that the Pakistanis would back down publicly, it “is quite possible that they will facilitate enhanced American action against militants in Pakistan.”
What seems unclear so far is to what lengths the U.S. is willing to go as far as tackling the issue of safe havens in Pakistan.
While talking to reporters at the State Department last week, U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hinted that the U.S. would target terrorists “wherever they live” without elaborating further.
“There’s been an erosion of trust because we have witnessed terrorist organizations being given safe haven inside of Pakistan to plan and carry out attacks against U.S. servicemen, U.S. officials, disrupting peace efforts inside of Afghanistan,” Tillerson said.
Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, told VOA that the U.S. should target Taliban and Haqqani network sanctuaries inside Pakistan and push Islamabad “out of its comfort zone.”
“Pakistan has become comfortable with its dual policy; receives U.S. assistance and works to defeat the U.S. in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said.
He advocated for sanctions against senior military and intelligence officers who support extremist groups.
“Take Pakistan off the list of the major non-NATO ally, which provides the opportunity to receive significant security assistance; suspend assistance program; push IMF, World Bank, and Asian and European allies to suspend assistance programs,” Khalilzad added.
“If America imposes sanctions, Pakistan will probably be unable to receive assistance from IMF and the World Bank, and international companies will not be willing to invest in Pakistan,” Saad Mohammad Khan, a retired Pakistani military leader, told VOA. (VOA)
Samples of water and dead fish sent for forensic testing
No alert issued by the police and the fisheries department yet
ISLAMABAD, July 18, 2017: Authorities in Pakistan’s capital are investigating the water in the city’s main reservoir after tons of dead fish were found in a lake on the city’s outskirts.
Police officer Imran Haider says Saturday samples of water and dead fish from Rawal Lake have been collected and sent for forensic testing after a complaint received from the capital’s fisheries department.
New Delhi/Islamabad, May 7, 2017: An Indian woman has sought refuge at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad just two days after her marriage to a Pakistani national, informed sources said.
Sources in New Delhi on Sunday said the woman sought help from the mission on May 5 and necessary consular assistance was being provided to her.
According to the sources, the Indian mission is in touch with the Pakistan Foreign Office and with the woman’s family in India as well in this connection.
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However, as per reports in the Pakistani media, the man approached police saying his wife had gone missing after they visited the Indian High Commission.
The woman, named Uzma, on May 3 married Pakistani national Tahir Ali, who she met in Malaysia some eight months ago.
The two met and fell in love in Malaysia, where he worked as a taxi driver. Uzma then travelled to Pakistan on May 1 via the Wagah-Attari border and the two contracted a court marriage on May 3, as per the Dawn daily, citing the request for help lodged at Islamabad’s Secretariat Police Station.
Tahir Ali told the police that he went to the Indian mission with his wife Uzma to apply for Indian visa.
Dawn said Uzma had earlier telephoned her brother in New Delhi to relay the news of her wedding.
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Her brother reportedly asked her to visit India on her honeymoon and told her she could find a man named Adnan at the Indian High Commission who would be able to sort out the visa formalities for the trip.
Uzma then went inside the building on being called by officials while he stayed back, the report said.
When his wife did not return even after several hours, Ali asked Indian High Commission officials who claimed Uzma was not there.
Pakistani media said the matter had been taken up at the diplomatic level by Islamabad.
The Dawn quoted the Pakistani Foreign Office as saying it was in contact with the Indian mission “and the issue would be resolved soon”. (IANS)