TAPI—A significant initiative to ensure peace and security

TAPI—A significant initiative to ensure peace and security

[INTERVIEW]

H.E. Mr. Farukh Amil
Ambassador of Pakistan to Japan

Over the past decade, Pakistan has engaged in intergovernmental energy projects with various nations in Asia. One of such projects is the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Japan and the World met up with H.E Mr. Farukh Amil, Ambassador of Pakistan to Japan, to discuss the intergovernmental energy projects in Pakistan.


—Throughout the administration of the last two governing bodies the TAPI pipeline has made multiple headlines. Could you explain what TAPI is?

Originally, the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project was launched in May 2002 in Islamabad. The project envisaged the transportation of 30 billion meters (bcm) of Turkmen gas annually to Pakistan via Afghanistan. When India joined the project in 2008, it was renamed the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. We welcomed this collaboration as well as others: if you have a joint economic interests and linkages, that enables better relations. The physical structure will help greater regional integration, economic development, peace and prosperity come to realization. Therefore, pipeline project’s the focus is growth, infrastructural development, confidence building and most importantly meeting the growing demand for energy.

The former President of Pakistan visited Ashgabat in December 2010 to attend the TAPI summit. The “Intergovernmental Agreement” and “Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement” were signed at the Summit. A number of bilateral and multilateral meetings were held at Ashgabat, Kabul, Islamabad, Manila and Dubai to discuss issues relating to the Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA). The GSPA between Pakistan and Turkmenistan as well as India and Turkmenistan was signed at Avaza, Turkmenistan in May 2012.

—TAPI is not the only active intergovernmental energy project in Pakistan, could you explain some of the other projects taking place in Pakistan?

One of the other projects taking place is CASA-1000, a power import project between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a 750 km long electricity transmission project which will bring 1000 megawatts of electricity to Pakistan and 300 megawatts to Afghanistan.

During the Board of Directors meeting on 27 March 2014, the World Bank approved US $120 million in International Development Association (IDA) credit to be granted to Pakistan while the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) implied its intent to provide US $35 million, though their investment is not yet finalized. As such, the project currently has an investment gap of US $112 million. Out of this gap, US $17 million has been picked by some donors, leaving a total balance of US $95 million. The World Bank has given us assurance that this gap will be filled but Pakistan needs to have firm commitments. Pakistan would like the project to be completed by May 2018.

Gas pipeline in Pakistan. / Credits: AFP.
Gas pipeline in Pakistan. / Credits: AFP.

Another project is the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline also known as Peace Pipeline. Originally conceived to include India, the pipeline will transport 750 million cubic feet gas per day. The other main driving force of this project is not just regional integration but a strong political will of the Government of Pakistan, which wants to establish a “Peaceful Neighborhood”. This project is both incremental and yet bilateral and multilateral in its application. It is part of the well-considered integrated approach of developing energy corridors and infrastructure across Pakistan and with our neighbors for which the peace dividends are clearly self-evident.

—How could this project benefit Japan?

It is for the Japanese government to decide what type of energy mix they would like to promote. Japanese corporations have been in Pakistan for decades. We believe Japan has so much to offer to the world. If you look at JICA’s projects, they built the Kohat Friendship Tunnel in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (opened to traffic in 2003) in the North-Western part of Pakistan. Recognized Japanese construction and engineering firms already exist in Pakistan: if these major infrastructural projects are going to be built, there is no reason why Japan should not partner with Pakistan, since it already has a presence there and its world class corporations stand to benefit from the possible contracts. Japan and Pakistan have a long history together: the Bank of Tokyo was established in Karachi in 1925 and the first trade delegation went from Japan to Pakistan in 1948.

We are at the crossroads of South, Central and West Asia, we have the energy corridors and it is not just about transportation, there are so much infrastructural needs where financial partnership is required. Accordingly, there are plenty of reasons for Japan to look seriously into investing in Pakistan. In addition of vast coal reserves, which have yet to be tapped we would like to see Japanese investment participation in engineering and construction projects. We have a history of zero labor disputes with Japanese corporations and have a highly disciplined and highly motivated work force.

—Are there any training exchange programs between Japan and Pakistan?

Yes, there are. In fact, JICA and JETRO do have many training programs relating to public health and sanitation, water logging, salinity issues, calamities, natural disaster, agriculture, canals and education. What we would like to see even more JICA training programs. Human resource development is critical we would like to see Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV) return to Pakistan. For example there is mutual cooperation between the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies (GRIPS), which has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), so there are not only graduate students coming back and forth, but there is also an exchange of faculty members and other academics who are at the front and centre of the academic research and development.

—How are the TAPI countries working towards construction when the countries have different domestic laws?

Luckily, this is not the first time that a group of countries have come together for a common goal. Of course you have to reconcile national laws with international agreements. Everyone has to protect their national interest and laws and reconcile them for the greater good but it only works in the long term if you have a democratic dispensation. Therefore, it is very important to have the reconciliation of whatever respective national laws because everyone has the same overriding collective interest and that is where the beauty of regional integration comes in.

TAPI groundbreaking scheduled for December

Deputy Prime Minister for Oil and Gas of Turkmenistan and Special Envoy of the President of Turkmenistan Baymurat Hojamuhamedov called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House on Monday. Ground breaking ceremony of TAPI gas pipeline project will be held in December this year. President of Turkmenistan and Pakistani PM will be attending this ceremony. PM Sharif said that the realization of the TAPI project will meet the energy requirements of the region and will benefit all. Rail/road links between Gawadar and Central Asia would increase the economic activity in the region.


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