Pakistan and Turkmenistan have signed the final agreement for the initiation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline network. According to this plan, Turkmenistan will provide gas to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan. Before this setup, the export of gas in Turkmenistan was limited to China but now they want to expand their export base. Initially, the fear of pursuing this initiative was the instability in Afghanistan but the recent talks between the United States of America (USA) and the Taliban, facilitated by Pakistan, have shown a great deal of improvement and an inclination towards ending the war.
With that set in motion, the government of Turkmenistan can count upon the stability in the region to ensure that the smooth supply of gas is not disrupted. Both, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have also ensured that there would be no security lapses, especially with Pakistan working rigorously to push extremist elements out of the country after years of loss. The good aspect of this project is that it relies on the gas supplying companies already working in the four countries. Pakistan faces a dire shortage of gas and even more so each passing year. This project, expected to be completed in a duration of two years, can drastically improve the living conditions in the country which is already facing an energy crisis.
Turkmenistan Foreign Minister Meredov was on a visit to Islamabad. On this trip, he led his delegation at the second round of the Pakistan-Turkmenistan Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC). Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was also present at the meeting and it was discussed to actively pursue better bilateral ties. For this purpose, several projects will be taken up which will target agriculture, textile, livestock, and IT sectors. During the visit, memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed to increase cooperation between the foreign ministries of the two nations as well as their diplomatic institutions. An MoU was also signed for the establishment of the Pak-Turkmen Joint Business Council.
This will drastically improve the ties between the two countries. In order to remain as a key player in the politics of the region, Pakistan must not only engage in bilateral agreements but also maintain good diplomatic relations with the countries of the region. The establishment of this agreement along with several others shows a shift in Pakistan’s ideology and how it is growing to be more towards economic development.
(This news/article originally appeared in The Nation on March 14th, 2019)