Pakistan pushes to get Turkmenistan pipeline moving

Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:53pm GMT

* Pakistan scrambles to ease energy crisis

* Long delays raise doubts

* Security issue in Afghanistan

By Zeeshan Haider

ISLAMABAD, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Pakistan will push hard for quick implementation of a long-delayed trans-regional gas pipeline from Turkmenistan in a bid to ease its mounting energy crisis, the petroleum minister said on Tuesday.

Senior officials of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India on Monday inked the framework of an agreement to construct the project with an estimated value of $3.3 billion.

The so-called TAPI project would pump natural gas to Pakistan and India through the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban and its birthplace.

More energy security could ease pressure on Pakistan's government, which faces a range of challenges, from a homegrown Taliban insurgency to what will likely be years of economic pain after summer floods caused billions of dollars in damages.

But analysts said the agreement was still at a preliminary stage and that security challenges in Afghanistan and the tensions between India and Pakistan remained an obstacle.   Continued...

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