Federal Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that for the security of gas pipeline coming through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to Pakistan and India (TAPI), the government will talk to Afghan Taliban. “We will use our influence on Taliban,” he was quoted as saying in a BBC Urdu report.

TAPI gas pipeline project will be initiated on August 13, 2016 for which prime ministers of Pakistan and India are reaching Turkmenistan.

The 1,700 km long pipeline will be completed in two years with the cost of $10 billion.

In its initial stages the pipeline will provide 27 billion cubic meters of gas out of which 2 billion will go to Afghanistan and 12.5 billion cubic meters will be acquired by Pakistan and India.

The defense minister said that the project is extremely important for all involved parties and especially for fulfilling the shortage of gas in Pakistan.

“This is why we want to complete it in any condition and especially we want to sort out the potential dangers regarding pipeline project in unstable Afghanistan,” he said.

On a question on Pakistan using its influence on extremist Taliban in Afghanistan, he answered “Surely we will. For our national interest we will do whatever we can.”

Khawaja Asif further stated that this project is also important for Afghanistan, which is why no Afghan entity will oppose it. He gave the example of 1990s when Taliban government gave the security assurance of gas pipeline of American company Yonical.

“We still believe that Taliban will not oppose this project because it is highly important for Afghan financial stability and hence no Afghan group will create hurdles in its way,” he added.

On a question of completion time of the project, the minister said it must be completed on time, but there is possibility of delay.

“The project will be completed but there are chances of delay. If it is not completed in 2018, it should be finished by 2019,” he said.

Courtesy BBC Urdu