Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs, MJ Akbar, has compared metaphorically Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project to "a dove in a storm", saying, "we must protect it with all our will and capacity".
Ex-Soviet Turkmenistan holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves but has been heavily dependent on gas exports to China after Russian Federation cut back gas imports in the past few years.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani and Minister of State for External Affairs of India M.J. Akbar attended the groundbreaking ceremony at the Turkmenistan border with Afghanistan.
The multi-million dollar gas pipeline will link energy-rich Turkmenistan to the three countries.
The Afghan president also noted that the TAPI project demonstrates that Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, India, and other nations look at economic development as key topic of discussion to take the region towards peace and prosperity.
President Ghani pointed out that Afghan government's policy is a policy of "connectivity" and South Asia is being connected with Central Asia through Afghanistan.
The pipeline will traverse war-wracked Afghanistan, raising security concerns.
"Today, given the energy requirements in India, there are several gas pipeline proposals before us. It is good and important and vital for the economy of Afghanistan", he said, noting the pipeline had been under consideration during the Taliban rule that ended in 2001.
Political analyst Framurz Tamana in talks with local media asserted that TAPI as an economic corridor could enhance regional cooperation. He assured the Turkmen, Afghan and Indian leaders of Pakistan's full cooperation in making TAPI a success. He mentioned that Turkmenistan-Pakistan relations were based on two pillars namely energy security of which TAPI was a flagship project, and connectivity to include rail, road, information technology and fiber optic. The ADB is acting as the facilitator and coordinator for the project.