Afghan govt says Khawaja Asif remarks ‘irresponsible’
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghan government on Sunday called as “irresponsible” recent statement by the Pakistani defence minister who had stated that the Afghan Taliban would be engaged in talks for security of a major gas pipeline coming from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif recently told the BBC Urdu service that Pakistan would talk to Afghan Taliban for security of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the ground for which was broken in Turkmenistan by leaders of the four countries on Sunday.
Asif, who is also Minister for Water and Power, had said TAPI project was extremely important to overcome energy crisis and Pakistan would use influence on Taliban if needed for the protection of this project so that security concerns could be redressed.
A statement from the Afghan president’s office said Asif’s remarks were irresponsible and against Pakistan’s promise of non-interference in Afghanistan’s affairs. The statement said the TAPI project had a significant regional economic importance.
It said Afghanistan defence and security forces in light of the constitutional provisions and other laws of the land were responsible to defend the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of the people. The statement said the Afghan forces had the ability to protect public welfare projects, particularly the TAPI gas pipeline.
The Afghan government has prepared a special security force for maintaining security of the gas pipeline that would cover about 700 kilometres in Afghanistan. The statement said people of provinces where the pipeline would pass would protect the pipe from being threatened by terrorist groups.
The statement said the Pakistan’s defence minister’s remarks showed some Pakistani officials were still hell bent on interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and proved the claims of Afghan people in this regard.
The statement said the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan once again urged the Pakistani leaders to act on pledges against terrorism and avoid issuing such irresponsible statements in future.
This comes hours after leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the key project that could help ease energy deficits in South Asia.
Presidents Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan and Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari attended the ceremony outside the city of Mary in the Karakum Desert, marking the beginning of work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) link.
Speaking on the occasion, Berdymukhamedov “today we were participants and witnesses of a historic event. Today marks the start of a project of great scale — the TAPI pipeline.”
He said TAPI was designed to become a new effective step towards the formation of the modern architecture of global energy security, a powerful driver of economic and social stability in the Asian region.
The next phase of development at Galkynysh — the second largest natural gas field in the world — will be overseen by a consortium of Japanese and Turkish companies in addition to Turkmenistan, Berdymukhamedov said. The 1,814-kilometre (1,127-mile) link will have a capacity of 33 billion cubic metres, Berdymukhamedov said at the ceremony.
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