Baku, Azerbaijan, June 9
By Elena Kosolapova – Trend:
India and Pakistan’s joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will speed up realization of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, Malik Ayub Sumbal, Pakistani political analyst and international relations expert, believes.
“I think joint SCO membership [of India and Pakistan] will not only help speed up TAPI, but all other projects which have been halted for decades due to the hostility between India and Pakistan,” Sumbal told Trend on June 9.
India and Pakistan became full members of SCO at the organization’s summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, on June 9.
Sumbal believes that the SCO membership will strengthen the relations between India and Pakistan and will help both countries convert their hostile behavior to smooth and friendly ties.
“I am sure that this is a new economic beginning between Pakistan and India,” he said.
Sumbal noted that the SCO enlargement is a major development and it is all done with the strong cooperation of Russia and China.
“The addition of the two members in SCO will make it more vibrant, influential and interactive,” the expert said.
He stressed that security issues are a major part of cooperation in the SCO, besides economy, and noted that Pakistan and India have a lot of potential and good skills in this sphere, which they can contribute to the SCO.
Now SCO’s members are China, India, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia are the SCO observer countries, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.
TAPI will make it possible to deliver gas from Turkmenistan, which ranks fourth in the world for its gas reserves, to large and promising markets of South and Southeast Asia. The pipeline will run from Galkynysh – the largest gas field in Turkmenistan – through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar, and finally reach the Fazilka settlement located near the India-Pakistan border.
Annual capacity of the gas pipeline will reach 33 billion cubic meters. Total length of the TAPI pipeline will be 1,814 kilometers. The project's preliminary cost is estimated at $10 billion.