TAPI: Impact on Security and Development of the Region

TAPI: Impact on Security and Development of the Region

Heinrich Böll Stiftung - Afghanistan
Place of Publication: Kabul
Date of Publication: August, 2015
Number of Pages: 64
License: CC-BY-NC-ND

By: Javed Noorani

The study focuses on the impact on security and development by the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India gas pipeline (TAPI), which is one of the most ambitious and long debated infrastructure projects in Afghanistan and has been influenced by global energy giants, geopolitics and regional players. The project has faced so much contest and competition from regional actors and this may continue during the construction and operation of the project. The incentive for the implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline has gained momentum as a result of the growing energy needs among regional countries. Afghanistan, Pakistan and India all need a steady and sustainable supply of energy for their economic growth and development. These countries all depend on external supplies of energy.

The current route of the TAPI gas pipeline takes it through one of the most volatile regions in the world. However, there are challenges from multiple actors at several layers starting with global energy giants, regional players and the immediate region. There are also internal challenges in each of the participating countries. However, the pipeline potentially brings with it the opportunity to promote integration in the region and foster harmony among the participating countries.

The study provides brief profiles of each of the provinces that may be affected by the project in Afghanistan, as well as the Baluchistan and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. Development in the majority of the provinces in this case is abysmal, with conflict identified in the past as the sole factor for stymieing that development. Instability in some of these provinces has had historical narratives. The economic potential of each province is highlighted to provide information for policy- makers to make longer-term plans for economic integration of those parts through better infrastructure and investment. The security situation of each province is outlined and highlights the potential threats from internal sources to TAPI.

Punjab’s existing industrial capacities are referred to since they may have a major influence on the gas distribution policy of the Pakistani state.

The implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline will bring numerous opportunities. The pipeline has potential economic, developmental and security benefits. It may bring opportunities for employment, construction, electricity, industrialization and infrastructure. The project could enhance integration in the region in many ways, thus liberating a lot of precious resources for its development and turning South Asia into a major trade hub. There is an urgent need for bilateral discussion between India and Pakistan to pave the way for the implementation of the project.

Though the chicken and egg debate over the development-security nexus is never-ending and may be used for the sake of argument, in the light of the current violent conflict situation in Afghanistan, security of the TAPI pipeline is one of the most essential requirements to enable its construction and maintenance. Security would further help facilitate development plans and projects for the citizens.  This may bring positive changes to the security situation in urban centers as well. Bilateral or multilateral engagements, which are needed for the project, may encourage a more flexible approach and less belligerent attitude between the participating countries and thus lead to more space for interaction and cooperation. It may facilitate relationships based on mutuality and reciprocity among India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, countries that have long been locked in uneasy relationships.

However development infrastructure intended for large scale use may also have certain negative impacts as well. TAPI may require land, which may force the relocation/displacement of people. TAPI may also fragment some communities and make access to land and water difficult for the local people. There may also be some negative environmental impact such as deforestation, the threat to bio-diversity, the diversion of water flow and the displacement of endangered species of birds and animals.

At the same time, there is the danger of physical threats to the pipeline from parties who may target it at the behest of external actors or actors who are driven by their ideology.

The forces favoring the project are stronger than those actors opposing. The India-Pakistan conflict over water and territory has long had a major impact on the geopolitics of the region and it has stymied the development of certain strategic regions.[1] Pakistan’s concerns about Kabul and its quest to seek a docile government there are also factors that may pose an obstacle to the implementation of TAPI. However, Pakistan urgently needs energy and therefore the incentive to cooperate with other countries such as India and Afghanistan to construct the TAPI pipeline is stronger. There is a pressing need for cooperation among the participating countries to jointly work for its security and finances. TAPI brings to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan what is increasingly becoming a strategic need. Raising the estimated US$10 billion funds to finance the TAPI pipeline is made more difficult by the high risks involved in implementing it in this region and the consideration given by bankers to security and the recoverability of debt when making their decisions.
 

Table of contents: 

Acronyms……………………………………………………………………………………iii

Executive summary……………………………………………………………….......vii

Methodology………………………………………………………………………………..ix

Recommendations…………………………………………………………..……..…..x

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………….…...1

TAPI……………………………………………………………………………………….....…4

Energy and its importance for Afghanistan and Pakistan……………...5

Afghanistan’s energy needs……………………………………………………...…..5

Pakistan’s energy needs…………………………………………………………….....6

Brief profile of provinces……………………………………………………….…....11

Herat province of Afghanistan……………………………………………………...12

Farah province of Afghanistan……………………………………………………...14

Helmand province of Afghanistan……………………………………………….…16

Kandahar province of Afghanistan……………………………………..……….…18

TAPI’s onward journey into Pakistan………………………………………...…..21

Baluchistan…………………………………………………………………………..…..…..21

Punjab ……………………………………………………………………….....................24

Opportunities with TAPI…………………………………………………………….......27

Stability…………………………………………………………………………...……….......33

TAPI’s integrating role………………………………………………………………...…36

Potential threats associated with TAPI…………………………………………..39

Evaluation……………………………………………………………………………....…....45

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………….....…..…48

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