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TAPI on the verge of takeoff

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Regional economic integration and rolling out public-friendly policies in South Asia is need of the day. The problem is that regional economic integration in this region is trapped in perpetual conflicts. Resultantly, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistani-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project worth US $10 billion couldn’t be started in time. However, the long delayed TAPI is going to be launched soon as its groundbreaking ceremony will be held on December 13 in Turkmenistan. Afghanistan is the potential energy transit corridor in Asia. However, its development is seriously fettered by terrorism and insecurity, which unfortunately stems from regional fountains. Therefore, Afghanistan has had enormous challenges in trade and transit owing to internal and as well as regional disturbances. Those who have always fanned war and terror in this country also has cut its own foot, but who will make them understand when they are hell-bent on destroying this country, with which they share a common language, history, religion, culture and even heroes. If Afghan heroes are taken out of their history, there history will be incomplete. Yet despite too many commonalities, they don’t let Afghanistan to stand on its own foot. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean the bilateral relations must remain tensed till eternity. Diplomacy is the name of making the impossible possible and turning feud into brotherhood. The region needs brotherhood and harmony as populations are growing in all the countries of the region and millions of youths are getting educated, and the respective governments need to accommodate them in the job markets. Joblessness is an economic evil. If foreign policies are devised with military mindset behind them, then we cannot hope for any better change. The regional rivalries have created many troubles for Afghanistan on domestic level. This is why this violence-weary country couldn’t exploit it rich resources of gas, oil, iron, copper, coal, lithium and chrome. This is because of regional tensions that despite having a bilateral trade agreement between Kabul and Islamabad, Afghan goods don’t reach to Indian markets via Wahgah border (Pakistan’s border with India). In return Afghanistan has allowed Pakistan to get access to Central Asian Republics. But the agreement doesn’t provide India a trade corridor to Afghanistan via Pakistan. Now that TAPI could be translated into a viable project, there is much need for rethinking the trade agreements in the region and increasing regional trade. When it comes to Central Asian Republics, almost all of them, have somehow identical policies as they are looking forward to see political stability restored in Afghanistan and be a trade hub and corridor. Afghan drug trade and militants have been a constant thorn for stability in the Central Asian Republics. Until there is peace in Afghanistan, peace in Central Asia will remain a mirage. Though, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have no direct border with Afghanistan, yet they have reservations over increase in terrorism in Afghanistan. Luckily they are neither part of the problems nor breeding center for terrorism. They are not exporters of extremism to Afghanistan. What they need is to stand firmly by the side of Afghanistan and tell the world to mount pressure on Pakistan to end its support to religious extremism. Let’s wish there is a change of heart in Pakistan and this billions dollars project is translated into reality. This project will carry 30,000m cubic feet of gas from the Daulatabad field in Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and Pakistan, into India, which will reduce New Dehli extreme reliance on supplies from the Middle East. It is also cost-effective. This and similar other projects need to be kept aloof of political differences as we need to move forward despite having differences. The day we learn how to move forward, our differences will give way.