Local officials in Greshk district of southern Helmand province on Sunday raised deep concerns over the increase in insecurity in the area which is a key area through which the expected Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) Gas Pipeline project will traverse.
According to economic experts, the strategic importance of TAPI will be huge once completed. They say the project can become a game changer in regional geo-political and economical cooperation.
Members of Helmand provincial council have meanwhile said that the volatile situation in the province could pose a major threat to the implementation of TAPI – a project which many in the region believe could leverage economic and commercial ties between the regional nations and boost regional integration.
Reacting to concerns by provincial authorities, the Afghan security institutions have reiterated their commitment to tackle threats around TAPI by mapping out comprehensive security measures.
“The situation in the district is critical as we await the implementation of the project. The government gets weaker in the area day to day, therefore a resolution must be found, otherwise I fear that TAPI cannot be implemented in Greshk,” head of Helmand’s provincial council Karim Atal said.
Amid speculation over security around the key economic project, Helmand police chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang has assured the nation that the security forces are committed to thwarting plots by those intending to sabotage TAPI.
“Government has made all the necessary arrangements to secure TAPI in Helmand, and a special unit of forces will be deployed to the area to secure the project,” he said.
However, officials from the four countries started their discussions on the project several years ago, but in the past few years, efforts were accelerated to get it going.
TAPI is designed to transport 33 billion cubic meters of gas annually to South Asia for a period of 30 years. Afghanistan will receive nearly $500 million USD annually in transit duties.
This comes after reports emerged on Saturday that the Taliban had captured several villages in Greshk.
Atal, the chairman of Helmand provincial council, said: “We witnessed the collapse of a village in Greshk two days ago. Unfortunately, Adam Khan village also fell to the Taliban last night.”
Sarjang, however, said on Saturday the Afghan forces had the upper hand in the fighting.