Press-ECO - Pipeline
IRNA - 6/26 - The pipeline projects through Afghanistan to the sea outlet in
Pakistan have still not got off the ground largely because of the
continued Afghan conflict. It appears that with regard to the proposed
gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, two options are under
consideration: a pipeline either through Afghanistan or one through
Iran/Afghanistan. With regard to the proposed gas pipeline from Iran
via Pakistan which would supply gas to India also, Pakistan's
readiness to provide guarantees in accordance with the international
practices is still held up because of Indian reservations on political
and security grounds.
The Central Asian states have not yet shaken off the old Russian
pattern of economic direction and international trade. Six of the ten
ECO states are land-locked. As air transport is expensive and direct
maritime outlet is not available for the six of them, road and rail
links, within and outside the region, assume added urgency.
Except for Turkmenistan, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan
impedes easy communication with the remaining four Central Asian
states. The export of electricity by Tajikistan to Pakistan is held up
for the same reason.
Russia is understandably opposed to any change in the system of
pipelines and transit routes imposed on Central Asian during the
Soviet rule, because it is bent on retaining the area as its immediate
sphere of influence and because of the significant royalties in
foreign exchange that it earns under the existing dispensation.
Russian influence has therefore been used directly or indirectly
to block any significant ECO initiatives for regional cooperation.
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