TAPI gas pipeline to be inaugurated on Feb. 25

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project will be inaugurated on Feb. 25. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 20 February 2018
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TAPI gas pipeline to be inaugurated on Feb. 25

KABUL: The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project will be inaugurated on Feb. 25 in Herat, said a spokesman for the governor of the western Afghan city.
“High-level guests of the TAPI member countries” will attend the ceremony, Jailani Farhad added.
Herat lawmaker Ahmad Farhad Majidi said the multibillion-dollar project will create at least 25,000 direct jobs and be a source of income for the Afghan government.
“This is a megaproject on the regional level. I don’t see any hindrance to its implementation,” he told Arab News.
“We’ll have annual revenue of $450 million from this. There will be jobs for people. They’ll have access to gas.”
Afghans view the project as a game-changer that will boost the economy and transform the country into a major trade and energy corridor after four decades of conflict.
The major section of the pipeline runs through southwest Afghanistan, the main bastion for the Taliban, whose spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group is in favor of the project and will protect it. TAPI “is an important project,” he told Arab News.
Anwarullhaq Ahady, who held various Cabinet positions in the previous government, told Arab News: “In the absence of peace with the Taliban, it would be rather easy to disrupt the construction of the TAPI pipeline in Afghanistan.”
But “if a settlement is reached with the Taliban, TAPI is likely to substantially increase interdependence among nations in this region, which in turn will strengthen peace,” he added.
The 1,078-mile pipeline will transport 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
It will provide Afghanistan with 0.5–1.5 bcm per year over the next 30 years, while India and Pakistan will each receive 14–16 bcm per annum.
Tribal chiefs and communities living along the pipeline route have expressed an “earnest willingness to protect it and not allow anyone to sabotage,” said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Shah Hussien Mutazawi.


Swiss canton becomes second to ban burqas in public

Updated 4 min 56 sec ago
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Swiss canton becomes second to ban burqas in public

  • Full-face coverings such as niqabs and burqas are a polarizing issue across Europe
  • The clothing has already been banned in France and Denmark

ZURICH: Voters in St. Gallen on Sunday approved by a two-thirds majority a ban on facial coverings such as the burqa, becoming the second Swiss canton to do so.
Full-face coverings such as niqabs and burqas are a polarizing issue across Europe, with some arguing that they symbolize discrimination against women and should be outlawed. The clothing has already been banned in France and Denmark.
Under the Swiss system of direct democracy, voters in the northeastern canton demanded tightening the law to punish those who cover their faces in public and thus “threaten or endanger public security or religious or social peace.”
The regional government, which had opposed the measure, now has to implement the result of the vote, which drew turnout of around 36 percent.
Switzerland’s largest Islamic organization, the Islamic Central Council, recommended women continue to cover their faces. It said it would closely monitor the implementation of the ban and consider legal action if necessary.
The Swiss federal government in June opposed a grassroots campaign for a nationwide ban on facial coverings.
The Swiss cabinet said individual cantons should decide on the matter, but it will nevertheless go to a nationwide vote after activists last year collected more than the required 100,000 signatures to trigger a referendum.
Two-thirds of Switzerland’s 8.5 million residents identify as Christians. But its Muslim population has risen to 5 percent, largely because of immigrants from former Yugoslavia.
One Swiss canton, Italian-speaking Ticino, already has a similar ban, while two others have rejected it.