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.


Duterte foes cry foul as Philippine police push sedition charges

Updated 48 min 39 sec ago
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Duterte foes cry foul as Philippine police push sedition charges

  • Thirty-six opposition figures are accused of cyber libel and sedition
  • A series of online videos ahead of May’s mid-term elections alleged that Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade

MANILA: Opponents of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed shock and outrage on Friday at police moves to charge dozens of them with sedition, calling it persecution aimed at stamping out scrutiny of his increasingly powerful rule.
Thirty-six opposition figures are accused of cyber libel and sedition for orchestrating a series of online videos ahead of May’s mid-term elections. The videos feature a hooded man alleging that Duterte and his family members were involved in the illegal drugs trade, which they deny.
The man, who had said he was a witness, later surrendered and appeared with police on television to say his claims were false and that he was cajoled into making the videos by opposition members. They included the vice president, lawyers, Catholic priests, a former attorney general, and incumbent and former lawmakers, the man said.
The justice department is looking into the complaint, which is the latest move against Duterte’s detractors who say the aim is to create a power monopoly for a president who already enjoys a legislative super-majority and a public approval rating of about 80 percent.
Duterte insists he is open to challenges but has shown no qualms about threatening high-profile critics, several of whom he said last month he would jail if they tried to impeach him.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte had no involvement in the police sedition complaint.
“We have nothing to do with this case, not at all, absolutely nothing,” he told news channel ANC. “Let the judicial process do its work.”
Antonio Trillanes, a former senator and Duterte’s strongest critic, described the complaint as “political persecution and harassment” intended to stifle democratic dissent.
A spokesman for Vice President Leni Robredo, who was not Duterte’s running mate and was elected separately, called the complaint “completely baseless.” Her party ally Senator Francis Pangilinan said it was part of a series of moves toward removing her from office.
Leila de Lima, an anti-Duterte senator detained on drugs charges, said it was “hogwash, pure hogwash,” and Samira Gutoc, a candidate in recent Senate elections, urged the police not to become partisan.
“I really am baffled,” Gutoc said of being accused of involvement.