In a surprise announcement, Afghan Taliban today said it will protect key infrastructure projects in the war-torn nation including the USD 10 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. The Taliban, which is blamed for targeting aid workers and damaging millions of dollars worth infrastructure in the country, in a statement pledged to protect Afghan government's major projects such as highways, railways and others. "The Islamic Emirate not only backs all national projects which are in the interest of the people and result in the development and prosperity of the nation but are also committed to safeguarding them," the group said. "The Islamic Emirate directs all its mujahideen to help in the security of all national projects that are in the higher interest of Islam and the country," the statement said, referring to the group's fighters. The statement promises to protect USD 10 billion TAPI gas pipeline project and a multi-billion dollar copper mine known as Mes Aynak, south of Kabul, being developed by China. The ambitious TAPI pipeline project launched last December will provide energy-hungry India gas to run its power plants. The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) gas for a 30-year period. India and Pakistan would get 38 mmscmd each, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan. TAPI will carry gas from Turkmenistan's Galkynysh field, better known by its previous name South Yoiotan Osman that holds gas reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet. From the field, the pipeline will run to Herat and Kandahar province in Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.
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