Ashgabat, 22 September 2018 (nCa) — The foreign office of Turkmenistan has issued a press release, expressing lack of comprehension on the statement of a Tajik diplomat on the future of TAT rail (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway line).
The ambassador of Tajikistan in Uzbekistan, Imomi Sodiq Ashurboyzoda, while speaking to the correspondent of the Russian daily Kommersant on 20 September 2018 in Tashkent, said, improvement of relations of Tajikistan with Uzbekistan had made Dushanbe ‘postpone until better times’ the idea of railroad from Turkmenistan to Tajikistan via northern Afghanistan.
The press release of the foreign office of Turkmenistan says that the comments of the Turkmen side on the statement in question have been officially conveyed to the foreign ministry of Tajikistan.
The statement of the Tajik envoy indeed raises some serious questions.
The TAT rail is meant to fill the connectivity gap between Afghanistan and the surrounding region, improve the efficiency of some important transport corridors and strengthen the economic viability of both Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
As such, any other existing railway connection cannot be considered a substitute of TAT rail.
The groundbreaking ceremony of the TAT rail took place on 5 June 2013 in the presence of the presidents of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan at the Atamurat town.
Since then, Turkmenistan has completed its segment right up to the border with Afghanistan at Imamnazar point. From there onward, Turkmenistan, from its own funds and resources, has also built the section in Afghanistan connecting with Aqina town.
This connection has enabled the start of the Lapis Lazuli corridor, facilitating the movement of cargo between Afghanistan, Central Asia, Caucasus, and Europe.
A storage facility and shipping terminal for LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is also located at Imamnazar. This is a useful and sensibly priced option for clean fuel for Afghanistan and it will be useful for Tajikistan when the TAT rail gets commissioned up to the Tajik border.
The rationale behind the TAT rail was to fill crucial gaps in connectivity and it had nothing to do with the state of relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Moreover, what is the definition of ‘better times’ in this case?