Tajikistan and Pakistan are important partners

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Tajikistan and Pakistan are important partners

Category : News

Interview with H.E. Mr. Jononov S. Sherali Ambassador of Tajikistan to Pakistan

Raja Aamir Mahmood Bhatti

Q: What is the current status of relationship between the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Republic of Tajikistan?

A: Peoples of Tajikistan and Pakistan have the historic bonds of friendship, amity and spirituality ties. The two nations are close neighbors with common stakes and interests in the promotion of regional stability peace and development. Tajikistan and Pakistan are the particularly important partners. The relations between our two countries are strong and historical.

During history of our relations two countries opened new chapters in their bilateral relations to further strengthen the overall good relations and mutual cooperation, as well as to enhance regional cooperation and world peace.

Pakistan and Tajikistan have already signed about 20 agreements for cooperation in energy, communications, investments and industry, air transport, banking and financial, agricultural and food industry, transport and constructions of roads, science and technology.

Tajikistan shared the desire of Pakistan for lasting peace in the region and would work closely with the regional countries to achieve this goal. We need to increase in bilateral trade and economic relations. The two countries have a rich potential to increase them manifolds.

Tajikistan and Pakistan are needed to work harder on the removal of impediments and invest more on building air, road and rail links, besides easing the problems faced by the businessmen of the two countries.

The centuries old historical and cultural links between the people of Pakistan and Tajikistan provided a strong basis for further enhancing their economic relations, tourism and people-to-people contacts.

Q: Tajikistan is very important country for energy resources and for producing electricity. Is there any plan that Tajikistan can export electricity to Pakistan as it is facing very serious energy problems?

A: Tajikistan takes first place in Central Asia for hydro energy resources. Its 948 rivers have a total length of 28,500 km. Half of Central Asias ice-covered land belongs to Tajikistan, which has more than 8,000 glaciers, including the biggest glacier Fedchenko with a length of 77 km and ice thickness more than 800m, with total area of 8,500 km2.

Tajikistan is located in the pool of the two main rivers of the region, the Amu-Darya and the Sir-Darya which together provide Tajikistan with almost 60% of the entire regions water resources. These water resources constitute almost 4% of the worlds total hydropower potential meaning Tajikistan has the worlds 8th highest potential in hydropower resources.

Based on resources per capita; the potential generation of 87.8 thousand kWh per person per year places Tajikistan 2nd in the world while based on the area of the country-Tajikistans potential of 62 million kWh per year for each km2 places Tajikistans hydropower resources at the highest in the world.

Only between 4% and 5% of Tajikistans immense hydropower resources are currently being utilized, and thus there is extensive opportunity for the future development of this vast and relatively untapped source of energy.

Tajikistans hydropower potential far exceeds its own domestic requirements which, combined with its geographical location means the country is well placed to be a major exporter of electricity throughout the surrounding region.

Tajikistan currently has a total installed generation capacity of 5,244 MW including 5,211 MW of hydro-power.

With The growing economy and prosperity always demand to find new sources of environmentally clean energy and/or renewable energy. My government is working very hard to find the reasonable and affordable solutions to satisfy these growing demands.

Its our main goal and priority, not also to become energy independent, but also to be able to export clean and cheap power to rebuilt Afghanistan, developing Pakistan and Iran. Moreover, we desire to contribute with renewable and clean energy to the progress.

Pakistan is facing the same challenges and many countries of the region. The electricity sector of Pakistan is facing acute shortages in supply which have led to power outages on a large scale. The wide fluctuation of international oil prices, higher cost due to gradual phasing out of subsidies, and the circular debt problem have also exacerbated the situation of power supply in the country.

The new Government of Pakistan is taking diverse measures to circumvent the problem of capacity shortage. These include expansion and refurbishment of existing plants, induction of new power plants mainly in the private sector, encouragement of renewable energy.

Under current circumstances, gaining energy independence and releasing the country from communication isolation is a vital necessity for Tajikistan.

64 km3 of water stock out of an aggregate volume of 115 km3 of the Aral Sea basin generates in Tajikistan. Total hydropower potential of the country is estimated at 527 billion kWthours of electricity per year. The capacity of Tajikistan hydropower sector could solve many of the regions energy problems, but Tajikistan currently uses only around 5% of its potential.

By implementing hydro energy projects in my country, we would be able to supply internal market, regional market and Pakistans economy with cheap and clean energy. One of the attractive projects in this sphere is CASA 1000 project.

Q: What is the importance of CASA 1000 project?

A: According to the studies held by the World Bank in 2004 hydro energy development in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan gives opportunity to ensure power export from the two countries to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Therefore, my government is working closely with regional partners (Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan) to implement this project further. The underlying driver for this project is that both Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic have surplus energy from their hydro plants that could be used to offset severe shortages in Pakistan.

Afghanistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, and Tajikistan have been pursuing the development of electricity trading arrangements and the establishment of a Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market (CASAREM). The initial plan was to export power in the range of 1,000 to 1,300 MW from the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The major share of the export, 1000 MW will be used by Pakistan, and approximately 300 MW will be imported by Afghanistan. Pakistan has also expressed interest in increasing imports over the medium to long term beyond the initial power requirements of 1,000 MW.

The first phase of establishing the CASAREM is to develop the necessary transmission and trading infrastructure and systems to enable a trade capacity of 1,000 to 1,300 MW of electricity between Central Asia and South Asia otherwise known as the CASA-1000 Project. The major share of power will be used by Pakistan, while a relatively smaller quantity of power (up to 300 MW) will be imported by Afghanistan.

The HVAC transmission line route commences at the Datka substation in Kyrgyzstan and terminates at Khujand substation in Tajikistan. The HVDC converter stations are located at Sangtuda-1 (1,300 MW), Kabul (300 MW) and Peshawar (1,300 MW).

By implementing initial hydropower projects in the water rich countries of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the region will be able to have surplus of clean generated energy. This surplus of clean and cheap energy could fulfill the growing demand of your economy. CASA 1000 is the project, which links the energy potential of the Central Asia namely Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the economic potential of South Asia, namely Pakistan.

CASA-1000 benefits all four countries:

  • Ensures a steady source of revenue from  surplus hydropower exports  for Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic, the weakest economies in Central Asia
  • Uses excess summer electricity that is currently being spilled
  • Alleviates electricity shortages in Pakistan during  the peak summer season
  • Replaces fuel-based power generation in Afghanistan and Pakistan with clean hydropower
  • Establishes Afghanistan as a viable transit country, enhancing growth prospects
  • Requires no new power generation investments

Q: Tajikistan is also in process to build up the Rogun Dam that is one of the tallestdams in the world and in the same way your country is also constructing long tunnel for the said project please explain how this project can improve your economy and development?

A: As I mentioned previously, the capacity of Tajikistan hydropower sector could solve many of the regions energy problems, but Tajikistan currently uses only around 5% of its potential. Rogun HPP, in particular, could generate 3600 MW of energy, much of which would go to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Construction of HPP of Rogun was planned yet during the 1970s of the last century which had two goals:

1) To provide cheap and ecologically clean electricity for Tajikistan and the region,

2) To provide new arable lands with water in downstream countries.  During the Soviet rule approximately 50% of this hydropower plant and the heaviest parts of it- tunnels, turbine hall in the deep of the mountain were completed and even a temporary dam was established.

If we did not have the Civil War, in the beginning of 90s we would have by now two operating turbines and cheap electricity would be delivered not only to the region but also to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Generally, as of today more than 1 billion USD were spent for the construction of Rogun.

Most importantly, in response to the Governments request more than 3 years ago, the World Bank started the process for conducting Techno-Economic Feasibility Assessment and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of Rogun Hydropower Project. This decision is crucial for achieving the countrys energy security, sustainable development and will enhance the regional cooperation. We are waiting to receive the results of these assessments this fall.

It necessary to note one vital issue of Tajikistan: we cant ignore the fact that people of Tajikistan has been suffering due to shortages of electricity during the winter times. The situation in Tajikistan should be clearly understood, where people are suffering during cold seasons because of shortage of electricity and the only way to solve this issue is to construct hydropower plants and generate electricity. Tajikistan as mountainous country, regardless of being the main source of water in the Central Asia is using only 5-6% of its potential.

Q: Some neighboring countries are criticizing that due to construction of Rogun the other countries will be in big trouble of water shortage? Is this true or such countries are just doing their propaganda?

A: Declaring that implementation of hydro energy projects will negatively affect neighboring countries, is totally groundless. Because all our hydropower plants are being constructed on our domestic rivers, they will never cause any water shortages or worsen the ecological situation in the region.

Even during the Soviet Union, while planning the construction of big hydropower plants on upper stream countries two main goals were taken into account: firstly, generating cheap electricity for the whole region and, secondly, provision of new arable lands of the downstream countries with water. Because upstream countries mostly are mountainous and do not possess land for reclamation.

That is to say, without new reservoirs which will be constructed in the upstream countries the provision of water to existing fields and irrigation of fallow lands will be impossible. This point was also undoubtedly confirmed by independent experts and famous European scholars. On the other hand, it is obvious that hydropower plants unlike arable lands of downstream countries, which uses and consumes 80%-90% of water, do not permanently keep the water. In order to generate the energy you must release the water through turbines.

Tajikistan as it implements its hydropower projects has transparent policies and respects the interests of its neighbors. Tajikistan has never ignored any concerns and reservations of its neighbors with regard to this issue and current close cooperation with World Bank and other institutions proves it.

By the way, such a big hydropower projects are implemented in other countries and they bring profit not loss to the neighboring countries. My President, my Minister of foreign affairs number of times clearly and firmly reiterated that Tajikistan will never leave its neighbors without water. We are ready to discuss any existing issues both by open negotiations and discussions on professional levels in order to solve them.

The benefits from hydropower development are following: