KABUL Nov 29 The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday
offered to protect major government projects, such as the mining
of a big copper deposit and an international natural gas
pipeline project, to allow them to get off the ground after
years of delay.
The Taliban have been behind much of the violence over the
last 15 years that has frightened off investors, leaving
Afghanistan unable to tap natural resources and build the
infrastructure necessary to wean itself off foreign aid.
The militants, who calls themselves the Islamic Emirate of
Afghanistan, maintain their fight is against foreign forces and
the foreign-backed government, not ordinary Afghans.
"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 Taliban said in a statement.
"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," they said, referring to
The militants identified the $3 billion Mes Aynak copper
deposit in Logar province, near Kabul, as one project they
A Chinese company was awarded the mining contract nine years
ago but has yet to start production because of poor security and
a lack of transport infrastructure.
The Taliban also mentioned the $10-billion Turkmenistan,
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project
and a regional electricity generation project linking Central
Asia and South Asia, known as CASA-1000.
The statement came a day after the official launch of a
railway link with neighbouring Turkmenistan.
A spokesman at the presidential palace declined to comment
on the militants' offer.
The vulnerability of Afghanistan's infrastructure was
underlined this year when power lines supplying the capital,
Kabul, were cut, causing weeks of blackouts. The Taliban denied
(Reporting by Randy Fabi and Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Robert