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Pak-Tadjikistan power pact - an event of historical importance.

WAPDA on behalf of Pakistan signed an agreement with the Central Asian State of Tadjikistan late on Friday night (17th April) which is "an event of great,historical importance for the three countries of the Central Asian and South Asian Regions.' The Memorandum of Understanding reached between Pakistan and Tadjikistan provides for sate of hydro-electric power to be available in 1996-97, as a result of completion of hydel station at Ragoon in Tadjikistan, to Pakistan upto 1000 MWs for the next 30.years. This agreement has opened new avenues for mutual cooperation not only between Pakistan and Tadjikistan but also other countries in the Central Asian Region which have recently attained independence as a result of breakup of the Soviet Union.

For Tadjikistan, this agreement, the first to be signed by a Republic abroad since its independence, is of immense value. The work on hydel station at Ragoor, which is nearly 40 percent complete, but presently at a standstill due to departure of Russian technicians, will now re-commence through financial assistance to be provided by Pakistan. The assistance worth US dollars 500 million will be 25 per cent in cash and 75 per cent in the form of goods manufactured in Pakistan to be exported in the next five years. The cash payment to Tadjikistan as well as the amounts due through the sale of goods would be adjusted against sale of power to Pakistan from 1997 onwards. Since the consumption of power in Tadjikistan (per capita) is very low, the only countries which could use the excess power generated in Tadjikistan are Pakistan and to some extent Afghanistan. As such, the only main outlet for its surplus power is Pakistan, in fact, not only for the present hydel station but also the cascade of hydel stations that can be built in Tadjikistan due to its advantageous geographical layout. it is hoped that this deal would be a forerunner.of many similar arrangements in the future between Pakistan and Tadjikistan. For Afghanistan, this agreement provides great economic benefits without investment of a single penny. Afghanistan can use between 100-200 MWs of power that may be needed in areas f rom where the line is passing on low cost basis. Further there will be employment benefits through the construction of 700 kilometers of Extra High Voltage transmission line passing through its territory.

For Pakistan, this agreement is invaluable as Pakistan is short of electricity. This agreement provides for supply of nearly 1000 MWs of electricity to Pakistan by the year 2000. Since power will be available round-the-clock, it will reduce pressure on WAPDA'S system during peak load hours and also in.the summer months when the levels of the reservoirs behind the hydel stations go low. The price agreed in the agreement is favourably comparable-with the cost of generation in WAPDA'S system anticipated in 1997, and as such it is not likely to bring any additional burden by way of increase in tariff to the power consumers. The construction of 750 MW long EHV line and the Substation costing over $300, million by Pakistanis will bring a big boost to Pakistan's Electrical Manufacturing and Construction Industry. Yet another advantage to Pakistan will be the export of Pakistani goods which will find a regular market for at least next five years.

The culmination of negotiations extending over nearly 100 hours into signing of this Memorandum of Understanding was nothing short of a tense drama. The preparations on the Pakistan side started in the middle of March 1992 when WAPDA was asked to prepare summary for the Federal Finance Minister regarding possibility of purchase of power from Tadjikistan. The Chairman WAPDA, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zahid Ali Akbar Khan and Member (Power) Mr. Javid Akhtar were asked to join Mr. Sartaj Aziz's delegation visiting the Central Asian Region. General Zahid Ali Akbar Khan, infact, had to sacrifice the historical moments of witnessing the winning of World Cup Final as President, Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan as he was directed to be in Moscow on March 25. The discussions in Doshanbe, Tadjikistan, led to signing of "Memorandum of Understanding" on March 27 which provides that Tadjikistan would sell to Pakistan electricity at a price to be agreed mutually, and other details were to be finalized during the visit of Tadjikistan delegation to Pakistan in April 1992.

Soon after the return of Mr. Sartaj Aziz's mission, a team of WAPDA's senior officers flew to Tadjikistan on April 06, to examine the technical possibilities of transmission of power f rom Ragoon Hydel Station upto the Tadjikistan border first, and then from Tadjikistan to Pakistan's border near Peshawar through Afghanistan. This mission returned home on April 13, 1992.

The importance of the project as well as the negotiations can be judged from the fact that on the same flight which brought back WAPDA'S team to Pakistan, a high level Tadjikistan delegation led by Minister for Finance & Economic Affairs, Mr. I.D. Daulato, consisting of Minister of Trade and Material Resources, Mr. K.K. Soliev, General Director, Tajik ENERGO, Mr. Sirejov and two other members came to Pakistan to finalize the "Power Purchase Agreement".

Soon after their meetings with the Federal Finance Minister, Minister for Trade, Minister of State for Water and Power and Minister for Communication,s, on April 14, the delegations key member Mr. Sirejov, who is counterpart of Chairman WAPDA, in Tadjikistan, flew to Lahore to start detailed negotiations with WAPDA. The discussions were spread on 15th and 16th April and Friday, the 17th April from eight in the morning to late evening daily. During these discussions many points were sorted out, many were argued, many objections were raised and waived, many technicalities solved but the crucial point of the price for the supply of power remained undecided due to the big difference in prices offered and accepted.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Federal Finance Minister, flew into Lahore on Friday morning and drove straight from the Airport to WAPDA House where the prolonged discussions and technical arguments were being put forward. Except for a break, when the.delegation called on the Prime Minister Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif at Governor's House and for Friday prayers, the discussions continued no-stop came the final drop scene of the drama.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz had to leave for Islamabad at 7 p.m. but till 6 p.m. the agreement on the purchase price had not reached. The gulf of difference was quite wide and both sides had stuck to their positions. WAPDA team led by Chairman WAPDA and ably. advised by Member (Power) Mr. Javid Akhtar wanted the lowest price compared to the cost of generation in Pakistan expected in 1997 so that the burden of payment for the purchase of power to the consumers in WAPDA system is as low as possible. The Tadjik delegation on the other hand was not prepared to reduce the price offered by them since power is likely to be their main export for the next 2-3 decades. At this point, it was almost agreed between the parties that the negotiations should be postponed to reconvene either at Doshanbe or in Islamabad at a future date, as no settlement was arrived.

But, as luck would have it, and with Allah's providence, the flight of Mr. Sartaj Aziz was delayed till 8.30 p.m. Mr. Sartaj Aziz then started another round of discussions with WAPDA officials to review the maximum price they are prepared to pay in a "closed session". Some frills were cut out, some expenditure reduced and a flexibility was found for the revised price that could be offered. At his point, Pakistan was prepared to pay 3.23 cents per KWH of supply of power upto Tadjikistan-Afghanistan border besides erecting the EHV line upto Peshawar. The Tajik delegation still insisted on the price of 4.20 cents per KWH at Tajik border. At this juncture, Mr. Sartaj Aziz had a long one-to-one discussion with his Tajik counterpart speaking fluently in Persian. This seems to have played the trick. Mr. Sartaj Aziz was to leave Wapda House for Airport at 8.05 p.m. At exactly 8 p.m. Mr. I.D. Daulato picked up the pen and wrote the figure "3.30 cents". Immediately, M. Sartaj Aziz got up and warmly embraced Mr. I.D. Daulato and jubilations started all around.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz then left for airport, and it took another two hours to finalize and type out the details of the agreement and make copies. Finally, at 10.30 p.m., the historical agreement was signed on behalf of the Government of Pakistan by Chairman WAPDA Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zahid Ali Akbar Khan and on behalf of Tadjikistan, Mr. Sirejov, General Director Tajik ENERGO. In the meanwhile PTV Cameramen and Photographers had reached Wapda House Conference Room to record this historical event.

The Tajik delegation was first booked on flight on Friday April 17, at 5.30 p.m., then changed to 9.30 p.m. But then finally left at 3.00 a.m. on Saturday for Karachi due to cancellation of PIA flights. This delay provided moments of further celebrations by the Tajik delegates Pakistani counterparts in Lahore.
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Title Annotation:Pakistan and Tadjikistan
Author:Shaikh, Raziuddin
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Previous Article:Karachi Electric Supply Corporation.
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