China mulling trade route with Iran as Pak leadership bickers

  • Iranian president says there’s only 36km difference between Gwadar and Chabahar Port; Iran would provide safer route to Chinese shipments
  • Ahsan Iqbal says Chinese investors might opt for other countries if Pakistan fails to resolve domestic issues


While political parties and provincial governments continue to squabble for a bigger pie of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China is seriously mulling a new trade route linking Xinjiang province with Iran’s Chabahar Port bypassing Pakistan, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.

During the recent landmark visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Tehran, the two countries agreed to enhance cooperation including in fossil and renewable energy, transportation, railways, ports, industry, commerce and services.

China, along with the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, was among the countries that reached the agreement with Iran in July to curtail its nuclear activities in exchange for ending international sanctions.

Media reports said China has committed an immediate injection of $51 billion into Iran, vowing to enhance bilateral trade to the tone of $600 billion in the next 10 years. This would almost match China’s immediate investment in Pakistan under the ambitious CPEC project.

A well-placed source in the federal government told Pakistan Today that intelligence reports submitted to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have warned him about the offer made by Iran.

“During the meeting with President Xi Jinping, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asked his Chinese counterpart to adopt Chabahar Port rather than Gwadar which would be linked to a secure, beneficial trade route including a pipeline linking Iran and China,” the source said.

“The Iranian president said that there was a difference of only 36 kilometres between Gwadar and Chabahar but Iran would provide a route to Chinese shipments that was safer than Pakistan,” the source added.

The source said that the Iranian leadership gave President Xi Jinping a detailed briefing on its offer, detailing various possible routes from China to Chabahar.

“Moreover, Iran offered provide complete national unity and harmony unlike Pakistan where trade route is unsafe and it also lacks national unity,” the source quoted the intelligence reports.

The source said that national harmony and unity are two words very near and dear to the heart of the Chinese government and it is already concerned about the prospects of the CPEC due to instability and the scourge of terrorism that poses a major threat to the economic corridor.

It is pertinent to mention here that political bickering is increasing among the four provinces of Pakistan. Politicians are all trying to get major chunk out of the CPEC funding. Observers and analysts blame mishandling by the federal government for widespread concern over what they call an uneven distribution of resources among the four provinces.

According to the plan, not only has the Punjab government won the trade route, a major chunk of development and energy projects are being established in central Punjab, which have triggered a debate over the route.

“The Chinese government is largely concerned over the handling of the CPEC. They are unhappy over the fact that the federal and Punjab governments are only interested in energy projects, which the Sharif family wants to be completed before time. But no focus is being laid over the route construction and evolving harmony and unity over the trade route,” the source said.

The source added that China had already completed its part of the trade corridor but Pakistani government was way behind vis-à-vis completion of trade route on its side of the border.

The source said even the military leadership was also unhappy with the handling of the CPEC by the federal government.

“Everything in CPEC is being handled by the close relatives of the prime minister. Even federal ministers are kept out of the loop,” the source said, adding that it was a major reason that while the chief ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh were asking for more shares, none of the federal ministers known for their strong loyalty to Sharifs come forward to defend the CPEC.

When contacted, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that Iran had already shared its plans for establishing its own corridor with China.

“Yes, they are working on it. In his recent visit to Islamabad, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had also informed Pakistan about his government’s plans to develop a trade corridor linking Iran and China,” he added.

Iqbal said it was a world of competition and every country has the right to vie for its own advantages.

Asked whether the government feels threatened by the growing interest of China in the Iranian corridor, Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan does not feel threatened by Chabahar Port.

“Look, Gwadar provides the best solution to trade ambitions of China. But we have to resolve our problems very fast. Our politicians need to understand that if we keep fighting on shares, entire Pakistan can lose the benefits of CPEC,” he added.

Asked whether there were any chances that China might scrap CPEC for Chabahar, Ahsan Iqbal said China was a time-tested friend and it would never leave Pakistan in the lurch.

“The Chinese government would never leave Pakistan. But if we don’t resolve our differences, Chinese investors might opt for other countries rather than investing in Pakistan,” he added.

Tong Liang, a Chinese journalist based in Islamabad and covering the CPEC, was also of the opinion that there is no alternative to CPEC for Chinese government.

‎”Without any claim of authority as representing a Chinese official, I believe that no alternative of CPEC can be found. CPEC is not a transit corridor that can be replaced by any route that reaches the sea, it is an economic corridor that aims at boosting Pakistan’s development as a modern and industrialised country,” Tong said.


  1. What gibberish? Where does Iran can link to China? Through Afghanistan! and that would be safe and easy to build…. Utter non-sense.

    • Spot on. .this is the crook mentality of these ruling class to get the ongoing project in their financial favour. .and create panic amongst population by spreading fake rumours so they don’t get resistance to their devilish agenda, keeping small provinces out of this project is hight of cruelty n injustice. For china iran option, that’s out of question considering distance( not consideting afghanistan coz of security,) even if they take longer route by involving other countries apart from Afghanistan, getting all countries onboard, feasibilities, plannings, routes, other prerequisites requires time, where as in pakistan it has already started with the functioning port and chinese already here

  2. Ok I got then where these shipments come through Afghanistan?? Is that safe or china to Tajikistan then Uzbekistan after that Turkmenistan and last to Iran….is that not same in kilometers as China trading through sea.

  3. The route will still go through Pakistan but it will just be a passage. We will lose too much…. Allah rehem kr hum logon pe

    • Do you think that pakistan will allow passage in such a case ?? 🙂 That China scrapping gwadar in favour of Chahbahar. Chinese journalist pointed out in 100% right. there is no CPEC alternative available for chinese. unless they make it through indian territory. which is impossible due to geopolitical diffrences between the two.

  4. This is an attempt to encourage disputes so the project doesn't proceed forward. Other countries are feeling threatened by this project and are trying their best to cause chaos in Pakistan and push their own agendas forward. But the disputes will be resolved and the project will go forward until completion. Wishing good luck to all the haters and help them find a better excuse to stopping this project.

    • No country can promote their agenda unless you have traitors with in who will sell our national interest for dollars with the greatest of pleasure. Sadly Pakistan is full of such people, both with and without beards, the Zirdari virus is very potant.

  5. one belt one road is not limited to Pakistan it will cover Asia,middle east, Europe, Myanmar and India also. chine is strengthening its relation with Iran because Iran the key Player in Pacific and Arab politics.chine will not have any alternative to CEPEC, main purpose of cepec is to develop south china so that religious extremism can be denounce and without abolishing extremism from its neighbor countries china can not be fruited .

  6. Someone open map for this author – urgently. This poor fellow lost the power to analyzing map and distance correctly.

    The most safest and successful option is Pakistan, plus China Pakistan are brothers.

    • P.S., I suggest buying jet-pack to cross over Pakistan and Afghanistan. I already made my purchase online!

  7. All above comments don't address the real issues, we have bunch of corrupt people running the country who are only interested in how much they can line their pockets with! We have Sardars from Balouchistan who think the province is part of their personal estate and not part of Pakistan! And then off course there is very small matter of terrorism & fundamentalism TTP, ISIS, DAESH have their headquarters right in the centre of Capital city the Lal Masjid where all attacks in Pakistan are being planned, and no one feels the need or has the courage to shut this facility down!!! Simply because the funder and backer of these Wahabi Scums Saudi Arabia is filling the bank accounts of Sharifs with useless dollars!!!!

  8. Nawaz Shareef will be directly responsible for making CPEC controversial. He considers only Punjab as Pakistan.

  9. This entire controversy on CPEC may be the plan of RAW to hurt Pakistani interests and progress. China is the closest friend of Pakistan and they have agreed to invest USD 41 billion to help Pakistan grow healthily and create jobs for youth. Already Pakistan has created a force of 20,000 soldiers to take care of the security challenges to the CPEC. Hence , money is already flowing in to Pakistan from China and Iranian Chhabahar will be nowhere in comparision to Gwadar. Even Dubai port will suffer huge business loss as Gwadar is more nearer and convenient when compared to Dubai for transit trade. India is the only obstruction here and let them use Dubai . China and the rest of world will use Gwadar.

    • Why India should use Dubai Port ??? India has invested and Investing in Chahabahar Port….Anyways Gwadar belongs to Balochistan province.

    • Why India should use Dubai port ???? Are you gone crazy ??? don't you know that chahabar port is in India and its a Joint project of India and Iran ??? Gwadar is coming under Balochistan…. if you read history Balochistan is a independent province. It is not belongs to Pakistan. I think Pak should give Balochistan full right Balochis…..people of Balooch are sufferings. ….

      • Right now Dubai port is the most used port by Indian businesses. They are still not using Chhabahar port as the road net work to Central asia via afghanistan is not complete. Pakistan will ensure that the road from Iran to Central asia through Afghanistan will never be completed and will never be safe through the taliban groupls. Hence India do not have any other option other than using Dubai.

      • I think India should give full rights to Kashmir, Khalistan, Assam, Nagalim, Tripura. According to United Nations resolution, Kashmir is not a part of India. And peoples of Khalistan are also suffering.

  10. This information which Pakistan Today received does not stack up in the light of Chinese long term commercial and security requirements. Iran has every right to invite and incentivize China to opt for Chabahar, but it does not mean China will agree. Firstly, leaving both purchase of oil and gas from Iran and their transport from Iranian port, putting both eggs in one basket is too risky for China. Secondly, Gawader will serve as a Chinese navel base directly or indirectly in the near future, it is secret part of the plan. China cannot risk its navel interests with India friendly Iran. Afghanistan's stability in the future leaves a big question mark over the safety and viability of Chabahar rout to China. Afghanistan will remain for a long time under American influence with American bases. China will have to be suicidal to opt for such potentially high risk route for national security reasons. To the best of my conjecture, if indeed there is such information which both our intelligence and Pakistan Today have received, it is meant to scare our childish leaders. China knows our rulers are not only corrupt, they are petty and politically immature in their outlook and demeanor. It will be both in Pakistan's and China's interest to hand over the entire CPEC project to Pakistan army, it will be completed according to intended routs, intended plans and in time, no province will be short changed.

  11. If CPEC Gets Stifled We Should Hang Zardari Imran Khan Asfandyar Wali(Known RAW Agent) For Making it "Another Kalabagh"

  12. good nice …brilliant …..
    everyone wants business …but u forget to mention here that chabara is occupied by india……
    and india and iran is coming closer in every field …which is hurting china….so in this case it is a trick to to hit india not pakistan…….

  13. Timely justice is the solution of all issues.If Prime Minister is sincere and want to see project complete,grievances of small and weak provinces must be redressed on war footing basis

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