Hard to port


Much is made of Pakistan’s abundance of natural resource. But the transition of these resources into geo-strategically important ones has been a painfully slow process. Pakistan can use its coastal line of more than 1000 kms for an enhanced source of trade and tourism. Similar objectives were kept in mind when Gawadar Port was conceived and built with the help of Pakistan’s time-tested friend China. But the port has been in the news since then for all the wrong reasons.
The defence minister’s statement that China has agreed to take over the operations of Gawadar Port as soon as the contract with the Singaporean firm ends, leaves many questions unanswered for. Arguments can be furthered as to the practicality of this arrangement considering the fact that the agreement with the Singaporean firm runs through the year 2047. How is it going to work out till then? On the other hand, it is going to be another stepping stone for both countries in achieving mutually beneficial goals. The port, itself built with the help of China, could see heightened levels of infrastructure development like road network, storage facilities, oil pipelines, and such. However,
what remains to be seen is the way the port is going
to be used in future. Currently operating under the PSAI-AKD consortium, this port berths very large vessels, making it a competitor to some of the busiest ports in the region, including the Jurong Port in Singapore, also under the PSAI.
Such mega projects are not only essential for a country’s progress, they are also necessary for their strategic importance. Along with the industrial prowess, the port can provide a vital node in our transit-route strategy for the land locked Central Asian states. If need be, a naval base can be built around the port as is suggested by some quarters. Most importantly, it can turn into another symbol of Sino-Pak friendship.