Chabahar port to supplement Gwadar to boost regional trade

  • Mushahid Hussain says Islamabad welcomes launch of port in neighbouring Iran

  • Eminent CPEC expert says given their proximity, both Gwadar, Chabahar have potential to be sister-ports

ISLAMABAD: The inauguration of the first phase of Chabahar port is a welcome sign not only for Iran, Afghanistan and India but it is also good news for other countries of the region.

Pakistan has sent a compelling message by sending its Minister for Maritime Affairs Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo to the inauguration ceremony as a goodwill gesture. This is a clear indication that Islamabad has a stake in the Chabahar port and has also designated it as the sister port of Gwadar, which would not only benefit bilateral trade between Iran, India and Afghanistan but it would also boost regional trade.

Eminent CPEC expert Mushahid Hussain Sayed told Pakistan Today that Islamabad welcomes the launch of Chabahar port in neighbouring Iran.

Mushahid Hussain says Pakistan welcomes launch of Chabahar port

“It is a happy augury that Minister for Maritime Affairs Mir Hasil Bizenjo travelled by road from Gwadar to Chabahar to participate in the opening ceremony. Given their proximity, both Gwadar—which is a deep-sea port—and Chabahar have the potential to be sister-ports, as part of the Belt & Road initiative of President Xi Jinping,” he added.

Mushahid added that the visit of Bizenjo to Chabahar follows the landmark visit of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa to Tehran, where the Iranian Supreme Leader supported Pakistan’s position on Kashmir, which is positive for Pakistan-Iran cooperation.

An official in the ministry of foreign affairs told Pakistan Today that in the near future, Chabahar would supplement Gwadar port in terms of regional and global trade.

“Our region has a huge economic potential. Gwadar port alone would not be able to meet the trade volume of the region in the near future. Therefore, Chabahar would supplement Gwadar port,” the official said.

When asked to elaborate, the official said that Asia was rising in the 21st century, as most of its countries in the Asia Pacific region were emerging as major economic giants.

“Around 95 countries of the Asia Pacific are developing countries and only five per cent countries are developed nations. But even those 95 pe rcent countries are not fully developed and they need certain imports. China, the fastest developing nation, still has unending energy needs which could be met through the energy from the Middle East. Hence, Gwadar and Chabahar would be used for these energy needs,” the official said, adding that China and other Asia Pacific countries would be importing oil and gas from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and other Middle East nations through Gwadar and Chabahar.

On the contrary, the official said, developed countries in the West do not require energy from the Middle East.

“Just take the example of the US which doesn’t have energy demands like China, South Korea, Japan and India, which are focusing these ports to meet their energy needs,” he added.

The official said that while China still keeps developing its infrastructure besides expanding its exports across the globe, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other regional economies are also eyeing energy proceeds through Gwadar and Chabahar ports.

Asked if India would benefit by sending its exports to Afghanistan, the official laughed off the notion, saying that Afghanistan was not a market, even in regional terms.

“Indian trade through Chabahar is a myth, and nothing else. Afghanistan’s economy is much smaller in its volume. In regional terms, it is not even a market. While the US troops are placed in Afghanistan, India just wants to play its cards in Afghanistan to scuttle Pakistan’s influence in the war-torn country,” he maintained.

On the other hand, the official said, Iran is playing its cards to build pressure on Pakistan, India and the US equally.

“Iran wants its presence in Afghanistan felt. Iran wants to keep friendly ties with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. On the contrary, Pakistan’s policies are not making headway, as India and US are confronting its influence,” the official added.

Talking about the so-called air corridor between India and Afghanistan through Iran, the official asked how many flights had taken place between India and Afghanistan since the launch of the air corridor.

“We have heard that only three flights have taken place in eight months. What trade can take place as Afghanistan has nothing to sell to India but drugs, militants and weapons,” the official asserted.