Chabahar deal, a key strategic decision

Chabahar deal, a key strategic decision

Today Iran is celebrating Chabahar Day to commemorate the beginning of the commercial activity from the port city of Chabahar that provides a direct...

Today Iran is celebrating Chabahar Day to commemorate the beginning of the commercial activity from the port city of Chabahar that provides a direct link from Afghanistan to India. This is a new peak in the regional cooperation among the three countries and if utilised by others it could boost regional prosperity further.

Afghanistan is moving 23 trucks carrying 570 tonnes of goods from the border city of Zaranj, a Western Afghan city and the capital of Nimroz province bordering Iran. Chabahar Port is the result of healthy cooperation between India, Iran and Afghanistan to ensure enhanced connectivity and economic growth for the countries.

Afghanistan hopes that other countries in the region would utilise the economic potentials of regional projects and enhance State-to-State cooperation instead of having illegal relations with non-State actors.

On 27 January, India formally established shipping lanes with the port by sending ships. It has already been decided that every two weeks Indian ships will go from three Indian ports - Mumbai, Kandla and Mundra. Commercial operations at the port began on December 30, 2018 with the arrival of MV Macheras, a Cyprus registered bulk carrier with 72458 MT of corn cargo. India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting that was held in December 2018.

In 2017, India sent 1.1 million tonnes of Wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port. India has been focusing on connecting itself with Afghanistan which is a landlocked country. Other than Chabahar, India already has India Afghan air corridor with Afghanistan that was launched in 2017. However, Pakistan has not been keen to allow an overland route for India Afghan trade, that makes Chabahar's emergence as a game changer.

Experts argue that Chabahar deal is an extremely important strategic decision which would help India to get a transit route to Afghanistan and further to Central Asian region and beyond. This $ 500 million investment would give India a much-wanted access to the region’s resources bypassing the land route via hostile Pakistan. Secondly, this port is located very close (around 100 kms) to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which has been developed by China.

Therefore, a geo-strategic game is at play between the two regional forces. In that light, Chabahar deal is India’s big hope to connect to Central Asia, which India considers its ‘extended neighbourhood’. But China again is acting as a detrimental force against this project with Pakistan as it doesn’t want India to get access to Central Asia’s resources.

This is because the resources would prove to be hugely beneficial to India’s energy requirements and would strengthen the Indian economy. Anyway, these are all part of the big game and India must be prepared for all eventualities. It is time India worked with even greater care and commitment to the regional upliftment and to the benefit of all the peaceful neighbours. That is one way to isolate the harm-doers and naysayers of the region whose treachery is well known to one and all.

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