As Chabahar Port Is Inaugurated, India Sails Through the Unwanted

Randolph Lopez
December 5, 2017

On Sunday, the first phase of the Chabahar port was officially inaugurated by Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan represented India at the inauguration ceremony of the Phase 1 of the Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar which was also attended by ambassadors and senior officials of the region.

Secondly, with India's ever increasing demand for natural gas and crude oil, the port could be a door for the country to import both resources from Iran and Central Asia. The first-phase of the Chabahar port project is known as the Shahid Beheshti port.

In a surprise visit, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday stopped over in Tehran for a short lunch meeting with her counterpart Javad Zarif.

Rouhani, however, downplayed the Pakistan angle in his inauguration speech and said the port will bring "more engagement and unity" among regional countries.

Despite the top official's words, the port, which is Iran's closest link to the Indian Ocean, poses a challenge to the neighboring Gwadar Port, which is under construction in Pakistan. Through the joint collaboration, the first tranche of 110000 tonnes of wheat has already reached Afghanistan through Chabahar Port about a month ago.

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Chabahar provides India with an easy land-sea linkup with Afghanistan.

India, Iran and Afghanistan have signed MoU's that have committed nearly $21bn to Chabahar-Hajigak Corridor, including $85m for Chabahar port development by India, $150m line of credit by India to Iran. China has constructed Pakistan's Gwadar port which is less than 400km from Chabahar by road and 100km by sea.

In 2010, when Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a connectivity pact on transit trade, it was expected that would be extended to India to allow Indian goods to pass through Pakistan. India's state-owned IRCON has agreed to build a rail route at a cost of $1.6 billion as part of the transit corridor to Afghanistan. But those hopes were belied when Pakistan refused to allow Afghan trucks to come up to the Indian border at Attari, Punjab, or take back Indian goods.

The port, located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province, has two docks.

Once the project is complete, Chabahar will be linked with the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which now stretches from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in the Gulf to Russia, Eurasia and Europe. Both the port development pact and the connectivity agreement were signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Tehran in May past year.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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