WASHINGTON: Former Union Minister of State in India, Manish Tewari has made comparisons between Gwadar port in Pakistan and Chabahar port in Iran, stating that Gwadar is a long-term strategic venture by Pakistan and China, whereas Chabahar is an entirely commercial enterprise by Iran and India.
The geopolitically instrumental port of Gwadar in southern Balochistan province is being built with the help of China under a multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Chabahar port in Iran is being considered by India, Iran and Afghanistan as a gateway to major opportunities for trade with central Asian countries, and also to counter the increasing military and economic cooperation between Pakistan and China in the region.
“One thing which needs to be very clearly understood is that Chabahar port is a commercial enterprise and Gwadar port is a strategic military enterprise. There is a distinction between as to why two projects have been conceived,” Tewari said yesterday while addressing an event organised by the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank.
Similarly, China–Pakistan Economic Corridor is not a connectivity project, the Congress leader asserted, adding that it is a strategic project by which China seeks access to the Arabian Sea and surmount the Straits of Malacca through Gwadar and entire CPEC paradigm. “As such, there is no comparison between Gwadar and Chabahar,” he added.
“And if you couple that with the kind of things that the Chinese have been attempting to do in the Indian Ocean, the influence that they’ve been trying to exert on Sri Lanka, with the developments which they are currently playing themselves out in the Maldives, it does not go well for the region,” he said.
“And therefore, the United States will have to make some hard choices,” the Congress leader said, indicating that the hard choice is a short-term accommodation with Iran. “Those are the hard conversations which the US needs to start having with itself,” he said. “And therefore, at some point in time hard decisions and clear choices need to be made,” said Tewari, a distinguished Senior Fellow at the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council.
Chief Advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Dr Mohammad H Qayoumi, said this is for the first time in a 100 years that Central Asian countries look at Afghanistan as part of that entity. “We are becoming part of that economic ecosystem,” he said.
“We started an air corridor with New Delhi that has been very successful. We are looking at expanding that to Mumbai this year as well as the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and even Indonesia all who have shown interest,” Qayoumi said.