By Arti Bali,
After a long wait of more than four decades, India, Iran and Afghanistan have signed a tripartite agreement to turn the Iranian Chabahar port into a transit hub bypassing Pakistan. Situated in the Southeastern coast of Iran,Chabahar enjoys unique strategic importance to counter the economic benefits of Gwadar Port contemplated by Pak-China collaboration.
Describing the cooperation between the two countries to develop Chabahar port as a milestone in the relationship between India and Iran , Modi said India will invest $500m to develop the strategically important Chabahar port, close to Iran’s border with Pakistan.
The port would open a transit route to Afghanistan and Central Asia for Indian goods and products, avoiding the land route through Pakistan.
The economic benefits resulting from this project can be explained as under Afghanistan is a land locked country and Chabahar located at the mouth of Strait of Hormouz will enable Kabul to have access to International waters thus decreasing its dependence on Pakistan’s Karachi port.
The agreement calls for joint investments, will significantly boost the role of the under-tapped port of Chabahar connecting Iran through India and Afghanistan to central Asia.
PM Modi said India will open a $500-million line of credit to develop Chabahar into a regional trading hub. The port will help India bypass Pakistan to transport goods to Afghanistan and central Asia using a sea-land route.
“Considering all the credit lines that are going to come from India into the Chabahar port, it can very well turn into a very big symbol of cooperation between the two great countries of Iran and India,” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said.
As Indian Prime Minister sought to revive economic ties with Tehran after the lifting of sanctions,the two sides signed a total of 12 of agreements on economy, trade, transportation, port development, culture, science and academic cooperation.
In this context, Rouhani said, “Since India has made many advancements in new and high technologies, like ICT, biotech, nanotech and aerospace, today we made a decision to bring our academics, universities, technological and scientific partners closer to each other.”
Designated as free trade and industrial zone, Chabahar involves collaboration among Iran,Afghanistan India and Central Asia resulting in a win-win situation for the Asian region
The strategic plan is to connect Chabahar through Zahedan into Afghanistan and to have a shipping line to key Indian ports on the Western coast.
Afghan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi pledged to work closely with Iran to make the Chabahar port a reality, and develop it as a viable gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia.