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Gwadar Port Vs Chabahar Port: Muscle-Fight Over Eurasian Trade

Both the ports can only yield best results when there are no major regional threats

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China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC), which opens gates for China to enter middle-eastern and in-turn Eurasian markets, also stabilizes Pakistan’s economy. One of the most major assets of CPEC is the Gwadar Port, as it the link between One Best, One Road (OBOR) and Maritime Silk Road projects. Gwadar Port was aimed at linking northern Pakistan and western China, also the deep-water seaport will be a site of a floating liquefied natural gas facility as part of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.

Inaugurated by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Gwadar Port started operating on 14th November 2016. Main benefits of Gwadar Port:

ALSO READ: Gwadar Port: China Turning Pakistan Port Into Regional Giant

  • It could act as a port for western China via Karakoram highway
  • It could act as a port for the new land-locked central Asian states
  • It could enable development of Balochistan
  • It would lie on the important sea route through the straits of Hormuz

However, only 72 kilometres away lies New Delhi’s latest bid to flex its economic muscles i.e. Chabahar Port. India signed an agreement with Iran to develop the $500 million Chabahar port. It is currently being seen as a gateway for Indian goods into Central Asia. Both ports pose tangible economic, commercial, and strategic challenges to each other. However, Gwadar possesses the advantage from many angles:

Gwadar Port is a major part of China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor. Wikimedia Commons
Gwadar Port is a major part of China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor. Wikimedia Commons

Geographical Advantage

  • Though Chabahar is a geographical outreach for India (since it is not in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) where India has many functional ports and the shielf of Indian Navy), it still will be a guest state whose borders and territorial waters are at far away distance.
  • The vessels transporting goofs to Chabahar would be subjected to active monitoring by the Pakistani Navy.
  • Whereas, Gwadar Port’s control is with China. We need to note here that Iran won’t do the same with India.

Afganistan Dilemma

  • Following Chabahar, Indian goods will land in Afghanistan; following which, suspected outreach towards Central Asian states is possible.
  • Even though the two governments of India and Afghanistan share good relations, non-state actors like insurgent groups pose a security threat. For example, the Taliban poses a major threat.
  • Gwadar Port is also witnessing security threats since it is in the Balochistan province. Though separatist brawls have decreased in recent years, militant groups still are a major concern.

ALSO READ: India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

Chabahar Port will open gates for India towards Central Asian Markets. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will open gates for India towards Central Asian Markets. Wikimedia Commons

Iranian Angle

  • Iran is facing sanctions after violating a UN Security Council resolution because it launched a nuclear-capable missile. The sanctions could have negative consequences for the India-Iran Chabahar deal.
  • On the other hand, Gwadar has no such problems. There are no restrictions on China’s investment anywhere nor is Pakistan subject to any kind of UN sanctions.

Rivalry Between Partners

  • There is absolutely no competition between Pakistan and China. Even, Chinese investment is aimed at boosting trade with the rest of Asia.
  • Moreover, Pakistan is currently on the receiving end of the huge Chinese investment, hence it won’t become a hurdle in China’s quest to reach the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
  • Whereas, following July 2015 agreement, Iran is trying to come into the mainstream international arena by accelerating trade and it won’t allow India’s Central Asian dream to come true at the cost of Iranian interests.

In the end, both Gwadar port and Chabahar port can assist millions of people. Both the ports can only yield best results when there are no major regional threats. Above all, South Asia needs economic cooperation and integration.

Next Story

Iran Doubts Europe’s Efforts To Keep Nuclear Deal Alive

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence’s hard-hitting speech at Munich has triggered fears in Europe that Washington has bigger plans, says Florence Gaub of the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 17, 2019. VOA

Iran says Europe’s efforts to keep the 2015 nuclear deal are failing and there is growing support among the Iranian people to restart the country’s atomic program.

“We appreciate that Europe has done a great deal politically. But it hasn’t been prepared to make an investment. It hasn’t been prepared to pay a price,” Zarif told delegates at the Munich Security Conference Sunday.

He accused the United States and Israel of seeking war with his country.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence earlier accused Europe of helping to prop up a ‘murderous’ regime in Tehran.

atomic energy
Not at all a call for ‘let’s renegotiate the deal’ but rather ‘let’s remove the regime in Tehran.’ And in that sense I think this was not interpreted as anything that Europe could accept. Pixabay

“They have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions. They call this scheme a Special Purpose Vehicle, we call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime,” Pence told delegates Saturday.

That Special Purpose Vehicle — officially known as INSTEX — is a payments system designed to allow European companies to trade with Iran and bypass U.S. sanctions, explains sanctions lawyer Nigel Kushner of London-based firm “W Legal.”

“The aim is that it will get around the U.S. secondary sanctions by not involving U.S. dollars, not involving U.S. persons, and certainly at the moment only being involved in the procurement of trade which does not include products or services that are sanctioned by the U.S. authorities,” he said.

Europe is hoping that Iran will show patience, adds Kushner.

“I think on the Iranian side, they will play a waiting game and very much hope that next year Donald Trump might not be re-elected,” he said.

But Tehran says Europe’s offer is not good enough.

“INSTEX falls short of the commitments by the E3 [European three] to save the deal. Europe needs to be willing to get wet if it wants to swim against the dangerous tide of U.S. unilateralism,” Foreign Minister Zarif said Sunday at the Munich conference.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence’s hard-hitting speech at Munich has triggered fears in Europe that Washington has bigger plans, says Florence Gaub of the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

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“Not at all a call for ‘let’s renegotiate the deal’ but rather ‘let’s remove the regime in Tehran.’ And in that sense I think this was not interpreted as anything that Europe could accept,” she said.

Washington, which withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last year, has not explicitly called for regime change in Iran. (VOA)