The offer comes a few weeks after India sent its first consignment of wheat from Kandla port to Chabahar and then to Kabul last month
Iran is offering management control of its Chabahar Port to India — one and a half year ahead of its scheduled transfer. The offer, which comes a few weeks after India sent its first consignment of wheat from Kandla port to Chabahar and then to Kabul last month, is with Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari who is travelling to the Iranian port on December 3 to attend the inauguration of Chabahar’s first phase by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Informed sources claim that India wanted to convey to Iran that it was pursuing an independent foreign policy and it was invested in the Southern Iranian port
Chabahar is located in the Sea of Oman and is seen as the starting point of the Indian sub-continent. India has been engaged in conversation with Iran for its development since 2003, but because of sanctions by the US and UN, the project could not gather momentum. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had signed an agreement last year in Tehran and promised $500 million to develop the port. Later, Gadkari had promised billions of dollar for the country’s development.
The December 3 event, which will be attended by all stakeholders, will give Iranians an opportunity to invite other neighbouring countries, including China and Pakistan, to invest in Chabahar’s fast-developing Free Zone. To put the fears of Indians to rest, the Iranians are quick to reiterate that the port, though, would be under the control of India. For New Delhi, the port is strategic as it bypasses Pakistan and helps it to connect with Afghanistan and Central Asia. In fact, Afghanistan was truly ecstatic after the Indian consignment reached Kabul. Sources claim that it took the consignment little less than five days to reach its destination — a development which changes the logistical aspect pertaining to stabilising Afghanistan from security and political standpoint.
Expectedly, the activation of Chabahar route and the rapid pace at which things have begun to move has thrown off Pakistan. Pakistani Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had visited Kabul and offered them an amended trade and transit treaty, but it seems that the Afghans were adamant as the Iranian port reduced their dependence on Pakistan and opened a new stable route to the Oman Sea.
The December 3 event, which will be attended by all stakeholders, will give Iranians an opportunity to invite other neighbouring countries, including China and Pakistan, to invest in Chabahar’s fast-developing Free Zone
What is interesting about the speed at which the Chabahar Port has begun to move is that New Delhi gave a go-ahead to send the wheat shipment two days after US Secretary Rex Tillerson’s visit to India. An impression was created that India got a go-ahead from Tillerson. Many commentators, on both sides of the border, said that the US was backing India’s investment in Chabahar against Chinese-funded Gwadar in Pakistan. However, sources claim that this is not really true. The Indian government, it is learnt, did not take the Iranians into confidence on the date on which they would be sending the shipment — though the preparation about how wheat had to be packed to take the land route to Afghanistan had been going on for a while. Iran was then asked whether the shipment could be received by a minister or someone of his stature. The time was considered to be too short to organise it. Afghans were better prepared when they received the trucks carrying wheat.
Informed sources claim that India wanted to convey to Iran that it was pursuing an independent foreign policy and it was invested in the Southern Iranian port. Iranian President Rouhani, it is learnt, wants Indian investment to grow in his country. This was the reason that not just Chabahar, but also the gas field, Farzad B, has been offered to India. Interestingly, this gas field is not included in the recent agreements that have been signed between Iran and Russia