India and Iran signed the historic chabahar port agreement in contradiction to Pakistan’s CPEC corridor which runs from china, alongside the POK at last ending at the Gwadar port in Baluchistan. This port agreement has the potential of becoming India’s gateway to Afghanistan, central Asia and Europe. The chabahar port agreement becomes a gamechanger for India strategically and economically in tackling Pakistan and China and also extending diplomatic relations alongside west Asia and central Asia inclining countries like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc.
What does the chabahar port agreement include?
The chabahar port agreement includes a contract for development and operation of two terminals and five berths at the chabahar port.
India extends credit lines of $500 million and RS 3,000 crore for importing steel rails and implementation of the port.
The MOU is on provision of services by Indian railways, including financing to the tune of $1.6 billion, for chabahar to Zahedan railway line which is also the part of trilateral agreement between India, Iran , and Afghanistan on a transit and trade corridor.
India will invest in setting up industries in the region including aluminium to urea plants on the chabahar free trade zone.
The strategic significance of chabahar port agreement.
After the chabahar port agreement India will gain more access to the Indian ocean region and also the Omanian sea region to tackle the Chinese aggression in the Indian ocean region which may start after the building of Gwadar port.
Chabahar port would be India’s gateway to the landlocked Afghanistan and other central Asian countries overcoming the geographical constraint imposed by Pakistan.
Pakistan is Afghanistan’s major importer of consumables, it can be changed once after the building up of the chabahar port allowing more diplomatically pressure and isolation over Pakistan on the eastern side by India and on the western section by Afghanistan and Iran.
The presence of Indian navy and Iranian navy over the Indian ocean will allow a greater hand to the Iranians and Indians to control Pakistani navy and Chinese navy’s presence in the IOR region.
Economic Significance of Port
Once the chabahar port is developed, Indian ships will get direct access to the Iranian coast also a rail line to the afghan border town of Zaranj will allow India a route around Pakistan instead of getting on to Pakistan.
The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give unrestricted access to the Garland Highway, setting up access to four major cities in Afghanistan- Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif
Goods from India will not only travel up to Pakistan but beyond along the yet to be developed International North-South Transport corridor (INSTC) to Central Asia.
The INSTC and its role
International North – South transport corridor (INSTC) is the ship, rail and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
It was established in 2000 by Iran, Russia and India
This corridor connects Indian Ocean Region and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran, then its connected to St Petersburg and north European Via Russian Federation.
It was expanded to include eleven members namely: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Oman, Syria, Bulgaria (observer).