THE inauguration of the first phase of Chabahar port is a welcome sign not only for Iran, already facing harsh sanctions, to improve its economic health but also good news for other regional countries as well as it will definitely enhance connectivity and promote trade activities. In recent years, we saw certain elements trying to portray Gwadar and Chabahar as rival ports but it is a matter of satisfaction that Pakistan negated this image by declaring Chabahar as the sister port of Gwadar. Pakistan also sent a compelling message by sending its Minister for Maritime Affairs Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo to the inauguration ceremony as a goodwill gesture, clearly indicating that Islamabad has a stake in the Chabahar port
Given their proximity, both Gwadar — which is a deep-sea port — and Chabahar have the potential to be sister-ports, as part of the Belt & Road initiative of President Xi Jinping. There is no denying the fact that our region has a huge economic potential and Gwadar port alone would not be able to meet the trade volume of the region in the near future. Therefore, Chabahar would definitely supplement Gwadar port and also contribute to further strengthening Pak-Iran relations. The matter of concern however for Pakistan should be Indian investment in the port as from day one it is openly opposing CPEC and Gwadar Port. To hurt Pakistan relations and reduce its influence in Afghanistan, it has also been working to create alternative routes to Kabul bypassing Pakistan. In the not very distant past, both India and Afghanistan introduced an airfreight corridor. In this background, we hope that Iran will not allow India to use its soil against us or hurt Pakistan’s economic interests. As Chabahar is becoming functional, it is also important for Pakistan and China to further speed up work on the complete operationalization of Gwadar Port and early establishment of economic zones so that international players especially the Central Asian States could start their trade via this port.