Iran offers Pakistan to join Chabahar port deal

Published: May 27, 2016
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shakes hands with Iranian President Hasan Rowhani. PHOTO: AFP

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shakes hands with Iranian President Hasan Rowhani. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A day after Pakistan said it was considering linking Gwadar with Chabahar harbour, Iran said the former could join the agreement.

On Monday, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a three-way transit accord as New Delhi and Tehran inked an agreement worth $500 million to develop the Chabahar port.

“[The] Chabahar agreement is not limited to three countries. Doors are always open for Pakistan and other regional nations to join the deal,” said Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardost.

The envoy was delivering a keynote address on Pakistan-Iran relations at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI).

Iranian ambassador Mehdi Honardoost addressing a seminar on “Pakistan-Iran relations” at Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad on Friday. PHOTO: APP

Gwadar, Chabahar to be made ‘sister port cities’

The envoy said there was no rivalry between Chahbahar port of Iran and Gwadar port of Pakistan. “In fact, both these ports complement each other,” he insisted.

Honardost went on to say that Pakistan and China were offered to join the Chahbahar port development deal before India. However, both Pakistan and China did not show any interest, he added.

Regional cooperation, he said, was the only solution to solve the problems and remove impediments among the neighbours.

On Thursday, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan was considering to link the two ports and added that Pakistan was also constructing a road to Chabahar.

Once completed, the port will provide India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan.

Iranian president calls for ‘sanction-free’ ties with Pakistan

India is believed to be increasingly upset over the development of Gwadar port by China under CPEC with independent observers suggesting Chabahar could come out as a rival in future.

Afghan Taliban

Meanwhile, reiterating the country’s stance on Afghan chief Mullah Mansour’s death, the ambassador said Iran considered Taliban as its enemy and could not allow them to visit the country.

The US media had reported American intelligence agencies tracked down Mullah Mansour when he was visiting Iran to meet his family.

Iran, Afghanistan, India sign three-way transit accord

The Iranian envoy also said his country would not allow its soil to be used against Pakistan in any way.

Honardoost stressed terrorism was an international phenomenon and both Iran and Pakistan were victims of terror and drug trafficking.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Hakim Afghani
    May 27, 2016 - 7:31PM

    The deal is very important for Pakistan only and only because Pakistan will not have any more power over Afghanistan due to being a land lock country other than that Pakistan have no interest in this port whatsoever.

    Pakistan is doing whatever it can to force Afghan businessmen to import everything via Pakistan which is a failed strategy. 85-92% of Afghan import/export will be done via Chabahar port which is the new the reality and that’s whats up!Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    May 27, 2016 - 7:41PM

    Both ports working together can be a good demonstration of cooperation under the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement, much to the chagrin of the US and Japan.Recommend

  • someone
    May 27, 2016 - 8:20PM

    But Pakistan does not have money. If it had, would it not be developing its own Gawadar port rather than seeking Chinese help? Recommend

  • kam
    May 27, 2016 - 8:23PM

    So if India want to send goods to Kabul for example lets say wheat. So that wheat would travel thousand plus mile to indian port and rot their for a while then shipped to Chahbhar. Couple days it will rot more in a ship and iranian port. From their a further two weeks atleast to Kabul. So if we add transportation cost the indian wheat would be three times more expensive than Pakistani wheat just a few miles across border and will be smugled to Kabul. Chahbhar is a added transportation cost for India and in these times of tough competition its simply wont work specially when china is directly linked to central asia via CPEC.Recommend

  • GKA
    May 27, 2016 - 8:24PM

    Pakistan would need to bring some investment into the deal if it wants to join. Or some concessions to the deal in terms of diverting traffic from Gwadar to Chabber if it wants to join.Recommend

  • Rao
    May 27, 2016 - 8:35PM

    Chabahar, karachi and Gwadar are important to Afghanistan.. Pakistan cant monopoly on Afghan link to high seas. Since Chabahar in game business interests will overtake political interests , which is good for business.
    Pakistan want to connect itself with central asia via Afghan and doesnt want Afghan and central asia linking with India….. Why??? Chabars come out of this short sighted vision.Recommend

  • ali
    May 27, 2016 - 8:55PM

    @Hakim
    Do you know the distance difference between Kabul to Chabhar and Gwadar/Karachi?Recommend

  • Salman Siddiqui
    May 27, 2016 - 9:02PM

    Pakistan should make its share in Chabahar port to do not let Iran and India dominating alone the regional trade policies.Recommend

  • Syed Shah
    May 27, 2016 - 9:52PM

    @someone:
    its a smart person who uses other peoples money, thats why they have banks all over the world.Recommend

  • Syed Shah
    May 27, 2016 - 9:54PM

    Sad to say but Trump will be the next President and the US will re-impose sanctions on Iran, have no doubt about it, they will do it. This port will be a ghost port…its cursed because it is designed by unbelievers against believers, India vs Pakistan as its basis whether Iran admits or not. We all know it….Recommend

  • Zizpong
    May 27, 2016 - 10:00PM

    @Haji Atiya – you talk about cooperation and in the same sentence interested in making US/Japan upset.
    This the same attitude leaving Pakistan in a compromising situation always.
    All the external policies of Pakistan have been formulated based on how badly affect other countries but not how they profit Pakistan and every one.

    Easiest way to have stopped launch of Chabahar project was by giving normal transportation access to the countries concerned.

    BTW, the era of hostilities between US and Iran has peaked and has to end by 5-10 year.Recommend

  • Naxalite
    May 27, 2016 - 11:37PM

    @Hakim Afghanistan
    Problem with Indian trolls is that their negative attitude towards Pakistan always gives their true identity away. Anyway, wait till Trump come to power. He won’t let Chabahar be successful and strongly supports sanctions on Iran. Chabahar is a problem case with almost no funds and no development in last 15 years. India’s attitude is the main reason none in the region has good relations with them. And Afghanistan belongs to those who control 70% of it today. The Indians can keep dreaming of a safe passage there. Not going to happen.
    Regards. Recommend

  • Sun Tzu
    May 28, 2016 - 12:04AM

    @kam:
    SO International Logistics expert!! do you know that Indian freight cost to Europe will come down by 50% via Chahbahar? Recommend

  • Singh
    May 28, 2016 - 12:06AM

    @kam:
    Oh wow you are so intelligent. NS should appoint you as advisor on India desk.
    But check trade volume between India and Iran, India & Afghanistan.
    Anyway you are good keyboard warrior. Recommend

  • Oh no!
    May 28, 2016 - 12:10AM

    @someone: It’s not the money issue, at all. India could not come up with the money it promised, on the development of this port. Iran is desperate to bring traffic to this dying port. Afghan don’t have a big market that India was expecting to invest in the port for. Pak should only watch she don’t end up sharing it’s own port in return, which she definitely don’t want for safety reason. I am already worried about the future Gawadar-Chabahar traffic that will only bring more Indian agents now legally into Pak.Recommend

  • Rustam
    May 28, 2016 - 12:53AM

    @Hakim Afghani: If you are not an Indian troll, read the post of kam and answer whether the principles of economics and cost accounting were considered while formulating this project.
    For Afghanistan, if the project will be completed, it will be a mere alternate route available, but its utilization will be at much higher cost and cannot pass criteria of economic tests. Recommend

  • Frank Mossman
    May 28, 2016 - 1:44AM

    “Honardost went on to say that Pakistan and China were offered to join the Chahbahar port development deal before India. However, both Pakistan and China did not show any interest, he added.”

    “Once completed, the port will provide India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan.”

    What a miscalculation and lost opportunity! Senior staff in the Pakistan Foreign Ministry should be taught Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard and should learn about the Tournament of Shadows. Recommend

  • AfghanistanIndiaIran, Tehran
    May 28, 2016 - 4:54AM

    Pakistan exposed itself as an isolated non cooperative country only looking at policies with rivalry and chivalry rather than looking at things from the point of view of regional cooperation to benefit masses. And when Sartaj Aziz found out the stupidity now suddenly thinking on the run to use a road construction to connect broken trusts with neighbours. Height of immaturity??Recommend

  • Taimoor
    May 28, 2016 - 6:13AM

    @Hakim Afghani:
    Yea please take your lucrative afghan markets to chabahar. Whats your number 1 export, opium. While at it can you ask your government to take back the millions of refugees in our country. I assure you nobody will miss them. Recommend

  • Gujesh
    May 28, 2016 - 6:28AM

    So instead of India using Gwader link, Pakistan will be using Chabahar link ?Recommend

  • Buzzkill
    May 28, 2016 - 7:19AM

    @kam: I’m amazed at how much Pakistanis like you exaggerate things. You say the cost of transportation via chabahar would increase the cost by 300%. The other day one of your other countrymen put the additional cost at 1000%. The reality is that the overall additional cost would be in the 20-30% range which is reasonable given that India gets a safe route all the way to central asia. BTW, does not need to access to central asia via cpec because Afghanistan will not allow you access to central asia. So now, India will have access to Afghanistan, Iran, Central asia & middle east whereas Pakistan will only have access to China.Recommend

  • سے Shaam (Hanafi)
    May 28, 2016 - 8:02AM

    Chabhar is open to regional allies, since stakes are between multiple countries. Ironically Gawadar is b/w China and Pakistan and that too, Chinese call the shots. They will not allow the twain to meet, since China only wants to develop roadway to ocean-way for it’s own imperialistic goals. If Other countries start using it for trade, say Pakistan itself, it will be competition in this passage. If China is thinking about making it a Naval base because of deep ocean synergy, then forget about any other country using this port. Pakistanis will end up being gatekeepers to this corridor in the long run.Recommend

  • Saint
    May 28, 2016 - 8:14AM

    Somebody said its cursed because it is designed by unbelievers against believers. Are you out of your mind. According to your logic athiest communist Chinese are believers! Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    May 28, 2016 - 8:16AM

    @Zizpong:
    if you know anything about US foreign policy and their doctrine in recent years towards countries in Asia, they have done nothing other than seed distrust and discord amongst nations; basically they have superceded the Brits in ‘rule thru division’. So, unless you’re a person working for the US Embassy, I am surprised you are playing dumb ! And as for Japan, they are nothing but US lap dogs now.
    BTW: If Trump is elected President, Iran has seen nothing yet, with India have wasted billions of dollars. Guess it’s your money to throw away.Recommend

  • rich
    May 28, 2016 - 8:46AM

    I don’t understand Pakistani comment, when they say cost will go up for india prouct exported to Afghanistan,

    yes it will, but what choice india has? Pakistan is not giving land access to afghan and vice versa, india not exports via iran, but that port is futher down chabahar is closer

    Pakistan wants india to export via Karachi to afghan not wagha border, so same load in indian ports trp to Karachi unload and then via raod to Afghanistan

    chabar will be the same with no fright of Pakistan staopping indian export at crucial time

    now the secont part chabar will give us access not onlt to Afghanistan but cntral asia , Iraq, Syria, turkey ect all bordering iran

    plus Russia and Europe

    not to speak of export/import with iran itself

    so whay Pakistanis think only afghanstan?Recommend

  • NoWAy!
    May 28, 2016 - 11:27AM

    @rich: 1>Pak never want India to enter Pak from anywhere except from Wagah. 2>Giving Karachi rout to India for Afghan trade make no sense when Charbahar is few miles further down the beach. 3>Afghan shot in their own foot by listening to India to not trade with PAk until it give same access to India. 4>Bypassing Wagah route only gives India a journey equal length of old-time Silkroad plus Arabian Sea journey and a thousand mile internal journey from capital to South India Sea ports. Any one can do the math to find the transportation cost.Recommend

  • Un'Common Sense
    May 28, 2016 - 11:48AM

    Don’t worry.Pakistan will come to the point and Indian Trade will pass through Pakistan. Pakistan has realised its mistake now they are desperate to join the chahbahar club.India Iran & Afghanistan should consider it once.Recommend

  • zizpong
    May 28, 2016 - 12:04PM

    @Haji Atiya Lol! I pity in for proving me correct. While thinking wishfully of Trump getting elected and further sanctioning Iran /India you are forgetting what will be there fate of Pakistan? Or even china?

    At most $500 millions are at struck. And any day Trump will favor India sponsored Chhabhar than China sponsored Gwadar Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    May 28, 2016 - 7:47PM

    @zizpong:
    Unfortunately your style of writing is incoherent; and I further suspect your thinking processes are consistent with that. First of all, is the US member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization ? No. Is US a member of AIIB ? No. So what do we have to worry about ? Only India loses several billion dollars if US slaps sanctions on Iran again, while the most Pakistan will suffer is to revert back to square one, which I doubt anyway.Recommend

  • Salman
    May 28, 2016 - 11:53PM

    @Haji Atiya:
    Trump is really unpredictable. What sentiments you are having, are like you being happy that Trump supported the Palestinian cause. Well, don’t trust him bro. He’ll do the most badass thing.Recommend

  • wox ahmed
    May 29, 2016 - 12:03AM

    @Syed Shah:

    weird you should say that , the greaters ‘unbelievers ‘ are the Chinese, but we are happy to take their loans.

    I hope your wrong as we have our future banked on CPECRecommend

  • wox ahmed
    May 29, 2016 - 12:04AM

    @Syed Shah:
    Whats your view on Pakistan USA relations if Trump takes power ?Recommend

  • wox ahmed
    May 29, 2016 - 1:02AM

    @Naxalite:
    Sir I think Trump victory will be worse for us then India

    Also you say India has no friends amongst its neighbors , maybe true but it seems we have neither when 3 of 4 neighbors club togetherRecommend

  • wox ahmed
    May 29, 2016 - 1:06AM

    @Naxalite:
    Sir, food for thought.

    This week Indonesia our great Muslim brother announced visa free entry for another 69 countries, note India already had the waiver.

    The countries added included Nepal and Bangladesh , but not us.

    Indias neighbour may not like her, but our brothers in arms, trust us lessRecommend

  • OfCourse!
    May 29, 2016 - 6:25PM

    @wox ahmed: It’s mostly Pak corrupt system & extremist agenda to blame before anything else. What do you think they decided on after seeing a murderer of Gov’t official was celebrated by country’s lawyers and religious parties. All those people should not be given passport or visa to Anywhere, don’t you think?Recommend

  • Paul
    May 30, 2016 - 12:47PM

    I’m no economist or logistics expert, but doing the plain maths:

    Route A:
    Amritsar to Kabul, via Lahore : 843km

    Route B:
    Amritsar to Kabul, via Chabahar: 5,044km
    Amritsar to Bombay : 1,734km
    Bombay to Chabahar: 1,453km
    Chabahar to Kabul: 1,862km

    Hmmm, almost 6 times more and no matter what the Indians say, the Afghans are going to get a more expensive chapatti from India, than Pakistan.

    Ultimately, it’ll be the business men in Afghanistan who will decide where to source their goods from, not their [invisible] government.

    BTW this doesn’t include insecurities along the suggested Indian route, courtesy Taliban and rouge warlords so it’s more of a “we can’t let Pakistan build a [successful] port” syndrome.Recommend

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