Tehran won't allow India to use Chabahar port to undermine Pakistan, say Iranian diplomats

Published: December 11, 2017


ISLAMABAD: On December 3, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani inaugurated the first phase of Chabahar port. Pakistan is not part of the project, yet its minister for ports and shipping was standing next to the Iranian President during the ceremony. This was no coincidence, as Hasil Bizenjo was asked to stand next to Rowhani in a carefully choreographed move.

Days before Iran started preparations for the inauguration ceremony, it invited Pakistan to send a ministerial-level delegation for the event. Tehran followed up with not only the formal invitation but used all available diplomatic channels to make sure that the Pakistani delegation attends the ceremony.

The objective behind this move was clear – Iran wanted to send a message that it would not allow India or any other country to use Chabahar against Pakistan, said a senior Iranian diplomat, who requested not to be named so that he could speak freely on the subject.

Such a firsthand account of close cooperation between Pakistan and Iran is unusual and represents a significant shift in the two neighbours’ ties, which have often been marred by a trust deficit and mutual suspicion.

The turnaround is also important when seen alongside Pakistan’s participation in the Saudi-led counterterrorism coalition. Iran, which is not part of the grouping, considers the initiative an attempt to further Saudi Arabia’s agenda in the region.

That is one of the reasons that Pakistan has been treading a careful path on the issue as it has the potential to undermine ties with Iran.

Iranian president inaugurates first phase of Chahbahar Port

Despite any allusions to a gulf, Islamabad and Tehran have been moving closer to each other, and diplomats on either side feel that the two sides understand and appreciate each other’s perspective.

Pakistan, according to official sources, has given firm assurances to Iran that Islamabad would not become part of an initiative that targets the Islamic Republic.

Tehran, in return, has pledged that it would not allow any regional country including India to undermine Pakistan’s interests.

Far from India’s portrayal of Chabahar Port, Iran does not see it as a rival to Gwadar Port.

After the inauguration of the first phase, Indian officials and commentators began presenting it as a major strategic victory to sidestep Pakistan.

But the Iranian diplomat played down the India hype as ‘psychological warfare.’ He said the Iranian president has already mentioned that Chabahar and Gwadar ports would complement each other in the future and that a memorandum of understanding to this effect has already been signed.

Chabahar port will enhance trade ties among regional countries, says Rouhani

This unprecedented bonhomie did not happen overnight but after months of rigorous efforts from both sides. The visit of army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was the culmination of those efforts.

“It was an excellent, excellent visit,” emphasised the diplomat. The two sides developed a broader understanding of bilateral ties and key regional developments.

He added that military and intelligence cooperation have deepened greatly in the past few months as officials from the security establishments on either side of the border speak to each other more often, something that was not possible just a few years ago.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • King Cong
    Dec 11, 2017 - 10:17AM

    Pakistan playing its cards brilliantly. Staying friends with Iran and Russia, China and USA. Wonderful. Recommend

  • Saeed
    Dec 11, 2017 - 11:03AM

    Great work.

    Its good that big Countries are thinking for betterment of their people instead of getting hostage due unwanted claims for political gains of others.Recommend

  • LOL
    Dec 11, 2017 - 11:30AM

    oh look Modi.. how ‘isolated’ Pakistan is.. NOT.. LOOOLRecommend

  • PakSal
    Dec 11, 2017 - 12:02PM

    Yaar mujhey koi yeh bataey kay woh “Pakistan kay Isolation” kaa kiya bana? Modi tau kehta thaa kay bus kutch honay wala hay doosri cheezon kee tarha LOLRecommend

  • tatvavetta
    Dec 11, 2017 - 12:26PM

    Pakistan is free to use Chabahar port whenever it wishes to ship goods along with India ,Russia Americans Europeans to Central Asia or receive goods from central Asia or China. Some market share goes to Iran. It will bring prosparity to Afghanistan.Recommend

  • The Ravian
    Dec 11, 2017 - 12:41PM

    Iranian president and Pakistani delegation side by side shows highest mutual trust, something may not sound good to Indian hegemonic designs in the region. Well played Pakistan!Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav
    Dec 11, 2017 - 1:41PM

    LOL. This is called showing right while hitting with left :). Poor Pakistanis. Recommend

  • Sad but true
    Dec 11, 2017 - 2:14PM

    Pakistan was there for the innogurial of the port that will bypass Pakistan. Recommend

  • D Shah
    Dec 11, 2017 - 2:56PM

    I hate my stupid country and its fellow men for spreading fake news. This news is entirely fake, it keeps referring to a diplomat, without naming the source of it. This journalist is spreading fake news. India almost owns Chabahar and has enough foreign reserves to buy out Iran, while our corrupt politicians cant even get their act together and keep squabbling. Recommend

  • Lalit
    Dec 11, 2017 - 3:05PM

    So a persian diplomat wants to remain anonymous for saying the obvious.That his country ‘s territory will not be allowed to be used against a particular country.Moreover the single and the only objective( at least on paper) of Chahbahar is to bypass Pakistan to facilitate trade between India ,Afghanistan and further to central asia and this purpose is being fully fulfilled by recent opening of Chahbahar.If Pakistan sees a silver lining in this whole exercise by pointing out their participant in the party, I commend their optimism.But frankly being invited to a function which in the first place is being organized to bypass you is called humiliation, to use a modest term.Recommend

  • Lalit
    Dec 11, 2017 - 3:19PM

    Someone tell the author that Mr Bizenzo was invited to a ceremony which marked the bypassing of Pakistan.Bypass is an another word for isolation….this is for those who are rejoicing at the sight of a Pakistani in the party.India got what it wanted and maybe Pakistan also managed to face some face by showing a face at the ceremony.This is called being invited to your own funeral service.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Dec 11, 2017 - 3:19PM

    @Kulbhushan Yadav:
    Can you stop that Indian habit of wobbling your head already ?! Iran was the first country to recognize Pakistan and we have deep cultural linkages with that country. Now please spew your jealousy elsewhere.Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Dec 11, 2017 - 3:53PM

    Chabahars existence itself undermines Pakistani hegemony towards AfghanistanRecommend

  • Freedom
    Dec 11, 2017 - 8:52PM

    Don’t trust IranRecommend

  • candy
    Dec 11, 2017 - 9:04PM

    Why does delivering Indian products to Afghanistan through Chabahar undermine Pakistan? Answer – it doesn’t. Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Dec 12, 2017 - 12:22AM


    chabhar is not a port even 1/100th of the value of gwadar. keep dreaming. Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Dec 12, 2017 - 12:24AM


    nah. chabhar will never be a competitor for gwadar. Recommend

  • 007
    Dec 12, 2017 - 3:24AM

    Chahbahar and Gwadar will complement beautifully. Chahbahar can serve as gateway to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Turkey and Eastern Europe while Gwadar can serve Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, and India. . Recommend

  • gp65
    Dec 14, 2017 - 2:08AM

    Gwadar can serve Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, and India. . ”
    How does Gwadar port serve as a gateway to India when India has several warm water ports on its large western coast?

    It simply reduces Pakistan’s ability to blackmail Afghanistan on trade routes.Recommend

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