PESHAWAR: Whenever the strategic importance of Pakistan comes under discussion, the potential of the Gwadar Port stands out as an important aspect. The focus on the possibilities offered by Gwadar intensified manifold with the break-up of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the Central Asian states as independent entities. These landlocked countries are in search of outlets and corridors through which they can supply the energy-starved world with their much-in-demand oil and gas. Gwadar is the most obvious choice. It also provides an alternative to the clogged arteries of communications passing through the bottleneck of the Karachi Port. The decision by the Pakistan government in March 2002 to begin the development of Gwadar was a timely one. The signing of an agreement with the operating of a subsidiary of the Port Authority of Singapore in February 2007 was a much-needed fillip to push the project forward with the required urgency. It is, however, disappointing to see that the project has lost steam and is marking time in the doldrums.
The development of Gwadar Port is a national project that has bipartisan support, yet it is disheartening to see that it appears to have lost its developmental priority for reasons best known to those in command of the affairs of the ports and shipping. With a project of the magnitude of the Gwadar Port, there are bound to be administrative difficulties and given political will, there is no reason why the same cannot be tackled in a reasonable timeframe.
There is also a need to take out the bugs, if any, in the contract with the Port Authority of Singapore to ensure that obstacles hindering progress on Gwadar Port’s development are duly taken care of. The ministry of ports and shipping has its job cut out as it needs to shake off its inertia, which seems to be the major stumbling block in rapid development of the Gwadar Port.
Gul Rahman Wazir
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2013.