Pakistan has rejected Indian concerns over its decision to hand over the operations of the strategically important Gwadar Port to China.
“We think that this is not something that any other country should have any reason to be concerned about,” said a foreign ministry spokesperson at a weekly news briefing on Thursday.
Moazzam Ali Khan was reacting to a recent statement by Indian Defence Minister AK Antony, who said that China’s role in operating the Gwadar Port was a matter of concern for India.
But the foreign ministry spokesperson dismissed Indian concerns as “unwarranted”.
“We are still working out the modalities of this arrangement. We have seen some reports in the media, which are rather overenthusiastic about this arrangement,” Khan maintained.
Management of the Gwadar Port, around 600km from Karachi and close to Pakistan’s border with Iran, is being handed over to the state-run Chinese Overseas Port Holdings after previously being managed by Singapore’s PSA International.
When completed, the port, which is close to the Strait of Hormuz, could open up an energy and trade corridor from the Gulf, across Pakistan to western China.
But according to reports, India fears that the port could be used by the Chinese Navy to jostle for geo-strategic power in the region.
Replying to a question, the spokesman said China was an important country, and “we think that China can play a very important role with regards to peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
Talks with Taliban
When asked, Khan dispelled impressions that the government was part of the recent initiative by the head of his own faction of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had gone to Doha to hold talks with the Afghan Taliban representatives.
However, the spokesman said Pakistan supports the opening of a Taliban office in the Qatari capital.
“We feel that it is a step in the right direction helping achieve the objective of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.”
But he made it clear that Pakistan was not directly part of the process. “This is basically an Afghan-led process and we want to leave it like that,” he said.
The spokesman also revealed that Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas would be visiting Islamabad from February16-18.
This would be his first visit to Pakistan after Palestine’s recognition as a Non-member Observer State by the United Nations.
Pakistan co-sponsored the UNGA Resolution that granted this status to Palestine on November 29, 2012.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ