Developing Gwadar

Published: February 18, 2015
Email
 Islamabad must resist the urge to view Gwadar purely from a military-strategic prism. Gwadar should be a port city for Pakistan’s economic benefit.  PHOTO: AFP

Islamabad must resist the urge to view Gwadar purely from a military-strategic prism. Gwadar should be a port city for Pakistan’s economic benefit. PHOTO: AFP

On December 8, 1958, Pakistan purchased Gwadar from Oman and since that day, the government has been talking about making Gwadar into a world class port city. We are glad that, after nearly six decades, Pakistan is finally able to begin full-scale commercial operations at Gwadar Port. The country is large enough to need more than one major port city (Port Qasim is effectively an extension of Karachi) and the boost to economic activity in what has hitherto been one of the least developed parts of Pakistan is welcome. There is an economic divide between the two halves of Pakistan. Sindh and Punjab have a large and better developed transportation infrastructure that includes roads and railways leading from Punjab all the way down to Karachi Port. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, however, there is nothing similar. Are we then surprised that there is very little economic activity in these provinces? For far too long, Balochistan has been a backwater and it is high time Islamabad took action to rectify the problem.

We applaud the government’s efforts to use the Gwadar Port to try and develop Balochistan and the northern parts of Sindh that have not been as well-linked to the major economic centres. The decision to speed up the construction of the M-9 Motorway from Gwadar to Shahdadkot, which passes through Khuzdar is also welcome. We would, however, caution the government from what seems to be a highly national security-oriented view of the port. It is natural to understand and incorporate national security strategy into the port’s development, and to an extent we would even describe that as responsible behaviour. However, Islamabad must resist the urge to view Gwadar purely from a military-strategic prism. Gwadar should be a port city for Pakistan’s economic benefit. Priority in land allocation should be for the port. It is high time the government started viewing economic development with the same urgency it views national security.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2015.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (7)

  • woody
    Feb 18, 2015 - 7:01AM

    The basic unanswered issue with Gwadar continues to be whether it’s economically viable. Despite the political speeches, articles and now Editorials – no Pakistan business has been pounding on anyone’s door complaining that the current port facilities are inadequate or overused. There is just no business demand for another port – even when the American military was a significant port customer there was plenty of excess capacity – now that the American military is barely using the port all that capacity sits idle.Recommend

  • PrasadDeccani
    Feb 18, 2015 - 10:55AM

    @woody:
    Gwadar will be developed into a naval port. Recommend

  • overseas pakistani
    Feb 18, 2015 - 1:04PM

    “It is high time the government started viewing economic development with the same urgency it views national security.”

    Maybe it already is. That is viewing economic development with the same lack of urgency as it views national security. If we were truly looking at the latter with urgency, we would be shutting down ALL terrorist groups, east facing, west facing and inward facing. Recommend

  • Woz Ahmed
    Feb 18, 2015 - 1:37PM

    Port will be good for shipping Balochistan minerals to China, shipping still cheaper than a railway line up some of the worlds highest mountain passes to the barren end of China .

    Studies show an oil pipeline will cost $ 10 a barrel to transport oil from Gwadar to Xinjiang, $15 to the southern industrial heartland. Oli by tanker to the south of China costs $1-2 per barrel.

    Gas from Iran may be a more economical prospect for transporting to China, but then Gwadar is irrelevant in this equation.

    Looks like a white elephant .Recommend

  • pak patriot
    Feb 18, 2015 - 2:12PM

    Lets face it. our port city of karachi has no space to expand. So Industries(export processing zones) should be setup all across the Makran coastal belt. Strategy should be focused on providing jobs to pakistanis and provide secure environment to the local/foreign investors. Gwadar is also very vital from military point of view but first lets get the basics right.Recommend

  • Dr.A.K.Mahapatra
    Feb 18, 2015 - 7:14PM

    Chabahar port will be the answer by India to Gwadar’s military/naval ambitions.Recommend

  • Virkaul
    Mar 3, 2015 - 9:44AM

    @pak patriot:
    I would rather go by logic given by Woz Ahmed. Both Gwadar and Kashgar-Gwadar corridor are long shot projects. Yes, ports are necessary but to serve industry and people, who create demand. At the moment we do not see any change in demand until terrorism is curbed, law and order is restored, projects are planned and implemented.

    Due to lack of domestic demand and prohibitive costs of transportation to China’s industrial towns in the Eastern part, the proposed corridor will remain on paper as have remained most of MOUs with China.

    Project investments are made on economic viability or strategic reasons. Gwadar, I believe is for the latter.Recommend

More in Balochistan