Iran has opened its Chabahar port for Indian and Afghan traders. As Pakistan was creating challenges for Afghan and Indian businessmen, therefore, the Iranian port provides an edge over Bin Qasim port in Karachi. The port has enabled Afghan producers to introduce their products in Asian and European markets with much ease as compared to Pakistani ports because required facilities are provided by the Iranian government, including relaxation in visa.
If India, Iran and Afghanistan focused on increasing commercial and trade activities then it would encourage the Central Asian states as well to join the unofficial and unannounced new economic bloc and benefit from the port. It will usher a new era of economic development in the region. One of the major advantages of Chabahar port is that it is safe and easy to access because security situation in Pakistan mostly remains uncertain. Oil tankers and trucks carrying goods were attacked both by militants and members of certain political parties such as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Not only that, but containers are found stranded in Pakistani ports for days. Protests in neighboring Pakistan had become order of the day which creates challenges for transporters. They cannot carry goods from one place to another if protests gain length.
Hence, the development of Chabahar is a good omen for Afghan traders. They had suffered a lot. Their problems would be resolved to some extent and they would be able to meet the deadlines and supply products on time. Increase in trade activities will also help in improvement of security in the war-hit country and promote peace and stability in the region. It is economic welfare that prevents people from joining insurgent movements or criminal gangs. Both Afghanistan and India can also take advantage from energy diversification in Central Asia.
New Delhi has always come forward to help Kabul to stand on its feet. It was India that brought the Chabahar port in use and enabled Afghan traders to access its market. India’s investment in the port at the critical time was also aimed to access Central Asian and Afghan markets. In the recent past, India has invested over US$200 to develop the port’s capacity.
Chabahar will not only help Afghanistan but India as well. India is seen as a biggest and attractive market for Afghan products such as vegetables and fruits. Thus, the Iranian port will increase volume of export to India. Similarly, Indian traders can access Central Asian markets.
From economic perspective, the port can play important role in strengthening Afghan economy. It will also pave ground for regional integration as the nations with shared economic interests will come together for further cooperation.