By Ajmal Rahimi-None can deny the importance of Chabahar Port in bolstering up the Afghan economy which gives an outstanding opportunity for the landlocked country to gain access to sea port. The port can be taken as the most viable route for trade between Kabul, New Delhi and Tehran. After Pakistan—the neighboring state, who denied to use its territory by Afghan and Indian trucks bound to each other countries, Kabul and New Delhi have explored the option of air corridors but that is too expensive compared to the maritime route, in which the functionalizing of Chabahar port by the help of Iran—our another neighbor, helped out the Afghan government to smoothly do business with India and Iran. It is worth mentioning that Chabahar has already provided Afghanistan with an alternative to Karachi’s port for its trade with other countries. Moreover, the Indian firm India Ports Global Limited took over operations at the Shaheed Behesti port in Chabahar on Monday. The representatives of India, Iran and Afghanistan met and finalized the routes for trade and transit corridors between the three countries. An event has been planned on February 26, 2019 to promote and popularize the potential of Chabahar. Indeed, these are significant developments for many reasons, and the important one is to reduce Afghanistan’s independence on Pakistan, which is great news for the Afghan masses who suffered a lot at the hand of terrorists backed by the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment.
However, the importance of the port was recently highlighted when after its inauguration; India shipped 110,000 metric tons of its wheat grants to Afghanistan. This shipment is part of a larger Indian commitment of 1.1 million metric tons of wheat assistance to Afghanistan.
From Indian prospects, the port is to restrict Chinese funding for a strategic port in Gwadar, Pakistan, where New Delhi believes it will give Beijing access to the Indian Ocean region including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and others. In response, New Delhi began negotiations with Tehran more than a decade ago to develop the Chabahar port to limit the Chinese moves in what is seen as part of India’s sphere of influence even though Iran located in the cross roads of three continents (Asia, Europe and Africa) is one of the countries which the strategic location has brought it many transit opportunities.
But, China has also been supportive to Afghanistan, and helped the country in several areas besides economy. Kabul and Beijing, at the moment, enjoying great relations, where Afghanistan is also part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Talking over BRI needs more details which are not easy to elaborate at the moment. BRI would be another topic of discussion in the near future, but Chabahar could also help a lot in elevating Afghanistan in its economic improvements.
To sum-up, Chabahar is turning out to be a success story in the India-Iran and Afghanistan relationship which the importance of the port is crucial for the involved countries in terms of economic and trade relations. As it inaugurated last year, around $500 million invested on its initial stage, and the joint investment in Chabahar port of Iran is not only in the interest of Afghanistan, but it could bring peace and stability to the entire region, this will also provide an alternative to India-Afghanistan trade relations that bypass Pakistan. It could also deepening on security aspect of the related routes passing Afghanistan to connect central Asia to South Asia in spite any long delay. After five years we will not be depending on Pakistani’s products to augment the interior demand but also we will export goods to Indian Ocean region, which could be a vital way for Afghanistan trade promotion in the particular region and will facilitate a solid economic growth for the country.