The Port of Chabahar is the only port in Iran which has direct access to the ocean it is located in the Gulf of Oman and it was partially built by India in the 1990s so that ships can get direct access to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries. This port allows ships to bypass Pakistan.
Today India and Iran signed an agreement whereby India will provide USD 500 million to develop Chabahar Port. This pact has been termed by PM himself as a key milestone. Many others also believe that the tripartite agreement on Chabahar Port between India, Afghanistan and Iran is a major victory of PM Modi's foreign policy.
The strategic importance of Chabahar Port can be ascertained from the fact that Chabahar is just about 100 km from the Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is run by China and which is part of China's $ 46 billion plan to develop China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This corridor it is said is aimed at opening new trade and transport routes across Asia.
The Chabahar port pact was first agreed upon during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government in 2003. Unfortunately the pact was never taken up seriously from 2004 onwards. Since last one year Narendra Modi government aggressively pushed for the pact in the past one year which has resulted in signing of the agreement for the first phase today.
Nitin Gadkari on Chabahar Port:
Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping told about the Chabahar Port agreement that, "The inking of a commercial contract to build and run the strategic port of Chabahar will help India gain a foothold in Iran and win access to Afghanistan, Russia and Europe, thus circumventing Pakistan.
Chabahar port will provide us access to Central Asia that was denied by Pak occupation of Gilgit-Baltistan, our original gateway to Eurasia— Ram Madhav (@rammadhavbjp) May 23, 2016
Mr. Gadkari who is also in Iran told further about the Chabahar Port that, "The distance between Kandla and the Chabahar port is less than the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai, and so what this agreement does is to enable us quick movement of goods first to Iran and then onwards to Afghanistan and Russia through a new rail and road link."
Mr. Gadkari further elaborated that, "This is a historic event which will herald in a new era of development. We can now go to Afghanistan and further to Russia and Europe without going through Pakistan".
How Afghanistan is being helped by India:
India is helping Afghanistan by building road and rail links so that the port of Chabahar can be accessed by Afghanistan without having to be dependent on Karachi Port.
The Zaranj-Delaram road which was constructed by India in 2009 gives access to Afghanistan's Garland Highway. This road sets up access to four major cities in Afghanistan which are Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
India is also financing another road network inside Afghanistan so that to Iran is provided with access as far as Tajikistan through this much shorter road.
Pakistan reacts to Chabahar Agreement:
A rattled Pakistan has opted for a very negative way to react to the Chabahar Port Agreement by publishing negative stories in its media and by launching terror strikes in Srinagar.
Tribune published an article saying that, "India wants to grab Chabahar but without a clear plan about its utility. The wish-list is recent and evolving. The bigger questions of feasibility of logistical linkages still remain unanswered. Like Pakistan and India, Iran too is competing for the Afghan market and reconstruction opportunities."
Rattled by India-Afghan-Iran agreement on #Chabahar port, Pak army launches cowardly terror strike in Srinagar— Minhaz Merchant (@minhazmerchant) May 23, 2016