MUMBAI (TIP): India is looking to step up the pedal over its ambitious Chabahar port project in Iran by signing an international transit corridor agreement with Iran and Afghanistan.
One of the reasons why the port project is important for India as it will facilitate access to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. Over the past 2 days, officials from the 3 countries have met to finalize agreement for a Chabahar transit corridor. “We are looking at a trilateral transit corridor MoU,” India’s ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha said.
While India and Iran are developing the Chabahar port jointly, Sinha said, Afghan businesses are investing in the attached free trade zone where Iran has allotted land for Afghan investors. For India, Chabahar port is an important initiative involving three partners, and is a critical alternate trade route for Afghanistan. What came as a shot in the arm for India was that the port was welcomed by all regional partners of Afghanistan at the VI RECCA (Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan) conference held in Kabul on September 4.
The transit corridor will be significant for Afghanistan too with President Ashraf Ghani declaring that his country wants to revitalize the Silk Road and act as a regional hub for connecting South Asia with Central Asia.
Indian officials said though that the primary motivation for the port and transit corridor was not bypassing Pakistan. We are actually hoping that Pakistan too at some stage will join all trade and transit agreements being negotiated under Saarc by all other member nations?,” said an Indian official.