ripples in India’s diplomatic circles with its foreign minister Javad Zariff declaring
on Tuesday that Tehran had offered Pakistan and China participation in its
strategic Chabahar port, which India is developing. As Indian officials
have repeatedly said the port is crucial for India as it will allow India to
bypass Pakistan in accessing Afghanistan and central Asia.
“We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan economic corridor. We have also
offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar,” Zarif, who is on
a three-day visit to Pakistan, said while delivering a lecture at the Institute
of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Monday, according to Pakistan daily
There was no formal reaction from the Indian side but officials here said that
they will wait to hear directly from Iran over the issue. The move may be seen
as Zarif's bid to allay concerns here over the Indian involvement in the
Iranian port, Dawn online reported.
Also worrying for India was the Pakistan official statement after the meeting
between Zarif and his counterpart Khawaja Asif which claimed that the two
countries had reiterated support for the “peaceful struggle of the peoples of
Palestine and Kashmir for their right to self-determination'’. India is likely
to seek a clarification from the Iranians over the issue.
India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop
the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the
three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan.
2017, India delivered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the
Any major role
for Pakistan or China in the port project will be detrimental to India’s
interests at a time when Japan, which was looking to partner India, has
developed cold feet about participating in the project because of US decision
to impose fresh sanctions on Iran. At the last India-Japan summit in Ahmedabad,
Japan dropped the mention of Chabahar from the joint statement.
Zarif also said that Gwadar Port in Pakistan and Chabahar
Port needed to be linked through sea and land routes for development of
deprived eastern and south-eastern Iran and south western Pakistan. "We
are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to
participate in that," Zarif said.
He also said that the Chabahar port project was not meant to
"encircle Pakistan or strangulate anybody", adding that Iran would
not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory.