INDIAN defence minister Wednesday expressed New Delhi’s concern over Pakistan’s decision to transfer management of the strategically located Gwadar deep-sea port to China. China, as a true friend had provided most of the funding and built the facility to help Pakistan meet its needs as the two ports in Karachi were insufficient to handle increasing volume of cargo.
As anticipated, India has shown its concern over Pakistan’s handing
over the control of Gwadar Port to China, Indian Defence Minister A. K
Anthony has termed it a matter of serious concern to New Delhi saying
that Gwadar port is situated at a strategic location on the Arabian Sea
and the mouth of the Persian Gulf and is only about 400kms away from the
Strait of Hormuz, a key global oil supply route. Pakistan has recently
signed an agreement to transfer operational control of the Gwadar port
from Singapore’s PSA International to Chinese Overseas Port Holdings. A
former Indian Additional Secretary and head of Centre for Air Power
Studies has opined that it would enable Chine to deploy military
capability in the region and enter the Arabian Sea and the Gulf.
The operations of the port were given to a Singapore company but it
failed to fully operationalize it for unknown reasons. There was no
alternative left to Pakistan but to give the contract to some sound parties and the Federal Cabinet took a far reaching decision to give the operations of the port to a Chinese Company. India has been aspiring to become a major naval power in the region and the comments by its Defence Minister is yet another evidence that New Delhi is having an eye on Gwadar Port in view of its strategic location. Already there are confirmed reports that Indian agencies are behind the acts
of terrorism in Balochistan to destabilize it for the attainment of its
long-term objectives. Another reason is that India feels threatened by
Gwadar as fully operationalization of the port and associated
developments will help increase the influence and significance of
Pakistan. It also realizes that the use of Gwadar port by land locked
Central Asian Republics (CARs), Afghanistan and China would make them
more dependent on Pakistan and that would have obvious benefits to the
country as it will become an important player in the region. Though a
stronger Pakistan with higher stature in the international world is not
welcomed by India yet we would advise the Indian leadership to avoid
such comments as the handing over of the Gwadar port to China or any other country is an internal matter of Pakistan.
strategic access to the Persian Gulf: the port is just 180
nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz through which 40% of
all globally traded oil is shipped.
enables China to diversify and secure its crude oil import
routes and provides the landlocked and oil- and natural
gas-rich Xinjiang province with access to the Arabian Sea.
With China formally in command of Gwadar port operations, it would,
along with Pakistan, gain an important regional and strategic advantage.
Gwadar port being so
close to the Straist of Hormuz also has implications for India it would
enable Pakistan to exercise control over energy routes. It is believed
that Gwadar will provide Beijing with a facility to monitor US and
Indian naval activity in the Persian Gulf and Arbian Sea, respectively,
as well as any future maritime cooperation between India and the US.
with its proximity to the vital sea lane between the
Middle East and China, has strategic importance for
China, especially for oil trade. If China wants to
emancipate itself from transportation or military
problems along Asia’s southern coastline, direct access to the
Indian Ocean may be the solution. Direct access to the India Ocean
would give China a strategic post of observation and a
key location for its navy. While Myanmar and Sri
Lanka can offer substantial support, the country that
can best help Beijing is Pakistan because of its
location and long-time friendship.
New Delhi was also uneasy when China built ports in Hambantota (Sri
Lanka) and Chittagong (Bangladesh) but it rates Gwadar as a more serious
development. The Chinese Foreign Office has issued a statement
defending Beijing’s decision to take over the port operation as part of
the continued cooperation between the two countries. Islamabad is
justified in asserting that it is within its right to award the
operation to China. The Indian fears are based on a wrong premise.
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