India on Monday took over operations of strategic Chabahar Port in Iran to reach war-torn Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. The major strategic boost came after US exempted the Chabahar Port, developed by India, from CAATSA sanctions last month. The Chabahar Port will give access to India to directly ship supplies to Afghanistan without crossing Pakistan. According to a report published in The Hindustan Times, the Chabahar Port was formally handed over to India during the first follow-up committee for the implementation of the Chabahar Agreement between Iran, Afghanistan, and India in Tehran on Monday. The meeting was attended by India’s joint secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) Deepak Mittal and Iran’s Mohammad Ali Hassanzadeh, the deputy head of the Ports and Maritime Organisation.
“Positive and constructive discussions were held between the three sides on full operationalisation of the Trilateral Transit Agreement for international transit and transport through the Chabahar Port. They agreed on the routes for the trade and transit corridors between the three countries,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
“India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) has officially started to run Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar,” Behrouz Aqaei, director general of Sistan-Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organisation was quoted as saying by Iran news agency. Aqaei further added that the primary task of the IPGL would include loading and unloading operations besides procurement and marketing.
In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan had inked a pact which entailed the establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.
The port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation's southern coast, is easily accessible from India's western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan's Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located at distance of around 80 km from Chabahar.
The Chabahar Port is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries besides ramping up trade among the three countries after Pakistan denied transit access to India.
(With PTI inputs)