The opening of the strategic Chabahar Port has reduced Afghanistan’s dependency on Pakistan for transit trade, top Afghan leader Abdullah Abdullah has said. Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province of Iran Chabahar is easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.
The port is likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.
“Afghanistan used to rely only on one transit road, which was through Karachi. That is not the case anymore. (Now) its (also) through Chabahar,” Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said.
In a significant strategic move, India sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port on October 30. The shipment was flagged off from the Kandla port in Gujarat with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
India and Iran signed an agreement in May last year, with former tasked to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a ten-year lease.
Afghanistan in the near future would also have trade transit route through Central Asia that would connect the country with Europe.
“There are one or two agreements that we will be signing with neighbouring countries, including Uzbekistan, hopefully in a few days which will help transit,” he said in response to a question at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a top American think-tank.
The top leader in Afghanistan establishment also welcomed United State’s new South Asia policy of, saying Afghanistan will succeed and will overcome the challenges that are ahead of it with fighting against the government and the people of Afghanistan will be persuaded to come to the negotiating table.
He also argued that it is important for the countries in the region to realise that terrorism is a common enemy for all of them.
If there is one lesson in the past two decades that is these terrorist groups have not served and will not serve the real interest of any country or state, he said.
“…I have no doubt in my mind that there will be conditions and circumstances that more and more groups will be convinced that they need to join the peaceful process rather to continue an endless war,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)