ISSN 2330-717X

Chabahar Port: Potential For Bangladesh Also? – OpEd

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For decades India requested Pakistan to give over land transit facility and earn in exchange millions of dollars as transit fees. But Pakistan didn’t agree. India got an alternative route. That’s natural. Iran and Afghanistan were immediate neighbours of India for many thousands years till 1947. All these three countries have very strong historical, cultural and civilizational bondings. So no other country should be worried or even bothered if they are again going to revive those links.

Chabahar port is located in the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with Pakistan. It is the only major Oceanic port of Iran that lies beyond the Strait of Hormuz and has direct access to the Indian Ocean. It connects to Afghanistan at the Zaranj and Deleram highway. The port serves as the nearest port entry, after Pakistani ports, for India into Central Asia.

India and Iran both have strong economic links between each other

As Iran and India developed ties and strong relations, Iran made strong oil deals with India. In fact, Iran is the second-largest supplier of crude oil to India, which makes Iran quite a big deal to India’s economic interests.

Meanwhile, India has invested heavily in Iran’s infrastructure and Iran’s people. This includes Highways such as the Zaranj-Delaram highway.

India also uses Iran’s ports as a way to economically compete with Chinese-influenced Pakistan’s Gwadar port. One example is Chabahar port, which has been financed by both Iran and India as a way to ship goods between Iran and Central Asia. With India’s strong economy , Iran can be able to surge back with the Indian economy after the US-sponsored economic sanctions crippled the country.

Indian  Chennai, kandala and Mumbai ports are connected with Iran’s Chabahar port. Now Iran proposed the linkage between International North South Transit corridor with Iran’s Chabahar port. India will be able to Russia and Europe utilizing the connectivity project through Iran-Afghanistan-Central Asian States-Eurasian States-Russia-Europe. 

India sent 75,000 tonnes of wheat as humanitarian food assistance to Afghanistan in 2020 via Chabahar and assisted Iran in fighting its worst-ever locust invasion by supplying 25 tonnes of Malathion in June 2020.

Chabahar is very important for expanding the trade in the region especially for all Indian traders and merchants to export their goods to CIS countries and north of Europe and Iran customs administration has made all infrastructure ready to facilitate trade and transit in the corridor.” Uzbekistan hosts ‘Central-South Asia conference 2021.

Uzbekistan has hosted a high-level International Conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities” at Tashkent. Foreign Ministers from Bangladesh and India attended at the conference in July. Bangladesh Foreign Minister has shown the interest to utilize the connectivity project. Bangladesh is a South Asian trusted ally of India. The ties between Bangladesh and India depends on mutual interest, benefit and respect. Chittagong port and Mongla port are connected with the Indian ports. Now Bangladesh can utilize the Chabahar port through the Indian port to join INSTC. 

Bangladesh’ s economy is booming day by day. It should be connected to Central Asian and Eurasian countries more to maximize it’s business interest. Bangladesh can import cotton from Central Asian and Eurasian states to fulfill the demands in the garments sector. Bangladesh garments is booming. It is going to be a South Asian Economic miracle. The current ruling party Bangladesh Awami League is developing the country consistently. Now the country needs some development partners. Bangladesh agro products and apparel can be exported to Iran, Eurasian, Central Asian states and Russia using Chabahar port. Potatoes can be exported to Russia hugely. 

Now connectivity is seen as a synonym of development. Bangladesh can ensure its maximum it’s business interest using the Chabahar port and INSTC connectivity project. New door will be opened for Bangladesh. There will be employed of huge number of unemployed youth in Bangladesh. 

Although Iran is remain under US sanction but India is it’s ally. As a friend of India, Bangladesh will be able to overcome this. Bangladesh is a peace lover and peace keeper state in South Asia. Super powers and great powers should consider the issue in case of developing countries.

According to some Iran’s Media, then Ambassador of Bangladesh in Tehran said in a visit to Chabahar Port that the relations between the Iranian and Bangladeshi merchants and investors can be of effect in the development of the region, in which Chabahar can play an important role in 2018 . He mentioned that Bangladesh is willing to have marine trade with the port, which is an appropriate chance for traders and investors and direct and continuous trade with Chabahar Port. There are huge possibilities and potentials Bangladeshi  investors and traders.

In very recent State minister for foreign affairs in Bangladesh visited Iran . State Minister Shahriar Slam  attends Swearing- in ceremony of newly elected President of Iran

The State Minister emphasised on increasing connectivity and private sector cooperation in trade and investment between the two countries.

In case of LNG import, Bangladesh will be mostly benefitted. The  cultural and religious bondage between the regional people will also be boost up. 

By utilizing the Chabahar port and INSTC connectivity project, Bangladesh can take part in the development process in Afghanistan if the situation is stagnant and stable in case of socio-economic infrastructural development.

The connectivity will also consider the state of affairs and prospects of interregional cooperation in Central and South Asia, successful examples of cooperation, promising interconnected infrastructure projects. Tackling Covid-19, maritime piracy and terrorism, maritime environmental security, mutual trade between multiparties may be some sector of interest for Bangladesh. If Bangladesh utilizes the projects, it strategic significance will grow up. Russia and CIS states will be more interested to invest in Bangladesh. It is pertinent that Russia has investment in Ruppur Nuclear Power Plan in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh wants to be connected with regionally and globally. Chabahar port creates some opportunities for Bangldeshesi businesses. Now it is high time to be connected. People across the region will be benefitted.

*MD Pathik Hasan, Dhaka based NGO worker, Freelance writer particularly on the current international politics.

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