New Delhi: In a shocking revelation for India, Iran on Monday said that it has invited Pakistan to become a part of the Chabahar project.
Pakistan media on Tuesday reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday invited Pakistan to participate in Chabahar seaport project and in the development of its link with the Gwadar Port "as he sought to allay concerns in Pakistan over Indian involvement in the Iranian port."
“We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chabahar,” said Zarif.
The Chabahar Port has given India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. For India, the investment in Chabahar was important since the port will bolster a trade route for land-locked Central Asian countries that would bypass rival Pakistan. Last year, India committed up to USD 500 million for the development of the Chabahar port along with associated roads and rail lines.
The port in Iran’s 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 around 80 kilometres from Chabahar.
However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who inaugurated a newly built extension of the strategic Chabahar Port in December downplayed the rivalry in his inauguration speech and had said the port will bring “more engagement and unity” among regional countries.
“We should go after positive competition,” he said.
He added, “We welcome other ports in the region, we welcome Gwadar’s development.”