In recent years, we saw certain elements trying to portray Gwadar and Chabahar as rival ports but it is a matter of satisfaction that Pakistan negated this image by declaring Chabahar as the sister port of Gwadar.
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 kms from Chabahar. An agreement has been signed between India, Iran and Afghanistan, to grant preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar to Indian goods headed toward Central Asia and Afghanistan.
On the coasts of Makran, the port of Chabahar has a very good capacity for development; this port is considered the only oceanic port of the country, and access to the port has led to the release of water from the countries of Central Asia, India, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and European countries.
The Chabahar port development project was conceived by India and Iran during the previous NDA regime. Under a tripartite deal, India has committed $500 million for the project to be fully operational by the end of 2018.
Owing to the fact that Pakistan is blessed with 700 kilometers long coastline, Gwadar has potential to be expanded as much as one would desire in the future pretext of soaring trade. "We welcome the development of friendly relations between the regional countries and conduct mutually beneficial cooperation", he said.
However, India's relationship with Iran is being highlighted as primarily focused on economic and energy issues, with the United States administration having recognised India's need for a trade route. India now has an opportunity to use the Chabahar project as a launch pad to integrate it with the larger connectivity project - the International North South Transport Corridor - initiated in 2000 by Russia, India and Iran.
China might not take this pill down easily as it has been heavily investing in Gwadar, as part of the United States dollars 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which it has on lease from Pakistan for a period of 40 years. A significant part of the OBOR is also the CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Gilgit and Baltistan, thus preventing India from endorsing it.