Editorial: Chabahar Deal Is A Win-Win For India And Iran

Editorial: Chabahar Deal Is A Win-Win For India And Iran

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 11:00 PM IST
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The threat of US sanctions against India for signing of an agreement for the development of the long-delayed Chabahar Port is vastly exaggerated. In the changed geopolitical situation in recent years, the US power to enforce its writ in these matters is vastly diminished. Increasingly India is asserting its strategic autonomy, as importing huge quantities of petroleum products from the US-sanctioned Russia, without in anyway impacting its warm ties with the US fully testifies. Besides, as a clear counter to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative and the Gwadar port that China is building in Pakistan, the Chabahar project jells well with the Indo-US strategic interests. A robotic opposition to India’s decision to pour in huge money and expertise from which all parties stand to gain tremendously in the coming years is best avoided. Conceived more than two decades ago by the Vajpayee government, the Chabahar port has been a victim of delays caused by the uncertain conditions in the region. Notably, despite his open hostility towards the Islamic State of Iran, President Trump had granted India an exemption from implementing the Iranian project. The agreement signed on Monday envisages the State-owned India Ports Global Ltd to commit $120 million for equipping and operations of the port. Besides, a rupee credit of $250 billion is also being considered. The six-year long freeze on the purchase of equipment from foreign manufacturers for fear of US sanctions seems to have been quietly lifted. Being the only deep-sea port provides Iran direct entry to the Persian Gulf, Central Asia and Europe. This could minimise trade disruptions given its planned link to the North-South Transport Corridor envisioned by India, Iran and Russia. All countries in the region stand to gain from easier and unobstructed movement of goods, leading to substantial savings in time and freight costs. Given that the recent G- 20 summit in Delhi had drawn the broad blueprint of a India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, the Chabahar in several ways complements the proposed project. Enhanced trade between nations creates a vested interest in peaceful relations among them. The Chabahar agreement underlines the removal of wrinkles between India and Iran visible sometime ago. It is significant that despite India’s balanced position on the ongoing war in Gaza, Iran has sent out a signal that it is able and ready to do business with this country despite it not joining the bulk of Asian and African nations, led by Russia and China, to condemn Israel at the United Nations. Even otherwise, the thrust of the Chabahar project is essentially economic though in the process it will serve vital strategic interests as well. That Iran while engaged in a war of nerves against Israel, which occasionally erupts into exchange of fire, and managing its terrorist outfits in West Asia could consider making forward movement on Chabahar underlines its significance. For India too it is no less significant that despite the on-going heated poll campaign the government has ensured that its normal business is not halted. Chabahar is a win-win for both countries.

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