India to Steer Chabahar Port with a Decade of Strategic Partnership

Chabahar Port

India’s strategic ties with Iran are to further solidify as reports emerge of an impending agreement to manage the pivotal Chabahar Port for the next 10 years. This landmark accord marks India’s inaugural foray into directly managing the operations of an overseas port, signifying a significant milestone in bilateral relations between the two nations. The pact, expected to be signed imminently, follows a previous agreement inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran in 2016.

According to sources, India’s Shipping Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, is slated to journey to Iran for the signing ceremony, underscoring the significance of the occasion amid the ongoing frenzy of India’s 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Chabahar Port’s expansion has been largely financed by Indian investments. With India leading the operations at the port, it is poised to be positioned as a key player in the region’s maritime landscape. The port’s strategic location holds immense potential as a linchpin in India’s ambitious plans for the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), facilitating seamless connectivity between India and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. By leveraging Chabahar Port, India aims to bypass Pakistan and establish direct access to Afghanistan and beyond, into Central Asia.

Under the overarching vision of the INSTC, India envisions Chabahar Port evolving into a bustling transit hub, catalyzing trade and commerce across South Asia and Central Asia. The forthcoming agreement, slated for a decade with provisions for automatic extension, supersedes the original contract, which exclusively covered the Shahid Beheshti terminal of the port and necessitated annual renewals.

Notably, the 2016 trilateral pact between Iran, India, and Afghanistan laid the groundwork for the development of the Shahid Beheshti terminal, further underscoring the collaborative efforts to fortify regional connectivity.

In addition to its strategic significance, the Chabahar Port holds immense promise for Indian traders and investors seeking to tap into the burgeoning markets of Central Asia. Sonowal has emphasized the port’s pivotal role in enhancing transit and transport networks across Central Asia, fostering economic synergies, and forging robust regional and international transport corridors.

The port’s expansion is envisaged to adhere to universally recognized norms of good governance, rule of law, and equality, thereby fostering an environment conducive to sustainable economic growth and development.

As India embarks on this historic agreement to manage the Chabahar Port, the nation’s commitment to fostering mutually beneficial partnerships, enhancing regional connectivity, and realizing its vision of becoming a pivotal player in the global maritime domain is highlighted.

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