The author is a resilient graduate in electrical engineering, and an aspiring professional in the said area.
The Port of Gwader has immense potential of becoming the socio-economic trading hub of the entire region, particularly after the commencement of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) developments. It is also a strategic location for an influential naval base.
President Musharraf inaugurated Gwader Port in 2002 highlighting its significance in the following words:
“If we see this whole region, it is like a funnel. The top of the funnel is this wide area of Central Asia and also China's western region. And this funnel gets narrowed on through Afghanistan and Pakistan and the end of this funnel is Gwadar port. So this funnel, futuristically, is the economic funnel of this whole region”
— (Former President of Pakistan Pervaz Musharraf, 2002 : 22nd March).
Strategic Importance of Gwader for Pakistan
- Sitting only about 200 km from Straits of Hormuz, Gwader Port can easily monitor International oil supply routs and Sea Lines of Communication originating from Persian Gulf.
- In an event of an all out war with India, India would not be able to enforce a naval blockade on Pakistan like it did in 1971 by blockading Karachi Port because Gwader is 460 Km further away from Indian territory then Karachi. Through Gwader, Pakistan can keep its international trade open even in a scenario in which it looses naval superiority in Karachi area.
- If India attempts to threaten Pakistani trade routes with Malaysia and China, Pakistan can retaliate by blockading Indian oil supply routes through Straits of Hormuz (which is in close proximity to Gwader).
Economic and Social Benefits of Gwader Port
- Pakistan will collect royalties on transit trade from Central Asian Republics and Afghanistan.
- Being in close proximity to Straits of Hormuz (where most of the worlds oil trade passes) Gwader Port complex could serve as a refueling port for ships.
- Local fishing Industry would flourish because fishes and shrimp could be exported directly from Gwader.
- It will be a boost for the economy of Baluchistan.
- Being a deep sea port it could cater to very large bulk carriers which cannot be docked at Karachi and Port Qasim.
- Will ease pressure at the already overcrowded Karachi Port.
Strategic Importance of Gwader for China – Driving force of CPEC
The entire Gwader Port project is an exclusive Chinese investment and it is also a major financier of development projects under CPEC, therefore it is not surprising that China will be a major benefactor from it both militarily and economically.
- China will be keen to maintain a strong naval presence at Gwader to counter Influence of Indian Navy. It can serve as a listening post for US activities in Persian Gulf.
- With naval presence at Gwader China will successfully encircle Indian waters, this will reduce Indo-US domination of the Indian Ocean.
- Major reason behind Chinese Involvement is that it hopes to shift international trade (oil and food grain) of its western province of Xinjiang through Gwader. It will provide the shortest possible approach to Persian Gulf by traversing only 2,500 Km of existing Silk Route.
- It will guarantee security of its oil supply routes from Straits of Hormuz. Around 60% of Chinese energy supplies pass through this route.
- In an unlikely event if USA or India blockade Straits of Malacca Gwader could be a viable alternative.
Opportunities for Central Asian Republics
The success of Gwader in becoming the regional trade hub ultimately depends upon its usage by Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics and other landlocked Caspian countries. Gwader is by far the best alternative for Central Asian Republics and Afghanistan to carry out their International Trade.
- It will help them get rid of Russian influence as at present most of their trade passes through Russian land based routes.
- Central Asian Republics have vast untapped oil and gas reserves which could be exported via pipelines ending at Gwader.
- Gwader provides the shortest possible route to warm waters for Central Asian Republics and Afghanistan.
- The route through Chahbahr, Iran could have been a viable alternative but owing to sanctions imposed by USA on Iran it is not a good option. USA and and other world powers would like to see Gwader being developed as a trading hub rather then any port in Iran.
- Other alternative routes thorough Turkey are not feasible.
Opportunities for Afghanistan
- Utilizing Gwader Port is a golden opportunity for Afghanistan, for sure Gwader will be the shortest possible route to Afghanistan after the completion of Gwader-Rato Dero highway. This can be crucial for the development of landlocked Afghanistan.
© 2013 StormsHalted