Gwadar much useful than Chabahar: Sartaj

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Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad—While declaring the Gwadar and Chabahar ports as complementary and sister ports, Advisor on Foreign Affairs said the utility of Gwadar being the deep seaport is much greater than Chabahar.
He was winding up debate on a motion moved by Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh in the Senate on Monday regarding the agreement signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan for development of Chabahar Port and its negative impact on Pakistan particular on Gwadar Port.
“In view of the overall re-alignment in the region, Pakistan has taken decisive steps to further strengthen connectivity not only with China but also Central Asian countries.”
The Advisor said with increased connectivity, this region needs more than one port and therefore, both Gwadar and Chabahar ports are complementary. There is a proposal for rail link between them.
The Advisor dispelled the impression that Pakistan was slow in developing Gwadar and said during the last one year there has been unprecedented progress in the development of Gwadar.
“There would be enormous boost to development of Gwadar if Chinese divert only 10% of their trade to Gwadar port,” he said adding China plans to divert 17% of its oil imports for its Western parts to Gwadar, which will give huge boost to trade activities through this port. He said Pakistan has to provide efficient services and taken several measures to facilitate Afghan trade through the country.
Sartaj Aziz said apart from diplomatic connectivity, Pakistan is also focusing on physical connectivity with countries of the region. In this connection, he referred, among others, to CASA-1000, TAPI, extension of CPEC to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to provide access to Central Asia, road links with Afghanistan, and upgradation of railway link with Iran.
The Advisor acknowledged that visit of the Indian Prime Minister to GCC countries had economic and trade dimensions but pointed out that Pakistan has deeper and closer ties with these countries.
Similarly, with Iran, Pakistan is intensifying efforts to forge closer economic ties after lifting of sanctions.
About growing Indo-US relations, he said broader geo-political factors are involved particularly the US policy of containing China where India fits in.
He said speech of the Indian Prime Minister at the joint session of US Congress was directed against Pakistan and we have effectively countered it and are going to counter it further.
He said India has been blaming Pakistan with regard to non-state actors and Pakistan is building dossiers about activities of RAW agents in fomenting trouble in Balochistan and elsewhere in the country.
He expressed the confidence that in view of effective diplomacy of Pakistan, India would not be able to get another exception this time to make an entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
He said Pakistan has been urging that there should be criteria-based approach for inclusion of non-NPT countries into NSG and the criteria should be equally apply to all.
He said Pakistan’s point of view has received considerable support from many countries.
He said our point of view was generally accepted at the meeting of NSG in Vienna and hoped that same would be the result in its forthcoming meeting in South Korea.
Replying to points raised by the Chairman, the Advisor said Pakistan is lowering its dependence on foreign assistance.
As for Indo-US military cooperation is concerned, Pakistan has been emphasizing that this should not widen further the strategic imbalance in the region.

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