e-Ariana - Todays Afghan News
 Home 
 News 
 Articles 
 Cartoons 
 Feedback 
 Opinion  
 Contact Us  
 An Ariana Media Publication 07/28/2014
 Iran's Chabahar port eclipses Pakistan in race for Afghan profits

Business Standard
07/02/2012
By Jyoti Malhotra

[Printer Friendly Version]

New Delhi - Shahbaz Yazdani, the portly CEO of the Chabahar port authority in Iran, is really upset that Commerce Minister Anand Sharma’s impending arrival at the CII-organised investment summit on Afghanistan in the capital last week to deliver the valedictory address means that he doesn’t get any time to make his presentation.

Yazdani has travelled all the way from Chabahar to Delhi and he’s extremely keen to tell the gathering that Iran is open for business. There is a message to the Americans somewhere that Iran is thumbing its nose at them and their precious sanctions, but interestingly, it’s not the most important thing this afternoon. Yazdani is here to talk up the importance of Chabahar and how it could become the perfect alternative route to Afghanistan.

“Right now we can receive ships of 50,000 tonnes capacity. By 2013 we will be able to ramp up to ships with 100,000 tonnes. We are also working on a railway network that will connect Chabahar with Zahedan (a key town on the Iran-Afghanistan border), while a 600-km road is under construction. The Chabahar free-trade zone has been set up on 50 hectares of land. We are ready for India, to do business bilaterally, as well as to use Chabahar as a transit point for Indian goods to be sent to Afghanistan,” Yazdani told this reporter.

As the US and the international community begin to draw down troops from Afghanistan in 2014, the rest of the region is looking at ways to get in. Since nature abhors a political and economic vacuum, early bird cliches seem to be ruling the roost. China was the first to get a stepping-stone into Afghanistan, when the China Metallurgical Group Corp and its top integrated copper producer Jiangxi Copper began work in 2009 in the Logar province just south of Kabul, to explore and develop the vast Aynak copper mines. At $4 billion, it was Afghanistan’s biggest foreign investment. (China has recently won the right to develop an oil farm in the Amu Darya basin in northern Afghanistan.)

A Steel Authority of India-led consortium recently won the bid for the 1.8-million tonne Hajigak iron ore mine in Bamiyan province, about 130 km from Kabul (three out of four blocks). The consortium, which includes private players such as JSW Steel, is expected to spend nearly $11 billion to build a power plant, a steel plant and a road and rail link.

In fact, India is already in serious talks with the Iranian government to help build the 900-km road from Chabahar to Zahedan on the Afghan border. The idea is to connect to the Hajigak mines in one smooth swoop. Inside Afghanistan, the road from Zaranj to Delaram, which connects to the ring road around Kabul, has already been built by India.

With the 2014 drawdown becoming the moment the region is waiting for, and Afghanistan-Pakistan relations deteriorating by the hour, the Afghan leadership is looking at other regional partners for support. The CII-led investment summit last week was almost completely underwritten by the Indian government, but it is a measure of Afghanistan’s huge interest that five ministers travelled to Delhi to address it. On July 8, Tokyo will host a development summit focussed on Afghanistan — and the world will move there. In early May, Iran and Afghanistan signed an agreement for the use of Chabahar.

Will India’s private investors rise to the occasion?

So far, almost all Indian investment in Afghanistan is PSU-led, on whose coat-tails private companies are riding. At the summit, all the players focussed on the lack of security inside Afghanistan, but as minister after Afghan minister pointed out, huge profits almost always follows risk.

Few understand the strategic damage Pakistan is causing itself by refusing to allow Nato to use its territory to carry supplies to Afghanistan better than its newest foreign secretary, Jalil Abbas Jilani.

Jilani is coming to Delhi early next week for talks with his Indian counterpart, Ranjan Mathai. Both will surely talk terrorism — Abu Jundal, etc — as well as trade, Siachen and Sir Creek.

But if Pakistan were to think boldly and throw open its territory for trade, it could earn a few billion rupees every year simply by imposing a transit fee on all the trucks that crossed overland.

By refusing to look at its economic self-interest, Pakistan is helping bring Iran into the cynosure of the world’s eyes. No wonder Shahbaz Yazdani, CEO of Chabahar, is beginning to smile again.Few understand the strategic damage Pakistan is causing itself by refusing to allow NATO to use its territory to carry supplies to Afghanistan better than its newest foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani. Now Jilani is coming to Delhi early next week for talks with his Indian counterpart, Ranjan Mathai. Both will surely talk terrorism — Abu Jundal, etc — as well as trade, Siachen and Sir Creek.

But if Pakistan were to think boldly and throw open its territory for trade, it could earn a few billion rupees every year simply by imposing a transit fee on all the trucks that crossed overland.

By refusing to look at its economic self-interest, Pakistan is helping bring Iran into the cynosure of the world’s eyes. No wonder Shahbaz Yazdani, CEO of Chabahar, is beginning to smile again.

Back to Top



Other Stories:


Has Afghan election fraud controversy been defused?
The Christian Science Monitor (06/25/2014)

Moscow’s Afghan Endgame
The Diplomat (06/25/2014)

Apologize to people, MPs asks Abdullah
Pajhwok (06/25/2014)

The Men Who Run Afghanistan
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

After Karzai
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

IEC secretary announces resignation
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

IECC spurns Abdullah’s claim; hails UN intervention
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

Afghan election crisis: 'stuffed sheep' recordings suggest large-scale fraud
The Guardian (06/23/2014)

Foreign spies trading on poll crisis: People
Pajhwok (06/22/2014)

Election commission office closed in Kunduz due to security threats
Khaama Press (06/22/2014)

Afghan Leader Backs U.N. Election Role
The New York Times (06/21/2014)

Tensions mount over Afghan vote, protest held in Kabul
Reuters (06/21/2014)

Hundreds protest alleged Afghan election fraud
The Associated Press (06/21/2014)

Afghan Presidential Election Takes Dangerous Turn
The Huffington Post (06/21/2014)

20,000 Heratis being sent to Iran for work
Pajhwok (12/27/2013)

At Kabul airport, exodus of U.S. aid goes on
The Washington Post (12/27/2013)

Haqqani Network leaders sexually abuse teenager boys
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Unemployment, Crime Rising Ahead Of Troop Pullout
Tolo (12/27/2013)

British army head warns Taliban could retake key territory in south
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Election Officials Emphasize Impartial Surveys
Tolo (12/27/2013)

A Complete US Withdrawal From Afghanistan Would Be 'A Complete Catastrophe' For Civilian Aid
Reuters (12/27/2013)

Facing Big Changes, Anxious Afghans Hope For The Best In 2014
NPR (12/27/2013)

Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia Are the World's Most Corrupt Countries, With China in the Middle
businessweek.com (12/04/2013)

Poetry of Betrayal: Afghan Elections and Transitional Justice
Beacon Reader (10/25/2013)

Couple beheaded in Helmand province for having love affair
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

US senator says no aid for Afghanistan unless security deal finalized
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

Would-be child bombers detained: NDS
Pajhwok (10/25/2013)

Afghanistan
PJ (10/24/2013)

The Afghan dead find a list
Inter Press Service (10/24/2013)

10 runners shortlisted in 2014 presidential race
Pajhwok (10/24/2013)


Back to Top