Gwadar port’s future

China has “acceded to Pakistan’s request to take over operations” of the Gwadar port as soon as the contract with the incumbent Singapore Port Authority (SPA) expires, revealed Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar. He thanked the Chinese government for building the Gwadar port but said that Pakistan “will be more grateful to the Chinese government if they agree to build a naval base at Gwadar for Pakistan”. As per reports, it is still not clear when China will take over the port, since the agreement between the PSAI-AKD group and the Gwadar Port Authority is valid until 2047. The reason for Pakistan’s request to the Chinese to take over is that the SPA has not done much since taking over the Gwadar port. The port is in almost the same condition as it was when they took over four years ago. None of the contractual commitments have been fulfilled since the agreement was signed in February 2007. Given this poor performance, there is no question of continuing with a non-functioning partner.

On the other hand, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani rejected the Pak-China deal on Gwadar Port because he was not consulted. While the sense of deprivation is already high in Balochistan and will get worse because the provincial government was ignored, there is a need to be pragmatic. Does the provincial government have the capacity to run a modern port? Nationalist resentment and aspirations notwithstanding, the Balochistan government has to be realistic. This does not mean that Balochistan should be neglected forever. While there is merit in the Chinese offer, Balochistan should be helped to develop capacity in order to run the port as soon as possible. Pakistan cannot rely on other countries to run such projects indefinitely.

The federal government should seriously address Mr Raisani’s grievance that “85 percent development schemes of Balochistan are being slashed”. This is in fact unfair to the poorest province of the country. The sense of alienation that the Baloch feel can be addressed by creating more employment opportunities for them in their own province and introducing new development projects. This will help in bringing the Baloch nationalists into the mainstream.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

Comments

I am totally agreed with you, Federal Government should consult with Provincial Government in all matters which relate to them. And I think, China will do more useful for us than any other company/group etc.
From everything I read, it seems that regular bombings and other terrorist sabotage has been a major stumbling block in bringing the Gwadar Port into full operation. This would certainly include terrorist activities by CIA-supported (since 2002) Baloch separatists. I blog about this at "Our CIA Freedom Fighters in Pakistan" at http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2011/03/07/our-cia-freedom-fighters-in-pakistan/

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