Chabahar, Gwadar are complementary ports: Pak minister

IRNA – Pakistan does not look Chabahar as competing port rather it is a complementary to Gwadar port of Pakistan, said the interior minister of Pakistan and minister for planning, development and reforms.

“Pakistan believes in the vision of regional connectivity for shared prosperity and we are looking forward to develop strong cooperation between Iran and Pakistan through these two ports,” Ahsan Iqbal said, addressing a conference on Pakistan-China-Iran: A Trident of Regional Connectivity, organized by Institute of Strategic Studies, in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Iqbal suggested that Iran, Pakistan and China should create a community of shared prosperity in the region.

“The age of geopolitics is over and the time has come for Pakistan to focus on geo-economics while looking for the regional options…China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) envisages regional connectivity, therefore, we are looking forward to Iran for developing new infrastructure in the region and beyond,” he said,

The minister noted that the potential of Iran-Pakistan trade is also not satisfactory.
We must harness the trade opportunities emerging in the world, Iqbal said.

Khalid Mahmood Chairman Board of Governors of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), who was also present at the event, spoke about the goodwill that prevails among the three countries and said that the stage is set for them to achieve new milestones in economy.

Mahmood said that China and Pakistan are encouraging Iran and other countries to join the CPEC project.

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already expressed his country’s willingness to join the project, he said.

“Pakistan looks forward to integrate with both Iran and China and the relations of the three countries are expanding in many directions,” he added.

Iran, Pakistan and China today share common objectives of development, the ISSI senior fellow further said.
Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, chaired the first session, Pakistan-China-Iran: Analyzing the Prospects of Triangular Cooperation.

In his presentation over the session, Alireza Bikdeli, Senior Expert at the Institute for Politics and International Studies (IPIS), Tehran, emphasized that Iran and Pakistan must try to benefit to the maximum from their neighborhood position while keeping common development plans away from securitization.

Bikdeli said Iran supports Pakistan’s development plans. He said that development of Chabahar and Gwadar ports provide ground for the sound economic ties between the two countries.

Lin Minwang, a research fellow of the Chinese Fudan University in Shanghai, discussed the possibilities of the trilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Principal and Dean, National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Pakistan, suggested a two-pronged approach to cement the trilateral cooperation: facilitating the trident through constructing regional institutions; and providing specific support to the least developed countries in the region.

Mehdi Honardoost, Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan, chairing the second session on Pakistan-China-Iran: Initiatives for Regional Connectivity, opened the floor on a very positive note that regionalism is the key principle of Iranian foreign policy and it has much more to offer in energy market and transit trade to further this initiative.

Muhammad Jafar Javadi Arjmand, Assistant Professor at the University of Tehran, put forth the idea of synergizing the three formidable forces – regionalism, economic diplomacy and multilateralism – to carry through the idea of the trident.

Rong Ying, Vice President China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Beijing, touched upon the competing visions on the regional initiatives and proposed that the three countries should find the effective means to avert any possibility of confrontation through promotion of consensus.

Riffat Hussain, Head of Department of Government and Public Policy, NUST, Pakistan, stressed upon the need for peace in Afghanistan, which is the key to success of CPEC or any other regional initiative.

Khalid Mahmood, chaired the third session, “Challenges to Trilateral Cooperation and The Way Forward.”

Hadi Soleimanpour, Head of the Centre for International Research and Education (CIRE), Tehran, stated that China needs to help Iran and Pakistan with an integrated and comprehensive plan.

Wang Yiwei, Director of the Institute of International Affairs, Renmin University, Beijing, said that shared trinity encompasses shared interest, responsibility and destiny.

Javid Husain, former Pakistani Ambassador to Iran, stated that China has a convergence of strategic interest with both Iran and Pakistan, thus providing an opportunity for close commercial and economic cooperation for the two countries which are in dire need of foreign investment.