President of Iran Hassan Rouhani (C), President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani (R) and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (L) and are seen as they signed Chabahar transit agreement in Tehran, Iran on May 23, 2016.
Islamic Republics of Iran, Afghanistan and democratic Republic of India eager to support and consolidate cooperation and develop economic relations among their nations also at regional and global levels; Understanding the need of Afghanistan as a land-locked country for accessing open seas through Chabahar Port in accordance with relevant international conventions; Taking into account the Chabahar Port as one of the main regional hubs in transport cooperation among the three Contracting Parties, aiming to utilizing rail, road and/or air and customs capabilities of the Chabahar Port and Free Trade and Industrial Zone of Chabahar.
Moreover, articulating their inclination to develop and improve their capabilities to facilitate transport and transit of goods, and passengers based on prevalent national legislations and according to the international conventions and standards of transportation to which the Parties are members; highlighting to utilize the existing and future transport infrastructure in order to transport and transit Goods and Passengers through their territories. Along with affirming the importance of Chabahar Port as a hub for development of transport and transit cooperation among the three countries, recalling the memorandum of understanding concluded in January 2003 among Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Republic of India as development of transport and transit infrastructures in the territories of the three countries.
For the implementation of this Agreement, the focal ministries of each state will be Ministry of Roads and Urban Development from Iran, Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation from Afghanistan and India yet not decide who will be the authority to deal with Chabahar.
Objective of the agreement is to create a reliable transport corridor for the smooth transport and transit of goods and passengers through Chabahar Port among Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Iran and Republic of India. Furthermore, increasing the efficiency of the transport corridor aimed at optimizing transport costs and attracting transit of goods and passengers of other countries through the international transport and transit corridors. Moreover, facilitate access to international markets by using land, sea and/or air transportation through Chabahar Port.
India, Iran and Afghanistan also purposes Coordination Council for the implementation of Chabahar Agreement. The Coordination Council shall hold its first meeting within three months from the date of entry into force of this Agreement in order to formulate rules of procedures of the Coordination Council as well as the mechanism of functioning of the Follow-up Committee. The Coordination Council meet at least once a year alternatively in the territories of the Parties in accordance with the English Alphabetical order or at the request of any of the Parties.
There is also one follow op committee which determine:
a) The routes of the International Transport and Transit Corridors;
b) Study the matters related to taxes, charges and tariffs currently applied at ports, railways, roads and border checkpoints by each Contracting Party and submit proposals to the Coordination Council in order to increase attractiveness of the international transport and transit corridors;
c) Study the matters related to the existing and future facilities of the transportation and transport infrastructures in the territories of the Parties, if necessary;
d) Prepare proposals to achieve the objectives of this Agreement in such a manner that shall not contradict the national legislation of any Contracting Parties.
The Islamic Republic of Iran will be the Depository State and the place of Permanent Secretariat of the Agreement. The Depository State submits the certified copies of this Agreement to the Parties. The Secretariat shall inform the Parties regarding accession or withdrawal of any Party from the Agreement.
This Agreement shall enter into force for a period of ten years after 30 days from the date of the last written notification by any Contracting Party to the Depository State and the Permanent Secretariat through diplomatic channels, that it has fulfilled all its necessary legal procedure. The Depository State and the Permanent Secretary shall notify the other parties of such notification. After the said period, this Agreement shall remain in force thereafter, unless one of the Founding Parties notifies the Depository State and the Permanent Secretariat in writing of its intention to withdraw from Agreement through diplomatic channels. In the latter case, the Agreement shall be terminated after six months with respect to that Party. Any Contracting Parties other than the Founding Parties can also withdraw in the same manner.
Modi’s visit to Iran finally seals the deal on Chabahar port, enhancing India’s connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia. India-Iran-Afghanistan troika will give tough competition to the China-Pakistan axis emerging at Gwadar port. India has already spent Rs 600 crore in building road connecting Iran border and Afghanistan. Chabahar connectivity will improve road as well as maritime connectivity giving boost to trade relations. India committed to pay oil dues worth $6.4 billion earlier to Iran.
In this changing scenario of international and regional politics and especially in the context of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port and Iran’s Chabahar Port equally have a unique geostrategic and geopolitical importance. China’s growing dependence on maritime trade and energy imports is fueling reconceptualization of china maritime needs, ambitions and capabilities. China’s supply line passes through the trouble South China Sea, Pacific Rim, the Strait of Malacca and Sri Lanka, and Chinese supply takes about 10,000 km to reach the destination. Substitute Gwadar Port will reduce the sea distance to 2,500 km instead of 10,000 km and land distance for Kashgar to 2,800 because Kashgar is 4,500 km from the main Chinese port, the port of Shanghai, while Gwadar is 2800 km from Kashgar.
India is desperate for Chabahar Port to get share of Iran’s crude oil reserves of 157.8 billion barrels and 1,187.3 trillion cubic feet gas reserves. Moreover, it is also persuaded to access and fully exploit $3 trillion’s worth resources of Afghanistan while obstructing China. Above all Indian plane is using the Chabahar Port for military drives because of its anxiety about the Chinese being so close to its naval bases of Gujarat and Mumbai.
Saadat Hassan, PhD candidate at Quaid-i-Azam University, is the expert on South Asia affairs. Contact him via: firstname.lastname@example.org
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