ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – India will finance to develop another road network inside Afghanistan to facilitate Iran to reach as far as Tajikistan in a shorter way comparing to already operational North-South Corridor that connects Iranian port of Chabahar with Central Asia states via Turkmenistan.
The decision was taken during the first round of Director General – Joint Secretary level India-Iran- Afghanistan trilateral consultations on Afghanistan that was held in New Delhi on April 27, 2016.
According to sources, the new route will run in Northern Afghanistan in the proximity of Central Asian borders where law and order situation is under control and where Taliban are not strongly present.
Sources claim that India will release money for new route that will run from Heart-Leman- Bala, Murghab—Cormach—Maymaneh—Andkhoy—Karamkal—Shaberghan—Aqchach to Mazar Sharif. It may be mentioned that every country of Central Asia is already connected with Mazar Sharif.
Development observers believe that the apparent reason for instant Indian investment through India-Iran-Afghanistan trilateral consultations for this new road networking is to offer Iranian Chabahar port as the shortest and safer port to Central Asian states for their international trade comparing to ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will run through western parts of Afghanistan where civil war is going on since the last 35 years and where Taliban and Daish are strongly present. It may be mentioned that CPEC will enter to Afghanistan from Pakistani Baluchistan. All areas connecting to Pakistan from Afghanistan are facing worst law and order situation due to ongoing war inside Afghanistan and these areas are under the virtual control of Daish and Taliban.
New road networking will enable Chabahar to connect with other central Asia states while bypassing Turkmenistan and through Afghanistan, minimizing journey and cargo cost for Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to reach Chabahar port for international trade.
It may be mentioned that existing route that connects India via Chabahar Port with Central Asia is known as North-South Corridor. This route starts from Kandla port of India to Chabahar port of Iran via sea and then moves on towards Central Asia through Iranshar, Zahedan and Mashhad. From Mashhad, it enters to Turkmenistan and crosses Chardzhor and then enters Uzbekistan at Bokhara. It runs from Bokhara to Tashkent and enters Kyrgyzstan via Dzhambul. This routes ends at Almty city of Kazakhstan. This route does not touch Tajikistan directly and border crossing among Central Asian states on this routes are not only time consuming rather expensive for cargo handlers. This situation is one the reasons to compel Central Asian countries considering using Gwadar port of Pakistan instead of using Iranian port of Chabahar.
Indian investment for uplifting road network to connect Chabahar port with Central Asia through a newroad networking looks an attempt to diminish the importance of $46 billion project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that can be shortest possible route to connect Central Asian republics with Gwadar Port to enhance Central Asian world trade.
India has already invested over $ 960,000 over Route 606 that is also known as Delaram–Zaranj Highway inside Afghanistan. The length of this route is over 200km. It connects Delaram (border city of Afghanistan) to Zaranj (Capital of Nimruz province of Afghanistan). Construction of this project started in 2005 and road was opened for trade in year 2009. India had a dream to connect this road networking to Iran and took advantage of US sanction against Iran Oil export in the early 2012 because Pakistan followed US sanctions religiously and left the arena by halting all development projects with Iran. Year 2012 oil sanctions of USA stated that if any country imports crude oil from Iran, then that country’s bank (through which payments are made to Iran) will not be allowed to do transactions in USA.
Despite of sanctions, India and China continued to work with Tehran including import of oil from Iran. However, India felt the heat of US diplomatic pressure and agreed to cut down oil imports from Iran but continued to invest on Chahbahar Port and road networking inside Afghanistan. Iranian Government allowed India to invest upto $100 million in the Chabahar Port Development project under trilateral agreement that was signed among India, Iran and Afghanistan during 2003.
Meanwhile, Iran kept building a highway from Chabahar upto Afghanistan border and built a road connecting Delaram (border city of Afghanistan).