An Analysis of Gwadar – Pakistan’s Gwadar Port A New Naval Base in China’s String
An Analysis of Gwadar:
An Analysis of Gwadar it is a port city on the southwestern coast of Baluchistan. The city is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea opposite Oman. Gwadar was an overseas possession of Oman from 1783 to 1958. It is about 120 km southwest of the turban, while the sister port city of chabahar in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan province is about 170 km to the west of Gwadar. The main industrial concern is the fish processing factories, and salt is obtained by the evaporation of seawater.
Gwadar became part of Pakistan by negotiations led by Prime Minister of Pakistan Feroz khan noon and his wife vicar-un- nesa noon with the Sultan of Oman. The Sultan of Oman agreed to hand Gwadar over to Pakistan for Rs 5.5 Billion, mostly paid by Aga khan. In 1948, Makran acceded to the newly created Dominion of Pakistan and was made a district, but Gwadar was not included in Makran.
In 1958, Gwadar and its surrounding areas were reverted by Oman to Pakistan by Prime Minister of Pakistan Feroz khan noon and his wife. It was given the status of a tehsil of Makran district. On 1 July 1977, Makran District was upgraded into a division divided into three districts of Turbat, Panjgur, and Gwadar.
The strategic value of its location was first recognized in 1954 when it was identified as a suitable site for a deep water port by the US geological survey at the request of Pakistan while the territory was still under Omani rule.
The area’s potential to be a major deepwater port remained untapped under successive Pakistani governments until 2001 when construction on the first phase of Gwadar port was initiated. The first phase was inaugurated in 2007 at a total cost of $248 million.
The port initially remained underutilized after construction for various reasons, including lack of investment, security concerns, and the Government of Pakistan’s failure to transfer land as promised to the port operator, port of Singapore authority.
Gwadar underwent major development from 2002 to 2007. In 2002, Pakistan’s National high way authority NHA began construction of the 653 km-long Makran coastal highway linking Gwadar with Karachi via paint and Omar and onwards with the rest of the NHA, completed in 2004. In 2003, the Gwadar Development Authority was established to oversee the planning and development of Gwadar, and Gwadar Industrial Estate Development Authority was established to promote industrial activities in the mega port city of Gwadar.
In 2004, Pakistan’s NHA began constructing the 820-km long M8 motorway linking Gwadar with Ratodero in Sindh province via Turbar, aware, hosted, and khaddar and onwards with the rest of the Motorways of Pakistan. In 2006, the Gwadar Development Authority conceived, developed, and adopted a 50-year Master Plan for Gwadar. In 2007, the Civil aviation of Pakistan acquired 1,700 ha (4,300 acres) to construct a new Greenfield airport, the New Gwadar international airport 2,400 ha (6,000 acres), at an estimated cost of US$246 million.
In April 2015, Pakistan and China announced their intention to develop the $46 billion (CPEC), which forms part of China’s ambitious one belt, one road. Gwadar features heavily in CPEC and is also envisaged to link the one belt one road and the Maritimes Silk Road project. About $1.153 billion worth of infrastructure projects will be invested into the city as part of CPEC to link northern Pakistan and western China to the deepwater seaport.
The city will also be the site of a floating liquefied natural gas facility built as part of the larger $2.5 billion Gwadar Nawabshah segment of the Iran and Pakistan gas pipelines project. In addition to investments directly under the aegis of CPEC in Gwadar city, the China Overseas Port Holding Company in June 2016 began construction on the $2 billion Gwadar special economic zone, which is being modeled on the lines of the special economic zones of China.
In September 2016, the Gwadar Development Authority published a request for tenders to prepare expropriation and resettlement of Old Town Gwadar.
Gwadar is situated on the southwestern Arabian Sea coast of Pakistan in Gwadar District of Balochistan province. Like Omara further east, Gwadar is situated on a natural hammerhead-shaped tombola peninsula, forming two almost perfect but naturally curved, semicircular bays on either side.
The city is situated on a narrow and sandy 12 km-long, which connects the Pakistani coast to rocky outcroppings in the Arabian sea known as the Gwadar Promontory, or Koh-e-Batil, which reach an elevation of 150 m (480 ft) and extend 11 km (7 mi) east to west with a breadth of 1.5 km (1 mi).
The 240 m (800 ft) wide isthmus upon which Gwadar is located separates the two almost perfect semicircular bays. The western bay is the Paddi Zirr and is generally shallow, with an average depth of 3.7 m (12 ft) and a maximum depth of 9.1 m (30 ft). To the east of the isthmus is the deepwater Demi Zirr harbor, where the Gwadar port was built.
The area north of the city and Gwadar Promontory is flat and generally barren. The white clay Koh-e-Mehdi (also known as Jabal-e-Mehdi) is a notable exception and rises sharply from the plans to the northeast of Gwadar. The Koh-e-Mehdi features two discernible peaks, with heights of 415 and 419 m (1,360 and 1,375 ft), and is approximately 6 km (4 mi) wide and features sharp cliffs that drop precipitously into the Arabian Sea.
The population of the city has risen to approximately 85,000 as of 2014. Currently, in 2020 it is estimated to be 138,000. The population of Gwadar is predominantly Baloch.
The Baloch are an Iranian people who live mainly in the Baluchistan region, located at the southeasternmost edge of the Iranian plateau, encompassing Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan.
The Baloch people mainly speak Balochi, a northwestern Iranian language, despite their contrasting location on the southeastern side of the pedosphere. The majority of Baloch reside within Pakistan. About 50% of the total ethnic Baloch population live in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, while 40% are settled in Sindh, and a significant albeit smaller number reside in Pakistan Punjab. They make up nearly 3.6% of Pakistan’s total population and around 2% of the population of both Iran and Afghanistan.
Significance of Gwadar port:
In the changing dynamics of global architecture, sea politics is getting complex, with more focus on commercial activities and economic prosperity. Gwadar Port is the warm water and deep seaport of Pakistan. It is situated at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and holds 2/3 world oil reserves. During its construction phase, from 1988-1992 small port was constructed.
In 2007, General Musharraf inaugurated the port. From 2007-2012, Gwadar port remained under Port Singapore Authority (PSA), but due to its poor performance, the port was handed over to China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) in 2013.
Since then, the construction work has been done at a rapid pace. Along with the Gwadar port, the building up of Gwadar city, Gwadar power generation plants, and Gwadar International Airport are the proposed projects under development. The port has started shipment, seasonal cargo, and commercial trade, but it is still construction.
The port holds great strategic and economic significance for Pakistan. It is the third important deep sea port of Pakistan after Karachi and Qasim ports. It is located at a cross-junction of international sea shipping and oil trade routes. Gwadar can act as an international trade hub for Pakistan. Gwadar Port would connect three regions, i.e., Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East.
It would open new job opportunities and help in the development of Baluchistan. Pakistan would be able to explore minerals, hydrocarbons, oil, and gas resources of CARs. The port will attract foreign investment and tourism. It would provide foreign reserves, free trade zones, and special economic zones (SEZ) that would help in the economic prosperity of Baluchistan and Pakistan. It would help to increase Pakistan’s a trade and commercial activities, particularly in the Baluchistan province.
Important for China:
China has a great strategic interest in Gwadar. In 2013, the state-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Limited acquired Gwadar port. The port is strategically important for China as sixty percent of China’s oil comes from the Persian Gulf by ships traveling over 16,000 km (9,900 mi) in two to three months, confronting pirates, bad weather, political rivals, and other risks up to its only commercial port, shanghai Gwadar will reduce the distance to a mere 5,000 km (3,100 mi) and also operate year-round.
China has been instrumental in the design of the project. China is providing approximately 80% of the port cost in the shape of grants and soft loans. Over 500 Chinese workers have worked on the project on a 24-hour basis to complete the port setup. There are still a large number of Chinese workers and engineers working on the project.
China is setting up a dry port at the Pakistan–China border to take advantage of a shorter route to sea through Gwadar China paid US$360 million to Pakistan for expansion and an upgrade for all-weather trafficability of Karakoram Highway linking Pakistan with China. The contract has been awarded to Frontier Works Organization, which has also started the project. Feasibility and engineering studies to connect China with Gwadar through a pipeline and railway track have already begun.
Chinese goods flowing in the opposite direction may find an easier, shorter, and secure route to the Middle East. The city is also being developed as an export processing zone for foreign companies to manufacture in Gwadar before exporting to various countries in the region. The Government of Pakistan has committed to providing a base to China in Gwadar to help secure the area.
Challenges faces to the port:
For the time being, the port is facing many challenges such as lack of connectivity, underdeveloped infrastructure, and associated facilities. There are security concerns that need to be addressed. Presently, India is using all tactics to counter the development of Gwadar port. It is heavily investing in the Iranian port of Chahbahar with an investment of US $85 million.
After lifting economic sanctions on Iran, India is keener to work on Chahbahar as it considers Gwadar port part of the Strings of Pearl strategy to encircle India. India wants to reduce Chinese influence in the region. India is attempting to reduce the economic importance of Gwadar. It has built roads from Afghanistan to connect with Chahbahar, for instance, Zaranj-Delaram road.
It clearly indicates that India would try its best to hinder the silk route from Pakistan. It has already raised serious security concerns on the construction of CPEC. However, Pakistan seriously needs to address these challenges and expedite its work on Gwadar Port which is a key to economic prosperity, regional connectivity, and maritime development for Pakistan.