Saudi Investment in the East: Implications for Gwadar-Chabahar Rivalry
The geopolitical state of affairs in South Asia is rapidly changing; a fact that is accredited to the role of emerging regional powers. Moreover, South Asia’s proximity to the oil-rich Middle East has a significant influence on geopolitical developments. Contracts are being drawn and alliances befitting each countries’ economic and political motives are being formed. Pakistan’s pursuit to aid its economy by taking part in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is seen as a vital step in economic cooperation and regional connectivity. The $62 billion overture, which is part of President Xi Jinping’s wider Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), purports to expand China’s sway in Pakistan and across Central and South Asia, as well as counter the US and Indian authority in the region. Furthermore, the initiative comprises infrastructure links such as rail, road, and oil production to promote congruence between China and the Middle East.
The ports of Gwadar and Chabahar have, per their capacities, fortified the alliance between Pakistan and China, and India and Iran. Furthermore, the two projects cause a precarious balance of regional power, which comes at a time that the US is abating its regional presence. Gwadar Port, which connects China’s northwestern Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea, is the southern nucleus of the CPEC project. The deep-sea port, which was completed in 2007, provides China expeditious passage to both the Middle East and Africa. The Chabahar Port lies 72 km from the Gwadar Port, situated on the Makran coast of Iran’s Sistan and Balochistan province. It is an Indian sponsored harbor with the potential to deluge Central Asian and Afghan markets with Indian goods. However, the struggle for regional authority could hamper streamlined global shipping and concurrently exacerbate prevailing antipathies. There has been much debate about whether Gwadar and Chabahar are rivals or counterparts.