It’s amazing that tomorrow’s small fishing village ‘Gwadar’ is fast emerging as a Deep Sea Port today. This is important to note that the Government of Pakistan, keeping in view its utmost significance in the area, has declared ‘Gwadar’ as a Duty Free Port and a Free Economic Zone. This has not only enhanced its commercial worth manifold but has also accelerated the pace of development to an incredible extent.
In fact, Gwadar enjoys the status of a third Deep Sea Port of Pakistan which has a special significance with reference to trade links with Central Asian Countries, Persian Gulf, East Africa, United Arab Emirates and North Western India.
Gwadar by virtue of its finest location, development projects, recreation programmes and Government’s special attention, will soon turn into a city which will be comparable with cities like Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.
In view of the promising future of Gwadar, people from Pakistan and abroad who believe in safe and sound investment, are taking keen interest in Gwadar.
Located at the entrance of the Persian Gulf and about 460 kms from Karachi, Gwadar has had immense Geostrategic significance on many accounts. The continued unstable regional environment in the Persian Gulf in particular as a result of the Iran/Iraq war, the Gulf war and the emergence of the new Central Asian States has added to this importance. Considering the Geo-economic imperative of the regional changes, the ADB’s Ports Master Plan studies considered an alternate to the Persian Gulf Ports to capture the transit trade of the Central Asian Republic (CAR) as well as the trans-shipment trade of the region. Both Karachi and PQA were considered for such development but were found unattractive to major shipping lines due to the remoteness from the main shipping routes, the limitations of draft for mother ships and large bulk oil carriers and the comparative long turn around times. The ADB studies, however considered Gwadar to have the most advantageous location for such an alternative port in the region, which could handle mother ships and large oil tankers in due course. Keeping that aspect in view as well as the inherent strategic and economic benefits that Gwadar Port offered, the transport plan of the 8th Five Year Plan (1993-94) of Pakistan included the development of Gwadar Port as an essential element of its aims and objectives. Technical and financial feasibilities therefore were under taken resulting in decisions for the development of Gwadar Port by the Govt. of Pakistan. The Project started on 22 March 2002, is on fast track and will Inshaullah complete in schedule time i.e March 2005. In fact it would surprise many that with initiative and calculated risk, we have received merchant ships since Jan 2003 and have been able to off load hundreds of tones of cargo imported for the Project, thus saving precious time and money which otherwise is required for transportation of the same cargo by road from Karachi/PQA to Gwadar.
Gawadar At A Glance
Gawadar is the District Headquarter of Makran Division in Balochistan, the largest province of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is situated on the coastal line of Makran. Along the coastal line ,there are four Tehsils including Gawadar, Jiwani, Kulanch and Ormara. Jiwani is the only one on the western part of Gawadar, joining Iranian border on Pakistani side. Kulanch and Ormara, on its eastern side are connecting District Lasbela and to Karachi finally. The distance between Gawadar and Karachi in this way, is around 715 km.
Geo-Political Importance Of Gawadar
Dubai is the hub of business not only for Gulf but also for rest of the world including Europe, United States, Africa, China and Central Asian States, simultaneously. The gulf region is facing many political conflicts at the moment and huge disturbances in the current administrative structure are expected in the coming years. In such a scenario, a substitute of Dubai is essential to be located before the crisis hits the finances of millions. The substitute shall be a nearest point probably, to ensure continuous supply line of oil from Gulf to the outer world. Fortunately, Gawadar proves to be the nearest and infact more cost-effective substitute of Dubai, from many aspects.
China is emerging as a super economic power of the world in the recent years. Despite occupying a huge area of world's land, it doesn't have any port of hot waters, which can be used the whole year. The distance of Chinese industrial approach to the Shinghai port is approximately 16000 km and the sea travel of 2-3 months is additional. This costs them a lot in the form of taxes and duties as well. As compared to this, Gawadar port is only on a distance of 2500 km from China and the port is working for the whole year because of the hot waters here. Therefore, the interest of China in the development of Gawadar port is infact in the interest of Chinese economy.
The central Asian states, after the independence from USSR, are trying to develop their economies. These states are land locked and Karachi was expected to provide them the services through Afghanistan. For the purpose, a highway from Peshawar to Karachi was constructed but due to Afghan crisis, this line couldn't be established. The Afghan situation is till not clear, so, Gawadar being near to Iranian border will provide port facilities to Central Asia as well.
Geo-Economic Importance Of Gawadar
With a population of 160000, the Gawadar Town on Makran Coast is now set to become a hub of shipping, commercial and industrial activities. Pakistan and China had signed a comprehensive agreement on March 16, 2002 at Beijing undertaking the task of construction of Gawadar deep seaport of universal standards. The work on the first phase of this mega project, which is being constructed by Chinese Harbor Engineering Company, is now at full swing. The project is bound to be a vital landmark in the economic development of the region. The port comes as a much-needed national requirement in the wake of the rise in cargo traffic at Keamari and Bin Qasim, which are operating at full capacity. It is expected that Pakistan's maritime traffic would rise by three folds by 2010. With the construction of a third port, it is estimated that Pakistan will not only be able to meet its own requirements of the future but also offer its port facilities to the neighboring countries.
Gawadar is now destined to be the most important upcoming coastal town located on the inter junction of the three most strategically and economically important regions of the world that are oil rich Middle East, South Asia where one- fifth of world population lives and the Central Asian Republics endowed with mineral wealth and an educated and highly skilled and disciplined workforce.