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EghtesadOnline: A senior Indian columnist and TV panelist believes that the successful implementation of the Chabahar Port Project in Iran will make the Islamic Republic a major global player in, not only in the Western and the Central Asia, but also in the Indian Ocean.

In an exclusive interview with IRNA here on the importance of the Chabahar Port Development Project, Gautam Mukherjee said: “Most definitely, the biggest gainer from the development of Chabahar Port will be Iran itself, as it is located in Iran. Because of its strategic location, Iran will also become a global player in the progress of the Central Asia, the West Asia –particularly the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.”

“India, if it is invited to have a long-term presence in Chabahar by Iran, will also help to counterbalance both Saudi Arabia’s influence/dominance in the Persian Gulf and hostility towards Iran.” The seasoned analyst of the world affairs added.

Terming the Chabahar Port Project as a bold move by Iran and India, Gautam Mukhrjee said: “The long-standing and close relationship between India and Iran over centuries has been illustrated dramatically in this bold and futuristic cooperation between the two countries. Even during the recent period that Iran was under the international economic sanctions, India’s relationship with Iran was largely unchanged, despite international pressures. India will bring its design, engineering and project management skills to bear at Chabahar Port.”

“For India too, it will provide a strategic presence in West Asia and easier access to the petroleum resources, including natural gas from Iran. And both petroleum and other strategic raw materials from the Central Asia as well.”

On the roles that Iran and India can play to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, he said: “Thanks to its road access to Chabahar, Afghanistan is no longer land-locked or solely dependent on Pakistani land-routes and ports to move its goods and services beyond its own borders. That is why Afghanistan was able to persuade Pakistan that it would trade with India sending goods via Pakistani land-routes through to the Wagah Border near Lahore/Amritsar, most recently.”

“Afghanistan, therefore, cannot afford to isolate itself from the world. Iran, as an immediate neighbor, can be a very big help to Afghanistan going forward, particularly now that the influence of the Afghan Taliban is no longer strong. India, on its part, has a very old and warm relationship with Afghanistan going back centuries too, and is trusted by the government of people of Afghanistan.”

On the possible ways to end the current crisis in Afghanistan, Gautam Mukherjee said: “The government of Afghanistan, politically speaking, surely must involve all shades of Afghan opinions that are willing to discuss matters in a democratic manner. However, those who want to talk only with bullets cannot, of course, be included.”

“Today, Afghanistan is also recognised as one of the most mineral and other resource rich countries in the world. Afghanistan can prosper with its natural wealth, but it will need foreign technology, know-how and management to exploit its resources. He added.

Chabahar Chabahar Project