India today reaffirmed its strong commitment to work together with all regional stakeholders to enhance connectivity in the region and to provide unhindered access to the sea to land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asian countries through the Chabahar Port, bypassing Pakistan.

“The Chabahar Port has not only emerged as a commercial transit hub for the region but also facilitated the delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially during the pandemic. The port is part of our shared commitment towards peace, stability and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan,” external affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.

He was addressing the ‘Chabahar Day’ celebration hosted by India on the margins of the ‘Maritime India Summit’ to showcase the business potential of the strategic port located in Iran. Senior ministers from Afghanistan, Armenia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan virtually participated in it.

Jaishankar noted that India had utilised the strategic port to ship 75,000 MT of wheat as humanitarian food assistance to Afghanistan in September 2020. India also assisted Iran to fight the worst-ever locust invasion in the last 25 years by supplying 25 Metric tonnes of Malathion in June 2020, again through the port. The second batch of 25 Metric tonnes has recently reached the port.

Besides the Indian exports of food products, the port has also handled several shipments and trans-shipments from Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Germany, Ukraine and the UAE, the minister said.

Jaishankar said the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) was an important trade corridor project, wherein India was partnering with twelve countries to establish an economic corridor for the benefit of the peoples. “We also welcome the interest of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to join the multilateral corridor project. Establishing an eastern corridor through Afghanistan would maximise its potential. India has also proposed the inclusion of Chabahar in the INSTC route,” he added.

Jaishankar said the port was intended to ensure the unhindered flow of commerce throughout the region and to create a safe, secure and reliable route to trade initially with Afghanistan, and thereafter with Central Asia as a whole.

He observed that in the modern age, the correlation between connectivity and economic growth has got more pronounced. Growth in trade, commerce, industrial development and technological advancement has gone hand in hand with the ease of connecting. “Maritime connectivity, in particular, has played a significant role in creating regional corridors for trade and economic linkages, as indeed for cultural and intellectual exchanges over the centuries,”he said.