Mark Collins – Indian Great Game to Bounce Paks in Afghanistan (take that Dragon!)

Keep in mind that the Afghans are almost totally dependent on routes through Pakistan for seaborne trade, and that the Iranians are no great friends of the Paks (Shia vs Sunni, Iranians see themselves as quite superior for historical reasons). Further to this April 2015 post,

Mark Collins – Afghanistan and India and China: Great Games?

iran.jpg

the Indians, Afghans and Iranians have an agreement:

India, Afghanistan and Iran Sign Deal for Transport Corridor
Iran’s Chabahar port will be focal point of trade route that bypasses Pakistan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed an agreement with Tehran on Monday for a transport corridor designed to open up a new route to Afghanistan via the Iranian port of Chabahar, circumventing Pakistan.

Chabahar port, which India will partially develop just across the border from Pakistan’s Chinese-run Gwadar port, is the centerpiece of the corridor. India and Iran on Monday signed an agreement in Tehran that allows New Delhi to begin work on Chabahar after a delay of more than a decade.

“To carve out new routes for peace and prosperity is our common goal,” Mr. Modi said. “Afghanistan will get an assured, effective and a more friendly route to trade with the rest of the world,” he said, in a veiled criticism of Pakistan, with whom both countries share turbulent ties and whose location in between them has stymied trade.

Mr. Modi said the deal could “alter the course of history of this region” and help India, Afghanistan and Iran “to eventually build what we all desire and deserve—a friendly and healthy neighborhood.”

The agreements come as Beijing is building a $46 billion economic corridor with Gwadar as its focal point, potentially redrawing the region’s geopolitical map [see “China and Pakistan: Big Bucks for Links for Those Lips and Teeth“]. India opposes construction of part of that corridor in an area of the disputed Kashmir region that is governed by Pakistan but claimed by India [more here on Kashmir].

While Pakistan’s relations with the U.S. and Afghanistan have grown strained, its ties with China remain strong, raising hackles in New Delhi, where Gwadar is seen as a symbol of that partnership…

Let the games continue.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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