November 6, 2006 8:06pm CST
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.