The government of Pakistan recently formally awarded a multi-billion dollars contract for construction and operation of Gwadar Port to China with the hope that the port’s development would open up new vistas of progress in Pakistan, particularly Balochistan. Under the contract, the port which will remain the property of Pakistan will be operated by the state-run Chinese firm — China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC). Earlier, the contract was given to the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA). The PSA is reported to have abandoned the project on the plea that Pakistan failed to meet obligations under the 40-year port-handling agreement signed in Feb 2007. Media reports allege that the PSA, which was to spend $525 million on the project in five years, made no investment because of non-fulfilment of its demand for allotment of land worth Rs15bn.
In Dec 2010, China had offered the provincial government to construct 20 more berths and make the port fully operational if the port was handed over to it. President Zardari praised the award of the contract to China as an auspicious development in Pakistan-China relations and expressed the hope that it would create new economic opportunities for Pakistan and Balochistan. He further added that ‘Gwadar’ will soon be a hub of trade and commerce in the region as it holds the key to bringing together the countries of Central Asia and lends new impetus to Pakistan-China relations. He highlighted the strategic importance of the port for China and Central Asian republics and its potential of integrating the economies of the countries in the region.
This would be matter of grave concern for India as Pakistan’s decision to transfer management of the deep-sea port to China, which had interests in a string of other ports encircling India. China took control of a strategic Pakistani port on the Arabian Sea, as part of a drive to secure energy and maritime routes that also gives it a potential naval base, sparking Indian concern.Gwadar is part of the southwestern province of Baluchistan, the most deprived part of Pakistan despite being rich in oil and gas deposits. The province is gripped by a separatist insurgency and record levels of sectarian violence. Gwadar is the most westerly in a string of Chinese-funded ports in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and potentially Bangladesh that encircle its big rival, India.The ports were dubbed China's "string of pearls" or potential naval bases similar to those of the United States.India has the apprehension that China may expand its influence in the Indian Ocean which may result in harming Indian interests and the port would enable Pakistan to take control of more of the world energy circulation and interdiction of Indian tankers.Moreover, indirectly, Pakistan could get the China’s favour to support Pakistan’s militancy Industry to keep the pot boil in Kashmir.That is why, India will have to counter the dragon's threat with great sense of political professionalism and maturity.