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New Delhi: In a move that can have serious strategical implications on India, Pakistan formally agreed to hand over the Gwadar port to China to develop the port further.  Pakistan's cabinet formally agreed to hand over the operation of its strategically located port to India’s another neighbour, whose ties with the country would not be called friendly.

The Pakistan cabinet transferred the operations responsibility of the Gwadar port from Singapore's PSA (Port of Singapore Authority) International to China's Overseas Port Holdings. This had been agreed some time ago as PSA International and Pakistani navy fell out over land transfers, security issues and lack of infrastructure. PSA had asked to withdraw from the contract and Pakistan had agreed.

The port falls under Pakistan’s troubled Baluchistan province. People of the province were not very happy with Chinese presence in the area; hence opposing the move. China might face an escalation of extremist violence in the wake of US leaving Afghanistan in 2014.

Gwadar was developed by China, but the contract of its management was given to the Singapore company. The Chinese sought to regain the rights to manage as the port could not churn out any commercial success. Though on the surface China intends to use the port commercially only, having Gwadar under its command would change the security dynamics for China.

As China moves into the Indian Ocean, Gwadar port would be ideal as a staging ground for Chinese ships. China already has a steady presence in Sri Lanka's Hambantota port, it is wooing Maldives, and is also building a port in Chittagong, Bangladesh, as well as Sonadiya, near Cox's Bazar. From the security point of view, India could find itself surrounded from China from all the sides.

Source: [daily.bhaskar]

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