India and Iran have signed 12 MoUs, which also includes the development project of port Chabahar. Besides the bilateral MoU to develop the Chabahar port, a trilateral agreement has also been signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to develop a transport and transit corridor between the three countries. This corridor will pass through Chabahar. The development of this transit corridor will open up the two way access between India and land locked Afghanistan. The President of Iran – Mr. Hassan Rouhani, the president of Afghanistan – Mr. Ashraf Ghani and the Prime Minister of India – Mr. Narendra Modi have referred to this trilateral agreement as a ‘historic agreement’.
Our current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, who has signed the bilateral agreement with Iran, is the first prime minister to have visited Iran in the last 15 years. Earlier former Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Iran. The bilateral deal will see India invest about $500 million to develop the Chabahar port and its related infrastructure. This transport and trade corridor through Afghanistan could expedite India’s business with Iran, Central Asia as well as the Eastern European countries.
The Iranian President Mr. Rouhani said that this transit agreement can become a symbol of co-operation between the 3 countries. He added that the agreement is not just an economic document, but also a political and regional one. The Chabahar port will facilitate better regional connectivity between India and the Central Asian countries. Mr. Rouhani assured that the Iran-India relations have always been of significance and today these ties can serve the interests of not only the two nations, but of the entire region.
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi claimed that the lifting up of international sanctions on Iran has opened up immense opportunities. India is looking to expand co-operation with Iran in sectors such as trade, investment, infrastructure and energy.
In an interview to the Iranian press, Mr. Modi referred to the fact that even in difficult times when America and the Western European countries had laid restrictions on Iran; India had continued trade with Iran.
Whilst addressing a combined press conference with President Rouhani, Prime Minister Modi emphasized that India values its relation with Iran and also highlighted the traditional, historic and civilizational ties between the two countries.
Invoking the long standing cultural bonds between India and Iran, while speaking in an international conference in Iran, Mr. Modi highlighted the fact that although political and economic relations between India and Iran are widely talked about, the relation between the two countries is not limited to that, there exists centuries of cultural exchange too. Mr. Modi also reminded the fact that ‘All India Radio’ has been running the Persian language service for the last 75 years.
This Iran tour undertaken by Mr. Modi is being closely watched by political analysts though out the world.
Co-operation between an oil rich country Iran and one of the biggest importers India will prove to be significant in the future. It is said that the development of Chabahar port by India has shaken the ‘economic corridor’ project between China and Pakistan. The development of Chabahar port is seen as a competition to the China-backed Gwadar port in Pakistan. At the same time political experts from Pakistan fear that if the proposed project of the undersea pipeline connecting Iran and India materialises, it will bring a huge positive change in the Indian economy.
India has wisely used it’s relation with Iran, leaving Pakistan in a dilemma. Modi has already visited Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The Political analysts of Pakistan have raised serious concerns about India’s improving relationship with the Pakistan’s allies, which they fear may cause a disadvantage to Pakistan, in terms of support from other nations.
While the Foreign policy of India has been remarkably successful, Pakistan seems to be confused on this front. Political analysts from Pakistan have blamed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for not yet appointing a foreign minister; this non appointment is adversely affecting the efficiency of the foreign ministry of Pakistan.