'Iran invites Pak, China to join Chabahar project'

  • 'Iran invites Pak, China to join Chabahar project'

'Iran invites Pak, China to join Chabahar project'

"We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor".

Zarif asked Pakistan to take a role in developing the port in the Gulf of Oman while speaking on Monday at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, a think tank backed by Pakistan's foreign ministry.

India is set to start operations in this part of Chabahar with borrowed Iranian equipment by May-end. In November 2017, India delievered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port. On the other hand, Pakistan issued a demarche to India saying it was becoming hard for its diplomats to function in Delhi.

Pakistan and Iran have had close ties in the past but recent regional alignments and Pakistan's tilt toward Saudi Arabia perturbed Iran, particularly the assignment of a Pakistani former army chief to head a Saudi-led 39-nation Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism.

Pakistan and Iran are on the opposite sides in Middle Eastern politics.

Irans Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Islamabad, said the Chabahar port project was not meant to "encircle Pakistan. strangulate anybody".

Gwadar is a key part of the multi-billion dollar CPEC, a flagship project of China's Belt and Road Initiative that has been opposed by India as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Iran's invitation to Pakistan to help develop its Chabahar seaport project brings good tidings and may be the most pivotal yet in terms of further strengthening this relationship. These regions need to be linked by sea and land routes, he said. After years of trying to make the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline a reality, Iran and India had given up on Pakistan.

The invitation extended to Pakistan by the Iranian foreign minister comes at the back of Indian officials repeatedly stating that the port is of strategic importance to India as it will allow India to bypass Pakistan in accessing Afghanistan and central Asia.

Singh was summoned after Pakistani newspaper Dawn quoted Pakistani officials of accusing India of harassing its diplomats and their families in the country and threatened to pull out the families if the intimidation did not stop.