Archive for History of Gwadar

GWADAR

GWADAR

Gwadar is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, close to the Strait of Hormuz on the Persian Gulf. More than 13 million bbl/d of oil pass through the Strait. It is strategically located between three increasingly important regions: the oil-rich Middle East, heavily populated South Asia and the economically emerging and resource-laden region of Central Asia. The Gwadar Port is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenues and create at least two million jobs. In 2007, the government of Pakistan handed over port operations to PSA Singapore for 25 years, and gave it the status of a Tax Free Port for the following 40 years. There is also money invested into the port by the People’s Republic of China. The strategic PRC plan to be engaged in many places along oil and gas roads is evident.
       History
The Makran region surrounding Gwadar was occupied by an ancient Bronze age people which settled in the few oases. It later became the Gedrosia region of the Achaemenid Persian empire. It is believed to have been conquered by the founder of the Persian empire, Cyrus the Great. The capital of the satrapy of Gedrosia was Pura, which is thought to have been located near the modern Bampûr, in Iranian Balochistan. During the homeward march of Alexander the Great, his admiral, Nearchus, led a fleet along the modern-day Makran coast and recorded that the area was dry, mountainous, and inhabited by the Ichthyophagoi (or “fish eaters”), an Greek rendering of the ancient Persian phrase “Mahi khoran” (which has itself become the modern word “Makran”). [4] After the collapse of Alexander’s empire the area was ruled by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander’s generals. The region then came under “local rule” around about 303 BC.
The region remained on the sidelines of history for a millennium, until the Arab-Muslim army of Muhammad bin Qasim captured the town of Gwadar in 711 CE and over the intervening (and nearly equivalent) amount of time the area was contested by various powers, including the Mughals (from the east) and the Safavids (from the west). The Portuguese captured, sacked and burnt Gwadar in 1581, and this was then followed by almost two centuries of local rule by the various Balochi tribes. The city was visited by Ottoman Admiral Sidi Ali Reis in 1550s and mentioned in his book Mirat ul Memalik (The Mirror of Countries), 1557 CE. According to Sidi Ali Reis, the inhabitants of Gwadar were Baloch and their chief was Malik Jelaleddin, son of Malik Dinar. In 1783, the Khan of Kalat granted suzerainty over Gwadar to Taimur Sultan, the defeated ruler of Muscat. [7] When the Sultan subsequently retook Muscat, he was to continue his rule in Gwadar by appointing a Wali (or “governor”). This Wali was then ordered to subjugate the nearby coastal town of Chah Bahar (in modern-day Iran), which … The Gwadari fort was built during Omani rule, whilst telegraph lines were later extended into the town courtesy of HRM of the British.
In 1958, the Gwadar enclave was transferred to Pakistan. It was then made part of the Balochistan province In 2002, the Gwadar Port project (of building a large, deep-sea port) was begun in the town. The government of Pakistan intends to develop the entire area in order to reduce its reliance in shipping on the port of Karachi. In addition to expanding port facilities, the Project aims to build industrial complexes in the area and to connect the town via a modern highway to the rest of Pakistan. By the end of 2004 the first phase had been completed.
       Administration
As well as being district headquarters, the town of Gwadar is the chief city of Gwadar Tehsil, the tehsil is administratively subdivided into five Union Councils, three of which form Gwadar city, these are:[8]
”        Central Gwadar
”        Gwadar Southern
”        Gwadar Northern
       Culture
Gwadar’s location and history have given it a unique blend of cultures. The Arabic influence upon Gwadar is strong as a consequence of the Omani era and the close proximity of other Arab-majority regions. The legacy of the Omani slave trade is observed in the population by the presence of residents which can trace their descent from the African slaves who were trafficked through the town (en route to destinations in the Muslim Far East. The area also has a remarkable religious diversity, being home to not only Sunni muslims, but also to groups of Christians, Hindus, Parsis, and various minorities such as the Qadianis.
       Transport
Gwadar is located on the Gulf of Oman close to the entrance of the Persian Gulf, about 460 kilometres west of Karachi. In 1993, Pakistan started feasibility studies for the development of a major deepwater seaport at Gwadar. The port project commenced on 22 March 2002 with the first phase completed in December 2005.
The construction of the port has spurred other major infrastructure projects in the area. This includes the 700 km Makran Coastal Highway which is now complete. The road links Karachi with several ports along the coast including Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and will be extended to the Iranian border in the future. The highway has reduced travel time to Karachi from 48 hours to only 7 hours. Other road projects include the Gwadar-Quetta-Chaman road which is due for completion in 2006 and a roadlink to the town of Khuzdar in eastern Balochistan. There are also plans for a terminal for passenger ships.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan has earmarked 3000 acres (12 km²) of land for Gwadar International Airport which will be built 26 km away to the northeast of the existing airport towards Pasni and is likely to cost between $200-250 million. The new airport will be given international status and operate under the open sky policy. In the meantime there are plans to improve facilities at the existing airport.
       Railways
Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said, “The government is focusing on laying the Havelian-Kashghar (China) and Quetta-Kandahar (Afghanistan) railway tracks”. In 2006, Ministry of Railways announced that Gwadar will be connected to Pakistan Railways network at an expected cost of $ 1.25 billion (Rs. 75-billion).
Geopolitical importance
The Gwadar deep-sea port emerges as a place of great strategic value, enhancing Pakistan’s importance in the whole region, extending from the Persian Gulf through the Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia and the Far East.
Gwadar is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, close to the important Straits of Hormuz, through which more than 13 million bbd of oil passes. It is strategically located between three increasingly important regions of the world: the oil-rich Middle East, heavily populated South Asia and the economically emerging and resource-rich Central Asia.
The construction of the Gwadar deep-sea port is just one component of a larger development plan which includes building a network of roads connecting Gwadar with the rest of Pakistan, such as the 650 km Coastal Highway to Karachi and the Gwadar-Turbat road (188 km). This network of roads connects with China through the Indus Highway. Pakistan, China, Kazakhistan, Kyrgizstan and Uzbekistan are developing extensive road and rail links from Central Asia and the Chinese province of Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea coast.
The Pakistani Government has initiated several projects, with majority financial and technical assistance from China, to develop Gwadar’s strategic location as a goods transit and trade point. The primary project is the construction of a deep-sea port at Gwadar to enable high-volume cargo movement to and from the landlocked Central Asian states. The new port will also encompass conversion facilities to allow for the movement of natural gas as a part of plans for a termination point for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan natural gas pipeline. The secondary project is a coastal highway connecting Gwadar to Karachi, whose $200 million cost will be completely financed by the Chinese. Gwadar will serve as a port of entry for oil and gas to be transported by land to the western regions of China.
The significance of Gwadar is great to both Pakistan and China. Pakistan will be able to have a strategic depth southwest from its naval base in Karachi that has long been vulnerable to blockade by the Indian Navy. China is going to be the beneficiary of Gwadar’s most accessible international trade routes to the Central Asian republics and Xinjiang. By extending its East-West Railway from the Chinese border city of Kashi to Peshawar in Pakistan’s northwest, Beijing can receive cargo to and from Gwadar along the shortest route, from Karachi to Peshawar. The rail network could also be used to supply oil from the Persian Gulf to Xinjiang. Pakistan’s internal rail network can also provide China with rail access to Iran. Rail access will however be hampered somewhat by differences in gauge: China and Iran – 1435 mm; Pakistan – 1676 mm; Central Asia – 1524 mm.
       Economic forecasts
The government declared Gwadar port a “Special Economic Zone” in the budget, 2003-2004. All banks will open their branches, five star hotels will be built, offshore banking will be started, factories, warehouses and storage will be set up, the tourism industry will be promoted in the area, an export processing zone will be set up, making Pakistan a very attractive place for direct foreign investment, and Gwadar port a regional hub of trade and investment activities.[9]
       Development Projects
       Oman
Oman has offered $100 million aid for the development of social and infrastructure facilities in Balochistan. Out of $100 million, Oman has provided $7 million for extending of runway at Gwadar Airport, construction of jetties, upgradation of Gwadar Hospital, provision of 100 engines to fishermen and construction of power house. Oman is also financing construction of Gwadar-Hoshab Road, water supply scheme in Gwadar area and construction of irrigation dams.
Pakistan and Oman have signed a number of agreements including Avoidance of Double Taxation, Promotion and Protection of Investment, Cultural, Technical and Educational Cooperation, Agreement on cooperation between Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and FPCCI, Maritime Boundary Agreement and Agreement to establish Pak-Oman Joint Investment Company.
The proximity of Oman is an asset to Pakistan. Around 70,000 Pakistani citizens are participating in the development of Oman. Omani assistance for construction of Gwadar Port would go a long way in promoting economic relations between Pakistan and central Asian states.
       Pakistan
Pakistan through networking of roads is linking Gwadar with Karachi and the north to enable the Central Asian States to use Gwadar as a port for their trade. Water supply is being improved, seven jetties are being constructed and local fishermen are being given motor engine run boats. The local hospital is also being upgraded.
A number of electric power generation projects are also being carried out in Gwadar and in its surroundings. The Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), a subsidiary of the Wapda, has geared up the work for building the power transmission line. It is expected to be completed soon.
       Airport
Gwadar has a small airport which is basically meant for small commercial aircraft. The need is growing for the expansion of this airport and enlargement of its runway to facilitate the landing of wide body aero-planes. CAA has been directed to upgrade the Gwadar Airport for the landing of jet aircraft by the end of 2004. Gwadar port will be open air and after its inauguration the jet planes shall be landing at the Gwadar airport. A sum of 2.3 million dollars is being utilized from Omani grant. The Pakistan government and the Civil Aviation Authority are also contributing additional Rs563.35 million for this purpose.
       Dry Port
A dry port in the Sino-Pakistani border town of Sust, 200 km north of Gilgit, was constructed in 2004 at a cost of Rs 90 million. Soon, President Musharraf announced that the state of the art facility would be linked to Gwadar via the Karakoram Highway. According to the president, this provides parts of China with the shortest access to Pakistani deep sea ports, and the Middle East.[10]
       Rice zone
Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP)-apex body of the rice exporters in the country- has decided to establish a rice zone in Gwadar to fetch the opportunities in the area after the construction of new port. The establishment of warehouses will provide extraordinary facilities to rice exporters especially for those who export rice to Iran as the Iranian border is only at a distance of three hours from Gwadar.
rs and other plants have been installed in addition to a 50 MW power-house. 33 km railway line from Taftan to Saindak has also been laid. The Chinese company MRDL has so far invested $25 million (Rs 1.5 billion) on the project.
       Trans-Afghan Gas Pipeline
The 1400 km Trans-Afghan Gas Pipeline (TAP) from Turkemenistan to Gwadar(Pakistan), a long-dormant project that would pump Turkmen natural gas to markets in South Asia, may finally be poised to begin at a cost of $3 billion.[11] The Government has announced that a massive defense facility will be constructed in the city in order to guarantee the security of the area. The Government has also announced that a new shipbuilding centre will be built at Gwadar, with an as-yet unspecified international partner.
       Port Operations
Port of Singapore was scheduled to take over management of Gwadar Port by the end of January 2007. Port of Singapore was the highest bidder for the Gwadar port after DP World backed out of the bidding process. Originally, the chairman of Dubai Ports World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, who met Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf on May 5th 2006, expressed a strong hope for management of facilities at the strategic Gwadar deep sea port and development of infrastructure in the southern port city and elsewhere in Pakistan. But a decision was taken not to bid, after India’s National Security Council voiced concerns about DP World’s ventures in India, alongside its plans in Pakistan, and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem assured the Indians their pull-out was well considered and India need not have any security concerns. The port will now be in competition with that of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

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