The handing over of the Pakistani port Gwadar to a Chinese company to run it has no doubt raised concerns in India. In New Delhi, motives are being attributed and strategic repercussions are being discussed as to what this means for India-Pakistan-China relations in the years ahead.For Pakistan, this only cements their ties with China, a friendship that has lasted decades.
With access to the port, China will now find it easier to monitor activities in the Persian Gulf, from where the bulk of its burgeoning energy requirements are met.China has gone out of its way to reassure India that its presence in Gwadar in no way implies the “encircling of India” as is being mentioned. But few in India believe China. India too depends ships and open shipping lines for meeting most of its energy requirements; any threat to this shipping line is a threat to India.
The very fact that Chinese naval ships might soon dock at Gwadar, from where they are hours away from disrupting shipping lines to India, is a policy-maker’s strategic nightmare. The fear that the presence of Chinese ships might make Islamabad more adventurous is also a concern.Voicing objections would be futile. But New Delhi would do well not to treat the matter lightly. It needs to plan for the long term.
This might include enhancing ties with the US to ensure that India’s energy supply is safe and secure, or furthering cooperation with Japan. The possibilities are many, and on which our strategists will have to act upon. What is certain though is that things cannot be like before.