India planning to build Iran-Afghan rail link

ejazr

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India's Track 3: Afghan-Iran rail link - Hindustan Times

In a bold move to assert itself in the Af-Pak region and reduce Pakistan's room for manoeuvre, India is finalising a plan to construct a 900-km railway line that will connect Chabahar port in Iran, being built with Indian help, to the mineral-rich Hajigak region of Afghanistan.

Chabahar is just 72 km west of Pakistan's Gwadar port, being built with Chinese help.

When completed, this line will throw up both tantalising geo-political and economic opportunities for India as well as potential for bad blood with both friends and foes.

Here's why:

1, It will increase Indian leverage in Afghanistan and its strategic presence in the region. In the past, however, New Delhi has refuted Pakistani fears that India is encircling it.
2. It will give Afghanistan access to the sea, thus, reducing its dependence on Pakistan.
3. It will open opportunities for Indian companies to explore Afghanistan's mineral wealth, believed to be worth $1-3 trillion (Rs 50-150 lakh crore), for mutual benefit. Just consider: the entire Indian economy is valued at $1.2 trillion (Rs 60 lakh crore);
4. It will add to the economic rationale for Indian investment in Chabahar;
5. Once the entire network comprising of road, rail and port is in place, it can become a launching pad for greater economic and strategic involvement of India in the oil and mineral-rich Central Asia;

However, the greater cooperation with Iran in Chabahar (and, presumably, in other areas) will almost certainly upset the Americans, whose support is essential if India is to play a greater role in the region.

Based on a note prepared by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) on this subject, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai held a meeting on August 10 with representatives of the ministries of railways and mining, sources told Hindustan Times.

Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhyay was also present at the meeting.

"In order to coordinate the strategy for investment in Hajigak in the backdrop of the security, infrastructure, financial and regional challenges involved, there is a need to plan and craft our strategy to address these challenge," says a note the MEA had sent to the Railways.

Hajigak, 130 km west of Kabul in Bamiyan province, holds Afghanistan's largest iron ore deposits. Of the 22 companies shortlisted for the bid for these mines 14 are Indian, including a consortium led by the public sector Steel Authority of India Limited.
 

nrj

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Excellent news!

Foreign Ministry on rampage!

This buildup will help in multiple ways. I expect more positive affairs when MMS visit Tehran. 900km railline in central asia that to in key mineral-rich regions is going to piss off many.

--

Chabahar is just 72 km west of Pakistan's Gwadar port, being built with Chinese help.
pwned! :devil:
 

W.G.Ewald

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However, the greater cooperation with Iran in Chabahar (and, presumably, in other areas) will almost certainly upset the Americans, whose support is essential if India is to play a greater role in the region.
Let us hope the US will see the benefits to the region of this project. Point 2 above is most salient.

[Note to self: write strong letter to Hillary.]
 

The Messiah

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The yanks can do one if it upsets them. We wont sacrifice our interests in iran for them.
 

pmaitra

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The US normalising its relations with Iran will benefit the US as well. I hope they see the point. Unfortunately, the US President or the hawks in the US Foreign Office often do not agree with the US Congress.
 

SHASH2K2

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This is a good move and was supposed to happen long back. Chabahar project was built with access to Afghanistan in mind. better be late than never and dont succumb to USA pressure this time.
 

JAISWAL

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its a good news.
And is very important, if world wants India to act in Af.stan with out being black-mailed by pakis. As they do to usa.
 
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Adux

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The Afghanistan mineral wealth is mostly hot air. There are Oil desposits and there are oil deposits which can be taken out and processed economically. The same hold true for most of Afghan wealth. Regarding Iran and US, unless Iran tones down against Israel and its theocracy; it will be very very difficult for America to justify its relationship with it, and rightfully so, since much has happened between both of them unlike Saudi Arabia.

India should act as the Out Source partner of the US, we should use our relationship in Iran to supply Afghanistan and US, the military equipment will come there CAR. While all others like Food, Oil, building materials etc etc will come through Iran by India acting as a front agent. Iran ofcourse will get a generous cut, and the politically sensitivities of both sides are still maintained along with War on Terror continuing strongly.

After a decade and more of this, expect the Afghans to be extremely self-proficient in military and economy, whipping up the Durand line cause, and squeezing Pakistan from both sides. India, Afghanistan for the WIN!
 

Virendra

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India planning to build Iran-Afghan rail link
Can we please consolidate what has been done already. I mean the Delaram-Zaranj highway.
Last I read it was under Taliban control as there was lack of ISAF patrolling influence on it.
...the unwillingness of the ISAF to provide security cover to this strategic highway and the inability of the Afghan National Army to secure Indian investments and projects has led to a colossal waste of Indian funds earmarked for Afghanistan's development. India's reluctance to commit troops on the ground to secure Indian development projects has led to the winding down of several projects that were received with tremendous enthusiasm by Afghans.
A Taliban press release dated January 15, 2011 clearly details Taliban's control of the Nimroz province and, thereby, the Zaranj-Delaram Highway. This dry-desert province located in south eastern Afghanistan shares its borders with the Balouchistan province of Pakistan in the South and also shares its Western borders with Iran...
Regards,
Virendra
 

thakur_ritesh

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2-3b usd worth of investment on this track means GoI is convinced of indian firms getting a big share in the mining of the mineral resources in a'stan.

as with the road link, this track will again pass through the taliban heartland, enough to suggest the "unspoken" understanding with the taliban, but the most important would be on how to handle the haqqani network threat, they seem to be the only real threat.

all in all the strategic partnership agreement is delivering, and it shows the document has a nod from a diverse group of people, ethnicities, a nod that goes beyond the karzai office, or the afghan parliament.

pakistan would indeed be worried.
 
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Ray

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The port has been done with Indian help/

The road connecting Chahbahar in Afghanistan done by India.

Now the rail link in the offing.

Good move, Mickey Manmohan!

For once, you are spot on!
 

SLASH

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What is our private sector investment in Afghanistan?

How will we handle Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Taliban at the same time? Next few years will be very interesting. India should act as a mediator for Iran, SA and Israel.
 

nrj

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but the most important would be on how to handle the haqqani network threat, they seem to be the only real threat.
Maybe we should separately engage with saudis to deal with haqqanis?

Saudi sheikhs have significant influence over haqqanis & they represent saudi interests in astan. Its right time to cut the deal.
 

Adux

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Let's start with some google images to understand the work that has been taken on ground, from port and highway all through to afghanistan
 

Adux

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If we can't commit troops, afghans and ISAF also can't? Time for blackwater (XE) or others for protectio, we have to build the supply line under all cost!
 

nrj

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One of the ambitious ideas that is being fleshed out is a plan to construct a 900-km railway line that will connect the India-built Chabahar port in Iran, with Hajigak region of Afghanistan, which contains one of the world's largest iron ore reserves.

Islamabad is set to oppose such a move as the rail link will provide India greater room for manouevre in Afghanistan. India has built the strategic Zaranj-Delaram road link that connects Afghanistan to Central Asia. When the road was built, Indian workers and facilities engaged with it were targeted many a time by militants suspected to be linked with Pakistan's military-ISI establishment.

http://m.timesofindia.com/india/Wit...plans-on-Afghanistan/articleshow/10570722.cms

Sent from my GT-I9100
 

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India plans 'world's most dangerous railroad' from Afghanistan to Iran

India plans 'world's most dangerous railroad' from Afghanistan to Iran

02 Nov 2011


Railroad from Chabahar in Iran to Hajigak in Afghanistan


India is planning to build what could be the world's most dangerous railroad from Afghanistan's mineral-rich heartland to an Iranian port on the Arabian Sea in attempt to open a new trade route and reduce Kabul's dependence on Pakistan.

Details of the new plan emerged on the eve of the Istanbul conference on security and economic development in Afghanistan in the run-up to the planned withdrawal of American troops in 2014.

Washington has urged India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to co-operate in creating a new 'Silk Road' of trade ties to break the current suspicion which mars political relations and restricts potential trade.


India expects American hostility to its plan, however, because it will bolster Iran's sea capability by developing a major port at Chabahar on the southern tip of the country facing out over the Gulf of Oman.

For India, the prize is a potentially highly lucrative contract to mine Afghanistan's iron reserves, which are estimated to be worth up to $3 trillion – several times the size of India's growing economy – and the strategic advantage of a new trade and logistics route to Afghanistan which bypasses Pakistan.

Despite recent improvements in diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan, trade is still highly restricted and while Afghan imports trickle slowly through Pakistan into India at the Wagah border, between Amritsar and Lahore, Indian exports to Afghanistan through Pakistan are almost non-existent.

The new route would allow Afghan minerals and products to be shipped to Surat, Mumbai or private ports in Gujarat on India's Western seaboard.


Sources close to the project said an Indian delegation from its foreign, railways, shipping and commerce ministries, will visit Iran next month to continue negotiations on the plan which are understood to have been discussed between the two countries when Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met in New York in September.

The plan is a revival of an idea which has been discussed infrequently between the two countries since 2003, but it has regained momentum following the discovery of vast reserves of iron ore and other coveted minerals in Afghanistan in the last few years.

While earlier plans extended the current Iranian rail network to the Afghan border in the north and linked to Chabahar via a spur from Bam and Faraj in the south, the new plan extends the rail link to Hajigak in the heart of Afghanistan's Bamiyan province, 80 miles north-west of Kabul.

India accounts for more than half the 22 companies bidding for iron ore mining contracts in the region.

A leaked memo from India's Ministry of External Affairs to its Railways ministry said the economic potential of the mineral reserves called for a new approach. "To coordinate the strategy for investment in Hajigak in the backdrop of the security, infrastructure, financial and regional challenges involved, there is a need to plan and craft our strategy to address these challenges," the memo stated.

The plan appears to have Afghanistan's backing. An Afghan official last night told The Telegraph:"Whenever it suits them, Pakistan can close the border. We don't want to be dependent on them."

One figure close to the project said although India's plans look to exploit Afghanistan's mineral reserves, the threat to any rail development from the Taliban and other militant groups would be so great that it would have to be regarded as a strategic rather than commercial project. "They could blow it up at any time," he said.
 

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Let's see how it will play out! Iran-US-Israel-Saudi Arabia situation has every capability to put spanner in the works of the new Iran-India-Afghanistan scenario. It is imperative for US-Israel-Saudi Arabia that Iran remains economically backward, while India and Afghanistan cannot do it without economically benefiting Iran, so they should. What we need to do is to help change Iran from a theocracy, maybe money and education in the hands of general public may do that? After all Iranians arent idiots like the Arabs, and even they had a spring.
 

nrj

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India-made Afghan rail link to Iran to counter Pak-China nexus


Aiming to make Iran an important transit State for access to Central Asia, India is stepping up cooperation on building the strategic Chabahar port on the Sistan-Balochistan province in Iran. India's shipping secretary K Mohandas will soon head to Iran for talks with his Iranian counterpart. This will be the first high-level delegation to visit Iran over the port in a while.

In an exclusive interview to The Pioneer, Iranian Ambassador to New Delhi Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh said, "India's shipping secretary is going to Iran for discussions on Chabahar Port with his Iranian counterpart , who heads the shipping organisation also handles developments of ports."

Noting that several joint working groups are expected to be established between the two countries including one on Chabahar port, Nabizadeh said these developments are "minimum" collaboration which is necessary between the two countries for the development of the people and the region.

Confirming the same, sources in the Shipping Ministry told The Pioneer that the Secretary was supposed to head to Iran for discussions on Chabahar port this weekend for four days from 26 to 29 November. However, due to the travel advisory instruction during the ongoing Parliament Session dissuading high ranking officials from travelling abroad, Mohandas will head to Iran after the Session.

Sources also said Chabahar could be a "multimodal link" port as The Chahbahar-Bam Link will help in establishing link to Russia via Iran.

Despite lukewarm relations between New Delhi and Tehran due to New Delhi aligning with the US at IAEA in voting against Iran's nuclear programme, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Fathollahi had visited India for three days in August to discuss a wide range of issues, including coordinated efforts to stabilise Afghanistan. This was the second ministerial visit from Iran to India in less than a month. It followed a July 9 meeting at which both countries discussed ways to expedite the development and expansion of the Chabahar port in Iran, which could facilitate India's trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan.

Experts feel that in the backdrop of the Sino-Indian rivalry in the Arabian Sea, the port will give strategic depth to India in Afghanistan. With Beijing developing strategic Gwadar port, which is intended to give China access to the Indian Ocean, Chabahar will connect India to landlocked Afghanistan and counter the Dragon.

With this in mind, India has also planned to construct a 900-km railway line that will connect the India-built Chabahar port with Hajigak region of Afghanistan, which contains one of the world's largest iron ore reserves. The move is set to distress Pakistan as the rail link will provide India greater room for manouevering in Afghanistan.

The two countries are in discussions for the setting up of a number of projects such as the IPI gas pipeline project, a long term annual supply of 5 million tonnes of LNG, development of the Farsi oil and gas blocks, South Pars gas field and LNG project and the Chahbahar container terminal project and Chahbahar-Faraj-Bam railway project.

New Delhi is also a member of the International North-South Corridor project. In 2001, Russia, Iran, and India had signed an agreement to further develop the route.

The N-S Corridor involves movement through ship, rail, and road route for moving freight from South Asia to Europe through Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Russia. The route primarily involves moving goods from India via ship to Iran.

Elaborating on the time saved through the route Nabizadeh said, "If the North South Corridor can be facilitated it can save approximately 45 days from the total transit time."

Stating that Afghanistan and Central Asia are important for Iran so as for India, envoy said, "Iran has a joint collaboration of working on infrastructure with India. In the package there is Chabahar Port, connectivity through road and railways."

Elaborating on the joint working groups that are to be established, the envoy said these would include "expansion of port, construction of roads and railways."

India is enthusiastic to make Iran an important transit state for access to Central Asia and Islamic Republic is equally upbeat about it since recently it presented a proposal to new Delhi on the development of the Chabahar Port.

However strategic affairs experts caution that the Chabahar port on Sistan-Balochistan province of Iran is a vulnerable area due to insurgents. The province, which borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan, has long been affected by smuggling, drug trafficking, banditry and kidnapping, notwithstanding the fact that it is officially designated as a Free Trade and Industrial Zone by Iran's government. Due to its free trade zone status, the city has increased in significance in international trade.

This will be the second most dangerous route that India has shown interest in. Earlier too India constructed the strategic Zaranch-Dealram highway road in landlocked Afghanistan, which connects the war torn country to central Asia and Iran and thereby reduces its dependence on Pakistan for trade. However, when the road was being built, Indian workers and facilities engaged with it were repeatedly targetted by militants with suspected links to Pakistan's military-ISI establishment.

Ruling out any security threats to the port Envoy said, "We should not worry about the security as this is in the benefit of all the countries."

With New Delhi's stakes in peace and stability of Afghanistan growing year by year, India's plans to improve connectivity in that country will ease its dependence on Pakistan.

Sounding enthusiastic over the project envoy said, "Most of it is already ready, only minor things are left."
However with the latest developments over sanctions on Iran, whose nuclear programme counties like USA and Canada accuse of being proliferatory, there is a big question mark over the funding of the port and its finality. With India-Iran relations already feeling the strain of western influence Teheran seems worried New Delhi could side with the west.
 

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