India to Transport Iron Ore from Hajigak to Chabahar - Circumventing Pakistan’s Gwadar
In a bold move to link mineral-rich regions of Afghanistan to a deep sea port in the Arabian Sea without passing through Pakistani territory, India has announced that it will construct a 900-km (560-mile) railway linking the Iranian port of Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman to Hajikak region in Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, some 130 km (81 miles) west of Kabul.
A consortium of Indian companies has won the international tender on a rich iron ore mine in Hajikak, Afghanistan’s largest, and are expected to be bidding on three copper and gold mines in the country when they are tendered early next year. Without the rail link to Chabahar, the Indians had to transport the ore south through Pakistani Baluchistan to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. The rail link circumvents Gwadar in a move seen as a major blow to the potential of that port in becoming the gateway for transporting the rich mineral deposits in landlocked Afghanistan to the world.
Iran’s Chabahar, in Iranian Baluchistan, and for years near idle as a deep-sea commercial port, will have the potential of becoming the gateway to Afghanistan if and when the construction of the railway is completed. Chabahar is 72 km (45 miles) west of Gwadar.