For the first time, the Railways Minister Saad Rafiq disclosed that Gwadar is being linked with Jacobabad through railway line. The railway line will connect Jacobabad via Basima and Khuzdar. Gwadar is linked with Karachi via Mekran Coastal Highway and there is no need of additional rail link between Gwadar and Karachi.
According to independent economists, there is no inland cargo for future Gwadar Port as both Karachi ports are catering the needs with an ease facing no problem of port congestion or any other problem. Thus Gwadar deepwater port is irrelevant for domestic use handling no domestic cargo of any size in presence of modern ports at Karachi.
Late Bhutto did the greatest disservice to Pakistan by building Port Qasim instead of Gwadar in early 1970s. It was his contempt towards Balochistan.
By this time Gwadar would have been earning billion of US dollar extending trade transit facilities. The independent economists are of the view that the Government should upgrade the Quetta-Zahedan Section of Pakistan Railway and connect Gwadar Port from the nearest point so that it is linked with the international railways passing through Iranian Balochistan.
It will also be connected with the rail system of Pakistan somewhere close to Nokkundi. For this, Pakistan should find investors or donors to build the railway track and also upgrade the Quetta-Zahedan Section as a whole connecting Pakistan with the entire world. The Railway Minister said that Quetta-Zahedan Section needs billions of dollars to upgrade it. At the moment, Pakistan has no resources thus the plan is in cold storage.
Gwadar had been catering the local needs for the past many centuries exporting dates and dried fish products to many countries and the boats were bringing back merchandized goods including clothes. The construction of three berths added no revenue to the public exchequer to this date except the Karachi bound cargo was diverted and unloaded at Gwadar only for demonstration effect.
It was no more than a publicity stunt. It is all quiet on the Gwadar front as most of the development activities are going on with a snail pace. Chinese failed to start construction work on the second phase of Gwadar Port.
The Government awarded contract to the Chinese Company for building five additional berths some two years ago and the Chinese are yet to begin work on the second phase. There are no chances of building the International Airport and the power house.
There is little interest among the Chinese on building and completing the port project. Presumably, the Chinese are more interested in commercial activities and wants to build special economic zones for the Chinese industries and products instead of building Gwadar or making it functional.
In one of the formal briefing in Beijing, a senior Chinese official confirmed that China wants to build at least 10 Special Economic Zones in Pakistan which may take decades and not years.
At the moment, Gwadar Port is not on the priority list of the Chinese Government/companies giving greater preference to Special Economic Zones spread over to all parts of Pakistan, presumably one in Gwadar at later stages. The lack of progress of building the Gwadar Port and making it functional, most of the countries of the world had lost all hopes in Gwadar Port at the moment because of very slow pace of work.
It forced the international market forces to concentrate on Chah Bahar Port which is merely 72 kilometers from Gwadar where Iran extended immense opportunities to the potential investors. Japan and South Korea are establishing two huge steel mills one with the production of capacity of two million tons and the other South Korean to 1.5 million tons beside a huge fertilizer plant by India catering the fertilizer need of whole India.
Foreign companies are investing more than 50 billion US dollars in Chah Bahar and its surroundings building a huge industrial area. There is an economic boom in Chah Bahar following massive foreign investment on the Mekran Coast. Hardly any foreign investor, besides the Chinese, had shown interests in investing in Gwadar projects.