Pakistan’s decision to handover strategic Gwadar port to China is a matter of “serious concern” for India, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in Bangalore on Wednesday.
“Chinese are now constructing that port on Pakistan’s request. In one sentence, I can say that it’s a matter of concern to us. My answer is simple and straightforward,” he said at the Aero India press conference.
Mr. Antony was responding to a media query if the handing over of Gwadar port in Pakistan to China would make India’s western frontiers more vulnerable.
Gwadar port is situated at a strategic location of the Arabian Sea and the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It is only about 400 kilometres away from the Strait of Hormuz, a key global oil supply route.
The Minister’s remark comes in the backdrop of reports in the Chinese official media that the port development was not an attempt by the Chinese side to ‘encircle’ India.
Pakistan had recently approved a deal that transferred operational control of Gwadar port from Singapore’s PSA International to Chinese Overseas Port Holdings Ltd.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry had also defended Beijing’s decision to take over the Gwadar port operations as it is part of the continued cooperation between the two countries.
Besides funding ports in Sri Lanka, China has also been approached to help build a port in Bangladesh.
Post military pullout
Asked about how India is preparing to deal with the situation post-2014 when American troops pulled out from the Afghanisation-Pakistan region, Antony said, “even before Afghan pullout, geopolitical situation around us is very critical and the government is aware of it and we are taking steps to meet any eventuality.”
Mr. Antony said: “The pullout by US and others from 2014 onwards is a matter of serious concern to us. We are taking sufficient steps to safeguard our security. Our armed forces are also confident to face any challenges and we are equipping them for this purpose.”
The US and its allies, whose forces are present in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, attacks in America, plan to pullout their troops from the Af-Pak region by 2014 and hand over the security of the country to local police and military.