For a country to have a flourishing economy, it is essential that it partakes in multilateral trade activities a foreign reserves and direct foreign investments are proof of the credibility and stability of a country. Trade activities are conducted either through land routes or through maritime routes, whichever is easily accessible while simultaneously abiding by the territorial demarcations. While trade is commonly conducted through roads, having its own naval route is a geographical privilege granted only to a few countries.
For a country to indulge in maritime trade, a functioning sea port is perhaps the most essential requisite. Where Pakistan has been making the best of Port of Karachi so far, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative heralded the development of the Gwadar Port in the dusty town of Gwadar located in the remote province of Baluchistan.
Deep Sea Ports and Their Significance
A deep sea port or deep water port, varies from a regular one in respect of the depth of water in its proximity. These ports are constructed in order to deal with heavy cargo carried by large ships. The water depth for a port to be classified as a deep sea port has to be 30 feet or more; as greater the depth the more compatible will the port be with large ships laden with hefty freight.
The size of the ships themselves as well as the capacity of the port to dock Panamax or Aframax ships are also determining factors in the classification of ports. Deep water ports are not merely docking facilities but also include pipelines, pumping stations, service platforms, mooring buoys and all such paraphernalia relating to the upkeep and maintenance of ships while also being equipped to cater
any emergency situations. They are amongst the valuable assets of a country because a greater amount of cargo ships indicates towards augmented trade activities which is tantamount to a bustling economy. Some of the world’s largest deep sea ports include, Port of Shanghai in China, Port of Singapore and the port of Jebel Ali in Saudi Arabia. Whereas the Gwadar Port is all set to become the largest deep sea port in the world upon becoming fully functional.
Warm Water Ports and Their Significance
Along with being classified according to the depth of water, ports are also categorized on the basis of the climate of the region and its effect on the temperature of sea water. Warm water ports have an added advantage of being open to activity all year round as the water does not freeze in winters, hence there aren’t any dips in the graphs of their trade activities. The port of Saint Petersburg and the Port of Valdez are the most notable examples of warm water ports.
Gwadar- A Deep Sea and Warm Water Port
The under construction (and deliberation) Gwadar Port has all the coruscating attributes making it appear almost as an ideal port. The only thing which doesn’t play in its favour is perhaps the constant threat of the separatist, insurgent tribes of Baluchistan. This requires ancillary funding of an unusually large amount for the security of the infrastructure as well as the protection of the labour force. Gwadar port is not only economically beneficial for Pakistan but is also of immense geopolitical interest as it sought global attention.
Russian Interest in Gwadar Port
Russia is geographically unfortunate. It has struggled to obtain a warm water port for over 6 centuries, tracing back to the era of Ivan IV and Peter the Great, warring to acquire the warm water ports in the Mongol hold. Over the passage of time there have been multiple strategies, efforts and attempts by Moscow to reach the warm Arabian Sea but owing to Afghanistan and Pakistan all of these have been in
vain. Previously, Russia has contributed in the development of local energy projects in Pakistan as well as a showed interest as a third party in the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. While the ties between Russian and Pakistan are cordial, they are still far from indulging in strategic and economic bilateral relations. There might be many factors contributing to this impediment including Pakistan’s relations with the United States and Russia’s cooperative links with India.
On the topic of CPEC, Russia has neither made any outright positive affirmations nor has she out rightly denied considering the matter. However, upon analysis of the matter Russian interest can be guessed. The development of energy projects in Pakistan can indirectly facilitate Russia in terms of oil trade through the Gwadar Port towards the East and West. As Russia’s surrounding seas are not navigable, while being landlocked and ice locked from the remaining sides it will also gain a long coveted but yet indirect access to a warm water port. Since no official statement or testament of keenness has been issued by the Russian authorities, this is merely a matter of active speculation.
Pakistan has from the date of its conception has been geographically blessed. It is one of the few countries which witness all four seasons and thus deals with their consequent effects on its economy. Due to the warm climate of Baluchistan the region does not receive icy winters therefore Gwadar is an ideal city, primarily in terms of moderate temperature, favourable for the development of a port. Given that China was the first country to identify Gwadar’s potential, of late, many countries have agreed to its beneficial nature.