0154 GMT March 24, 2018
Senior Ministry Officer Rubina Akhter, who is the additional secretary of trade diplomacy, told The Express Tribune there was much hype about the move by Iran, Afghanistan and India, which inked an agreement to develop the Chabahar Port, but it was not a threat to Pakistan.
The three countries signed the deal after the landmark China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project was launched by Pakistan and China under which Gwadar deep-sea port would be developed to provide an easy access to regional markets.
"There is no need to worry as Chabahar is not a recent development and the three countries have been working on it for a long time," Akhter said, adding it was not an unexpected move in the region.
She said there was no match between the Chabahar and Gwadar ports as both had much contrast and could never become competitors.
She explained that besides not being a deep-sea port, the distance from Chabahar to potential markets is also much longer than Gwadar, which is another minus point of the Iranian port.
She mentioned that during his recent visit to Pakistan, the Iranian president had also clarified that they were developing the Chabahar Port and it was not a competitor of any other port in the region.
Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoust also dispelled the impression that Chabahar was a move against any other country.
He stated that each port in the region was of equal significance and benefit to the area and through cooperation they could be mutual partners and not competitors.
He stated the Chabahar deal was "not restricted to these three nations" and even Pakistan and China were welcome to be part of it.
Pakistan's Ministry of Commerce and Iranian authorities are also working to sign a free trade agreement and in this regard an initial text is being prepared to share with Tehran.
The step was taken following the lifting of sanctions by the international community following a successful deal on the Iranian nuclear program.
Akhter said trade diplomacy with Iran was moving in the right direction. There were a number of events on the cards in both the countries on promoting trade, which had halted due to the sanctions.
A Commerce Ministry delegation will visit Iran in July or the first week of August to discuss trade-related issues and put forward a proposal to hold a single-country exhibition of Pakistani goods in Iran.