WHY GWADAR IS A GOLDEN PORT
STRATEGIC LOCATION OF PAKISTAN
Pakistan is one of the most strategically significant countries in the South-East Asian region. This prime area on the globe is vital for the economic growth of the entire surrounding region as it’s being implemented through a mega connection masterplan – One Belt One Road (OBOR) a brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Pakistan is also one of those countries that suffered turbulent governance fuelled by corruption and self interest for several years leading to hostile military takeovers of the government on many occasions. As democracy is organically forming the core of a country with incredible potential, there’s been a recent birth of an ideology in the form of ‘Naya Pakistan’ which is determined to reform the country for the betterment of all. There’s a gradual shift in internal and external attitudes towards Pakistan as has been documented in the recent months in the global media.
China has historically been a very close ally of Pakistan and have worked together on several projects including key military research and development assignments. China sees this relationship develop through beneficial access for both countries implemented through a mega development program – China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). One of the major projects within CPEC is the construction of a super highway connecting the port of Gwadar to Kashghar.
Gwadar District is situated along the shores of the Arabian Sea covering over 500 miles of coastline in the southwest of Pakistan’s Balochistan province and is representative of the rusty gold desert like terrain prevalent across the province. Close to the middle-eastern region, Gwadar is home to an emerald coloured sea, with moist winds sweeping the dry desert, receiving rainfall in the winters instead of the monsoon, unlike the rest of Pakistan.
Gwadar city was built on a plain between two hills, this causes the city to have a protected climate on the leeward side. It offers picturesque views of small fishing boats with the hills in the background.
Gwadar has a warm desert climate altered by winds from the Arabian Sea. The summers are short, hot and dry although the oceanic influence keeps the temperature lower than inland Balochistan. Tempratures are mostly comfortable all year round with clear skies. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 16°C to 35°C.
The city is divided into two main regions, the East Bay and the West Bay. The East Bay hosts the port and the West Bay is planned to be the new smart city of Gwadar. As you move closer to the port, the Hammer Head becomes the most dominant landmark in sight. This is a natural rock formation that acts as a shield against oceanic winds and allows for an all year round deep water port.
Gwadar, which in the local language means “The Gate of Air”. Pakistan’s dream of having a deep water port at Gwadar is nearly as old as its existence. In 1954, Worth Condrick who was commissioned by the US, surveyed the Balochi region and highly recommended Gwadar as a prime point for to build a sea port. The main reasoning behind this was the altitude of Gwadar which extends up to 300m above sea level as well as the deep waters that surrounded the coastal line. Gwadar at this point was under Omani control as it had been for over 200 years. Realising the importance of Gwadar, in 1958, Pakistan paid £3 million to buy back the enclave from the Sultanate of Oman.
The current population of this region is about 400,000 mostly with poor access to health facilities and education. The primary occupation of the residents of Gwadar is fishing. For many centuries, Gwadar has remained a small fishing town with little else to offer. Below is a picture of boats hand built in Gwadar.
In 2001 Gwadar’s fortunes started to turn when progressive steps were taken towards making the Gwadar Port proposal a reality and China agreed to participate in the construction and development of the deep sea port. Following the completion of Phase I, the Government of Pakistan in February 2007 signed a 40-year agreement with Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) International for development and operation of the port, and an adjacent 584 acre special economic zone. In 2013, Pakistan awarded a contract for construction of Gwadar Port to China. As per details of the contract, the port would remain as property of Pakistan, but would be operated by the state-run Chinese firm – China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC). The port is operational now with steady progress to into Phase II.
Current (Based on figures quoted for 2018): Capacity of 30 million of cargo per year.
– Phase I: 11 million (tonnes) of cargo per year.
– Phase II: 200 million (tonnes) of cargo per year. Estimated completion: 2029
– Phase III: 400 million (tonnes) of cargo per year. Estimated completion: 2045
THE BEAUTY OF GWADAR
Resembling the shape of the hammerhead whale, this mass of rock was created by the mud volcano that erupted. Majority of the rocks in the Gwadar district were created through the eruption of these volcanoes. Hammerhead provides a spectacular view of the Arabian Sea on its southern side and a breathtaking view of the Gwadar city on its north.
Main reason to travel to Gwadar, is known to be the Buzzi pass itself. It presents us with the most spectacular scenery on each side, one can simply not help hold their breath in wonder and awe. Overlooking the Hingol National Park and the wondrous natural carvings, it provides a spectacular view. Fact about Buzzi Pass that is known to be famous is that Alexander the great passed by here and on this pass, he lost many of his legions.
Ever wondered how it would feel to see the wondrous sphinx in Egypt, up front and not in pictures? Gwadar has its own naturally carved sphinx, located on the top of the range, it exactly resembles the man-made sculpture. Its beauty and wonder has brought about many visitors from all over.
Located 240 km from Karachi, Ormara is the midpoint of Karachi and Gwadar. This area is under the Pakistan navy, with their vessels scattered all over providing the tourists a rather captivating view of the naval forces at work. The hammerhead protects Ormara from the sea and the beaches and the water remains untouched. Ormara was one of the pit stop for Alexander the great, and one of his generals died here, named ormuz, thus the name Ormara.
PRINCESS OF HOPE
Located in the largest national park of Pakistan, princess of hope is another one of the major tourist attractions. People believe that the formation was man made however history claims that it was carved in the same way as the sphinx and the hammerhead – through the eruption of mud mountains that covered the regions.
Also known as the “island of the seven hills”, it is located in the Pasni ‘district of Gwadar. The island stretches 6.7 km and depth of 2.3, the highest point of the island is 246 ft. above the sea level. It provides a beautiful view of the Arabian Sea. It maintains a rather endemic living style due to its isolated location.