There was a time when New Delhi was proudly selling the notion of establishing its own New Silk Road – from the Gulf of Oman to the intersection of Central and South Asia opening access from Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia from the Arabian Sea – to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Now it looks like the Indians have stabbed themselves in the back.
In 2016, Tehran and New Delhi signed a deal to build a 628-kilometer rail line from Iran’s strategic Chabahar port to inland city Zahedan, very close to the Afghan border, with a crucial extension to Zaranj, in Afghanistan, and beyond.
The negotiations involved Iranian Railways and Indian Railway Constructions Ltd. But in the end, nothing happened – because of Indian foot-dragging. So Tehran decided to build the railway anyway, with its own funds – US$400 million – and completion scheduled for March 2022.