Chinese state-run daily Global Times has termed India's efforts towards establishing trade linkages in the region 'geopolitical stubbornness' and urged New Delhi to develop economic and trade relations with Islamabad instead of bypassing Pakistan entirely. A column published by the GT discussed whether India will bypass Pakistan to develop trade with Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries by means of recently opened Afghanistan-India Air Corridor and the Chabahar port in Iran, and warned that these efforts may be a “strategy to counter-balance the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)”. The first cargo flight along the Afghanistan-India Air Corridor was dispatched earlier this month, carrying $5 million in plants with medicinal uses. Additionally, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a transit accord on the Chabahar port last year, with India saying it would invest up to $500m to develop the strategic port. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion had said: “We want to link to the world, but connectivity among ourselves is also a priority.”
The Global Times claimed that “All such connectivity efforts have not only signaled India's desire to more actively participate in regional economic development, but have also highlighted the country's stubborn geopolitical thinking.” Although the new route will boost trade ties between India and Afghanistan, the column questioned whether an air trade route is “commercially viable and sustainable for trade exchange”, and cautioned India to not bypass Pakistan, which it said “offers the most efficient and cost-effective land route.”
The Global Times claimed that “India has always been pushing back against the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative”, adding that “its intention to create its own connectivity network appears to be a strategy to counterbalance the CPEC.” It added that the One-Belt, One-Road initiative has “created the opportunity and platform for cooperation between India and Pakistan”. The column posited that it is better for India to develop economic and trade ties with Pakistan as “regional connectivity cannot live without the cooperation between both India and Pakistan.