It is a matter of fact that Pakistan is enjoying its geopolitical location in which Gwadar port is the lynchpin. Majority people did not know that Pakistan actually bought this land from Muscat. The reason why Pakistan had to request the British instead of talking directly with the Muscat Government was that the British had concluded an agreement with the Sultan on March 20, 1891 in which the latter pledged “never to cede, sell, mortgage or otherwise give in occupation any of his dominions or dependencies to the British government.”
However, the Pakistan Government continued to raise the issue with the British. In 1958, after learning that the Indians are also trying to purchase Gwadar, the Government of Pakistan intensified its efforts and succeeded in concluding an agreement with the British Government on August 1, 1958. At this time, the British Government was already under pressure due to a motion tabled in the UNSC to consider “armed aggression by the UK against the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Imamate of Oman,” and the Sultan of Muscat was also in dire need of funds to continue his campaign against the Imam.
According to the agreement the Pakistani Government had to pay an amount of £3 million ($10m) along with some concessions to the Muscat Government. Hence on September 8, 1958 Gwadar was transferred to Pakistan, through the British representative. On behalf of the Sultan of Muscat, the Wali handed over Gwadar to the representative of the British Counsel General in Muscat, who in turn, handed over possession to Pakistan. Pakistani side was represented by Mr. Agha Abdul Hamid, who was the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister and Secretary Cabinet Division. It was made a tehsil of district Makran in the Balochistan province till July 1, 1977 when it was given the status of a district.
In 1882, Sir Charles Metcalfe MacGregor visited Gwadar and travelled along the coast. He reported that Gwadar was a suitable place for a modern port but this proposal was not approved because of lack of resources and market feasibility. After the Pak-India war of 1971, a proposal was put up to the Government for an additional port along the Makran coast (Gwadar being a preferred option). According to T. M. Khattak, Pakistan’s President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, in 1974 offered the US to build a port at Gwadar and use it as a naval base. However, the US declined because they had access to Chabahar under the friendly Shah of Iran’s regime.
For decades, the coastal town of Gwadar had been a victim of sheer neglect at the hands of the Government, and hardly any development work was seen there. In 1988 a Belgium firm was awarded a contract to build a small “fish harbour cum mini port” at Gwadar which completed in December 1992. In 1991 the concept of deep water port at Gwadar was formally conceived by the Government of Pakistan. The project was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in June 1994.
In December 1995, the Government of Pakistan instructed Karachi Port Trust to finance the development of Gwadar to the extent of Rs.1 billion. In February 1996, the Government released Rs. 2 billion for the construction of a deep sea port in Gwadar. In Dec 1996, major companies submitted Expression of Interest (EOI) for construction of Phase I of the Gwadar project. In March 2002 Sino-Pak Agreement was signed under which China Harbour Engineering Company was to build Phase I of the Port at a cost of US $ 248 million. Out of the $248 million, Pakistan’s contribution was only $50 million, whereas, the rest was paid by China. That segment was the 1st highlight of today’s CPEC.