Karachi due to its geographical and strategic location is known as the gateway to Asia. Considered as a safe harbor since time immemorial, Karachi was a small fishing village in early nineteenth century. Historians identify it with its proximity to a place from where a part of Alexander's Army, boarded the Greek Flotilla in 326 B.C.
The first mention of Karachi as a port is found in an Arabic treatise 'Muhit' on navigation relating to the West Coast of India and the Persian Gulf. Written in 1558, this treatise warns the sailors of whirlpools and advises them to seek safety in Karachi Harbor if they found themselves drifting dangerously.
It is also significant to mention that the first Muslim Conqueror of India, Mohammad Bin Qasim, landed at Daibal, in vicinity of Karachi in 711 A.D. Karachi also has the distinction of being the birth place of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and was the first capital of Pakistan till 1963. It is now the largest city with a bustling and ever increasing population of over ten million.
By 1852, Karachi was an established city with a population of about 14,000 with a prosperous trade in over-seas markets. However, the existing Port started taking shape in 1854, when the projects of dredging the main navigable channel and the construction of a mole or causeway joining the main harbor with the rest of the city were undertaken. About 5 years later, construction of Manora Breakwater, Keamari Groyne, the Napier Mole Bridge, Native Jetty and the Chinna Creek were started which gave initial shape to the port.
The construction of the wharves started in 1882, and by 1914 the East Wharves and the Napier Mole Boat Wharf had been completed. During the period between 1927 and 1944, the West Wharves of the Port, the lighterage berths and the ship-repairing berths were constructed. Most of these facilities were obsolete by the time Pakistan came into existence in 1947. Since then, the port administration has embarked on extensive development of the port on modern lines.
At the time of independence in 1947, the Port capacity was about 1.5 million tons of dry cargo and 1.0 million tons of P.O.L. products per annum. Karachi Port is now handling over 11.74 million tons of liquid cargo and 25.45 million tons of dry cargo, including 1,213,744 TEUs which constitute about 60% of import/ export of the country.
Hutchison Ports KICT is Pakistan's leading container terminal. Located in the Port of Karachi, west of the Indus Delta on the Arabian Sea, Hutchison Ports KICT has been in operation since 1998. It has three berths equipped with modern container-handling facilities.
Hutchison Ports KICT is a member of Hutchison Ports , the port and related services division of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited (CK Hutchison), Hutchison Ports is the world’s leading port investor, developer and operator with a network of port operations in 53 ports comprising 283 operational berths in 27 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australasia. Over the years, Hutchison Ports has expanded into other logistics and transportation-related businesses including cruise ship terminals, distribution centres, rail services and ship repair facilities.
In 2020, Hutchison Ports handled a combined throughput of 83.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2020.
The Port Muhammad Bin Qasim, or Qasim Port Authority, also known as Port Qasim, is a deep-water seaport in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, on the coastline of the Arabian Sea under the administrative control of the Secretary to the Government of Pakistan for Maritime Affairs. It is Pakistan's second busiest port, handling about 35% of the nation's cargo (17 million tons per annum). Port Qasim and Karachi Port, the busiest port of country, together handle more than 90% of all external trade of Pakistan.
The port encompasses a total area of 12,000 acres (49 km2) wherein many industrial zones operate. In addition to the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and KESC Bin Qasim Power Plant, around 80% of the Pakistan's automotive industry is located at Port Qasim. The port also provides direct waterfront access to two major nearby industrial areas, Export Processing Zone (Landhi) and Korangi Industrial Area. Approximately 60% of country's export and import is originated from these areas. Port Qasim is managed by Port Qasim Authority, a semi-autonomous government body.
The Gwadar Port or Gwadar Port Authority is the deepest sea port in the world, situated on the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Balochistan province of Pakistan and is under the administrative control of the Maritime Secretary of Pakistan and operational control of the China Overseas Port Holding Company. The port features prominently in the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan, and is considered to be a link between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Maritime Silk Road projects. It is about 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Turbat, and 170 kilometres (110 mi) to the east of Chabahar Port (Sistan and Balochistan Province in Iran).
Gwadar's potential to be a deep water sea port was first noted in 1954, while the city was still under Omani sovereignty. Plans for construction of the port were not realised until 2007, when the port was inaugurated by Parvez Musharraf after four years of construction, at a cost of $248 million.
In 2015, it was announced that the city and port would be further developed under CPEC at a cost of $1.62 billion, with the aim of linking northern Pakistan and western China to the deep water seaport. The port will also be the site of a floating liquefied natural gas facility that will be built as part of the larger $2.5 billion Gwadar-Nawabshah segment of the Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline project. Construction began in June 2016 on the Gwadar Special Economic Zone, which is being built on 2,292-acre site adjacent to Gwadar's port. In late 2015, the port was officially leased to China for 43 years, until 2059.
Gwadar Port became formally operational on 14 November 2016, when it was inaugurated by Pakistan's Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif; the first convoy was seen off by the then Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif. On 14 January 2020, Pakistan operationalized Gwadar Port for Afghan transit trade.