Imperatives of maritime security

AN international symposium, organised by Bahria University in Islamabad on Monday with the theme ‘Impact of One Belt, One Road Initiative on Geo-Economics of Indian Ocean Region’, afforded an opportunity to take stock of the evolving geo-political and geo-economic realities and how Pakistan should proceed ahead to safeguard its maritime interests. There was consensus among speakers that Pakistan has greater and pivotal role in the Indian Ocean in view of implementation of the flagship project of Chinese initiative of ‘One Belt, One Road’ – China Pakistan Economic Corridor – and other regional connectivity plans, therefore, it has to prepare itself to brace up the challenge.
Gwadar and, in fact, whole of Pakistan, is going to become gateway of regional trade which means intensified maritime activities in the Indian Ocean. It is understood that Pakistan Navy has to play the lead role in ensuring maritime security for regional trade and activities. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed full confidence in the capability of Pakistan Navy and the Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi also assured countrymen that his force was fully geared to discharge its duties and responsibilities in the backdrop of emerging challenges, concerns and security situation. However, there are serious question marks about effectiveness of our naval power to respond to the growing challenges because of scant resources that Pakistan Navy got over the last seven decades. As against this India is arming its navy to teeth and its lethal power is assuming alarming proportions. Strategic, commercial and economic importance of the Indian Ocean has never been in question as there are 48 countries around it and it is home to 2.6 billion people. But we did not plan to upgrade our navy to play its due role that would become even more critical in view of implementation of CPEC that India has vowed to sabotage. India could resort to maritime terrorism to thwart prospects of Pakistan becoming a regional commercial and economic hub, therefore, we need to invest heavily in our navy. What AJK President Sardar Masood Khan proposed at the symposium is worth consideration and we hope all stakeholders would formulate a comprehensive and long-term maritime strategy to safeguard Pakistan’s interests.

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