‘Nothing is in isolation. The Indian Ocean and the power politics that it holds within its folds is perhaps not fully understood.’ This was stated by Lt. Gen. (R) Nasser Khan Janjua, National Security Advisor of Pakistan, during his address as Chief Guest, at a One-day National Conference on, ‘Maritime Economy and the Geopolitics of Indian Ocean Rim (IOR): Challenges for Pakistan’, organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) in collaboration with Bahria University Islamabad.
The speakers at the Conference included: Dr. Azhar Ahmad, HOD, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Bahria University, Islamabad; Commodore Zafar Mansoor Tipu, Former Director National Centre for Maritime Policy Research Centre Bahria University; Commodore Babar Bilal, Director National Centre for Maritime Policy Research Islamabad; Mr. Waqar Ahmed, Sr. Joint Secretary Ministry of Maritime Affairs; Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, President Research Society of International Law; Dr. Idrees Khawaja, HOD, Air University School of Management Islamabad and Dr. Safdar Sohail, Director General National Institute of Management and Member Governance Planning Commission and Mr. Abbas Hassan, Research Associate, Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.
Lt Gen (R) Nasser Khan Janjua outlined how Asia has the world’s largest human resources, consumer markets, natural markets, development scope, and connectivity potential. In order to connect this with the rest of the world, the major channel present in the Indian Ocean, which is known for being a strategic conduit of commerce, and provides the foundation for trading systems that underpin Asia’s economic importance. He said that great power rivalries are being aggravated in Asia: China and Russia are being taken as challengers, the region has become more competitive than cooperative; and there is a perpetual war in Afghanistan, which has no end in sight. In order for Pakistan to multiply its potential, it has to re-alter the region and become a massive trade corridor.
For that, it should recognize that the common future lies with Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics, China and sometimes with Russia. Furthermore, both India and Pakistan should engage, resolve their disputes and look towards the future. In his remarks at the Inaugural Session, Rear Admiral (Retd) Mukhtar Khan HI (M), Director General Institute of Maritime Affairs at Bahria University said that the maritime economy model has established a sustainable development framework for developing countries and effective leadership can help channel this model to the forefront. In order to promote a more integrated effort, the Government should make a strategic decision to take the ‘blue economy’ approach. This will pave the way for a comprehensive study of this sector and how to harness its full potential.