Islamabad—Lack of awareness about its enormous maritime potential, especially among the ruling elite, was failing Pakistan to exploit its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Indian Ocean–upto 200 nautical miles along country’s 1000 km coastline–which is extremely rich in biodiversity, seafood, minerals and hydrocarbon resources and covers an area more than the size of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces combined.
This was the crux of a seminar titled ‘Pakistan’s Exclusive Economic Zone: pportunities, Challenges and Strategies’ held at Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad. An overarching authority at the federal level to look after the maritime affairs of the country was the key proposal. The main speaker of the interactive session was Commander (Retd) Dr Azhar Ahmad, senior IPS associate and head of social sciences, Bahria University, Islamabad, while Rear Admiral (Retd) Salim Akhtar was in the chair. It was attended by a number of officials from various government ministries and armed forces, policy analysts, researchers, and students.
The seminar was also apprised that after the lapse of several years the outdated national maritime policy of 2002 has been revised with the input of the concerned ministries and has been forwarded to the cabinet division for further processing. The speaker and participants were unanimous in their views that awareness and required research to explore and quantify the economic potential of Pakistan’s maritime resources has remained a neglected area with those at the helm of affairs, which was the main hurdle in the way of the country to become a maritime nation.