Opening session of a two-day Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Working Group meeting, under the auspices of Pakistan Navy commenced in Islamabad on Tuesday. Chaired by Pakistan Navy, the working group is consisted of 10 member nations, which include Australia, Bangladesh, France, India, Iran, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand and UAE, says a statement issued here. This is the second time Pakistan is hosting IONS activities. In 2015, Pakistan Navy hosted IONS working group on Info Sharing and Interoperability along with IONS preparatory workshop in Karachi. The theme of Working Group remains Information Sharing and Interoperability.
Speaking at the Inaugural Session, Rear Admiral Muhammad Fayyaz Gilani, Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff (Operations), highlighted the importance of Indian Ocean Region for global maritime community. He highlighted that being energy rich, the region faced host of security, human and environmental challenges. While underscoring the maritime threats, he said that threats to maritime security in the region emanate primarily from contemporary challenges like maritime terrorism, piracy, narco-arms and human smuggling and that Collaborative Maritime Security had become the scarlet thread to ensure peace and stability in the region.
Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff (Operations) further added that Pakistan Navy was fully cognizant of challenges being faced in maritime domain and as a firm believer in the concept of collaborative maritime security, had been actively participating in Maritime Security and Counter-Piracy operations in the region along with other partner nations. Pakistan Navy participation in Combined Task Forces 150 and 151 has contributed significantly towards peace and security in the North Arabian Sea.
Gilani also mentioned that Pakistan Navy always looked forward to participate in IONS related activities as the forum had tremendous potential to contribute towards peace and stability in the IOR. In today’s era of globalization, importance of information sharing needs no emphasis. Therefore, Info Sharing and Interoperability Working Group has a vital role in connecting all members and observers and to enhance cooperation in common areas of interest, he added.
Later, in the keynote address, Rear Admiral (R) Pervaiz Asghar underlined the importance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in improving regional connectivity and its likely impact on increasing maritime trade in the region. He also highlighted the importance of collaborative and cooperative approach to security for mutual benefit. The IONS is a multinational forum established in 2008. Pakistan became member of this forum in March 2014. Over the years, the forum has gained considerable significance in the regional maritime affairs. During the two-day event, the working group will deliberate on different measures to improve information sharing as well as ways and means to enhance interoperability amongst the IONS nations. The event will be attended by delegates from all member nations of Info Sharing and Interoperability working group.