KARACHI: Underscoring the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday said the corridor was a game changer for Pakistan and a key to the economic development and prosperity of the entire region.
The Indian Ocean, according to the minister, has emerged as a key arena of geopolitics as strategic interests of the world are routed through this region.
“The overwhelming reliance on sea routes and the increasing volume of global sea borne trade has enhanced the importance of Indian Ocean region for the world community,” the defence minister said at the closing ceremony of seventh International Maritime Conference organised by the National Centre for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR) being held in tandem with the multinational exercise Aman 17.
‘We need to see CPEC as one element of the Chinese policy’
He pointed out that with the operationalisation of CPEC and Gwadar port, maritime activities would increase exponentially in the North Arabian Sea and beyond.
Consequently, the responsibilities of Pakistan Navy would also increase for maintaining a secure maritime environment for the smooth flow of sea trade, he said.
Acknowledging the maritime security initiatives taken by Pakistan Navy for ensuring peace and order at sea, the minister assured that the recommendations of the conference will be given due consideration by the government and all possible efforts will be made for their pursuance.
Earlier, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah in his closing remarks said that the initiatives of developing economic corridors and linking to maritime routes have provided impetus for economic integration of the regional countries and beyond.
He also said that CPEC is one such development in the region and, with the operationalisation of CPEC and Gwadar port, the scope and potential of blue economy would increase further.
The admiral also said that maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region has gained particular significance in the recent past due to increased dependence of the world on sea borne trade and quest for energy resources. Any disruption in the free flow of trade would not only impact the regional states but also have implications for the overall global economy.
PM to witness naval exercise today
The multinational naval exercise Aman-17 will be an endeavour of readiness for the promotion of peace, according to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Corridor of development: Shehbaz terms CPEC ‘game changer’ for entire region
The premier is due to visit Karachi today (Tuesday) to witness the exercise in person, according to a statement from the PM’s office, which adds that the premier also extended his gratitude to the participating countries for joining Pakistan Navy at the exercise in such large numbers.
He also stated that maritime security challenges in the Indian Ocean are multidimensional and multifaceted. Threats like maritime terrorism, drug trafficking, and piracy have acquired international dimensions.
“Cooperation between international navies is imperative to counter these emerging threats,” the premier said.
Pakistan, Nawaz affirmed, being a major stakeholder in maritime security of Arabian Sea is fully committed to ensuring freedom of navigation and lawful maritime order.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2017.
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