Ports prowess

Editorial July 09, 2024


The indispensability of mercantile maritime and modernised ports is never lost on any sea-shore country. Its quest and necessity can be better gauged from landlocked states that are eager for such a facility, and keep their foreign policies wed-locked with neighbours who have access to blue seas. The realisation on the part of Pakistan that it should be the home to viable ports, and its infrastructure should be second to none, is late but never too late.

The country’s present status of ports and navigation is in a shambles, and it is a pity that it has not been able to evolve a fool-proof nexus by connecting two of its provinces with their out-pitched bays in the Arabian Sea and the Persian waters. While the Gwadar port in Balochistan is in the making, the vitality of two existing gigantic ports at KPT and Bin Qasim, Karachi, are underrated and pathetic.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s air-dash to the port-city on his yatra from Central Asia was meant for stock-taking of the sea-trade prowess. His advice that advanced scanning machinery, uninterrupted cargo delivery and ease of business mechanism should be in vogue is understandable. But the question is: why did it take so many decades to look at this vital canvas of economic growth, and why is KPT still in the woods, lacking digital facilities for unloading of oil and cargo? Likewise, Port Qasim lacks night navigation facilities, and a lot more activity that can be undertaken by building parallel white-oil pipelines and LNG storage plants are no-where on the cards. Similar is the case of Hub Port in Balochistan that can emerge as a great standby facility.

Pakistan, sitting at the crossroads of geo-economics, cannot sit idle as neighbours are in search of viable access to warm waters. The evolving BRI, and other oil and rail connectivity networks in the region look up to ports in Pakistan for easy and competitive outlets. Erecting a comprehensive plan with state-of-the-art facilities for regulating merchant vessels is the way to go.


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