Indian Ocean maritime security challenges: Is Pakistan ready

Indian Ocean maritime security challenges: Is Pakistan ready

ISLAMABAD: Emerging challenges in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) pose a serious threat to Pakistan’s security and interests, and a comprehensive strategy is required for addressing them.

This was the conclusion of a roundtable on maritime security hosted by the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) in collaboration with a German foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS). The deliberations at the roundtable would feed into a daylong national conference being organised by the CPGS and the KAS on ‘Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: Challenges and Prospects for Pakistan’ on Monday.

The roundtable had concluded that challenges to peace in IOR were mainly emanating from its nuclearisation and power projection by states maintaining presence in the area and emerging alliances in the region.

Additionally, challenges like terrorism, piracy and environmental concerns were further complicating the scenario. Pakistan’s participation in China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, meanwhile, adds to the urgency for developing a strategy for dealing with threats to peace.

Pakistan has already taken several steps, including the raising of a special maritime force Task Force-88 (TF-88), for protection of Gwadar Port and its sea-lanes. But the CPGS believes a bigger effort is required.

Speaking on the occasion, CPGS President Senator Sehar Kamran said, “Pakistan's stakes in the maritime arena are extremely high, which are directly impacted by multifaceted threats and challenges, both traditional and non-traditional threats, but more importantly the emerging Indo-US strategic partnership, an increased Chinese interest and presence in the region, Indo-Iran and Indo-Gulf cooperation, Indian ambitions and the nuclearisation of the ocean.”

The national conference is, therefore, being held to deliberate on the complex environment, intertwined interests and strategic concerns, and propose the future course of action and responses.

Federal Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain would be the chief guest at the conference that would feature key note speeches by National Security Adviser Lt Gen (r) Nasser Janjua and former chief of naval staff Admiral (r) Asif Sandila. A number of maritime experts would also present their papers on the occasion.