CPEC: National Maritime policy needed for Indian Ocean security

CPEC: National Maritime policy needed for Indian Ocean security

ISLAMABAD: (APP) Speakers at the maritime conference herer on Monday called for framing broad-based National Maritime Policy, modernization of navy, and expansion of diplomatic engagement with the littoral states of the Afro-Asian Ocean Region (Indian Ocean).

The need was highlighted for achieving peace and security and capitalizing on the opportunities created by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

A set of 25 wide-ranging policy recommendations was issued at the conclusion of the daylong conference on `Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: Challenges and Prospects for Pakistan', jointly organized by Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), and National Center for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR).

The conference, which was participated by policy makers, legislators, maritime experts, and academics, further supported the idea of identifying Indian Ocean as `Afro-Asian Ocean' to give a sense of ownership to the littoral states since the Ocean is bound by two continents.

Minister for Defense Production Rana Tanveer Hussain, on the occasion, said: "There is no surprise that our competitors are opposed to CPEC, and are already seeking to sabotage it. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that we be fully-prepared to deal with any and all challenges that may arise as these opportunities unfold, not the least in the maritime arena."

National Security Advisor Lt. Gen (R) Nasser Janjua terming Pakistan as gateway of the world to the region highlighted the need for having improved relationship with the neighbor at western side.

The conference recommendations underscored the importance of overcoming national `sea-blindness', because of which maritime issues have remained neglected in the national priorities, and developing a culture of `sea-positivity'.

President CPGS Sehar Kamran said that Maritime Security is a pivotal aspect of Pakistan's national security, and must be acknowledged as such. A comprehensive and long-term maritime security policy with a futuristic approach based on projected requirements for the coming decades in both civilian and military maritime sectors was the need of time, he added.

Former Naval Chief Admiral (r) Muhammad Sandila raised the issue of problems confronting development of Gawadar and called for addressing these challenges for the development of Gawadar and CPEC.

Rear Admiral Mukhtar Jadoon, former additional secretary Ministry of Defense, was of the view that the available resources are not enough to meet the maritime security dictates.

Former Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral r Iftikhar Ahmed said: "If we have the requisite infrastructure and enabling environment at Gwadar and the region, Gwadar will surely emerge as the economic hub of the region." He stressed that Iranian port Chahbahar poses no challenge to Gawadar and the two can compliment.

Rear Admiral r Pervaiz Asghar, Former Director General, National Centre for Maritime Policy Research, pointed to threat of India's naval expansion, but also drew attention to non-traditional threats. He asked for making a coordinated and unified response to an array of common non-traditional threats.