KARACHI: Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo has said that Pakistan has witnessed major challenges in the shape of regional conflicts and invasion due to its geographic location and with the inception of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) it has become a centre of global attention.
He was speaking at the induction ceremony of the third Chinese-built maritime patrol ship PMSS Dasht at the naval dockyard on Monday. The ship built for the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) arrived in Karachi earlier this month.
“This [CPEC] region is being seen with great interest by world powers. The instability in our neighbourhood poses serious challenges for the entire region, particularly Pakistan,” said Mr Bizenjo.
“The CPEC has the potential to change the regional canvas and the world. The importance of the project for Pakistan’s strategic strength and economic prosperity needs no elaboration. Every effort is being made to secure the important trade lifeline both on land and at sea,” he said.
“The government is undertaking every effort to lead the nation to the path of socio-economic progress...be it building of road networks, energy projects, industrial growth, job creation, transportation...or defence needs,” said the minister.
Acknowledging the government’s efforts in optimising operational resources of Pakistan Navy and PMSA to safeguard the CPEC sea routes, Mr Bizenjo said: “The government allocated over $150 million to enable the PMSA fleet to protect our maritime area and sea lines of communication. This will add a great deal to the security fibre not only for the CPEC but for all maritime zones of Pakistan.”
He lauded the project teams in Pakistan and China — China State Shipbuilding Corporation, Chinese Xijiang Shipyard and the PMSA ship’s crew — for their professionalism and dedication.
“I have met a few Chinese engineers and technicians associated with the project and appreciate their valuable contribution. Their commitment to the project is indeed commendable and shows the strength of deep-rooted friendship between both countries,” he said, adding that construction of the remaining two ships under the current project at the Karachi shipyard was another fine example of cooperation between the two countries.
Referring to the choice of names for the series of 600-ton multi-purpose vessel ships, Mr Bizenjo said he was “impressed and deeply moved” by the respect shown for Balochistan by the PMSA by naming the boats after the province’s rivers.
“Following contract signing with China Shipbuilding and Trading Company for construction of six ships three of which, including PMSS Dasht, are already delivered while the remaining three ships are under various phases of construction, simultaneously in China and Pakistan,” shared PMSA Director General Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar.
Admiral Akhtar said two of the ships, Hingol and Basol, were delivered and commissioned on Dec 10 last year in China — almost four months ahead of their contract schedule — while PMSS Dasht was commissioned on April 12 this year in China, which was delivered ahead of schedule as well.
“In the meanwhile, construction work on the fourth multi-purpose vessel continues in full pace at Karachi Shipping and Engineering Works. Two large 1,500 tons ships of the project are also under construction in China and Pakistan,” he added.
The ships possessed latest technology and were optimised for maritime policing roles through in-built capabilities of quick response, extended ranges, longer stay at sea and shorter turn-around-time, asserted Admiral Akhtar.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2017