KARACHI: Pakistan has not been able to fully exploit the potential of its maritime boundary despite the fact that nature has bestowed the country with ample marine resources.

This was stated by experts on the inaugural day of the five-day Maritime Winter School 2020 (MWS2020) organised by the Maritime Study Forum (MSF) at Bahria University on Monday. The programme is being held in collaboration with the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) and the National Centre for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR).

They said Pakistan is gifted with a 1,050km coastline and ranks 74th among the 142 most favourable countries with regard to strategic maritime location. Yet, it falls short of having an all-encompassing maritime policy and strategy that is needed to exploit the country’s true potential. A lack of strategic maritime vision has made Pakistan suffer perennially from sea blindness, also known as maritime blindness.

The MWS2020 will have experts, including MSF president Dr Syed Mohammad Anwer, PNSC executive director Khurram Mirza and NCMPR founder Syed Obaidullah, who are expected to deliberate at length on the issues Pakistan is facing in its maritime domain.

The Maritime Winter School 2020 is themed along five topics: Understanding Maritime and Coastal Communities, Maritime Economy and Policy, Marine Resources and Hydrography, Maritime Security and Diplomacy, and Maritime and Media.

The objective behind holding the MWS2020 is to bring forth the pressing issues Pakistan is facing in the maritime sector and make them part of the academic discourse. In addition, this exercise will also encourage young researchers and scholars to carry out research in the maritime sector and contribute towards boosting the national economy of Pakistan by coming up with research-based solutions.

The MWS2020 is providing a learning platform to the participants who have come from all corners of Pakistan and mainly are students pursuing M. Phil and PhD degrees. Apart from learning through lectures and presentations, these young scholars will also have a chance to physically visit important sites such as the Karachi Port Trust, Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, China Harbour Port, the shipbuilding yard in Karachi and the Gadani ship-breaking yard.

For the final day of the workshop, Maritime Study Forum has also planned a seminar where electronic and social media personalities will be throwing light on the importance of maritime affairs for Pakistan and how media, both social and electronic, can play a pivotal role in addressing maritime blindness.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020