KARACHI: President Dr Arif Alvi has called for a solution to regional conflicts, particularly in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking at the inaugural session of a three-day International Maritime Conference (IMC-21) on ‘Development of blue economy under a secure and sustainable environment — a shared future for Western Indian Ocean Region’ here on Saturday, he said: “Global peace, rather than confrontation should be our future.”
The conference is part of the harbour phase of the multinational maritime exercise Aman-2021.
The president said security in the Indian Ocean was essential for mankind in general and especially for the countries of this region, adding that hegemonic designs in any way would deter international cooperation.
AJK president says Pakistan needs to develop new ports for economic and maritime security purposes
“Pakistan is becoming a geo-economic hub with the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, as Pakistan is the shortest route for the Central Asian States and China to import and export their goods through Gwadar,” he said.
Dr Alvi reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the development of Pakistan’s maritime sector and also expressed satisfaction over Pakistan Navy’s act of pushing for the development of blue economy here for which he said that two joint surveys have been done.
Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation Kitack Lim presented the opening remarks whereas President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan delivered the keynote address.
The AJK president said Pakistan had a coastline of 1,000km, and a combined maritime area of 290,000 square-km, which included territorial waters, the Exclusive Economic Zone, and continental shelf.
“But we have the mindset of a landlocked country despite having abundant maritime wealth in our front yard, which connects us with the Indian Ocean Region and other seas, oceans and nations. We need to do something about this sea blindness. If we integrate our land-based economy with blue economy, we can have a GDP of a trillion dollars before the end of this decade,” he said.
He said Pakistan had the Karachi Port, the Port Qasim and the Gwadar Port but these should be seen as just the beginning. “We need to develop new ports and harbours at Jiwani, Gadani, Ormara and Pasni along with other points for economic and maritime security purposes,” he pointed out.
CEO, Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives, South Africa, Dr Gunter Pauli talked on ‘Blue Growth Strategy for the Future World’.
In her address on the topic of ‘Geo-strategic and maritime environment’, Senator Sherry Rehman talked about trends for grand strategy in the Indo-Pacific region for peace and collaboration, how geography is no longer destiny and the arc of smart power in a competing yet connected world.
“This year more than 45 states are partaking in the Aman Exercise, which shows their investment in building new ties and strengthening older ones,” she said.
Australian National University professor, Dr David Brewster, talked about challenges and opportunities of changing maritime dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region and its implications for the regional states.
She reminded that more than 80 per cent of the world’s oil shipments pass through the Indian Ocean Region, making the forecasts of an Asian century an imminent reality. But she warned, “India is likely to direct its enhanced maritime capability towards destabilising Pakistan in its proxy war with China.”
Commander US Naval Forces Central Command, Vice Admiral Samuel Paparo joined online to speak about ‘Enhancing regional maritime security in the Western Indian ocean through effective mechanism’.
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak was the chief guest of the third and last session of the conference.
In this session, Rear Admiral, Commodore Y.M.G.B. Jayathilake of Sri Lankan Navy highlighted the challenges of maritime security and proposed future course of actions for regional navies.
Dr Timothy Walkers from South Africa discussed his country’s perspective on the blue economy and security management.
Professor Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal of Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, presented a critical analysis on the ‘Emerging geo-strategic environment and Indo-Pacific strategy’.
Camille Lons, a research associate from International Institute of Strategic Studies, Bahrain, also spoke.
In his opening remarks, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi highlighted Pakistan Navy’s efforts for promoting maritime awareness in the country along with promoting blue economy through a variety of initiatives including international and regional collaborative security mechanisms.
He thanked all the speakers, participants and guests from Pakistan and abroad for their valued participation in the conference.
Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2021