Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday said Pakistan's economic future was linked to the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Gwadar port as its "main component" and to achieve that end, the role of the Pakistan Navy was key.
At the passing out parade of the 117th Midshipman and 25th Short Service Commission course at Pakistan Naval Academy in Karachi earlier today, he stressed the need for a "strong and vibrant" navy had become more important than ever before because of the growing blue economy, marine security and strategic defence.
"The maritime domain is continuously evolving due to technological advancements and changing geopolitical realities," the premier said, noting that these changes were taking place both globally and regionally.
"And I am glad that Pakistan Navy with its available resources continues to perform and fulfil our international obligations most effectively," he remarked.
PM Shehbaz highlighted that economic progress in the country could only take place in a peaceful environment. "It is, therefore, our government's resolve to make all necessary resources available to strengthen Pakistan Navy for making the seaward defence impregnable."
He further lauded the navy for rapidly developing its indigenous capability and extending joint ventures with neighbouring countries.
"Let me assure you that the nation stands behind you and shall ensure that Pakistan Navy is equipped with the latest technology and equipment to protect our maritime interest."
'Pakistan's desire for peace not a sign of weakness'
Pakistan, the prime minister went on, believed in "peaceful co-existence and wanted to promote a friendly neighbourhood. "We do not harbour any aggressive designs against any country. However, our desire for peace must not be misconceived as a sign of weakness or indifference.
"Any disguised or unnatural arrangement for supremacy would neither succeed nor serve the purpose for peace and stability," he underscored.
The PM continued that those who tried to threaten Pakistan's land, aerial and maritime defence in the recent years have gotten a "befitting response from us" and "this should serve as a reminder to all those harbouring ill-intentions that Pakistan armed forces are fully capable of defending the country against all threats".
He recalled that Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had envisioned Pakistan as an economically robust, militarily strong and socially cohesive. "Our founding father wanted Pakistan to become a role model for Islamic world and all developing nations of the world."
The country's journey, PM Shehbaz admitted, consisted of "missed opportunities" with several hurdles in the last 75 years. "But it is never too late," he remarked.
"It is my firm belief that if we can learn from our mistakes and resolve to compensate for the lost time, we can still transform Pakistan into a country dreamt by Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal."