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Minister calls for improved maritime security

KARACHI: Defence Minister Khawaja Moham mad Asif on Monday stressed the need for improved maritime security for the smooth flow of routes in the Arabia Sea after completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Gwadar port.

The operationalisation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Gwadar port will increase activity in the North Arabian Sea and beyond. It s Pakistan Navy s responsibility to provide a secure maritime environment for the smooth flow of sea routes here, he said while speaking at the closing ceremony of the 7th International Maritime Conference organised by National Centre for Maritime Policy Research.

The overwhelming reliance on sea routes and increasing volume of global seaborne trade have further enhanced the importance of the Indian Ocean region for the world. It has emerged as a key arena of geopolitics as the economic interests of the world lie here due to its strategic location, he said. The subject of maritime security is, therefore, of a greater significance, he added.

The challenges in the ocean are complex and many in number, the minster said, counting issues at hand such as maritime terrorism, piracy, illegal exploitation of resources, preservation of maritime environment, illicit trade, drug trafficking, etc. These issues, he said, had their impact not only on the region but also on the global community. And tackling these issues was beyond the capabilities of a single nation. Therefore, he added, collaborative, comprehensive and effective strategy had become inevitable to deal with these issues.

Here I must acknowledge the maritime security initiative taken by the Pakistan Navy for ensuring peace at sea individually and in collaboration with other navies, he said. While giving his closing remarks, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah said that there was scope and potential of blue economy in the CPEC. The initiatives of developing economic corridors and linking to maritime routes have provided an impetus for economic integration of the regional countries and beyond, he said.

Published in Dawn February 14th, 2017

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