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Pakistan boosting maritime security to counter Indian threat to CPEC

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is beefing up its maritime security to secure its territorial waters in the face of new challenges posed by India, which is trying to undermine China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India is not only trying to make the multi-billion dollars CPEC project a territorial dispute but also threatening it through its naval build-up.

Pakistan is trying to bolster its naval capabilities because of India s efforts to undermine the CPEC, official sources said on Monday. For this purpose, Pakistan is in process of enhancing the capabilities of its navy through the collaboration of China and Turkey. Sources said the Pakistan Navy is trying to build eight more multipurpose submarines with Chinese technical cooperation. Likewise, it has signed a landmark agreement with Turkey last week under which Pakistan will build new multipurpose war vessels through a joint venture.

Pakistan and Turkey have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) on the four MLGEM Ada-class corvettes project. The LoI was signed by Defence Production Secretary Lt-Gen Muhammad Owais and Turkish undersecretary SSM Prof Dr Ismail Demir. On the other hand, the Pakistan Navy spokesperson sounded optimistic that the ongoing visit of Naval Chief Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah to China was expected to go a long way in promoting maritime security and stability in the region and greatly enhance the bilateral cooperation between the two navies. The spokesperson said the deep-rooted naval collaboration between the Pakistan Navy and PLA (Navy) has become even more important in the backdrop of the CPEC project to effectively handle complex challenges in the maritime domain. Commander PLA (N) China Vice Admiral Shen Jinlong during interaction with Admiral Zakaullah highly appreciated the efforts of the Pakistan Navy in maintaining collaborative security in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

Both the naval leaders agreed to further enhance interaction between both navies through port calls, bilateral naval exercises and exchange of training programmes at various levels. Pakistan and China have very high stakes in the CPEC which plan to tap the potential of Pakistan s deep-sea Gwadar port through networks of new roads as well as railways in order to connect with at least 62 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. On its part, India is trying to undermine the CPEC for a variety of reasons including geopolitical and geoeconomics, and has been making concerted efforts to destabilise and isolate Pakistan.

Foreign policy and security experts believe that India has been showing its frustration over the CPEC since Pakistan and China signed the bilateral accord in 2013. They say that since then, India has been making all out attempts to undermining the CPEC project by projecting it politically controversial which Pakistan rejected as part of Indian propaganda. Economically, they believe India was strongly feeling marginalised because of the Gwadar port, which they viewed as a direct challenge to India s main shipping hub, Mumbai port. India, they said, would be at a great disadvantage because of the Gwadar port s economic potential.

They say that new challenges from India have prompted Pakistan to take requisite steps not only to secure the CPEC project on land but also in its territorial waters.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 16-May-2017 here.[1]


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