ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )

A roundtable discussion on the “Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: Challenges and Prospects for Pakistan” was organized by the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) in collaboration with the Konrad Adeneur Stiftung (KAS) at the Serena Hotel Islamabad. It was chaired by the Former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral (R) Asif Sandila NI(M) HI(M). Speakers for the event included Dr Azhar Ahmad, Head of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bahria University, Islamabad and Mr Zaheeruddin Dar, Chief Executive, Centre for Social Education & Development, Islamabad. The event is first in the series of initiatives launched by CPGS under the auspices of the Centre’s project on ‘Maritime Security’.

In her opening remarks, President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies, Senator Sehar Kamran highlighted that the importance of maritime security today is evident from the fact that over 90% of international trade is still sea-borne and this figure is ever increasing. She highlighted Pakistan’s stakes as well as threats and challenges faced by the country in the maritime area which fall under the aegis of both traditional and non-traditional threats it faces, such as the nuclearization of the Arabian Sea by India through the development and testing of nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, and SLBMs such as the K-15 and K-4, which are major concerns, both for Pakistan’s national security, and for peace and stability in the Indian Ocean.

The participants opined that the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean revolves around the quest for resources and it has to do with the route for global trade and connectivity. In the context of Pakistan, the north Arabian Sea holds the significance of the strategic heart. Against the backdrop of Gwadar Port development and CPEC, Pakistan has gained a major role in the politics of the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, Pakistan has not been able to play a pertinent role in the Indian Ocean, but the operationalization of CPEC can open up new vistas of opportunities for Pakistan.

Senator Kamran recommended that Pakistan needs to properly exploit and utilize the natural resources especially the ones found within the increased 50,000 square km of continental shelf. The onus lies upon us to ensure that Pakistan is prepared for any and all challenges that arise from its development as a new regional economic power, she added.

The event was attended by prominent serving and retired officials including the National Security Adviser Lt. General (R) Nasser Khan Janjua.

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