Islamabad, 20th November, 2017: The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) organised a roundtable conference on “Shifting Strategic Landscape of South Asia: The Role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation” held at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services on 20th November, 2017. Speakers at the event included Ambassador (R) Abdul Basit, President of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) and as well as Dr Petr Topychkanov from the Carnegie Moscow Center.
The discussion revolved around the situation in Afghanistan, the impact of the increasing Indian role in the region, an overview of the Pakistan-Russia relations historically, the repercussions of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver to India as well as the future role of the SCO with regard to establishing peace in Afghanistan.
In her opening remarks, President CPGS Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) said the Asian region was going through a mega-transformation that stood at a precarious crossroads. She highlighted recent developments which will have a significant impact on the strategic landscape of the South region, such as the President Trump’s new South Asia Policy and the United States’ declaration of retrenchment after over 16 years of presence in Afghanistan describing it as unnecessary flexing of military muscles, which will only undo much that has been achieved over many years diplomatically. In addition to further antagonizing regional countries like Pakistan, China & Russia. She added that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is, on the other hand presented an invaluable opportunity, which regional countries, especially Afghanistan, could utilize for their benefit of their economies and their peoples.
While talking about the positive developments, especially in the context of Pakistan and the Russian Federation, she said we are moving into a new era of cooperative relations, based on mutual respect and equality. In addition to the alliance with China, strengthening collaboration with Russia has the potential to move the entire region into a more positive direction. In this regard, she added that the SCO offers a multilateral platform where both Pakistan and India will have opportunities to participate in regional cohesion and development. She remarked that China and Russia could play a constructive role in creating an enabling environment for stabilizing the region and as well facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan.
Ambassador (R) Abdul Basit in his speech said the region of South Asia is in the midst of paradoxical development. He said Afghanistan is the biggest challenge for our foreign policy. Pakistan’s approach has always been to establish peace in the region, but our efforts have not been reciprocated, repeatedly. In the context of the SCO, he said that Pakistan and India will attend the SCO Summit for the first time as full members, whenever the next session will be held and it would be interesting to note how that dynamic develops.
Dr Petr Topychkanov, in his presentation gave a historic overview of Pakistan-Russian relations. He said that it is vital to understand the shift that is underway in South Asia; the increasing strategic relationship between India and United States and the growing economic and political cooperation between China and Pakistan under the umbrella of CPEC. He remarked that the International community holds a different view towards CPEC; although it is apparently based upon economic aspects, but there are assumptions that it has a military and naval component as well. He highlighted that despite the fact the US signed a nuclear deal with India and helped in granting a NSG waiver, but the US still failed to establish nuclear power plants in India. On the SCO, he said the organization gives an opportunity to discuss broader regional and global strategic and security issues in a multilateral setting, but it was not forum to discuss bilateral issues. The solution to the Afghanistan problem lies within the region not outside of it, he added.
The Indian Ocean covers an area of 73,556,000 square kilometers, and is the third largest ocean in the world. It is rimmed by three continents, Africa, Asia and Australia, thereby connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, where the global economic and political powerhouses lie. This renders it a highly significant geostrategic location.
The Indian Ocean is also significant for its bounty of natural resources. It is home to 65 % of the world’s oil, 35 % of its natural gas, as well as sources of numerous other manufactured goods and raw materials located in the littoral states. A number of important trade routes and choke points across its waters add to its significance in terms of global security and economy.
Within the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea has a central position, straddling the routes for all important energy supplies. It also provides access to the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz to the West, and the approach to the Bay of Bengal and Malacca Strait to the east. In addition to the teeming energy supplies, global trade of other commodities and raw materials also passes through the Arabian Sea. Moreover, it provides the shortest access to the sea for landlocked Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics, and China’s western regions. Its importance has increased manifold with the launch of the CPEC project to facilitate Chinese exports and energy imports through Pakistani ports, especially that of Gwadar.
Islamabad, May 06th, 2017: President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) has congratulated the nation on the successful test of short range Nasr missile. She applauded the country’s engineers, scientists and custodians of strategic force of Pakistan who have been contributing in bolstering the defence of the country. She said they are the real heroes and their efforts are laudable.
Senator Kamran has said that newly upgraded version of Nasr Missile, tested by Pakistan on May 5th, whose range has been extended up to 70 kilometers, has augmented the deterrence stability in the region. She said that the short range missile Nasr is an effective delivery system, which has the ability to carry tactical nuclear weapons, to deter any possible tactical military maneuver of India against Pakistan.
Senator Sehar Kamran said Pakistan was compelled to take such defensive and deterrent measures to retain regional stability in response to India’s use of destabilizing war machinery in the region. She said Indian provocations like the development of ballistic missile defence system which gives a false perception of first attack along with its aggressive limited war design of Cold Start Doctrine are a danger for the regional stability which can escalate limited war into a full scale war. She opined that the Indian aggressive posture especially witnessed in recent times is alarming and the world should take notice of such nefarious designs by New Delhi. Keeping in view the regional evolving threat perception, Pakistan should take all steps required to ensure its security, stability and peace, she said.
3rd July, 2017, Novosibirsk: At the invitation of the Governor of Novosibirsk and the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) participated in and addressed the First two day International Women’s Congress of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS Member States titled “The Role of Women in The Modern Society: Cooperation In The Political, Economic, Scientific, Educational and Cultural Spheres” held in the Novosibirsk Region, Russia. She addressed the Congress on the topic of “Regionalism and a Common Destiny: Role of Women in Peace, Prosperity and Stability”.
During her remarks, Senator Sehar Kamran emphasized on the importance of the SCO and stated the unique regional bloc offers alternate mechanisms for cooperation and has the potential to bring this resource-rich area together like never before. She said SCO is the only bloc which counts amongst its members, four nuclear powers located in the same region. She stated that geographically, its member states span across about 70% of Eurasia, host 43% of the global population which shares about 24% of the global GDP.
Senator Kamran said for Pakistan, entry into the SCO is an auspicious moment and the fruit of a labor of efforts spanning a decade. She said amongst the many positives that Pakistan brings to SCO, the foremost is connectivity; as the country lies at the tri‐junction of South Asia, West Asia, and Central Asia, and will act as the ‘zipper’ bringing the region together, both physically and economically.
On the vital role of women in establishing peace, prosperity and stability in Pakistan, Senator Sehar Kamran paid tribute to the mother of the nation – Fatima Jinnah and shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She said Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto– the first ever – twice elected – female prime minister of Pakistan and my leader and mentor fought against one of the most brutal dictators in the history of Pakistan. She led a great campaign in which she was joined by millions calling for the restoration of democracy and a return to democratic norms at a time when criticism against the sitting regime was met with public flagging but she galvanized her followers’ hearts and souls, challenged extremism and terrorism by promoting strategies for peace, and emerged victorious, she added.
Senator Sehar Kamran said that she has always believed that women can play a frontline role in the pursuit of peace, prosperity and stability and by working together, the women of SCO and BRICS can contribute enormously in improving the lives of women in the region as well as the world at large. She said better representation in decision-making processes, especially in institutions like Parliamentary Assemblies and other such legislative bodies such as National Parliaments are vital symbols of, and provide critical forums for, leadership and safeguarding of the rule of law and human rights. She stated that these legislative roles provide women parliamentarians with an important platform to influence social change and contribute to peace, security and development
Senator Sehar Kamran availed the platform of the First Women’s Congress and suggested putting together a similar forum titled “Women for Peace”, with members from amongst the most eminent women of this region who have played a significant role in promoting peace and prosperity in the region, and can tackle our differences from a different and perhaps a more effective perspective.
In conclusion, Senator Kamran said she truly believes that SCO provides a wonderful platform and if we work collectively we can achieve our common destiny. She said the success of this regional organization lies in the unity and cooperation of its member states, and economic prosperity lies at the heart of regional connectivity. Initiatives like the New Silk Road and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor are a move towards this, and are expected to open a plethora of opportunities for economic development and greater interconnectivity. Let us ensure that tolerance and peace remain the foundation-stones upon which our common destinies will be built by all SCO members, she added.
This two day Congress will become an important regional contribution to the strengthening of the international movement in support of women’s rights and the development of values supported by the 23d special session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to the role of women in the world development in the 21st century.
Honorable Governor of Novosibirsk Region, Mr Vladimir Gorodetsky, Her Excellency, Madam Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko, Chairperson of the Council of Federation, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Zhao Hongju, Deputy DG, Liaison Department of All-China Women’s Federation and Nomasonto Maria Sikandar-Thusi, Ambassador of South Africa to Russia were among the participants of the International Women’s Congress.
Islamabad, June 2017: A two member delegation from the President Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) held a four-day successful visit to the Republic of Korea. The delegation was headed by President CPGS, Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) and included Ms. Sundus Ahmad, Editor, Senior Associate at CPGS.
The visit was held at the invitation of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Aﬀairs, Republic of Korea, as part of their “Eminent Persons Program”.
The visit was an opportunity to represent Pakistan in a sphere where there has been limited interaction in the past, in an attempt to foster closer ties between the two countries, share perspectives and concerns on matters of national security and economic development, and address the apprehensions of policy formulators and decision makers on both sides.During the course of the visit the delegation held several meetings with the Parliamentarians from the Defence Committee, the Pakistan-Korea Friendship Group, Foreign Aﬀairs &
Uniﬁcation Committee, as well as senior oﬃcials from MoFA RoK, including the DG Korean Peninsula Peace Regime, the deputy DG South Asian and Paciﬁc Aﬀairs Bureau, and the former RoK Ambassador to Pakistan.Meeting at the Sejong Institute with Dr. Sang-Hyun Lee,Vice President Research Planning & President Korean Nuclear Policy Society.
There was also a visit to and a meeting with the President Korean Nuclear Policy Society/Vice resident Research Planning at the Sejong Institute in Seongnam, and a visit to the headquarters and brieﬁng at the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company Ltd.
The trip also included a visit to the city of Gyeoungju, and a visit to the DMZ.During candid deliberations with the officials of the Republic of Korea, Senator Kamran conveyed the deep regard Pakistan has for the RoK and the Korean people
in addition to highlighting the strengths and the untapped potential of the relationship between the two countries.
Visiting Korean Parliament, National Assembly Hall, RoKThe discussions revolved around strengthening Pakistan-RoK relations in the political, economic, strategic, diplomatic and cultural domain.
During different meetings it was accepted by both sides that existing gaps in the relations of the two countries must be filled by continuous collaboration and candid exchange of views for a comprehensive understanding of each other’s perspectives.
Senator Kamran welcomed a similar visit by the Korean Parliamentarians to Islamabad for strengthening of relations between the two countries in the near future.
A three member delegation from the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) held a successful weeklong visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The delegation was headed by President CPGS, Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) who is the Convener of Senate’s Pakistan-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Friendship group. The delegation included Rear Admiral (R) Mukhtar Khan Jadoon, Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Defence and Ms. Ifrah Waqar, Research Associate, CPGS.
During the course of the visit, the delegation held multiple meetings and roundtables with some of the leading Saudi think-tanks in Riyadh including the Centre for Research and Intercommunication Knowledge (CRIK), the King Abdulaziz Centre for National Dialogue (KACND), the King Faisal Research Centre (KFRC), the Asbar Academy for Training and Development and the Arabian Gulf Centre for Iranian Studies.The discussions underscored the vital significance both Pakistan and KSA have for each other and focused on devising future strategies to promote bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries.
Senator Sehar Kamran (TI), Rear Admiral (R) Mukhtar Khan Jadoon & Dr Yahya M. bin Jonaid during a candid discussion at the CRIK
During the deliberations it was agreed upon that there is a dire need to continue an exchange of views, research and cooperation, and to diversify the relations between the two sides especially in the context of rapidly changing geo-political realities. She appreciated the visionary initiative and working of different think-tanks in KSA especially the KACND.
A roundtable discussion at the King Abdul Aziz Centre for Dialogue (KACND)
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) and the Centre for Research and Intercommunication Knowledge, headed by Dr Yahya bin Jonaid. The two Centres agreed on the need to diversify existing relations between Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and further collaborate on issues of mutual interest. It was also agreed that the two sides would carry out joint research and regularly exchange views for a comprehensive understanding of each other’s perspectives.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies & Centre for Research and Intercommunication Knowledge
A Roundtable Discussion held by the Centre for Research
& Intercommunication Knowledge (CRIK)
During the roundtable held by the CRIK on the ‘Importance of Pakistan-KSA Relations’, President CPGS Senator Sehar Kamran expressed her deep gratitude to Dr Yahya bin Junaid, Chairman, CRIK for recognising the vital need to diversify Pak-KSA relations and for taking this timely initiative to start a dialogue. She said it is the need of the time that the relations between the two countries are institutionalised and people-to-people contact is strengthened. Senator Kamran said Pakistan has always made sentient efforts to promote a unified Ummah, as both a political and economic entity. She said indeed the 1973 Constitution places further emphasis on the Pakistani Government to develop closer relations with Islamic countries. She further said these exchange of views and deliberations will help both Pakistan and KSA in chalking out comprehensive solutions to the challenges both countries may face in the near future.
Dignitaries and CPGS Board of Directors during a dinner-meeting in Jeddah
Islamabad, 26th April 2017: The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) hosted a roundtable discussion on ‘Radicalization in Pakistan – Impact of National Action Plan, Challenges and Way Forward’ for a visiting Italian delegation from the think-tank Centro Studi Internazionali (CeSI). The proceedings included two presentations and were chaired by Ambassador (R) Akram Zaki. Participants at the event included members of the academia, experts and policy practitioners.
In her opening remarks Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) highlighted that the scourge of violent extremism has permeated across even the most secure of borders. It knows no religion, caste, or creed, and is a menace to civilizations and societies all over the planet. She further emphasized that a unidimensional approach, focused exclusively on operational or political measures cannot produce long-term results, and a strong, cohesive national narrative is the need of the time. Senator Kamran highlighted the innumerable sacrifices made by Pakistan in both physical and financial terms, and commended the Pakistan army for taking the lead in the fight against violent extremism through 12 mega-operations. She said we must remain vigilant of the dangers posed by external factors.
Ambassador (R) Akram Zaki stated that terrorism has become a global phenomenon through the ‘War on Terrorism’. He discussed the various drivers and phases which have contributed in exacerbating contemporary security challenges and threats. Ambassador (R) Zaki articulated that radicalization was essentially the result of non-adjustment in the society.
Professor Andrea Margelletti, heading the three member Italian delegation from CeSI expressed his trust in Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorism. He said it is important to identify the vested interests behind various terrorist activities and groups, emphasizing on the need to look both inward and outward when developing a plan to counter the menace posed by radicalization, and highlighted that it was only by setting one’s own house in order that positive change could occur on the larger scale.
The first speaker was a Research Associate from CPGS, Mr Muhammad Suleman, who discussed ‘Dimensions and Drivers of Violent Extremism in Punjab’. He explored the core aspects of violent extremism in Punjab, the narrative of violent extremist organizations, and highlighted the emerging challenges posed to the region, especially in the form of ISIS: Khurasan Chapter.
The second speaker was also a Research Associate from CPGS, Ms Ifrah Waqar. She presented the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Initiatives in Pakistan and a Review of the Implementation of the National Action Plan. She highlighted how only a few of the NAP’s unanimously adopted measures following the APS massacre were implemented in true letter and spirit, and arguing how lack of political will had unfortunately turned NAP into a responsibility no one wants. She concluded that under the current political climate, and at brink of next year’s election, not much progress could realistically be expected on the implementation of NAP.
Former NACTA Coordinator Mr Hamid Ali Khan, while expressing his views, highlighted the different aspects of NAP andspoke in detail about the working of NACTA. He stated that NAP has successfully managed to reduce the rate of terrorism and crime in the country.
Same version of the article appeared in THE NEWS INTERNATIONAL
ISLAMABAD, March 27 2017: A day long national maritime conference on Monday called for a broad-based National Maritime Policy, modernization of navy, and expansion of diplomatic engagement with the littoral states of the Afro-Asian Ocean Region (more commonly known as Indian Ocean) for peace and security and capitalizing on the opportunities created by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
A set of 25 wide-ranging policy recommendations was issued at the conclusion of the conference on ‘Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: Challenges and Prospects for Pakistan’, which had been jointly organized by Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), and National Center for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR). The conference, which was participated by policy makers, legislators, maritime experts, and academics, further supported the idea of identifying Indian Ocean as ‘Afro-Asian Ocean’ to give a sense of ownership to the littoral states since the Ocean is bound by two continents. CPGS underscored the need for the formation of a broad and an inclusive National Maritime Policy. The Centre also called for the creation of a National Maritime Authority through effective coordinated strategies to implement Pakistan’s Maritime Policy goals.
The conference was held to analyse the challenges in realm of maritime security emanating from militarization and nuclearization of Indian Ocean and power projection by states maintaining presence in the area, emerging alliances in the region and threats to CPEC, in additional to non-traditional challenges like terrorism, piracy, food security and environmental concerns.
National Security Adviser Lt Gen (R) Nasser Khan Janjua, while underscoring the importance of maritime security, in his keynote said: “Inter-state tensions in the region and significant investments in blue water navies by countries like India have brought oceans into focus as sensitive security space.”
He said the vision of ‘Asia’s century’ was under stress because “security architecture and strategic stability of the region has come under stress”. In this regard, he pointed towards Indo-US logistics exchange agreement, through which he said, “India and US have carved out space to pre-position themselves on this ocean. India, he said, was being propped up as a counter-weight to China through geo-political, geo-economic and geo-military moves.
The conference recommendations underscored the importance of overcoming the ‘sea-blindness’, because of which maritime issues have remained neglected in the national priorities, and developing a culture of ‘sea-positivity’.
Unveiling the recommendations of the conference, President CPGS Sehar Kamran said: “Maritime Security is a pivotal aspect of Pakistan’s national security, and must be acknowledged as such. A comprehensive and long-term maritime security policy with a futuristic approach based on projected requirements for the coming decades in both civilian and military maritime sectors is the need of time. Furthermore the issue identified with the nomenclature be resolved and the Ocean should be renamed as the Afro-Asian Ocean. As from a geopolitical – or even simply a geographical perspective – the name `Afro-Asian Ocean` seems to be more pertinent for an Ocean that not only touches the Indian coast but also comprises the entire east coast of Africa, the south coast of Arabia, the western shores of Iran and Pakistan as well as Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.” She also stated that fulfillment of the vision of ‘Asian Century’ needs a focus on 3Cs – connectivity, cooperation, and communication.
While speaking at the concluding session, Defence Production Minister Rana Tanveer said, “There is no surprise that our competitors are opposed to CPEC, and are already seeking to sabotage it. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that we be fully-prepared to deal with any and all challenges that may arise as these opportunities unfold, not the least in the maritime arena.”
The recommendations placed special emphasis on Pakistan taking the lead in identifying Indian Ocean as the Afro-Asian Ocean as well as on the development and modernization of Pakistan Navy for being the guardians of the maritime boundaries. “Pakistan should increase and modernize its naval fleet, and pursue technological advancements in sea-based deterrents to ensure an assured second strike capability, especially in the context of the growing threats in the AAOR by our belligerent neighbor.”
Former Naval Chief Admiral (R) Muhammad Asif Sandila NI(M) HI(M) raised the issue of problems confronting development of Gawadar and called for addressing these challenges for the development of Gawadar and CPEC.
Rear Admiral Mukhtar Jadoon, former additional secretary Ministry of Defense, cautioned that “The available resources are inadequate to meet the maritime security dictates.”
Importantly the conference recommended greater diplomatic engagement with littoral states in Afro-Asian Ocean Region to promote mutual trust and cooperation in development of the region, besides enhancing Pakistan’s access to African markets. It called for a review of UN Resolution 2832 that declares this Ocean as Zone of Peace to address the concerns of littoral states including its nuclearization. “Pakistan must take the initiative in strongly opposing the increased instability produced by the introduction of nuclear weapons by India” in the Ocean.
It was proposed that India may also be roped into the connectivity net as it was identified as the only way forward towards promoting peace and stability in the region and ensuring the security of investments like CPEC.
Other recommendations related to promoting investments, skills development, equitable distribution of opportunities created by CPEC, and improved governance and security within Pakistan.
Former Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral (R) Iftikhar Rao HI(M) said: “If we have the requisite infrastructure and enabling environment at Gwadar and the region, Gwadar will surely emerge as the economic hub of the region.” He stressed that Iranian port Chahbahar poses no challenge to Gawadar and the two can compliment.
Rear Admiral (R) Pervaiz Asghar, Former Director General, National Centre for Maritime Policy Research, pointed to threat of India’s naval expansion, but also drew attention to non-traditional threats. He asked for “a coordinated and unified response to an array of common non-traditional threats that are increasingly becoming the norm.”
Dr Safdar Sohail, Executive Director General, Domestic Commerce, Ministry of Commerce, focused on the trade and investment related aspects stating that geo-economics is vital and we need to integrate domestic commerce.
Mr Zaheer-ud-din Dar, Chief Executive Centre for Social Education and Development spoke on the new emerging aspects of globalization in the context of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. He said the soft power of China is taking a lead in globalization and One Belt One Road (OBOR) is agenda of cooperation of China’s soft power.
Mr Ahmer Bilal Soofi, Former Interim Law Minister shed light on spoke on the legal aspects of maritime security. He highlighted the need for domestic legislation on acquiring offshore resources.
Mr Syed Muhammad Ali, Senior Research Fellow, CISS, focused on the Evolution of Naval Nuclear Capabilities: Implications for Strategic Stability. In his speech he opined that it would be a good idea to establish a hotline between senior naval officials of Pakistan and India in order to prevent any future escalation.
Commodore Zafar M. Tipu SI(M), Director, Maritime Policy Research Centre, highlighted the importance of international cooperation and construction of multilateral maritime security mechanisms. He said littoral states are the biggest stake holders in maritime security of Indian Ocean.
With the launch of CPEC and Gwadar, the eyes of the world will be upon Pakistan. It is upon us to ensure we are prepared for any and all challenges that arise from its development as a new regional economic power – Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)
Islamabad, 21st February, 2017: 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 Advisor Lt. General (R) Nasseer Khan Janjua HI (M), Ambassador (R) Akram Zaki, former DG ISI Lt. General (R) Muhammad Zahir ul Islam HI(M), Vice Admiral (R) Shahid Iqbal HI(M), Rear Admiral Mukhtar Khan Jadoon HI(M), Rear Admiral (R) Saleem Akhtar HI(M), Commodore Zafar Mansoor Tipu SI(M), AVM (R) Faaiz Amir HI(M) SBt, Brigadier (R) Akhtar Nawaz Janjua SI(M) and Mr Syed Abu Ahmad Akif among others.
Same version of the article appeared in Brecorder
The Indian Ocean covers an area of 73,556,000 square kilometres, and is the third largest ocean in the world. It is rimmed by three continents; Africa, Asia and Australia, and it forms the connection between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, where the global economic and political powerhouses lie, rendering it a highly significant geostrategic location. Indian Ocean also has its significance because of the fact that 65 % of the world’s oil, 35 % natural gas as well as sources of numerous other manufactured goods and raw materials are located in the littoral states of the Indian Ocean. It is also significant for global security and economy because of important trade routes and choke points.
Within the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea has a central position whereby it straddles the routes for all important energy supplies and access to the important choke points of Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz to the West and approach to the Bay of Bengal and Malacca Strait to the east. Besides the energy supplies, global trade of other commodities and raw materials also passes through the Arabian Sea. Moreover, it provides the shortest access to the sea to the landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia. Its importance has increased manifold with the start of CPEC project to facilitate Chinese exports and energy imports through Pakistani ports, especially that of Gwadar.
The peace and security in the Indian Ocean is threatened by competition for dominance, presence and access to its waters, menace of piracy, regional rivalries and conflicts and the threat of terrorism. Pakistan is directly or indirectly affected by all these aspects. Pakistan took a proactive approach to the emerging security situation in the post 9/11 scenario and it has enhanced in its scope since then to cover the aspect of piracy by Somali based pirates.
Anti-terrorism operations are complicated by and are interlinked with the smuggling and drug and human trafficking. Pakistan, through Pakistan Navy, has taken a leading role in coalition Task Forces against the terrorism and piracy and has commanded both the Task Forces several times. Besides participation in these operations, Pakistan Navy took steps to enhance collaborative maritime security by introducing AMAN series of exercises which were enthusiastically welcomed by the powers present in the region. PN has been holding AMAN exercises regularly to demonstrate its resolve for improving maritime security collaboration in the region.
Pakistan has an undeniably important geo-strategic location, sitting at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, a route for world’s 72 percent oil supplies and other global trade. As mentioned earlier, it also provides the shortest sea access to the land locked Afghanistan and CARs, as well as Chinese western regions. Pakistan itself is is highly dependent on maritime trade. Over 95% of Pakistan’s trade is through the sea and 290,000 sq km of its EEZ and Continental Shelf are rich in living and non-living resources which need to be protected and managed for sustainable exploitation.
Pakistan’s stakes in the maritime arena are therefore high which are impacted by multifaceted threats and challenges. Most important are the emerging Indo-US strategic partnership, increased Chinese interest and presence in the region, Indo-Iran and Indo-Gulf cooperation and the continued threat of terrorism and piracy, which although has been contained to some extent. Whereas US remains the dominant nuclear power in the region, its European allies also maintain significant presence. This decades old presence is now being further complicated because of Indian ambitions and nuclearisation to which Pakistan’s response has so far been measured yet firm.
This complex milieu and intertwined interests and strategic concerns require a careful and continued look to chart the future course of action and responses.
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