Sartaj stresses upon a comprehensive strategy for secure Indian Ocean

ISLAMABAD, Feb 11 (APP): Advisor to the Prime Minister
on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Saturday stressed that all the stakeholders and countries needed a comprehensive strategy for a secure, peaceful and prosperous Indian Ocean Region.
The advisor said such an approach should be integrated,
inter sectoral and multi disciplinary, and aimed at promoting a maritime economy that was innovative, competitive and environment friendly.
He was speaking at the International Maritime conference
“Strategic Outlook in Indian Ocean Region 2030 and beyond
Evolving challenges and strategies” held in Karachi, said a press release of the Foreign Office.
Sartaj said Pakistan has already been playing an
important role in maritime security of the area.
He said the issues surrounding the protection and use of
the ocean were trans boundary in nature and required stronger cooperation among stakeholders.
He said as the Indian Ocean region had been growing in
significance due to its strategic, economic and political dynamics, the changing power balance and relentless pursuit of national interest has prompted analysts to suggest that many global struggles would play out here in the 21st century.
As the Indian Ocean Region contained several conflict
zones, he said, the region’s maritime security challenges had grown and were affected by key variables such as militarisation, the involvement of major and extra regional powers, and non traditional security threats.
The Indian Ocean faced many non traditional security
challenges and threats including piracy, illegal fishing, human trafficking, drug smuggling, trafficking of weapons, maritime pollution and climate change, he added.
The Advisor said Pakistan has a strategic stake in
peaceful navigation and security of Indian Ocean region as its interests emanated from its coastline that was over 1000 kilometers long, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of around 300,000 square kilometers, the Karachi port and the newly built deep sea port of Gwadar.
“The un demarcated borders in Sir Creek have the
potential to cast a shadow on maritime security. With 95% of Pakistan’s trade taking place through sea, we are heavily dependent on a tension free Indian Ocean. Pakistan also has a reservoir of marine economic resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” he added.
Sartaj said India’s evolving expansionist maritime
security strategy was a cause for concern for peace in Indian Ocean. Nuclearization of the Indian Ocean has also led to further instability in the region.
He said Pakistan was the third largest Indian Ocean littoral country and as a matter of policy it continued to pursue the goals of realizing the economic potential of the region.
“At the same time, we are aware of our national
interests and every effort would be made to strengthen our capacity to ensure that we remain ready to meet the emerging maritime security challenges,” he maintained.
“These developments have a direct impact on our security
and prosperity. We have to maintain significant naval presence to keep our sea lanes open and defend our interests whether on land or on the sea,” he added.
“We are part of the Coalition Maritime Campaign Plan and
Pakistan was the first country to join Task Force 150 aimed at eradicating terrorism and human, arms and drug trafficking alongside other nations,” he added.
He assured that Pakistan was ready and willing to expand
its contribution for ensuring a peaceful Indian Ocean Region.
Sartaj further said the Indian Ocean could become a
powerful unifying force and a common bond that has the potential to enhance prosperity and sustainable development in the region.
The advisor said cooperation between public and private
stakeholders in meeting the challenges of maritime security was also critical.