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Minister terms smooth flow of trade in Indian Ocean important for global economy

By Our Correspondent
December 22, 2022

Islamabad: National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA), Islamabad organised the third International Maritime Symposium-2022 (IMS-22) on the topic “Geo-Economic Dimensions of Indian Ocean Region- Opportunities for the Region and Beyond”.

Prof Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives was chief guest on the occasion. The symposium was well attended by a galaxy of participants including academia, maritime professionals, foreign diplomats, researchers from think tanks, faculty, and students from universities, and serving and retired civil and military personnel.

Eminent speakers from home and abroad, experts in the maritime domain, addressed the participants. In the inaugural session Vice Admiral (r) Ahmed Saeed, DG NIMA, welcomed the chief guest, worthy speakers, and participants. He highlighted the objectives and importance of the symposium. The message of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), read to the audience, underscored the importance of the Indian Ocean Region as it provides major connectivity routes for global trade, and contains vast natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals, and seafood. Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives highlighted that immense resources were available in the huge sea area at our disposal and along over 1000 KM long the Pakistani coast.

He emphasized that political stability is mandatory for economic growth. The Keynote speakers, former Ambassadors, Nadeem Riaz President of IRS, and Ambassador Inam ul Haq highlighted the significance of the strong economy of a country and the extra-regional powers rivalry in IOR. Admiral Asif Sandila, former CNS and President Board of Advisors of NIMA, while highlighting the importance of the Indian Ocean Region said, that it is the hub of major sea routes which connect the oil-rich Middle East, with the rest of the world through choke points, like Strait of Hormuz, Babel Mandeb, and Malacca straits. The smooth flow of trade is important not only for the IOR but also for the global economy. The speakers of the second session deliberated on the geo-strategic environment of IOR especially interest of major powers like the USA and its allies and China. It was underlined that all the littorals of IOR and extra-regional powers want to ensure the uninterrupted flow of maritime traffic and no illegal activities like terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and piracy. The chief guest of Session-II, Admiral (r) Muhammad Zakaullah NI(M), former CNS, while highlighting the significance of BRI, said that China has gained extended economic reach in IOR. He also mentioned that global order is in changing phase and multi-polarity will soon be a reality once again. The USA, her allies, and India are trying to contain China. The speakers of the third session underscored the “Maritime Cooperation in IOR for Regional Development. The session was moderated by Vice Admiral (r) Syed Khawar Ali Shah HI(M). Dr. Anjum Sarfraz from NIMA highlighted the potential of Pakistani ports as transit and transshipment hubs. Prof Dr. Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, CEO of Ankara Centre for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM) highlighted the importance of regional Maritime connectivity from the Eurasian perspective. He was of the opinion that regional connectivity facilitates trade, which is one of the major instruments for the improvement of the economy.

Dr. Petr Topychkanov, Associate Senior Researcher from SIPRI, spoke on Maritime Interdependence for a Shared Future. He highlighted that technological developments in maritime sectors demand cooperation. Dr. Sameer Iqbal from Texas University dilated upon the importance of maritime-based renewable energy. He stressed that Pakistan can meet the shortages of energy requirements by using maritime-based renewable energy from, solar, wind and geo-thermal.