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May 8, 2018

Gwadar, Chahbahar ports to generate enhanced economic activity: PM

National

May 8, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday said Gwadar port and Iranian port of Chahbahar were not in competition but would complement each other in achieving enhanced economic activity in the region and beyond.

“We are working hard on strategizing measures to ensure complementing role of Chahbahar and Gwadar ports as sister ports so as to diversify and manage the huge potential of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” the prime minister said while addressing the International Maritime Symposium.

The premier said that trade and economic potential of Pakistan could be realised by developing required infrastructure and the same was being done under CPEC. The International Maritime Symposium was held under the auspices of Bahria University with the theme of "Impact of Belt and Road Initiative on Geo-Economics of Indian Ocean Region". The event was also attended by AJK President Sardar Masood Khan, Defence Minister Ghulam Dastgir Khan, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, National Security Adviser Lt Gen (R) Nasser Khan Janjua, Rector Bahria University Vice Admiral (R) Muhammad Shafiq, DG Institute of Maritime Affairs Rear Admiral (R) Mukhtar Khan, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and others.

The prime minister said Pakistan could take its economic growth to 9 percent mark by ensuring successful accomplishment of CPEC and enhancing regional connectivity through roads and sea. “Currently Pakistan’s economic growth stands at 6 percent but it could be increased remarkably by ensuring proper utilisation of access to the sea,” he said.

He pointed out that the Central Asian States were interested to be part of CPEC to benefit from Gwadar port. He said Pakistan had currently been developing 1,700 kilometres long motorways network and other 1,200 kilometres secondary roads, particularly in Balochistan. “Whenever we visit Central Asian States, they demonstrate keen interest in accessing Gwadar and Karachi ports,” he said.

The prime minister said that Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is one of the important hubs of global energy and trade and Pakistan today has an opportunity to exploit its access to sea to exploit the trade volume of the region. “Pakistan’s geographical position not only helps providing access for Western China but to the whole of Central Asia,” he said.

He said greater efforts were being made for optimal exploitation of Pakistan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), adding that the EEZ is almost 40 percent of the country's land mass but it remained undeveloped. He said its development is critical as almost 80 percent of the trade in the world is done through sea.

About security concerns, he said the Pakistan Navy is cognisant of them and developing its capability to counter any challenge. He also expressed confidence that capabilities of the Pakistan Navy would also help mitigate security challenges of the maritime access for the whole region.

In his welcome address, CNS Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi said despite numerous challenges, the Pakistan Navy has formulated a robust strategy to safeguard national maritime interests. He said the government is fully alive to the Pakistan Navy's needs and providing essential support in meet the emerging security imperatives.

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