Peaceful, secure Indian Ocean Region key to true dividends of Belt & Road Initiative: PM
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Institute of Maritime Affairs (IMA) Bahria University, Islamabad, organized International Maritime Symposium (IMS-2018) at Islamabad on ‘Imapct of BRI on the Geo-economics of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR); Prospects for Pakistan, the region and Beyond’.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was the chief guest in the inaugural session of symposium.
The prime minister in his address, while referring to the importance of Indian Ocean region, said that the global blue economy footprint shows major trade share of Indian Ocean Region.
“Given the importance of IOR and significance of globalization trends, we acknowledge and appreciate the vision of President Xi Jinping for conceptualizing and announcing BRI with the economic objectives of, “connectivity, unimpeded trade, and financial integration”, complemented by policy coordination and cultural exchanges. The potential scope of BRI projects is vast and its financial scale is huge. We will have to optimize our share in BRI through CPEC projects and for this. Gwadar Port would play an all important role.”
The prime minister also highlighted the enhanced economic activity because of BRI, will have a positive impact across the region and beyond.
“We are working hard on strategizing measures to ensure complementing role of Chabahar and Gwadar Ports, as sister ports, so as to diversify and manage the huge potential of CPEC and BRI.
More importantly, regional countries can pursue economic initiatives in Afghanistan to usher prosperity and socio-economic development to ameliorate the trends of extremism and terrorism. This would be a win-win situation for the region and the world at large.”
Focusing on maritime concerns, the prime minister said: “We are well aware of the security concerns of the Indian Ocean region. There is a need for collaborative and well-coordinated response mechanism to deal with security threats so as to keep the IOR a peaceful and economically thriving region.”
He also commended the role of Pakistan Armed Forces in general and Pakistan Navy in particular for the initiatives it has taken to ensure Maritime Security of Pakistan especially the security of CPEC and Gwadar Port.
He also appreciated the role of Pakistan Navy, IMA and Bahria University for policy advocacy and raising awareness in maritime domain. “I also urge all other stakeholders including academia, media, civil society organizations and private sector to join hands in such endeavors in order to effectively translate such debates into peace, prosperity and sustainable development.”
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi NI(M), in his inaugural address, while discussing the symposium’s theme said that the subject is deep rooted in the remarkable trade history of the region which has transcended various races, cultures and religions. “In the 21st century, the conceived ‘Economic Networking’ through Belt and Road Initiative would not only help to revive historical links but also contribute towards economic prosperity of the nations renewing transcontinental trade routes connecting Asia, Africa, Europe and even beyond.”
While highlighting the significance of Indian Ocean (IOR), he said that IOR has been the global geo-political chessboard and one of the core drivers of world’s prosperity. “However, over the past few decades, it has witnessed seismic shift at the geo-strategic level. While this shift was initially security focused, the Belt and Road Initiative is an attempt to transform it into geo-economics. In this context, the BRI, including the flagship CPEC Project, promises huge investments, economic development and consequent socio economic empowerment of the poverty ridden masses of the region. Nonetheless, BRI will have profound regional and extra-regional implications as it has drawn attention for competition, influence, economic gains and security interests. Integrating more and more countries and forging their stakes through an open, coordinated and inclusive arrangement however, would contribute towards a more conducive and stable security environment based on the principles of positive gains for all.”
“We are passing through a momentous era for the maritime landscape of Pakistan. The developments of the recent past specially the CPEC have catapulted this domain to the fore-front of our national agenda. It has, therefore, become imperative to undertake integrated development of the maritime sector so as to be able to contribute meaningfully in overall economy of the country. With the exploration and better utilization of marine resources, Pakistan can greatly expand its economy. The government is taking all possible steps to develop the maritime sector which will contribute significantly to Pakistan’s economy.”
While discussing the security dimension of BRI and CPEC, and the ensuing expansion of maritime economic activity, he stated: “We ought to be cognizant of the traditional and non-traditional security threats that necessitate effective security, proactive diplomacy, well considered economic policies and risk management as important ingredients to exploit and sustain the pace of development and potential growth. Pakistan Navy has formulated robust employment and development strategies to safeguard national maritime interests despite the numerous challenges.”
With regards to BRI implications in IOR, shift in strategy and boost in economic growth of region, Director General Institute of Maritime Afairs (IMA) said, the theme of this symposium offers the opportunity to have in-depth analysis of the globally discussed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Although, the subject is mainly focused on the geo-economic implications of BRI for Indian Ocean Region, the project is widely considered as an initiative which bears the potential to transform global geo-political environment as well. BRI is a shift in strategy to integrate China with the rest of Asia, Europe and Africa, and in the process, build infrastructure across these regions to boost economic growth of the region. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), flagship project of BRI, will give impetus to the economic progress and prosperity in the IOR and beyond.
Reputed national and international speakers participated in the event.