It is a matter of immense pleasure that National Institute of Maritime Affairs, is organizing 3rd International Maritime Symposium 2022 on the “Geo-Economic Dimensions of IOR – Opportunities for Region and Beyond”. The subject is important not only for Pakistan but also for the regional and extra regional countries. I am confident that this Symposium would provide a unique forum to a wide range of speakers: from inland and abroad, the maritime community, policy makers, academia and other stakeholders to deliberate and proffer recommendations on issues related to the “maritime connectivity” and in particular, on its economic opportunities and maritime security dimensions.
The importance of Indian Ocean Region needs no emphasis since it provides major connectivity routes for global trade, and contains vast natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals and seafood. It is imperative for the IOR countries to cooperate so as to accrue maximum dividends from the immense maritime economic potential. Pakistani ports have the desired transit and trans-shipment potential to contribute significantly towards economics renaissance through maritime connectivity in the region and beyond, including the land locked Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and Iran for which Gwadar Port is ideally located. In this regard, Gwadar Port, designed to be a deep draught port, will consolidate geographical linkages, stimulate trade and propel Pakistan into a position of centrality and pre-eminence. Notwithstanding, certain elements inimical to the prosperity of Pakistan, do not wish to see this project succeed and the country progress economically. These elements are engaged in machinations including acts of terrorism to impede maritime connectivity related initiatives and undermine its dividends. It is our firm resolve to foil any such nefarious designs.
Pakistan Navy remains vigilant to safeguard our shared maritime interests with the international community and is a committed partner to maintain peace and order at sea. Pakistan Navy’s contributions in Combined Task Forces, Bi-literal and Multi-lateral naval engagements and Regional Maritime Security Patrols are manifestations of this commitment at the global level. There is, however, a dire need to critically analyze the Geo-Economic Dimensions of IOR for maximizing its benefits, identifying challenges and to suggest way forward to accrue maximum dividends while charting a comprehensive risk management strategy. I am confident that IMS-22 will yield pragmatic and meaningful recommendations in this regard.
I wish all foreign speakers and delegates a very pleasant stay in Pakistan and hope it is a rewarding and successful undertaking.