Gwadar, CPEC termed the way forward for Pakistan

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GWADAR: The centrepiece of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is Gwadar — it is the way forward for Pakistan into the 21st century, said Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed while addressing the concluding session of the two-day International Maritime Conference (IMC) on Wednesday.

Talking about Gwadar and Chabahar, Iran, he said that both cities were sister ports. He added that it was important to have road and rail connectivity between the two countries.

He said the Pakistan Navy’s role in maritime security and CPEC was pivotal and there was a need to make policies for maritime economy.

He complimented the navy on establishing Task Force-88 for CPEC’s security, holding and pushing out an Indian submarine from Pakistan’s EEZ and the extension of the continental shelf.

The conference was organised by the Pakistan Navy in coordination with the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform and parliamentary committee on CPEC.

The theme of the conference was: CPEC and Gwadar Port as Harbinger of Regional Integration and Maritime Economic Development. It was aimed at examining the politico-strategic, maritime economic and security dimensions of the project along with challenges and opportunities arising in the economic domain from its implementation.

On day two of the conference, the opening session on maritime security started with a keynote address by Prof Xu Ming, the executive director of Glorious Sun Institute of Management at Donghua University.

According to the professor, CPEC has great strategic design which will greatly benefit both Pakistan and China.

Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Khan Hasham Bin Siddique chaired the opening session as moderator.

Andrew Small, a senior transatlantic fellow, presented a paper on CPEC and the emerging security paradigm in the Indian Ocean. He said that CPEC was unique in a sense that it was a power settler in the region and, thus, shall be accessible to all states and one should refrains counterproductive competition.

Retired Vice Admiral Asaf Humayun spoke on the importance of maritime security and role of the navy.

He said that keeping in view the enhanced spectrum of threats due to hybrid warfare by adversaries, there was a dire need to augment the capabilities of the Pakistan Navy and Maritime Security Agency to fulfil the needs of a multilayered defence system for an effective seaward defence of CPEC and Gwadar Port.

“The Pakistan Navy needs to enhance interaction with the People’s Liberation Army Navy. A full-fledged naval base at Gwadar is inevitable,” he added.

Retired Vice Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Rao presented the last paper of the session on geo-politics and maritime security. He said Gwadar was the nucleus of all the big game ‘One Belt One Road (OBOR)’.

He said CPEC will be just an extension of the Karakoram Highway without Gwadar Port “as it’s the sea part which makes CPEC global”.

Therefore, he added, the traditional mentality that land outweighs sea must be abandoned.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah thanked all the participants, speakers and foreign dignitaries for making the conference a success and achieving objectives set forth in raising awareness and making recommendations.

He said the raising ceremony of Task Force-88 marked the resolve of the Pakistan Navy to provide a safe and secure maritime environment for CPEC, trade and Gwadar Port.

He added that the navy was being strengthened with the full support of the government of Pakistan.

The naval chief explained that Gwadar Port was not in competition with any other port but was better for the entire region as it would increase the volume of trade.

The conference was attended by Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bezenjo, provincial ministers, Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Ali Reza Bikdeli, former naval chief, members of the parliamentary committee on CPEC, foreign delegates, local dignitaries and government officials.