Country wants peace through meaningful dialogue: Khawaja Asif


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan believes in meaningful dialogue on the basis of equality not only to resolve bilateral issues but also to give chance to peace and harmony in the wider shared interest.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif while addressing at the soft launch of the premier edition of the Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference (PIMEC), here on Tuesday. The PIMEC is scheduled to be held at Karachi Expo Centre from 10-12 February 2023.

“Pakistan as a responsible state is committed to playing its role for international peace, stability and order and this transcends to maritime domains as well. Reciprocally mutual interest and international norms at the guiding principles that steer Pakistan’s relations at bilateral and multilateral fora”, said the federal minister, adding that regional cooperation and active engagement of maritime players has; therefore, become imperative to achieve peace, security, and socio-economic development.

Asif further said that good governance, revitalizing national economy, poverty alleviation, combating extremism, and investment in human resource education and healthcare are the key priorities of the government.

With a vibrant population of over 200 million, growing consumer demand, and improving governance as well as security, Pakistan offers enormous opportunities for profitable investment, joint ventures and trade in all sectors particularly in maritime, said the defence minister, adding that in today’s world with rapid advancement in maritime technologies and proliferation of related knowledge maritime arena is assuming increasing importance in international relations. Today we need greater collaboration and cooperation at regional and extra-regional level, he added.

The defence minister appreciated the Pakistan Navy for taking the initiative to exhibit the potential of Pakistan’s Maritime Sector through the PIMEC. He said that Pakistan offers enormous opportunities for profitable investments, joint ventures and trade in the maritime sector. He highlighted that oceans bring the nations closer and therefore, the need to make them a safer place through collaborative efforts of all stakeholders.

The defence minister dilated upon Pakistan Maritime Potential that can contribute enormously to the national economy. Development of efficient ship-breaking industry, trans-shipment ports, fisheries industry, coastal tourism, water sports and aqua culture are a few of the areas which deserve special focus.

He emphasized the integration of public-private partnership in the maritime industry to achieve optimum results. He further added that the potential of academic and R&D organizations must be incorporated for enhancing the efficiency and productivity of our maritime sector. He assured that the government will continue to create business and investment-friendly environment.

The federal minister hoped that avenues generated through the PIMEC will grow and bring Pakistan closer to the cherished goals of realising regional peace and shared prosperity through collaborative efforts.

Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi appraised that the PIMEC will be the flagship event of Pakistan and is planned to be held biennially for demonstrating the latest technology of the national and international maritime industry. The exhibition will serve as one of the international gatherings of entrepreneurs, R&D specialists, financial experts, and top-level policymakers to boost cooperation, share knowledge and support ventures in the maritime field. The admiral expressed his gratitude and hoped that with zeal and zest, meticulous planning and cooperation from all the stakeholders, the PIMEC-2023 will prove to be a boon for the national economy and help raise our international stature.

The naval chief said that since ages, oceans being the highways for international relations and economic prosperity. He said that increasing food and energy demands due to the growing population and dwindling land resources is compelling nations to explore alternative means for substances and economic development. The blue economy is increasingly emerging as a new hope for tomorrow.

He further said that the blue economy being sustainable and multi-sectoral, encompasses varieties of economic activities linked to oceanic or blue resources while ensuring environmental sustainability. These range from exploration of sea-based resources such as fish, renewable energy hydrocarbon and minerals, marine, biotechnology, maritime industries, coastal tourism and so on.

The naval chief said that Pakistan is blessed with enormous maritime potential that includes coastal area of more than one thousand kilometres, exclusive economic zones of 290,000 sq km and extended continental shelf of 50,000 sqkm and this all at the crossroads of one of the busiest and globally vital sea trade routes.

Pakistan maritime sector has the potential and offers diverse opportunities in maritime trade and tran-shipment port and harbours, sea-based minerals, ship recycling, submarine cables, and costal tourism and others, he added.

Despite huge resource potential with the exception of meeting national requirements of imports and exports, Pakistan has not accrued immense rate of benefits of its strategic advantages. For years our country has relied on land resources and the development of maritime sector has remained a periphery. Of late; however, there has been a conscious effort to pursue and capitalize on the blue economy to prepare for foreseeable economic challenges. In this regard, the CPEC project is a prolific addition to our potential of the blue economy.

He further said that in association of multiple projects under the ambit of the CPEC has rekindled the interest of international players in the region and the local business community offering a great bonanza for economic activities particularly, in the maritime sector.

The development of the maritime sector is not only vital for economic growth but also for shoring off our national security. The maritime economy can diversify the economic base and stimulate growth while a strong and potent Navy is vital for safeguarding strategic maritime interest.

Syed Faisal Ali Subzwari, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs said that Pakistan has immense resources but still untapped like fisheries. Pakistan is exporting couple of hundreds of millions dollars but by investing and focusing on blue economy we can take it up to more than a billion dollars, he added.

He said that economy and security go hand in hand and that is why in our national security policy it is emphasized in more than one area that Pakistan needs to be sovereign and the economy needed to be focused only then a sovereign strong Pakistan can flourish on the global map. This is our idea this is our focus, the minister added.

CEO of Badar Expo Solution, the co-organizer of the event, Zohair Naseer said that the exhibition will highlight the potential of the maritime sector in Pakistan and help in capitalising the benefits of the blue economy.

He assured that Badar Expo Solutions, with the support of the Pakistan Navy and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs will put best efforts to make the PIMEC a premier and successful maritime event contributing toward capitalizing the potential of the blue economy.

The major event of the PIMEC will be conducted regularly from the next year alongside Pakistan Navy’s multi-lateral exercise series, AMAN. This event will eventually help in providing opportunities to the Maritime Industry to display products at one forum and interact directly with their international counterparts. Moreover, the PIMEC will provide impetus to Pakistan’s Maritime and Defence industries for establishing joint ventures with the International Maritime and Defence manufacturers. This will also further highlight the country’s maritime potential and project the country’s image as a maritime nation contributing toward peace and stability.