A debate on China as a growing naval power and Iran’s nuclear ambition dominated the ‘5th International Maritime Conference 2013’, here on Tuesday. Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral M Asif Sandila inaugurated the conference, which is being hosted by National Centre for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR) at the Bahria University.¬†
The event focuses on the regional security with respect to Indian Ocean which is titled ‘Regional Maritime Security Dynamics, Imperatives and Interdependencies’. The conference is being held simultaneously with the 4th Biennial International Maritime Exercise ‘AMAN 2013’. Speaking on the occasion, Asif Sandila said that safe seas would help facilitate 91 percent of the trade sailing through different routes of the world.
He said that seas had played a greater role in sustainable economic development. However, he stressed the need of more corporation among countries to counter piracy and illicit trade. He urged the countries to increase global level of co-operation to improve stability on the seas. He claimed that Pakistan had no maritime problems with any bordering country except India on Sir Creek sea belt. “Pakistan held 12 rounds of negotiations with India to resolve the issue,” he added.
The conference was also told that Pakistan was going to hold the 13th round of talks with India in New Delhi in April to resolve Sir Creek border issue in line with the international laws and historic perspective. The conference early session was dominated by debate on China’s naval growth and Iran’s race for nuclear technology, besides Pakistan’s future role in Arabian Gulf.
Special Advisor (policy) Maritime Forcers Pacific Headquarters Canada, Dr James A Boutilier, elucidated the topic ‘Reflection on the New Indo-Pacific Maritime Order’, analysing the current state of affairs at sea in the Indo-Pacific region. Senior Scientist, Science Applications International Corporation US, Dr Stanley Byron Weeks highlighted ‘Asia-Pacific Strategic Environment and Maritime Security Challenges’, assessing the global and region-wide economic, political and strategic challenges in the wake of present maritime security issues.
Chief of the Staff North Sea Fleet PLA NAVY, China, R Adm. Yuan Yubai spoke on ‘Security and Co-operation for Indian Ocean Sea – Lanes’, discussing China’s presence at Indian Ocean to fight piracy at Gulf of Aden in corporation with other navies. Director Middle East Studies Marine Corps University (MCU), US, Dr Amin Tarzi, elaborated ‘Towards a Whole of Government Approach to Maritime Security and Transnational Threats’, urging nations to integrate their security activities to secure maritime domain.
While answering different questions, maritime security experts like Dr James A Boutilier and Dr Stanley Byron Weeks viewed lack of co-operation among China’s maritime policy makers. They were of the view that the Chinese growing presence in East Asia was “unnecessary” with “counter-productive” policy. They said that the East Asia needed co-operation instead of “tension”.
On Iran, they said the US and Pakistan’s views were different and questioned whether the Iran’s becoming of nuclear power would make the region secure and bring stability to the region. To a question regarding Pakistan’s future role, Dr Stanley said that its role was going to grow since the East Asian states’ dependency was mounting in the Arabian Gulf for its geo-political location.
In the Arabian Gulf, he said that Pakistan navy’s role in geo-political strategy would be more significant. To a question, R/Adm Yuan Yubai said China’s navy was working in co-ordination with other navies against piracy and protection of ships on the Indian Ocean. He was optimistic that piracy would diminish by the end of the day and peace and stability would return to the sea.
Dr Amin Tarzi urged the nations for adopting a holistic approach to contain terrorism, piracy and drug trafficking on the sea to facilitate the global economies. He said there was a need for inter-dependence co-operation amongst the nations for peace, finance and trade growth. Earlier, Vice Admiral Muhammad Shafi expressed the hope that the maritime conference would help dispel fears amongst the nations and increase mutual corporation.
Director General NCMPR, Vice Admiral, Asaf Humayun HI (M) highlighted the activities of the centre saying that it had been hosting International Maritime Conference since its inception in 2007. Delegates and naval officers are attending the conference from Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Bahrain, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, North Sudan, Oman, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Tanzania, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UAE, UK and US. The conference will conclude on March 7.