KARACHI: Despite Pakistan having one of the biggest coastal line and continental shelf areas, the country has failed to tap the potential of the blue economy, said Dr Ahsan Iqbal, federal minister for planning, development and special initiatives.
Speaking at a session of the International Maritime Conference (IMC) 2023, he said the utilisation of maritime and blue economy opportunities is essential for making Pakistan an export-led country.
“There is a huge potential for Pakistan to earn foreign exchange through export of fisheries, coastal tourism, exploration of minerals and maritime transport,” he remarked.
It is unfortunate that Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), which at one time was a leading flag carrier of the country, is nowhere, he said, adding that the Karachi Shipyard used to make ships for PNSC and other careers. However, that opportunity is no more.
“Pakistan has around 290,000 square kilometres of exclusive economic zone and continental shelf area, which makes it Pakistan’s second biggest province. However, we have not been able to tap the potential of this blue province,” he added.
The National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA), under the patronage of Pakistan Navy, organised the IMC 2023, on the theme “Embracing Blue Economy — Challenges and Opportunities for Developing Countries”.
The conference was held parallel to the Pakistan International Maritime Exhibition and Conference (PIMEC) at the Karachi Expo Centre.
The IMC, distributed in four sessions, covered 27 papers by the national and international speakers, while the majority of the international scholars also joined the conference online.
A large number of dignitaries from across the world attended the conference, besides officers from defence forces of Pakistan and friendly countries, academia, media representatives and researchers from local and international think tanks.
Earlier, on February 9, the media briefing to announce the commencement of the PIMEC was held at the Karachi Expo Centre, where Commander Karachi Rear Admiral Mian Zakirullah Jan along with Ministry of Maritime Affairs Additional Secretary Asad Rafi Chandna briefed the media regarding the exhibition.
Answering the questions of the newsmen, Chandna said that Pakistanis have ignored the importance of the sea in their lives, both as humans and as a nation.
“The nations who have understood and realised the significance of oceans benefitted in transforming into great powers. With the rising global population and already immense exploration of the land, there is a need to explore the seas,” he added.
For Admiral Jan, the Pakistan Navy has adopted a targeted approach to raise awareness regarding the blue economy, including efforts to induct maritime subjects on basic school-level in all the provinces.
“The advanced subjects will be included in higher classes. We have conducted meetings with the course curriculum committee of the Sindh government, who have almost agreed to include the entire contents,” he added.
The maiden edition of the PIMEC commenced on February 10, which was aimed at raising awareness among the national stakeholders and international fraternity about the huge untapped potential of Pakistan’s blue economy.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi attended the opening ceremony of the conference, besides a large number of civil military, foreign and local delegates.
Admiral Niazi said that Pakistan Navy is proactively playing its role in creating the requisite maritime awareness for exploitation of untapped potential of the blue economy.
The naval chief was of the view that the event will bring together international and national stakeholders, creating a marketplace for presenting innovative ideas, while showcasing maritime potential and opportunities in this dynamic field.
He emphasised that PIMEC is a platform to reaffirm the country’s commitment and resolve towards preserving and sustainable use of oceans and marine resources, exploiting natural resources.
The Pakistan International Maritime Exhibition and Conference was held between February 10 and February 12, where 133 exhibitors, including 21 international firms, 112 local firms and international organisations participated in the exhibition.
Additionally, 37 international delegations from 17 countries, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Turkiye, the UK, Italy, Germany, Portugal, the US, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and Kazakhstan also attended the event.
The government of Sindh and Balochistan had also established exclusive pavilions aimed at promoting investment in the maritime sector.
PIMEC included maritime exhibition, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) meetings, signing of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and media interactions.
It also provided a platform for interaction with the international maritime industry for joint ventures, transfer of technology and research to provide importance to Pakistan’s maritime and defence industries.
The maritime sector is the heart of the global trade and economy, as the existing value of the global ocean economy is around $1.5 trillion/annum, which is expected to be doubled in size by 2030.
The conference concluded on February 12, where Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Faisal Ali Sabzwari attended the event as the chief guest, while Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Niazi was also present.
Sabzwari said that the Pakistan Navy has been the driving force to spearhead the dynamic initiatives in the maritime domain and has rendered invaluable services for the socioeconomic development of the coastal areas.
The government is launching new projects for beneficial collaborations and successful maritime business partnerships, he added.
The recommendations of the conference will provide guidelines to embark on profitable initiatives for accelerating development of the maritime sector and conduct of the next PIMEC, he said.
Political instability biggest threat to Pakistan’s economy: Ahsan Iqbal
Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan must expand its energy capacity The minister said...