India’s nuclearisation of Indian Ocean threatens trade, Pakistan tells UNSC
Pakistan told the UN Security Council that India’s “belligerent and aggressive” policies posed an immediate and pervasive threat to international and regional peace and security, especially as it had nuclearised the Indian Ocean— an important avenue for global trade.
“In pursuance of its hegemonic designs, India has nuclearised the Indian Ocean and continues to induct advanced weapons systems and naval delivery platforms,” Ambassador Munir Akram said in a written statement submitted to the 15-member Council, which was held virtually.
“In light of these developments, he said, Pakistan would continue to take all necessary measures to maintain full spectrum deterrence and ensure its national security on land, in the air and at the sea.
The Security Council meeting on Enhancing Maritime Security was convened by India, which holds the council’s presidency for the month of August. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over the meeting.
In his statement, the Pakistani envoy called on the international community to be cognizant of the fact that any military conflict in South Asia could endanger stability in a region that was critical for global trade and global peace and security.
The Indian Ocean, Ambassador Akram said said, hosted international maritime traffic that included half of the world’s containerised cargo, one-third of its bulk cargo, and two-thirds of its oil shipments.
“Yet,” he said, “emerging issues, ranging from piracy and territorial water disputes to global environmental pressures on coastal and marine resources, pose considerable challenges for policymakers. The Indian Ocean offers promising potential for mutual cooperation and collaboration. But geo-strategic competition and the pursuit of military dominance by some states have gravely jeopardised that potential.”
“In particular, India’s belligerent and aggressive policies – currently driven by an extremist Hindutva ideology – pose an immediate and pervasive threat to international and regional peace and security,” the Pakistani envoy added.
Pointing out that Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), occupies a strategic location overlooking the Strait of Hormuz and the North Arabian Sea, he said that it placed Pakistan at a point of convergence, linking active sea-lanes to landlocked Central Asian Republics for shipment of oil, coal and agricultural products.
As the success of the CPEC and the Gwadar Port project was linked to the safe and secure maritime environment in the Indian Ocean region in general and the Arabian Sea in particular, Ambassador Akram said it was of upmost importance to keep the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) open and protect Pakistan’s coast as well as the ports of Karachi, Bin Qasim, Ormara and Gwadar.
“Accordingly,” he said, “a special organisation known as Task Force-88 (TF-88) has been created and assigned the duty for the seaward security of Gwadar Port and protection of associated sea lanes against both conventional and non-traditional threats.”
“We are proud that Pakistan Navy continues to maintain a robust security posture along Pakistan’s coast and in the regional seas, in order to prevent nefarious elements from illicit activities in the maritime domain,” the Pakistani envoy said.
The Pakistan Navy, he said, had always been appreciated for its efforts to promote peace and security. Among others, it has been actively participating in the Combined Task Forces 150 and 151 in the larger interest of the international community and regional maritime security.
Since 2013, he added, Pakistan was operating a Joint Maritime Information Coordination Centre (JMICC). It gathers and shares all required information among all the national stakeholders for maritime domain awareness.
“Our Navy has also provided valuable assistance at the high seas to vessels in distress, including during anti-piracy operations, and has extended humanitarian assistance to regional countries on several occasions,” he added.
The Pakistani envoy also said that piracy and armed robbery against ships remained a major threat to maritime security.
“Transnational criminal groups, such as those in the Gulf of Aden, on the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea, are involved in multiple illegal activities, including drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, migrant-smuggling, trafficking in persons, piracy, and armed robbery and, in some cases, terrorist activity”, he said.
“The link between transnational organised crime at sea and the threat that it poses to the stability, security and economies of both coastal and landlocked States is visible and a matter of grave concern.”
To meet the challenges posed by this large-scale phenomenon, Ambassador Akram called for development of a robust regulatory framework and a coordinated and comprehensive approach at the national, regional and international levels to address it.”
Pakistan, he said, had a strategic stake in peaceful navigation and security of the Indian Ocean region, noting that Islamabad’s interests emanated from over 1000 kilometers long coastline, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of around 290,000 square kilometers, Karachi port and the newly built deep seaport of Gwadar.
“Pakistan is an important stakeholder in the Indian Ocean security framework, which includes counter-piracy as well as human trafficking and narcotics smuggling,” the ambassador said.
“We are also concerned at the politicisation of the law of the sea and UNCLOS (The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) by some member states in recent years,” the Pakistani envoy said, in reference to the issues in South China Sea.
“When it comes to pacific settlement of maritime disputes, we should fully respect efforts made by the countries concerned to resolve these and thus safeguard peace and stability. The countries outside the region should respect the negotiations or the process through which the parties concerned want to resolve such issues,” he added.
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