Islamabad – Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir has said that Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is truly a milestone in the history of mankind which will pave the way for promoting regional connectivity and shaping up a new civilization of coexistence.
The President – as the keynote speaker – made these remarks while addressing the 2nd International Maritime Symposium on the “Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the Geo-economics of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Prospects for Pakistan, the Region and Beyond” organized by the Institute of Maritime Affairs here in Islamabad. The event was graced by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the chief guest. The event was presided and hosted by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi.
The President during his address congratulated the Institute of Maritime Affairs and the Bahria University for organizing this timely and substantive seminar which he said would help shape the mindset relating to maritime trade unleashing Pakistan’s full potential.
President Masood Khan said that the BRI is a global initiative not just restricted to Pakistan or the Indian Ocean. He added that BRI encompasses 68 countries, 62 percent of the world population and one-third of the world’s GDP spanning three continents – Asia, Africa and Europe – launching a new wave of connectivity and inclusive economic prosperity.
Highlighting the importance of Pakistan in the project, he said that due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor we assume a position of centrality and pre-eminence in the project as we will provide China direct land access to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The BRI will have huge transformative effects that will propel economic and social development activities in and around the Indian Ocean Region.
The BRI project, said the President, will inject fresh impetus to global growth creating new supply chains in the Indian Ocean by accelerating the pace of economic activity in and around the Indian Ocean. He said under this initiative, plans are underway to invest US $ 1 trillion in infrastructure, energy and industrial projects on an unprecedented scale.
President AJK said that the Indian Ocean will no longer be considered by India as its exclusive domain where previously it would give limited and conditional access to other nations. Now, he said, the Indian Ocean will be shared by all for use of marine resources, enhanced economic activity, investment, trade and maritime security.
President Masood Khan highlighting the importance of maritime trade, said that our seaports are a great asset towards making Pakistan a focal point of commercial and transit trade activity in the region. He added that Pakistan is passing through a phase of economic transformations that will revolutionize national and international trade, development and generate huge employment opportunities throughout Pakistan.
Underscoring the priorities of Pakistan in the general backdrop of these developments, the President said that, firstly, we must formulate a comprehensive long-term foreign policy on the Indian Ocean region which should be an integral part of our current foreign policy. IOR, he said, will face existing and new threats that include piracy, terrorism, proxy wars and spying. He said that global warming and heating up of the Indian Ocean must be tackled which threatens biodiversity in these waters and the evident fear that smaller island states in the Indian Ocean risk extinction.