Int’l Maritime symposium concludes

* Naval chief Admiral Sandila highlights strategic significance of oceans in world order

LAHORE: Oceans having an increasing strategic position in international order are central to competing geopolitics and economic development in the present era, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Asif Sandila said while addressing the concluding session of the two-day International Maritime Symposium on Thursday.
The Pakistan Navy War College organised the symposium co-sponsored by the National Centre for Maritime Policy Research in which national and international scholars presented their papers on a diverse range of topics.
Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Sandila said that in the present era, which was increasingly deemed as a ‘maritime century’, oceans have an increasing strategic position in international order and security calculus of nations. He also said that oceans were central to competing geopolitics, economic development, military and technology.
He said: “A strong navy is a global slogan these days. Navies are considered an invaluable instrument of foreign policy. They protect, and preserve a nation’s maritime interest and concurrently advance its strategic interests abroad in perhaps the most rapid, flexible and sustained manner. By virtue of their inherent qualities, a navy is also the best force to respond to any crisis, natural disaster or swiftly answer to search and rescue calls.”
He said that the Pakistan Navy had taken huge strides in spreading the ‘maritime light’ across the frontiers. 
The chief of the naval staff expressed the hope that thoughts and ideas carried from here by the audience, particularly youths, would largely shape the maritime future of Pakistan and also urged the academia of Punjab Province to institutionalise and promote maritime education in their respective institutes.  
Earlier, addressing the opening session on the second day of the symposium, Defence Secretary Lt Gen (r) Asif Yaseen Malik said that for a variety of reasons, including land geography, continental mindset and economic limitations, Pakistan could not contribute wholeheartedly towards maritime development and maritime sector had truly struggled to survive let alone expand. But, he said, significance of this sector could no longer be ignored.
He said that the government was fully cognisant of economic dividends, which came with the expansion in maritime sector of the country and were essential for long-term sustainable development of maritime potential. 
Addressing the concluding session as the chief guest, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) Chairman General Rashad Mahmood reiterated the importance of oceans in contemporary era, which could not be overstated. 
General Rashad acknowledged that this city and its large academic community were perhaps never exposed to maritime issues on this scale in the past and that symposiums like this provided huge momentum to the government’s resolve in this direction.
It was the maritime domain that facilitates international commerce, which advanced a well-integrated global economy, he added.
General Rashad also said that more and more nations were now turning towards sea to protect, preserve and exploit its riches, consequently, there was a collaborative effort to protect the trade through the global commons. This had necessitated a fresh look towards the national maritime resources and need for a stronger navy, the JCSC chairman concluded.

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