ISLAMABAD, (APP): Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday said Pakistan is at the forefront towards becoming the next economic hub in the region due to its favourable geo-strategic and economic position.
The AJK President was addressing the 54th Passing-out Parade at the Pakistan Marine Academy (PMA) as the chief guest. With the flag of Azad Kashmir flying at full mast, the President expressed his gratitude and pleasure in overseeing the Passing-out Parade of prestigious Pakistan Marine Academy.
Masood Khan, highlighting the importance of maritime trade, said that seaports at Karachi and Gwadar are a great asset towards making Pakistan a focal point of commercial and transit trade activity in the region.
He said Pakistan is passing through a phase of economic transformation, especially with the implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The CPEC, he said, will revolutionize national and international trade, development and generate huge employment opportunities across the country, said a message received here from Karachi.
The AJK President urged the need for equipping the ports of Karachi and Bin Qasim with the latest technology, further increasing their dredging capacity and modernizing port management and operations. Simultaneously, he said, “we must focus on the development of modern ports at Pasni, Ormara, Gadani, and Jiwani.”
Pakistan’s 1047 kilometre coastline has a strategic location which is contiguous to the Strait of Hurmuz, he said. 36,000 ships navigate these waters and every day 15 million barrels of oil pass through the shipping lanes surrounding our coastline, he added.
AJK President said that 95% of Pakistan’s trade is seaborne but only 16% is handled by Pakistan’s own national carrier. “We have to add ships to our merchant navy fleets and excel at indigenously manufacturing more vessels,” he added.
He also emphasized on building and strengthening of country’s maritime apparatus to protect sea lanes carrying Pakistani and international merchandise, and to fight off piracy, terrorism, and subversion by forces which are bent to hamper CPEC.
Masood Khan said that the Government of Pakistan is committed to making maritime trade a fundamental part of its economy by formulating policies for the development of seafaring trade.
Till now, Pakistan had a mindset of agrarian economy dominated by the thinking of a landlocked country but ” with the expansion of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to 350 nautical miles, the total area under Pakistan maritime control for economic exploitation is about 290,000 km2 and with effective investment in the EEZ, we can easily double the size of Pakistan’s economy.”
The AJK President stressed the need to exploit sub-surface natural resources including fisheries, minerals – on and beneath the seabed – and offshore oil and gas reserves ” for which we have to conduct advanced oceanographic surveys of the waters around Pakistan’s coastline.”
President Masood said that by synergizing its strengths, Pakistan will be well on its way to becoming the top 10 global economies by 2040.
The AJK President lauded the Pakistan Marine Academy for its professional affiliations with the World Maritime University and NED University, Karachi. PMA is a world-class institution teaching the latest courses in nautical and maritime sciences according to the quality standards of the International Maritime Organization along with an emphasis on hands-on training and real-life simulation exercises, he said.
He said Azad Kashmir is being developed at a fast pace with the aspiration to make it the next economic engine of Pakistan. Azad Kashmir is now a formal part of the CPEC, and 4 major development projects under this mega-project are at different phases of implementation and planning, he added.
These include Kohala, Korat Hydro Power Projects, Mansehra-Mirpur Expressway and a state of the art industrial zone in Mirpur.
The AJK President invited entrepreneurs and the business community of Karachi to invest in Azad Kashmir’s booming economy, especially in infrastructure development, roads, health, tourism, telecommunication, extractive industry, education, and agriculture.
The AJK President also highlighted the atrocities faced on a daily basis by the Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
He said that India is using unabated force to quash the freedom struggle of the unarmed Kashmiris. India is violating international humanitarian laws and convention, he added.
“India is using malicious tactics in order to transform the demography within IOK and is torturing and terrorizing the local populace with impunity.”
The President said, ” we have vowed to continue our freedom struggle and affirm the resolve that with the grace of Allah, Kashmir will be free from Indian occupation.”
He on the occasion congratulated the cadets on the successful completion of their training at the Pakistan Marine Academy. He said PMA has not only given them the requisite academic training but it has also inculcated discipline, character, determination, responsibility, the sincerity of purpose and service to the nation.
He prayed for the success of the Mariners in their future endeavours and hoped that they would perform their duties with commitment, professionalism, and with the dedication to serve Pakistan’s regional and international interests. He added that the cadets will not only carry out their professional duties but will play a critical role in shaping the economic destiny of Pakistan.
President AJK said that by receiving the highest standards of technical and professional training, the cadets were now on their way to becoming successful seafarers and maritime ambassadors of Pakistan.
The parade was attended by Commodore Akbar Naqi SI (M), Commandant PMA, Naval officers, trainers, and parents of the cadets, members of the senior bureaucracy, civil society,
the business community and representatives of the print and electronic media.