Maritime Potential & Security Challenges

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Maritime possesses huge potential in the states and countries lying in the South as well as South East Asia. This is why some smaller countries’ economies fully base on this sector and they are making revenue of billions of dollars per annum. However, in the recent spat between the US and Iran has posed serious threats to this rising sector.
Pakistan’s strategic importance in the maritime domain has been at the center of world attention particularly with the on-going development of the Port of Gwadar and how it may lead to a new economic architecture in the region and globally. However, the broader significance of the Indian Ocean lies in the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) initiative taken by China that includes Port of Gwadar under China Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC), aiming to strengthen regional connectivity. In this perspective, maritime security is, therefore, a matter of vital importance for the national interests of states, as access to resources and their secure transportation are the drivers behind national growth and development. Against the back drop of maritime significance, states are taking initiatives to secure specific routes, ports and choke points. Despite this understanding, the existing security architecture is least effective in the region. The ineffectiveness of security architecture in the Indian Ocean can be traced to regional diversity along with chauvinistic self-interest. These are two primary hurdles that thwart the formation of an effective governance framework.
One can press on the need for development of a new maritime security governance framework to address the challenges threatening the regional security architecture. The use of maritime space for a common purpose creates room for shared objectives. Other than this, the stakeholders maneuvering in the India Ocean are subject to common risks and vulnerabilities. Sharing of common objectives and collectively facing challenges set the stage for effective risk treatment and vulnerability reduction efforts.
There is a rational need for regional powers to frame an action plan for preserving the maritime potential, not purely from a strategic perspective but also from multilateral perspectives of social, political, economic, human development and safety significance. The need of the time is to identify inter-linkages between direct and indirect security threats to determine the possibilities for a new model of governance along with identification of inter-state obligations.

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