Non-Traditional Security Aspects of Maritime Domain of Pakistan


Pakistan is endowed with diversified terrain spanning from a long coast of 990km to the second highest mountain peak K2. Pakistani maritime territory is geo-strategically placed at the helm of global power politics owing to its vital sea lines of communication.  After the CPEC, the Indian Ocean has become a strategic hot spot.  The Indian Ocean has been the focal point of the US and China’s interests as it is a conduit to the Middle East.  To counter China and CPEC, India wants to emerge as a power in the region with an alliance with the USA. Pakistan is facing both external and internal challenges in its maritime domain.

There are two types of threats in the Indian Ocean, which are known as traditional and non-traditional security threats.  The traditional challenges are increased militarization, increased massive proliferation of WMDs power projection and nuclearization of the maritime domain.  On the other hand, Non-traditional security threats include other domains of security like economy, politics, human rights, climate change resources scarcity of Indian Ocean, Infectious diseases, irregular migration, food shortage, people smugglings, drugs trafficking, transnational crime, energy crisis and privacy & armed robbery at sea.

The first non-traditional threat to the Maritime domain is maritime terrorism. The involvement of India in Pakistan to sabotage CPEC is a major factor. Pakistani forces have captured many hostile operators including Indian Navy Commander Kulbushan Jhadav, which was involved in terrorism planning in Pakistan’s coastal region. Secondly, piracy & armed robbery are also main elements of nontraditional challenges which are significantly coming from Somali pirates. But with the help of the Pakistan Navy, there has been a decline in piracy and armed theft in the Indian Ocean.

In contemporary times, Sea is used for illicit drug trafficking.  It is a major non-traditional security threat and the Indian Ocean is also affected by human smuggling which poses a security threat to Pakistan. Pakistan has a zero-tolerance policy on illicit drug trafficking and Pakistan Navy along with ANF conducted innumerable operations against illicit drug trafficking.

Moreover, Marine pollution and illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean have deeply impacted the ecosystem.  Pakistani coastal belt has a rare kind of fisheries that are finished by unchecked and unlicensed fishing. Indian fishing boats often engaged in poaching inside the Pakistani EEZ. The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) frequently arrests Indian fishermen for violating Pakistani territory.

The main component of non-traditional security challenges is Climate change. Climate change is a critical concern in the entire world where variability has a significant impact on human societies, economies, and oceans of the world.  Climate change is fundamentally altering many properties of the sea.  Extreme temperature, melting of glaciers, floods, storms, and epidemics are disturbing the Indian Ocean. Pakistan encounters repeating heat waves, floods and sea storms impact seriously the economic sector and maritime domain.  Due to rising temperature, the sea level has risen 8, 9 inches since 1880. The water level of the Pakistani Sea is rising by 0.14 inches per year.  This challenge of the rising temperature of the coastal belt can be covered by massive plantations along the coastal belt of Pakistan.

Moreover, the industrial sewage of Karachi is polluting the sea which is disturbing the marine environment.  There must be proper planning for industrial sewage in Karachi to handle the non-traditional security challenge of the Coastal belt of Pakistan.

Sea Blindness is one of the main non-traditional challenges of the Indian Ocean.  Lack of recognition of the significance of the maritime domain is known as Sea Blindness. Pakistan suffers from Sea blindness because a major portion of the population lives away from the coast.  There is a need for research to reduce sea blindness to counter non-traditional security challenges of the Sea.

Pakistan Navy is working as a multi-dimensional, balanced and professional force configured to safeguard Pakistan’s maritime domain and maritime interests.  It is defending and protecting the maritime interests of Pakistan, deterring aggression at and from the sea, providing disaster relief, and participating in the development of coastal communities. Pakistan Navy is effectively working to counter traditional and non-traditional security aspects while radiating influence in the region with the global world. On the other hand, India and like-minded nations are using hybrid warfare tactics like terrorism, spreading fake news, propaganda and rumors through social media to undermine Pakistan’s maritime security but PN is professionally handling all these issues.

To conclude, there is not a single solution that fits all for emerging non-traditional security threats from the sea.  Pakistan needs to pay attention to enhancing assessment and operational planning.  Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Pakistan Navy are working to counter these challenges.  The role of the Pakistan Navy is appreciated as it is encountering both traditional and non-traditional security challenges. Thus, the situation warrants the adoption of a compressive policy involving the role of the Pakistan Navy to encounter non-traditional security threats in the maritime domain of Pakistan.

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