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Pakistan and India’s Project Sagar Mala: Lessons worth learning


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Pakistan holds an important geostrategic position in the world. It is located at the crossroads of civilizations which enables it to engage different regions of the world. It is due to this significance that it was singled out for the location of CPEC which is a cornerstone of the Belt and Road Initiative. And the Pakistani port of Gwadar will be the foundation of this mega project heralded as a global game changer.

Pakistan is blessed with 2,90,058 square kilometers of sea waters and 1047 kilometers long coast. Annually about 36,000 ships sail through its water that is about 40 percent of total global ship sail. As sea lies in the south of the country so the majority of the Pakistani population has not even physically seen the sea which has caused ‘National Sea Blindness’. Timely seaward awareness for the masses, especially for the policymakers, is a vital necessity.

Pakistan can draw lessons from the Indian Maritime Economics Doctrine ‘Sagar Mala’ to cut the costs and address the fault lines of large scale infrastructure projects to develop its coastlines and maritime sector

The common man and for that matter, most of the policymaking circles are not amply equipped with pertinent information of various facts such as 95pc trade is totally dependent on the sea. In case of a blockade, Our industries, exports, and imports would come to a grinding halt as goods’ transportation to and from other countries via land and air routes is not just expensive, it is extremely inconvenient, which involves highly complex diplomatic, political and military aspects.

Pakistan can draw lessons from the Indian Maritime Economics Doctrine ‘Sagar Mala’ to cut the costs and address the fault lines of large scale infrastructure projects to develop its coastlines and maritime sector. This was the crux of the brainstorming session organized by Maritime Study Forum (MSF) on Monday on “Indian Maritime Economics Doctrine SAGAR MALA: its Fault Lines and Leads for Pakistan”.

Read more: Pakistan at crossroads & CPEC

The session was attended among others by academics, experts, researchers and doctorate students of leading universities. President MSF Dr. Syed Muhammad Anwer in his welcome remarks shed light on the objective of holding the session. He said that the main aim of the session is to study the infrastructure and port-led development project of Sagar Mala to find as what lessons Pakistan can draw from the Indian experience.

Dr. Aneel Salman, a member of MSF Board of Director, gave a brief overview of ‘Sagar Mala Project and potentials of Blue Economy’. He pointed out that maritime has largely been a neglected sector in Pakistan. Whatever little emphasis is given is on the maritime security, and the economic, environmental and socio-economic aspects of the maritime, which is dubbed as blue economy, have been overlooked.

After the panelists’ talks, the participants were divided into two groups, and each group did a brainstorming exercise on the given top. Group A was given the topic of “Maritime Economy – Blue Economy” for the exercise.

He highlighted the environmental, ecological, and other costs, besides discussing the economic, socio-economic and other benefits of the project. He added that Sagar Mala project is an initiative of the Indian government to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

Zaheerudeen Dar, CEO Dartways Consultancy, spoke on the topic of “An Insight on Logistics and Connectivity Vis a Vis Sagar Mala Project of India. After the panelists’ talks, the participants were divided into two groups, and each group did a brainstorming exercise on the given top. Group A was given the topic of “Maritime Economy – Blue Economy” for the exercise.

Read more: Pakistan’s place in a globalized world

The Group B was given the topic of Maritime Security and Diplomacy (Blue Diplomacy), which dwelt at length on the issue of coastal management (Port, Vessel and Facility Security), routes security (piracy and smuggling) and others to draw lessons for Pakistan to learn.

The brainstorming exercise was followed by feedback and remarks from the panelists.