Conflict in S Asia could imperil stability in Indian Ocean region, warns Pakistan

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that geostrategic competition and the pursuit of military dominance by some nations in the Indian Ocean region have “gravely jeopardised” its potential for mutual cooperation.

“The international community needs to be cognizant of the fact that any military conflict in South Asia could endanger stability in a region that is critical for global trade and global peace and security,” Ambassador Munir Akram, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, warned.

Speaking in a debate on the “Oceans and the law of the sea,” the ambassador highlighted the importance of the Indian Ocean region as a critical avenue for global trade, saying it hosts international maritime traffic that includes half of the world’s containerised cargo, one-third of its bulk cargo, and two-thirds of its oil shipments.

“Yet,” he said, “emerging issues, ranging from piracy and territorial water disputes to global environmental pressures on coastal and marine resources, pose considerable challenges for policymakers.”

As regards South China Sea issues, Akram said Pakistan maintains its long-held position that resolution of the disputes should be between the concerned countries, and that foreign governments should respect the negotiations and the process through which those parties wish to resolve them.

Pakistan, he said, was an important stakeholder in the Indian Ocean security framework, which included counter-piracy as well as human trafficking and narcotics smuggling.

“Improving the governance of the oceans and strengthening legal frameworks is therefore essential for international peace and security, interconnectivity, the blue economy, and free trade.”

Since its adoption, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its affiliated governing institutions have played an important role in ensuring the judicious use of ocean resources for all mankind, the ambassador said.

He said Pakistan also attached great importance to the work of the three bodies established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) and the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

While examining submissions, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf needs to give due regard to the rules of procedure; it should not consider a submission made by any of the States concerned in the dispute until prior consent is given by all States that are parties to such a dispute.

Ambassador Akram urged all delegations to take a progressive approach during the next session and noted that it is essential to focus on achieving a good quality result that will enable to reach a consensus solution.

The idea of a global economy recognises the seas and ocean as drivers for economic development with great potential for innovation and growth, he stressed.

He added that Pakistan’s interest in it emanates from a coastline of over 1,000 kilometres and an exclusive economic zone of 290,000 square kilometres, the Karachi port and the newly built deep seaport at Gwadar.

Ambassador Akram said Pakistan is committed to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) pertaining to the conservation of oceans, adding it was ready to cooperate with other friendly nations in the region and around the world to realise that goal for the mutual benefit of all.

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