“Whoever rules the oceans rules the world” Mahan (1890)
Pakistan’s being located at the crossroads of civilizations, gives it a geo strategic position that has allowed it to play an empirical role as a global player. Pakistan is blessed with 2,90,058 square kilometers of sea waters and a 1047 kilometers long coast. Annually, about 36,000 ships sail through its waters, about 40 per cent of total global ship that sail between industrialized Europe, Hydrocarbon Rich Middle East and the Energy Transporting Indo-Pacific Region pass by. This makes Pakistani waters and coastline in general and Port of Gwadar in particular, a most viable route of the Belt and Road Initiative.
In this respect, Pakistan is in need of a bold and efficient maritime policy-making, that can broaden the prospects of our maritime, create much needed awareness on maritime affairs and rid the nation of ‘National Sea Blindness’ and oblivion towards the need of a strong and outreaching navy to complement maritime affairs.
Maritime security and prosperity mean not only protecting our ocean of non-traditional threats like terrorism, piracy and other crimes, but also the safeguard of our economic, military and scientific interests. In addition to these, aggressive maritime strategies of our immediate neighbors, that tend to influence and exploit the whole Indian Ocean littoral and beyond, means Pakistan needs to start thinking on the same lines for the sake of both survival and progress.
In order to mitigate the gaps in national maritime domain, a need was felt to establish an informal yet professional research and outreach body to focus on the above aspects titled “Marine Echo”. The envisioned body named as “Maritime Study Forum (MSF)”, is being established as an informal, independent and non-partisan research institute dedicated to study the emerging role of maritime in international relations, focusing on Indian Ocean and beyond and on issues having direct/indirect influence or significance for Pakistan.