Pakistan, India/Asia/Pacific
Maritime Doctrine - Book Review - Asia/Pacific

Maritime Doctrine - Book Review

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on

The first Maritime Doctrine of Pakistan (MDP) was unveiled by President Arif Alvi on 20 Dec. 2018 at the Naval War College, Lahore. In the monumental effort of laying down the MDP, the book not only defines the layout of the maritime structure of the country but also elucidates on the future aspirations of the state’s maritime domain.

The book explains in detail, all aspects of maritime, starting from the country’s naval history to its present sea power, its maritime economic prospects, its ecological standing, the needs of the coastal communities, the dangers facing our marine life and the great prospects that our seas and seabed offer in terms of fisheries, minerals and energy.

Pakistan’s maritime domain is an integral of its national interests and its national security and being a part of the unified military command, hinges the land-based nuclear deterrence with the sea-based one. Pakistan Navy being the potent force in the waters and on the coastal belt, is bounded by the nature of its duties and the strategic environment of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to remain part and parcel of the ecological, economic and socio-economic domains of the seas and the coast. To this end it is doing a commendable job in cooperation with related ministries in facilitating many government projects and leading many such projects for the coastal communities, in the port areas and the creeks.

In the era of swift globalization, when land resources are being seen as drying up due to extensive overuse, the shift to Blue Economy is being advocated at a global level. Pakistan is also a country with immense marine potential, both in living resources and non-living ones. The Doctrine identify all these untapped potentials and paints a futuristic scenario for Pakistan wherein it would stand as a global competitor. For example, the book projects Pakistan’s present fisheries industry worth about $300 million, to be actually worth $1.2 billion if duly exploited in an organized manner. Likewise, immense potential growth is highlighted in coastal tourism, exploitation of wind and tidal energies, the extraction of rare-earth minerals that are abundant on and under our seabed, and an estimated 16, 650 million barrels of oil and gas that need to be drilled out from the voluminous 240,000 sq.km of Exclusive Economic Zone in the Indian Ocean belonging to Pakistan under international sea law – added to which is a 50,000 sq.km area approved just in 2015 by the UNCLCS.

The doctrine projects Gwadar as Pakistan’s promise to an expected volume of 91 million ton seaborne trade in foreseeable future. The port has a potential of 88 berths and a capacity to anchor ships weighing 100,000 to 200,000 dwt. The Karachi Shipyard that has the pride of constructing Agosta Submarines, F-22 Frigates, fast attack crafts, patrol vessels and a Fleet Tanker in collaboration with a Turkish company – is to be complimented with another shipyard in Gwadar that has been approved by the government of Pakistan and is expected to have two dry docks with a 600,000dwt capacity.

The doctrine looks forward to Marine Scientific Research, in the fields of physical and chemical oceanography, marine biology, fisheries, aquaculture, ocean drilling and coring, marine ecology, climate science and much more, for a profitable yet sustainable and blue, harboring of marine resources.

Marine pollution and risks to marine ecosystem are a dire challenge faced by Pakistan at this time. 400million gallons of untreated waste enter the ocean from Karachi city alone. Illegal and unregulated fishing in the territorial waters and the contiguous economic zones has endangered many fish species and is depleting the resource as a whole. Unregulated and unsafe environment in the ship-breaking industry in Gadani, the re-growth efforts in the mangroves and the safeguard of the Marine Protected Areas are also matters of concern.

Apart from all these local concerns that take the attention of the naval commands, are the all-consuming threats from the seas. Piracy in the open seas, maritime terrorism, smuggling via shipping vessels, extra-state intrusion into national waters by fishermen and of enemy forces disguised among them are daily concerns to be dealt by the joint efforts of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, the Coast Guards and the Pak Navy. These threats are complimented by the modern era worries of cyber security threats, information warfare, all of which demand a close networking between maritime institutions and complementing each other’s roles in the unbounded world of the waters.

Pakistan’s Maritime Doctrine cannot be complete without the identification of the nation’s prime need of the territorial and sovereign security of the country. In this regards the Navy has the paramount responsibility of maintaining round-the-clock vigilance of territorial waters in deep seas. The growing naval ambitions on both adjacent coasts in Iran and India, make it imperative upon the Pak Navy to enhance its naval power and capabilities required to maintain a deterrence and a reciprocal combat readiness. This deterrence-requirement has been recently added by the need for countering nuclear missiles and vessels being acquired by the Indian Navy. The navy has to prepare against both conventional and non-state threats, which require the defense of a continuum boarder that not only encompasses the open seas but also the very porous coastal belt that is ever more vulnerable owing to its underdevelopment.

To deter the multipronged threats that attempt to waver the Pak Navy from the deep sea, the adjacent lands and the space, the Navy relies on its moral components of courage, motivation, leadership and faith, along with the physical components of men, arms and rigorous training. Following the Quaid’s historical address at HMPS Dilawar in January 1948, the Navy upholds the Quaid’s words, ‘you will have to make up for the smallness of your size with your courage and selfless devotion…’, as the guiding principle of their doctrine.

In the era of globalization and squeezing distances, Pakistan Navy has kept a forward-looking stature by partaking in several international task forces, organizations and exercises. Be it the CTF 151 anti-piracy task force led by the US, the envisioned Sir Lankan led IOMAC or the Pakistan-led IMC or the Indian-led IONS, Pakistan has always stepped forward to participate in these programs. Pakistan Navy regularly conducts bilateral and multinational exercises like the Sea Spark and the AMAN, that serve the purposes of battle-readiness, coordination with friendly navies and naval diplomacy.

In its crux, the Maritime Doctrine presents a 2025 Vision, that talks of investing across the maritime continuum, conventional capacity building, force multiplication, maritime awareness, interoperability within friendly navies, developing the PN into an advanced Net-Centric Force, the intellectual development of its forces and of taking a leading role by enhancing its already accomplished role of training high-ranking officers of friendly navies.

The Doctrine does leave a thirst for a grandiose doctrinal statement that could be waved around the IOR like a staggering slogan that intimidates, like the ones usually announced by India, including the MAUSAM (2014) and lately the SAGAR (2016), meaning Security and Growth for All in the Region. Though flaunting such enormous doctrines does give India a reason to portray itself as a leader in the IOR, yet the success of any doctrine will only be gauge with its outreach and completion. In this regards, Pakistan’s maritime conduct is just as outreaching in the IOR, with deeper friendships in the Middle East on one side and with the Islamic states of Malaysia and Indonesia on the other, and time-tested relations with Sri Lanka and the Maldives. While Pakistan with its maritime diplomacy has penetrated far and wide into friendly states, the CPEC Project has the potential to integrate the country not only from within but to integrate also with Central Asia and with its seaward projection into states across the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea, and to the Middle East and Africa. Yet with all these great prospects in front of us, it is the joint endeavors of the Ministry of Maritime, the Navy and the Govt. of Pakistan that will see the Vision 2025 through.

Previously Published at Maritime study forum