Significance of Marine Safety Control in Gwadar Port and China’s Marine Silk Road

Marine safety is an expression that explains the problems associated with the aquatic life, national safety, sea territory, economy, financial growth of a nation and its safety. Gwadar port can become a doorway for business, commerce, collaboration, coordination and development for our country.Pakistan’s position in the marine region has become significant nowadays due to this recent development.Both China and Pakistan have friendly  relations with each other for decades. It is therefore logical that any Chinese interest in the region would give centre-stage to its Friend. Any economic progress would bring stability and prosperity throughout the South-Asian region and beyond.

It automatically raises a need to reinforce marine safety control in Gwadar port and China’s Marine Silk Road. Both nations understand why marine growth and marine safety in Pakistan are of utmost necessity. Pakistan and China can achieve the geo-political aims and their desired strategy by working extremely closely together.

According to Mahan’s  Sea Power theory, the prosperity of a nation depends on its sea power.A nation can have dominant influence on the international community if marine protection and marine control is implemented. One of the important factors he mentioned was  the geographical area of the country or the nation. He has also carefully raised the importance of the number of streams, creeks,seashore anchorage and reservoirs that are linked with the sea route. According to Mahan, the location of shore-line is also of vital importance. Another important factor is the mindset of people residing in that country or nation with context to their beliefs, ideology and opinions. The  number of people residing in the country has an importance of its own. Their perspectives regarding business and commercial activities has a lot of bearing according to him. Are they business-minded and do they believe in economic prosperity due to trade and commercial activities on the sea shore? Does the administration and authority believe in their interests or do they want the prosperity of the nation? If political leaders want monopolization of power then the country will not prosper.The decisions made by the people residing  in the country will not be able to bear economic and financial progression in that case.Mahan emphasized that marine forces were important in making a nation world-wide powerful and strong because of its military decisions and financial superiority. Military and naval might has been used as an extension of diplomacy for ages.

Marine safety plays a fundamental role in a state’s security. Naval security is dependent on government’s decision regarding political, economic affairs as well as the relations with other states. It is necessary for  the development of a nation or a region to resolve the disputes with their neighbour. Throughout history, international disputes have created immense problems for countries and their economic progression.Different countries can coexist with friendly neighbour resulting in greater benefit for its people. For the prosperity of nations, peace is an essential element. To avoid war and hostility an element of understanding and mutual survival will be formed between the states. Hence states will learn to co-exist peacefully. Peaceful relationships between both the states are important for economic growth and prosperity.    Marine safety and Marine Safety Control requires all nations to stop naval violence, stealing ships, stopping the use of illegal drugs, and putting an end to the illegal buying and selling of  humans, drugs and weapons. Naval safety involves the safety of ships and the marine environment. Pakistan’s prosperity is dependent on reinforcing marine safety control. If Pakistan does not strengthen its naval safety, it will bear grave economic losses. It would create an  image of an unstable sea-power  globally. Besides this, it will not be able to protect the smuggling of ships and the illegal use and transportation of drugs. Sea route is of vital importance as it is linked to the Indian Ocean, South East Asia, Arabian Sea and Africa. Unfortunately, Arabian Sea faces the issues of marine security control. Smuggling of drugs and weapons is widely observed in the Arabian Sea. However, unauthorized and illegal use of drugs and weapons in the Indian ocean has been reduced owing to regular patrolling.Oil is carried through the Indian Ocean for the purpose of trade which is important for the prosperity of South Asian region and other countries as well. Naval safety is an important issue and it must be addressed adequately. Sea laws should be implemented and followed to eliminate illegal transfer of drugs,human-trafficking and weapons. It would automatically help to reduce sea crimes.

Pakistan is politically unstable so it is difficult for Pakistan to maintain China’s trust. China believes thatmodern infrastructure and technology use by Pakistan can help eliminate poverty.It will contribute to economic prosperity of the Pakistani nation. The vision behind the Economic Corridor is to improve the lives of the Pakistani and Chinese people by building economic cooperation, logistics and regional connections. In addition to local challenges, the implementation of the Pakistan Economic Corridor project faces a number of international reservations.

Forefront external challenge to this corridor is India’s labile approach to the corridor. India’s serious demand is that Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed territory. The trail route through this area is illegal. Another concern in India is that they see Gwadar as a Chinese “String of Pearls” encircling it in the deep sea, stretching from the East-coast to the Pacific Ocean. China is also building ports in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh which poses a potential military challenge to India. India expects that in the future, China will block Indian sea routes by stealing such ports. As a result, India is dissatisfied with the progress made by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and is sabotaging the corridor by playing its cards in Balochistan. The recent arrest of Indian agent Kulbhushan Jadhav generally confirms Indian intervention in Balochistan and Pakistan. In order to sabotage the success of this corridor the Indo-Afghan nexus remains active. Continued internal instability in Afghanistan is purported to be linked to Pakistan. All acts of terrorism in Afghanistan are claimed to have their roots in our country. Additionally, India is building military bases in Afghanistan where terrorist activities are taking place. Sabotage of the economic corridor through Afghanistan continues unabated. Pakistan-Afghan relations falter over an insecure Durand Line repeatedly.

Another challenge in implementing the Corridor is Chabahar Port. Iran is developing the Chabahar port in cooperation with India. India is investing billions of dollars in the project to disrupt the Gwadar Port. It repeatedly resorts to negative propaganda regarding capacity and the depth of waterways. It has claimed that Gwadar is about to expire. However, President Rouhani said: “Chabahar will not compete with Gwadar, but the two will complement each other.”

Another important obstacle is the involvement of the major powers. The two main powers, the United States and Japan, are eyeing a multi-billion dollar project. China has adopted various policies to control the United States. The United States feels it as  threatening to its global power with and thus placing obstacles in the way of port of Gwadar. In addition, the United States understands that Gwadar Port might be used for military purposes in the future. As part of its safeguard policy, the United States signed a “strategic and economic partnership” with India. US assistance to NSG India is also part of this partnership. Their cooperation poses a challenge not only to China but also to Pakistan. On the other hand, Japan is under pressure because the use of the Economic Corridor will reduce the distance between China and its trading countries to 9,000 km, which will have a profound impact on Japan’s exports. Moreover, it includes an integrated transportation and information technology system, communication channels, agricultural development, and poverty relief. Moreover, it includes tourism, financial cooperation and human resource development. Gwadar port is very important for China and for international trade between nations. This route links the South Asian region with South China Sea and new infrastructure is being built. Marine pathways, railways, roads and power structures are being built. This route would open new avenues of trade and commercial activities thus creating new sources of income. Absence of ensuring naval security will significantly affect Pakistan and China. Additionally, it will bode economic and financial loss for oceans and the linked territories with this sea route which will also be adversely affected. India and United States want hegemony over the region however China doesn’t appreciate this decision. China has helped Pakistan in reinforcing its naval capabilities through management, coordination, engineering and ship transportation. The infrastructure is built by Chinese workers and the investment is done by Chinese nation. Moreover, Pakistan has been blessed with a very important strategic location. This remains a plus point for a country deferred under the burdens of basic-needs fulfillment till today. Usually such projects are considered as nothing but riot-starters but this project has become a reason for which many are willing to let go of their past relations.This has kick-started a competition amongst the regional players as they are gradually realising the potential  upside. For many in the region this has become a chance to achieve economic and social reconciliation in their neighbourhood. In the current scenario an opportunity like this presenting itself is not less then a miracle perhaps. This reason should suffice as enough evidence to handle the case with sanity. Messing up this opportunity means moving back the entire block by 50 years to be precise. The rationalization of decision-making regarding the project should be the prime concern of the authorities.They should make the rules which are not bypassed and  implement the requisite policies  effectively. For prime purposes another thing to be kept in mind by the country concerned that even at the time of the East India Company trade was the opening part. Soon the white man eventually built a castle and introduced the strongest monopoly that have been discovered till now.This project promotes worldwide collaboration,  cooperation and requires global control. Naval forces of China and Pakistan are working day and night for this project to be successful. Furthermore the Middle-Eastern proverb “Fashion moves around the sea” is another justification and reasoning as to why the sea port will be a game-changing part for the country. Asian slowly growing dominance is augmented with the country’s trade routes as a major contribution.The investor country can also fulfill and solve it’s old issues  between the neighbour as the time proceeds. This will eventually give Pakistan a moment of relief from the external pressures in order to straighten up its image of falling justice and institutional system.

For China it will open more opportunities as the trade of oil will be possible from a short route. In addition this arrangement will also enable China to observe Indian marine operations.

  • What problems will China and Pakistan face nationwide?
  • What will be the marine security concerns and how will they affect the economic prosperity of both Pakistan and China?
  • How can Pakistan and China achieve the geo-political aims and what is the desired strategy to achieve them ?
  • What are the future implications of Gwadar Port worldwide?

Gwadar port has worldwide implications, whether related to economy, trade or commercial activities. It does not only affect China and Pakistan’s economic prosperity but the prosperity of South Asia and beyond. Pakistan and China’s naval and marine forces are working day and night for the development of Gwadar Port. However,India and United States want to have dominance over the South Asian region. They are only concerned about their self-interests. Through the Indian Ocean almost half of the trade is carried out. If this combined project of Pakistan and China  becomes unsuccessful it will have global and worldwide implications. It will destroy multiple naval forces and many nations will face economic and financial loss. However,if marine safety control is ensured, this initiative will be successful and economic prosperity will be observed in the future. It may not be wrong to say that in the realist paradigm usually what we see is the self interest to every extent. Hence it is a thoughtful thing to take necessary steps in time to settle down your affairs domestically and nationally. Which is Pakistan have to be extra careful Mahaan’s Sea Power Theory: Significance of Marine Safety Control in Gwadar Port in dealings with the giants of economy.

Saba Adnan
Saba Adnan
Research student doing Bachelors in Peace and Conflict Studies from National Defence University,Islamabad.