Written by, Ali Basit
Since ancient times, oceans and rivers were seen as the first road to explore the world. They are the fundamental fabric that binds all our lands and considered to be conveyor belts connecting civilizations and charting the course of human progress. The continents with all their natural wealth have provided the trust for sea bound explorations voyages that have formed the bedrock of modern day maritime trade. More than 80% of the world trade is being carried out through seas and oceans, establishing a crucial links of international shipping, thus providing all nation states an access to rise together in this globalized world.
In today’s era, with a growing economic power also comes the need to ensure the security of the Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) from emanating traditional and non-traditional threats. In align with well anticipated vision elucidated in the Pakistan’s Naval Doctrine, “A combat ready multi-dimensional force manned by highly motivated and professionally competent human resource imbued with unwavering faith in Allah…. safeguarding Pakistan’s maritime interests while radiating influence in the region with global outlook”, Pakistan Navy in cognizant with government’s recent initiative about Pakistan – Africa convergence has scheduled Over Seas Deployment (OSD) of African Continent to strengthen HADR (Human Assistance & Disaster Relief) and Naval Diplomacy across the entire African region especially the western and eastern African coast.
While acknowledging the foreign policy objectives with African countries; Pakistan Navy convoy during its recent mission to African states visited port of Casablanca (Morocco), Nouakchott (Mauritania), Takoradi (Ghana), Lagos (Nigeria) and Cape Town (South Africa). As I write this article, both Pakistan Navy ships have paid port visit to Dar Es Salaam, a city of Tanzania. As per Pakistan Navy sources, the Contingent interacted with range of local and foreign dignitaries and exchanged views on the regional security construct especially the threats from non-traditional sources including piracy, armed-robbery, maritime pollution and drug trafficking etc. Besides this, the mission commander has drawn attention of the worthy dignitaries and various other diplomatic officials to the illegal actions of the Indian government in the Indian held Jammu and Kashmir which has endangered the security of the entire region and the world at large. Moreover, a medical camp was also established wherein numerous patients were given medical treatments including minor surgeries, routine checkups, and also dental procedures were carried out.
According to IMF’s 2016 World Economic Outlook figures, Tanzania was placed among the top 20 economic performers in the world. Tanzanian economy has been growing at 7% growth rate during the last 10 years and this has made the country the second-fastest growing economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Tanzania’s economic prospects are boosted as it is comparatively more peaceful and politically more stable in the region. The recent huge natural gas discoveries also contributed to turn it into East Africa’s second largest economy after Kenya. However, despite the impressive GDP performance, Tanzania is still one of the world’s least developed countries. About 30 per cent of the population still lives in extreme poverty. The Tanzanian government’s policy initiative to turn the country into middle-income country by the year 2025 has yet to be seen.
Historically, Pakistan has enjoyed cordial relations with Tanzania. Pakistan was maintaining a resident Mission in Tanzania, since 1967. However, the Mission was closed due to financial constraints in 2000 and our Mission in Kenya was assigned concurrent accreditation. However, in 2009 the mission was re-opened again. Pakistan had been supporting Tanzania in capacity building through training of diplomats and military officials. Under Technical Assistance Programme for African countries, Pakistan offered seats to Tanzanian diplomats for training at the Foreign Service Academy (FSA). Moreover, Tanzania has been availing military training facilities at Pakistan Armed Forces institutions.
In transforming the existing bilateral relations with Tanzania, Pakistan hopes that this recent visit by the Navy ships will pave the way for further strengthening the existing military as well as the diplomatic ties between the both countries. Furthermore, the deployment of Pakistan Navy ships depicts a perfect example of effective naval diplomacy that will help to break the ground for further cooperation and collaboration in various domains. Now it is prerogative of MOFA to further utilize the gains of deployment through diplomatic channels.