ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan became a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1958. Being among the few pioneering members of IMO, Pakistan has served as an elected council member 5 times in 1977, 1979, 1987, 1989, and 1991. After a hiatus of 30 years, Pakistan is all set to embark upon the candidacy for IMO Elections this year (2021-2022).
With an Exclusive Economic Zone of over 290,000 square kilometers, a coastline of 1,080 kilometers and a 50,000 square kilometers Extended Continental Shelf, Pakistan’s geo-strategic location is in close proximity to some of the world’s busiest sea lanes. A third of all seaborne energy flows just west of Pakistan’s territorial waters at the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz.
Since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government took over in 2018, great emphasis has been laid on Pakistan’s Blue Economy potential and using it to transform Pakistan into a strong Maritime Power hub. The concept of Blue Economy has been front and center of the present government’s agenda and therefore the year 2020 was declared the year of Blue Economy by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In the extremely testing times of last two years wherein the entire global community bore the onslaught of COVID-19, Pakistan’s response during the pandemic has been exemplary.
Ensuring seamless continuity of the ports and marine transportation from medical supplies including lifesaving vaccines to food commodities, Pakistan efficiently put into place procedures and processes to ensure that trade continued despite the unprecedented circumstances.
Pakistan also successfully managed to continue uninterrupted safe operations at its ports without any closures facilitating safe change of crew from foreign going vessels.
In line with IMO’s guidelines and in recognition of the valuable services of the seafarers, the government of Pakistan declared seafarers as “Key Workers”. Pakistan contributes heavily towards international shipping through its pool of over 25,000 experienced seafarers, trained to the latest STCW standards and holding certifications that are recognized internationally.
Pakistan’s Certificate of Competence (CoC) is recognized internationally, having signed MOUs with 29 nations for the certificate of recognition under the latest provisions of STCW.
Under a national plan, the government of Pakistan administered free of cost COVID-19 vaccination to all seafarers and their families.
Further, the government of Pakistan is administering free of cost COVID-19 vaccination to all international seafarers, who are calling on the three ports of Pakistan.
In addition, the Ministry of Maritime through its organizations started a COVID-19 vaccination drive and has so far vaccinated over 550,000 people in Karachi and aiming to cross million vaccinations by spring of 2022.
To overcome the challenge of global warming and counter the adverse effects of climate change, Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan initiated a massive tree plantation drive, with an ambitious target to achieve 10 billion plantations.
For the protection of its coastline and to ensure a sustainable maritime environment for future generations and aquatic species, Pakistan has planted more than 7 million mangroves along its coastal belt.
Commenting on the Pakistan’s candidature in the upcoming IMO elections, the Federal Minister of Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi said, “Pakistan now plans to expand its Maritime footprint by playing an active role at the IMO and is a candidate for Category C in the upcoming elections on December 10, 2021”.
“As a responsible Maritime Nation, Pakistan reaffirms its commitments towards the adoption and implementation of the highest maritime standards,” he added.
Ali Haider Zaidi further reiterated, “While Pakistan has achieved certain milestones in ensuring lowest possible carbon footprint on its ports, it believes in a collective effort to achieve the net zero targets. A global effort to ensure Zero-carbon technology and fuels must be made available worldwide, and at an affordable price especially for the developing nations.
After becoming part of the IMO Council for Category C this year, Pakistan hopes to be part of the decision-making platform to mutually devise implementation strategies and come up with tangible solutions to ensure knowledge sharing and transferring of technology for all member states.”
“Pakistan also strongly endorses the idea of ‘IMO Maritime Research Fund’ and appreciates all the nations that signed the Clyde Bank Declaration for Green Shipping Corridors recently at COP26 last month. As a responsible maritime nation, Pakistan reaffirms its commitment towards the adoption and implementation of the highest maritime standards.”