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Pakistan on Monday said the logistic agreement signed between India and the US, that enables them to use each other’s military assets and bases for repair and resupply, has jeopardised the idea of an ‘Asian Century’. Its National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua said the growing cooperation between India and the US -including with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) signed in August last year – has jeopardised the idea of an ‘Asian Century’.
The LEMOA agreement enables India and the US to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply. Speaking at a conference on ‘Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: Challenges and Prospects for Pakistan’, Janjua said, “Inter-state tensions in the region and significant investments in blue water navies by countries like India have brought oceans into focus as sensitive security space.”
The conference was held to analyse the challenges in the realm of maritime security emanating from militarisation and nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean and power projection in the region, emerging alliances and threats to the Beijing-backed USD 45 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Janjua said the idea of an ‘Asian Century’ was under threat because “security architecture and strategic stability of the region had come under stress”, adding India and the US have “carved out space to preposition themselves in this ocean. India is being propped up as a counter-weight to China through geo-political, economic and military moves.”
Sehar Kamran, President of the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies – one of the organisers of the conference, said fulfillment of the vision of ‘Asian Century’ needs a focus on 3Cs – connectivity, cooperation, and communication. The conference recommended to place special emphasis on modernisation of the Pakistan Navy. “Pakistan should increase and modernise its naval fleet, and pursue technological advancements in sea-based deterrents to ensure an assured second strike capability, especially in the context of the growing threats by the belligerent India,” said Kamran.
Federal Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain claimed “competitors” were opposed to the CPEC and were “already seeking to sabotage it.” Former deputy chief of naval staff Vice Admiral (retd) Iftikhar Ahmed said, “If we have the requisite infrastructure and enabling environment at Gwadar and the region, Gwadar will surely emerge as the economic hub of the region.”
The CPEC begins in China’s restive Xinjiang region and ends in southern Pakistan’s Gwadar port. The stated aim of the project is to economically link China with Euro-Asia region. He stressed that the Iranian port of Chahbahar, being built by India and Iran, posed no challenge to Gwadar and the two could compliment each other.