KARACHI: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof. Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday kicked off the construction process of 600 ton Maritime Patrol Vessel for Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) by gracing its steel cutting ceremony at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW).
Senior officers of Pakistan Navy, KSEW, China Shipbuilding Trading Company Limited (CSTC), Karachi Port Trust, Port Qasim Authority, and from government and corporate sector attended the ceremony. CSTC's Assistant President Wang Dejie led the Chinese team.
The Federal Minister also witnessed the signing of milestone certificate by Assistant President CSTC and Managing Director KSEW, Rear Admiral Syed Hasan Nasir Shah.
In his welcome address, KSEW's Managing Director informed that construction of 600 tons MPV at KSEW signifies the trust and confidence of the Government reposed in Karachi Shipyard.
The 600 Ton Maritime Patrol Vessel is a state of the art-- a multi mission vessel with steel hull and aluminum super structure.
He said this ship would be fully equipped to enforce maritime security, search and rescue mission in maritime exclusive economic zone of Pakistan. This year, he continued, KSEW would launch two more ships and start projects of three new ships.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof. Ahsan Iqbal , who was the chief guest, said the induction of MPVs will go a long way in protecting national sovereignty and safeguarding rich natural resources of the area. The Government was committed to develop maritime infrastructure along the coast to prepare for trade expansion.
He congratulated Karachi Shipyard and M/s China Shipbuilding Trading Company (CSTC) for timely achievement of this construction milestone. This project would fulfill the need for upgrading the ageing fleet of PMSA.
He was also appreciative for KSEW on being awarded contract of four new generation AIP submarines and described it as a landmark achievement.
Referring to the upcoming development in the maritime sector, he said that the ship lift and transfer system would further enhance the capacity of KSEW, whereby repair of 13 ships would be possible at one time.
He said KSEW was the only shipyard in the country which provided the facility of indigenous shipbuilding and repairs.
The Minister for Planning and Development assured his continued support for Karachi Shipyard in upgrading and maintaining its infrastructure and make Pakistan a leading shipbuilding country in the region.
He informed the gathering that with the acceptance of Pakistan's claim by United Nations for extension of its continental shelf, its sea-bed territory had increased by 50,000 sq Kms taking it to 290,000 sq Kms. Now, this sea area is larger than that of combined area of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. It would no wrong to call this area as fifth province of Pakistan.
Thus, he said, the responsibilities of Pakistan Navy , especially PMSA, have increased manifold for protecting the maritime resources/interests of the country.
He said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif's vision was to strengthen sea connectivity and security along with land connectivity.
CPEC would care for land silk route and sea silk route between China and Pakistan, he said.
Gwadar would be international port facility in this region and there was dire need for full security of our ports, the sea and marine resources.
He said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would transform Pakistan into a regional economic hub, which would prove to be a `game and fate changer' for the entire region. In the era of globalisation, the regionalisation had become very important.
He articulated that 21st century was the century of economic ideology based on scale of productivity, innovations and competitiveness. Now, he asserted, strong economy was must for an independent and sovereign nation. We would have to make all possible efforts on this account.
He cited the example of Soviet Union of Russia which dismembered due to weakening of its economy despite strong defence system.
In the past, he mentioned, Pakistan lost many opportunities and it would be very unfortunate for us if we could not take full benefits of CPEC.
The Minister said that for this year the government had set economic growth target at 5 percent and for next year at 6 percent.
Among the fast growing economies of the world, Pakistan had been placed at number seven, he expressed satisfaction on it.
" We should make Pakistan as the fastest growing economy in Asia," he said adding that wealth generation was must for better infrastructure and jobs creation.