Pakistan’ striumphant leap in Indian Ocean
Pakistan recently took a giant triumphant leap in the Indian Ocean where it’s well-regarded claim over the continental shelf was unanimously endorsed by the United Nations. It was in 1995 drew the attention of national authorities and other stakeholders to the strategic importance of continental shelf. However, it was not until April case with United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS). Playing a lead role and with National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) in tow, the navy prepared a forceful case on behalf of Pakistan. Protracted discussions, presentations and multiple interactive sessions between Pakistan’s technical delegation andUNCLCS Sub-Commission, continued from August 2013 onwards. delegation was delivered before a full 21 member UN Commission on 10th March 2015. The compelling and persuasive argumentsand credible response to pointed questions, led to a unanimous endorsement of the case by the Commission in favour of Pakistan. With the approval, Pakistan now Indian Ocean to have successfully accomplished extension in outer limits of continental shelf. It heralds Pakistan into a new era of prospective economic bounty of strategic value. Thefavourable adjudication has meant an extension in sea limits from 200 to 350 nautical miles bestowing Pakistan an additional 50,000 sq km of sea area with exclusive rights for exploration, exploitation of sea bed resources. Pakistan’s total area for maritime undertakings henceforth enlarges from the previous 240,000 sq km to 290,000 sq km, second only to the country’s largest province, Balochistan. The debate on expanding jurisdictional claims of coastal and island nations and international negotiations from 1973 through 1982 resulted in what has come to be universally known as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS-82). Also called the Law of the Sea Treaty, UNCLOS-82 was adopted in 10 December 1982 and became effective on 16th November 1994. As of October 166 state parties including Pakistan. TheConvention, a constitution for oceans, is the bedrock legal instrument that underpinssharedlegal order across the global maritime commons.It sets forth a comprehensive framework for governing the oceans, seas and straits, as well as deep seabed mining. the rights and obligations of states within those zones, the boundaries of national jurisdiction, over and aboveadministration of mineral resources beyond thoselimits. The provisions of the Convention codify existing laws and practicesand are deemed the customary international law. It addresses number of themes including navigational and economic rights, pollution of the seas, conservation rights of land-locked or geographically disadvantaged states, piracy, and more. UNCLOS-82 furthermore providesalternative processes for for establishing specialized treaties, organizations, and activities. The on the high seas, the UN ‘Fish Stock Agreement’; the operation of International Seabed Authority (ISA)for managingseabed minerals, implementation of security and environmental pacts negotiated under International Maritime Organization (IMO) like Basel convention which regulates and controls trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes; their disposal, or security partnerships akin to the Proliferation Security Initiative arefew examples. Of the 193 member states of United Nations, 147 are coastal states. Under UNCLOS-82 each is authorized to maintain a 12 nautical miles territorial zone, an adjacent contiguous zone up to 24 nautical miles and an exclusive economic zone extending to 200 nautical miles from baseline. Territorial water zone is considered part of a country’s territory for all legal purposes. Ventures like exploration, exploitation, development, management and conservation of all living and non-living resources as well as producing energy from tides, winds, currents and the sun, can all be undertaken herein. Foreign vessels may however, claim the right
of innocent passage through this zone. UNCLOS-82 alsoguarantees the right to transit passage through international straits and the right to exercise high seas freedom in exclusive economic zone. 26th February 1997 becoming the 113th state to do so. The Convention entered into force for Pakistan on 28th March 1997. Under the provisions of UNCLOS, United Nations also set up a Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf (UNCLCS). As continental shelf is sea area where a country has sovereign rights for exploiting non-living resources and subsoil, plus sedimentary species. Pakistan’s entire maritime area is resources rich zone.The country’scurrent be worth USD 1.2 billion, with exports fetching roughly USD 240 million annually. The industry’s contribution to national GDP is about 1 percent. In addition, biological resources like algae (seaweeds), mangroves, variety Pakistan. The livelihood and economy of coastal communities is directly tied to these resources. Indian ocean potential of offshore hydrocarbons and useable mineral deposits is said to be much more than the continental. It includes deep seabed resources like iron, manganese nodules and crusts, oil, gas and gas hydrates with last having all the trappings of evolving into useful source of clean energy. The ocean is believed to hold large quantities of polymettalic nodules-small mineral rich rocks-containing nickel, cobalt, iron and manganese. The favourable resolution of the continental shelf issue now provides Pakistan a distinct economic advantage in the region. Once comprehensive geological survey and mapping of surface and sub-surface is completed, the country will be able to accrue tremendous economic advantages. That said, the chiefsentinel protecting maritime interests of any nation state is none other than a navy-the military arm of national maritime segment. A key difference that distinguishes land and air power from seapower is that while potential, the latter takes into account the economic dimension besides the military capacity at sea. In an age has become an indispensable need world over. Pakistan will have to make some profound investment in the maritime sector particularly Pakistan navy to protect and preserve the country’s expanding oceanic interests.