Sunday, Jun 08, 2003
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
Presenting the budget 2003-2004, Mr. Aziz said that the decision would enormously benefit Pakistan. However experts are of the view that the process is long drawn and the interests of Pakistan could come into conflict with India and Iran, with whom it shares sea borders.
The Finance Minister also dwelt at length on the Gwadar port currently under construction in Baluchistan with Chinese help. He told Parliament that the port would play a pivotal role in enhancing the importance of Pakistan as a trade transit point, particularly for Central Asian Republics (CARs)
Earlier at a function the Pakistan Navy chief, Shahid Karimullah, said global interests are now focussed on the Middle East and Asia with the primary concern of protecting economic interests in the form of a free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf region as well as tapping the natural resources of the Central Asian Republics.
He said the possibility of providing a trade outlet to "these land-locked countries into the Indian Ocean was very promising.'' "The development of the Gwadar Port will allow us the optimum use of this geographical advantage of our country.''
"More than 90 per cent of our trade is carried through the sea. As far as trade is concerned, we are an island nation. Hence, we must be very mindful of the maritime compulsions that this situation imposes on us both economically and militarily.''
He said the Government had given its go-ahead for a survey of Pakistan's continental shelf.
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