LAHORE - Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that Pakistan Navy is playing an important role in safeguarding the maritime interests of the country besides contributing to the education and health sectors despite its limited resources.

He was addressing the inaugural session of the first two-day International Maritime Symposium arranged by Pakistan Navy War College at Naval War Complex, Walton Road, on Wednesday. Chief of Navel Staff Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila, retired and in-service officers of Pakistan Navy and other government officials were also present.

He said Pakistan Navy has always displayed courage and valour, which is a matter of pride for the whole nation. He said officers and jawans of the armed forces, including navy, army and air force, are rendering commendable services towards defence of the country and are truly brave sons of the soil. He said maritime security is of vital importance and there is a need to promote research and development in this sector.

The chief minister said the symposium is of vital importance with regard to maritime security and useful proposals and recommendations have been put forward in the session, which will be helpful in promotion of maritime sector. He said Pakistan is rich in mineral and human resources, but full benefit has not been taken from them during the last 67 years. He opined the economy of the country can be strengthened by utilising mineral wealth. He asserted solution to the energy crisis is essential to achieve the goal of national development.

Shahbaz Sharif said the government is making sincere efforts to overcome shortage of electricity and China, a trustworthy and reliable friend of Pakistan, is extending full support in this regard. He said Pak-China friendship is higher than Himalayas, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey. He said China has always supported Pakistan in the hour of need and Pak-China friendship will live forever.

The chief minister said Pakistan failed to benefit from the technology of China in the past, but the present government has taken expeditious measures for resolving energy problem with its cooperation.

He said though Pakistan is a nuclear power, it is still considered a beggar country. He said that it is high time to maintain nuclear capability and strive to achieve the goal of self-reliance. He said the nations that adopted the principles of honesty, hard work and commitment, achieved the height of progress and development; China, Japan, Germany and South Korea are a few examples in this regard. He remarked that Pakistanis are happy over unprecedented progress of China as its economic progress and prosperity is also that of Pakistan.

Shahbaz Sharif said that in order to transform Pakistan, which has been achieved after a long struggle and numerous sacrifices in accordance with the vision of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal, there is a need to learn from the past mistakes. He said unity of the nation, elimination of terrorism and peace in the society are essential for achieving the objectives of progress and prosperity, adding every citizen will have to play his due role in this regard.

The chief minister observed that maritime and shipping sectors were badly neglected in the past, however, the present government is paying due attention to this sector in view of its importance and wants to make Karachi a centre of shipping industry so that economic activities could accelerate. He said the national economy suffered an irreparable loss due to poor policies of former rulers and the culture of corruption, nepotism, lawlessness and injustice pushed the country to the brink of disaster. He said the nation will have to unite and every citizen will have to play his due role for bringing the country out of quagmire of problems and put it on the road to progress and prosperity. Shahbaz Sharif said Pakistan was not achieved for bloodshed and it is high time to revive the spirit of unity and brotherhood as was displayed on March 23, 1940. He said it is time to evolve a national agenda for moving ahead and these policies should not change with the change of government.

The chief minister gave souvenirs to navel officers at the end of the ceremony. Chief of Navel Staff Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila presented souvenir to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Shahbaz also recorded his impressions in the visitors’ book. The symposium was also addressed by the retired naval officers who highlighted the services of Pakistan Navy in safeguarding maritime boundaries as well as aims and objectives of the symposium.