In this paper, Vice Admiral (Retd) Asaf Humayun, Director General – National Centre for Maritime Policy Research, Bahria University, Karachireflects on the role of Pakistan as an active participant in the fight against Somali piracy since 2009 and as a member of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia since 2010. Pakistan’s involvement in the mission against Somali piracy has been a direct consequence both of the impact of piracy on Pakistani sailors and to project Pakistan’s broader involvement in international peace and security missions at the global level.
Pakistan’s contribution to counter-piracy efforts has been diverse. Public donation drives, for example, were launched in 2011 and 2012 for the recovery of MV Suez and MV Albedo and considerable work has been undertaken by the National Centre for Maritime Policy Research at Bahria University and the centre’s Marine Piracy Human Response Program to alleviate the suffering of piracy victims. While Pakistan has actively pursued the goals of the CGPCS it has done so in a fashion that has been bounded by limited resources and the small size of her diplomatic mission at the UN and modest maritime footprint. Despite Pakistan’s best efforts, amidst these restraints, to actively contribute to the work of the Contact Group, these efforts appear to have not always been widely known to the broader CGPCS community and could have been better disseminated for the benefit of the CGPCS and the Working Groups.
Nevertheless, the successes of Pakistan’s involvement in counter piracy efforts and the CGPCS have included the ability of to highlight its contribution in Task Forces 150 and 151 at United Nations. It was also possible for Pakistan to point at the plight of Pakistani victims of piracy. Pakistan also continuously urged stabilization of the internal situation in Somalia and quickly became aware of the practices of better-equipped and well-informed countries. Pakistan’s involvement in counter-piracy efforts have also sparked capacity development, with an expansion of her naval operations and the establishment, in 2013, of a Joint Maritime Information Co-ordination Centre in Karachi to gather and share all required information among national stakeholders for maritime domain awareness.
The paper also identifies a number of lessons that have been learned from Pakistan’s involvement in counter-piracy more generally and the Contact Group more specifically,
- The main learning experience for the Pakistan Navy has been the increased emphasis given to Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO).
- In light of her experience at Contact Group meetings and the limitations placed by existing resources Pakistan needs to build professional capacity to follow the world’s maritime dialogues. However, the Contact Group could assist in this areas by adopting internet technology and streaming its meetings online through webinars or other, similar methods.
- The imposition of a large High Risk Area (HRA) for such a long period has had adverse impact on Pakistan’s maritime trade and activities. CGPCS should impress upon IMO and UKMTO to review HRA periodically and modify HRA in a dynamic manner, according to weather and last 6 months’ pirate activity. Each CGPCS plenary meetings should review extent of HRA. Furthermore, in 2013, a Norwegian government fishery survey vessel “Dr Fridtjof Nansen” could not undertake fish stock assessment survey along Pakistani coast. The reason was existence of HRA covering most of the Arabian Sea. Pakistan offered provision of armed security guards or military personnel but to no avail. Ways should be worked out to obviate such harmful results due to declaration of HRA.
- CGPCS has been an effective diplomatic forum and the Somali piracy has been contained largely. Other piracy hot spots can benefit from these lessons.
The full paper is available via the following link: Countering Somali Piracy