An international maritime conference entitled "Maritime threats and Opportunities in the 21st Century: A global perspective on the Indian Ocean" was held in Pakistan. It concluded that the Indian Ocean should not be turned into a theatre for strategic confrontation or a launching pad for domination over Asia. All and sundry at the conference said the Indian Ocean should be a zone of peace and cooperation. No one can deny the strategic location and economic importance of the Indian Ocean and need for launching efforts to promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation to benefit from its economic and natural resources. It is, after all, the second largest ocean of the world after the Pacific ocean and is spread over a wide geographic area covering three major continents; Africa, Asia and Australia. All the littoral states are heavily dependent on sea trade for their development and economic growth. Unimpeded flow of maritime traffic is a prime concern of these states. Freedom of navigation and security of sea-lanes are collective goals of all states and can provide the basis for a common approach to the problem of security at sea. Let me remind the Foreign Office of Pakistan that there is an Indian Ocean Organisation namely "Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation" (IOR-ARC) which was launched in Mauritius in 1997 by seven littoral states. Unfortunately, Pakistan could not become a member of this important regional organization due to prolonged military rule and adversarial attitude adopted by a regional state with dream of Asian dominance and ambition of becoming a member of UN Security Council. IOR-ARC has 18 members. China, Egypt, France, Japan, and the UK are its dialogue partners. Pakistan will reap the benefits of cooperation with these countries provided it gets its membership. -PROF DR ABDUL QAYUM MANGI, Sukkur, via e-mail, July 16.