<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing maritime security as an important dimension of foreign relations, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday said India would ensure freedom of navigation over flight rights and unimpeded commerce, as the country’s trade volume along Indian Ocean amounts to 40%. In an oblique reference to Chinese attempts to flex military muscles to block other countries in South China Sea, despite an international tribunal voting against it, Jaishankar advocated a resolution of maritime disputes through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), saying all oceanic states were equal stakeholders.He noted the economic dimensions and security challenges in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) states and called for defining collective naval and national strategies. The 21-member IORA including states bordering Indian Ocean is seen as a front to challenge Chinese attempts to block sea-lanes. Describing the association as a collective platform to highlight common challenges, the Foreign Secretary said that IORA is an important instrument in promoting cooperation and ensuring stability in the region, and that India supports the intensification and invigoration of IORA activities in areas like renewable energy, blue economy and maritime safety.”Security challenges do not respect borders and need to be tackled through effective partnerships at the regional level. India has been working with like-minded countries to preserve the integrity, inviolability and security of maritime domain, much of which is a global commons,” he said.The remark is seen as a veiled reference to Pakistan. In November 2008, Mumbai witnessed a terror attack from Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), who used the Arabian Sea to enter India. He added that maritime cooperation is one of the “key pillars” of India’s cooperation in Asia and Africa and listed out initiatives New Delhi has undertaken to help its coastal neighbours.Maintaining that a favourable maritime environment in the Indian Ocean was a broad objective that requires coordination between India’s military, diplomatic and economic institutions, he said India has initiated help to its maritime neighbours to set up their network and contribute to the shared development of Maritime Domain Awareness. He said persevering efforts to secure shipping traffic in the area from pirate attacks has contributed to the greater maritime safety in the region and enabled the reduction of the High Risk Area in December 2015.In order to safeguard mainland and islands, defend interests, ensure a safe secure and stable Indian Ocean, he recommended that countries should deepen economic and security cooperation, envisage collective action and cooperation to advance peace and security and respond to emergencies and also seek a more integrated and cooperative future for the region that enhances sustainable development.