Wednesday January 19, 2022

AMAN 21 inaugurated: Naval exercise to help tackle maritime security challenges, says Admiral Niazi

February 13, 2021

KARACHI: The guns boomed and the band struck high notes as the flags of over 45 countries were hoisted at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works, formally inaugurating the multinational naval exercise AMAN 21 on Friday. It was quite an impressive sight to watch the smartly turned-out PN contingent slowly marching, guard of honour style, with outstretched arms bearing flags of participating countries towards the individual flag posts. As the Pakistan’s national anthem echoed at the flag hoisting, a fiesta of red, green, blue, browns, pink, orange and purple flares rose in the sky amidst crackling, thundering fireworks, instantly transforming the blue, sunny morning landscape into a kaleidoscope of colour.

Pakistan on Friday hosted the seventh edition of its multinational naval exercise AMAN 21, with over 45 countries, 135 delegates, naval and military observers, 13 ships and destroyers, six teams of special operation forces and teams of explosive ordnance disposal with a number of aerial fixed wing and rotary wing assets to participate in the biannual drills to hone and harness response, tactics, techniques and procedures against multitude of asymmetric and non-traditional threats lurking in the maritime domain. To continue till Feb 16th, the harbor and sea phases of the naval drills are oriented to show a united resolve against terrorism and crimes at sea. Besides, the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) is holding the International Maritime Conference (IMC-21) from 13 to 15 Feb. The conference would cover the thoughts of distinguished international and national scholars on the theme of “Development of Blue Economy under a Secure and Sustainable Environment: A Shared Future for Western Indian Ocean Region”.

Over the years, incidents of piracy and maritime terrorism have increased significantly all around the world threatening commercial interests and freedom of the high seas. Pakistan Navy was the first regional navy and largest participating member in maritime security and counter piracy operations along with other partner navies since 2004. In this context, the sea lines of communications of the Arabian Sea also need to be protected from the emerging disruptive communication technologies linked to artificial intelligence and robotics that can potentially threaten digital security, including deep-water cables, energy lines and other assets. The PN continues to conduct Regional Maritime Security Patrols in southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and the choke points off the Maldives.

Ships from the Russian Black Sea fleet, platforms from China, US, UK, KSA, Qatar, France, Germany, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Egypt besides dozens of other countries were seen rubbing shoulders under the AMAN’s motto of “Together for Peace”, which is another manifestation of Pakistan’s abiding commitment to peace.

The diverse navies with starkly different outlooks operate in a spirit of camaraderie to also rehearse countermeasures against overfishing and pollution and to guard and pre-empt the growing global and regional susceptibility to cyber attacks. In his message read out on the occasion, the CNS, Admiral Amjad Niazi, while welcoming the international navies to AMAN, said increasing threats to maritime security arise from contemporary asymmetric challenges hurting the common good. He said the Pakistan Navy, fully aware of its duties towards the global community since 2004, is one of the largest contributors to international counter piracy operations, regional maritime security through Regional Maritime Security Patrols, besides protecting national maritime boundaries in the Western Indian Ocean. Exhorting that the global common and the good order at sea cannot be achieved single-handedly, he highlighted that the biannual multinational AMAN Exercise fosters regional camaraderie, boosts interoperability, doctrinal and tactical synergy, identifying areas of common interests for protection of global commons. Underlining Pakistan’s abiding interest in peace and beyond, CNS Niazi referred to 2007 when the first AMAN exercise was hosted by the Pakistan Navy, saying since then “our message of goodwill and building innovative relationships and strengthening existing ones” has gained widespread global and regional acknowledgement. The ever-increasing number of participating navies to the AMAN platform manifests the country’s desire for peace and stability.

While welcoming the international navies, the Commander Pakistan Fleet, Rear Admiral Naveed Ashraf, said the PN has always been a consistent security contributor in the Indian Ocean Region. He added that the presence of so many navies in Pakistan for AMAN-21 was “indicative of their common resolve to promote collaboration, enhance regional cooperation and to ensure the maintenance of good order at sea for the protection of global commons.”

Interacting with the media, Chinese Consul General to Karachi Li Bijian congratulated the PN for organizing yet another edition of the international maritime exercise. The consul general said the naval and economic collaboration between the two countries is growing at a fast pace. Bijian highlighted Pakistan’s critical role in stabilizing regional and global peace. The diplomat said he was happy to see Pakistan developing economically and socially and offered Beijing’s ever-more cooperation.

Turkish Consul General Tolga Ucak started his media interaction by wishing longevity to “Turkiye-Pakistan” fraternal ties and deeper cooperation. Highlighting the excellent strategic relationship between the two fraternal friends, Ucak said the two countries have convergent, fruitful interests in different spheres. He said AMAN underlines peace and Ankara from the beginning is in strong alliance with Pakistan for collaborative defence regionally and globally.

Commodore Wayal of Iraqi Navy and Captain Fatih Al Falah of Libyan Navy eulogized PN for providing a unique platform for info sharing, mutual understanding to defend and protect against terrorism and crimes in maritime domain.