S M Hali |
Pakistan Navy is organizing a multi-nation naval exercise in the North Arabian Sea in February 2019. This is the sixth exercise of the AMAN series, which have been held bi-annually since 2007. All previous naval exercises of the AMAN series have been highly successful and were participated wholeheartedly by navies of friendly countries, ushering goodwill to Pakistan. These naval exercises also resulted in participants including the Pakistan Navy, gaining tremendous professional experience.
The exercise has been named “AMAN”, which is the Urdu term for “Peace”. It signifies Pakistan’s endeavour for peace in the region, along with its friends, allies and partners, while remaining fully prepared otherwise. The slogan for the AMAN exercise “Together for Peace” sums up the entire gamut of Pakistan’s aspirations. The world is currently embroiled in trials and tribulations of various types. Besides the war against terrorism, power projection, especially in the maritime sphere, has increased in the twenty-first century.
The rise in number of participants bears testimony to Pakistan’s rising relevance in the international pitch.
Alfred Thayer Mahan, the famed US naval strategist had rightly predicted that “Whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia. This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the twenty-first century, the destiny of the world will be decided in these waters.” Pakistan’s eastern neighbour India is building a Blue Water Navy to fulfil its power projection ambitions. Every nation aspires to build up its defence capability, but India with its hegemonic designs has a history of trying to subdue its neighbours with its maritime capability.
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and even India’s ally Bangladesh have suffered at the hands of India’s domination syndrome. The other power, which is trying to project its maritime presence in the Indian Ocean as well as the South China Sea is the United States. Its rivalry against China has assumed ominous proportions and the US has been rallying various other nations in the region to muster an alliance to “contain” China, economically and militarily.
The US remains oblivious to China’s declarations that it has no hegemonic designs, and is keen to resolve issues with its neighbours peacefully and instead concentrate on development and sharing its projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with countries of the region and beyond. Interestingly, BRI also has a maritime component, known as the “Maritime Silk Road”.
India and the US have teamed up to collaborate against China. India perceives China as an opponent and is opposed to the BRI as well as its flagship project, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), especially the development of the strategic deep-water port of Gwadar. Since the port is located close to the Gulf of Hormuz from where thirty-five percent of the world’s oil supply flows to the west, both the US and India, perceive it as a threat, since it technically gives China the capability of choking the world’s oil supply.
All previous naval exercises of the AMAN series have been highly successful and were participated wholeheartedly by navies of friendly countries, ushering goodwill to Pakistan.
In this milieu, Exercise AMAN-19 comes at an opportune moment. Navies from more than 85 countries have been the extended invitation for participation in the exercise. The rise in number of participants bears testimony to Pakistan’s rising relevance in the international pitch.
The Exercise has focused objectives, which include: projecting a positive image of Pakistan as a country contributing towards regional peace and stability; consolidating Pakistan Navy’s position in the regional maritime arena; enhancing interoperability with regional and extra-regional navies thereby acting as a bridge between the regions and displaying united resolve against maritime terrorism and piracy.
The concept of the exercise has been designed to provide a common forum for: Information sharing, mutual understanding and identifying areas of common interests for group analysis and dialogues through International Maritime Conference; developing and practicing response tactics, techniques and procedures against asymmetric and traditional threats during sea phase of the exercise and Intermingling of multinationals with depiction of their respective cultures during cultural shows/food galas.
India perceives China as an opponent and is opposed to the BRI as well as its flagship project, the CPEC, especially the development of the strategic deep-water port of Gwadar.
Exercise AMAN-19 envisages hosting numerous events of harbour and sea-phase. The harbour activities include, reception of the participating units, a grand opening ceremony, playing friendly sports matches and a Maritime Counter Terrorism demonstration by the elite PN Marines. An International Maritime Conference under the aegis of National Centre for Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR) at Bahria University has also been organized.
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The Sea Activities include an International Fleet Review, which includes various operational activities like Fly Past by Air Units, RAS (L) Token, Anti-Piracy Demonstration by PN MSW Team, Surface Firing on KILLER TOMATO (Floating Balloon Target), Man and Cheer Ship and Formation AMAN/ PHOTEX.
Additionally, numerous other sea activities have been planned, which include simple maneuvers), surface practice firing with main armament and search and rescue operations amongst others. Exercise Aman-19 is expected to bring honour to Pakistan and will raise the morale of Pakistan Navy for hosting a major multi-nation operational exercise and strengthen the confidence of the nation in the maritime capabilities of the country.
The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host, who has authored six books on current affairs, including three on China. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.