Like any maritime nation, Pakistan has substantial stakes in the maritime domain. Our interest in safer and crime-free seas is rooted in three conspicuous realities–our extraordinary dependence on the seas for trade, making the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project operational and our strategic location astride the global energy highway. Together, these realities make maritime stability an important agenda of our national security. Maritime security is not only important for Pakistan, but also for all other countries whose prosperity and progress are strongly linked with the seas. While operating together, we must be mindful that contemporary global maritime environment remains fraught with traditional and non-traditional challenges which require a collaborative response by the friendly navies. No country can single-handedly tackle the diverse threats that exist in the seas.
In order to strengthen interoperability and global efforts of maritime forces, Pakistan Navy started off a multinational naval exercise ‘AMAN’ in North Arabian Sea in 2007. This was marked as a blue diplomacy move by the Pakistan Navy bringing together maritime nations in the Indian Ocean Region and calling for galvanizing efforts to maintain strong correlations at sea. The exercise has been aptly named AMAN, which is the Urdu term for peace. It signifies Pakistan’s endeavor for peace while remaining fully prepared to ensure peace in the region. To date, Pakistan Navy has conducted seven AMAN exercises. The 2023 exercise would be the eighth in number. The exercise has been held biennially since 2007. All previous naval exercises of the AMAN series have been highly successful and were not only participated in wholeheartedly by the navies of friendly countries, ushering goodwill to Pakistan, but have also resulted in all participants, including the host Pakistan Navy, gaining tremendous professional experience.
The main objective of AMAN series of multinational exercises is to promote regional cooperation and stability, greater interoperability and to display a united resolve against terrorism and crimes in the maritime domain including piracy. Whereas in sea phase, the participating navies attend the military drills with their surface and air assets, special operation forces, and maritime teams. They are involved in various activities, including maneuvers, weapon firing drills, maritime interdiction operations, flying operations, search and rescue exercises, and international fleet review, all of which improves Pakistan Navy’s capability to combat threats.
The exercise has been designed in such a way that it is divided into two phases: harbor and sea. In the harbor phase, activities such as friendly sports matches, and international cultural display are being conducted. Whereas in the sea phase, international fleet review is carried out along with various other exercises to practice response against maritime security threats in a multinational environment. Moreover, Special Forces teams of the participating nations take part in the counter-piracy operations in order to develop Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) for combined action against asymmetric threats at sea.
This time, alongside AMAN-2023, an important maritime conference is going to be held for the first time at Karachi Expo Center. Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference (PIMEC) is an initiative of Pakistan Navy which is being organized under the patronage of Ministry of Maritime Affairs in order to jump-start the development of maritime sector in Pakistan and spur blue economy. PIMEC is scheduled from February 10-12, 2023 and the exhibition will bring together stakeholders and companies from diverse maritime fields to exploit and explore the potential of blue economy. Not only will it give us livelihood and vibrancy to our economy, but also endeavor to mitigate the effects of climate change.
AMAN-2023 is aimed at collectively working against human trafficking, smuggling of narcotics and weapons, and terrorism in the region; to intensify operational maneuvers against sea pirates; to improve upon joint operations at sea through effective intelligence sharing mechanisms; to enhance operational skills through contemporary experiences with a view to ensure interoperability in a diverse threat environment; to address the issue of climate change; and to highlight the significance of CPEC and Gwadar Port among the delegates of the participating countries.
Pakistan Navy has always contributed towards peace and stability in the region. Pakistan's commitment to the principle of peaceful coexistence and desire for greater regional harmony and cooperation is also reflected through Pakistan Armed Forces’ participation in United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping missions, UN mandated Combined Maritime Task Forces 150 and 151, as well as various bilateral and multilateral exercises. Pakistan Navy is wisely practicing the idea propagated by Albert Einstein which says, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”. Therefore, AMAN exercises are playing a pivotal role against regional and extraregional threats faced by the participating countries in general and the region as a whole. The shared knowledge and skills enhance interoperability between the participants that will help increase cooperation among all the stakeholders.
The writer is a media analyst who works for a renowned organization.
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